I often like the idea of a recurring joke (see and the family Christmas card for more on my knitting abilities...) and have recently been laughing at some of the wonderful things my niece and the biggest child I know, my dad, have said to me recently. I will use them to divide this into sections.
"This is not my best day ever."
This quote will always remind of going swimming with Ally, who loves the idea of a pool, but doesn't like when she is actually in one. But what does this have to do with birthing a baby? You shall see. On Tuesday (March 26) Natalie woke up at about 2 am with contractions about 3 minutes apart. Cool as a cucumber, she labored for a couple hours before waking me (true love, no doubt) and we called up a sleepy-eyed Matt who came over to the house to watch Alana while Natalie and I went over to the hospital. We were admitted once the nurses and residents concluded that Natalie wasn't a big faker and the contractions continued to come every 2-4 minutes. We settled into the room, started thinking about how cool 3/26 would be as a birthday (3x2=6) and began what would be a long day of Ticket to Ride and phone calls, oh, and contractions. Lots of contractions.
As the day wore on, Natalie progressed steadily. Slowly, but steadily. As the evening approached, things stalled a little and the Dr decided to go ahead and break Natalie's water (at this point Natalie has been up for about about 17 hours with the contractions very steadily coming between 2-4 minutes apart). Oh, and did I mention that they had started coupling as well (since I hope some of you are as ignorant of these things as I was, coupling is when a contraction comes immediately after a previous one; contractions in tandem) and that Natalie had gotten to this point without taking anything for pain? Once the water broke, things really started to intensify and I got very familiar with the phrase, "I can't do this anymore!"
This continues for another few hours before finally we break down (or wise up, depending on your stance on the issue) and get an epidural. This allows Natalie to get a little rest (though very little sleep) and for me (who I am sure you have all been worrying about at this point) to sleep quite soundly through the remainder of the night. I told some jokes to the anesthesiologist, but apparently I am not as funny as I think I am (or at least not so late at night). Apparently, while I was out, Natalie was given Pitocin during the night to regulate the contractions and at about 4 in the morning, I awoke to a Dr telling Natalie that it was time to start pushing.
So, if you still can't understand why this was not Natalie's best day ever, consider this. Let us assume that half of the contractions were coupled (this being a very conservative view) and that they came every 3 minutes throughout the 26 hour period. That comes to somewhere in the ballpark of 30 contractions per hour and a shade under 800 over that period. Most of these occurring without any pain medication at all. At one point I told Natalie she had to have the baby today (Tuesday) because otherwise we would hate the day for all time.
"Brush him up on his language skills, and he is ready for the first grade."
"What, did he walk out?"
These quotes are attributed to Eli's grandfather and my own (Grandpa Joe) respectively when told of Eli's large stature. As I mentioned, Natalie began pushing around 4 am of the second day. If you think that after all that came previous, that this part would be a breeze, you are mistaken. No more Ticket to Ride for me. Like a boss, Natalie pushed for just over 4 hours before Eli finally decided to make his appearance. I will spare you the graphic nature of things (mostly for your sake, Matthew), but much to the surprise of Natalie (and I am sure others), I cut the umbilical cord. Elias Jerome weighed in at an impressive 9 lbs 10 oz (though everything at the hospital but the scale said 9 lbs 11 oz) and 20 inches long. As my dad said, just about ready for first grade.
"I'm not starving." (This is Ally speak for "I am not hungry")
Despite his large size, there was a little worry that we would have to leave Eli at the hospital because his Bilirubin was trending up, but in the end they opted to let us all go. However, his count continued to rise of the next couple days and we were eventually provided a Bili-blanket (or 'baby sun tan pad') that, along with improved eating, helped to bring down the count and to calm things down at our house, if only for a moment. Despite dropping weight, Eli is now already above his birth weight and is downright chubby, even though he is only 1.5 weeks old.
"You look like you still have a baby in there."
This one I just wanted to include because it was so mean, that it could only be funny coming from a child. In fact, I said it out loud earlier to Natalie to tell her I was going to use it on the blog and she though I was saying it about her and gave me such a sad look, I thought she might cry. That aside, this one, too, is attributed to Ally and was one of the first things she said (to Natalie) upon reaching the hospital and seeing Eli for the first time. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. It should be known that Natalie was a pro at going to the gym throughout the pregnancy and, without revealing the numbers, is already (in just a week and a half!) below her pre-pregnancy weight and dropping every day.
"Is this a kissing movie?"
This is a classic McSmith-ism (so I will attribute to another of Eli's Grandfathers). As you can perhaps guess, here comes the reflective and, yes, mushy part. I want it known that Natalie is definitely a heroine of mine. This was a difficult labor, as you now know, and she faced it as well as anyone could. In spite of the turmoil and the pain, I don't think she has had a happier moment than when she got to see the baby and hold him for the first time (maybe a few moments on par, but none happier). She loves being a mother and she loves our kids and for that, I will always love her. Thank you Natalie, you're the best.
Before I pack it in, I want to share one last thought. On Saturday, in between sessions of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I found myself saying to Alana, for the umpteenth time already, to be soft with Eli and to not touch his face (or to not give him CPR). I was a little frustrated because she doesn't/didn't seem to get it and I couldn't figure out how to make her understand (still don't really). So, it was with these thoughts in mind that I attended the Priesthood Session of the conference and was struck with a basic doctrine of the church that I had taught hundreds of times as a missionary. God is our loving Heavenly Father. I have believed this as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until this weekend that I really felt like I understood what that means; how he must view me and the many things I do wrongly. So, I feel I can be more patient, because there is One who will always be patient with me and it only makes sense to do my best to be patient, too.
Well, my story is done (as well as my asides), so I will simply end by saying, "Welcome Eli. Welcome home (or perhaps, to your home away from home)."