Monday, May 12, 2014

Barrett's Birth Story

It's a BOY!

Baby Barrett Brian Ward was born Sunday, February 16, at 5:58 PM.

7 lbs. 7 oz., 21 inches long, Apgars 8/9

He's the opposite of William in looks - covered in dark hair!

I am so THRILLED to have a brother for William. I would have been perfectly happy with either a boy or a girl, but (as I'm sure the Lord intended it) my heart is just rejoicing that we have another boy. Bring on the bunk beds and the boys' room!

Birth Story:

I had been anxious about how it would all turn out. I had been through labor before, but would I know again when to call my parents, when to head to the hospital?

Saturday, February 15th, I had a mini meltdown. We went to pick up our new family car from the dealership (yes - not a moment too soon) and ended up spending the day at my parents' house, about 45 minutes away from where we live, since the dealership was close to them and we hang out with them often. The plan had NOT been to spend the whole day there, even though I enjoyed the time. I was having pretty strong Braxton Hicks through the evening, stronger than what I'd felt before. Around 7 PM, Brian told me he was going to watch an episode of a show with my dad (they follow this one show that no one else is interested in). I freaked out - started crying - saying, "We were supposed to be HOME, doing stuff today!" I had a strong feeling that I could have the baby the next day, and I still didn't have the family's bags packed. It was an irrational freakout and Brian talked me down. We made it home around 10 and plopped Will into bed. When I went to the bathroom, I THOUGHT I saw my mucus plug - but I wasn't sure. The Braxton Hicks continued as I crawled into bed. I prayed, "Lord, I really want to go to church tomorrow. Please don't let me go into labor quite yet."

I wanted to go to church for several reasons, all of which I won't go into here. Mainly, I really enjoy being in church and I enjoy seeing WILLIAM enjoy church. I love being in the house of God and I love seeing my whole family and many of my friends in one place. We were also attending Core Group afterward (like a potluck, in the church basement) which is always a fun time of hanging out. So when I woke to a contraction - nothing major - I quickly looked at the clock and was relieved it was morning - 6:30. Good.

I had ENERGY. I got out of bed and began flying around the house, sorting laundry, packing bags. I woke Brian at seven. "Do you want a haircut?" I was actually having contractions! I'd have a good one, one for which I'd want to pause and put my elbows on the kitchen counter and breathe through it. Then, ten or fifteen minutes later, I'd have another one - but it'd be piddly, fizzling out fast. I thought it was false labor, but it felt like it could easily turn into the real thing. I made a very strong concentration of my red raspberry leaf tea and chugged it, and took a big dropper full of a Labor and Delivery Tincture in a glass of juice.

Brian KNEW I was in labor. He helped me pull together everything I needed. Then he pulled down all the shades and turned the heat down to 45 degrees. "You know we're not coming back here, right?" he asked. I wasn't as confident. "I hope you're right!" I said. We left the house, ready to go to the hospital if necessary. We were all dressed up and ready for church!

The roads were AWFUL on the way. We'd gotten a couple inches of snow, and traffic had gone haywire! A man spun out in front of us on the highway - thanks to Brian's great bad-weather driving skills, we barely missed broadsiding him in our brand new (pre-owned :) vehicle. I had a few contractions on the way, but they followed the same pattern - one good one, then a couple crappy, weak ones. Oh well, I thought. Labor can pick up any minute! 

At church, people asked, "You're still here?" "When are you due again?" "Have you been having contractions?" I told them I wasn't having anything worthwhile - which was true, to me. I was sure I was in false labor. (Side note - there is nothing more annoying than wanting desperately to BE in labor and NOT being in labor (or at least not thinking you're in labor). If you see a heavily pregnant woman, it is a safe bet that her state of mind at that moment is annoyance. You would be wise to keep questions verrrry minimal. And it would also be wise to keep any comments limited to how wonderful she looks. This all sounds really horrible to say, but these comments should be taken more along the lines of how pregnant women feel. Rational or not.)

