Written in a notebook in the hospital and over the next few days...
He's here! And I am still in thankful disbelief that he's real. This perfect little body with a wide nose, big eyes, and soft cheeks is now a part of our family forever. He's a cuddly ball of endearing reflexes and tiny intuitive instincts that make me 'ooh' and 'aww'. I can't wait to get to know him! So far he seems pretty chill and I am already hopelessly head-over-heels in love with him. Conrad was worth the wait. He is worth every sad and frustrated tear over the past three years or so, a testament that God is good and mindful of me. I can't help silently thanking my Heavenly Father over and over again for this precious gift. The depth of sweet joy I feel for this baby is indescribable. I am so, so happy.
Conrad Joseph Nelson was born 8 days before his due date on Friday November 11th at exactly 3:30PM. He weighed 9lbs 5oz and was 22 inches long.
Perhaps part of my disbelief that he's here and real is that going into labor was absolutely the last thing I expected to happen that day. Friday was Veterans' Day and both Jed and Levi didn't have school. My plan for the day was to prepare for my induction Monday morning by cleaning and picking up the house (the house was trashed!) followed by the boys playing with friends. We were also completely out of essentials like milk and eggs, but a shopping trip could wait til Saturday. Or so I thought... Ha!
Bron went to work Friday morning and I could hear Jed and Levi playing quietly in their room while I lazily dozed in bed for a while longer. At 8:30AM, Levi came to my bedside with a box of granola. "Mom, I'm hungry. Can I have some of this with my favorite yogurt?"
"Sure, Buddy," I replied. "Give me a minute and let's go get breakfast."
I rolled myself out of bed to use the bathroom and felt something pop. There, in my underwear tinged with blood and gooey sliminess, was obviously what folks talk about as a mucus plug. "Well, that's a new one!" I thought to myself. I'd never noticeably lost my mucus plug before in my other two pregnancies. I tried not to get excited. It meant labor was on its way--but that could still be a few days away!
I slipped in a pantyliner and went to the kitchen to make breakfast. But then I had to change that pantyliner quite quickly. And then another. Had my water broken? Was I slowly leaking amniotic fluid? I called Bron to give him a heads up. I wasn't sure what was going on yet. Then I called the nurse at the OB's office just to be safe. "This is my third pregnancy," I explained. "You'd think I'd know what's going on, but I don't!" The nurse suggested coming in to the office just to check. She reminded me that the office would be closed all weekend and that it'd be best to be safe. I wouldn't want my water to be broken for days and risk infection. The office slid me in for an appointment with Doctor Allen for 10:50AM.
I quickly called my friend Amy to see if she'd be willing to let my boys come play at her home. Of course! She was excited for me. Then I called Bron again to tell him about the appointment. I said I wanted to bring the hospital bag, just in case.
A few minutes later, as I bent over to add some shoes to the bag, I felt a gush. "Yup!" I excitedly thought. "I definitely think my water broke!" And that's when things suddenly shifted into high gear. When Levi was delivered, the doctor broke my water and I went in to labor on my own a couple of hours later. That was most likely to happen again, right? My first thought was, "I need to shower!" So I hurriedly helped the boys get dressed and find their shoes and jackets. Then I got them settled in front of some cartoons while I quickly hopped in the shower and dressed for the day too.
I loaded the boys into the car and dropped them off at Amy's house. They weren't too concerned that they might be getting a baby brother that day. They were more absorbed in the fact that they got to play with their best friends and their toys! "Bye, Mom!" they called as they stampeded up the stairs. So I left them, confident they were in good hands and they'd have a great day.
I rushed back home. I needed to eat something. I should eat something! My original plan was to meet Bron at the hospital in town, a solid 30 minute drive away. Bron was the voice of reason, however, and insisted I wait at home for him and we'd drive in together. Thank goodness someone was thinking clearly because about the time we hopped in the truck my contractions began--four minutes apart. Consistently. I squeezed Bron's hand and we both smiled from ear to ear. This was it! We were going to meet our baby boy that day!
We parked and made our way up through the hospital, me taking slow strides through the contractions, trying not to attract any attention. Doctor Allen (an OB who is in my ward at church) just happened to be on call that day. I laid down on the table through a couple of semi-painful contractions as the nurse and doctor checked for amniotic fluid. Yes, my membranes had ruptured! I was also dilated to a four and something like 90% effaced. Doctor Allen confirmed what I already knew. "I think we'll be having a baby sometime between 4 and 5:00 today," he predicted. It was a good estimate; he was a half hour off.
The nurse walked us back to Labor and Delivery where I was given a gown and we got settled into a room. The delivery nurse assigned to us was cute and friendly and just happened to have a connection to one of Bron's dairymen. She jokingly said we were having a race with two other laboring women on the floor that day and that we were going to win! We did.
Contractions were coming along longer and stronger as she had me sign paperwork and started an IV for antibiotics as I was Strep B positive. The pain of the contractions left me in a haze. I could only hear and process about half of what was said around me. Through every painful contraction I closed my eyes and simply concentrated on breathing and trying to relax.
Not too long into labor, the anesthesiologist arrived to administer the epidural. I was dilated somewhere around a seven. I honestly am not sure I ever want to voluntarily know what a natural labor and delivery feels like! And I know Bron is thankful. Bron squeezed my hand as I closed my eyes through another painful contraction. And then... gradual relief! My legs began to feel fat and heavy, especially on my left side. I could move my right leg but my left felt like dead weight.
