Benjamin Joshua was born on May 21st, 2010 at 12:01 am. He snuck his way into Friday even though we were certain he would be born on Thursday. We were also fairly certain he would be a girl – but he got us there, too. The one thing we weren’t surprised at was his size – everyone was predicting a big baby and he felt huge when I was carrying him. He still wasn’t as big as Jenny was (9 lb 6 oz), but he was longer than any of our other kids at 21 inches and he weighed 8 lb 14 oz – just eight ounces under Jenny’s birth weight. He was also very late – according to my longer cycle, he was eleven days late, and according to the due date my doctor gave me, fifteen days late. Unfortunately, he refused to come on his own and I was induced on Thursday morning (May 20th).
I went in Wednesday night to possibly be induced and was told that they had too much going on in the maternity ward at the time(five women walked in to deliver babies within a twenty minute period that afternoon). They did a non-stress test on me to make sure baby was doing well – I had a non-stress test on Tuesday night as well so this felt a little redundant. They quickly deduced that he was an active baby but almost too active – so they sent me home to walk for an hour and put him to sleep. We went back to the hospital a little after ten and I was put back on the monitor. He did what they wanted – slept – but they left me on until midnight. I kept thinking about the fact that I had to be back in the morning at seven thirty – and that I wasn’t sleeping well as it was. We went home and went to bed (the kids were already at Mike’s parents’ for the night) and went back in Thursday morning.
Around eight o’clock on May 20th, the first induction gel was administered by my doctor, who then had six hours in town before needing to leave – I hoped to quickly go into labour and have the baby before then. That didn’t happen. We were told to come back if my contractions got bad or if my water broke, but otherwise to come back at two o’clock to have a second, larger dose of gel administered by another doctor. I had contractions but nothing too crazy and managed to have a short nap before we went back in. When I was induced with Jenny, a first gel was given on Tuesday night, then a second Wednesday morning and Jenny was born four and a half hours later. I fully expected things to work the same way this time; they would give me the gel and I would go into labour so fast they wouldn’t bother sending me home again (something I was getting pretty sick of). We went in, the second gel was given, I stayed on the monitor for half an hour and we left again. We came home to eat and watch a movie and around five or five thirty I started having stronger contractions that were bad enough to breathe through. I took a bath and decided around six thirty that we should go back in. I was scheduled for a third gel at seven, so we figured it wouldn’t hurt to go early and see if the contractions were working.
We got checked in and put into a delivery room right away – a good sign since it generally means they won’t send you home again. The nurse told me later that based on the pain I appeared to be in, she expected I would be dilated to a six or so when she checked. No such luck – I was only one centimetre dilated. It was about quarter to seven and I couldn’t imagine going through that kind of pain for much longer. After a shift change, the new nurse suggested I try the shower – something that hadn’t really worked when I was in labour with Erik. I thought I’d give it a try anyway and it turned out to be a good idea. The shower I had used with Erik didn’t have good heat control and would go cold frequently and also didn’t have a handheld shower head like the one this time. I was able to sit and keep the water on my belly or back during contractions while Mike sat on an exercise ball in the little shower room. He was roasting (or steaming, I suppose) but he stuck it out with me. I figured that even with how bad things were, if I could just stay in the shower, I could make it through.
