And as with the first story, here is your disclaimer: considering this is an entire post dedicated to labor and the birthing of a baby, TMI is pretty much a given. Consider yourself warned.
Kyler and I like to tell people (who inevitably ask when they find out how close together Kayden and Cameron are) that Cam was in fact planned - just not yet. We actually didn't find out I was even pregnant until I was over 8 weeks along. With my pregnancy with Kayden, the nausea didn't really kick in until about 6 weeks, and since he was only about seven months old when Cam was conceived, I was already exhausted.
So we had no clue. I hadn't had a period since we conceived Kayden, so we didn't even know I was ovulating, much less when that would even happen. Cam was literally conceived the first time I ovulated after having Kayden. (This certainly gives me pause when I think of so many of my friends who have struggled for years to conceive. We are blessed, indeed.) It wasn't until I had endured excruciatingly painful nursing sessions with Kayden for nearly two weeks that I began to wonder what was going on. Seriously, every time my milk "let down" it felt like someone was yanking a string of barbed wire out of me. So not fun.
Finally, I walked in the door one day to coffee brewing and nearly lost my lunch. This hadn't happened with Kayden, but it was last in a line of "Hmmmm....I wonder...." incidents that pushed me to crawl into the back of the cabinet under the bathroom sink and dig out a pregnancy test. I remember sitting there in the bathroom watching that little stick for the two-minutes-that-seemed-like-two-hours thinking that surely, there had to be another explanation.
The first test was very clear. So clear, in fact, that Kyler and I decided there must be something wrong with it. After all, the expiration date had gone by, and I was nursing, so maybe that affected the results...who knows? Surely, I wasn't pregnant again. Yeah, we were in complete and total denial.
You know how this goes. I was pregnant, and the second test was even more clear than the first. When I went in for my OB to confirm the pregnancy, I was a big, swirling ball of complete terror and elation. Oddly enough, I had just been in their office two weeks prior, already pregnant unbeknownst to us all, for a routine exam. It was pretty amusing to see the realization come over the nurse's face when she asked for the date of my last period so she could calculate my due date. Keep in mind this was February 2007. I answered: "July 25th....2005." She looked up with a quizzical, about-to-challenge-my-recollection look on her face when I added, "I'm nursing a baby."
Two weeks later, an ultrasound confirmed that I was about 10 weeks along, due sometime around Labor Day, appropriately.
If you read Kayden's birth story, you know I was induced with him. Consequently, I knew what it felt like to be in full-fledged labor, but I had not a clue what it was like to go into labor. In that regard, it was like a first pregnancy all over again. Thankfully, my body didn't react to my pregnancy with Cam with near the vehement opposition (swelling, high-blood pressure, etc.) that it did with Kayden, although as d-day approached, it was clear he was going to be every bit as big as his older brother.
My contractions started on a Thursday morning, two weeks before my due date. I was doing laundry with Kayden, and it took me about an hour to realize these weren't like the "practice" contractions I'd been having previously. They were completely erratic at first, only about 45 seconds long, and coming every five, then twenty, then twelve minutes.
After about two hours, I started keeping track and called Kyler at work to let him know, just in case. Oh, and I packed a hospital bag, which I (naturally) hadn't gotten around to yet. When Kayden went down for a nap three hours later, I took a shower and laid down for awhile, and the contractions stopped. (My mother-in-law (a former maternity nurse) tells me this is basically how you can "test" to see if it's real labor: try to make it stop.) So, I figured this was just a test run.
That evening, I had worship team practice at church. Given the day's events, Kyler and Kayden came along to Shepherdstown and hung out at his parents' house. When I arrived, I found out that many/most of the integral people needed for rehearsal (drummer, guitarist, another vocalist, etc.) had one emergency or another come up and wouldn't be there, so our worship pastor was cancelling practice, an incredibly rare (if not unprecedented) occurrence. We had been talking for several weeks about trying to schedule a time when I could come out to his recording studio (housed in his garage) and work on vocal recordings for a CD our church was putting together. Knowing it wasn't going to happen anytime after soon after Cameron arrived and that it needed to be done soon, that night seemed convenient since practice was cancelled. Simultaneously, Kyler's parents had offered to watch Kayden for the night so I could get some rest (really, I think mom-in-law suspected I'd go into labor - smart lady). So Kyler met us at our worship pastor Ken's house, and sat in on the recording session.
