While I think I wrote about the birth of Elijah and William much earlier than I’m getting around to writing about Benjamin’s birth, it isn’t because he’s the third child. Well, actually it is, but not in the way you’d think. This post is delayed because I am savoring every second with my family. I am holding my newborn as much as I want, without apology. I’m not in a rush to write because we are just busy living (also why this blog has been inactive for so long- life! It’s great!). And while I have wanted to write this down (for posterity and the ten of you who are interested), it was just less important than taking time with my family of five.
When we were trying to pick a name in the hours after he was born, I googled to find out what Benjamin meant and one website had it listed as “son of my pain” and yep. That could be the title of my birth story. A birth story that is dramatic only because I am dramatic. It was basically the most uneventful labor and delivery of all time.
My official due date was 8/18 and I had expected that he would be born right around that day. At my OB appointment on 8/8, I was 2.5cm dilated and 50% effaced. This didn’t seem terribly impressive since I was way more dilated with both Eli and Will for over a week before their births. While I was entirely physically miserable and embarrassingly over the top hormonal, I had mentally prepared that I’d see my OB on the 16th, she’d strip my membranes and labor would follow in a day or two. That’s…not what happened.
Friday (8/11) was a normal day. I went to a nice lunch with my husband (who worked from home that day), got the kids from preschool (their last day before a two week break) and took them and my niece out for ice cream in the afternoon. The evening proceeded as normal and I went to bed at 10ish.
I woke up from a weird work related dream at 12:45 and felt crampy. This wasn’t unusual and I didn’t think I was in labor, but I couldn’t go back to sleep (also not unusual), so I laid in bed and watched Friends for a while. At around 2, my husband came to bed (he’d slept for 3 hours in the middle of the day due to a horrendous migraine, so he was up late catching up on work). I still wasn’t in labor, but I suggested that he not go to bed just yet. I took a shower and at 2:30 we sat down to watch a TV show on the couch. At about 2:45, I realized that I had had 4 contractions since the show started and while they weren’t all that painful, I felt a lot of pressure and maybe this wasn’t nothing after all?
Since my labor with Will wasn’t terribly long and the hospital is 40 minutes away, we called my sister at 3am and headed out. The contractions continued but just didn’t really get terrible. I walked from the car to the hospital through multiple contractions, talking and generally feeling like this was going to be an embarrassing false alarm. I got admitted around 4:15am and was 4.5cm and 70% effaced with contractions every 2-3 minutes. The contractions were uncomfortable, but they were shorter than what I remembered with Eli and Will and I was managing them well. I really thought they were going to observe me and discharge me.
I labored pretty easily for the next two hours, though I made my request for an epidural known from the start because I am just not a person who has ever desired an unmedicated labor. It took a while to get through the admission process, then get the blood work done, then get the IV going. When this was all done at 6:30, the nurse told me the anesthesiologist was in a c-section but that he would come when they were done. She checked me again and I was about 5.5cm dilated and fully effaced. Two minutes later in the middle of a contraction I had a horrible pain (it felt literally like the baby had stabbed me) and ten seconds later, my water broke. It was only at this point that I realized that oh, this really was labor.
The nurse checked me again to confirm it was my water and I was 6cm dilated and baby was at zero station. She warned me of what I already knew- that my easy labor was about to get significantly less pleasant. Even with an epidural I felt how much worse contractions were once my water was broken with my big kids and I was not thrilled.
25 indescribably painful minutes later, my body started trying to push through contractions. I told my nurse that I knew it sounded crazy, but I had a ton of pressure (on top of holy shit pain) and physically could not stop pushing. She checked me again and I was already fully dilated, which explained why the previous 25 minutes had been so awful. At this point my husband asked the nurse if I was getting an epidural and she confirmed that wouldn’t be happening. I had suspected from when my water broke that I wouldn’t be getting it, but hearing it out loud was the worst (my husband later said that he knew it would be hard to hear but that he thought it would help me get in the right head space to finish the labor. He was absolutely right. I still cried.)
For the next 20 minutes, each contraction was me fighting against my body. I had never felt the urge to push with Eli or Will (yay epidurals!), so this was totally foreign. The pain was horrendous, but trying not to let my body push (the baby was still too high for delivery) was 100x worse.
My nurse was an absolute godsend- she stayed by my bedside for the entire time and held up her finger through each contraction and had me pretend it was a candle. I blew out that freaking candle like it was my job. I felt so ridiculous blowing on a stranger’s finger but it worked and that’s all that mattered. I don’t want to make it sound like my husband wasn’t also helpful because he was, but he and I were both so out of our element that the nurse was totally in charge. Despite this being my third labor, I really felt like I had never done this before.
At 7:15 my nurse had to swap out because her shift was over. During the world’s fastest shift change report (because her high maintenance patient (read: me) needed her desperately), I started to feel an unbelievable amount of pressure. The new nurse checked me and said I was definitely complete, but he was still at +1 station, so it wouldn’t be long but I wasn’t quite ready to push yet. She stepped out to grab a doctor since we were getting close. A med student came in and got gowned and gloved and just as the resident stepped into the room, a contraction started and suddenly the baby’s head was out. Everyone all at once screamed for me not to push, as though I did it on purpose (at which point I screamed back, super rationally, “I THINK HE JUST RIPPED ME IN HAAAAAAALF.”) and they all started scrambling to get gloves and get the baby.
Moments later, without any intentional pushing on my part, he was out. I have never, in the entirety of my life, experienced anything that painful. I’ve also never experienced relief like when he was completely out.
Benjamin Andrew was born at 7:20am on Saturday August 12th. He weighed in at 6 pounds and 12 ounces, and was 19 inches long, making him the smallest of our bunch. I never wanted an unmedicated labor (and was woefully unprepared for it), but the reward was worth it.
We were discharged on Sunday and of course, after months of my children being perfectly healthy, William spiked a 101 degree fever that morning. We decided that I’d stay in the master bedroom with Ben until Will was healthy, but it was damn near impossible to fully seclude ourselves. Elijah wanted so badly to see the baby, but he’d been around William all morning and he’s 5, so his understanding of germ management is zero. My mom and husband wanted to help me but they were helping William and it just started to feel like it would be impossible to keep the germs out. Without a doubt, a lot (all?) of this anxiety was postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation and in hindsight, I’m sure we would’ve been fine at home. But in that moment I felt an overwhelming need to protect Ben and I was sure I couldn’t do that in my house.
So Ben and I headed to my sister’s house, and stayed in her guest room. Will’s fever broke the next day and my saint of a mother worked feverishly to disinfect the house. We came home the next night and have happily been here since. I won’t say that I regret going to my sister’s house because it’s what I felt I needed to do in that moment, but it’s not something I plan to do again.
The boys absolutely adore their baby brother and it’s so abundantly clear that our family is complete. It feels like Ben was our missing piece and now we are whole. He is the sweetest baby and we are all loving every second with him. Each day I wake up and feel like the luckiest person on earth to have this house full of boys. I never knew you could feel so much love for so many people at once and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life savoring this feeling.