I was in the shower for more than an hour the first time before the nurse had me come out so she could check my dilation. I was pretty hopeful because things were getting worse, but she said I was only two, maybe three centimetres dilated. This was at least an hour and a half after she had checked me the first time and I was starting to feel incredibly worn out. I got back into the shower and about twenty minutes later, the nurse came back and said that the doctor wanted me to consider an epidural, just because I was progressing so slowly but was in so much pain. I mulled it over, thinking that if I got out again in another hour and still hadn’t gone anywhere, I might consider it. I’ve always been very anti-epidural, and because my labours are generally really quick, never imagined getting to the point of needing one to begin with. But after six hours of sleep the night before, a very long day and a trying labour so far, I knew that if I wasn’t progressing, I was going to need some sort of help. The next time the nurse checked me she said I was four or five centimetres – this sealed the deal that I wouldn’t be getting an epidural, but I still felt frustrated at going so slow. The strange thing was that at this point, she also started saying she expected me to deliver any time. Ben’s head was still high but she said she had seen women go from this point to pushing in fifteen minutes before. She suggested fentanyl for the pain, but said she would have to start an IV for that. Then she said maybe I’d like to try the gas – something I had used with Jenny but not found particularly helpful. I took one breath through my nose in the mask and didn’t think I could do it – it just smelled so awful. The next contraction came and she said I should just try to use it once. I tried putting the mask just over my mouth instead of my nose and it worked. I don’t remember what time it was then, but around eleven o’clock, she checked me again and said I was eight – this was probably the one time I really felt happy throughout the whole labour (up until the point that Ben was born, anyway). Five minutes later, though, she said I was a six or seven. Still, she rushed around, calling the doctor and getting the room ready for delivery. The gas was still helping – before I started using it I was nearly screaming with pain (something I generally don’t do in labour), but now I was able to just breathe deep through contractions. From there, my memory of it is mostly just a contraction coming on, putting the mask to my mouth, breathing through the contraction and collapsing when it was over. I felt funny but the gas wasn’t staying in my system for too long so I would just about be over the weird feeling when I’d have another contraction.
As soon as I was confirmed to be seven or eight centimetres, I started feeling the urge to push. The nurse kept checking me and telling me to wait – plus they were waiting on the doctor to come. When he came, he checked me, said I was good to go and I started pushing. Mike says it was either eleven twenty-five or eleven thirty-five when I started pushing. The doctor broke my water then, and they found that it had a bit of meconium in it, but wasn’t very dark (which just meant that Ben probably wouldn’t be affected by it yet). Jenny took me forty-five minutes of pushing, but the boys took only eight and ten minutes, so I was sure that this baby would be born by midnight. Maybe because of his size, he took longer. It was nearly midnight when he crowned and his head was born, but his umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his shoulders so essentially, he got stuck. The doctor cut his cord while he was still at that point, just to make the rest of it easier. They were coaching me, telling me not to push (which, for anyone who has never done it before, seems completely impossible) and finally right at midnight I was able to push again. I asked later and the nurses agreed that Ben was fully born at one minute after midnight. If he had been born at midnight, they might have said he was born at eleven fifty-nine and fifty-nine seconds, just so his birthday could be the 20th and not the 21st, but that one minute meant that the 21st would go on the birth certificate. While the labour was hard and the delivery took longer than my last two babies, I feel more or less the same as I did after the other boys – probably due to having no need for stitches. With Ben’s shoulders getting stuck, I’m actually quite surprised that I avoided tearing or having an episiotomy.
They took Ben to the little table to suction him well since he had pooped before he was born but found pretty quickly that he was healthy. They laid him on my chest skin to skin and we had a good snuggle before he started eating. He ate for about an hour and didn’t want to quit but we figured it was a good idea to get everything cleaned up and get to bed – it was nearly two o’clock in the morning by then. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to breastfeed all my babies right away after birth, and especially Ben and Erik who responded really well to it in the first hour or so after birth. Ben and I got to our room after he was weighed and measured and Mike went home a little after two. I only stayed in the hospital that night and the next night and left on the morning of the 22nd – I was feeling good enough that I didn’t see any reason to stay longer.
Other than some latching issues with breastfeeding – Ben has a small mouth, a big appetite and NO patience – things have been going very well. Jenny wasn’t disappointed by another brother even though she was rooting for a sister. We’re getting into the swing of things with a new baby in the house – making sure everyone is gentle and no one tries to pick Ben up and move him (something that Jenny and Erik have already tried). Mike had the weekend off and since it was a holiday, Monday as well. He took Tuesday off of work and went back yesterday (the 26th). I’m napping whenever I find the time – sometimes sleeping while sitting in the rocker after nursing Ben. The great thing about the older kids is that they play quite well together and aren’t incredibly needy, which means I can focus on Ben most of the time and do things with them when he’s sleeping. I’m still a little stunned to be the mother of four – and especially that three of those four are boys! I never imagined myself having three boys at this point, although I have always hoped that we would end up with three of each. No telling if we’ll end up with any more girls at this point, though! I’m rather smitten with my newest little boy and can’t wait to see his personality form over the next years.
A very proud big sister