Well, he's here!
Julian Clayton Ringgold was born at 4:47 am today weighing a whopping 9 lbs. 2 oz, and 20.5 inches long. For comparison, Ali was 7 lbs. 6 oz, and Bella was 7 lbs. 12 oz.
Thank you all for your incredibly generous and supportive comments last night. Thank you for understanding that there were such a roller coaster of competing emotions going into today. Julian threw us a bone and allowed us to avoid the added anxiety of the morning...
... by coming a few hours early!
I finally got into bed last night at 12:15 am, and tried to fall asleep. Shortly after, I get a poke in my side, and I hear, "Get up, my water broke!"
Three words that will wake you faster than any cup of coffee out there!
Turns out at around 1:30 am, Ang got a sharp pain, then again a few minutes later. She got up to go to the bathroom when she felt like she was leaking. "Stuff" leaked onto the floor, and that's when she noticed she had passed her mucous plug. That was about 1:45. My first thought was, "Man, I'm glad I didn't blow off doing the dishes till the morning!" followed immediately by, "Oh man, I wish I had shaved and packed before going to bed!" Luckily, I can pack in a few minutes, and my suitcase was standing at attention, waiting for clothes to be tossed in it.
Twenty minutes later, Ali was dressed, the minivan was packed, and we were on our way, with Ang averaging a contraction every three minutes.
2:00 am on a Monday morning is a GREAT time to rush to the hospital even in southern California, let me tell ya! NO Body on the roads. The lights all magically change for you as well. I was averaging about (well... more than the speed limit) when I had the thought, "There are cops trolling this main street all the time. I hope I don't get pulled over, though I think this really is the mother of all excuses." I pictured myself telling the cop the magic 5 words of exoneration...
MY WIFE IS IN LABOR!
We got to the emergency room, and LOVE that they had valet service! In we went, and we were soon met there by Ang's parents who live in nearby Huntington Beach. Once again, GOD LOVE THEM for being so close and so dependable when you need 'em! They were there cheery as could be, and offered to take Ali back to their house so she could sleep. It would be 8 am before Ali would see us again, so this sounded wise. I just can't imagine what we would have done with Ali without grandma and grandpa to the rescue!
Once they left, things began to progress rather quickly. Ang was in full contraction mode now, and recounts that this was easily the most painful thing she has encountered. Since both Ali and Bella were also breach (and Bella was too soon for a safe VBAC), they were delivered via C-section early enough that Ang never went into labor before. The entire labor and delivery staff had to be called in, so there was a lot of simply waiting for team members to get to the hospital. All the while, Ang's contractions were roughing her up some. Finally, they let her lay on her side, and this helped a TON.
Once our anesthesiologist (who still had bedface!) came in, we gave him his pick from our bag of gifts we brought the team, then gave him our delivery CD and explained that we had a program of music to use to lower pre-surgery anxiety, and Julian's birth song for when he was delivered. The anesthesiologist is usually the guy or gal in charge of the boom box in the Operating Room. He mentioned to me that he has never had a family bring in their own music. My guess is he's never had a music therapist as a patient!
Anyway, scrubs on, docs in and out, and as soon as everyone was ready, we all headed to the O.R... except for me. I got a chair in an empty PACU (Post-Anesthesia-Care-Unit) to sit in and wait my turn. For those not familiar with the C-Section process, it takes roughly 30 minutes to prep the mom for surgery. If dad is going to be there, they bring him in about 5 minutes before and he gets a stool next to mom's head. So, there I was at roughly 4:10 left to my own devices.
An interesting thing happened.
I was worried this would be another powerful moment like with Bella (Read the full story in Bella's Blessings: a Humble Story of Providence... it is intense), and put away my phone and allowed the moment to unfold, if it was to be, but interestingly enough, nothing happened. No visitation from anyone from beyond the grave. Honestly, even a little boredom and certainly the time of day and the amount of sleep (less than 90 minutes) didn't help matters. Anyway, before I knew it, I was ushered into a familiar scene. Music creating a safe container of comfort and familiarity. We selected a program of music from Hawaii. We have taken 3 trips to Hawaii and have always embraced the aloha spirit. I have brought home music from each trip that we listen to while there. It helps take us back there whenever we listen to it. It's one of the reasons I wrote Julian's song on the ukulele.
As they worked on Ang on the other side of the blue sterile screen, we reminisced about our last trip to Hawaii and I kept her brain moving through the memory files from that trip right up till they popped the J-Man out. Imagery is a powerful tool to distract/divert the brain from any stimulus that may cause pain, anxiety, or nausea. We wanted to make sure that no anxiety crept in, so the music and memory/imagery cues were just the ticket.
When we heard the phrase, "The baby is out!" I jumped up to peer over the screen. when I looked down on Ang's abdomen, this GIGANTIC purple human was lying spread eagle on his back letting out a BARK! Julian was huge! Everyone in the room was like, "Look at the size of that baby!" At 9 lbs 2 oz, he certainly isn't the biggest fish in the pond, but considering his mom is 5'0", that's a lot of baby inside a little torso! I was immediately scanning his skin to make sure it was all there. I'd be lying if I told you I trusted the test we did 100%. I knew that it wouldn't be until I pinched that boy with my own fingers that I knew EB was past us for sure.
Over to the APGAR table (he scored a 9.9) and take my first pictures of Julian. When they put on his diaper, it scraped some of the skin off his thighs. I immediately got nervous until the nurse reassured me that it is common for babies to be "peely." Okay, I thought. Then I started pinching... and pinching... and pinching! It was so fun! His skin endured my ultimate unscientific test!
Off to recovery.
Look at that woman glow!
5:15 am and the lion's share of the day was already behind us. We hit our room at 8 am on the nose. It's been a long, relaxing rest of the day up in our room. Julian latched on like a pro, so feeding has gone really well. He's pooping like a champ, cute as a button, and generally mellow and sweet. The few times I sang his song to him, he completely opened up his eyes (on the APGAR table and during his bath in the nursery) and gazed at me. That was really sweet. Know who is smitten as well?
She held him in the chair at least 3 times today and just loved spending time with him. It is so great; all she ever wanted to do was love on Bella, but Ali was smaller, and Bella, well, between EB and having a giant head to boot, was just too big for her to hold. Now, even though J-Man is bigger outta the gate, so is Ali. I predict an amazing hands-on bond between the two.
Julian's fabulous socks of the day...
Daddy's fabulous socks of the day...
And how is momma? A champ. After enduring what she described as the biggest pain in her life, she has benefitted from great pain meds and has been happy and sweet all day. She is doing great. Stuck in a bed all day is driving her a little nuts, and she is looking forward to getting out of bed as soon as she can stomach it.
Look at that cake grandpa made!
Family, friends, and our old minister Dennis (faith) were all in attendance in our room. Thank you to all who visited today, and thanks to Sara Cooper for taking some amazing pictures seen in the slide show. Gotta check out the slide show because it features JULIAN'S SONG!
Alright, I'm fading out.
Bella's been here all day, by the way, as I'm sure you would have predicted. There have been mixed feelings at times, and we have talked about them as they have come up. It's been natural, and above all, joyous. I am grateful for the joy in the day. I hesitate to say we deserve it, but I think we deserve it. :-)
Thank YOU for sharing in this joy. You have shared in a lot more heartache than joy with our family, and I think it is good for all of us to enjoy this moment. Together. In this virtual family we have become.