Friday, August 5, 2016

The Birth of Benjamin, Part Four

In just over a month, my beloved little Benjamin will turn one year old; but before that great day comes, I've got some catching up to do!!  Not only am I behind in the monthly updates I love to do for my babies, I also have neglected to completely finish his birth story.  Oh, I've gotten to the point when he was born, thank goodness!  :)  But I have written virtually nothing about the rest of my hospital stay.  Between now and the day he turns one, my goal is to get caught up on this record of his early life.  I know my track record with such lofty aspirations is less than stellar, but I'm really determined to make this happen.  Time will tell.  :)

To jump back in time, here is the beginning of Benjamin's birth story, then part two and part three, and then a very special post with pictures from our birth photographer.  And now, to pick up the story -- and finish it this time!  :)

I'm grateful that after I got settled in the bed after Benjamin was born, I was given plenty of time to cuddle with him before he was taken away to be weighed/measured/bathed, etc.  I think I needed that time of having him in my arms to allow the reality of what had just happened to sink in.  His birth was so quick and still felt a little unreal!

Eventually though, the nurses took him; and as he was laying here, Jeff snapped a picture and posted it to Facebook.  We were EAGER to share the good news of his birth (even though virtually all the friends in our time zone were still asleep).  :)
Jeff also took a picture of Robin, our WONDERFUL birth photographer; she took so many meaningful pictures for us, and it's nice to have one of her!  :)
Robin didn't seem to be in any great hurry to leave; it was a really relaxed time of sitting around, talking about what had just happened, getting to know Benjamin, watching the nurses care for him, and so forth.  Very laid-back and peaceful to be doing that in the middle of the night.  :)  But eventually, after making sure we didn't want her to stick around for any other photos, Robin packed up and left; and Jeff did, too, soon after that.  He needed to get back to our other children, and he didn't say this but I'm sure he was glad to be able to get at least a little sleep after he got home.  :)

There have been times, after my other births, that I have felt lonely in the hospital after Jeff left; but this time I think I was prepared mentally for that time alone, and I don't remember being bothered by it.  What I was bothered by, however, was needing to go to the bathroom!!  ;-)  All those IV fluids being pumped into the body means they have to come out somehow - ha!  :)  It reminded me of when I gave birth to David (in Israel); and after delivery, when David was in the nursery (and Jeff with him, I think) I was wheeled down a hallway somewhere and LEFT there for what seemed like an interminable amount of time.  Interminable because I needed to pee!  It was night, and there was no one around, and I was getting desperate enough to start having thoughts like, "I'm just going to have to hop down off this stretcher and go off and find a bathroom if someone doesn't come soon!!"  :)

Fortunately this time, Becky, the nurse, came and helped me; and I remember thinking that being a nurse for a woman who has just given birth is quite a messy job!  I hope Becky felt appreciated because I sure was grateful for her!!  :)  She offered to help me take a shower--an activity I normally LOVE to do after giving birth--but surprisingly, I declined because I was feeling weak and just wasn't strong enough to stand up for long yet.  In fact, I was weak enough that it was truly a relief that I got to ride in a wheelchair to the postpartum room and didn't have to walk.  I got that delightful first-shower-after-giving-birth later that day, and it was indeed refreshing, even if it was delayed longer than my normal pattern.

My physical recovery went smoothly, after I got over the initial shakes and weakness.  I didn't have the worrisome bleeding that I had had after Moriah's birth.  Of course, I didn't particularly enjoy the contractions after birth--neither the ones that occurred naturally, nor the ones brought on by the nurses pummeling my uterus to get it to contract more.  But I understand why it has to be that way.  ;-)  I was grateful that I didn't tear; that makes recovery easier for sure!

With my first couple of children, I did NOT want them to be taken to the nursery; instead, I wanted them with me as much as I could possibly have them.  But now that I've done this a few more times, I am acutely aware that taking advantage of the nurses in the hospital nursery can actually be a really good thing: when they care for the baby and I get to sleep, it helps me recover more quickly and gives me more strength for the demanding days and nights that come after I am home with the new baby.  And so, when a nurse offered to take Benjamin to the nursery that first night (it was just for a few hours because it was so late already), I gratefully said yes.

