June 17th, is a day my world got bigger, brighter and much happier. It was the day that Cohen George came into our lives. It was the day Deacon became a big brother. It was the day I became the proud mother of two boys. It was the day my heart grew 10 sizes.
I have written, deleted and written again this story--scared to post it for fear I'd forget such beautiful moments of Cohen's birth, but I have to trust that everything that needs to be read will come out of my fingers and onto the page.
So here it goes.
It was a routine, weekly Doctor's appointment. I had an early appointment and I was eager to get in and get checked out. I was three days away from my due date, and was not the least bit happy about it!
"Anne Wolking" the nurse called. I got up and waddled to the door with the wandering eyes following the 'big pregnant lady'. I am sure they were following me with empathy but I honestly felt like I a Peabody duck. "Step on the scale." I'd say those are the 4 most hated words a pregnant lady can hear! after that drama, I was asked to provide a urine sample. Talk about going from dramatic to comedic, trying to actually catch a sample over my big belly into a tiny cup was hilarious.
After all of the standard appointment agenda items I was put in a room to wait for my doctor. Within a few minutes she knocked, came in and said, "How ya doin' Annie?" "How am I doing?!" I replied. We both laughed. Her laugh. Oh how do I describe it? It's contagious, comforting, consoling and therapeutic all in one gust. She has such great empathy and understanding that can be blanketed all by her wonderful laugh! After a conversation of next steps, she decided to try and speed up the process by "stripping my membranes." Don't worry, I'll save you the details. She said it would maybe take a few days, I said, "I'll see you tonight." Again, she laughed, but sarcastically and said, "Ok, Annie!"
So that was that, I went back to work and plugged away at my to-do list. My contractions didn't waste any time and definitely picked up to where after a few weeks of wondering, "was that a contraction?" to being totally confident in knowing what a contraction felt like. They weren't painful, they were just there. They almost danced across my belly making their presence known in a beautiful labor tango. "Cake, piece of cake." I thought. I could handle those contractions all day long! By lunch-time those contractions, still not pain-filled, became more regular. So regular that my friends (how lucky am I that I can call my co-workers, friends?!) could actually correctly guess when a contraction would come on. One friend kept saying I was going to have the baby that night. I nervously said, "no no, Dr. Vormbrock said it wouldn't be for a few days." But I knew she was right. By the end of lunch I knew I wasn't going back to work that I would be going home to get things accomplished "just in case".
I walked, rested, did some laundry and even thought about what I'd fix for dinner. I then drove down to Deacon's school, and even joked with his teachers that I was in labor, little did we know.
On the way home contractions turned from a dance into a stampede--still not painful, just annoying. So annoying and consistent that I thought I should call my doctor. Instead I called Doug and in a irritated, indecisive, nervous sweep I asked him what I should do. That did me no good because I was just as clueless as I was. However, he came home, took one look at me and said, "call the doctor."
UGH. I was annoyed by his answer (I really don't know what else I wanted him to say!!!) but I called anyway. Dr. V answered and I told her that my contractions weren't painful but had been consistent for 90 minutes. She instructed me to go to the hospital for peace of mind (she knows me pretty well!) With that, Doug called his mom and she came over to watch Deacon. Before I knew it I was making tentative plans for her to stay the night, "just in case". Phone calls were being made, "just in case." Then panic struck. I sat, bags packed, contractions kicking my butt, just staring at my beautiful son. Praying that I spent enough time with him, that I prepared him to be a big brother. I kept hugging him, kissing him and just saying how much I loved him. For a moment, I grieved. I was saying goodbye to the beautiful life I knew and was going to enter into a chaotic world, that I knew I'd be so happy with, but it was the unknown that was causing the fear. I told Deacon we were going to the hospital to get checked out and he said, "You are going to have my brother, mommy?" I said that I didn't know but that I loved him so much. Tears streamed down my face as I hugged him, I wouldn't let go. He wriggled out of my grip and said, "mommy, be happy, I love you." With that Doug and I were off to the hospital.
