Monday, September 21, 2009

The Rest of the Story

Two months and a day have gone by since that magnificent moment when Shav was born and our family changed forever. Now it's Monday again, just like the day of his birth; and my thoughts have been full of remembrance of that Monday. Before any more time goes by, I want to capture more of the memories associated with his birth and fill in some of the gaps left by the parts of his birth story that I already wrote (found here, here, and here). I've been desiring to write this post for quite a while and, in fact, had started it weeks ago, jotting down ideas of things I wanted to write about and even including a few pictures that Misty took when Shav was only five days old. But I never took the time to sit down and flesh out my quick notes, so this post languished as a draft for far longer than I intended. The pictures aren't current anymore, but they're still beautiful to me so I'll include them anyway. :)

Some things I don't want to forget...

~ On the day Shav was born, Jeff was wearing a white shirt; but when he got home from his early morning Greek lesson at the barbershop, he wanted to change into a darker shirt because he thought he might get dirty. I grabbed a black shirt from his closet for him, and he quickly changed into that. I became very familiar with that shirt that day, especially when I was standing up pushing, because my face was pressed against it as I tried to practically bury myself in Jeff and because both fists were clutching handfuls of it as tightly as could be--that is, when I wasn't clawing Jeff's back. :)

~ I've already written about Ann Swartz being one of the nurses in the room with us when Shav was born. I was so grateful to have her there, but it didn't occur to me until much later how special her presence was because she was the first medical professional I saw during that pregnancy. During my first appointment at SWHC at the very beginning of my prenatal care and during delivery, she was involved. I could just call her Alpha and Omega--the beginning and the end. :)

~ I still am not sure who exactly was in the room with me when Shav was born, but I did find it interesting that for at least two of those present (Debbie, one of the nurses, and Dr. Cassidy, the doctor from SWHC who was required to be there because Tammy, the midwife, was still completing her training), it was the first time they had ever seen a woman stand up to give birth. Tammy had seen it before so she wasn't surprised by it, but she did comment during my six-week follow-up appointment that in that position, the gown just gets in the way and she wished she had asked me to just take it off. :)

~ Even though at the time, I was literally mad that time ran out and I didn't get an epidural :), in the end, I was immensely glad that I didn't get one. The recovery, at least from my personal experience, is SO MUCH quicker and easier and better without one. I love being able to be up and about soon after birth, able to walk from my hospital room to the nursery to watch them care for my baby there and go through their various procedures and tests, able to shower and feel cleansed, able to go to the bathroom by myself! Looking back, I'm extremely grateful that time ran out for me and I missed the epidural. My dad's comment about all of this was that if I ever get pregnant again, I should just give up hope of having an epidural because my labors tend to progress too quickly for that. My response to him was that I would have him put in the IV before I ever got to the hospital so that I would be all ready for the epidural when I got there. ;) But seriously, I'm so happy that I didn't end up getting one; and my frustration about missing it vanished just as soon as Shav was born!

~ My total time in labor was 3 hours and 19 minutes: from 5:55 AM when my water broke until 9:14 AM when he was born. Definitely my shortest labor yet.

~ The pushing phase was so fast and intense that Shav actually came out kind of bruised from it. I wouldn't have noticed that his forehead was bruised because newborns' skin is splotchy anyway! :) But the nurses commented on it, as did the doctor who examined him. In addition, he had a red patch in the white of his left eye from burst blood vessels, I believe; but I was assured that it was nothing to worry about. Sure enough, it disappeared in due time. One feature that hasn't disappeared yet is Shav's "stork bite" (which, now that I look it up on, should really be called an "angel kiss" since it's on his forehead, not the back of the neck where stork bites occur...I stand corrected). The BabyCenter article that I linked to says that angel kisses usually go away by age 2, and I would agree with that based on our experience with David having one.

