Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hello Baby Gray | The Birth Story

I apologize for the lack of blogging as of late. I took a little... well... a long break after my son was born. I didn't intend to, but it happened. The chaos of taking care of a newborn and a toddler combined with my desire to focus all my energy on my family pushed blogging to the back-burner for awhile. But, baby boy is now a month old (as of yesterday) and we're finally settling into this business of being parents to two kids. I'm adjusting to my new life and I'm ready to dive back in to the blogging world. My fingers have been itching to type and to write out my thoughts...
Grayson Russell Duke's Birth Story

It was a beautiful morning in the middle of spring--the kind of day that makes you feel grateful to be alive. We hadn't slept much the night before, but the vibrant sun beaming down invigorated body and mind. Well, that and the fact that we knew we were going to have a baby that day... it was enough to keep us feeling awake and lively.

You might be wondering how we knew we were going to have a baby later that day. No, my water had not broken and my contractions weren't minutes apart (if they were my description of the morning might not have been so cheery). Instead I chose--well, we chose--to be induced. I've been hesitant to tell people this because everyone and there Aunt Sally has an opinion on it, and I just didn't want to deal with any negativity. Ultimately though it was the right choice for us--Sam was going out of town later in the week and I didn't want to risk his absence for the birth of our son. I mean, I married an awesome guy for a reason! I wanted to avoid feeling like a single mom on one of the most important days of my life... plus, he would have been devastated if he missed the big event. I was hopeful Grayson would make an appearance on his own, but he didn't. So we scheduled an appointment as close to Sam's departure date as possible, went in to the hospital, and had a baby. Well, it wasn't quite that simple... but pretty close.

Inductions are a funny thing. They called us the night before to confirm our "appointment"--a very tentative event since everything is contingent on how busy labor and delivery is on the day you want to come in. They told me to be ready as early as 6:00 am, and if I didn't hear from them by 10:00 am to call and check in. So I was basically on-call. Talk about nerve-wracking! We dropped Klair off at my Mother-in-Law's the night before, so we literally had nothing to keep us occupied other than our thoughts, anxieties, excitements, fears... all of it... until we heard from the hospital. I'm not sure I slept at all the night before (I did get a lot of cleaning/nesting done!) which likely heightened all of my emotions--both good and bad.

Once we were up and ready (we had been packed for quite awhile before that) I knew I needed to get out of the house. We decided to grab some breakfast and drive around. Finally at about 9:00 am they called us, and we rushed on over. Once we got there the nurse discovered that I was still only dilated to a 2, so she hooked me up to the monitors, put me on pitocin, and instructed us to wait until further dilation. After about an hour of pretty painful contractions I was given my epidural, and I suddenly felt better than I had in awhile. I think the epidural sedated me a bit, because I immediately relaxed and even slept some.

Things continued to progress very slowly, so they decided to increase my pitocin. Once they did this my body responded immediately and I dilated from a 3 to a 9 so rapidly that I could suddenly feel the labor pains again. Alarmed, I told the nurse who informed me that sometimes when you dilate too quickly it's hard for the epidural to catch up. Baby boy was right there ready to make his appearance, so the nurse told me to resist the urge to push while she went to fetch the doctor.

The mood in the room went from relaxing to urgent very quickly, and the nurses rushed to transform the space for delivery. Once my doctor arrived she coached me through, and it only took about 4 or 5 pushes (maybe 3 or 4 minutes) for him to come. 

During the delivery I had opted to watch the birth in a mirror. I wasn't sure I would be able to handle the sight, but I wanted to try. I'm glad I did. It was shocking, certainly, but also amazing to watch it all unfold. 

Immediately after he was born they placed him on my chest (my hospital has a new protocol called "the sacred hour" where they give mom and baby time for skin-to-skin and breastfeeding before measuring, weighing, or interrupting in any way). As he nestled into my chest they wiped him down a bit, Sam cut the cord, and then they left the three of us alone to bond. 

