On October 4th, we welcomed Owen Christopher to our family.
It was been a wild but oh-so-sweet seven weeks.
That is a story for another time.
Today is the story of Owen's birth.
Around the time September turned to October, Carly complained of an itchy head. I checked her scalp and noticed irritation. I looked closer and found lice nits, and one single live bug. I was almost 38 weeks pregnant. I burst into tears. Apparently it is a somewhat common thing with elementary school kids, but I was on the verge of having a baby. This was too much.
We treated Carly--chemical shampoos and combing out every strand of that crazy thick hair every day. We stripped beds. We bagged stuffed animals, We vacuumed, We sprayed. This was extreme nesting to say the least. Luckily, Carly's low pain tolerance seemed to work to our advantage, because I only ever found one live bug. We seemed to have it more or less under control on Friday, October 2nd. But we had to keep combing and washing bedding for at least a week.
On the 2nd I shared the below lovely picture of my girth. 38 weeks and looking it. I was at the point where people looked at me nervously when I was in public. I had been so ready to have that baby early, but with the lice surprise, was now hoping he'd hold off. But babies have minds of their own.
On Saturday October 3rd I woke up between 6 and 7 to a contraction. I'd been having Braxton Hicks and round ligament pains for months. Previous experience told me this was the real thing. They came every 20 minutes for a while, and gradually got closer. At 10 minutes apart, I was pretty sure we were going to have a baby. I was overwhelmed. That day was General Conference. We were going to enjoy the sessions and go to a fall festival at a pumpkin patch in between. I was really looking forward to it. I had just gotten over my lice emotional breakdown. I was tired.
As crazy as it sounds, one of my "goals" this baby was to not look like a wreck. My two previous births came in the middle of the night, and I was just a mess. So on this day, as my contractions progressed, I took a shower and did my hair and make-up. I was going to look presentable this time around. You just see. But then, the contractions started to slow down. They got further and further apart. We called the hospital and they suggested I lay down and try to get them to stop--after being in labor all day! My parents had driven 5 hours, about half way to us. I called them and they decided to turn around and go home. I developed a migraine, and went to bed.
I woke up -- in the middle of the night! of course! -- to the hardest contraction yet. A few minutes later was another one, A few minutes later came another. I was moaning through them, trying to keep sleeping. But they kept coming, harder and harder. It was time to go. I called and told my parents, who, after 10 hours of driving, had just arrived home! They were going to get some sleep and come back in the morning. They are the best of people. We called our wonderful friend and she came over in the middle of the night to stay on our couch, and then took our kids to her house the next day. We headed to the hospital. This was our third drive in the middle of the night to the hospital with me in labor. I had washed off my make-up, my hair was messy, and I was exhausted. Guess those glamorous post-birth pictures just aren't in the cards for me, but that is ok. I can't imagine it any other way.
By the time we got there, I was in some serious pain. They checked and I was between a 5 and 6, but baby's head was still high. It was epidural time and I couldn't wait. So they called Ed. A little later a man in jeans and a sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head comes rolling in with a cart. I thought it was the janitor, I kid you not. It was Ed. This was the person that was going to stick a needle in my spine? I felt a wave of panic. But Ed chatted with the nurses and with my doctor so apparently he didn't come in randomly off the street, even though that's how he looked. And in the end he gave me the most lovely epidural. While we were waiting for the epidural to take, Ed and my doctor discussed cycling around Coeur d'Alene. I don't know why, but that is one of my most vivid memories of my labor.
After chatting with my doctor (by the way, small towns have their downsides but they also have their perks--my wonderful doctor was there for the entirety of my labor, and didn't just come in at delivery), we decided to break my water to help baby drop. Chris and I were both exhausted after a long day of contractions, continued lice prevention care, and general there's-a-baby-coming stress. My doctor suggested we both get some sleep before he broke my water, and we were in favor of that. I was warm and numb and settled in for a nice nap.
