Tiny little fingers wrap around mine as I hold the little being who looks like a perfect mix of my husband and I. Watching him sleep is just as fascinating as watching him while he’s awake. His little twitches, funny faces, random full smiles, smirks, rolls of his eyes, they’re all just so amazing it’s hard to want to sleep or doing anything else while he is awake or sleeps.
Ender Flynn Royer was born at 11:45am, Sunday, the 15th of June, 2014. He weighed exactly 7 pounds on the dot and is a long 20 1/2 inches. I was scheduled for an induction on Monday morning, and when it was scheduled, I was done, I had an end day in mind, I had something to count down to. Phil kept trying to get me to go for walks, bounce on my exercise ball, do squats, but I told him I was done; I was done trying to go into labor, I was done pushing myself, I was just going to focus on counting down to Monday.
Friday we ended up heading into the hospital because I was pretty sure I was leaking fluid. I was sent home after an hour because the fluid test was negative. Friday night, after absolutely soaking through several pairs of underwear, I knew for sure my water was majorly leaking. I waited until Saturday late afternoon to call though, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle going back in only to be sent home again. I broke down on the phone with my doctor telling her I just couldn’t be sent home, I just couldn’t. She said she couldn’t promise anything, but she still wanted me to come in, she said this all sounded very promising. Once again, we packed up the bags, put everything in the car and headed to the hospital for the second time in as many days. Only this time, as soon as I had gotten off the phone, I started having a few noticeably strong contractions.
I felt numb as I sat there waiting to see if I would test positive for fluid this time. It took the triage nurse a long time before coming back with the results of the test strip, this time, my doctor was with her. “You passed! we’re going to admit you.” she said, big smile on her face. I asked if it was possible to get a room with windows, so it took almost an hour to get into a room, but it was worth it as the room I got was huge. We had a three window view facing east and it was so helpful being able to see out and not feel claustrophobic. By the time I got settled into the room it was about 8 in the evening on Saturday now, and it was starting to feel like contractions were picking up. My doctor came in to check me and at the same time broke the rest of my water. She didn’t even need to use that little stick tool thing, my water broke with just her checking me. I was 4cms and 100% effaced.
Contractions were obviously starting to pick up, still bearable, but stronger. Emotionally, I somehow knew I was going to have to buckle down and focus really soon. My dear friend Sherry showed up around 9:30 and just in time too, as it was like a switch flipped and contractions fell into a pattern, 5 minutes apart. There was this sense of relief as it suddenly dawned on me that the very thing I didn’t think my body was capable of was actually happening. I was actually in labor and I hadn’t needed to be induced. I had been in bed when she got there because having fluid gush every time I moved was not very pleasant. But as the contractions got closer together and I had to start seriously focus on breathing to get through them, I knew I had to get off my back. I had remembered from the tour we took that the hospital had birthing balls, so between contractions I asked for one because I knew that would help. It took three or four contractions before I was able to get out of bed and onto the ball. It helped, but the relief was shortly felt because every time I moved, another contraction would spring on me.
Three hours after Sherry arrived, another nurse came in to check me again and see where I was at. I had spent the past three hours losing myself and becoming a being only capable of deep breathing. I didn’t get any break between contractions, often having four or five right on top of each other, or having several that were over 3 minutes long. I managed to get back into bed, again, having to work through multiple contractions before I was able to actually lie down. The nurse’s face lit up with surprise as she checked me, “you’re at 9cms!” she said, double checking the chart, not believing I was already almost fully dilated having only been 4cms three hours previously. I barely remember it registering, I remember Sherry leaning over me and telling me how proud she was of me for having made it so far. All I could think was I had to get through this next contraction, breathe in, breathe out.
I’m told I actually seemed to fall asleep between contractions, even snored a little bit because of how much I was able to relax my entire body despite the intense, all consuming pain. I didn’t lose my grip on reality, but I lost myself mentally, withdrawing into depths of myself I didn’t know were possible to reach. Under everything else, I kept hearing breathe in, breathe out.
I reached 10cms and started pushing at 3:30am Sunday morning. I had been in active labor for 5 hours by this time. An hour later and I felt like screaming from the pain in my hips every time after I pushed. The contractions were coming even harder and faster, if that was at all possible. I had never felt pain like I did in my hips during that time. I couldn’t think of being close to being done, or that he was starting to slide down into place, I could only focus on breathing in and breathing out.
I wasn’t able to make a whole lot of progress from my back, so I moved to a squat bar at the end of the bed, which helped some, but I had been pushing for 2 hours and contractions were 30 seconds at least a part with high spikes on the chart and long. I remember feeling numb to everything but the pain, knowing somewhere mentally I was utterly exhausted, but also aware of an intense focus to keep going and push through. Another hour passed, and I knew I was starting to fight myself, I remembered reading about reaching this point in labor. I had just about reached the end of myself, and I was still not able to get Ender down further. I could barely form full sentences, finding myself bracing as contractions continued to pound hard.
Between contractions my doctor came in to see where I was at and talked about potentially putting me on pitocin to try to get the baby down further, but I said no, I couldn’t handle anymore pain. After several minutes of contractions and talking about options, I decided getting an epidural was the best thing at this point. I had now been pushing for just over three hours and I knew deep down my body was done, I couldn’t go anymore without getting a break. I got the epidural at 7 in the morning on Sunday, June 15th. I felt immediate relief, so much so I found myself coming back to present reality for the first time since active labor had started.
After two hours of resting and regaining strength, we got the doctor back in and said let’s get this baby out. I started pushing again, with the help of pitocin, started making significant progress. I could feel my legs, although they felt “floaty” like I could just float off the bed, and I could feel the contractions, but couldn’t feel any pain. I went from crying, not able to form words because of the pain, to cracking jokes between pushing. Another two hours of pushing, and the doctor came in to stay, they kept telling me “he’s almost here! he’s almost here.”
11:40am rolled around, I had been pushing for another 2 1/2 hours and Sherry leaned over me as the doctor started putting the delivery scrubs on, “Caleigh, he’s almost here, you’re going to be holding him in just a few minutes.” I almost started crying but knew I couldn’t break yet. The atmosphere became super charged with excitement as activity sprung into life all around the room. Five minutes later I was holding my slippery, lanky son, his long arms and legs sprawled over my chest as the tears broke. The baby I couldn’t believe would actually come was finally in my arms, and I was overcome with relief knowing it was over.
I was done.
He was finally here.
I had made it.
I have watched, held, and taken care of a lot of babies in my short life. It is second nature to me to take care of a child, it has been such a prominent part of my life. I knew taking care of my son would be easier because of my history, but what I didn’t expect was to be taking care of something who is so perfectly matched to me. He is really part of me and finding myself talking to him endlessly, cuddling, covering with kisses, laughing at his silly faces, calming down, as if it was something I have always done has made me want to pinch myself to see if it’s real. My son is extremely expressive, he smiles a lot in his sleep, and loves to sit with his daddy. He is a calm baby, and even at five days old, is already on a good schedule with nursing. Recovery has been ten times easier than I expected, and I’m already able to wear “normal” clothes, barely have a belly anymore. It is such a relief, I feel good, and even though I still cringe and don’t like thinking about how rough the past month was, I can move forward.
Ender, mama loves you, and you make the lack of sleep and losing track of time and days not matter.