Friday, June 29, 2012

Day # 2

Both my bags came just before bed, so that was comforting.  Was able to deliver some of the things I had brought to Nikki and had all my stuff of course.  Had a good night sleep.  Was very warm, but had the ceiling fan on and it didn't stop me from sleeping.  I didn't use the mosquito net since it blocks the air.  Only woke up with 3 mosquito bites - so I considered it a success.  I'll trade 3 bites for being a little cooler.  Took a cold shower before going to bed and then a quick one when I woke up.  Oh - the Internet is free between 2am and 7am so I did wake up at 5am or so and sync up my computer and stuff before going back to sleep - then woke up at 7:30am or so.  I went up to see what was going on with Nikki and the kids.  The kids were still sleeping though just a few minutes after that Wedly woke up.  He was pretty subdued as he woke up - could tell he was still waking up for a while.  We came out on the porch and played for a bit.  Wedly rode his Red Flyer tricycle back and forth quite a bit.  Then road this Cozy Coup car a bit as well (one where you move it by walking your feet - has a door that opens to get in and a steering wheel).  Then I pushed him back and forth some on it - going quite a bit faster than he goes by himself - he really like it. 

Then we got the basketball and shot some at the little basketball hoop.  After he would do it he would say "Daddy's turn" - then I would shoot - then we'd say Wedly's turn.  We also played catch with the little basketball for a bit.  Not sure Wedly ever caught it, but he did corral it pretty quickly and throw it back (two handed over head throw).  At some point Eventz woke up and Nikki had finished getting Oatmeal ready.  Wedly had his with bananas,  I had raisins and bananas and brown sugar.  And Nikki gave me a locally made strawberry yogurt drink - was good as well.  Part of the boy's typical meal time is taking their clothes off - came out of being much easier to keep them clean.  Now Wedly is a pretty clean eater so it isn't as much out of necessity as just the usual.  Though for lunch today I forgot and he ate fine with them, till Nikki reminded me and we took them off.  So he doesn't seem to care.

After breakfast Wedly brushed his teeth (he sits in their sink for doing this) - he brushes for a little while and then I finish making sure to hit everything (this will still take some practice to get better at working together on it). 

We spent the next hour or so hanging out inside and out - played with the nerf dart gun (they like this) and also building the Thomas the train stuff.  About 9:15, Mateja (Mah tay yah) came by as it was time for PreSchool.  Wedly was pretty insistent to grab her hand to walk down the stairs, but also then asked for mine.  Since there wasn't room for all 3 of us though he walked down with her.  We went to the baby house where the Nannies were singing to all the kids for singing and prayer time.  Wedly was with Mateja (she later said that is typical, that he feels comfortable sitting with her) - but as soon as I sat down he left her and came to sit on my lap!  We sat for the time of singing and prayer - was a neat experience as the Nanny leading was passionately singing and sharing in Creole.  After that was over we went outside the building with all the kids heading to pre-school.  Mateja sits them down and has shoes for them to put on (none of them usually wear shoes, but the preschoolers get to learn to put on shoes and head to school) - seems like a nice visual of transition for them.  Then they each grab a ring in a rope and Mateja starts heading to school.  Right then however Nikki came up and said that Wedly's dad had showed up - so we decided we'd skip school today! 

Having Wedly's dad show up unexpectedly brought a bunch of emotions, not something I was quite ready for, but it's all good.  Wedly's dad has his fiancé with him as well.  When Wedly realized his "papa" was there he jumped off the pre-school line and ran to him - he was excited to see him.  Of course this raised a stir of emotions.  The 5 of us (and Eventz for part of the time) sat down in the room off the main building and chatted.  Wedly sat on his Papa's lap (plan is to refer to him as Papa as I am "Daddy") while we chatted and then later sat on the floor and watched a movie with Eventz on Nikki's I pad.  His Dad again asked to confirm that we were Christians and were planning on raising him in the faith.  Nikki shared again our involvement in our church and he was reassured.  He asked if Sarah was here, we explained why she wasn't (Gabriel) and I showed them a picture of her and Gabriel on my phone.  Wedly is very reserved most of the time - and as all this was going on he did in fact seem even more so - I'm sure it’s a confusing for him trying to understand how everything all fits together.  And I'm sitting there wondering how this is all going to turn out, if it is going to be hard / confusing / and possibly end difficultly.  When we came last year, when Wedly's dad visited - his Papa leaving would cause him to cry pretty bad (Nikki later told me that he hasn't been that way as much recently, she thinks that he's starting to figure out the situation better).  I went and grabbed the scrapbook that Sarah had made (pictures of Wedly), some standalone pictures, and also a couple of T-shirts as souvenirs from Washington for him.  We spent some time looking through the book.  Wedly's dad said he was excited to give some of the standalone pictures to his 2 kids to remember Wedly by.  Nikki explained each of the titles that Sarah had put on the various pages of events of Wedly's life (birth days, etc).  At some point in this Eventz broke down a bit so Nikki ran him off for a Nanny to watch - Wedly came and sat on my lap.  This was comforting probably mostly to me - he still wanted to be with me!  But still tough to comprehend all the emotions each of us were feeling.  I can't imagine being in his Dad's position either.

