Dear Timothy Stephen Graber,
We welcomed you into our hearts many months ago….and now, we’ve welcomed you into our arms and lives! You were born October 31st at 10:52 pm. You weighed a healthy 9 lbs 4 oz, were 21 ½ inches long and had a whopper 14 ½” head.
I had a nice, leisurely pre-labor, having consistent Braxton hicks (5-10 minutes apart, mostly….but sometimes 15) from Thursday (the 27th) through Saturday early afternoon. There were a couple spots where they tapered off and became sporadic for a few hours, and then would kick in at a consistent rate again. Saturday afternoon-Sunday contractions were just sporadic…the calm before the storm.
I did a lot of walking during those days, to help keep things moving and tone and prepare my body for labor. It was really exciting to know I’d be meeting you soon, but sometimes all the emotional energy that went into excitement and anticipation, thinking that maybe “this” would be the day things would kick in for real, and disappointment when they didn’t, got a little wearing. Sunday, though, I was able to let it go and move back to focusing on normal life instead of putting all my focus on when you might come. We had a great family day, enjoying a nice hike, and then went out to an afternoon dinner at Hometown Buffet with some friends of ours, the Moffitts and others, who do an annual October get together there.
Sunday night they were still sporadic, but increased in intensity to something like bad menstrual cramps. As soon as I woke up Monday morning, the day of your birth, they became regular, 5-10 minutes apart. At one point, they became a bit more sporadic, getting as far apart as 15 minutes. However, they still stayed strong, and increased some throughout the morning. So I thought that maybe we’d be meeting you in the next day or so.
It wasn’t till 1pm that things really kicked in and I knew almost undoubtedly I was in labor for real. I still didn’t think we’d get to meet you that same day, though- I thought for sure you’d be a November 1st baby, not quite able to believe your labor could be so much faster than Vivi’s. Around 1, when I was nursing Vivi asleep for her nap the contractions started feeling like real labor contractions. Within an hour or so, they were intense enough that I generally had to stop or slow down what I was doing during a contraction.
After Daddy was done with work, sometime around 3, we went for a walk together. Vivi didn’t understand why we stopped every several minutes instead of keeping forward as she’d commanded! It was fun to spend the time with Daddy and Vivi, anticipating your birth and knowing for sure we’d be meeting you really soon! When we got home, I decided to lay down and rest some. The contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes, and by 4 had started getting even stronger. Between 4 and 6 they continued to get stronger and stronger, and Daddy started working to get everything ready. I had tried to get the house fairly ready (cleaned up, all the laundry caught up, etc.) earlier in the day….but Daddy had his hands full filling up the pool, laying out table cloths (to keep the floor dry), helping Vivi, and doing various other odd jobs. He was a great labor mate, and helped me in so many ways!
At 6, I called Cindy Rogel, our midwife, to update her on where things were at. Contractions were getting pretty difficult to deal with, so I decided to try getting in the pool and see if they would still stay steady, or if they tapered off too much. Since it wasn’t very full yet, Vivi came in with me for a while, too, and I spent quite a bit of time nursing her. It was helpful to be able to nurse and snuggle with her for a while….she thought my labor was hilarious for quite a while, but having a mommy who wasn’t available to her was getting to be a little much for Vivi by then. Somewhere in there, Daddy asked if he could call Grandma Carmichael to ask her to come (I’d kept her updated throughout the day), because he felt like things were really moving. She got to our house around 6:30, along with Brylee Kay. At that point, Vivi got back out of the pool, and I ended up following shortly. I was really enjoying the relaxation of the water, but my contractions were spacing out quite a bit, so I thought maybe it’d be better to wait and keep them coming faster.
