Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ira's Birth Story

With everything going on in our lives right now, and just the fact that we already have a son, I feel like Ira doesn't get as much undivided attention as Ishmael got as an infant. I imagine this will be a theme in his life (though Ishmael won't get much undivided attention anymore either), and since it's all he'll ever know, I doubt it will bother him, but it makes me a little bit sad, and I want to be careful to carve out special Ira moments and memories that are as much about just him as possible.

The story of his birth is not nearly as dramatic as Ishmael's, which is probably a good thing, but means I don't have quite the saga to share. As smoothly as his birth went, Ira has had some minor health issues in the first few weeks of life (infected tear duct, hernia, vomiting), so I guess that's where he's stealing the lime-light, and helping me toward my dream silver-fox head of hair.

Once again, I went quite a bit overdue with Ira. This time, I was induced 12 days over, compared to Ishmael's 10. I was going to be induced 10 days over, but there was a wedding I really wanted to attend that weekend, so I asked to wait a few more days! Incidentally, my sister Annelise ended up getting engaged that Saturday as well, and I was really glad I wasn't too busy pushing a baby out to inspect the ring, and what not. ;) On Sunday, I walked 5+ miles on the beach, and all I got was tired. We went to INO for dinner after the beach with my family and the Sears family (my brother-in-law to be, and yes, this is THE Sears family of pediatric fame; I get to call them directly with baby questions) and got the call to come in to the hospital right after we'd finished "the last supper". We went to the hospital at midnight that night (end of 8/3, beginning of 8/4).

It was not as hard to go overdue this time. I wasn't in a hurry to have Ira arrive at all before his due date, and then only the 2 days after the due date (especially since I wasn't making any progress dilating) were kind of rough to wait. Though it was discouraging not to go in to labor naturally (I really wanted to avoid the drastic drug reaction from Ishmael's birth), once I realized that I would probably be induced again, the waiting game wasn't as hard. Thankfully, there was a lot else going on in our family to keep me occupied! This time around, in fact, my greatest fear (other than how Ishmael would adjust to having a brother) was going in to labor naturally. I was so worried that I wouldn't realize that I was in labor (I didn't realize I was having contractions at all until my OB told me I was having one during the exam), or that it would be extremely painful, and I actually took comfort in being able to settle in and prepare myself a little bit in the hospital when I was induced with Ishmael. Even so, this song made me think of waiting for him.

The most remarkable part of Ira's birth was how many people were in attendance! Although it wasn't exactly planned this way, we ended up having my parents, my sister and her fiancee, my best friend and her husband, both my brothers and my youngest sister, 2 surgeons, 2 nurses, and 2 other specialists present (compared to 1 surgeon and 1 nurse with Ishmael - I wonder if they had more this time because of the complications with Ishmael's birth?). Including Jonas and I, that's 17 people in the room - 18, if you count Ira! A lot of people have been shocked by that, but it was remarkably chill. I wasn't embarrassed or claustrophobic, and I was happy to give some people the opportunity to see a live birth, if they wanted to (I'd love to be given the same chance someday). In fact, it felt kind of celebratory (there were trays of Costco food, haha!) and I felt loved and supported by the sense of community. It's also a great feeling when I'm able to let people take care of me (that's part of why I love having my babies in the hospital, as opposed to at home).

I think I was one of the more relaxed people in the room - two people, including my husband, almost passed out (lolz), and several people have since expressed that it was difficult to watch someone else be in so much pain, but I felt kind of honored that they were all that concerned for me. I would never have been comfortable with so many guests when I had my first baby (too many other "unknowns" to deal with with a first baby), and Ishmael's labor was so difficult for so long, that I am still shocked at how easy and quickly over the difficult part of Ira's was. In fact, I wasn't expecting to have a baby so soon after I started pushing, which is probably why I kept inviting people in to the room as they stopped by to say hi (so much of the labor was just sitting around waiting), and then all of a sudden, they were all witnessing a birth. Like I said, I don't think many people are going to opt for a similar experience as I had for this birth, but I will say that if you have guests, consider laying down some rules about who can talk - while I was encouraged by the presence of supporters, not everyone's comments to a woman in labor are helpful to her, though honestly, birthing mothers can't really focus on much besides getting the baby out anyway.

The rest of the birth was pretty uneventful. The whole labor was 17 hours (compared to Ishmael's 22), but I was induced with pitocin this time, instead of cervadil, and my body responded much better. Or rather, responded much less drastically, which was awesome. They started me out on a 0.5ml/h drip at about 2 in the morning on August 3rd, and I didn't feel pain until about 2 pm in the afternoon on August 4th. As with Ishmael's birth, I never progressed past 3 cm naturally, and even by 2 pm on the 4th, I was only at about 5 cm with 8ml/h of pitocin. The turning point was when the doctor broke my water, and then the contractions became almost immediately painful.