It is a sweet, sweet feeling to relax and drift off to sleep, knowing that the hurdle of labor has been crossed and that the precious new baby is here.  It is an even sweeter feeling to wake up and be flooded anew with the knowledge that the baby has been born...and then to look at that dear tiny one's face and hold him close and watch him nurse and begin to memorize every little detail about him--it is an intense joy!  I was appreciative when the nurse took Benjamin to the nursery so I could sleep--but was overjoyed when she brought him back!  :)

As far as nursing goes, it didn't go perfectly smoothly; but I wasn't worried.  Experience has taught me that even if the first few times aren't great, that doesn't mean breastfeeding in its entirety will be awful.  I forget if it was that first night or the next night with Benjamin, but during one of those nights, he was brought to me for a middle-of-the-night feeding session, and I sat in the rocking chair in the corner of the hospital room and put my feet on the handy stool they provide and in the stillness of the night, he got the hang of nursing for a little while, and I was encouraged.  Ten and a half months later, we're still going strong.  :)

After Shav was born, I specifically remember that meal of french toast that I was given; it tasted like the best french toast I've ever had because I was so hungry, and it was so, so good at that moment!  In contrast, I don't remember any specific meal I had in the hospital this time.  I have a vague recollection of the food being pretty good (probably a little bland), but nothing stands out in my memory.

What DOES stand out is how friendly the nursing staff was!  Everyone was so very nice, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations I was able to have with them.  One of the nurses lives over the mountain in a town my sister used to live in, so we talked about that, and we talked about a local restaurant, Thomas House.  With another nurse, we talked about her family, especially about her daughter who was a fairly new driver and had just had a fender-bender.  I have had plenty of good experiences with friendly staff during my other deliveries, but this time, they all seemed exceptionally helpful and pleasant.

Many of the staff who came into my room commented on two things: the fact that I have six children, and the fact that Benjamin was born in the water!  I guess those two things made my situation stand out, and further proof of that came quite some time later when Dad was at some kind of medical event and ended up talking to the hospitalist (someone we didn't know beforehand) who had cared for Benjamin, and he remembered me because of those two facts!  :)

It made me laugh sometimes because a new person would come into my room and ask kind of quietly, "Are you the one who gave birth in the tub?"  :)  Since that's not supposed to happen there, it wasn't announced loudly; but everyone knew anyway.  ;-)

As I watched the nurses do their job, I commiserated with them about how they not only have to provide nursing care, but they also have SO MUCH PAPERWORK (or computer work, as the case may be) to prove that they did what they were supposed to do.  Not only do they have to do their jobs, they also have to write down that they did do their jobs.  They weren't complaining, but I can't help but think that there has got to be a better way.

Since Benjamin was born on a Sunday, Jeff took the other kids to our normal church service (and while there, they got to announce our exciting news to everyone, of course...I took secret pleasure in the fact that I had proven one of the church members, an old doctor, wrong, because he had been CONVINCED I would deliver before my due date, and Benjamin was born ON the due date!); but before they did that, they came to the hospital to see me and meet their new baby brother.

As always, it was a precious moment when my other children came racing into the room; and for the first time, all of us were together as a new family of eight.  As always, I got a little emotional.  :)
David was the first to hold his newest sibling.
I was so thankful that Jeff picked up the camera and started snapping photos during this time...

...and then handed me the camera so I could take a turn at capturing the priceless moments we were experiencing.
And then it was time for each of the siblings to take a turn holding Benjamin.  I'll just say right now that my heart absolutely melts into a puddle when I look at these pictures.  The eagerness as they reach for him!  The glimpse of hesitancy as they wonder if they're doing it right!  The pats on his little head!  The kisses!  The smiles on their faces!  The tenderness!  It's just too much, and I can't see these and remain unmoved.

After everyone had had a turn, I got him back.  What a pleasure to have him in my arms!

After that, we gave the older children the gifts we had gotten for them--a tradition that began 10 years previously when we gave Josiah a new toy car when he came to the hospital to visit after David was born.  :)
We gave Moriah a colorful necklace and bracelet.

We gave Josiah a book, How to Think like Sherlock.

We gave Tobin a Star Wars 2nd Grade Math book...
...and a Star Wars 1st Grade one for Shav...
...because clearly, math problems are MUCH more fun if Anakin Skywalker or Wookies are involved!  :)

And we gave David...
...the book Spies and Spying by Clive Gifford.
I also happened to find at the store...
...nice tall plastic cups with initials on them... I got a "J" cup, a "D" one, a "T" one, an "S" one, and an "M" one.  Nearly a year later, the kids still use them often.  :)
Then it was time for another round of baby-holding.  :)

I love the way Jeff is looking at his two youngest children!