I guess I should mention that I'd felt some milder contractions starting up again about the time I arrived at church for practice earlier. So, I started writing them down again, and passed that task to Kyler once we'd arrived at Ken's and started recording. After about 1.5 hours of recording, Ken noticed that sometimes in the middle of songs, I was pointing over to Kyler. (What he claims he didn't notice until he re-listened to a few tracks after-the-fact were tiny, spontaneous voice cracks that appeared "randomly" in the middle of songs...) Curious (and amused, no doubt) he asked what was going on.
Those of you who know Ken can imagine his "surprised" face here. It was pretty darn funny when he realized I was recording a CD through contractions. Looking back, it is pretty amusing, I guess. Some of the worship team now affectionately refer to that CD as "Heather's Labor CD," as (come to find out) I was actually in labor while recording it.
We finished up around 10pm, and Kyler and I headed home. The contractions hadn't stopped, but they "settled down" when I got into bed. Kyler (my wonderful, self-sacrificing husband) slept on the (too small for him) couch that night so I could have the whole bed to myself.
Around 4:30am, I awoke from a terrible dream, where I was crumpled up in a ball and in a lot of pain. Come to find out, I was actually crumpled up in a ball and in a lot of pain. I think I must have spent about 20 minutes trying to convince myself I was dreaming and to go back to sleep so the pain would stop. Of course, it didn't.
Still thinking this wasn't the real deal, (and remembering what had worked the day before), I got in the shower. After getting the shampoo into my hair and doubling over with another contraction, I woke up and was convinced. This was the real deal. I was too uncomfortable to even dry my hair, so up into a ponytail it went. It was time to get Kyler up and call the doctor, so I went downstairs.
I still give Kyler a hard time about how he reacted that morning. He was totally unconvinced that I was actually in labor. I called my doctor around 6:30am and got the go-ahead to get in the car and come to the hospital. We live about an hour from where I deliver, so we needed to get a move on. My contractions were now five minutes apart, but they were lasting nearly two minutes. When I finally convinced Kyler to quit messing around, pick out his stinkin' clothes and get me in the car, we headed out the door. It was now just after 7am.
Funny thing. We got about 15 minutes down the road and ran into a pretty continuous line of traffic traveling slower-than-normal. I'm thinking, "What is going ON?!" when the commuter in me from years past remembered: it was rush hour. This was going to be just like the traffic I had driven in to get to school for three years. Except worse, because my body wasn't trying to have a baby any of those mornings...
There we were, Kyler trying to negotiate traffic with me next to him, in labor. I was the stereotypical wife-in-labor-in-the-passenger-seat, gripping the door handle and breathing through contractions as we sat helplessly through each successive stoplight. I remember pulling up to one stoplight, dead even with the car next to us. The guy looked over, dressed in his nice business suit, sipping his morning coffee. It was pretty amusing - as amusing as it could be to a woman in intense pain - to see the realization come over his face. Yeah, buddy. That's exactly what's going on here. You wanna let my husband over into that lane, please?
We arrived at the hospital around 8:30am. It took me about five minutes to muster up the guts to get out of the car. I was ready to have that baby right there, just nobody move me! I must have looked like a little kid trying to make it to the bathroom in time, the way I shuffled to the birthing center doors, convinced Cameron was going to just fall out at any instant.
Come to find out after the nurse did a quick cervical exam that I was already 7.5 cm dilated and in transition. My limbs were shaking uncontrollably. As she turned away, I looked lovingly at my husband and said, "I told you I was in labor!" (And then I smiled. Really. I wasn't bitter.)
At that point, I think I caved. The nurse asked if I wanted an epidural, and I heard my mouth blurt out, "Yes." This wasn't what we'd discussed, so Kyler tried to talk me out of it (like I'd instructed him to), but I was done. Exhausted after a full day and night of contractions, riddled with anxiety after driving through rush hour to get to the hospital, suddenly worried about the nerve damage I'd had with Kayden, and honestly, terrified about how quickly things were moving, I just lost my belief that I could do this the way I wanted to (free of anesthesia).