I laid there and held his delicate, perfect little body against my own. Tears of joy flowed from my eyes. I trembled to hold something so tiny and precious in my arms--to meet this boy who had occupied my thoughts and my heart for the past 9 months. With the love of my life by my side and this beautiful child in my arms, my heart was full. I closed my eyes, kissed his fuzzy little head, and thanked God. The room felt so still, so serene--so heavenly. Just like when my Klair Marie was born, the veil was thin and heaven itself seemed within our reach.

Grayson basically melted into my arms during the skin-to-skin time--we were both completely content. I had been apprehensive about how breastfeeding would go with a second kid, but it was like riding a bike for me and he took to it quickly. He was wide-eyed and alert--looking around the room with a sense of curiosity that made him seem much older than he was. After our sacred hour the nurses took him to do all of their tests and measurements.

At 4:52 pm on 4/13/15
with blonde hair and blue eyes 
at 8 lbs 5 oz and 20.5 inches long
Grayson Russell Duke made his entrance into this world.

He was perfect.

As soon as we saw him Sam and I both realized how much he looks like his sister. They absolutely look like the same baby! In fact, if someone saw pictures of Klair as a newborn they would likely think they were photos of Grayson. It's funny, because Sam and I couldn't be more different with our coloring and features. Yet, somehow we've created the same combination twice. Apparently the Klair-Grayson mix is what we get. I'm definitely okay with it! Klair is a pretty cute kid if I do say so myself--Grayson will do well to follow in her footsteps.

Speaking of Klair... dealing with her been interesting. Before Grayson was born I remember feeling afraid that we would have a hard newborn. Nope. He's been great! In reality we have had a hard toddler. Klair has been much more difficult to deal with than Grayson. Suffice it to say she really struggled for the first week or so and she's continuing to adjust. I think it may be a really long adjustment period. I get it though. She was the center of her universe and now she's... not. That would be hard for anyone. She is fully capable of feeling jealousy, but it's not a part of her vocabulary. She's encountering an emotion that she can't define or deal with it in any kind of a productive way. Instead we've seen an increase in tantrums and rule breaking as she vies for our attention and pushes the boundaries of her new world. 

Fortunately her interactions with Grayson have all been positive. She loves to dote on him, cover him in kisses, and hold him with our help. She also tries to be really helpful by fetching his binkie, diapers, etc. Her poor behavior aside, I'm definitely grateful she's taken on the role of "helper" and that she's sweet with him. 

But I have digressed. Back to the timeline of events. So Grayson was born and perfect, our families came to meet him at the hospital, and I started the road to recovery. When Klair came to visit she and Gray had a little gift exchange. A few weeks before he was born I took her to Target and let her pick out a present for her brother--she chose a tiny little stuffed bunny and some blue sunglasses. I also bought a present for Grayson to "give" to her--a baby doll complete with a bottle and diaper that she could feed and change. (I did this so Klair could have a baby to take care of while I take care of mine.)

When she showed up we conducted the gift exchange, and then she held him with our help and gave him kisses. Although she was excited, you could tell she was a bit confused and overwhelmed by it all. I'm sure it was a little scary for her to see me in that hospital bed hooked up to monitors and IVs, and I don't think she was fond of all the attention her new little brother was getting. I feel like the hardest part for her was that we didn't all go home together. Her new little brother got to stay with us, while she had to leave again. I made sure to take time to hold her and give her as much one on one as possible, but there was an undeniable sadness coupled with confusion reflected in her eyes. It broke my heart, and I just wanted to be with her. It felt like the only way to remedy it was to be together as a family again, but I was stuck in the hospital.

One of my good friends had a baby a few months ago, and I remember her telling me that she only stayed the minimum 24 hours because she was dying to get home. At the time I thought she was crazy. My first labor and delivery with Klair had been so rough that I wanted to stay at the hospital for a week! But, after Gray was born I understood why she went home after just a day. I didn't sleep well that first night at the hospital. Additionally, I felt great ("great" being a relative term of course-- relative to my first postnatal experience). I was up and walking around, even tidying the little hospital room. Comparing my behavior to our experience with Klair, Sam and I were both a little shocked to say the least. I felt good enough to go home, and I had a serious case of cabin fever. I wanted my own comfortable bed. Most of all I just wanted to be with both my babies and begin the adjustment to our new life. Thus, once the 24 hour mark hit they let us pack up and go home.

