how it happened

Friday, September 12
Contractions started in the evening, but we didn't know they were contractions. Sharayah just said she was having funny feelings. As we went to bed we timed them and found they were regular (about 30 seconds every 9 or 10 minutes), but since everyone said, adamantly, "you'll know they're contractions when you feel them," we weren't sure. There was a lot of "well what else could they be?", but how can you be sure when you've never had contractions and everyone says you'll definitely know from feeling them? At any rate, they were far apart and not too bothersome, so we went to bed.

Saturday, September 13
Sharayah was woken up at 4 am by contractions. Finally at 6 am she woke me up to let me know. At that point I think we were fairly confident (or at least I was) that they were definitely contractions. Forget what everyone said, you can have contractions and not know what they are. They were only slightly closer together and still about 30 seconds long, but they were intense enough to be uncomfortable, not just strange. For most of the morning and afternoon, they stayed about the same. We knew this was at least early labor, but weren't sure if active labor would be starting any time soon - some people have this early stage for a week, ugh. We relaxed throughout the day. Had some snacks. Tried to finalize packing our bag (that was actually a trick to get Lucas to come sooner - if the bag wasn't packed, maybe he would come sooner to teach us a lesson).

At some point in the early afternoon Sharayah managed a nap. My parents sent out a group text to us and my siblings (and their wives) about everyone sending in guesses on when Lucas would be born and what he would weigh. We stayed pretty quiet on that front. The earliest anyone guessed was the 16th, so I guess we didn't spoil it by accidentally dropping hints. We watched some of Sharayah's favorite Friends episodes (at least, episodes that at the time came to her mind as ones she thought were funny). We saw the one with the moo point, bamboozled, the pyramid game show, and the one where Joey speaks French (or, more accurately, doesn't speak French). Apparently, Joey being a dope is funny to laboring Sharayah. And we waited to see if the contractions would reach that critical point (1 minute long, 5 minutes apart) where it's time to call the birth center.

Finally, around 8:30 pm, they had been 5 minutes apart for some time but were still only about 45 seconds long. We decided to call in. The midwife thought perhaps they were actually longer (since we stopped counting when the intensity started to decrease, rather than when it was completely over), but told us that it may or may not be that night, so we should just relax, get plenty of rest, and call if they get a lot closer. At least she confirmed for us that this was most likely actual labor, and we'd probably see active labor that night or the next day. She told us to take a break from timing contractions until they seemed closer or longer.

Some time around 10 pm, while things seemed to be the same, we went to bed and put on Muppet Christmas Carol. We still weren't sure whether we'd be sleeping through the night or not. At some point during the movie we fell asleep. I woke up to Sharayah groggily telling me she thought her water broke. I felt something warm, and for some reason I was surprised. Water was clear (a good sign) and Sharayah got in the shower. We tried to time contractions for a few minutes while she was in there so we'd know how long they were when we called the midwife after the shower. It was tricky. Contractions were suddenly much more intense - I had to help Sharayah stay standing during some contractions. For me it settled in that this was definitely the night. It was pretty late though, so obviously birth would be the next day.

At 11 pm we called in the water breaking and the rate of contractions which were hard to time since she was showering (I think that slowed them down, as well) and we hadn't been keeping track while we were asleep. She said basically that tonight was probably the night but she'd call back in a half hour to get a better read on the timing, or we could call sooner if anything changed. Things started to get blurry and intense. Sharayah needed me to put pressure on her back throughout contractions to make them bearable. I was (probably frantically) gathering everything up so we could leave - we had a few more things to put in the bag, as well as getting the car seat and who knows what else; it seemed like a lot of things to get ready but now I don't remember anything we hadn't already gotten ready. Contractions were getting really close - under 3 minutes apart and always at least a minute long, very close to the final stage of labor - and really intense. Lots of excitement mingled with fear flooded the whole apartment, I think. At some point in there the midwife called and told us to come in. I don't know if she actually waited a half hour. I finally got everything ready to go - at the end Sharayah had to tell me she'd have to do a few contractions on her own while I finished, because it would take too long if I spent over a minute of every 2 minutes helping her through contractions. I got everything in the car and we left. Sharayah was a trooper on the way there. I couldn't help through contractions but she just breathed through them and fell asleep in between.

Sunday, September 14
Shortly after midnight we arrived at the birth center. It took two contractions just to get to the second floor where our birth room was located. I was doing all I could to comfort Sharayah. It was very emotional for me from here on. Up until water breaking, the contractions weren't too uncomfortable, and from water breaking to arriving at the birth center it was a whirlwind of getting things finished and adrenaline and excitement, but from here it was waiting and watching Sharayah fight intense aching pain for 60 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of exhausted rest. When we got to the room, the midwife checked Sharayah's dilation - 7 cm - and said everything looked good and we just needed to wait it out until 10 cm. By 1 am we were in a steady rhythm of breathing through contractions and resting between them. The midwife was impressed by Sharayah's relaxation technique and asked if we'd taken a hypnobirthing class (we hadn't, but out breathing was really good, if I can pat myself on the back for something like breathing).