Aside: If you haven't read Kayden's birth story, and especially if you think I'm nuts for not wanting an epidural and may look down on you because you did, please head on over and read the paragraph on pain management before you think I'm judging you. I'm not.
If I thought things were moving quickly before I was admitted and asked for an epidural, then I guess I have to describe what happened next as darn near frantic. I had at least 4-5 nurses swarming around me, prepping me for the epidural, getting an IV in and an ID bracelet on, and doing the labor interview (you know the questions: "Any allergies? Prior complications? Does your husband beat you?" YES. They ask that. And usually, they make the husband leave. I pre-empted this question and asked her to please get on with it...)
Unfortunately, it was same story, second verse as soon as they got the epidural in. It didn't take properly, and my progress basically stopped. I was totally numb in one side, and having extraordinary pain in the other side, comparatively. And as with my labor with Kayden, they fiddled with it until I was so full of anesthetic I couldn't feel anything. I was so frustrated, and beginning to fear that I'd suffer the same nerve damage as a result of not being able to feel how to push correctly. That is, until Dr. C walked in. Up to that point, we weren't completely sure who would be delivering, since I was admitted right at the on-call shift change. This doctor had made a point to sit down with Kyler and I and discuss my previous labor with Kayden, why he believed I suffered the nerve damage, and how he wanted to see me labor this time to prevent it from happening again. He reviewed the delivery position again with me each time I saw him in the last two months, and always took the time to answer my questions and reassure me. I can't tell you what a difference that made, and I trusted him implicitly.
After an hour of basically no progress, I was put on a Pitocin drip and slowly labored towards 10cm. My doctor left to take a lunch break, but after about ten minutes, Cam's heart rate began to drop, and I was put on oxygen. Same story as with Kayden. So, I asked the nurse to call Dr. C back so we could just do this thing.
My water still hadn't broken, so the doc broke it, and I geared myself up for the long haul. When it was time, I pushed ONCE, and Dr. C made me stop, mid-push, to prevent Cam from just flying right on out! I pushed a second time, and his head was delivered. Kayden's enormous head had paved a road, apparently, and after only 15 short months, my body didn't have too much trouble recollecting how to get a baby out! At this point, Dr. C asked me if I wanted to help deliver the rest of him. I thought I was hearing things, and judging by Kyler's face, he did too. But Dr. C asked again, and then proceeded to give me instructions on what he wanted me to do on the next push.
What followed was pretty incredible. Dr. C had me sit at about a 30* angle (as if I were about to take off water skiing), push and lean up as if I were doing an abdominal crunch, and reach out to help catch my baby. I put my hands under his arms as I pushed, and my doctor supported his head and bottom as I pulled him out and up into my arms. I can't tell you the vast spectrum of mixed reactions we get when Kyler or I tell this story, but truly, it was incredible to actually help deliver my own child.
Cameron weighed in at 9lbs. 1oz. and was 21in. long. It's amazing how different he looked compared to Kayden with that extra 1/2 pound, and without the extra 2 inches. (And it's even more amazing to me that I got that much baby out in three pushes!) He still sports around some pretty cute chipmunk cheeks.
By comparison, I felt sooooo much better than I did after Kayden's delivery. After I had Kayden, I didn't eat for hours, even though I hadn't eaten for over 24 hours. Cameron was born at 1:19pm, and by 5:00pm I was chowing down on a cheeseburger and fries that Kyler brought me from Ruby Tuesdays. Yum.
Kayden was an absolutely heroic big brother. (He still surprises me with the depth of his empathy, compassion, and patience.) It was heartbreaking and phenomenal to watch him transform from my baby into a big brother in span of mere days. I think it actually took me longer to adjust to having Cameron around! At just shy of 16 months apart, they certainly made those first few weeks (and still make every day) an adventure in mommyhood (if you haven't read this post, it's highly worth a read, particularly if you are a fan of "Not Me!" Monday...) :)