Contractions were 5 minutes apart by the time we got to triage. Within 10 minutes they were 4 minutes apart--only this time they were being monitored on paper. However, no progress--I was still 4 cm. Dr. V told the nurse to let me walk for an hour. So in the sexy hospital gown Doug and I had a date. We walked the Labor and Delivery floor. It went from a dreamy date where we'd joke about my contractions to me having to sway through them. A few laps more around the unit I had to actually stop, breathe, sway and concentrate on the contractions. A few more laps and I had to do all the above and get my back rubbed.
Through it all, even in my moodiness, Doug never left my side. He timed every contraction, coached me, consoled me, comforted me--he did everything right. 40 minutes into my walk with him I told him we needed to get back to the triage room and that I wasn't going to make it the full hour. We went back to the room and he got the triage nurse. She checked me and I was a 5cm--can you say ADMITTED!!! It was baby time. However, we all thought it would be a few hours. So around 9:20 phone calls were made. My sister Kathy made her way to the hospital, as well as my sister-in-law (she was going to photograph).
Boom, within a few minutes of the phone calls and the nurse aide getting me ready to be transferred I was in full, hard labor. The breathing techniques weren't going to work and I knew that if I wanted to have this baby medication free I would have to "Let go and let God." I handed it over and told myself that I needed my body to do what it needed to do. With every contraction I would moan in pain, it was the only way it provided any relief. The aide was getting annoyed by this because I wasn't able to answer questions (excuse me, I'm trying to labor here!!!) I also kept asking if my doctor was on her way, and they said, "we left her a message." I should have taken that as a big fat red flag!
Kathy came into triage and immediately relieved Doug of stop watch duty so he could focus on me. She would tell me exactly when a contraction was going to happen, bingo, there it would be. She coached me through the peak of them and tell me when I was almost done--she was amazing.
Cathi, my nurse, FINALLY came in at 10:10 and said my room was ready. Kathy asked that I walk down to the room...dang her :). Walking during a contraction is just about impossible. The pain is so great--it is paralyzing. I had Doug run to the car to get my bag (I refused to bring it in before hand just in case we'd have to do the walk of shame back to the car). I got to the room and the nurse began to admit me into the hospital. Coleman came rushing in with her camera as I was struggling to answer questions, so my sister answered them for me and Cole immediately started capturing memories. With one heavy contraction, my body took over and pushed. Cathi, the nurse looked at me and said, 'Are you pushing?!" I said, "no, my body just did." a few questions and one hard, PAINFUL contraction later I pushed again. "No no no honey, don't do that, you'll hurt yourself." I said, "I'm not pushing on purpose, my body is doing it on its own." She then asked for me to lay on the bed so she could check me out. "Well it's a good thing, You're almost complete." Oh how I wish I knew what I looked like when she said that. "complete?! as in, like I'm ready to push?!" Doug wasn't back yet, my doctor wasn't anywhere to be found and I began to panic.
Everything after that was a blur. The nurse quickly called in for back-up. An army of nurses flew into the room to get ready. I began to cry and looked at my sister with such fear, she knew I was scared. "Annie, this is what happens when you go natural--things move very quickly, you're going to be just fine." She asked me if I wanted to pray, yet the only words I could speak were, "Lord, come quickly, I need you." Over and over. In my head I kept thinking, "I'm not ready, please, God, I'm not ready."
Well ready or not, Cohen was definitely ready. Doug came back into the room unaware that I was practically pushing. He rushed to my side. Then within minutes Dr. Vormbrock came in and laughed and said, "well, you just didn't want to wait, huh Annie?" I said, "I told you I'd see you tonight." She kicked off her shoes to show that she didn't even have her socks on--that's how quickly she tried to get to me.
Now with normal deliveries there is a climax right before a woman pushes. Her bed is raised, the blue cover is draped over her midsection, the doctor is wearing a huge garment and mask, the lights are on--almost like a stage for a performance, not for me. Doug and Kathy were kneeling beside me, Dr. V was sitting on my bed, in only her scrubs and the nurses were holding my legs back. There wasn't any time to get ready for the big production. Cohen was coming and quickly! And unlike my first delivery and not knowing when to push because of the meds, I knew EXACTLY when to push and as a matter of fact, Dr. V just told me to push when I wanted to, "Annie, PUSH!" I just kept hearing the battle cry, "push push push. push push push." I locked eyes with my Dr. and she said, "Annie, draw your legs back and give me one push, Cohen will be here!" I beared down, took a deep breath and pushed...pushed and PUSHED. The burning I felt turned into cool relief as she placed my beautiful, healthy boy onto my chest.