His dad multiple times shared that he will be praying for our travels and for us as we raise Wedly - I thanked him.  He shared that he still doesn't have a job, has been considering going to the Dominican Republic for work, but that if he were to get caught they are not treated well (Haitian's who try to sneak across the border).  He shared that Wedly's brother and sister finished their school tests and will be moving to the next grade (3rd and 5th I think).  Not sure if that was leaving or entering into.  They have been living with him, but now that it is summer one of them is away with I think an aunt.  Wedly's papa shared that he's living in the house that belonged to his parents (passed away) but that it needs work.  There were some hints dropped at this need and then various other needs with the costs for putting his children into school.  He shared that he feels it is very important for his children to go to school and get an education.  At some point I offer for Wedly to go back to his Dad and he did.  He has been dating his fiancé for about a year and hopes that they will be able to be married.  We talked about church a bit - sounds like we will go at 10am, supposedly lasts till 12:30 or so - actually starts at 8am, but said it would be ok if we come at 10am.  I'm going to stick out like a sore thumb - they supposedly dress up very much for church and I didn't bring super nice clothes.  Oh well.  One side comment that was interesting - Wedly's dad mentioned that he was getting over being sick - I mentioned that I also was just about through a cold, and we both coughed at the same time.  He however had this strange item which was about the same size as chap stick, but pulled apart and he would inhale through his nose.  I'm guessing a Haitian placebo equivalent of those anti-cold medicines we have!  :-)  Just was a little strange as he would stick these two chapstick looking things into his nose.  Wedly was equally intrigued as he sat on his Papa's lap watching him do this.  Wedly's papa asked if we would be able to stay in contact over the phone or come see him in the future - Nikki astutely mentioned that the language difference would make that tough.

After we finished our conversation we gave Wedly, his papa and papa's fiancé some time to hang out since that is why they had come.  I went over to the pavilion and played with a bunch of the other kids for a while and then came into the volunteer house after that.  They sat with him out under the big tree for probably 2 hours!  When they were ready to go (just before lunch) Wedly's papa was holding him.  Nikki called me over - as I was walking over Wedly asked/worked his way down and came over to me to be picked up!  Though I'm sure there are mixed emotions on his papa's side as well, it was very heartwarming for me to see Wedly choose to come to me on his own - even in the midst of a complicated situation.  He seems to be understanding the situation at least a little, though you could still see some confusion and concern at the whole thing in his eyes.  It has to be hard to internalize. 

Next for lunch the boys had some rice with bean sauce in a bowl.  I gave it a try and I wouldn't guess it would be my favorite - very interesting, but as with I guess just about any food - Wedly was fine with it.   After lunch it was nap time.  We put all 3 of them down, but Wedly never ended up going to sleep.  He quietly laid there for at least an hour and a half - playing quietly with a teddy bear or just sitting there.  Nikki left around 2pm to go with a number of the other staffers to a funeral (husband of one of the Nannies) and I was tasked with babysitting the 3 boys.  Josiah woke first, then Eventz.  Then with Eventz playing with the toys it was hard to leave Wedly in his room longer so I let him get up.  Then we setup the pool (filled with air) and hooked Wedly and Events up with their swim diapers and swim trunks.  Wedly then gladly turned the hose on and began filling the pool.  As it was filling we had a good time splashing and shooting the hose at each other. 