The pattern continued throughout the day. I'd be chatting with someone and have a contraction so strong it was all I could do to stand frozen in place with a smile plastered on my face... which made for a few awkward exchanges when I just could NOT talk! But then... six minutes or so would go by... and a slight, easy contraction would come and go. So disappointing! Core Group was coming to an end, and since labor hadn't picked up as I'd hoped, I was super down in the dumps.

"We should just go home," I mourned to Brian. I pictured walking back into the cold house, with all its shades drawn, and depositing our bags by the door. How defeating! It would have worked out so perfectly! William could've just stayed with my dad, and my mom and sister could have headed with us up to the hospital. And the timing would have been so good, too! No meetings or schedules to mess up - it was Sunday, after all!

But Brian was very confident I was in active labor. So confident, in fact, that he was sharing the news with lots of people - which was SO ANNOYING, I'm sorry to say! I had to keep saying, "It's not labor, it's false labor," when I had been hoping so badly that it'd turn active. He told my mom during Core Group that I'd been having contractions all day, and she became excited. I had to tell her it wasn't real - but she wasn't convinced. She pulled me and Fadwa, a very sweet friend and passionate Christian, into a room off to the side and asked Fadwa if she would pray for me. She prayed as though I was in labor, prayed for health, and safety, a smooth delivery, and a blessed time. It was a disappointing feeling that I wasn't - but it was a lovely prayer. I was so thankful for it.

Brian didn't want to go home (40 minutes from church). "Let's go to your parents' house," he suggested (10 minutes from church). "You can get in the tub and Will can take a nap. Let's just hang out there for a while." That sounded good to me. I remembered that during my last birth, the bath had made the contractions stronger and more intense. And if it was false labor, it would fade off.

So off we went, to our second home. We left at 3 PM. My parents' house (where I grew up) is so comforting and homey. We walked through the door and I felt better. Brian offered to get Will changed and put him down for his nap, but I wanted to try to take him potty first, and I felt like being the one to change his clothes. So Brian went and changed while I was taking care of Will. I was taking my sweet time changing his clothes, tickling him, when my parents walked through the door. "So you're in LABOR!!!" my mom said. They were both so excited. "I doubt it, you guys," I replied. "I'm going to get in the tub and see what it does."

My mom headed upstairs to scrub the tub and fill it up. I felt a contraction coming on, and Will was diaper-free and in a onesie, but I knew it was going to be a strong one so I had to focus. I let him get up and run around half naked - his favorite thing. I flipped onto my hands and knees and let my face go totally limp. When the contraction peaked, I lowered my head and moved it from side to side - it was such a strong one that I had to do something to distract. It was SO strong and lasted well over a minute. When it was over, I returned to sitting on my legs and said, "That was a really good one! Come here, Will-" intending to finish changing his clothes - when I felt a pop and a GUSH.

Now I know what it feels like to have your water break! I moved quickly off the carpet and stood up on the hard floor. It all ran out and I was soaked. Thankfully, it was clear. It was 3:30.

"My water broke," I said in kind of a panic. "My water just broke."

"Ha!" said Brian triumphantly. "I knew it! Linda, Maegan's water just broke. Forget the bath!"

My mom came downstairs and I made eye contact with her. I was so afraid. "Mom, it's going to get a lot worse now," I said.

"Don't worry about that," she said. "Call your midwife and I'll finish up filling the tub."

I called Tracy. "My water broke," I said. I felt so frightened and unsure. This was uncharted territory for me - William's water hadn't broken until the very end, when he was too low for it to go anywhere. "Should I come in now?"

She asked lots of questions. Was the fluid clear? Was I having contractions? How far apart had they been? I told her I didn't know how far apart they'd been - we hadn't been timing them. "Don't come in just yet," she answered. "You can go ahead and get in the tub and time a few contractions. When you begin to feel a heaviness in your bottom, come in. But call me first."

