Ready or Not :: Reece’s Arrival

It’s a boy!
Reece Benton Bedell
July 27, 2012
4 lb 13.6 oz

By now, most of you know that I’M A MOM! But, because I’m still living in the fog of new motherhood, not many people know the whole story behind our little one’s arrival. So, I figured what better to way to re-enter the blogging world than to share it with you — and memorialize it for years to come. 🙂

To say that we weren’t ready is the understatement of the century. I know what you’re thinking, “Who’s really ready to become a parent?” But allow me to put this in perspective: Reece was not due for another 5 weeks. My baby shower was a mere 6 days earlier. Our maternity photo shoot was a mere 3 days earlier. We didn’t have a hospital bag packed. We didn’t have a car seat. We didn’t have a pediatrician; we had several interviews scheduled in the following week. We hadn’t had a birth plan meeting with our doula; it was scheduled for the following Thursday.

For those of you thinking this sounds very out of character, please allow to me explain. For a whole host of reasons I won’t dwell on here, I really wanted to carry Baby B to 39 weeks. Nonetheless, I knew we needed to be ready to go at 36 weeks … just in case. So, Brad and I had planned to spend the weekend finishing up the infamous to-do list. Then, I’d be able to “relax” and enjoy the last few weeks of my pregnancy — or get miserable enough that I was, in fact, done being pregnant and ready to have a baby!

Thursday, July 26th, was a pretty typical day. I went to work and continued my efforts to wrap up or transition all my cases before I went out on leave. Brad and I met for lunch. I argued with opposing counsel. Work day over.

Thursday night, we went to see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, with my co-workers as part of a summer associate recruiting event. We had been going to the movies about once a week throughout my pregnancy, so this was pretty typical, too. By the end of the movie, I was incredibly uncomfortable. My legs felt like tree trunks, and I was wishing my ankles had plugs so I could drain them. I chalked it up to a lesson learned: No sitting still for 3+ hours. Next time, I thought, I’ll be sure to stand up in the back for a few minutes every hour or so. (Next time, hah!)

I drove home, got ready for bed, and put on my compression socks to help with the swelling. I finally fell asleep around midnight.

At 1:00 a.m., I woke up with some cramping. I figured maybe I ate too much, maybe it was growing pains, maybe it was just part of what I had to look forward to in the 10th month of pregnancy. Anything but labor pains. It was too early. Brad asked if I was OK, and I assured him I was.

At 2:00 a.m., I woke Brad up. Something wasn’t right. I was Googling things like crazy. Brad was asking if we should pack a bag. I kept saying no.

By 3:00 a.m., the cramps were getting more intense, and I noticed a little bleeding. I figured I needed to wait it out and call my midwife first thing in the morning. But, just to be safe, I texted Delilah (my cousin and doula) to give her a heads up, thinking she would reassure me that I should sit tight until the morning. I didn’t call her because I was still convinced it was too early to be labor.

By 3:30 a.m., the cramps were very intense and getting closer together by the minute. (Notice I’m still not willing to call them contractions at this point.) I printed out the hospital bag list and gave it to Brad, who immediately started scrambling to get a bag packed, set things up for the cats, and probably several other things that I’m not aware of because I was a little – um- preoccupied. The contractions weren’t the worst of it, though. I was totally, completely freaking out. It was way too early, and I couldn’t help but think something was wrong.

At 4:00 a.m., I called my midwife. She also thought it was too early to be labor, but she said that because I was panicked (duh!), we should head to the hospital. With Brad’s help, I willed myself to get into the car and prayed that the drive would be quick.

At 4:15 a.m., we left the house. I’m pretty sure my water broke in the car. Brad got Delilah on the phone to help coach me through the contractions, and I started trying to accept the fact that I was most likely going to have a baby today. Oh, and that quick drive I was praying for? It didn’t happen. Thanks to a bunch of construction around DFW airport, every road we would normally take was closed. I have no recollection whatsoever as to how we got to the hospital, but Brad told me later that it took nearly an hour. It should have been a 25-minute drive at that hour!

At about 5:10 a.m., we arrived at Baylor University Medical Center. Brad met my midwife inside and came back with a wheelchair. She seemed shocked that I couldn’t walk in myself. I was, too.