The hours from 1 to 4 am were incredibly hard. Sharayah was exhausted and just wanted to be done. Progress had been really swift and was suddenly at a stand-still. Several times the midwife checked Sharayah's dilation and thought it was still just a touch under 10 cm, the point where you start pushing. At some point during those 3 hours we walked up and down the stairs to help Lucas move down the pelvis, Sharayah took another shower (during which she slept deeply between contractions) and we continued breathing and waiting. The pain was debilitating for Sharayah, and it was very hard to watch her suffer so much. All I could do was apply pressure to just the right area on her back, breath with her, and give as much contact and soothing words as I could. I found that I really enjoyed her crushing my hands or whatever else she happened to grab during contractions. It made me feel more a part of what was happening. I didn't tell her at the time but she repeatedly rendered my fingers numb. Just to be clear, there's no satire here, I really, truly relished her crushing grip. I only had to ask her once to let up, when she had my thumb at a particularly bad angle and I truly believed it was on the verge of breaking. I waited as long as I could, whispered, "my thumb," and she let up a little. We spent a lot of time with Sharayah propped up on her side on the bed and me beside the bed/half in the bed supporting her. I never really felt tired, but I could see the fatigue wearing Sharayah further and further down. I comforted her and prayed with her and waited with her. I told her we were almost there, and we'd see Lucas soon, and we could finally hold him and see if he had lots of hair and find out whose eyes he had.

Not long after 4 am, it was finally time to push. The midwife didn't think it would be too long from there, since Lucas's head was so low already. In many ways the pushing stage was a relief - the waiting was finally over, and we knew this was the last stage we'd have to go through. Still, Sharayah was already more tired than I've ever seen anyone, and at the end of each push she seemed ready to pass out. She asked a lot how much more she'd have to do. She was incredibly brave and pushed again every time she was asked, every time there was a contraction. Eventually I could see the top of Lucas's head. I thought, just maybe, I could see hair. After an undefinable amount of time, after pushing and waiting and praying and pushing and waiting and praying, enough of his head was out that he clearly had a whole bushy head of hair. This might seem insignificant to many, but it was just one of those things Sharayah had been hoping for. She had dreams where Lucas was born bald and she was devastated (in the dream) about it. Here, now, finally, I could give her some good news to carry her through. He's really here. He's coming. I can see his head. And he has hair. Lots of hair. Beautiful black hair, just like his mom's. She actually smiled when she heard me say it.

I've never seen anyone show more resolve in anything than when I watched Sharayah give birth to Lucas. She so wanted to stop, to rest, for it to be over, for Lucas to be there and in her arms, but she just kept going and going. I've never been more proud of anyone than of Sharayah for pressing on and getting through that labor. When we got to the end, in my memory the amount of time between that final moment when his head was out and I could see his ears and (closed) eyes and mouth and nose to the time they told me to cut the cord and put Lucas in Sharayah's arms was under a minute. I'm sure it was longer than that, but that's all I can remember. He was finally here, the great struggle was over. I never got why the shoulders are easier than the head, but once his head was out he really just slid right out. Out came Lucas at 5:46 am. I don't remember why it came up, but I never went to the bathroom from the time Sharayah's water broke to the time Lucas was born. I just didn't want to leave Sharayah alone. Once Lucas was out, he breathed immediately - not cried, just breathed - and he was beautiful and he didn't look like a worm or a prune or anything, he was just pink all the way to his hands and feet and he got a perfect 10 on his Apgar. They wrapped him up and gave him to Sharayah. We just looked at him for a month or so, or maybe an hour, or a year, and he fed at some point, and they came back and weighed him (7 pounds, 10 ounces) and did other checks of various things, and we just sat with him. Around 12 pm we went home, having eaten and gotten paperwork and done who knows what else. I don't know how we looked at him for so long in only 6 hours, but we did. At that point we had only slept a few hours since waking up on Friday morning, so we were completely exhausted and elated and going home with our own little guy who was somehow our child.

So, approximately 36 hours after the first contraction, just under 7 hours after Sharayah's water broke, and after just over an hour and a half of pushing, we finally had our little miracle. So far as we can tell after knowing him for a week, he's perfect in every measurable way.

Dear Lucas,
The time has come, and now everyone can pronounce your name correctly. Apparently kpluBlet is not as straightforward as your mom and I thought. This past week of getting to know you has been the most amazing time. Being your dad is the coolest thing I've ever been, for sure. Your tiny little shining eyes, just like your mom's, are so easy to stare into for ages.
I love you like 10 pounds of bricks (you'll have to get used to the weird love metaphors from your mom and me). This is the least sleep I've ever gotten in a week, and I don't even care. You're so loved. We don't even know what to do with ourselves, we love you so much. We can't wait to learn everything about you for years and years.


a pitter patter kind of month

*insert a paragraph of ramblings about how in the world did September arrive already*

Many things will happen in September. Many. At some undetermined time in the future, there will suddenly be many more aunts and uncles and grandmothers and grandfathers and most likely one particularly grumpy feline. As if by magic. Magic, I tell you. And the weirdest part about it? The simultaneous appearance of all of these new-status-wielding people will be solely caused by one tiny little person. Who knew a kpluBlet could be so powerful? His Asian powers are already coming into play...

