Thursday, 10 February 2011

A Perfect Little Brother for Toby

Levi Henry Grimm
Born 5/5/10 at 6:15 a.m.
8lbs 9oz, 22 1/3”

Tuesday, Brandon came home during lunch as he normally does. Right before he headed back to work, I thought I was having a contraction. I had been feeling these randomly on and off for a couple of days, but it usually just ended up being the baby completely stretching out inside of my stomach, appearing hard like a contraction. Brandon had softball that night and asked before he went if I had any more contractions and I said, “yeah, a few.” But I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t time them because every time I had before, I would get excited, and nothing would ever happen. He called me on his way home from the game and I said I was still having them, and he asked, “Shouldn’t you be timing them or something?” I still wasn’t convinced. But when he got home and showered, he started timing them for me. They were five minutes, four minutes, six minutes, three minutes, then every two or three minutes. I still wasn’t sold because they still were scattered. He asked if I could sleep, but I couldn’t. Around midnight I wanted to get in the bathtub to displace some of the discomfort. Brandon asked, “So are you gonna call someone or what?” referring to the midwives. (For those of you who aren’t aware, Toby was born in a birthing center with the help of a midwife, and this baby was born in our very own bathtub at home without any medication or intervention.)

Brandon was super sweet. He sterilized the bath tub and the toilet, and took out the sliding glass doors to make plenty of room for whoever would be assisting me. When I first got in the tub, Brandon grabbed our Supernatural Childbirth book and asked me which prayers and verses I wanted him to go through. We read about labor, delivery, pain and fear. He would say it first and then have me repeat it. This book is amazing at breaking down what the Word has to say about childbirth, starting before conception and through delivery. It is very specific with explanation, scripture reference, and outlines for prayers. I relied on this heavily with both deliveries. Not only to remind me where my faith was when it would get trying, but it also kept me concentrating on something other than what my body was actually going through. Some people use pictures, meditation, or breathing…I use prayer and faith.

I finally decided to call the midwives around 12:30 a.m., more so to put Brandon at ease. He seemed very concerned that I would try to push without them being there. The contractions were bearable, but lasting about 50 seconds every two to three minutes. I didn’t feel like I needed help at that point other than I wanted them to break my water. I know every pregnancy, labor/delivery, and child are different, but I knew with Toby once my water broke, things really began to progress. I didn’t want to have contractions for 17 hours before my water broke, like I had with him. With Toby, the midwife was checking me when she broke it…not sure if that was on purpose or not. She had not asked me in advance, so I’m going to assume it was by accident.

The midwives, Amber & Joani, gathered their things and arrived a little after 2 a.m. They checked on me and said I was about 5 centimeters, but Amber insisted on leaving my water in tact. She gave me several reasons saying it wasn’t always the best choice, it didn’t mean anything would speed up, it may not be the same as it was with Toby, and it’s easier on baby and his head if the water breaks on its own. She kept saying it was bulging and would break on its own. So they went into Toby’s room (he was asleep in our room) and tried to rest some more. They advised me to do the same, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. The contractions were bearable, but not calm enough to sleep through.

Brandon asked if I wanted to get out of the water and try the birthing ball or walking around or sleeping. I tried the ball and it was okay. I tried to lay down, grabbed the snoodle pillow, and had barely gotten comfortable when the thought occurred to me… “Wouldn’t it be funny if my water broke on this pillow?” (I had borrowed it from my sister, who is VERY germ conscious.) He said, “We can buy her another one.” I said, “Uh, this stupid thing is like $80!” He said, “Oh well, she’ll never know.” And maybe a minute after that I heard and felt the *loudest* pop I have ever heard. It was quite uncomfortable. I felt the warm gush everyone talks about. But I was nowhere prepared for that feeling or noise. When the midwife broke my water with Toby it was like someone poking a small hole with a straight pin in water balloon, letting it slowly seep out. This was like someone jumping on an inflated balloon that pops furiously and scares everyone in the room. I said, “Well, I’m not sleeping for sure now.”

Brandon went to get Amber, and she asked if I would still try to sleep, but I said, “What if I really just want to get in the bathtub?” I wasn’t being unpleasant, I just really thought that was the best place for me to be for my comfort. She said I could, but she still retreated back to Toby’s room. I still didn’t need assistance, but I was starting to feel a little aggravated that I had called them too soon, or that they weren’t interested. I know they have done this hundreds of times and know better than I do, but I guess I was being needy.

