Needless to say, I was relieved when the alarm finally chimed.
It was time.
One more shower, a few more things in the hospital bag, a tiny blueberry muffin, and your dad and I were on our way to the hospital. Nervously chatting, excitedly holding hands.
We checked into the hospital, and were put in delivery room #1. "Lucky for you guys, you just snagged the last delivery room!" the nurse told us.
I immediately tried to slow down time, to take a step back and take in every little detail of what we were experiencing. The smells, the hospital gown, the "thump thump thump" of your heartbeat on the monitor, making small talk with the nurses.
Once I was settled, your dad left to help your Meme get CK off to school. I was lying in the room by myself for quite some time. I refused to turn on the tv yet - I wanted to breathe in every sight, every sound, anticipating what was to come. I kept thinking over and over again that I still could not believe this was happening.
Lots of needles and IV attempts and a blown vein later, and Dr. T showed up to check in on things. After examining my progress (still just 1cm and very high and thick!), she determined that cytotec was still the way we should start. This medicine would hopefully soften my cervix and make everything more favorable for some pitocin. It was about 8:00am, and she said she'd be back to check on me around noon - at which point, depending on my progress, we could start the pit.
It wasn't too long before your dad showed back up, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
You'll know soon enough that he is my rock, my peace, my courage and my calm.
I started cramping almost immediately after the cytotec was placed, and it was pretty significant. It wasn't long before I realized the "cramps" were coming at regular intervals - and duh, they weren't cramps, they were contractions. Already! I was contracting pretty much every 3 minutes on the dot. After about an hour and a half or so, the contractions were enough that I had to stop talking to breathe through them. I paged the nurse and we discussed pain medicine options. She didn't want me to get an epidural quite yet, and neither did I - it seemed too early for that and I didn't want things to stall out. We discussed another pain medicine option to help me hold off on the epi, but she said it would likely make me feel a little drunk and out of it.
And while we all know I've missed my alcohol, this was not a situation in which I wanted to feel loopy. I wasn't trying to be all superwoman-ish, but I also wanted to fully experience my labor and delivery without feeling like I was in a drug-induced haze.
So, I decided to man up and breathe and try to let things keep on keepin' on.
Soon there was a knock on the door, and one of my favorite people, Kristen, walked in armed with a box of cupcakes. A hug and some chatting with Kris was just what I needed at that point in time to (a) distract me from the pain, and (b) keep me calm. <3 We said our goodbyes, promising to text as much as possible throughout the day as we got closer and closer to your arrival.
By this time it was about 11:00am, and I was counting down until Dr. T would be back to check on things. It was painful! Bearable, but definitely painful.
The nurse popped in about 12:30pm and said Dr. T had gotten held up at the office (which was across the street from the hospital). So the nurse checked me herself so she could report back to Dr. T and make a game plan.
3cm, still high and thick.
A call to Dr. T and we got the green light for pitocin and an epidural (!).
It was about this time that your Bammy and Digby showed up - and I was so relieved and so thrilled. There's just something about having your parents around that brings about such a sense of everything-is-going-to-be-okay.
Thankfully the nurse had ordered the epi before the pitocin, knowing that once the pit started things were gonna get REAL. Anesthesia came in and the epidural went in around 1:35pm. Getting an epidural always makes me so nervous! I hate the sensation of the needle all up in my spine, but Lord knows I appreciated the relief. Soon after, Dr. T showed up (yay!) and checked me again. It was a little after 2:00pm. I was 3-4cm, and it was at that point I decided that you were going to take awhile to make your appearance, just like your big sister and brother had done.
Dr. T broke my water, which took some effort - you had quite a strong bag of water, she said! And there was a LOT of it. There was some meconium in my fluid, which put me on edge a little - Dr. T assured me that we'd just do our best to make sure you didn't swallow any fluid as you came out, and we'd have respiratory doctors in the room to keep an eye on you at delivery.
We said our goodbyes to Dr. T, and made a plan to see her again when she was done with her patients across the street, which would be around or a little after 5:00pm.
Shortly after she left, I was lying there talking to your dad and Bammy and Digby and I said, "Something isn't right. Something doesn't feel right. I don't feel well at all."
It's hard to describe the sensation that came over me, but it was scary. It was the worst part of the whole experience. I felt - well - weird. A coldness swept over my chest and through my heart, a feeling that was sickening. I quickly paged the nurse, who immediately came in and determined that my blood pressure had pretty much bottomed out. It had been low all morning, and the epidural made it tank. They pushed fluids and also pumped me with some Zofran (because I was also thisclose to seeing that blueberry muffin resurface). An unquenchable thirst also hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was miserable. And scared, to be honest. It was really scary. But your heart kept thumping away beautifully on the monitor, which was what mattered most to me.
Finally, we got things settled and my blood pressure leveled off and I immediately felt better.
At about 3:00pm it was time for the nurse to place the catheter to empty my bladder. She decided to go ahead and check me again while she was down south. "A solid 4cm," she said. "But... baby is still so high up, and your cervix is still so thick." So she decided to have me lay on my left side, just to give my body a chance to progress in a different position. But you didn't like that! And your heart rate showed it. So we switched to the right.
After about 20 minutes on my right side and I started feeling contractions on the left side of my body. And quickly - very quickly - things got REAL. The pain went from 0 to 60, and I realized I was feeling full-blown, unmedicated contractions and it HURT. I paged the nurse, telling her I thought maybe lying on my side had messed with the epidural...
It was so intense. And really the word intense doesn't do the pain justice. I was doing my best to breathe through each contraction, telling myself it was temporary pain, that this was the last time I'd ever be in labor, that it was all getting me one step closer to meeting you. I clenched the bed rails and huffed and puffed and prayed and tried not to cry...