It would have been great! ...Except that we had a couple of unfortunate events befall us. First of all, a blizzard hit as we were driving home. So, even though I desperately wanted to get Klair we decided it wouldn't be wise to travel out of our way in the snow. Thus that night she stayed with my in-laws as originally planned, and we brought Grayson home by himself.  This turn of events may have been nice in a way--to have some bonding time with just Grayson--if it wasn't for the fact that Sam got sick that night. Like really, ridiculously sick with the flu. As the night unfolded I found myself wishing we had stayed at the hospital. I consoled myself with my super comfy bed. 

We spent the next week and a half or so with sickness in our house. Sam had it the worst, but Klair and I also got a touch of it. Luckily it skipped Grayson altogether-- a fact that we were extremely happy about. The flu combined with caring for a newborn and a (sick, cranky) toddler was pretty trying to say the least. Additionally, even though a turn of events enabled Sam to skip his business trip and work from home, he was working so much that it almost felt like he was gone anyway. 

In those moments I was really grateful that I was feeling so well (compared to my first recovery experience) and that Grayson is such an easy going baby. Even though it was hard to wake up in the middle of the night to feed him, I also savored (and continue to savor) those serene one-on-one moments with my sweet, tiny newborn. He has this calming quality about him--a tranquility to his soul. Don't get me wrong, he does cry--and at times he can sound pretty intense--but he calms down easily once his needs are met, and overall he is such a peaceful little babe. He even sleeps well through the night! He'll wake to feed, and go right back to sleep. I feel extremely blessed in that regard.

Once we got over our sickness, things really took a turn for the better. Klair has been less temperamental and has started adjusting. Additionally, when Sam went back to work it was scary to have two kids to myself all day, but it was also nice to jump into our new life. We have started some routines, and a sense of normalcy is returning. 

One thing I've had to do is to make sure that we leave the house at least once a day. This time of year simply begs for us to be outside, and Klair wakes up every morning asking "where are we going today, Mommy?" Having something to look forward to helps keep her in check... and I think it's actually pretty therapeutic for me too. It's definitely different this time around. When Klair was born (in November) we were forced to stay inside because it was too cold and there was too much sickness in indoor places. She didn't get out much her first few months of life. Alternately Gray is already used to being on the go. Having a spring baby is so... nice.

I think that pretty much sums up Gray's first month of life. He was circumcised at his two week appointment, and even though it terrified me he did great. He didn't even cry! What did make him mad was the PKU test they had to do where they prick their heel and squeeze drops of blood out. That was absolutely devastating for him. I don't think he has ever cried so hard or for so long... it took everything I had not to break down myself. 

At the appointment we discovered that he had already put on more than a pound from his original birth weight (which was quite an accomplishment considering the weight they lose after birth). He was in the 80th percentile for weight and length, and 40th for head. (We aren't really sure where he got that small head because no one else in our family has one, ha!) Sam actually weighed him a few days ago and he is packing it on at an impressive 11 pounds! He's put on about 3 pounds from his birth weight. I'm not too surprised though... he eats constantly. At this rate he is going to be a certified chunk... and I'm pretty excited about it. Chunky babies are the. absolute. best!

As far as milestones go he has been giving us little smiles from the time he was born, but they're getting more frequent now. I know people say they're meaningless but I'm convinced they're not. He started lifting his little head from birth like a champ. He's extremely alert when he's awake, and he began making eye contact after the first week. I absolutely love staring into those dreamy gray-blue eyes of his! He's also very strong already. He even breaks out of the velcro swaddles I put him in... which is pretty annoying. Oh! And he occasionally coos when he's looking at you. It melts my heart.

And I think that's it. Sorry for the randomness of this post, but I had a lot to catch up on and wanted to write it all down before I forget. After all it's the details that I adore now, and that I'll certainly cherish later. I still can't believe that God has blessed me with two perfect, healthy children. That's right--I have children (I'm still getting used to that idea) and I couldn't be more grateful for my little family. 
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1 comment:

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