Tomorrow my sweet baby boy is three months old. I cried to Travis in the hospital when he was two days old, because time was going too fast already. So I'm desperately trying to rejoice in each moment as it comes and not allow myself to melt down daily over how big he already is.
The moment I met our precious boy will forever be etched in my memory. So surreal. So joyful. So wonderful.
I remember frantically observing every little part of his tiny body...doing my best to etch that memory into my exhausted brain.
I remember feeling so calm and so scared at the same time...it seemed so natural and yet I wondered what to do.
I remember talking to our little James...hoping that my voice would calm his little cries.
The days that followed those first precious moments were a blur of utter exhaustion and insane, joyful wonder at this little gift we had been given.
We hosted some friends for dinner, then I stayed up till 11:30 that night, August 10th. I finished the last details of my devotional launch for the next day, before collapsing into bed, praying for a good nights sleep. But three short hours later, I was awaked by my water slightly breaking. I knew I should sleep, but I was too excited.
The contractions started slow, about 20 minutes apart and more uncomfortable than painful. I let Travis sleep, figuring that at least one of us should be well rested.
At 5 am the contractions were about 10 minutes apart.
At 6:30 am I woke Travis and texted my mom and a friend, and the contractions were slowing me down.
At 8 am my water broke again...fully this time.
At 10 am we left for the hospital, with contractions between 5 and 8 minutes apart and becoming very painful.
At 11 am we were admitted and I was dilated to 4 cm.
At 2 pm I was still at 4 cm and the midwife said I had till 6 pm to show significant progress...I was already getting tired.
The next 4 hours were long and slow and quiet. The hospital room lights were low and it was just my husband and I for the majority of the time. I tried to walk as much as possible, but ended up bent over the side of the hospital bed for most of the contractions, with my husband massaging my low back, which was in constant pain.
The contractions stayed spaced out every 5-7 minutes, but with the back labor I was having, the breaks were not restful. By the end of the 4 hours, I was so tired I was afraid I would collapse if I continued to walk. I remember telling Travis that I wasn't sure how much longer I could make it.
At 6:30 pm I was dilated to nearly 8 cm and I was feeling the first urges to push...or throw up.
At 7 pm the midwife let me try to push twice, then rolled me onto my side to help James get into the right position. The back pain had moved to the front and was excruciating in that position. I layed there and cried.
At 7:20 pm she checked me again and had me sit up instead. At 7:50 pm she let me start pushing again. Somewhere in the next twenty minutes it went from wanting to push with each contraction, to the overwhelming need to push. But the contractions were still about 6 minutes apart and progress was so slow. The constant pressure was making it hard for me to feel what was a contraction and what wasn't, so the midwife had to coach me on when to push until I finally got the hang of it.
By 9 pm I was done. I was crying between most contractions and shaking from exhaustion. I asked if they could use the vacuum and the midwife matter-of-factly stated that she didn't do that. I'm so thankful for my her, as well as my husband and dear friend, Laura (who probably got way closer than she ever wanted when the midwife called her over to hold one of my feet).
The midwife was firm and pushed me to hold it together. Laura made sure I drank water between contractions and encouraged me that the pushing was working even though I couldn't feel it. Travis held my hand between contractions, prayed for me, kissed me, encouraged me, and coached me.
Finally, at 9:53 pm, with two giant contractions and pushing as hard as I possibly could, he was born. I was pushing so hard, I didn't realize he was out until I heard someone say, "Alesha, he's out! Put him on her!"
And they laid my son on my chest and it was over...and so, so worth it. ....
I remember noticing that he had my husbands ears...shaped just like his daddy's.
I remember being amazed that his eyes were open so wide....I didn't know a newborn could be so observant.
I remember Laura saying that it was the longest, skinniest umbilical cord she had ever seen...just like my long, skinny baby.
I remember watching my husband hold our son for the first time...he became a dad so instantly and so naturally in that moment.
I waited so long to share because I was a bit disappointed in myself. Disappointed that I nearly gave up. Disappointed that I cried. Disappointed that I didn't handle the pain better those last 4 or 5 hours. Disappointed that I wasn't mentally prepared to push for a long time.
But I'm realizing that it's okay. It's okay that I'm disappointed. It's okay that I cried and wanted to give up. It's okay that I wasn't prepared to push for 2+ hours. Because our baby was born strong and healthy and definitely cone-headed, but he was born. And even though it wasn't pretty and brave God granted me the grace to achieve my goal of a natural birth. For that I'm so thankful.
I would love to write that I was strong and brave the entire time, but that's not how it happened. No one is ever strong and brave always. I needed the people who were helping me through the process and it's a gift to realize that it's okay to need to be held up when you can't keep going.
I needed the reminder that it's okay to need help.
And no matter what happened in the process, James Neal was born that day.
That is truly all that really matters.