I labored through the painful contractions for about an hour (they were painful enough that I was crying through them, 8 out of 10 on the pain scale, people) before asking for an epidural. Once again, I had this mental struggle about getting one, feeling like I should be able to have a baby without drugs, but ultimately, I couldn't think of a good reason to endure severe pain when I didn't really have to (can I get an "amen!"?!). What I hadn't realized with Ishmael was that drug-induced contractions can be significantly more painful than natural contractions, and I endured them for a long time, thinking that was what everyone before me had survived. In the end, that almost cost me my life. I think it's totally fine to take pain meds regardless, but especially if your pain is drug induced, why not have drug induced relief? And holy Moses, I had managed to forget just how much I love epidurals. They happen to work really well on me (they don't work well, or at all, on some women), and it's totally blissful, despite that it makes my whole body tingle a little bit.

After 2 or 3 more hours of escalating contractions (that I wasn't feeling through the epidural, booya!) I was at 10 cm, and started to feel "pressure" through the general numbness, which might be the equivalent of "the urge to push" when you can't feel your legs? Anyway, this was the part that kind of caught me by surprise. I started pushing whenever I felt pressure, and after about 15 minutes, it was starting to be pretty painful, but I was still surprised that Dr. Dillon came in and everything just wrapped up so quickly! The difficult pushing was probably only about 10 minutes long, and this time I distinctly felt (or at least, remembered) Ira's head come out on one push, and then the rest of his body with the next push. I was still crying pretty hard because of the pain, but I remain shocked at how easy it was in comparison to Ishmael's delivery.

Ira Alamar Rhys was born at 7:07 PM on Monday, August 4th, 2014. He weighed 8lbs, 1oz. and measured 21" long.

[Thanks to my brother-in-law Skylan for all the pictures in this post!]

When you push, they make you do what are essentially stomach crunches, as you hold on to your thighs. I was getting so exhausted doing this before the nurses and my dad started coaching me not to tighten my stomach muscles as much as focus on pushing in the pelvic region. About a week after Ira was born, I was having pain in my abdomen and it took me a few days to realize that it was from those gnarly crunches. That's how in shape I am.

I did get a second-degree tear this time, but not nearly as bad as with Ishmael, and no hemorrhaging. Because both Ira and I were doing well, I got to hold him right away and watch the staff do all the tests and cleaning and what not right next to my bed, which was really cool for me. Actually, they put him on my chest right after he came out and told me to rub him with a towel, but I was so shaky from the adrenaline and I could barely even process what people were saying around me, so apparently I wasn't rubbing him well enough because they took him away for a second as they said, "he's not making enough noise!" Which totally put me at ease, eye roll! Everything was fine though, and they gave him back a moment later.  In fact, one of the nurses told me that she heard Dr. Dillon say, "what a nice delivery!" to some of the staff when he left the room. That made me kind of proud.

The next thing that happened was that Jonas' parents brought Ishmael to meet his new brother! Honestly, the promise of getting a cute little person at the end of laboring wasn't much of an incentive for me during either birth, but I was surprised at how much I missed Ishmael when I was in the hospital, and I did have his face in my mind as a sort of goal to work toward through the discomfort of having a baby. It was an uncharacteristically sentimental mom moment for me, which took me by surprise. Anyway, I asked that Ishmael not be brought in until I had pulled myself together a little bit and all the stitching was done. When he came around the curtain in to the room and saw so many people he loves there, he let out a bit yelp of happiness which was super sweet. Then, Jonas picked him up and brought him over to Ira and I, and he gave me a flower (mega adorable). I'm not sure how much he understood about Ira being a new part of our family and everything, but he got very quiet and grave and didn't want to get very close to Ira. I think he was a little bit phased by all the people watching to see how he'd react, too.

I was a little worried at first, especially since Ishmael's reaction to Ira was the thing I was most anxious about prior to Ira's arrival. Thank goodness I saw or read somewhere to buy some gifts for Ishmael to present to him as being "from Ira" - lego candy and mechanical grabber arm smoothed out all fears, and Ishmael warmed up to the whole room. By the end of the evening, he was giving Ira kisses, though in general he didn't pay any attention to him. In the three weeks since, Ishmael still just does his own thing for the most part, but when he does interact with Ira, he is very sweet and gentle, and Ira smiles more for Ishmael than anyone else (melt!!!).