My first picture with all six of my children!!  :)
And then it was time for my family to leave so they could get to their church service.  I'll admit that I breathed a little sigh of relief when they left.  Every time I have a baby, I absolutely LOVE having the family come to visit me in the hospital; and I treasure those times of first looks, first snuggles, first kisses, etc.  But inevitably, the younger kids start getting restless, and there are so many interesting things to touch and neat buttons to push, and "what does this do, Mommy?", and before long, I am not very relaxed having them all there!!  ;-)  So it's wonderful when they come and (I say this sheepishly) wonderful when they go.  Even though I miss them when they're not with me, at least I don't have to worry about someone accidentally breaking some piece of fancy equipment that costs thousands of dollars!  ;-)

After they left, I savored the moments of face-to-face bonding with Benjamin and enjoyed the chance to take some pictures of him as he was laying on my lap.  I decided to use this next photo as the desktop background for my laptop that I had with me in the hospital, and since the laptop was set up on the tray table next to my bed, it was visible to those who entered my room.  At least one of the nurses noticed it right away and commented on what a nice picture it was.  :)  Well, of course it's a nice picture.  IT'S MY BENJAMIN!!  :)  But it was kind of her to acknowledge that!  ;-)  

Since Benjamin wasn't in the birth canal very long, his head was nicely rounded, not a conehead at all.  Some of my other babies have started life outside the womb with more of a conehead.  ;-)

That afternoon I had some very special visitors: my parents came to meet their newest grandson!  :)

I was thrilled to have them there, but this journey with my mom's Alzheimer's disease has many pit stops of pain; and one of them happened on this day.  You see, the contrast between her condition when Moriah was born about three and a half years earlier and her condition when Benjamin was born was striking.  With Moriah, my mother still lived at home and was very much aware that I was pregnant--and what's more, was pregnant with a daughter, something my mother had EAGERLY desired for my sake.  She came to the hospital with Jeff and I and stayed with us during my labor and during the birth and even afterwards when Jeff needed to go home.  She was a true support, and the only thing we needed to change because of her Alzheimer's was, when the nurse suggested that we all (Jeff, my mom, and I) get some sleep, she offered to have my mom lay down in another room; but Jeff went out into the hallway with the nurse and quietly explained about my mother's Alzheimer's, so the nurse very considerately brought a portable recliner into our room so Mother could stay with us.  That was really the only way that her Alzheimer's affected us during that time.

But this time...

Mother was already living in a nursing home when I got pregnant with Benjamin, so she wasn't around as much to see all the stages of this pregnancy.  Every time she saw me and realized I was pregnant, it was a surprise to her.  When she and Dad walked into the door of my hospital room, her face lit up joyously when she saw me; she didn't seem to have any comprehension of why I was there, but she was happy to see me!  :)  Mother was glad to see Benjamin, but didn't seem to connect with him as her grandson; my dad, on the other hand, was the one who held him and looked him over carefully and started to bond with him right away.  She has held him since then and always enjoys seeing him, but it's not the same as it had been with my other children; and this particular visit was a reminder that things would never be the same--a stab of grief in the midst of great joy.

After my parents left, I peeked out the window and saw...
...that it was a gorgeous day!
No matter what the weather had been doing, I would have thought it was magnificent, I guess, since it was such an outstanding day in the history of my family!  :)

When I had packed my hospital bag, I had decided to take a book along in case I had some time to read, so I chose something light--The Measure of a Heart by Janette Oke--knowing that I probably wouldn't have the brain power or the desire for something heavy!  I did spend some time reading but didn't find it entirely easy to concentrate on the book.  Good thing it was light reading.  :)  I ended up finishing this book the day after Benjamin came home from the hospital.

Jumping back in time a little...  As my due date approached, David had gotten pretty apprehensive about something: he had been selected as a Head Chorister for the Treble Choir of the SVCC, and the head choristers had a get-together on the evening of Sunday, September 13 (my due date), at the home of their director.  Of course we had no idea what day Benjamin would arrive, but David was quite concerned that he wouldn't be able to go to his meeting, and we had assured David that we would do everything we could to get him to it or arrange for someone to take him.  Out of all the possible days and times to be born, surely Benjamin would find a more convenient time for his entrance, right??

