Bringing a baby into the world is honestly THE BEST FEELING EVER! I feel so blessed to have had the experience of being pregnant, giving birth, and becoming a mom. My heart is so full of love thinking back over the past couple of months of pregnancy and the whirlwind that was our first week with a newborn.
I consider myself fortunate to have had a relatively easy pregnancy. Asides from terrible all-day nausea from week 6 to 14 (flu symptoms all day every day) and relentless heartburn up until my tummy dropped, everything progressed smoothly. No swelling, no changes in my complexion, no mood swings, no cravings other than for cantaloupe, and I slept pretty well with my Snoogle up until 9 months. I know not every mom can say the same; I'm so thankful for my luck. I did; however, pay for my general lack of discomfort with lots of stretchmarks. Much of the 30 pounds I gained went straight to my belly. I had the biggest belly!
Roger and I found out we were pregnant on December 17th, the morning of his work Christmas party. I was too excited to hold back the results of my early pregnancy test. I barged into the bathroom while he was showering and showed him the two pink lines. Roger, being the pragmatic guy that he is, told me to not get my hopes up until I officially missed a period and confirmed the results with my doctor. That was the longest two week wait ever! I have zero self control so of course I took more pregnancy tests on the sly, all of which boasted a big fat positive. An expectant bundle was confirmed around Christmastime. I had the hardest time pretending to drink wine around my family members! Roger kept sneaking sips from my glass and we managed to keep our secret under wraps through multiple holiday get-togethers. The only person who caught on was my dad. He's incredibly observant. He hugged me by the decadent Christmas cheese tray and whispered in my ear, "I know." All I could think was "Ahhh, please don't tell mom." He didn't.
We kept the happy secret to ourselves until mid-February. We shared the exciting news with my parents by gifting them a "late Christmas present" - a pack of diapers. For Roger's mom, we wrapped up a pacifier. And for Roger's dad, we re-gifted an old Christmas card where he wrote to Roger, "I can't wait to see what kind of dad you'll become." We gave it back to him and wrote underneath, "You don't need to wait very long!" We decided to keep the gender a surprise for everyone, including ourselves. For anyone thinking of going this route, I highly recommend it. There are few surprises in life like this one and I LOVED not knowing!
I won't soon forget the momentous occasion of our first baby's birth; however, I feel obligated to record the event just in case my memory fails me on the small things. Roger co-wrote many of the details below because quite frankly I was in baby-having mode that day and my sense of time is not reliable. I'm still in absolute awe that my body was able to bring a human into the world. It's such a miraculous and strange feeling to spend nine months pregnant and then suddenly have a baby in your arms. A baby that you created and are now completely responsible for. For your entire life. You are that person's person. All at once you are so full of love and so aware of your importance. I'd be lying if I said I didn't sob uncontrollably when we first brought our brand new baby home. I cried wet tears all over the crown of baby's head. Firstly, because I already loved this little person so incredibly much. Secondly, because my mom just left to go back home. Thirdly, because baby was already a few days old and one day would be all grown up and not my little baby anymore. Fourthly, because Disney nursery songs make my ovaries hurt. And fifthly, because my milk had just come in and my hormone levels were through the roof.
Before I get teary again, I'll share my birth story here.
It was a Tuesday. My water started leaking at 6:15am. I got out of bed, showered, and got ready for work, thinking maybe it was just pee. I organized a team photo with my new colleagues at 9am, so my main concern was making it to that on time. I had Roger place the infant seat in the car, just in case. My water continued to leak until 8:30am. I called the Labour & Delivery nurse at the hospital and she advised me to come get checked out. If it was a false alarm, I'd be sent home within 10 minutes and would make my work photo. When I got to the hospital my water broke with a gush while lying in triage. Like in the movies. Except I was lying down and in the larger than life granny panties that the hospital provides. My OB sent me into a spin when she calmly remarked, "Your water definitely broke. You're having a baby today." How could this be? Baby had only been cooking for 37 weeks! I had three days of work left before maternity leave! My cupboards were a mess! I hadn't prepared any frozen lasagnas!