After hitting me with the water from the hose Wedly would say - "Daddy, you're wet!".  Pool games include running in circles in the pool, splashing each other, driving trucks in the pool, and going down the slide into the pool.  Mix in between a ride or two around the porch on the tricycle and you have a fun afternoon of enjoying being a little cooler.  Josiah even joined us in the pool for a while.  Then fed Josiah half of his bottle before he conked and I couldn't get him to stay awake, so put him down for a little more nap.  Next I gave Eventz and Wedly turns riding in the Cozy Car - they both love going very fast in it and doing 180's.  Somewhere in our play time someone had brought a box full of Haitian pastries commemorating some event - so the three of us shared a pastry.  Nikki got home at 5 or so and started on dinner.  Hot dogs and stale cheese puffs (apparently the only way they come in Haiti!). 

 After dinner we again played trains and nerf dart gun, though the gun seems to be working less and less often, we decided that the batteries might be getting weak.  I made a nice long track for the trains and it was very cute when Wedly saw it and said "Good Job Daddy!".  After a bit (6:30) it was time for bath to bedtime ritual.  Wedly typically goes to bed the earliest with Eventz being a night owl.  I said "are you ready for Bath time"?  He said yes and raced toward the bathroom giddily and we went through the bath sequence.  He doesn't like water pouring on his head because it gets in his eyes, so that took a little doing, but I was successful keeping it out so hopefully I built some confidence.  After bath, diaper goes on, and then another race across the room for teeth brushing.  Again he does first pass and then let me finish.  Then to the bed room, tonight the whole procedure is led by me and just us.  We read the three standard books (our picture book, sesame street book, and Pooh bee book).  Afterward I sang the ABC song, then Wedly sang the ABC song, then I sang the first verse of Amazing Grace.  Then I led him through prayer and then prayed for him afterward.  Ritual completed it was hugs and kisses goodnight and Wedly laid down on his favorite (front left) corner - then lights out.  With no nap time, I'm pretty sure it was a quick to sleep night...  Another great day, God you are good.  The rest of the evening was spent relaxing under the Mango tree in what seems to be a much cooler evening (the high was supposed to only be 91 today, so it appears it has cooled down a little).

Dan's Adventure - Arriving at COTP and meeting Wedley

6/28/12 - The rest of the trip to Cap

Flights overall went great. Slept a little between LAX and Miami, but only as much as can be expected in economy on a 4.5hr flight. 1st class from Miami to Port was nice - had an Omelet, fried potatoes, bagel, and a number of glasses of orange juice. The flight was delayed a little due to having to power down the aircraft to check/fix an indicator light, but still made it to Port basically on time. Because I was in 1st class I did get one of the few immigration papers - this was nice because after we took the shuttle bus to the arrival area I was able to get right in the immigration line (because I had it pre-filled out). Whipped through that and waited just 5min or so before my bags came across. Grabbed them and passed through customs in just a few seconds and was heading down the sidewalk with 2x50lb roller bags and a 40lb backpack - successfully dogging the "helpers". Halfway down the walk I ran into someone with my name on a paper - appeared to just be a cab driver that had been arranged. We walked to the usual run down Isuzu trooper and he drove me to the local terminal just down the street. On the way talked to Ivans (?) on the cab drivers cell phone - turned out I was to pay the Cabby after I got checked in. Checking in they charged me more per pound than I expected - appeared to be for 70lb by charged 90 bucks. I argued a little because the electronic receipt clearly stated $1/lb, but figured it very likely could be out of date. And since they let me carry my backpack and full laptop case without charge I figured wasn't worth arguing. They were able to move me to an earlier flight since I was so quick through, but still ended up waiting for 45min or so while a nice scene played out around the airplane out side. 10 or so people were huddled around the far side airplane wheel on the rear landing gear. Lots of staring, examining, head scratching, and they brought out a huge jack and jacked the plane up and ended up removing the tire. Then they worked on it some, still not sure whether they were actually doing something or were just examining closely. In the end they put it back on and eventually gave the go ahead to start boarding. 22min 2/3 full flight was uneventful except the nice view of the Citadel (pointed out by the guy behind me tapping the wall around my left ear for probably 30 sec before I realized that he was trying to get my attention to point it out. After arriving at the terminal, waiting to see if my 2 huge bags would show up and found that Juleesa had been left there to wait for me. She was toward the end of a 1month stay, from LA. We chatted while we waitied for Adam and Reekins to get back from the bank. My bags didn't make it on the flight which is typical, especially for "extra" bags. An hour or so later Adam and Reekins showed up and we spent another 45min sorting out the Mail from the Agape flight. The customs agents go through everything and come up with an amount of tax that COTP has to pay - then literally it is a negotiation back and forth until an agreement is reached which probably results in a tax to the government and the left over to the customs people. 5 boxes of diapers, 9 boxes of misc clothes and kids’ stuff and I think the duty was $75 to $100. After loading up mail boxes into the King Cab busted up maroon Toyota with snorkel, we headed to downtown to do some shopping. The main store in the market that Adam was aiming for was closed, so we went to a number of other stores to get some 6month old formula, powdered milk and a few other items. Then another store right by the water front which was more of a grocery store, was the target to pick up a bunch of items for special 4th of July meal (chips, salsa, sausage). Then we made the trip to COTP - I rode in the back of the pickup bed on top of all the mail boxes, Juleesa was there as well.

