It’s been a month already. Yes, one month. I know many of you have heard Luke’s birth story from me, or someone I love, but it’s time to share the wonderful birthday of our little man for everyone to celebrate. In this story I switch between “we” meaning that both Tim and I were feeling the same way, in the same situation or deciding together. I use the term “I” to denote my own personal thoughts, situations or decisions. Enjoy!
We were either 10 or 14 days overdue; it doesn’t really matter because I was ready -more than ready- to have this little man out. We were already a long way overdue from January 25th, the last menstrual period estimated due date. On February 1st, we were two days overdue the doctor’s estimated due date based on an early ultrasound. I had cancelled a non-stress test that the doctor ordered. We figured our little babe just needed more time to grow and there was no need for us to drive to Riverside just to click a wand every time the baby moved. However, it was now a whole week later and the doctor’s office was urging us to perform the NST. I was also growing nervous having Googled “Is there ever a reason for a normal, healthy woman to not go into spontaneous labor?” and then read about rare blood disorders in baby males that inhibit labor or about calcified babies pulled out of village women in remote jungles who never delivered. Of course, I left these web pages up for Tim to read, just in case my constant moaning and talk of when the baby was coming didn’t clue him into the fact that I was closing in on the edge of my pregnancy sanity cliff (yes, there is such a thing).
We made the drive to Riverside, my mother graciously babysitting our little girls, and were able to see the baby, check his fluid levels and have him pass the NST with flying colors. The technician said he was an overachiever. On the ride home, I was able to get a few contractions going (using a natural induction technique that I will refrain from spelling out for the sake of my brothers who are reading this) but they soon petered out. After the normal three-ring circus of dinner, stories, songs and tucking in our girls, we finally sat down around 8:30 to veg and relax. Of course, this same routine had been occurring for the past two weeks, so it was always a game of roulette regarding whether we should stay up late and watch Scrubs or a random movie while gorging on cookies and milk or go to bed because “tonight could be the night”.
Around 9:20, we put in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocal (we take about an hour to decide on a movie usually- if we go past ten minutes, we mostly default to Scrubs) at 9:30, Tim was texting his sister, Kim, who was asking if I was contracting at all. He said a little, but seriously nothing to be mindful about. I told Tim I was going to bed and not to stay up too late. See, the man only gets to play his Playstation 2 when we’re all in bed. All in all, he’s logged about 10 hours since we bought it in 2009. So while he played, I tried to sleep. At 10:05 I texted my girlfriend Shannon to tell her that I thought I might be having a few contractions and I was going to try to sleep. I then texted my mom at 10:06 to put her on alert, but I really wavered in my decisions because I didn’t want her to get all excited and be awake, but I also didn’t want to call her at 2am and have her get all excited that I gave her no warning. So I told her that I thought contractions were 12-15 min apart but to try and sleep. At 10:30, Tim came in to check on me and I told him I was scared. The contractions were really painful and hard already, but they were so far apart. That only meant that they needed to get closer and even more painful. I was afraid that due to the effort I was already exerting to stay clam I wasn’t going to be able to make it through stronger, closer contractions. He reassured me that I could do it, that I had done it before and reminded me of the reasons I did not want an epidural. I tried to sleep again. I woke at 11:30 with a hard contraction and moved my bowels. I slept. I woke at 12:30 with a hard contraction and moved my bowels.
Tim came to bed around this time and since I thought we had a long night ahead of us, I reasoned that a shower might help me relax. I labored on my own from 12:30 to 2:45. This was a time of intense magic for me. I learned so much about my own laboring style, and I was able to stay very calm. My mom had sent me a video on hypno-birthing and a phrase that stuck with me was “breathe the baby down”. With the previous babies, I had pictured my uterus as an upside down pear and tried to moan through a contraction allowing the pain to move through me. With this labor, I changed it, instead of allowing the energy of the contraction to bounce around in the cavity above the baby as he descended, I tightened my diaphragm just enough to send those energy efforts down to the uterus. I also did not moan; I simply breathed and honestly used all those silly hippie images of being a flower opening up down there. I pictured the cervix pulling open with each wave of effort and I swayed upright to move the baby down. The shower was glorious; I had never labored in the shower before and it was my panacea.
