August Has Arrived

7:30 PM

The arrival of August began early in the morning. Sometime around 4 am, I woke up thinking I must be having a bad dream or something. Something didn’t feel right. Then I realized I had been having contractions! Not just the usual Braxton-Hicks, but these were actually hurting! After DAYS of waiting for something, anything, to happen, it seemed something finally was!

I had been sleeping in Brooklyn’s room with her for the past couple of weeks as her bed was more comfortable to me for some reason. As I lay there with her snuggled up against me, I started noticing that the contractions were pretty regular. I reached for my trusted Timex on the bedside table and found that the contractions were lasting about 30-40 seconds with about 3-4 minutes between them. They weren’t horribly painful, but they didn’t tickle, either. After about 30 minutes, I crawled into bed with Kyle and said, honey, I’m having contractions. He sort of mumbled something and then went back to sleep. About an hour later, they were still regular and consistent. I nudged him again. He woke up this time and we decided maybe we ought to at least get our hospital bags ready. As the sunlight began to fill our bedroom, we talked about whether this was the real thing or not and should we call someone to maybe come be with Brooklyn…at some point it became clear to both of us that this probably wasn’t false labor.

I hesitated to get REALLY excited, but some part of me thought this could be it. It was tricky because my labor with Brooklyn began with my leaking amniotic fluid for a few days before being admitted to the hospital and put on pitocin to get my contractions going. Fortunately, with her, my body kicked in pretty quickly and I didn’t have to experience a “pit” labor. But I certainly didn’t go into the hospital having contractions or even feeling remotely close to “being in labor.”

We pulled out our Bradley book and began reviewing the different types of labor to see if my “symptoms” fit into anything. Boy, that book is so handy! I called one of my nurse practitioner friends to ask her opinion. She said it sounded like the beginnings of labor to her and that I should check back with her in an hour. This was 6:00 am. Around 7, things still the same with some increased frequency in contractions, I called Lisa back and getting her answering machine, decided she would have told me to go on in. The only real reason being that I was Group B Strep positive. Apparently, there is this bacteria that lives everywhere and can occasionally be found in our bodies without being an active infection. If this bacteria resides in your birth canal (you test positive for the test), there is a risk that your baby can pick it up and contract an infection as it passes through the birth canal. So, if you test positive, they want you to come into the hospital sooner rather than later to get some antibiotics. First, to kill any infection and a dose later to make sure antibiotics are in the baby’s system as it is born. This was the only reason I hesitated about when to go to the hospital. I had no idea how much time I might have before delivery and wanted to make sure I had enough time to get whatever meds I needed.

Finally, around 8, we called my parents to tell them we thought we might be in labor, then my sister in law, Melissa, to come over and stay with Brooklyn. They were happily building and knocking down block towers when Kyle and I left for the hospital. The contractions were steady all the way there, and once we parked, it took forever to walk the long corridor from the parking deck to the hospital building as I kept having to pause and just let my belly sag through the contractions.

We checked in, I was asked a zillion questions, they started an IV on me and then my contractions started slowing way down. The Bradley book tells you to anticipate this. It either is that a) you were in false labor to begin with or b) the adrenaline that you feel about actually going to the hospital to have a baby slows things down. I just knew they’d end up sending us home and I’d be kicking myself for going so early! Our nurse, Caitlin, told me to just relax and after they got us into a birthing room and we did some walking, if things hadn’t picked back up, we’d re-evaluate. She checked me initially at 9:45 and I was just dilated to 1 but about 60% effaced. A long way to go.

By the time my antibiotics had run in and we were in a room, we were ready to see if this thing was really happening. Walking did the trick. Almost upon standing up, the contractions picked up in intensity and pace. We walked for an hour – literally the fastest hour of my life. I felt so retarded waddling down the hallways in my flowing hospital gowns while people streamed past me – everyone either smiling at me in that way they do at all pregnant women or smiling at me in understanding – having done a walk or two on their own before. I was holding my trust Timex which had the nerve to break, so I’m holding half of a watch and checking it every few minutes.

We took it upon ourselves to not just walk the halls but to climb 15 flights of stairs up and back. Figured there were fewer people to encounter that way. In any case, towards the end of our walk and my 15th bathroom trip later, I noticed some bloody show which usually means your cervix is dilating. We waddled our way back to the room and Caitlin checked me once again. She informed me with pleasure that I was now 3 cm dilated and really really soft – she said she could have made me a 5 just with a sweep of her fingers. But she didn’t. This was around 1:30. I was kind of shocked – to have dilated to 3 in such a short time seemed pretty good!

Caitlin recommended we take a short walk and then come back to get some strips of fetal monitoring and contractions. Let me insert this – Caitlin was awesome. She was a total advocate of the Bradley method and was in fact a doula and a midwife. I was in good, and more importantly, supportive hands.