Arrived at COTP around 3pm, Wedley was still sleeping so after taking some stuff into my room (room w/ private bath right off the volunteer kitchen - same as we stayed in last time) - I went up and hung out with Nikki, Eventz, and Josiah - as Wedley was still sleeping. Eventually Nikki just woke him up because he just kept sleeping. I was sitting on the porch - when he came out. He came to me pointing "Papa" - said it several times. Nikki coached to say "Daddy", and actually Daddy it was for the rest of the day. Wedley sat on my lap for a while and I hugged him tight a number of times. Nikki went through who I was multiple time with him saying "Daddy". She brought out our picture book and had him look at it, point to mommy and daddy and then also point to me and say who I was - "Daddy". After a while we went on a walk - spent some time in the playground, Wedley did the zip line a few times. Whenever we walked anywhere Wedley was sure to grab my hand to walk with me. I did a number of different swings with him, over my head etc. He loved all of them - was a good sign. After a bit we walked back and looked at the new construction - Nick and Nikki's house is looking great and coming along nicely. There is also another building that doesn't have a roof yet, but is coming along. I carried Wedley some and he walked some. Oh - we also looked at the rabbits. Next we came back and Nikki started cooking dinner - I sat for a bit and actually drifted to sleep for a few minutes. Then went outside and Wedley sat on my lap again while the volunteers were having Bible study below - fell asleep again there, must be pretty low on sleep since its 5pm eastern or so. When dinner was ready, Nikki had Wedley sit at the big table next to me - he stayed on knees to be tall enough. Nikki cooked pasta, corn, and some pineapple rings. Was great. Wedley of course took his and my plate to the sink. Then we went into the living room and Nikki asked Wedley if he wanted to read, he said yes and she told him to go get a book. instead of going to the normal bookshelf, he did something Nikki said he had never done and went into the bedroom and grabbed the 2 bedtime books that we made for him (with our voices) and brought them to read. I went through them with him. Next we played with the trains (Wedley, Eventz, and I). When we wrapped that up, it was time for bath time (beginning of bedtime ritual). Wedley got a bit upset at first when he thought that I wasn't coming with him, he grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the bathroom. Nikki started the bath, then I finished by washing him as he called out the part we were washing "hand" etc. Then I put a diaper on him (Size4) and then Wedley brushed his teeth with me finishing. Lastly we went to Wedley’s room and Nikki read through his two bedtime books. Then I sang him the Alphabet song and then he sang it as well. Through all this last part, Eventz started getting really riled up - Nikki said this is the typical behavior every night. Lastly Nikki walked Wedley through a prayer. I kissed him good night and we shut the light off. Overall I am very encouraged by the first day, of which I had so many unknowns and questions about. Not knowing how Wedley would respond, if I would be any different than any other visitor. He seemed to understand that we have a special relationship. Oh - I also spent a little time tickling him and giving him Zerberts - he was really laughing pretty good, that can get him going. One other thing of note - with his gentle spirit he is also pretty quiet, has a pretty high and quiet voice. Tomorrow the plan will be more of me hanging out with him all day, breakfast, preschool, pool time maybe etc - and I'll do a few more of the ritual things - reading the bed time stuff, probably doing the whole bath etc. Tomorrow or the next day he will take a nap in my room. By the weekend he will stay with me over night. By Monday we'll try to have Nikki totally out of the picture (as much as possible).