Brandon put more water in the tub, and we had already blown out the candles and turned off the scent-maker. I can’t remember if we still had music going at that time or not. I had been doing a great job of quietly working through the contractions. Joani had reminded me that the pressure I was feeling on my bottom was partly the baby making his way through the birth canal, but also because I would have to go to the bathroom before he made his way out. *nice*

I lost track of time, and I knew Brandon was exhausted. He sat beside the tub and held my hand the entire time. I could feel his hand go limp as he would fall asleep during contractions. We had been up the entire day before and had never gone to sleep, so I know he was beyond tired. I would also get ready to drift off when another contraction would start. And it was actually better that way because my body was relaxed. I also knew his arm had to be throbbing because part of it was pressed up against the metal track the glass doors to the shower are usually on.

Amber had already been sitting with us for a time, I’m not sure how long. I had my eyes closed for the majority of the time, trying my best to relax and rest. For the last several contractions they would give me a drink. I had been getting the shakes on and off all night, they said from the change in hormones. But I know when the baby started coming I felt myself go to the “dark place” you see all the women in movies go to. But instead of yelling, I would get frustrated when anyone would talk to me. I couldn’t really talk, I would just wave my hand at them really quickly as if to say, “whatever, just leave me alone!” At some point Brandon had turned the music back on without warning, and I thought it was someone’s cell phone, and it really irritated me. When I could get my words together I snapped, “What is that?” Brandon told me, and then I said, “Just turn it off. Could you turn it off? Please, just turn it off.” I could tell even by hearing myself that I was changing tones, but honestly I couldn’t help it! Really!

It wasn’t too long after that, at 6 a.m., that I said I felt like I needed to push. I had been adamant about not tearing, and that was the first question I asked every midwife I interviewed…what measures they were willing to take in order to make sure my backside remained in tact, and without an episiotomy. I was confident with Amber and Joani that they would do whatever it took to keep that promise to me. Joani began to work, and it was worse then I remembered. It was worse than anything I had experienced this delivery to that point. I had my eyes closed through most of the labor and delivery process, and I didn’t know that’s what was happening. Brandon told me what she was doing, and I finally just kept saying, “That hurts. Please stop.” So Amber quietly told Joani, “If it hurts and she doesn’t want it, just stop.” And she did, thankfully. Joani said I didn’t tear at all even though I wasn’t having any help from them. Praise God!

As I began to push, they checked the heart rate, and just like with Toby, it was getting lower. At one point Joani even told me they would be giving me oxygen in between contractions to keep baby’s heart rate up…but we never got that far. I began to push, and Brandon put his arm behind my shoulders to help. They’d have to remind me to tuck my chin, but I remembered to push the right way. I remembered I struggled with pushing Toby out, and I remembered that he too was at risk of lack of oxygen, and I wasn’t going to go through that again. So I pushed like I’ve never pushed before. Several times they even told me to stop so that his head could naturally stretch everything so I wouldn’t tear, but I didn’t care. I told them I couldn’t stop. I would have welcomed the break, but I wanted him out and safe.

Brandon was so encouraging. The ladies would speak softly and gently, but he would tell me what I really needed to hear. He would say, “You’re doing great. He’s coming. Keep doing it. You’re doing it.” They had told me that the baby’s head was almost out, and that just motivated me even more. But toward the end of that, they did say to wait because the cord was draped around his neck, again, just like with Toby. So for that, I did wait. They gave me the go ahead and I pushed the rest of him out. It was amazing. Just as amazing as it was the first time. Joani laid him on my stomach and he was so purple, as most babies are.

I immediately began to thank God out loud. And I could hear the ladies quietly agreeing. Who can experience that and not know for certain that there is a God who loves us? My mind was just flooded with the thoughts of Psalm 139—That God created us and knew us before we were formed…that we are all wonderfully made…that He made us in the secret place and He knows everything about us before we even breathed one breath! Just amazing that God would entrust life to me!