At 5:15 a.m., I had changed into a gown, and my midwife told me that I’d be meeting my baby very soon. The nurses were checking vitals and asking me a whole bunch of questions in between contractions. I kept asking myself if this was really happening. I tried to stay calm because I knew the panic wasn’t helping, but all I could think about was whether Baby B would be OK.

At 5:35 a.m., Delilah arrived, and my entire demeanor changed. Really, you can see it on my face. (See.) With her there, I knew that it was real and that I could do it.

At 5:57 a.m., on Friday, July 27, 2012, we were the proud parents of one very impatient little man. I honestly can’t recall a moment in life when I’ve been happier.

After a quick check of his vitals, the nurses said his breathing was heavy. (Among the many things I’ve learned, I now know that respiratory distress is the most common issue that presents in late preterm babies.) They quickly placed him back on my chest to see if he would start nursing and calm his breathing. Three minutes later, he was breathing and breastfeeding like a champ.

Around 6:30 a.m., things were starting to calm down. They let Reece stay with us, instead of whisking him off to the NICU, as I had feared. And we started getting ready to move upstairs to recovery.

By 8:00 a.m., we were upstairs in our recovery room admiring our brand new little man and talking to my very shocked parents.

We waited a good 24 hours before sharing the news with extended family, friends, Facebook, etc. Why, you ask? The hospital is scary place. Nurses and lactation consultants were coming in every 2 hours to check on me and/or Reece. And, quite frankly, they  scared the crap out of me. Although Reece seemed to be doing well, they felt obliged to constantly remind of us all of the potential complications associated with him being a late preterm baby. Don’t get me wrong; I wanted to have Baby B in a hospital, instead of at home or at a birth center, for this very reason — just in case something went wrong. But it was really stressful!

By mid-morning on Saturday, I started getting more comfortable that Reece would be OK. He was still in our room, and the nurses hadn’t mentioned the NICU or extended observation in at least 12 hours.

When the sun came up on Sunday morning, I was on pins and needles wondering if Reece would be released. I knew I would be released, and the thought of going home without him was heart-wrenching. Every nurse and pediatrician who came in was talking about home care and discharge procedure, so then I finally got excited!

At 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, July 29th, Reece came home.

He didn’t have a special outfit (not that anything I would have ordered would have fit him anyway), and the house was far from ready for his arrival. But none of that mattered. Our little man was healthy, and we were back home as a family.

The first few weeks were hard. I mean really, really hard. Breastfeeding is hard. Being sleep-deprived, while also being “on” 24/7 to care for a tiny human who is completely dependent on you for everything, is hard. Trying to be happy when all you want to do is cry is hard.

Everyone who visited made a big deal about how lucky I was — I avoided the last, most awful part of pregnancy; I didn’t have to endure month 10 in the August heat; he was small, which presumably made childbirth easier; and July has a prettier birthstone. But I felt like a failure. Like I had let down our family by not carrying Reece to full term. I over-educated myself about all the potential complications of late preterm babies and, consequently, worried about every single thing for days on end.

Finally, somewhere around week 2 or 3, I accepted that it is what it was meant to be. I had a great, healthy pregnancy. Timing aside, I had the exact birth I wanted.  And Reece was perfect. A little small, but who doesn’t love an itty bitty baby?!

We will never know why he was early. Maybe there were hidden complications from my hand surgery back in December (though I had insisted on no anesthesia or heavy pain meds just in case I was pregnant). Maybe I was more stressed about work and his arrival than I realized. Maybe my super-high metabolism baked him faster than normal. Or maybe – and most likely – he was just ready.

Today, Reece is 8 weeks old. I am overwhelmed with joy and love every time I see his little face; I feel incredibly blessed; and Reece’s impatience and need for speed has become a running a joke in our house.

I am always asking Reece if he’s ready, “Are you ready for our morning walk?” “Are you ready to eat?” “Are you ready for bath time?” “Are you ready for tummy time?”

I’m quite sure that if could answer, he would say “I was born ready, Mama. Let’s go!”

And so we’re off on a new adventure.

I have no idea how I’m going to reconcile the essence of “me” with my new identity as “Reece’s mom.” I have no doubt there will be tears, laughter, frustration, elation, and everything in between. And I’m looking forward to every minute of it.

xoxo ~B

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About Beth

Wife, daughter, big sis, aunt, friend, attorney, runner, cyclist, amateur chef & aspiring photographer. Thanks for keeping up with my life on the run!
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