It's a bit blurry now, but I changed out of my clothes in the living room. Brian took my fluid-soaked clothing downstairs to wash it. My dad had taken Will to put him down for his nap. I made it up to the bathroom and got in the tub. I laid on my side in order to get my belly in the water. Every time a strong contraction would come, I'd raise my arm and hold onto the side of the tub for dear life. I found it very hard to relax during the contractions, the way I had with Will's delivery. With these, I felt like I had to "hold on for the ride". But funny enough, they DID NOT seem to get worse, now that my water had broken. (I'm sure at some point they did, because they certainly did get painful, but it didn't happen right away.) And even stranger still, the pattern of "one strong contraction, a couple weak" continued. Even though my water had definitely broken, this pattern totally messed with my mind. It seemed the very definition of false labor.

Brian sat on top of the toilet next to me. He was trying to download an app to time the contractions. At some point, my mom came in to check on me. "How's the water?" she asked. "It's getting a little cold," I replied. She found we'd run out of hot water, and actually went downstairs to boil some water to heat the bath. I heard her imitating Mammy in Gone with the Wind. "I'm gonna go boil some water, Miss Scarlett!"

I wasn't in the tub for long... maybe 45 minutes. Brian had finally gotten the app to work and I had signaled a few contractions. I felt another beginning. "Okay," I simply said. It was a very strong one, and suddenly I felt an urge to push come over me like nothing I'd felt thus far. It was a sudden and compulsive and unmistakable feeling. The contraction was very long, too, but I managed to say before it ended, "I think we're going to be going to the hospital now."

I called the midwife while Brian ran out of the bathroom to "alert the troops".

"I'm feeling like I have to push," I told her. "I could be wrong, but I'd feel more comfortable at the hospital."

"Okay, honey," she said. "You come right in, then."

"Tracy," I said, feeling VERY unsure of myself, "what if I have to push while we're on the way?"

"Then I'll drive to wherever you are," she said. "You just get going here and call me if you need me."

If you've ever been in labor, maybe you can identify with two things. The FIRST thing is that you just don't KNOW what's going on with your body. You've got a group of people all around you, waiting for you to call the shots. Do we go in? Do we stay home? If you wind up at the hospital in slow, tedious labor for twenty hours, everyone agrees it would've been better for you to have stayed home... but it wasn't like you KNEW that was going to happen. If you find yourself feeling like you have to push on the way to the hospital, everyone agrees you should've gone in sooner... but how were you supposed to have known how it would go? If I could pick one word to describe my labor with Barrett, it would be unsure. I was completely clueless about whether I was in active labor (until my water broke), how far dilated I was, or how fast it would go. Just because you're the woman in labor does NOT make you any more knowledgeable about what's happening to you! At least... this has been my experience both times.

The SECOND thing you might identify with is, when you're in serious active labor, moving or walking or switching positions is terrifying. Because what if I have a contraction on the way? I knew I'd be more comfortable at the hospital, but even the thought of getting out of the bath was so scary. There was a moment when I just gritted my teeth and told myself, if I have a contraction on the way, OH WELL. Just do it. My sister came into the bathroom to ask if I needed anything. She helped me gather my things while I got dressed. The car was warming up outside and my mom wrapped a blanket around me while I slipped on my crocs and walked out into the snow.

The weird pattern of "one major contraction, a couple weak" continued even now. It really messed with my mind. Looking back, I was in serious active labor - ready to PUSH - and it makes sense that I was unable to smile, talk much, be very happy, etc. But at that moment, I was thinking, "I could be just getting started. Why am I feeling so irritable? Why am I feeling so weak and exhausted? Why are these so uncontrollably painful? Why can't I relax, like I did with Will?"

Brian and Erin (my sister) sat in the front of the car, and I sat next to my mom in the back. I knelt backwards in the back seat and draped myself over the back of the bench. I asked my mom to help me remember how to breathe through a contraction. Was it one breath in, three breaths out? Was I supposed to breathe IN through my nose, or was it supposed to be through my mouth? The next contraction whooshed in and my mom was trying to count breaths with me. I couldn't do it. All I could do was take big, slow, heaving breaths and hold on for dear life to the back of the seat. Why couldn't I RELAX? I was a relaxation MASTER with William!

After that contraction, I told my mom, "Okay, that's not going to work." What ended up helping, up until the very end, was letting me grip her hand, and reminding me gently, "Breathe. Get oxygen to the baby."