At this point in time, I lost track of time. It’s also worthy to note that Tim and I were not interacting much at this point. All along I had told him my intention was for him to sleep as much as possible through latent labor; the only little skip is that I rapidly went from latent labor to active labor to transition without either of us really knowing. Of course, he was checking on me throughout these hours, but it was that groggy, hypnagogic state and I always told him to sleep more. At 2:45, he kicked his legs over the bed quite forcefully and shook as much sleep from his countenance as he could while I told him we should probably time the contractions to get a feel for where I was. Because I was back in the shower from 2:45-3:30, we never really got a good feel for whether we should make the 45minute trip to Moreno valley quickly or labor at home more. At 3:26 he texted my mom asking “ready to rock?” She didn’t text back, so he called her at 3:29. She started on her way to our house. Around 3:30 I was sitting on the toilet, I told Tim sheepishly “I feel like I need to push” and he responded. “No you don’t.” And it was so matter of fact, the way that he said it, that I truly believed him. I couldn’t be ready to push! I was actually embarrassed to even tell him; I knew it was alarmist, that there was still such a long labor road to go. I couldn’t be ready to push. So I crawled out to the carpeted part of our bathroom and rocked on all fours while he timed contractions as best he could. They were 4 minutes apart, lasting a minute with a minute break in between. He must have left to open the door for my mom who got there around 3:55? He met her downstairs saying “I swear we didn’t wait too long, but we have to go now.” And, being my mom and so wonderful she asked, “What can I do?” He told her to pack the car.
He came back upstairs and I was holding the countertop of the bathroom, sweating and working very hard to not get overwhelmed. I shrugged off my robe. Things are blurry, but I told him to fill the tub. He said, “No, we’re going to the hospital.” Later, I found out that he thought I meant fill the tub to labor, and I told him I meant fill the tub for delivery. He was getting a little antsy, I could here it in his voice. He said "Okay, after your next contraction, we're going to get you dressed and get downstairs into the car." He slipped my underwear over my heels as I was squatted on the floor. "What do you want to wear?" he asked. All I could think was...how--in one minute--am I going to get downstairs into the car? He was wondering why in the world we hadn't talked about what I was to wear to the hospital.
We’re not sure how it all happened but it was soon after that I felt that “downward vomit” of my body pushing. That irresistible, can't-hold-back-the-ocean force that God gave us squeezing over 55 lbs of pressure behind an 8lb baby that is in no way staying inside. I told Tim, “The baby is crowning. Fill the tub.” He called 911, he tried to fill the tub, the drain plug wouldn't work. I heard the water gushing and he heard me let out a huge grunt. He told the dispatcher I was in labor, he watched me drop to a low squat, he threw a towel under me to catch the blood and then realized, “The head is out”. At this point, my mom had come upstairs to check on us and heard him. She still thought we were going to the hospital and let out an understandably shocked, "WHAT?!". He tossed the phone on the floor, fumbling for the speakerphone button while I pushed on the next contraction. My mom picked up the phone and updated the dispatcher on what was quickly transcending...I remember thinking, “This isn’t supposed to be happening. Oh crap, I’m having this baby now. Do I need to turn his head to facilitate his delivery.” And then the next contraction came. I sank to the floor, Tim broke the 4inch fall and from between my legs he handed me Luke and I scooped him up and into my chest.
Tim was surprised…and he was excited. I noticed his beaming face in our darkened bathroom. It was like a ray of sunshine. I felt a slimy, gooey thing on my chest and heard a lusty cry. I lay back to rest on Tim who held me and our son on the bathroom floor. I asked, “Why isn’t anyone taking pictures?” but of course my mom had packed all our cameras into the car. It seemed like seconds and suddenly there I was in all my own birth day glory while 6 EMS responders tromped up the stairs. Thank heavens for my mom who covered me with a robe. I walked my son down the stairs to a gurney. I remember thinking, “This is embarrassing…why can’t they turn their emergency lights off?” as they loaded us up in the middle of the street. Tim cut the cord in the ambulance and I started shaking. Tim, being the sweet, humble man that he is, did tell the AMR medics he was a medic and I think it instantly relieved the medic who was not at all expecting an actual live birth. I thought about Tim telling me about going on birth calls…and now here I was, the birth call this medic would go home to tell his pregnant fiancée about. The ride to Rancho Springs was rough because I hadn’t thought to ask anyone to deliver the placenta. It finally made it’s appearance (much to my intense relief) about an hour later. He was born at 4:13 am 8 pounds, 12 ounces and 20 inches long.
I had jokingly told people, “Maybe I’ll just stay at home until it’s too late.” Maybe it was my heart’s deepest desire made into a little comment for the sake of a laugh. But God heard it and knew. He caused Luke to be born healthy; there was no cord wrap, there was no meconium, there was no distress, there was no breech; God secured Luke’s safe passage into our arms. He’s gorgeous. Our Lukey. Luke Henry. Luke means light. Luc is a latin root for light. Henry was never a favorite for us, but for months, almost every time we asked Madeleine what she wanted to name Baby Bean, she said “Henry”. We wanted to weave heartstrings between our children and giving Henry to Luke as a middle name was a great way to do it. It actually started to grow on me after a while. Henry means “Ruler of the home” and I think it is completely appropriate for our little Luke to aspire to be a gentle, Christ-like ruler in his own home one day. We’re so grateful to our Father that he gave us our first little man to guard and guide until He chooses.
We love you Luke Henry Bergon.