Dan's Adventure: Day 1

6/27/12 - 7pm

Well a milestone in this family adventure arrived today. After lots of wondering when it would actually come, being busy with so many areas of life to help pass the time, trying to manage efforts at work not know when the time would come, and spending a hopefully adequate amount of time preparing for it, it is here. Thanks to a decent itinerary was able to work a good chunk of the day and then also finish getting ready before snagging an evening flight out for an eventual red-eye to Miami and then Port Au Prince. Side effects of booking travel late and having to pay a little more for it was getting first class seating on 2/3 of the legs (both directions). I won't complain, although as I sit in my wide seat with shoulder and leg room I do feel a little snobbish. We've got it pretty good.

It's going to be a different experience not traveling with my best friend and travel companion of the last 9.5 years - I miss you already babe. But knowing she is at home doing a tremendous job taking care of our wonderful Gabe offers some consolation. We were talking on the way in that sometimes we have to split the duties now as our family grows. I'm going to miss a week plus of Gabe's rapid changing and she is going to miss the initial transition with Wedley. She got the short end of the stick a little, but obviously we wouldn't trade the way it has turned out for anything.

So here I am, sitting in first class on the first leg of 4 to make it to Cap Haitien tomorrow mid-day. What will meeting Wedley be like this time? Will he know who I am? What will it mean to him? What will be going through his mind? How shocking will all the new things be for him. How hard will it be for him? Will his grief start soon or be something we deal with later on? Will he quickly attach to me or will it be a very long process. How will changing a 3yr old's diaper on the airplane be? All questions that will soon answer themselves to one degree or another.

Well - time to make landing preparations, I'll take in a little more of the book "Inside Transracial Adoption" and see what I can absorb to be the best adoptive parent I can be.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dan is in Haiti!!!

Yesterday Dan left for Haiti. It was so surreal. We've been waiting for this day for SUCH a long time. This morning (afternoon, Haiti time) he arrived at COTP. I got a quick e-mail from Nikki's phone saying he arrived safely, but the internet is down and he'd e-mail me when it was back up. I am so excited to hear how his first day went.

We've been doing well here, Gabe and I. Last night we spent the night up at mom and dad's cause Heidi and the boys were up there. It was a fun evening and a great day! Gabe slept great and has been much less fussy. And he smiled 4 times that evening! It was so exciting since we've only seen him smile a couple of times. It was pretty darn cute. We just wish Dan could have been there to witness it. We sure are missing him!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

One Month Old!

Our little Gabriel turned 1 month today. What can I tell you about this little bundle of joy?
-He has such long blond hair and it’s almost always the first thing people comment on.
-He has dark blue eyes and long blond eyelashes.
-He is long (a week ago he was 22 inches long) and has been gaining weight fairly well. At the doctor’s office yesterday he was 9 pounds 13 ounces, though he did have a cloth diaper on and a onesie.
-He is starting to coo a bit.
-I got my first smile (well, it looked like a genuine smile to me) on Wednesday. And it was witnessed by Dan. I’ll admit, it made me cry.
-He nurses every 1 to 2.5 hours, pretty much around the clock. This boy LOVES to eat!!! Last night was the first time that I got to sleep for a stretch of 2.5 hours and it was awesome! The other blessing there is that he’s starting to be okay with sleeping in his co-sleeper at night. In the morning after Dan gets up for work, I pull him into bed with me and we sleep a bit longer.
-He pretty much refuses to take a pacifier… He just isn’t easily tricked and wants the real thing.
-We pretty much have no schedule. When he cries, I feed him and he is almost always soothed. The only time that doesn’t work is when he is having gas pains. I am trying to figure out if my diet is the culprit of that (not fun!)
-We like to take family walks in the evening to the bottom of the road and do so almost every evening.

-He has such a strong neck. He can hold his head up on his own for such a long time! And when he’s awake and not nursing, he loves to have his arms going. He is a boy in motion and it makes me a little nervous for when he becomes mobile.

-He is not such a fan of bath time, though he’s getting better each time. He does love to have his hair washed under the faucet. He gets these big eyes and is so cute!
 We are loving watching this little boy grow!

A Happy Belated Fathers Day to my husband!

For his first father’s day, I just have to brag on my husband a bit. At just 3.5 weeks old, there isn’t a whole lot Dan is able to do to be a great dad for Gabriel, but there has been so much he’s done for me in the last several weeks that have shown just what a great dad he is, simply in his support for me. He’s changed many diapers, done many loads of laundry and I don’t know how many loads of dishes. He’s picked up the house and offered many words of encouragement to me. He’s done a ton of work outside the house in preparation for Wedley’s homecoming. And seriously, I haven’t heard one word of complaint. He loves us so much and I’m so thankful that this year we were able to celebrate him as a father. Thank you to our Heavenly Father for the gift of our boys.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gabriel - the first two weeks of life.