Tears of joy rushed down my face as I looked at Doug in amazement. I looked to my right and saw my sister with tears streaming down her face. I looked to my right again and saw my wonderful sister-in-law who never stopped shooting once I delivered Cohen. Birth is a true miracle, and being able to experience it is one of the most beautiful, emotional moments one will ever have.
Dr. Vormbrock was so sweet and let me hold Cohen for what felt like hours (but I am sure it was just a minute) so I could just hold him, love him and finally meet him. It was time for the cord to be cut, after that, he was whisked over to the warming bed to be cleaned up, stamped with ink and to get his apgar done. Doug was by his side the entire time, while Kathy held my hand during the afterbirth process.
The nurses and Dr. kept talking about how perfect the delivery was and that I made natural child birth look easy.
*let me say, it wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination.
The one thing I didn't expect was the shock my body was in afterward. I shook and shook and shook, it was very frightening that I didn't even want to hold Cohen for fear I'd drop him. Dr. V looked up while she was stitching me up and said, "Annie, if you hold him, I'm pretty sure you'll stop shaking." And sure enough, the moment I held on to him was the moment my body calmed down. It was almost as if my body knew that it needed to be with my son, that it was what was natural.
Once the commotion of the birth settled, my parents came into the room--what a beautiful moment. They blessed him and me and the tears came pouring down again. I felt so blessed that I was able to give them their 20th grandchild and that they were able to be apart of the birth. The greatest thing about my parents is that even after all those grand kids they still get excited, nervous and anxious about each one. They waited in the hallway like kids on Christmas to hear Cohen announce his arrival to the world.
Once the first round of visitors came and went it was time for us to just take it all in. Doug and I just kept looking at each other like, "did this really happen?!" We stared at Cohen thanking God for the blessing he gave us and we vowed that we'd do our absolute best to raise him, to love him unconditionally and be the best parents we could be for him. We didn't sleep much that night, I for one, was anticipating Deacon meeting his little brother, but also because how can you sleep after such an amazing event taking place?!
Before I knew it, morning came and so did the hustle and bustle of the hospital. The nurses weren't as quiet as they made their rounds, food was being rolled through the unit, visitors paraded down the hallways and a new day of deliveries began. The pediatrician came by to check Cohen out and gave him a clean bill of health (what I love to hear!) and as he was leaving, my first-born was sheepishly coming down the hallway to meet his brother.
I got out of bed and knelt of the floor so that I could grab on tight to him and hold him. I cried. I was just so happy that he was there, and that he was a big brother. He went over to the bassinet with his daddy and just peered in to check Cohen out. He got the cutest grin on his face and looked at me and I just said, "what do you think, Deacon?" He wasn't talkative or overly excited, he was just processing it all. He didn't like that I was in the hospital and he wanted to know what we couldn't come home right away, which broke my heart. But what Deacon didn't realize was when I saw him meet Cohen, was when my heart burst into the most pure, intense love a mother can experience. Here I was, a mother. Deacon and Cohen made me a "mother" how lucky am I?! Having kids is like having your soul go walking outside of your body--it is just a really amazing feeling.
I know I will never do that moment justice, that I'll never be able to fully explain what I feel in my heart, and that is okay, I almost am happy that a part of the story will be with me and only me forever. Giving birth is the most wonderful thing in the world and being able to feel it, all of it, even the pain was such a gift I'll cherish forever. Yes, I did just say that I'll cherish natural child birth forever. Why?! Well, It is one of the only moments that I think I will ever feel so connected to God. It was in the midst of my pain that I handed it all over to Him and said, "I trust You."
And that I believe sums up parenting. We may not always know what we are doing, nor think we'd ever be able to figure it out--and it is in those times where we have to just say, "I trust You."
I know I have many photos that I could put on here, but instead I'll post a slide show of images--it just makes it a heck of a lot easier--I hope you enjoy!