September:  The month of the pitter patters.

I suppose we have reached the infamous waiting game point of pregnancy. I am generally not very good at the waiting game, but I think it will be worth it this time. I am doing my very best to just rest in the fact that our little mister will come on the day he is supposed to come. It is surprisingly comforting to only let myself dwell on the thought that God already knows the kpluBlet's birthday. Down to the very second. It isn't something I need to worry about or be anxious about; the birth day is already ideally set and we just have to wait for the surprise party announcement. Yep, it may sound a bit cheesy, but sometimes the truth is in the [smoked gouda] cheese. Or... something.

With the days ticking down until the Big Day [which sadly did not happen on Labor Day, as awesome as that would have been... (we clearly did not plan this correctly)], we have been going over the "Are we ready for him?" checklist. One of the last remaining to-do's is pack the bag we'll be bringing with us to the birth center. I have read multiple lists of expert-recommended items to include in this important bag. I have read more than a few "Here is what been-there-done-that moms highly suggest you remember to bring" lists. I have gone over the list of things that the birth center thinks are vital to a good birthing experience. So, thus armed, one would think that packing this seemingly critical-to-all-of-humanity bag would be a piece of cake, something we could whip up in an hour or so and then sit back on the couch completely confident that we are ready for this baby.

But no. That is apparently not how we roll.

I like to think that our procrastination with this last task is actually going to encourage the arrival of the kpluBlet. You know how it sometimes goes:  When you're least prepared, it's go time. So if we have absolutely nothing inside of our duffel bag, then... the little guy should show up out of the blue, no? I'm not sure if this plan will be entirely effective as we do have most of the bag's potential contents strewn about the apartment, so packing it all up shouldn't be too much of a hassle, and perhaps the kpluBlet is on to us and won't fall for the fake procrastination. Hm... He may already be wearing his tiny smartie pants.

As this may very well be the last post I write before I become officially momma-fied, I suppose now is as good a time as any to reflect on what it has been like growing a person. It is a little weird how normal it has felt for the majority of the time. I am sure a lot of the normalcy can be attributed to how symptom-free this pregnancy has been, but I also think it has felt so normal simply because it is so normal.

I used to think the craziest thing a person's body could do was see underwater or form the chasm that is a bellybutton [a runner up in the crazy category would be how, no matter how hard I stare at and command them, the three middle toes on my feet refuse to move independently of the big and little toes]. But now, the growing of this person inside of me has, by far, topped the list of remarkable. It is mind boggling and awe inspiring and... normal. Every single time I feel this round little butt jutting up and out of the top of my sometimes hilariously asymmetrical abdomen, I am amazed. Every time I can literally feel the outline of a tiny limb trying to shove its way out of my side, I become as excited as if it was the very first time. But at the same time, it feels completely normal.

A good comparison example would be when I rode a horse for the first time. It was something I had wanted to do for years upon years. It was new and exciting and the cause of a bit of apprehension. What if I wasn't good at it? What if something tragic happened? What if it didn't live up to my expectations for it? And yet... as soon as I was on top of Frosty, everything was just... right. And normal. and natural, and as exhilarating as I had ever imagined it to be.

And that is basically what being pregnant has been like. It somehow feels completely normal and natural and yet also has this ever-present element of "Whoa, this is the craziest, most miraculous thing ever." I can only imagine these feelings will be magnified by quite a few degrees when the kpluBlet finally comes out to meet us in person. Breathtakingly miraculous, yet wholly natural and normal and right. My brain cannot quite grasp how this works, but since when has it ever been able to fully fathom the complexities of God's design?

I cannot wait to hold my little buddy.

Anyway, all baby-ness aside, September also marks the arrival of... FOOTBALL. May the nail biting and smack talking commence. [And no, college football does not count. Come on, son!] We have subscribed once again to NFL's Game Rewind and I think it would be absolutely fantastic to go into labor on a Monday, which is when Game Rewind allows us to watch Sunday's games, so I can labor to the background noise of grunting men in tight pants and the familiar sounds of Peyton's "Omaha!" We shall see.

Dear Tiny Little Half-Asian kpluBlet,

If I could hold my breath until you arrive, I would. That is how excited I am by your closeness. We are so close to meeting face to face. I may as well warn you now:  Your dad and I are nose kissers. Noses are just perfect places to kiss. So ready yourself, little one, your button nose will not escape. No amount of face crinkling will help you.

Thank you for being my little boy.

Come and greet us, little guy.

Why, no, this is not at all how I picture the kpluBlet... Of course not... That would be... ridiculous.