I woke up to a wave of nausea. A nurse came in just then and I told her I was going to throw up. Then my vision went fuzzy. I was going to pass out. As the blackness started to take me, a whole lot of people came rushing into the room and machines started beeping. Chris woke in a daze. They put an oxygen mask on me and turned me to my side. Somewhere in there, I felt my water break. Everything happened fast and my consciousness was blurry. But the oxygen helped bring me back. My doctor checked me. I was at a 10 and baby's head was all the way down. He said what likely happened was that baby's head fell really fast (probably because of relaxation from the epidural) and that pressure caused a drop in my blood pressure. But it resulted in our little boy being ready to come. So much for my nap.
It took just under an hour of pushing to get our boy into the world. This was the hardest pushing I have had to do. At one point I was on the verge of tears and said, "He's never coming out!" It turns out little Mr. was sunny side up. Afterwards my doctor said it probably added 30 minutes of pushing and a pound of baby weight pressure to the experience. So that was fabulous. But he came. It was shocking to see him. My entire pregnancy I had a hard time wrapping my mind around another baby, and here he was! He was really there all along. He was born at 4:55 am, weighing 7 lbs 14.5 oz. And he was absolute perfection.
Our boy came out with the most peaceful demeanor. Oh, he is a piece of heaven. There aren't even words.
As for his name? Naming this boy felt hard, but I'm not sure it really was. Owen has been a favorite name of mine since I was a little girl. My dad is Jedd Owen, and I always thought it was such a great name. We discussed many others along the way, but Owen had always been my favorite. I just needed Chris to catch up! We both really liked Henry, too, but Chris wanted to call him "Hal" and I just couldn't get with that. By early September I was 100% sure on Owen, and Chris was at like 90%. I knew he was serious when I asked to order a hat with the name on it and he approved. At worst we were just out a little money, right? We tossed around a few middle names--names of men we love. There are simply too many. But I got top choice. I wanted his middle name to be after his daddy. So in the end, our sweet boy shares his name with my two favorite men: my daddy and his daddy. Owen Christopher.
We spent that day trying to catch up on rest and soak in our Owen. I could tell I was a little rusty. Late in the day the nurse asked if he had had a dirty diaper yet. Oh, diapers! I forgot about changing diapers. I hadn't changed him all day. But he was a good little nurser from the get-go. The doctor put him straight on my chest after delivery, something I've never had before. They also did delayed cord cutting, which explained his red hue later on (I thought he was really hot! haha! Am I a first time mom?) But quite the opposite, Owen had a hard time keeping his temperature where it should be. He was taken at one point to the nursery warmer, and they kept him bundled up the whole time. He didn't even get a bath until he got home. But by the time it was time to go, he was doing well.
So, by Sunday evening it was time to bring our crazies to meet baby brother. My big kids looked SO big after spending the day with such a tiny baby. They were so excited to see him (though, they may have been more excited to see mimi and grandpa, who had finally arrived after two days of driving). They were so sweet, looking at his tiny features. John, our tender-hearted John, was absolutely beaming over his baby brother. Over the last 7 weeks, John has easily been the most interested, sweet, and helpful. They all love Owen, but John has something a little extra. It was surreal to see what had become two different worlds in my mind -- kids at home vs baby at the hospital -- combine. But it felt so good to have us all together.
We brought Owen home on Monday. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. We were going home to chaos, but I was just ready to be in my place with my people (and my mommy!). My harder delivery meant a somewhat extended recovery. Caring for a newborn while trying to keep up with three busy older kids has on more than one occasion resulted in tears (from mostly me, but sometimes them). We found lice in Quinn's hair when Owen was 4 days old, and started that insanity all over again -- even more thoroughly. It was wild, but it was so so good. We have a lot of love, and that's what matters most.
We are all smitten over our Owen. I wrote early in my pregnancy that he was the missing piece to our puzzle, and I was certainly right. We wouldn't be complete without him.