~ Before Shav was born, Josiah had told us that he didn't want to know whether it was a boy or girl until he got to the hospital. We said, "OK," but I was a little doubtful that he would really hold out that long before his desire to know overwhelmed his desire to be surprised. Sure enough, after we called and told the good news of our new SON to Wilma who was babysitting the boys, not too much time went by before Josiah needed to know, so I think he asked one of her girls what the baby was, and she told him it was a boy. :)

~ After I gave birth, I was SO HUNGRY. The best hospital food I've ever tasted was the breakfast I was given; french toast and some kind of baked apples were what I remember of the meal, but I know I wolfed down ALL of it. It was still fairly soon after birth so my memory is a little groggy about who exactly was doing what, but I think Jeff was preparing the food for me: cutting it into bites, putting syrup on the french toast, actually feeding me, too, I think. :) The rest of the time in the hospital, I thought the food was pretty good but would have been a whole lot better if they let themselves cook with salt! :) I remember that I was thirsty--almost unquenchably so--and whenever the nurses asked if there was anything else they could do for me, I always asked them to bring me something to drink: grape juice, milk, ice water, etc. When I got home, I missed having somebody to bring me a drink. :)

~ A few people commented that they were surprised how quickly I blogged after giving birth; and somewhere in the picture archives on our other computer, I have a picture that Jeff took of me in the hospital bed typing on the laptop while Shav was in the background, going through his initial examination by the team of nurses in the room with us, probably less than a half hour after birth. I was certainly eager to share our good news, that's for sure; but my speed at blogging was also made possible because really, what else is there to do in the hospital? :) Of course, the most important thing was holding Shav to get acquainted with him, laughing and talking with Jeff and my mom about how things went, and just savoring the euphoria that came after the birth; but realistically, when Shav was in someone else's care, I didn't find it difficult to make time for blogging. After I got home and had family and household responsibilities, it was harder to find time; but in the hospital, it was fairly easy. :)

~ Shav lost a little weight after birth, which is completely normal; and unlike when Josiah dropped in weight in his first few days of life, I didn't worry a bit about Shav. His weight at discharge was 8 lbs, 11.5 oz, just down 3.5 oz from birth. I took him to my dad's office to have him weighed and measured last evening; and he was 12 lbs, 10 oz, and 23 and 1/2 inches long.

~ One distinct physical characteristic of Shav is a little--what should I call it?--dimple in his chin. It's not a traditional dimple, but it is a little hollowed-out spot right in the middle of his chin. The nurses commented on that in the hospital. I think it's adorable. :)

~ The day Shav was born, we had some special visitors: Jeff and the boys were the first to come, of course (Jeff and my mom had returned home a while after the birth so that Jeff could gather the boys and return); then my mom came back, and while she was still there, my sister came for a while and later my dad came; then in the evening, the Sacra family came as well as my friend Misty (who came bearing delicious muffins, several of which were devoured by me that first night since I felt absolutely ravenous). It was delightful to share our joy with those who came to visit! We knew that, as excited as the big brothers would be to meet their new little brother, their attention wouldn't be held for long by a newborn, so I had gotten a new book for each of them: Where's Waldo books for both Josiah and David (different ones in the series) and an animal board book that made noise for Tobin. They enjoyed looking at their new books, but even still, they grew restless fairly quickly and started becoming a little too curious, in a hands-on way, about the various enticing features of the hospital room (particularly David and Tobin). When Tobin kept scooting straight for the numerous cords and gadgets behind the hospital bed, we knew it was time for them to leave. :)

~ For quite some time after the birth, the nurses continued to monitor my vital signs; and I had a blood pressure cuff on my arm that automatically inflated every so often. Whenever it tightened, the places on my hands and arms where they had stuck me to get the IV going throbbed like crazy. Ouch! That was an unexpected pain.

~ All the nurses I had were really nice, and some took the time to stay a while and chat when they were in my room. Of course, all of them asked about Shav's name so I got some good practice in giving my explanation about that. :) Thinking back, I can't remember any interaction with them that was negative, and that is a huge blessing.

~ Another blessing: I didn't tear at all. Not having to deal with stitches or much discomfort in that area was wonderful!

~ That first night, after all the visitors had gone and I had nursed Shav, one of the nurses came in to see how things were going and to ask if I wanted her to take Shav to the nursery. I hesitated, liking the idea of him rooming in but also liking the idea of getting some solid sleep; then I asked her what she thought I should do. Without a bit of hesitation, she said that I should let her take him to the nursery so I could rest. I appreciated her advice and agreed, happily and peacefully sleeping, then happily and excitedly awaking when she brought Shav back several hours later and I heard his hungry cries. When Josiah was born (in California), I couldn't bear to think of him being taken off to the nursery; surely he would feel abandoned, right?! :) So he stayed with me all the time; but when we were in Israel, because of hospital policy, I had no choice but to let David stay in the nursery. They just do things differently there, and one of the things they feel is important is for the mother to get a good stretch of sleep while the newborn is going through that first long sleepy period. With Josiah, I felt like nurses were coming in all the time asking, "Have you fed your baby yet?" as if he would surely starve if I didn't feed him every two hours that first night--talk about freaking a new mom out. With David, the nurses didn't mind if he went up to six hours (if I remember correctly) at night without a feeding. I could hardly relax and enjoy my rest that night because I kept hearing the California nurses saying in the back of my head, "Have you fed your baby?" ;) Anyway, I've learned to be a little more mellow about all of that, so when the nurse encouraged me to let her take Shav to the nursery, I didn't feel badly about taking advantage of her offer so that I could sleep. I also remembered back to the experience in Israel when I urged the nurses to please, please, please bring him to me if he cried; I hated the thought of him alone in the nursery wailing his heart out. Looking back, I now realize that of course they would bring him! So with this Virginia nurse, I didn't have any fear that she would be lax in her duties and leave Shav crying in despair while I slumbered. :)