I want to remember what these first few weeks were like, so here are a few of my memories... Our first night home from the hospital, Gabe started to act like he was hurting. Where ordinarily he would be comforted by nursing, he became inconsolable and it was obvious that he was trying to poop and was in pain because of his inability to. Let me go back and say that up to this point he hadn't really had a poop, which is very unusual. Usually you want to see the first poop within 24 hours. This had his nurse momma VERY concerned, particularly if he was in pain. I talked Dan into taking me and Gabe into urgent care, but during the car ride, Gabriel fell asleep and seemed comfortable, so we returned home, comforted by the fact that we had an appointment with the pediatrician the next morning. We were very grateful that during his visit with his pediatrician, he had his first poop (when he was almost 60 hours old)! This made me very, very happy. The other thing we were watching was his jaundice level, which was a bit high just prior to our leaving the hospital. We ended up having a few blood draws to make sure it was getting dangerously high. Gabriel LOVES to eat. It seems he eats constantly, both night and day. I hear most newborns sleep approximately 16 hours a day. Not this boy! I'm hoping to get him into a good schedule by the time his brother comes home. These last few days he's become much more alert and interactive. He makes more eye contact and has all kinds of great facial expressions and has started to make little cooing noises. He loves to move his arms around and gets hicups several times every day. He knows when his momma is holding him and usually starts to cry shortly after being transferred to anyone elses arms, though he's getting more comfortable with his daddy. Dan on occassion will play the piano with Gabe on his lap, which Gabe seems to enjoy. One thing Gabriel doesn't like is lying on his back. He'll sleep pretty well in my arms, but as soon as he gets transferred into his co-sleeper, he wakes up and will only be soothed again to sleep with nursing. This makes for some long nights. After one such night, Dan took him out for a drive, since he seems to like his car seat. They headed to Kalama and took a little walk, then went to Grandma and Grandpa Stuarts where they stayed for a little visit. Here are a few pictures from the past couple of weeks:

Heading Home!

We have a Visa appointment

We have a Visa appointment. Our little boy will be home soon!! It is scheduled for June 22nd, exactly 1 month after Gabe was born. We don't have airline tickets yet, so we don't know exactly when he will be home, but it will probably be around the 4th of July. Hooray!! It seems like the wait has been so long.

Gabriel Joseph Stuart has arrived!!!

