how it happened again

It happened once before. Sharayah enjoyed my take on it last time, so I thought I'd give it another go. It was similar to last time, only much faster.

Monday, June 19
We were really hoping for another due-date baby. Lucas was born on his due date, so we thought it would be cool. Our kids would just be really well-scheduled, punctual little fellows. Plus doctor-y things make Sharayah nervous, so she wouldn't like the waiting game and discussions of intervention options if the baby didn't come on its own in good time. Well, June 19 was the due date and we saw no signs of labor leading up to the 19th or throughout the day on the 19th. I guess it wasn't meant to be.

However, things did start to happen before June 19 came to a close. Lucas had been having trouble sleeping that night and I had gone in to get him back to sleep several times between 8 and 11pm. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were not going to get a due-date baby and nothing would be happening that night. We were tired and just wanted to go to bed and see if the next day would bring any signs of a labor. Right around 11pm, when I got back from one of my trips to calm Lucas and put him back to sleep, Sharayah said, "Well, you'll never believe me, but I think we need to call the birth center."

It wasn't labor yet, but suddenly it seemed like the birth would not be so far away. We were told to get a good night of sleep and call in the morning (unless things started moving along). I made some sandwiches to bring with us the next day and finished packing our birth bag, and we went to sleep. No due-date baby, but it looked like we wouldn't miss by much.

Tuesday, June 20
Real, definite contractions started in around 3am, waking Sharayah up for the night. That put her in labor on about 3 hours of sleep. Technically that's better than with Lucas, but for sure our kids do not want us getting sleep if they can help it. I vaguely remember her getting up (I just thought she was going to the bathroom) but she let me stay asleep for a few hours. In retrospect, I should have known. I think I woke up halfway several times in the next few hours and she was often not in bed. At any rate, I didn't get up until 6 something when Lucas was making noise. I took him to the bathroom and then downstairs to play, while my mom (in town to help take care of Lucas during new-baby-week) got breakfast ready for him. I went back upstairs to check on Sharayah, whose contractions were already intense enough after just under 4 hours that we decided to call in again. Contractions still weren't super regular yet (they were approximately 5 minutes apart, give or take 2, and lasting 45 seconds, give or take 15) but they were strong enough that Sharayah couldn't do much during them.

Now it was time to watch, wait, and monitor. If water broke or contractions got more frequent, regular, or intense, we'd call again. Otherwise, we'd call in a couple hours. Sharayah always seems to downplay this stage. I kind of thought we'd be spending the day waiting around and end up all night in labor with an early morning birth on the 21st. That actually would have matched very closely with Lucas's timeline (her contractions with Lucas woke her up at 4am one day, and he was born at 6:45am the next day). It turns out, things were actually already pretty far along. The intensity started ramping up fast. We got to the stage where Sharayah was pretty debilitated by the contractions and needed me to put strong pressure on her back throughout to help her cope. At 9am we made plans with the midwife to meet at 10am at the birth center. By 9:30, I called and told her I thought we better just go in. We are only about 5 minutes away, but between last minute goodbyes and instructions to Lucas and trying to get our things and a contracting Sharayah into the car, out of the car, and into the birth center, it was just about 10am anyway.

We went into the birthing suite and immediately the water broke. It occurred to me that things seemed pretty far along for the water not to have already broken. I guess it doesn't always happen in the same order. The suites at this birth center have big tubs in case anyone wants to do a water birth or just wants to be in the water to ease the contractions while waiting for active labor. The midwife offered to fill it, so we said sure. Sharayah had been back and forth on whether she wanted to try a water birth. She thought it might be neat, but she's so hot-natured that she wasn't sure she'd be comfortable in a tub. At any rate, Sharayah decided she'd give it a try to see how it felt and whether it made things easier, and she could always get out if she wanted. Meanwhile her contractions were seeming more and more severe. She got in the water and I sat on the side with my feet in so I could continue to comfort her through contractions. It was still only a little after 10, but she was asking how to know when to push. When contractions hit, they seemed to rack her whole body, and she would kind of curl up and to the side in the water. She started her crush-my-fingers-so-I-can-share-in-the-pain routine (which I still maintain is an oddly enjoyable way for the husband to get to participate). Still no broken fingers, but I think she came close again once.

Not long after getting in the tub, she kept saying between contractions that she felt like she needed to push. Last time we were in that almost-ready-to-push stage for what seemed like an eternity. I didn't want Sharayah to have to do that again. The midwife told her she was pretty much there and to go ahead when she felt like her body really needed to push. The pushing stage seemed way more intense this time. We had only been there a half hour and already Sharayah was getting extremely drained by the contractions and seemed to be pushing quite a lot. I knew from last time that pushing can sometimes seem like you lose most of the ground gained from a push as soon as it ends. We might be here a while, so I settled in for the long haul and prayed for strength for Sharayah. These pushes were really beating her down fast, and I wasn't sure how she could do it as long as last time. However, where Lucas seemed to take 1 step forward and 4/5 of a step back, Finley just seemed to keep making progress. The midwife told Sharayah it should only be a couple more pushes. I remember hearing that last time and it not quite being true. I prayed this time it would be. After a couple more pushes, there he was. I can never put into words the bizarre and amazing sight of my son's head and face for the first time, when only the head is out. Finley looked exactly like Lucas. It was even weirder because he was underwater. Suddenly we had two of them. We had to reposition Sharayah for the rest of Finley to be born. Then out he came. In one fluid motion the midwife "caught" him, pulled him out of the water, and set him on Sharayah. At 10:46am, less than an hour after we got to the birth center, Finley was born.

After that things are, or course, blurry for a while. During that time I cut the cord, which is disgusting, we got out of the water, and Sharayah got into the bed holding Finley. They asked various questions and checked various things. Finley was purpler than I remember Lucas being, but soon he was pinkish brown, or brownish pink. He still looked like a carbon copy of Lucas. He was apparently a good bit bigger, coming in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces. No wonder Sharayah was so ready to get him out. We ate some food and stared ate him for a while until it was time to go home. They talked to us about some stuff that I don't remember. Then we went home to introduce him to Lucas at around 2pm.

So, approximately 8 hours after the first contraction, less than an hour after Sharayah's water broke, and after not even a half hour of pushing, we had our second little miracle. It was every bit as intense as last time, all crammed into less than 1/4 of the time. So far Lucas has coped amazingly well. He loves his routines, and we upended all of them, but he's been a trooper as the 4 of us figure out what is our new normal (my mom had the nerve to go back home at the end of the week and leave us without a 3-2 advantage anymore). Finley is a great sleeper (in 2-hour increments while someone is holding him). We are utterly exhausted and having a great time having two little guys.

Yeah, we made this.
Finley was born on the 10-year anniversary of the day when Sharayah and I started dating. Two kids in 10 years is pretty good. We can probably top it.

Dear Finley,
Welcome to our interesting family! You will soon find that we are an unusual bunch. I think you'll enjoy it. We all love each other a lot, which includes you. I still can't figure out where the time goes while we're staring at you. You have perfect little feet and I still can't name the color of your eyes. I'm so excited to see who you are. I bet in a lot of ways you're just like your awesome brother Lucas. I bet in a lot of ways you are awesome in some other way totally unlike him. I can't wait to watch you grow up.

Maybe Finley is tired, too.