By John Jericiau
It’s just before the 39-week mark, and as we make our way to the now weekly OB appointment, our friend/surrogate tells us that she has hardly felt the baby move at all during her day at work. This is concerning because a) the baby has been really thrashing around in there up until now, and b) I’ve read too much on the internet about how late-pregnancy stillbirths DO happen. The OB had warned us to “get in here as soon as possible” after noticing the reduced movements, so we were happy that we had a previously scheduled appointment. He quickly rushed us off to a non-stress test; happily, baby and surrogate were fine. There was plenty of amniotic fluid for our son to swim around in for a couple more weeks, and he was perfectly posed high in the uterus in a head down attitude. It was only a matter of time.
It was our friend/surrogate’s last day of work, and we felt relieved that she would no longer have to endure the bus ride to and from work, as well as the standing and lifting and walking that her particular job demands. Alen and I decided to make the weekend a double feature at the movie theater (one on Friday night and one on our usual Saturday night), because it was quite possible we would not make it another weekend before our boy arrived.
Saturday rolls around, and our friend/surrogate tags along as we go through the activities of the day – mainly the boys’ activities at an indoor gym and the YMCA pool. Late in the day our friend mentions how little our son was moving again. I did not want to throw caution to the wind. As much as I didn’t want to drive back to the hospital, I wanted to enjoy date night (possibly our last one for a while) without worrying about a distressed baby.
We arrived to Labor & Delivery ready to hear the same song and dance and that everything was just fine, but were surprised when the exam showed that we were in labor and already dilated to 4 centimeters! They moved us to a room, gave our friend a bag of IV fluids and then an epidural.
Alen was with the boys finishing up their swim when he got the news. Things shifted into high gear as to the disposition of our two boys. Where will they sleep? How will they get there? Family stepped up and arrangements were made.
I had two issues. One was returning our reserved tickets for date night watching the brand new James Bond movie. I drove over to the box office and they happily refunded the tickets to the sold out show. The other issue was a dying iPhone earlier in the day. Out of the blue there was no power. Nada. Zilch. So I did what anyone in my position would do. I drove to the Apple store and bought the newest generation iPhone 5. A new daddy just has to have a phone!
I drove back home and folded some laundry, put the infant car seat in the car, packed some extra clothes for Alen and me, grabbed some food and my laptop and headed back to the hospital. I stopped and mailed some bills and got some gasoline on the way.
Our friend was fairly comfortable at this point, epidural medication coursing through her veins. Alen was very comfortable, stretched out on the only sofa in the room, camped out until morning or until dilation or pain or something woke us up. I took my place on a wicker chair I found hidden in the corner of the room.
After sleeping on the floor for a while I switched with Alen and got a really good two-hour power nap. Renewed and refreshed, I woke up to the sound of the doctor saying that he was going to break the water and see if things progressed faster. At this point Alen decided he would drive the 10 minutes home and try to grab a few quality hours of sleep in our own bed, but to call him if things changed.
Boy, did they change! It was only 9 minutes later that our friend/surrogate was screaming in agony, complaining of severe left shoulder, arm, and elbow pain, while starting to shiver as if the air in the room had become like the Arctic Circle. Before I knew it 7 or 8 physicians and nurses were scanning over her and the monitors, scratching their heads as to the cause of this sudden emergency. Left arm pain brings out the fear of heart attack in almost any healthcare worker. Our baby was hanging in there but starting to show signs of stress, so our MD put up the white flag and called it a day. Time for a C section. And quick!
I dressed in my battle gear (scrubs) and watched in the OR as my son entered the world at 8 lb 8 oz and 20 ½ inches on 11-11-12. The date is significant since his Daddy and Papa and two brothers were all born on the 22nd of a month. Our new son still got the 22 done! He just did it his own way. And I’m just so glad he did.
Welcome to the world, our beautiful son, Dustin John Jericiau. We’ve been waiting for you.
By: Danny Thomas
there is something mystical about a
when the sky is bluer than blue
and the sun is bright
and it’s ten degrees
about the combination
that is an
I have the biggest problems
I am not okay in
I am barely okay
in any time
I like fruition.
there are people
who were born at a time
and in a place
of music for them.
This as much as anything else
makes me feel old…
what is it that makes
We have a new baby.
a third girl.
We’ve been calling her Zuzu.