Shortly thereafter, Daddy called Grandma Graber and asked her to come, which worked out really well. Vivi was starting to have a difficult time with things again, and a grandma totally focused on her was the perfect remedy. She was really excited to have both grandmas around! Around 8:15, Daddy called Cindy to update her and ask her to come, and somewhere around there, I got back in the pool, because I was having a hard time staying on top of the contractions again. This time, contractions stayed 2-3 minutes apart, even in the water. The water was so helpful in being able to relax. I was able to totally phase out and rest during the short breaks between the contractions, and just like during Vivi’s labor, Daddy held my face out of the water for me. The water helped take the edge off during the contractions, too, and overall, although it was hard work, I was fairly comfortable, and managed to stay on top of the contractions fairly well.
Somewhere around 9, Ben put Vivi down to bed for the night. She had a bit of a difficult time, but did much better than I expected, considering everything that was going on. He ended up being in there for 45 minutes or so with her. Around 9 as well, Cindy got there, and set up her stuff. After she’d been there for a while, I asked if she’d be interested in checking me soon, and she said she would whenever I wanted her to. She started getting ready to do so, so she could time it between contractions. Several contractions later, before checking me, Cindy commented that my last contraction had sounded a little pushy, and asked if I was feeling the need to bear down. I told her I wasn’t sure, but that I had never felt an urge to push with Vivi, either…I take after my mom. With the next contraction, I mentioned that I was feeling a lot of pressure in my bottom. Cindy was confident from the way I was acting and signs I was giving that I was about ready to start pushing, but offered to still check me if I wanted to so that I knew. I said I did. Around that time, Ben came out, so he was there when Cindy checked me and said I was fully dilated and pretty much fully effaced. She also checked the heartbeat, which was good and strong. I could hardly believe I was already so far along. Everyone else there thought we’d have an October baby after all, which shocked me….it was exciting to realize that I really might be meeting you in the next couple hours! Cindy directed me to wait a contraction or two, and then try bearing down gently for a few contractions and see how it felt before actually starting to push.
Around 10, I started bearing down. It didn’t feel like it brought any relief from the contraction, as it does for many women, but it didn’t hurt more, either, so after several contractions I shifted to real pushing. It took me a little while to get in a groove- the bag of waters hadn’t broke yet, and I felt like I had a hard time telling if the pushing was even effective at all.
Daddy was a great supporter the whole time- without him, I couldn’t have done it. The last hour was pretty intense for me, and I had a hard time dealing with the contractions and pressure very well. I felt like things easily got out of my control. But Daddy was such a good encourager, helping me to relax, to zone out between contractions, and reminding me many times that I really could do this. The rest of my birth team was great, too- reminding me of the miracle to come, and offering encouraging helps along the way. I didn’t expect it, because I have very positive memories of Vivi’s birth, and overall felt like it was a beautiful miracle, but some of the difficulties of her birth- especially pushing for 2 ½ hours, and holding her head in a full crown for an hour- became a bit of a mental hang up for me, even though I knew it was likely that your birth would be very different, being a 2nd born. I almost felt paralyzed as the pushing progressed and I could feel your head coming down- afraid of how long the discomfort would last and certain I couldn’t handle holding you in a crown for an hour. But Daddy and the rest of the team encouraged me to keep going, and that it would only be a matter of a few more pushes before you were out. In retrospect, it was a good lesson in how much the mental effects giving birth. Although it still went really well, I think the last hour would’ve been even better, and easier to stay on top of (especially considering it really wasn’t all that long a period), if not for the sudden and unexpected mental hang-ups, and focusing on how long it *might* end up being.
Cindy ended up breaking my water for me, since we were so close to the end, and she knew feeling the “bone on bone” would help with the final pushes. It definitely intensified things, but it also made it a lot easier to feel what my pushing was doing, and feel you moving down, which was helpful.
