Barrett's Birth Story - April 2020
I almost titled this, "Of Babies, Cars, and Pandemics" but decided in favor of simplicity and non-cheesiness.
So! You read the prologue to this story that I shared yesterday, right? If not, read it here!
It's been almost a month since Barrett Bear joined our squad, and let me tell you, I have been basking in these newborn days.
Sure, some days are harder than others, like the first day you're home alone and have to figure out what to do when you're breastfeeding one child and the other starts running full-tilt into certain death. (And the inevitable: how to not drop one child while running full-tilt after the child running full-tilt into certain death.)
And there's no step-by-step guide for the time both are crying and both have poopy diapers and the toddler is covered in mud. (Tip: you go for the mud first. Avoids adding mopping to the list.)
But hey, humans are adaptable, are we not? :) I gotta say, I am so thankful for naptimes. They give me time to breathe and drink coffee and write things like this before the next round.
I love it, though. These boys are the sweetest, snuggliest little people on the planet, and I can't get enough of the way Sean says, "awww, Baby" and the way Barrett looks into my eyes. They'll both be taller than me before I know it, so for now I'm reveling in tiny toes and first words and tender little hearts.
If you've read this post, you know I struggled with some anxiety about giving birth in pandemic conditions. My prenatal appointments were weird enough, and what they were telling me to expect at the hospital made me concerned. I was also sad that my mom couldn't attend the birth.
By April 17th, I was 38 weeks and gearing myself up for the last few weeks. Remember, Sean was born at 42 weeks, and this mama wasn't happy at the thought of possibly waiting 4 more weeks. *shudder*
Funny story: I was telling Daniel that before we went to bed (okay, I was grumbling about it) and he said something like, "Aw, babe, don't worry. You're going to have this baby soon. I can feel it."
At 5 AM the next morning, I noticed that my usual Braxton Hicks were turning into something more distinct and regular. I decided to time the contractions and, surprise! they were 7 minutes apart. Almost afraid to get excited, I decided to shower, get dressed, and see what happened.
Throughout the morning, they stayed consistent at 5 minutes apart, but they were mild, and I felt totally normal in between. I made breakfast, swept the floor, washed dishes, and packed Sean's overnight bag for my parents' house. My plan was still to wait and see what happened, because everything felt so leisurely and I wasn't convinced it was the real thing.
And then... everything stopped. You gotta be kidding me, I thought. Guess it was a false alarm. After all, I was still two weeks early.
My mom encouraged me to take a nap and see what happened, so I slept for a few hours that afternoon and when I woke up at 5 PM, something felt different.
Like, very different. I stood up and boom, I knew.
I walked into the room with Daniel and told him we'd definitely be going to the hospital "at some point tonight... we'll probably have a baby tomorrow."
Boy, was I in for a surprise.
Within 45 minutes I was having to lean on something and concentrate on the contractions, now coming on fast and lasting longer each time. Mom came over to pick up Sean for the night, and when she saw me on the birth ball having a contraction, she looked at Daniel with big eyes and mouthed to him, "Y'all need to leave. NOW."
Yay! It was finally happening!
Looking back, I thought I was just starting active labor then, but I was actually in transition.
By 6 PM we were in the car for the hour-long drive to the hospital and things started happening, lemme tell ya. That was a major uh-oh moment.
"Daniel, if my water breaks, I'm a little worried we might not make it in time."
"Well, hopefully your water won't break."
30 minutes (halfway) into the drive, behind two very slow pickup trucks on a curvy country road, it happened. Pop. Water flooded everywhere.
I'd always joked about having a baby in a car being an adventure, but, um.... no. Not funny. I don't know what I said for those 30 minutes, except for, "I'm gonna have this baby in this car!" "I can't have this baby in this car!!" "God help me not have this baby in this car!!!!!!" I'm laughing now, writing it, but it wasn't funny then. I could feel his head moving down and out, and I was fighting the urge to push with everything in me.
Daniel was already speeding with our hazards on, and of course it started raining. We called ahead to the nurses and they said they would meet us at the car when we arrived. I still get tickled remembering Daniel on the phone with them as we drove in. "Yeah, here's what our car looks like. And she's trying not to push this baby out. Y'all better hurry."
I caught a glimpse of four beautiful nurses and my midwife inside the hospital entrance with a wheelchair. They came running to my car door with towels and aspirators in hand, prepared to deliver a baby right there if needed. I was helped into the wheechair and then they were running full-speed inside. It felt surreal, like I had stepped into a TV drama!
We didn't even pause at the plastic-draped COVID-19 testing station in the lobby. Normally, I would have been tested before admission, but one nurse just grabbed a mask and tossed it to me. "Here, hand me your ID," another said as we swept past the security guard holding the elevator for us. "I'll give it to the nurses' station on the way past."
Talk about relief when we reached that delivery room! I didn't even change into a gown -- I climbed on that bed, and 3 easy pushes and 14 minutes later, Barrett entered the world. "Here he is, why don't you catch your baby," the midwife said, and I'll never forget the feeling of reaching down and bringing him up to my chest.
Guess this little man decided being born during a pandemic wasn't grand entrance enough! Since I didn't really know if I was in labor all day, and the last two hours had gone by so fast, I couldn't believe I was holding my baby after only 15 minutes at the hospital. The rest of the evening was a quiet, blissful haze of bonding... and eating a huge burger from Five Guys. Man, it was good.
One of the nurses asked Daniel for his phone so she could take pictures, and I love her for it. One special thing about this pandemic was the sweet way our medical staff went above and beyond. They told stories about holding laptops up so that family members could witness births, and even though I could only see their eyes above their masks, their smiles still showed.
The experience was so different from my first -- it was so smooth and mild (I didn't even tear at all) and the care I received was stellar. I smile every time I think about it, and even though it was sad not to have family and friends visit us in the hospital, those two days spent with only Daniel and Barrett allowed us to truly rest and enjoy him, and gave Daniel and I precious time together free from distractions.
Was our experience different because of COVID-19? Yes. But the silver linings surprised us, and I am so thankful for the Lord's providence through it all.
And it made for a pretty darn fun story to tell!