Well, as it turned out, Benjamin, being the on-time guy that he is, landed squarely on the day of David's big meeting; but fortunately, he arrived early enough on that day that it was no problem for Jeff to get David to his meeting.  Great was David's relief!  :)  When he got to it and told Janet, his choir director, about our baby being born that day and being given the name Benjamin, she thought that was just a perfect name for him because one of her son's best friends happened to be having his birthday that day (was actually there in her house at the time), and his name is Benjamin (but he goes by Benji).  It's the day for Benjamins, I suppose!  :)

While David was having his meeting, Jeff brought the other kids back to the hospital; and I enjoyed a second visit from them that day.  We apparently didn't take any pictures that time, but I think it's safe to assume there was lots more cuddling with Benjamin--and probably some "Mommy, what does this button do?"..."Mommy, can I make your bed go up and down?"...and so forth.  :)

When they left to pick up David from his meeting and then head towards home to get everyone ready for bed, I started settling in for my second night in the hospital.  Because of the timing of Benjamin's birth, it all felt kind of strange to me.  I don't normally stay two nights in the hospital, so I sort of felt like I should go home on Sunday and not spend that additional night there.  But of course, with Benjamin being born at 2:44 a.m. on Sunday morning, I had only been there for a (smallish) part of one night and by Sunday evening, wasn't even close to the 24 hour minimum that my hospital prefers.  Actually, I had a little bit of a hard time even figuring out what day it was sometimes because of the middle-of-the-night birth Benjamin pushed for!  ;-)

During this night, like the first one, I let the nurses take Benjamin to the nursery, and I appreciated the fairly good sleep I was able to have.  I was a little sore and achy from being in the bed so much (and conceivably from the birth itself, you think?) ;-), but it felt good to stretch out and lay horizontal and know that Benjamin was being cared for while I slept.

Monday morning rolled around with the added excitement of knowing that I would be able to go home that day.  Benjamin had passed all of his tests with flying colors; and since he and I were both healthy, there was no reason to stay longer.

I had requested that Jeff come alone to bring me home from the hospital.  I knew that the process of being discharged from the hospital can take a while, and I didn't want the stress of monitoring the behavior of my young children for an extended period of time in a hospital room.  ;-)  So they stayed at home with my dad who kindly helped out in that way, and Jeff came by himself to get me.  :)

Dressing the baby for the first time in his own clothes is always a special moment; and every time I get to do it, I remember the first time I did it.  With Josiah, I DISSOLVED in tears when I was putting his clothes on to take him home from the hospital; and I cried all the way out of the hospital and part of the way home, partially from joy greater than I'd ever known before and partially from fear and partially from shock that they were letting me take this tiny little baby home (didn't they know I didn't know how to take care of a baby??).  That first rush of postpartum hormonal emotions was STRONG for me, totally catching me off guard and forevermore raising my level of compassion for women who deal with hormonal/emotional/depression issues.

But this time, as I dressed my beloved little Benjamin, I felt SUCH love and tenderness and gratitude rush through me...but I didn't need to cry about it.  ;-)

In this post, I had wondered which coming-home outfit I would get to use for Benjamin; as it turns out, he wore my first choice.  :)
So precious, so loved, so adored.

Daddy and youngest son - a special bond.
After we jumped through all the hoops and were released, Jeff took control of the camera again and turned to snap one last picture of the room as we left it.  There's an unexpected power in this photo for me because not only was it the end of that particular hospital stay, it was also the last time (unless God totally surprises us!) that we'll be in the hospital for the birth of a baby.  The empty bassinet that remains in the room is a reminder that we're moving on.  Of course that tugs on my heart a bit.
We had a very friendly volunteer lady who pushed my wheelchair out to the car.  I could have walked but didn't mind the ride.  :)
Like often happens in a small(ish) town, we discovered some connections we have.  It was pleasant to chat with her.

Here I come into the fresh air of a new day, a new week, a new life...
...carrying my precious, precious cargo.
I left the hospital with a heart full of thankfulness for the uneventful (well, after the birth itself--THAT was kind of eventful!) stay I had had, the over-and-above friendliness from the staff, and most of all, the incredible little person that was going home with us!
And with that, we were off--ready to head home to begin our life as a family of eight!!!!!!!!  :)


Valerie said...

I love how well you document your birth stories. I read every word and enjoyed every picture.
And,while still holding my baby, who is younger than Benjamin (by 4-6 weeks?) I caught baby fever. :)

My husband will be sure to thank you. (sarcasm font)

Emily said...

I love reading birth stories. I love how well you have captured every moment. Its so easy to forget. My mom wrote my birth story down in the form of a letter to me and now as an adult I love going back and reading it. Since having a baby of my own I love having it even more.