No sooner had Kyle pulled out his wallet to go find the cafeteria, did my contractions ramp it up a notch. I went from talking to Caitlin to suddenly entering a zone of seriousness. I grabbed Kyle and said, uh, you’re not going anywhere. He made a quick phone call to my mom to let her know that things had suddenly picked up and could she please bring me our pillows (the one thing we’d forgotten). She jumped in her car, and I lay down on my side to start doing some serious concentrating on relaxing every single muscle in my body. The principle behind the Bradley method is to get out of your body’s way and let it do its thing. Stop fighting the pain of a contraction and sink into it, while consciously working to COMPLETELY relax every other muscle in your body, giving the uterus the attention it needs to just work on pushing that baby down.

Kyle started out by applying counter-pressure with his fist to my lower back. As every labor is different, with this labor, it didn’t help at all. I had him stop almost immediately, finding him infinitely more necessary as he talked me through mentally evaluating every muscle and physically releasing any tension. He was so amazing. As my contractions seriously sped up and became serious work, I indicated the start of a contraction by raising my index finger. This meant, pay attention to me and make sure I am working right. He was, as I said, amazing. In the middle of it all, my mom showed up and bless her heart, had a panic attack upon realizing that she was stuck on the second floor of the hospital unable to use the stairs. She is way claustrophobic and hates elevators. This is a problem because the hospital prohibits the use of stairs due to infant safety.

Anyway, I was taking this in through a haze of pain as I worked through my contractions. That and outside in the hallway, it sounded like a squeaky toy was bouncing around, and I swear it was driving me mad. I begged Kyle to please make the squeaky stop. He dashed out in the hallway to see what he could do. It momentarily stopped.

Time was flying by, or seemed to be, and I was deep into this labor. No going home now. This was very different from Brooklyn’s labor – it seemed to be moving really fast now that we were on our way. I was working very hard, although my mom insisted I looked asleep. Kyle assured her this was me actively working on relaxing.

I was also burning hot. Sweat was pouring off me, although Kyle had almost cranked the ac down to the point where everyone but me needed a winter coat. He put wet washrags on my head and arm and that really helped. In the midst of my contractions, I was actually able to feel my uterus dilating. It was so bizarre. I was concentrating so hard on letting my uterus work that I was able to FEEL it work. And I knew I was getting close. I told Kyle to get Caitlin to check me – I needed to feel like I had an idea where I was on this journey. I sensed it was closer than anyone thought. Including me.

I finally had enough of a break to go to the bathroom, and I ended up staying in there for about 20 minutes. I think sitting up and letting gravity keep dilating me made a difference. I had a harder time relaxing everything while I sitting up, but Kyle was great at letting me sag onto him and he just kept encouraging me to relax everything. At some point, my nurse Caitlin popped her head in and said she had a second to check me if I was ready. By this point, I was thinking to myself I was really close – the pain was incredibly intense during the peak of the contractions and I was feeling on the edge.

My poor mom, it was killing her to see me in pain. It was under control, but sometimes I had to moan to let out my breath during the contractions and it hurt her to see her daughter hurting! Caitlin quickly checked me and said, oh my goodness, girl, you are 9 centimeters and I can feel your amniotic bag BULGING! To Kyle she said, once her water breaks, get me immediately – she’ll want to push immediately and I need to make sure her cervix is completely out of the way.

Then she ran out to assist on other mommas pushing their kiddos into the world. Apparently, either due to the full moon or just a summer of pregnant women, there were 8 other women literally delivering at the same time. And a few doors down from me, another women and her husband were using the Bradley method just like us! This was her 5th baby, though!

No sooner had she walked out the door, then a DOOZY of a contraction overtook me and I groaned with the effort of it, and then suddenly, like a water balloon slamming against a wall, a SURGE of water shot out, soaking me and the bed. It sounds disgusting, but was about the most interesting thing that I have ever experienced. And boy, Caitlin was right, the second that happened, I was in pushing mode. And when that happens, all hell better get out of your way cause there is NO stopping that moving train.

I immediately rolled to my back and scrambled to breathe while my fingers instantly sought for the buttons to raise the headboard. Kyle laughs now to recall that I, of all people, had to take care of getting that done. He, meanwhile, was running out into the hall with my mom, yelling for someone to get in here – that it was TIME! My mom scrambled to the foot of the bed while I used my spare seconds between transition and pushing to get situated. Knees up to my chest and my back against the head of the bed, ready to breathe in and out, then breathe in and out, then PUSH with the next 2 breathes/contractions. Problem was, where was everyone? No nurses or doctors…just mom and Kyle! And I think we all really thought it was gonna be mom catching this baby.

