As I rested with my son, Ryan, tonight, I told him the story of the day he was born, exactly 6 years ago. How he entered this world so peacefully and beautifully and how grateful I am that he is my son. My eyes filled up with tears as I hugged his sweet little body, my heart feeling like it would explode right out of my chest. There are no words to fully describe the way I love this little guy and his birth was just the beginning.
6 years and 9 months ago, I found out that I was pregnant with my soon-to-be Ryan. Ben was 7 months old and I had just returned to work full time. Let’s just say that SHOCKED cannot even begin to describe how I felt when that little stick had two lines. We knew we wanted to have at least 2 children, but never thought it would happen this soon! Feelings of guilt filled my heart as I thought about how I had robbed Ben of months where he would be an only child. Panic set in when I counted how many months apart my kids would be (15!!!) How would I tell my boss? How would I tell my parents? Most importantly, how would it be possible for me to love another human being as much as I loved my 7-month-old Ben? I just wasn’t ready!
As the months flew by, I slowly became connected to my growing baby. I felt his movements much more quickly than I had with Ben and I loved how my stomach would contort and expand during the staff meetings at work. I wasn’t quite as sick while pregnant this second time around, which was a blessing since I had Ben to contend with as well. I still wondered how it would be humanly possible for me to connect with this new baby as I had with Ben.
About 3 days before Ryan was born, I woke up around 6am with this very weird feeling, like something was wrong. I pushed on my belly to stir the little one, but didn’t feel any movement. For 30 minutes I rolled from side to side in my bed, walked around from room to room (praying I didn’t wake up 15-month-old Ben), and drank a glass of water. I still didn’t feel any movement. I decided to wake up my husband, Jason, and instantaneously broke out in hysterical tears. I hadn’t felt Ryan move in over 45 minutes and I wanted to go to the hospital immediately! I cried the whole way there, trying to talk myself out of thinking the worse, but I just couldn’t. We ran into the hospital and begged them to hook me up to see if anything was wrong. Within minutes, we were in triage, strapped to a monitor and saw to our relief that our baby boy was just sleeping soundly. I drank some orange juice and he started to stir. It was one of the scariest moments in my life and as we drove home, I hugged my belly and told him I would be waiting patiently for him, whenever he was ready to arrive.
Three days later, after a gorgeous evening walk, pizza dinner, and a little vino, I was awoken from my semi-deep sleep to some mild abdominal cramping. I checked my clock and started to feel some excitement as the cramping continued to surge every 10 minutes. After an hour, I woke up my husband to tell him that I was having contractions and that they were starting to get pretty regular. Now, this was the first time I had felt contractions like this, as I was induced with Ben and never felt the growing, consistent surging I was feeling now. As I rolled out of bed, the contractions started to become even stronger and jumped to about every 6 minutes. We immediately called my step-mom, as she was going to watch Ben, and left for the hospital as soon as she arrived.
The drive to the hospital was pretty horrible, as I was bent over with my head between my legs, trying to breathe… I am not one who can handle pain very well! The check-in at the hospital was a blur, as all I wanted to do was get into my room and the walk down that hospital corridor seemed like a 10K, as I paused every few steps to grab my pulsating belly. By now it was 3am. My mom and mother-in-law joined us in the labor/delivery room. My mom began to massage my legs as I breathed through the contractions. Had I known what I know now, I would have gotten out of that bed and walked around as much as I could to just keep things going. Instead, I sat in bed, breathing through every contraction, gripping my mom and husband’s hands until each one dissipated. Then, the shaking set in….I was so frustrated because mentally I felt like I could power through this a bit more, yet I felt like my body was showing me that it couldn’t handle this anymore. I waited until about 4:30 before calling for the anesthesiologist.
After the epidural was administered, we all relaxed a little, just watching the contractions ebb and flow on the computer screen. By 7am, I was fully dilated and the doctor was paged. I had no idea what to expect from here. With Ben, I was in labor for over 18 hours and pushed for 2.5 hours. I wondered if I was in for a marathon again. The doctor arrived and asked if I wanted a mirror to watch the birth. While I was petrified to do this during Ben’s birth, I felt much more confident this time around and agreed to roll in the mirror. Well, 2 pushes in, Ryan’s little head slipped out and the third push delivered his beautiful body. And I was able to watch the whole thing!
My doctor brought Ryan to me and laid him on my chest as his umbilical cord finished pulsating. My stomach immediately grew warm as he peed all over me and we laughed that at least his ‘parts’ were in working order! Within 20 minutes, my sweet one had latched on beautifully and we laid there for over an hour just gazing into one another’s eyes, memorizing each other’s face and scent.
And as I held my brand new son, this overwhelming sense of love enveloped me. It was as if I knew how much joy this incredible being was going to bring to our lives. That fear that I had felt for the past 9 months… the one where I would be incapable of loving another child as much as I loved Ben… it just disappeared within minutes. That guilt that I initially felt about depriving Ben of more time with just me and Jason flew out the window as I began to envision the two of them as brothers, sharing things only brothers get to share.
Six years later, I remember Ryan’s birth like it was yesterday. I still love to hold him and memorize his face and scent, as I know his face will continue to change and get older. My heart still melts when I watch Ryan and Ben act like loving brothers, for I know that a sibling is the greatest gift a parent can ever bestow on a child. And, while I may not have consciously chosen to have my kids 15 months apart, I know deep down in my soul that we were meant to have our Ryan.
Happy birthday, beautiful boy! We all love you so very much!