~ The morning after I gave birth, Melody was the midwife who made rounds; and it was fun to see her. Neither she nor the doctor who checked Shav gave me any grief about leaving as soon as I could on that day (unlike our Israel experience when David was that case, we practically felt like we were breaking out of prison to try to get the doctors to release us before 48 hours had passed).

~ When we were ready to go, a very sweet old lady who was a volunteer came with a wheelchair for me (it's hospital policy that the new moms have to be wheeled out, I guess). I felt so good that I certainly didn't see the need to ride in a wheelchair; maybe I should have been the one pushing it and the kind lady could have had a ride! :) She was talkative, and happened to know some former neighbors of ours so we had that connection. She kept up a steady stream of conversation while Jeff went to get the van and pull it up to the entrance. I was secretly glad when he arrived because I was finding the small talk a little cumbersome. :)

~ After I had already gotten in the van and while Jeff was still loading some things, someone came out the door of the hospital with a gorgeous large bouquet of flowers and three shiny welcome-baby helium balloons. As I was admiring them and casually wondering who they were for, the delivery person looked around, spotted us, and came over to give them to us. I was so surprised!! The flowers and balloons--one for each of the big brothers--were given to us by a local florist and her mother who are friends of ours. It was a truly unexpected joy!

Ah, such sweet memories to think back on Shav's birth! Such a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Such a treasure! And in the end, we had this incredible new little soul to bring home with us, to watch, to care for, to teach and train, to enjoy, to love!

Before I end this lengthy post, I want to add a "hallelujah!" postscript to it. Shav slept 9 hours straight last night!!! He finished his last feeding about 10:00 PM and didn't wake up until about 7:00 this morning. He didn't even have a fussy time in the middle of the night! After only one night of some minor crying-it-out (Friday), he smoothly transitioned to sleeping through the night; and although we're bound to have some setbacks along the way, this is a HUGE step. I'm so proud of him and SO GRATEFUL!

Shav, you're a jewel, and words can never express how privileged I feel to be your mommy: to have carried you inside me for many months, to have participated with you in our own unique dance of birth, and now to nurture you and watch you grow. I will never stop thanking God for the gift He gave me in you!


Polly said...

Those photographs are utterly priceless and precious!

What great details! I had to laugh at the breakfast comment. My water broke at 2 am Wed morning, so my last meal was Tuesday night around 8 pm. I gave birth at 1 am Thursday morning and had eaten NOTHING. Then there was no food available at the hospital (?!) until breakfast time. After 23 hours of labor and nearly 40 hours without food, that meal I ate was literally THE most delicious, scrumptious, fantastic meal I had ever tasted in my life. (Plain old eggs, bagel, cream cheese...snickers bar from husband...) I ate every bite!

Elizabeth said...

What a wonderful post Davene! I loved every part of it. It makes me so excited and thankful for what God is giving to me. Thanks for sharing and I am so happy you got a full nights sleep! :P

Cherishing Young Biblical Womanhood said...

In years to come, you will greatly appreciate all the effort you put into writing these priceless details. What a wonderful legacy!

Morning said...

What perfect photos -- and it's wonderful to read the accompanying text. Goodness, but you remember so much -- all I really remember is asking if he had the right number of fingers and toes, and then being so relieved it was all over!

Margie said...

This is wonderful, Davene. I wish I had written as many details - perhaps I did, somewhere, a journal? - especially after Sarah's birth, but you have this HERE, in a place your children can read in years to come.

And the sleep: Praise God. As you said, HUGE. I'm so happy for you, and hope longer sleep continues for you.