Seeing as little Gabe is now over 2 weeks old, I think I better write down all I remember about his entrance to the world. Time has been in a warp since his arrival. I don’t know if this past weeks has seemed incredibly short or incredibly long. Regardless it’s been incredibly lovely. And emotional and maybe just a little bit tiring ;)! Last Monday, May 21st, I headed into town to run some errands. I was hoping it would be a quick trip in, but had a few stops to make. First stop, Bed Bath and Beyond. Now, as mentioned before, I’d had lots of contractions over the last couple of months, but it was here (probably around 11 am) that I noticed that the contractions were starting to feel different. Before I had felt a tightening throughout my belly. I can’t really describe how they made me feel other than that they made it hard to breathe, though they weren’t too painful. These new ones were definitely more painful and rather than feeling them throughout the uterus, the pain was concentrated down towards my cervix. So, I started timing them. Every 12 minutes or so. So, I called Dan who was almost 2 hours away up in Dupont to tell him what was going on. He wondered if he should come home and I told him no…I’d let him know if and when they got closer together. I continued to run my errands and then headed for home. After arriving home, I figured I better finish getting my bags packed and ran around doing just that as well as picking up the house, just in case this really was the big day. The contractions were coming anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes apart at this point and after running around like crazy trying to get everything done I wanted to get done, I called Dan to tell him he best get on the road. It was 4pm at this point, which is when he was supposed to leave anyway, but I figured I better make sure he wasn’t staying over. At this point the contractions were getting more painful, so I ran a warm bath and jumped in to see if the water would cause the contractions to make a decision one way or another…to either fizzle out, or come on more strong. They chose the later and started coming much more frequently, like ever 3-5 minutes. Dan showed up around 5:45 and I told him we should probably think about heading in, so we excitedly loaded up the car and made our way into the hospital. In triage I was hooked up to the monitor and we saw that our little guy was looking great! Next was to check my cervix. I was a little disappointed to hear I was only 3 cm, but my midwife said she was sure I was in early labor and I could either be admitted, head home, or just go for a walk. We chose to leave the hospital and take a walk around the surrounding neighborhoods, rather than in the halls of the unit. I’m so glad we chose this option. It was so nice out and I thoroughly enjoyed the cool breeze as we walked the streets. I felt really good between contractions and I found I had to stop walking and just lean on Dan during the contractions. We walked for about an hour before heading back to the birth center. At this point the contractions were getting stronger and I was ready to get into the water. So, back to triage we went where I was checked again and told I was 5 cm dilated. Woohoo! After they got the tub all set up, I got in and labored for awhile until I started feeling the urge to push. My immediate thought was, awesome, this is almost done. But Kate, my midwife, wanted to check me first and after doing so, gave me the heartbreaking news that my cervix was only dilated to a 6.5. Oh dear. For the next bit of time (I had absolutely no concept of time) I tried to continue to breathe through the contraction and just not push. The only way I can describe this is torturous. I had planned on using good breathing techniques as well as think about pleasant things through each contraction to help distract myself. The problem was that if I didn’t concentrate on not pushing, I automatically started pushing. So each contraction came on full force and all I was able to do was try to repeat to myself to not push. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes I was not. Being an L&D nurse in this situation was not very helpful because I knew the consequences of pushing before your cervix is gone. So not only was I in extreme pain, fighting an urge that is extremely strong, but I also was so, so worried that I wouldn’t be able to fight the urge for much longer and would screw everything up and end up back in a c/section. Here is where my team became so valuable. My husband, mom and sister were there to encourage me through all this. My midwife and two nurses (Debbie and Tressa) told me over and over and over again that I could do it. I must say I didn’t believe them, but knowing that I had really wanted a natural childbirth, they never let me waver from that. I must have asked to be checked a million times, simply because I wanted to be able to be push just as soon as possible, since it was so hard to resist the urge. I also told them over and over again that I just didn’t think I could do it. I wasn’t yelling or crying in pain, though, just moaning through the contractions, so they probably thought I was doing better than I actually was. I asked if maybe it wouldn’t help to have my water broken to speed things up, though the thought of the contractions intensifying was more than I could bear. Rather than break my water, I labored through quite a few more contractions, but was so miserable and somewhat unsuccessful at not pushing through the contractions, so I got out of the tub and into the bed to see if a change in position would help. Kate went ahead and checked me again and broke my water at that point. The rest of the story is a bit hazy for me. They hooked me up to a monitor and at first it sounded like the heartrate went down a bit, then I heard Kate say that it was coming back up. I was having such a hard time not pushing, that after a few contractions I was checked again and while the cervix wasn’t all the way gone, I got the go ahead to do some light pushing with each contraction. With pushing the baby’s heart rate went down and stayed down, though they were having a hard time figuring out if they were monitoring me or the baby. Finally, they put a monitor on the baby’s head (called a scalp lead) so they could accurately assess how the baby was doing. His heart rate was down and it was apparent that we needed to get him out and soon (as it turns out, he had a really, really short cord, which probably was the cause of his heart rate dipping so low as the baby came down). My mom tells me that Tressa (my old manager when I worked nights) came to my side and told me something along the lines that this was the most important moment in my life so far, to work to push my baby out. I pushed as hard as I could and before long a doctor came in to help me in my efforts with a vacuum. At this point the room filled up with a TON of people, 3 RN’s, my midwife, Dr. McGuire, Dan, Heidi, my mom and several people from the nursery team to help support the baby should he need it. They hooked up the vacuum to his little head and I think two pushes later, out came his head (with the vacuum popping off once). His body was soon to follow and then the most beautiful sound in the world, his little cry. He was born at 3:31 am on 5/22/12. They placed him on my chest and I got to enjoy looking at my beautiful son while they sewed me up. The whole experience of giving birth was so much harder than I ever anticipated. When I think about the possibility of having another, I quickly think “no way, the pain was more than I could bear.” As I’ve mentioned this to Dan, he’s quickly reminded me that if the pain is the only thing keeping me from having another, I can always get an epidural! I guess that’s true, though I’d probably be too stubborn to let myself actually do it! And hopefully next time labor will be quicker. 