quincy august {a birth story}

Quincy (KWIN-see): A name that we found when Lionel was just a wee baby; we held this name – and the dream of another son – in our hearts. (French): estate of the fifth son.

August (AW-guhst): Our second son’s middle name was chosen to honor Jordan’s eldest ancestor, August Gillis, who immigrated to the United States from Belgium. (Latin): revered, exalted.

* *

Quincy-Newborn

Dear Sweet Quincy August,

The contractions started as our lips kissed your big brother’s cheeks, nose, lips, head, our little family’s nightly ritual of story books, songs and snuggles finished for the day. This was the second time this pregnancy that I felt those familiar little currents of tightness run through my belly – the first labor scare came at nearly 34 weeks, which was too soon for this mama, too soon for the doctors, and, thankfully, you decided, after two rounds of medication to stall my contractions, it was also too soon for you. Yet, just 2.5 weeks later, on a Wednesday night in mid-November, I grabbed a glass of ice water and tried to rest as I assured your Daddy that this round of regular contractions was just practice, just a warm-up exercise, like last time.

Because your first attempt at making your debut left me dilated two centimeters, the nurse’s voice on the phone that night was a bit more strained than I expected once I told her my symptoms – regular pains, seemingly coming one on top of the other, for an hour. “You need to be seen,” she said to me. We called your Grandma Patty to stay with our slumbering Lionel, and after brushing his cheeks with a few quick kisses, your Daddy and I left in a flurry for the hospital.

I remember your Daddy testing the validity of my contraction pain on the way to the hospital by offering to procure a variety of food items for me. Certainly, he remembered your brother’s birth, when I wasn’t permitted a single taste of “real” food for nearly 30 hours, and while his offers of pizza and ice cream and cake and red wine were laughable and adorable – two words that aptly describe your father – these favorite foods of mine did not seem even slightly appetizing to me. This, I’m sure, perked up your father’s sense of what, as we would shortly discover, you had in store for us that Wednesday night – well, rather, that Thursday morning.

I remember feeling grateful that since our last trip to the labor and delivery triage unit just 2.5 weeks prior, I felt more at ease upon entering the doors of our local hospital that night. Perhaps I was simply feeling relieved that your Daddy didn’t turn on the wrong road en route to the hospital this time. Or, maybe I was feeling hopeful about being sent home again, allowing you to remain inside of me a little longer. Or, yet another possibility, perhaps I was comforted because I had packed my hospital bag and readied your room, as well as your little haven in our bedroom. Even still, I lifted up prayer after silent prayer to God, begging Him to be present and to hold tightly to all of us as we made our way to the hospital, and as you made your way to our world.

After a quick admission process and some time spent monitoring my contractions, which were coming about 2-3 minutes apart, the medical staff checked my cervix, which hadn’t changed from two centimeters dilated. Fortunately, your heartbeat continued to be stellar throughout all of the contractions and monitoring, which was a relief – just like your brother who came before you, we felt so blessed that we didn’t have to worry about you during the birth process. The nurse midwife on call – who I liked a lot, dear boy – then decided to give me a dose of terbutaline to attempt to slow my contractions. I had already experienced how this medication made me feel when we visited labor and delivery 2.5 weeks earlier, so the next hour went by without much surprise. I didn’t dilate any further during that hour of monitoring, despite the fact that I was still enduring contractions {albeit with more space between them}, so the nurse midwife gave us two options: since I didn’t dilate any further, there was no medical reason for them to keep me, so option no. 1 was to go home and rest, and return if my contractions intensified. Option no. 2, on the other hand, was something called therapeutic sleep, which involved staying at the hospital and electing for medication, including morphine and vistaril, a muscle relaxer, which would work together {while I got some much-needed rest} to help my uterus – a muscle – to determine its course of action {either to continue contracting or to relax}. Because I was still experiencing contraction pain, I elected for the therapeutic sleep option. At this point, we were moved to another room, and I was given medication to begin the therapeutic sleep process. Your Daddy quickly took up camp on the pull-out couch in the room; he was as eager himself as I was for a restful few hours of sleep.

On that night, circumstances changed dramatically as my nurse walked out of the room after administering the medication for therapeutic sleep, as it was then that I felt a marked, pulsating pain ripple through my abdomen. Believing wholeheartedly that the medication just needed time to kick in, I breathed through the contraction, just as I had been doing throughout the night thus far – except – oh, the inevitable “except” – except the contractions didn’t stop coming: they intensified. For the next ten minutes, in the muted light of the middle of the night, inside a birthing room that I never anticipated being mine until early December, I endured contraction after contraction, with little more than thirty seconds of rest before another wave would hit. A quick glance at the ever-noisy machine that was monitoring my contractions showed me numbers in the high nineties, and that was all that I needed to see to know that what I was feeling was, indeed, for real. As I hit the call button on my hospital bed, I informed the nurse {who calmly asked via intercom, “How can I help you?”} in an exasperated hiss of urgency that my contractions were coming so hard, so fast, and that this was not what I was expecting out of therapeutic sleep.

Two nurses came running fast into my room, one of whom I recognized as the nurse assigned to me; the other introduced herself as the head nurse on the labor and delivery floor and proceeded to check my cervix for further dilation. I was now dilated to three centimeters, so the nursing staff attempted to contact the nurse midwife who had prescribed the therapeutic sleep process earlier in the evening. In the meantime, I awoke your Daddy and begged for his hand to hold as I continued to battle intense, fast-moving contractions.