The nurse decided the epidural shouldn't just wear off that way, and checked me again. "Well," she said. "It's time to have a baby."
Your dad and I looked at each other in complete disbelief.
"Wait, what? Huh?!" We both replied.
It was a little after 4:00pm. I had been 4cm and thick only an hour earlier!
"The reason you can feel every contraction is because you progressed so quickly, the epidural couldn't keep up with it. In fact, the head is right here. So try not to move, try to stay relaxed during your contractions, and no matter what pressure you may feel, do NOT push. Don't move. I'm gonna go page Dr. T!"
T stuck his head out of the room to where my parents were sitting...
"Game time," he said.
From this moment on it all became even more surreal. The door opened and closed and opened and closed as nurse after nurse came in to help get the room delivery-ready. I kissed Digby goodbye and he wished me luck as he left to go to the waiting room. I looked in my mama's eyes, so excited that this time she'd be in the room with us as our family grew from four to five. I was instantly calmed by the love and excitement written all over your Bammy's face...
It was game time!
And yes, during all of this I was still experiencing contractions that were unbearable. Somehow, I got through them. And stayed still. And calm. Even though all I wanted to do was PUSH and MAKE IT STOP.
Dr. T walked in the room, and we both just giggled at each other.
"You really couldn't wait until I was done with my last patient?!" she joked.
She got all set up and they placed my mirror... I had a mirror when I birthed your big brother and knew, without a doubt, that I wanted one this time, too.
Your dad and I kept making eye contact - both overwhelmed with emotion. I kept mouthing to him, "I'm nervous."
"I love you," he kept replying.
Dr. T told me to give a half of a push - okay, STOP she said.
And I knew why she'd ordered me to stop. One look in the mirror and there was your head! Right there! A head full of dark hair. I couldn't believe it.
"Do you think we can just sit like this for awhile?" Dr. T asked me. "Can you handle the pain and pressure and breathe through the contractions so we can let things stretch and expand slowly? I'd really like to avoid a bad tear..."
"Yes!" I replied. Anything to avoid the third- and fourth-degree tears I'd experienced with your siblings, who clocked in at 9lbs 14oz and 9lbs 15oz.
So there we sat. A room full of people. Legs in the stirrups. And your head, slowly making it's way out.
Like I said, it was incredibly surreal.
"So...." I joked with everyone in the room... "Happy Friday y'all! What's everyone up to this weekend?!"
It literally was that relaxed. We talked, looked at the top of your head, wondered if it was a boy noggin' or a girl noggin'... Dr. T worked to slowly let you ease out on your own, and I mustered all of my strength to NOT push even though every fiber of my being told me to do the exact opposite.
Finally, I got the green light.
"Ok," Dr. T said. "When you feel your next contraction, let's go ahead and push."
I felt the sensation coming on, took one big, deep breath... and pushed.
I saw your sweet face, cheeks and all, emerge... And then the sweet relief of pressure - such an indescribable feeling - as your entire body entered the world with that one, big push.
You were here.
And my heart wrapped around you immediately, loving you so big.
It took a minute to find out what you were! I was looking and looking and I saw a cord, but was there something else?!
"It's a BOY!" your dad exclaimed in absolute joy. "A BOY!!"
And what I felt next is hard to explain. You see, from the minute we found out I was pregnant with you, I was convinced you were a girl. So convinced that I had a hard time picturing our family any other way.
And then you were born. And while it took me a minute to process what your dad had said - that you were, in fact, a boy - I immediately couldn't imagine you being anything else.
Of course you were a boy. Of course you were my son. Who else would you be?!
The perfect missing puzzle piece of our family.
Your dad and your Bammy had tears in their eyes while I breathed in every ounce of who you were, savoring every second of your warm, fresh-from-the-womb body on my chest.
Once again, I was absolutely, head-over-heels, unconditionally in love, and already so proud to be your mama.
We took lots of pictures - so many pictures - pictures that are raw and real and pictures that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Your dad even snuck in a video, catching you on camera in the first few minutes of your life. I tried to memorize every part of who you were in those first, precious moments. Your dark hair, your tiny ears - one different from the other, just like your sissy. Blonde eyebrows and eyelashes. Blue eyes, the sweetest cries letting us know your lungs were strong and healthy. Long, skinny fingers, toes, hands, and feet. The sweetest little turned up nose.
The way you peed all over me, immediately, within seconds of making your debut.
And while the doctors and nurses commented on you being big, I immediately knew you were smaller than your siblings. You felt so tiny in my arms.
You felt so perfect in my arms.
We drank in the first moments of your life - your Bammy, your dad, and me - and then Bammy left the room to share the news with Digby.
And also so your dad and I could, once and for all, decide on your name.
"Ok," I said. "I think his name is Brooks. I know his name is Brooks."
"Ok," your dad replied. Like he knew it, too.
You see, Brooks has been a name I've loved my whole life. Before your dad and I were ever married. It has always been on my mind and in my heart. We almost used it in part of your brother's name, but didn't...
And now I know why.
Because YOU are my Brooks. God knew long, long ago that you'd be joining our family. And that name has been in my heart my whole life for a reason... waiting for you.
Our little surprise.
"What about his middle name?" T asked.
"Evan," I said.
"Is there a reason? Do you just like the name Evan?" he replied.
"Evan is after my grandpa," I told him.
"Well then of course we'll use Evan. I didn't realize that was the reason you wanted to use that name!"
And with that, your dad kissed me and I kissed him back and you, my Brooks Evan, completed our family. <3
Brooks Evan Peele
Our caboose <3
I love you enough. I love you so big.