Something that had been bothering me, ever since my water had broken, was that I had stopped feeling the baby move. Or at least, I couldn't remember having felt the baby move. I confessed this to my mom on the way - "Mom, I haven't felt the baby for a long time." She immediately prayed, fervently. She told me later that my saying that made her afraid, but she thought, "I am not going to let her have this thought!" She strongly assured me that the baby was absolutely fine. I was not convinced, and I was very anxious to get to the hospital.

The ride to the birth center with Will was about 35 minutes, but it felt short. This ride felt like it took forever. I was in so much discomfort and I knew that getting to the hospital would signify the end of the discomfort... somehow. I just wanted it to be over. Eventually, my kneeling grew uncomfortable, and I sat with my head on my mom's shoulder, gripping her hand, and holding on for dear life with each contraction. At this point, they felt like they were curling my body around itself, trying to push out the baby.

We made it there. Brian pulled up to the front doors and my mom took the keys to park the car while Brian and I walked into the lobby. I was a mess, stumbling in with my ugly pink bathrobe, Droid in my pocket playing my Pandora Worship station, face flushed and look of misery in every expression. Even in my pain, I wondered what I must look like to those peacefully enjoying the quiet of the waiting area.

I knew we had to register. I told Brian, "You go register, I'll wait here." I leaned my elbows against some kind of a pillar (?) and stood anticipating another whopper of a contraction. There was commotion - Brian said, "She's in labor." "Active labor?" someone asked. "Yes," Brian replied, while at the same time I said, "I think so." A nurse came quickly to me with a wheelchair. I was confused - did they want me to leave Brian? "I want my husband," I said, panicky. "I'm right here," said Brian - but did he realize they were taking me away? Wasn't he just getting started registering?

Oh, I was in a blur of pain and confusion. I didn't realize that since I was OBVIOUSLY in active labor (DUH Maegan), they waved him on and told him to worry about registering later. The nurse was ready to escort us both up to the Mother Baby unit. I heard someone at the desk say, "I'll call up there and let them know we have an active labor patient." I clutched the arms of the wheelchair, periodically pleading with the nurse to stop moving to I could have a contraction - which were so uncomfortable I simply couldn't sit down through them. We wheeled into the unit and I saw Tracy (my midwife) and some other nurses greet me with a big smile.

As the wheelchair rolled into the delivery room, I felt another contraction coming on. I laugh about this now - I must have looked like such a drama queen - but I knew I HAD to be out of that wheelchair and so at the very moment Tracy was leaning in to help me get out, I flopped onto the floor so that I could experience the contraction on my hands and knees. I heard a collective GASP of horror as everyone must have assumed I just collapsed. So I was almost wanting to laugh, to explain that NO, I was just REALLY needing to be on my hands and knees, but I'm just holding on tight while this contraction rocks my whole body and I can't say a word. So the moment of everyone's shock and horror lasted a bit longer than it needed to. Thankfully, I think Brian figured it out and told them I was fine.

After the contraction, they helped me change into my gown and get into bed. They strapped on the monitors (I was so relieved to hear the baby's perfect little heartbeat!) and my mom and Erin walked in. Tracy checked me. "Oh yeah, you're complete," she said in a breezy way. "You can push anytime!"

So much for wondering whether or not I was in active labor. Fully dilated! Shows how much I know.

Oh, I was so frightened to push! I remembered how difficult and painful it was to push out Will! "I don't know what to do," I whispered to my mom, who was holding my hand on my left side. "At the birth center, they coached me."

"Tracy," said my mom, "at the birth center where she had William, the midwives coached her through the pushing. Can you give her some direction to push?"

"Oh, sure," she said compassionately. "When you feel a contraction coming, take a breath and then blow it away. Then take another breath and bear down."

Here goes nothing, I thought, when the next contraction began. I followed her instructions and pushed through the contraction until it was over. And somehow, it felt RIGHT - it felt like the right thing for my body to be doing. Still - "It burns, it burns!" I whispered to Tracy in a panic. There was so much pressure it was unbelievable. "Maegan," said Tracy, "did William have lots of hair when he was born? Because when you just pushed, I saw hair! I could have twirled it around my finger!"