The nurse left us alone to quietly labor, coming in every so often to reposition me to help open up my pelvis and allow the baby to descend. I really could feel him descend! At one point, I realized I could breath again! Hallelujah. We watched my contractions and the baby's heartbeat on the computer screen.
Suddenly, the bumps and hills changed, becoming nearly constant. The nurse came in and felt around. She suggested we do some test pushes. I didn't feel the urge to push though. She counted, "1...2...3...4...5..."
"Am I doing anything?" I laughed. I really couldn't feel a thing! She helped roll me on to my side with instructions to let her know when I felt pressure and the urge to push.
I was suddenly sooo tired! I could hardly keep my eyes open. (Gotta love epidurals!) About fifteen minutes later, I felt it: the urge to push. Our baby was almost here!
The doctor was called in and it was show time! Bron and the nurse helped me hold my knees to my chest while the nurse prompted me to breathe and push. I bore down. Another deep breath. Another. Doctor Allen smoothly rotated the baby's head from sunny-side up to face-down. Another breath. And then... I felt a slither followed by sweet relief! I looked down to see the doctor holding our healthy chubby baby upside down in a football hold. He helped Bron cut the cord and then Conrad was placed on my chest for the first time.
I couldn't help the joyful wave of tears that followed. Here, at last, was my baby! The baby that I'd so eagerly anticipated. The baby I'd longed for, cried bitter tears for, and whom I loved before he was even growing in my tummy. And now here he was, real and perfect and in my arms, a part of our family forever! The feeling was so overwhelmingly sweet.
When I was ready, they weighed and measured our baby boy. He cried and looked perfectly healthy. Then he was placed right back on my chest. Ohhh, that warm silky wrinkly body! That newborn smell! My senses felt overloaded and yet, I felt completely confident as his mama. He began rooting so I happily jumped straight in to nursing our littlest man. I'd missed this! The little sucking and snorting sounds, the way he felt pressed up next to my skin. Memories of Jed and Levi came flooding back as I stared lovingly at Conrad.
Finally, it was Bron's turn to hold the baby. Few things make me fall head-over-heels in love all over again than to see my husband become a dad, especially for the third time. He couldn't hide his obvious love for our Conrad Joseph.
By then it was after 5PM and I was famished! I hadn't eaten anything that day except for the yogurt I scarfed down before leaving the house. So I ordered dinner for both of us from the hospital cafeteria. And then... I ordered a second dinner an hour later in my postpartum recovery room! Food tasted sooo good.
As per routine, all babies that are big for gestational age need their fasting glucose levels tested. They must pass three consecutive tests. I hate it. So new to the world and my boys each have had their heels pricked several times in their first 24 hours. Their tiny cries of pain kill me. Conrad failed his first and second sugar tests. Three failed tests sends an infant to the NICU, so the nurse suggested supplementing him with some formula. It brought his blood sugar levels up, but barely enough to pass. And so I nursed, supplemented, and held him skin to skin all night long. I got maybe two 40 minute breaks to rest my eyes until somewhere around 5AM. Technically, Conrad should have gone to the NICU that night, but the nurses and pediatrician on call (our awesome pediatrician Doctor Jones!) were doing everything they could to keep him out. Conrad was perfectly healthy. He was ready to nurse but the pain from the heel pricks were exhausting him so much that he'd fall asleep after suckling just a handful of times! It was so hard.
However, being a third time mom helped me from turning into a hormonal stress ball. I knew my milk would come in soon. I was confident he'd learn to nurse without much trouble despite being exposed to a bottle so often. And I knew without a doubt that Conrad would be just fine. Hospital procedure was just getting in the way. Finally, in the wee morning hours, Conrad passed a glucose test. And then another. But still, we supplemented our big little boy all the way through noon on Sunday when we were finally discharged.
May God bless the sweet nurses who took such good care of us during our stay, especially the angel who took a fussy Conrad for three hours the second night when I was falling asleep on my feet!
I was more than ready to leave the hospital 48 hours after we'd arrived on Friday, but those quiet still hours swooning over my brand new baby will always hold a special place in my heart and memory.
^^Just minutes old^^
^^Soaking in that soft wrinkly newborn newness!^^
^^Dad holding Conrad for the first time.^^
^^Bron getting a chance to feed the baby.^^
^^Our first night in the hospital. Sleep? Nah, I'd rather stare at my new baby!^^
^^Details: a shrinking umbilical cord (those things are kind of amazing!), ankle ID's, and little band aids on his heels.^^
^^Oh my heart! That pouty lip. He still makes this face.^^
^^I can't get enough of Jed's sweet excited face when he met Conrad for the very first time!^^
^^Such a tender and precious moment.^^
^^My three boys!!! I'm such a lucky mama. And yeah, I look awful. But that's what happens when you give birth, are up all night, and haven't showered.^^
^^There really aren't any words, right? Daddy-Baby bonding at its finest.^^
^^As excited as Jed and Levi were about meeting their new baby brother, they lost interest pretty quickly and watched cartoons on the tablet instead.^^
^^There is no better feeling in the world!^^
^^Tiny wrinkly newborn hands with Dad's big strong ones.^^
^^This. This photo is everything. One day new and soaking it all in!^^