By the time that the nurse midwife arrived in my room – perhaps twenty minutes later – I was dilated to five centimeters. She looked me in the eyes and said the words that I didn’t think that we would hear that night: “You’re having this baby.” My mouth dropped open in surprise, and as the nurses began moving faster and faster to ready me for a repeat c-section, my eyes, anxious and fearful, scanned the room for your Daddy’s. In his eyes I found the same anxiety and fear, yet he concealed his emotions with an air of composure that I simply couldn’t muster in that moment.

Quincy-Daddy-Lionel-Newborn

“I’m scared,” I told him. “It’s too early. I’m only 36 weeks and 4 days along.”

“Everything will be fine,” he told me.

“I don’t want things to just be ‘fine,'” I replied, my voice making known the panic that I was feeling inside.

“Everything will be great,” he said, emphasizing the word “great.” “We’re going to meet our boy!”

At some point, another nurse introduced herself as the nurse who would be attending to my needs during the c-section. She was unbelievably kind as she informed us that all births at our hospital are attended by the NICU staff, regardless of the baby’s gestational age, but that their hope was that you, our baby, wouldn’t be in need of their services. She asked what felt like a million questions about my pregnancy and birth with Lionel, about my current pregnancy, and about our reasoning for a repeat c-section, and I barked out answers to these questions as I breathed through contractions that seemed endless.

I remember asking your father to contact your grandparents to check on Lionel, who was, of course, fast asleep, as the clock ticked away the first hours of November 13. After some time, I remember someone throwing your Daddy some scrubs, and I remember giggling when he asked for bigger booties to cover his size 12 shoes. The giggles gave me a quick respite from the nerves that I was feeling, so I asked your father to snap a few pictures of me, scrub cap and all, to mark the moment before my bed was wheeled down to the OR, where we would finally, yet prematurely, meet you, our second son.

I remember the nurse anesthetist greeting me as I was wheeled into the OR, and I remember thinking how kind he was as he cracked jokes with me while we waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive to give me my spinal. I remember meeting my surgeon and thinking to myself how calm she seemed in comparison to my desperate desire to jump outside of my body for the next few minutes, like one of those creepy Jack-in-the-Box toys that children play with. I remember looking off to my right side at the baby warmer and thinking about you, the little boy that I was about to meet, and how in just a matter of moments, you would be placed in that bassinet, newly in existence in our world. I remember thinking, at every moment, from the instance that I jostled my body from my hospital bed to the surgical table, that this experience – this opportunity to be conscious and awake for your arrival, for the birth of my second child – was quite awesome, and, at the same time, was unbelievably overwhelming for me, precisely because I didn’t have that opportunity when Lionel arrived.

A few moments after your Daddy entered the operating room and took his place by my side, I remember feeling the odd tugging of pressure, a sensation that was new to me because I wasn’t able to be conscious during Lionel’s birth. As tears flooded my eyes and slipped down the sides of my cheeks, I remember feeling surprised, embarrassed and a bit shameful about my reaction to actually being able to experience your birth, for by the time that the surgeon peeked around the curtain, her gloved hands holding you, a tiny baby boy, pink and beautiful and boasting spiky hair and not making a single sound, my tears had morphed into sobs.

Quincy-Newborn

With every ounce of strength that I had, I let out a sigh of relief upon seeing your little body, your sweet face cradled in the surgeon’s arms. Between sobs, I begged your father to be by your side as the medical staff checked you out. Your father looked so proud to stand by your side as you experienced your first moments in our world; I had missed experiencing these first moments with your brother, and I felt so overwhelmed with the emotion of seeing your father as a new {again} Daddy.

The nurses announced your weight – five pounds, eight ounces – and another heaving sob escaped my throat; I couldn’t believe how small you were. Your little lungs needed some help at first, so after a few minutes of oxygen, you finally let out a wonderful burst of noise – your first cry – and I dissolved into a sobbing mess once again.

“He’s so small…he came too early,” I choked out between sobs to your Daddy, who was still by your side.

“He’s perfect,” your Daddy said. The nurse anesthetist echoed his sentiments, too, to try and ease my worries as the surgeon continued her work on me.

My sobs only continued when your Daddy finally brought you over to me. You were swaddled tightly in a blanket with just your sweet plump-cheeked face greeting mine, and I stared and stared at your little face through my tears, begging you to be okay, to be strong, to be healthy.

I know that people always say this about childbirth, and about children in general, but it became clear to me, as my eyes met yours for the first time, that I have experienced two distinct moments in my life in which I truly saw God, in which I could feel His presence at the helm of my life, and both resulted in the birth of a beautiful boy. While I have long loved God as someone in great need of grace, I realized that never before in my life – not during times of worship, not in moments of stress, of grief, of complete joy or utter sadness – have I so intimately felt God’s hands around mine, and around those of my children, than in the moments in which you and your brother were born. Oh, to feel His love realized in the form of a baby, my baby; yes, as I looked at your sweet face and promised you the best of me – to be for you, and for your brother too, an indestructible, endless net of love and faithfulness, ever positioned so that I will always catch you – I was able to glimpse how immense our Father’s love is for us.

Quincy-Mama-Newborn

As tears continued to wet my face, I asked your Daddy to bring your cheeks close to my lips so that I could kiss you, just like I do to your brother countless times throughout each day, just like I will do for his, and for your, entire life. When my lips finally brushed your skin, an act of love that left evidence of my tears on your sweet face, my sobs finally calmed, and I relished in the joy of your beautiful, unexpected arrival.

xoxo,
Mama

{all photos by Creative Kindling}

About Sara

Sara works in higher education, but she's most proud of her role as a Mama to two precocious boys, Lionel Conner, age 4, and Quincy August, age 2. In honor of turning 30 in 2016, she pierced her nose to "keep her young." She loves watching guilty-pleasure television, writing about motherhood, decorating her first home, sipping red wine with her husband Jordan, and chasing after her sons.
Comments are closed.