I spent most of the labor in a hands and knees position (with my hands usually on the edge of the pool, in Daddy’s), because that felt like it relieved the pressure and contraction pain the best. Cindy asked how I wanted to deliver you, and I mentioned that I would prefer to deliver you sitting or squatting, so I could see you right away. But I also mentioned that at that point, that position wasn’t comfortable, so if I was still in hands and knees when you were born, I was okay with that…I’d rather be able to stay on top of contractions and push effectively. Once I could feel your head actually coming, I asked with every contraction whether or not you were in a crown yet. I still didn’t particularly like pushing, but it was hard to stop when the contractions were ended, leaving all the pressure just hanging there while waiting for another contraction to hit. Daddy and the water helped me to relax, though, even through the very end of the birth. Every time I started to feel a contraction coming on, I would lift my head out of the water, grab Daddy’s hands and say, “Okay, here we go…” Pretty soon we hit a full crown, and when you didn’t emerge all the way through with that contraction, Cindy told me the next one would be it. The next contraction didn’t bring a head, either, and I panicked that we still had a really long haul ahead of us, just like your sister’s birth, and wasn’t sure how I could keep doing it for an hour. 3rd contraction, though, and a push that used everything I had, brought your head all the way through. I instinctively flipped over to a sitting/squatting position, and the rest of your body slipped out really fast, without any pushing. I didn’t even realize I had flipped over; later I said something to Daddy about Cindy having helped me flip and he said she didn’t….that I just moved myself. I guess my body knew what it needed to do, and I was so glad to be able to see you right away as Cindy lifted your beautiful body up out of the water. We could all see right away that you were a boy, and Grandma Graber and Cindy also noticed that your cord had broken right after you came out of the water, filling the pool with blood. Cindy put you on my chest and we wrapped you in a towel.
You were bluish, probably from the lack of oxygen with your cord breaking so fast. You did cry right away, though, and although you were quieter and a long time in opening your eyes, you still seemed to do really well with it. Cindy helped rub you down well and was watching you carefully….I remember asking her several times if you were okay. My after-birth contractions were really intense as my body worked to birth the placenta, so after a little while I gave you to Daddy for the first time. Daddy adores you, and was thrilled to meet you. Prior to that, Viviana had woke up, so Daddy brought her out to see us. She was a little bewildered at first, and cried as she fully woke up and tried to figure out what was going on….and why mama was still in the pool. Once she woke up, though, she was fully enamored by you. It was so special to watch Daddy introduce you to her, and see how excited she was about “baby”. She took you under her wing immediately, and was very protective of you. The whole rest of the night, she wanted to be right by you, looking out for you. The placenta took an hour to deliver, and between being really tired, and dealing with the contractions, mommy was a little out of it…but not so much that I didn’t enjoy getting to listen to your grandmas, Daddy, and Vivi meet and enjoy you. You got really alert for quite a while with them.
Grandma Graber held you while Daddy, Cindy, and Grandma Carmichael (who also had Aunt Brylee Kay) helped with Vivi and helped get me cleaned up, dressed, and settled in on the couch in the living room. Once I was situated there, I got you back, and you enjoyed nursing and playing at my breast. Vivi joined us, too, which was special- enjoying my two babies together for the first time. I also nursed Vivi some, though you weren’t interested at that point, so it wasn’t till Tuesday that I tandem nursed you two for the first time. I enjoyed snuggling with you and getting to know you while Cindy cleaned up the birth mess, prior to weighing, measuring, and checking you. It was probably 1 in the morning before Cindy checked you out- healthy and good to go! After that, Daddy took Vivi back to bed, and mommy, Cindy, and your grandmas chatted for a while. Grandma Carmichael also got to hold you for a while in there, while Brylee was playing with Vivi. Everyone left between 1:30-2:30, and around 3, Daddy and I settled in to sleep. You were really tuckered out from the birth, so you slept soundly, and didn’t start nursing much till the next day. You were so quiet while sleeping that I kept periodically nudging you to make sure you were okay.
I’m so grateful God blessed us with a beautiful labor and birth experience. I’m also thankful for the wonderful birth team we had, and how perfect they were for me. Daddy makes the best labor partner in the world, always sensitive to my needs, and always strong for me. Most of all, though, I’m just thankful for you- my beautiful and healthy baby boy! God’s blessed us so abundantly in choosing to make you part of our family, and we’re so glad you’re finally here with us! We love you, Timothy!
*Note: for more pictures of our little guy, visit this link*