Friday, August 5, 2011

Benjamin's Birth Day

As I sit down to write this, I am still fascinated by it.  I am amazed at the miracle of life.  When I look at his tiny hands and feet, at the beautiful curl of his lashes, at the perfect curves of his ears, I really can see the hand of God in it all.

This is the story of Benjamin's birth.

38 weeks pregnant

I woke up at 12:30am on Monday, May 16th.  I remember my eyes popping open as I felt the familiar urge to go to the bathroom...again.  I was 2 days past my May 14th due date and was feeling pretty uncomfortable.  Feet, legs, hands swollen.  Heartburn so intense I was forced to sleep sitting up.  That morning was to be the first morning of my maternity leave.  Alone-time in the morning, pedicure in the afternoon...I had my day all planned out.  Just as I sat down to go to the bathroom...**gush**.  "Oh, crap!" I thought.  My water broke.  

Partly because I was in shock, and partly because I was too excited (and nervous) to move, I stayed in the bathroom for a few minutes, just thinking.  "We're going to meet our baby soon.  It will no longer be just the two of us.  Will it be a boy or a girl?"  My mind and my heart began racing.  Dave called out to me as my absence from the bed alerted him.  He asked if I was okay.

"Yes, but..."

We called the doctor at 1:30am and were instructed to head to the hospital.  I called my mom.  I could hear the excitement in her voice as I told her I was in labor and that we were going to swing by to drop off Emma, our dog.  I showered, Dave packed and we loaded up the car.  We drove the 25 minutes to my mom's house.  I had a few mild contractions, and we tried to time them but they were fairly irregular.  7-8 minutes apart.  Not painful.  I remember thinking "If this is what labor feels like, I'm going to do awesome."  (That makes me laugh now.  I had no idea what was in store for me.)  We dropped the dog off and proceeded to the hospital, getting there at 3:00am.  We checked in and I gowned-up, and we were told the midwife would be in shortly to see if I was dilated at all.  She came in the room and seemed nice.  Up until she examined me, my contractions were getting a little stronger and more regular but were still very manageable.  After she examined me (which was so painful that my eyes watered and my toes curled) I found out I was only 1cm dilated.  It was going to be a long day.

The next few hours went by in a blur of procedure, waiting, checking, contracting.  Nurses in and out.  Breathing in and out.  Inhaling, exhaling.  Trying to find a rhythm for managing pain that was intensifying.  Inhaling, exhaling.  Dave, looking at the monitor strip which measured the contractions.  Little mountains on a strip of paper.  Jagged peaks representing my pain.

My mom came to the hospital around 7:00am, and I was in full-blown labor.  Though only dilated 3-4cm, I wasn't sure I could handle much more of the pain.  Wave after wave overtook me.  I wanted silence during the contractions, so I kept shushing Dave and my mom.  Inhale, exhale, shhhhhhh.  Repeat.  I tried walking to keep things progressing, but I only made it through one lap of the labor and delivery unit before I was begging to lie back down.  When I got back to the room, I tried bouncing on a birthing ball.  By 8:30am I was told I could have an epidural if I wanted one, and that was a no-brainer.  Yes and please and hurry.

Trying to walk through a contraction.
The epidural made me numb from the waist down, which was an unpleasant feeling.  It felt like I had two dead legs strapped to my body.  Though I could still feel the contractions, they were doable.  The pain was reduced to intense pressure.  I tried to get some rest, but the automatic blood-pressure cuff went off every 15 minutes, so sleep was hard to come by.  I talked with Dave and my mom and watched the clock.  The nurse checked me and I was told we'd have an afternoon baby.  Friends sent text messages of excitement and support.  A woman in the labor and delivery room next to mine had her baby and I heard its first cry.  It was a beautiful sound and I burst into tears.  I knew the next time I heard that sound it would be my baby in this room.  I looked at the isolette situated in the corner of the room, fitted with fresh linens, waiting for my baby.  The baby that I had grown to know from within, the baby who kicked my ribs and hiccuped and wiggled, would soon be out of my body and laying in the isolette.  How wild.

At 1:00pm my doctor came in to examine me.  I was 9cm dilated and feeling all kinds of pressure.  I knew that I wouldn't be pregnant much longer.  He told me to "hang tight" and that he was going to go perform a c-section on another patient and would be back shortly.  I was panicky.  How long would that c-section take?  What if I felt like pushing?  What if he didn't get back in time?  For the next hour, the pain found its way back to me.  I clenched Dave's hand during the contractions and tried to breathe through the pain.  He rubbed my back and kissed my forehead and whispered words of love and encouragement.  My mom was lingering in the background, present and comforting but not intrusive or overwhelming.  I was shivering from the epidural and secretly wondering if I would have enough strength left to push.  After all, I was operating on no sleep.

Dave and me, shortly before I started pushing.
The doctor came back into the room at 2:00pm and confirmed I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing.  The pushing was harder than I could have imagined.  It's much harder than anyone ever tells you.  I pushed as hard as I could, inhaled and pushed again.  Three times for each contraction.  My face hurt from the pressure of pushing and my throat felt raw.  I was told not to "push with my face" and to really bear down.  Nurses came in and out.  Instruments were opened and set aside.  A flurry of activity went on in my peripheral vision.  Dave held my left leg and a nurse held my right.  At one point the baby's heart rate dropped and so I was given oxygen and was told to turn onto my right side.  I pushed on my side for awhile.  I had breaks in between contractions and I would try to catch my breath and take sips of water.  Then I would feel the contraction building again and I knew I was about to embark on another round of pushing.  Dave kept telling me I was doing a good job and that he could see the baby's head.  It all felt very surreal.  How did I get here?  I tried to keep focusing and keep pushing.  This was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  My doctor looked at me and said "Ok, Kelly.  We should have a baby in the next few pushes."

I curled my body around the next contraction and pushed.  I pushed out my pain.  I pushed out my fear.  I pushed out my anticipation.  I pushed out the frustration of a year of trying to get pregnant and I pushed out the heartbreak of two lost pregnancies.  I pushed out the morning sickness and the heartburn and the swelling.  I pushed and pushed and then out he came.  I saw it was a boy.  Arms and legs flailing, lungs wailing.  I reached out and grabbed him, warm and wet and so tiny.  The most beautiful face I have ever seen.  My Benjamin,  6 pounds 13 ounces, born at 2:49pm.  We were a family.

Benjamin David Kompf

Emotion poured out of me as I sobbed and thanked everyone in the room for helping to make me a mommy.  I watched as Dave held our son for the first time.  I watched as my mom became a grandma.  My life was transformed.

I have thought about that day everyday since, and it's still so magical to me.  I feel so privileged that I got to experience childbirth, and there is no feeling on this earth like looking at your child's face for the first time.  I am excited to watch him grow from a baby into a little boy, and I will cherish every moment along the way.

I am so blessed to be Benjamin's mommy.  

Mommy and Benjamin meet.


  1. I am in tears! It is such a wonderful feeling! I say that as my one miracle slams the wall with a plastic golf club! It only gets better... And louder :)


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