Even the hospital stay was easier this time around. We were discharged on the afternoon of the 6th, which amounts to 3 nights spent in the hospital for me (Jonas spent the 3rd night at home with Ishmael). We slept better than we did with Ishmael, and worried less. Once again, my mom was wonderful and stayed with me to help with Ira. It's funny to see how much more relaxed we are with our second (and I thought we were relaxed with our first!) - I'm pretty much doing demand feeding instead of scheduled feeding this time, and even a tiny bit of co-sleeping because everyone sleeps better, though I still can't figure out how people nurse lying down. Good Lord... if you'd told me this 2 years ago, I'd have laughed in your face. We also adjusted our hospital packing list considerably - no custom music playlist (like you can even pay attention when you're having a baby!), and LOTS of snacks. A robe to cover the open back of the hospital gown, and no tennis balls for massaging - last time I'd have killed someone for touching my back in any way, and though I only had about 50% back labor this time, a massage still didn't sound appealing.

With Ishmael, Hurricane Sandy was happening on the East Coast and hospitals had to be evacuated. I remember thinking how scary it must have been to have a baby in those conditions. We also watched Iron Chef and the Walking Dead on TV 2 years ago. This time, we watched the Regular Show (Jonas is now hooked), and news about the Israel-Gaza conflict. Especially with my body feeling like it had been torn open (it kinda had), it was sobering to imagine being a mom in Palestine or Israel right now and trying to protect your kids, or having just had a baby and having to run - it would probably make you feel like dying. I'm very grateful for the excellent care I received here from my hospital, doctor, nurses, friends, and family. Even if the hospital food was completely unimpressive this time.

As for Ira himself... he's so little! Eight pounds felt tiny compared to Ishmael (almost 10 lbs) - so little that it was kind of scary to pick him up because it felt like he wouldn't even fill your hands and so there was nothing to hold on to. Similarly to Ishmael, he had a gagging episode a few hours after he was born, which was pretty scary, but his lungs turned out to be fine, and we just make sure his bed mattress is angled up to cut down on him choking on anything that's in his throat.

It looked like he barely had eyelashes when he was first born, and it's been sweet to watch them unfurl. He has hair on his head, but not as much as Ishmael had, and it's lighter. The way his hair lays on his head reminds me of strands of kelp floating on water. Now that he's a few weeks old, his hair is a little fuzzy and definitely has some red in it. Still hard to say on eye color! Ira has remarkably long toes (the second toe is longer than the big toe!), and a lot of people have commented that he has big hands. One of my favorite details about him is that he has cheek dimples! About half the people who meet him say he looks more like me or a Welch in general, so my genes may just have expressed themselves this time! People also say he looks like Ishmael or my brother Jonathan.

He doesn't cry very often, but he does grunt a lot, and he prefers to sleep on his tummy. He has a super intense frown face that he uses frequently, but he also smiles a lot more than I recall Ishmael smiling so early on. In general, his little face looks very adult. I feel like I know him hardly at all, though. I'm looking forward to falling in love as I do get to know him.

A lot of people are confused with Ira's name, mostly because not many people around here have heard it before, I think. Most of the time, people ask me to repeat it, and even when I do, they're often unsure whether he's a boy or a girl. His pre-birth nick name of "Taco" doesn't fit him at all - instead, we call him Squidward (because his binky looks like a squid mouth), Tiny Mammal, or Meerkat (when he lays on your chest, he lifts his head way up to look around) if we don't say Ira (which we usually do, because it's easy, AND Ishmael can say it, double win).

That's the jist of things, so far! Before Ishmael was born, I wrote a list of things I wished for his life, so I decided to do that again for Ira. The only thing I had in mind already for Ira was that he know what it's like to have truly great friends in life, and when I went back to find the list to fill in from Ishmael's life-wish blog post, I realized I'd wished a very similar thing for him, too.

Wishes for Ira:

I hope that you know true friendship in life.
I hope that you find a woman who you can't describe with mortal words.
I hope you aren't afraid to challenge the status quot
I hope you love life intensely
I hope you get the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of others. 
I hope you laugh often with your brother. 
I hope you never forget how precious you are to me as YOURSELF, apart from any comparison to your siblings. 
I hope you ignore the tyranny of the majority. 
I hope you become a man people go to knowing you will do whatever you can to help them. 
I hope you respect that their are some things in this life we can't control. 
I hope you grow deeper in love with your Savior every day. 

Love, your Mama.

1 comment:

  1. So beautiful, Karissa! I get goosebumpy thinking about your sons being able to read these stories some day. You're so brave to have had so many people in the room with you!


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