I called Roger with the news and he left work straightaway to grab some items from home. Thankfully we had our hospital bags packed and the car seat installed. I called my mom next and I could tell she was itching to jump in the car, even though I advised her and my dad to take their time getting to the hospitals. I wasn't feeling any cramping or contractions yet. It was all so surreal. My parents were just at our house two days prior helping us install new flooring. Before they left they joked, "You better not go into labour this week!" They live 4 hours away and had to make the trek all over again. Happily, of course. But definitely not what any of us expected.
I turned out to be GBS positive, so an IV drip with antibiotics was administered right away. The nurses started giving me Pitocin around 10:30am to start contractions. My original plan was NOT to be induced in any way, but what was best for baby was good for me. Any hint of a birth plan was pretty much thrown out the window when my water broke early. I was perfectly okay with this. I just wanted baby to be healthy. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor to track baby's heartbeat. The nurses were so nice and reassuring and my OB had no concerns whatsoever about me giving birth at 37 weeks. They just wanted to get baby out as soon as possible to avoid any GBS infection. For how busy the maternity ward was I received the best of care. Six women arrived whose water had broke that morning, which resulted in more ladies in labour than nurses on duty!
I spent much of the day waiting to feel something and texting updates to anxious friends and family members. My cervix was checked around 4:30pm when contractions started to ramp up. I was told that it was highly posterior. The nurse couldn't tell if I was dilated or not, so she had another nurse check me. At 5:30pm I was 2cm dilated. Contractions were coming on strong, but were not consistent. By this time Roger had all the medical equipment figured out; he was keeping track of my contractions, baby's heart rate, my heart rate, and both the Pitocin and penicillin levels. At 5:45pm Roger went to the cafeteria to stock up on food before it closed and at the exit he noticed fortune cookies and decided to tempt fate. My fortune cookie read "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today." We were convinced at this point we would have our baby before midnight.
By 7:00pm the nurses changed shift and I was 4cm dilated. Things were relatively slow going, and the Pitocin dosage was getting too strong with irregular contractions. I was not having any fun and become very non-communicative as I focused solely on my breathing. The nurses needed me to lie on my left side to help me dilate. I couldn't move; it hurt too much. I tried sitting on the peanut-shaped birthing ball. That was more awkward than helpful. At this point I decided to go with the epidural as my yoga breathing just wasn't cutting through the pain. This too was not a part of my original birth plan. The epidural took an hour to be administered and thank goodness we decided to get it when we did! After the epidural I was able to relax and turn from side to side for the contractions, helping baby get into position. Time passed much more quickly when I was not in pain.
Around 10:45pm my OB checked me and I was 9cm dilated. My parents brought me a steeped tea with honey and I threw it up. Apparently this is common at the "transition" stage. We were ecstatic at the progress made and felt more confident this baby would arrive before midnight (although all the nurses and my OB felt 1am-2am was more likely). Only 20 minutes later our nurse decided to check me again and determined I was fully dilated! I could feel a lot of pressure down low near my bum and with the epidural turned off, I certainly felt the urge to push. This was around 11:20pm. My OB and the nurses coached me to breathe in, hold my breath, and push with everything in me. Finally my efforts were rewarded. Roger was very quick to notice the genitals and was beside himself with overwhelming joy as he was the only person in the room who thought this baby was going to be a boy! At 11:37 our brand new baby boy was delivered and Roger cut the cord! My OB laid him immediately my chest for some mommy-baby skin-to-skin bonding. He hardly cried; he made faces and cooed like a baby lamb. Of course, we immediately fell in love with our little guy as he looked up at us with wide blue eyes, all brand new and adorable.
Baby Henry Leo Roger Claveau officially arrived on August 2nd, 2016. He was more than ready to born at 7 pounds 3 ounces. Seeing now that he is beautiful, healthy, and alert, I am so thankful that he decided to grace us before his official due date. As for his name, we had Henry picked out for about two years, ever since we seriously started talking about having children. We wanted a strong, old fashioned name (like Roger) that was unmistakably masculine. We also like that his pet name can be pronounced "Ahn-ree" which works so well with our French surname. Leo just so happens to be one of Roger's middle names and it suits little Henry so well because his birthday falls under the Leo zodiac sign!
Baby Henry couldn't be more perfect, nor could we be more smitten with him. Despite the lack of sleep, the constant worrying, the poopy diapers, and all the trying times that come with learning to be parents, Roger and I are loving every moment of this new adventure. Mom life is truly shaping up to be the best life.