"No way," I said. "Are you sure you saw the baby's head?"

"Yep," she beamed. She sent the nurse out to grab a couple supplies, and I felt another contraction coming on. I took a breath, blew it away, and began to push. And I felt him descending, and I continued to push. "Um, Mom," said Tracy in a calm but insistent way to my mom, "could you press that red button on the wall there? Let's get Linda (the nurse) back in here." In the pain and pushing, I knew that was a good sign. Suddenly, the head was out. I was shocked. Should I keep pushing? "Keep going!" said Tracy, after untangling the cord from around his neck. I pushed again - out came the shoulders - and again - and there was my baby, being lifted up and onto my chest. As he was brought up to me, I saw, just as Brian said, "It's a boy!"

I cuddled him on my chest in shock. It was so fast. So, so fast. He was born less than a half hour after we'd pulled up the the front doors - probably less than twenty minutes after we'd gotten into that room. I couldn't believe it! In two contractions, I'd met my baby - my second little boy! I had guessed it would be a boy, and I was right! Just what I had hoped for! A buddy for William! "Hi, Barrett!" I whispered to him over and over. I sang him a song as he cried, as they wrapped him up and put a hat on him. He was quite blue when he'd first come out, but soon he pinked up nicely and quieted down.

I just can't tell you how stunned I was. I look back at the pictures and it looks like I was so emotionally void. No sobbing, no tears, just taking deep breaths and singing to Barrett. Actually, the stitching up and all that aftermath lasted much longer than pushing out my baby! I was so curious to know his stats, but I also wanted to hold him and not let him go. We tried nursing and he latched on, but it was too much to attempt while they were stitching me up (which seriously took forever!) so we went back to resting. The quick delivery had affected him too - he still had a lot of amniotic fluid in his throat - so the nurse kept suctioning him out and making sure he was breathing well.


The rest is pretty straightforward. He was born at six PM, early enough to get visitors that very night - William, my dad, and my best friend Kathleen. We spent one night in the hospital, which was a nice time of bonding and resting with Barrett, and waited out the following day, rather impatient to leave! We booked it out of there twenty-four hours after he was born. I felt so great, I walked all the way down to the lobby. The physical recovery for Barrett was already so much better than it had been for Will.

I love this picture. First time I was able to hold him after having Barrett. I love how his little hands are folded.

Fast-forwarding twelve weeks later - things are great. I expected a transition much rougher than this has been. Physically, I bounced back so much faster (though losing the baby weight is proving to be more difficult this second time around!). I stayed very strict with my vitamins and didn't experience the frightening mood swings that I did with Will (extreme bouts of sobbing for no reason? not fun!).William started out mostly aloof toward Barrett, though as the weeks pass he's growing more interested and very sweet toward his little brother. He hasn't acted jealous at all and he loves being my "Big Helper!" The hardest part was not being able to be Will's mommy like I had been used to being. It was tough to let Brian put him to bed every night and give him his baths and feed him his meals. But it was good for their relationship, and they're even closer now. And now that I've been back in full-on mommy-mode for a while, those first few weeks seem like a blur.


And Barrett is the BEST baby. I mean seriously, just the best little guy I could have asked for. William was a very mellow, easy baby as well, but Barrett just SHINES because he's the second-born - he doesn't have his needs met immediately at every moment. He patiently waits, rewarding us with huge smiles. He's so soft and snuggly and sweet... just SO SWEET. He makes me want to have a million babies. He just makes me so, so happy! He's been sleeping through the night since he was five weeks old - which I honestly don't expect to keep happening for much longer, as I'm sure when he starts growing more he'll need to be up again. But it's been so nice - oh, so nice while it's lasted! He's healthy and happy and mellow, and just the best baby. William even says, "Best baby!"


Yesterday was Mother's Day, and I spent the day knowing I couldn't be happier than I am right now, at this moment in my life. My two little boys are my joy and crown. Brian and I are more of a team than ever. Life is so, so good!

So until next time!



  1. well don't take too long to finish the story. HA. Hugs :)

  2. Gosh, your baby is gorgeous... thanks for sharing with all of us!