After those moments, I returned to myself. I immediately apologized for how intense the last few minutes were and for me being difficult. They said it was okay and that I was going through the hardest part…it was understandable. (Brandon did admit a couple of days later that I was being quite rude and that I actually scared him at one point.)

Toby had been asleep on the loveseat in our room the entire time! He hadn’t heard a thing! The ladies had asked right before I was about to deliver if I wanted them to wake him up, and I had given them the fierce hand waving! But after I had baby in my arms, Brandon asked, “Can I go get Toby now?” So he went to get him and his tired little face was so precious. He slowly approached the bathtub, and leaned over with this adorable grin. He said, “That’s brother” in a quiet voice. He wanted to hold him and touch him, and we had to explain that he was still attached, and showed him the cord, and he was still a little confused. The midwives wanted me to try to nurse baby, but he wasn’t interested, so they had grabbed an apple juice box from the fridge to get some sugar on baby’s tongue to get him started. Toby saw the box sitting on the edge of the bathtub, and said, “Hey, that’s my juice box.” He was puzzled, but he didn’t have a meltdown. He handled his first big brother sharing experience like a pro!

I leaned over and said to Brandon, “I pushed for what, maybe 30 minutes?” He said, “I think more like an hour.” And Joani chimed in and said, “let’s try 15 minutes.” I had not expected that answer! I had heard so many birth stories of second and subsequent children having been born after a couple of pushes, so when that didn’t happen for me, I thought it was significantly longer. I knew it was less than the two hours and 20 minutes it took me to push Toby out (since I wasn’t pushing very well at all), but I didn’t know it was only 15 minutes because it was intense. I knew it was fast, but at the time, it didn’t seem fast enough.

After Brandon was able to cut the umbilical cord, I asked if I could take a shower. Joani sat just outside and talked to me during the whole thing, no doubt to make sure I was okay. They had really wanted me to sit and use the shower head rather than try to stand up so soon, but they soon realized I was going to do it anyway. I was just fine, and made my way to the bed.

Brandon was true to his word and didn’t call anyone right away. He did ask several times if he could and I finally said, “Fine, but no visitors before 10.” He made the calls and let Toby tell everyone, “Brother is here!” He put them on speaker so I could hear too. At that point, baby hadn’t been weighed, measured or named yet. Thankfully no one could make it before noon, so we had some time to rest. The midwives conducted the newborn tests, and then went to grab some breakfast tacos for us. They had already started the laundry and cleaned up whatever mess of supplies we had made. While they were getting breakfast, Pastor Matt Leighty had called asking if he could stop by to pray with us on his way into the office. Of course we couldn’t refuse that. So he came by. The ladies let themselves in and out quietly while we continued our visit, but called later to check on us. We were able to get some rest before everyone else showed up, which was good considering they didn’t leave until after 10:30 that night! Sheesh.

Compared to my first labor and delivery, this one was 8 hours from start to finish instead of 25. My water broke 2 hours before I delivered rather than 8. I pushed for 15 minutes rather than 2 ½ hours. This time around was shorter and I definitely had better control of myself during the contractions, but the actual delivery was definitely more intense. I’m not sure which is better.

As much as I don’t like being pregnant because that means I’m out of control—gaining weight, getting horrible acne, whatever else, and as hard work as labor is, I wouldn’t have missed it to meet Levi, and to experience one of the greatest bonds I’ll ever have. It always amazes me that no matter what, I’ll always have been Toby and Levi’s first home, their first teacher, their first caregiver…and that we’ll have a special closeness that no one else will ever know.

We knew early on we wanted the middle name to be Henry, after Brandon’s grandfather, since Toby’s middle name is after my grandfather. We would come across some names that we sort of liked, but ended with the same “e” sound and didn’t sound good together. Or we’d find something we liked but didn’t flow with Toby’s name very well. And of course Brandon is king of figuring out what horrid nickname the child will be called if we chose the wrong name…we liked Brody until Brandon thought I was saying “grody” one time. I had been holding onto several names since before Toby was born. Beau, Mason, Preston, Levi…and I had come up with some new ones like Tate, Oliver, Jonah, Simon. I was nearly begging for Tate because it means cheerful and I thought it sounded great with Toby. And Brandon was really coming around when out of nowhere, Brandon put Levi in front. And I have to say I think it is perfect for him.

Levi's very first photo, still attached.

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