Suddenly, a strange face with a calm voice loomed over me instructing me firmly to NOT PUSH YET! I said, “You are out of your mind. I don’t have a choice!” as the urge to push built up in me to such an extreme degree that I just knew I would die if I didn’t push. SOMEHOW, I controlled it and swallowed the urge. My darling Caitlin and another precious nurse, Holly, also a midwife and doula and Bradley advocate, flanked me and I was checked to make sure the cervix was out of the way. It was. Just in time, Dr. Breniman appeared and instruments appeared that would be used to clamp the cord once the baby was out. And I pushed. And suddenly, I felt the head crown. I felt it. And knew because my mom and the nurses and Dr. B were telling me about it. I was able to use the Bradley pushing method to completely control the pushing process. The true beauty of the pushing process is that it is so satisfying to be able to respond to your body’s call to action. You can DO something instead of letting that something be done. So, after building up my breaths, I pushed actively and suddenly, the head was there, then out, then the body just slithered out and my baby was lying there – and it was a BOY! Born at 4:00 pm on Thursday, July 17, 2008. Miraculously, after only 2 ½ hours of hard labor.

I sat forward and watched as Dr. Breniman briskly rubbed my little boy. He was totally grey – the cord had been wrapped around his neck twice – loosely enough to be out of real danger, but the baby still needed to breathe and turn red. As I watched, Dr. B never lost his cool and suddenly I saw color spring into my baby and his little mouth twist up into a helpless precious cry. And to my complete delight, before even cutting the cord, Dr. Breniman laid my little baby boy on my chest and I almost cried with ecstasy. I really felt like I was having a boy, but feeling and knowing and holding that little one are all very different things.

For long minutes, the world stopped rotating and it was just me and my baby. Voices faded and all I saw was Kyle’s face next to mine, our eyes filled with identical tears as we became parents for the second time. This little one was already woven into my heart and soul and as precious to me as any baby could ever be.

As the world once again came into focus, I noticed that my Dad had dashed into the room just as the baby was born – I vaguely recall a black business suit flurrying in and his excited voice telling me how proud of me he was! My mom stood there with tears in her eyes, telling me how she’d just known! Kyle wisely said, yes, and you had a 50/50 chance, as did everyone who made a speculation.  Gosh I love him. He knows how much it bugs me when people tell you with a sense of assuredness something that only God knows for certain.

I realized I was being stitched up (ugh…again) because I had tore, not because I had an episiotomy. I felt better knowing that somehow. Anyway, as I processed the onslaught of shivers and tremors that flood your body with the rush of adrenaline upon giving birth, my mom and dad literally cupped my chin to keep my teeth from clattering so loudly and tried to encourage me to breathe slowly. My dad was so afraid I was going to pass out. I remembered the same thing happening when I’d delivered Brooklyn, so I was expecting it, but boy, it is still something to experience. And it lasted forever, it seemed. Once the shivers finally subsided, baby boy Floyd was weighed and found to be a surprisingly large 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 21 inches long! WOW! I had prayed so desperately for a smaller baby, but once I held him, he still seemed tiny to me. And infinitely precious.

My brother Michael showed up along with my dad and for a while it was just me, Kyle, our baby, mom, dad, Michael and our nurses. We chatted in a state of giddiness and then everyone trickled out to let us decide on our baby’s name. Which is August Banner Floyd.

He immediately latched on to my breast and nursed for an hour – no kidding. I was so impressed. And he looked SO much like Brooklyn did when she was born. I know they continue to change, but for the moment, he really looks like Brooklyn.

More to follow in subsequent entries, but for now, we are delighted to introduce the latest member of our family – baby August.

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  1. Congratulations !! You are one tough woman. He's beautiful.

    We had Abigail Rae a little over two weeks ago.

  2. What an amazing journey, you write about it so beautifully! We can't wait to kiss his sweet face!

  3. Congrats! We can't wait to meet August.

  4. We love you all so very much and can't wait to meet August. Take care. God Bless. We will touch base soon!

  5. Ashley and Kyle, congrats on your newest addition! I was so excited to find your blog through Patrick and Karen's page. Great to know how God has been working in your lives.

  6. Amanda ("Smack")July 21, 2008 at 5:52 AM

    BEAUTIFUL!! Beautiful baby boy! Beautiful name! Beautiful mommy! I love you!

  7. I'm writing this in tears! It is amazing that God made it possible for our bodies to be able to produce life! I'm so happy for you all, and August is just GORGEOUS! Welcome to the baby boy club! You are in for a big ol' treat!

    PS. ALWAYS point that pee pee down!

  8. You know I came back to see if there were new pics of August .Well I checked out your before birth pic and low and behold I noticed that you had normal ankles!!! I am so envious! What a beautiful prego body! My ankles just swelled thinking about it. Honestly though you look just awesome before and after!