She was born five months and twelve days
before her big sister’s birthday
who was born five months and twelve days
before her big sister’s birthday.
my wife did this math
while in labor
she was in sort of a trance at the time
out of her mind
and laboring mothers
and Buddhas go
eventually the epidural kicked in
and she came back to earth
those numbers with me…
I don’t even know what to do with that information
but it seems significant…
She is magical,
She is strong
and full of potential.
and she has two big sisters
filled with love,
and two goofy stumbling,
also filled with love
and a very furry cat,
that is filled with something…
only more feline.
how lucky she is
and how lucky we are to have her.
in this time
I guess the thing about time is that
is all potential
By: John Jericiau
I thought I knew how sleep deprivation felt. I was wrong. I pulled many all nighters for big exams in college, while at the same time competed in cross country and track, swam and cycled on my own, maintained a relationship (or two) and handled the pressures of being dorm president. Flash-forward twenty plus years and I figured I could easily do the same thing now that we had our newborn son Devin safely in our house. However, college was a long time ago and I forgot that after a college all nighter I could sleep in the next day to make up for all that lost sleep. With the baby I quickly realized that the rejuvenating nap I needed would not be coming any time soon. Yes, I read in the books that you simply nap whenever your baby does and you can stay rested. I think these books were written by people who don’t have to clean their house, pay bills, exercise, cook, make phone calls, or blog. Or prepare for the next baby.
Within the first few weeks of Devin’s arrival we were already beginning down the prenatal road to Baby Number 2. As tired as I was I still had to attend many doctor’s appointments, some for Devin and some with our friend/surrogate for the new baby. It was amazing that both of these miracles were happening to us at the same time – Devin getting bigger and bigger, smiling, laughing, while our surrogate was getting bigger and bigger, and luckily still smiling and still laughing. Never once complaining about the sometimes painful shots of fertility medications, she continued her upbeat attitude as the pregnancy progressed. While at our house for a visit she would often hold Devin as he slept, and I smiled at the thought of the two siblings being in such close proximity.
A weekly birthing class was scheduled near the 7th month of pregnancy, and I felt so fortunate to have the chance to experience all these activities that I had missed with Devin. My friend and I bonded during these times, and I felt so fortunate that we had her in our lives helping us to fulfill this dream.
We reached the eve of the 8th month and completed the hospital tour. It’s a different hospital than where Devin was born, so it was good to learn where to park and where to register in the event that we had to race over there. Since Devin was induced and our friend seemed to be holding it all together I had it in my mind that we would be picking a convenient day for the birth of this baby as well.
Our friend was housesitting so after the hospital tour we dropped her off in the Valley and headed home to watch Desperate Housewives and Amazing Race, our typical Sunday fare. We barely got through dinner when the phone rang. Our friend’s water had broke! Back to the Valley we raced, and we scooped up our friend and sped to the hospital where we then parked and registered just as we had learned to do a few hours before. We had to hand off Devin to our family, since we had no idea how long this was going to take, and Alen and I both wanted to be at this birth, just as we had both been at Devin’s.
It took most of the night, but after finally resorting to a vacuum to help him out, our son Dylan was born healthy – on January 22nd – exactly 8 months after Devin (born May 22nd). And now Daddy (born Dec 22nd) and Papa (born June 22nd), who once upon a time were desperate, find this all nothing short of amazing!
By: Heather Somaini
March 8th – 3:00am
I’d been desperately trying to get some sleep in preparation for what I’d assumed would be the craziest, busiest, most emotional day I’ve ever had in my short 38 years. Tere is essentially an insomniac and is used to odd sleep patterns. But she took it to a completely new level while she was in the hospital. Every few hours they would wake her up to take her vital signs and check on the babies. She was a complete trooper by this point and trained to the nurses’ schedule. I, on the other hand, was not so trained.
This was the moment in time that I mentioned, as the slingshot was being pulled back slowly. Everything seemed to take forever. Two hours in between “checks” felt like an eternity. Time itself was stretching and creaking all around me. When Dr. C removed the cerclage , Tere immediately dilated to 1cm. Nine hours later, she was barely at 2cm, so at 3:00am they broke her water. I figured we’d go back to sleep – isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in the calm before the storm? Not Tere.
She and the nurses decided to have a mini-party in her room. They were all wide awake, laughing and having a great time. If I could have overcome my utter anxiety of what was about to happen, I would have joined in. Instead, I knew that only sleep would help my condition –-I needed to completely forget, be knocked out to all the clutter in my head.
I wonder what soon-to-be dads feel like at this moment. There had been a huge sense of responsibility up until this point but now it was starting to sink in that two living, breathing, incredibly fragile babies were about to come into the world, and I was going to be responsible for everything about them. And where I was only responsible for me at one point, and then Tere too (in a way) when we married – now two barely breathing creatures would need me in a way I had never known. I think I had been so stressed about them even making it to this point that I really hadn’t had the energy to worry about their actual arrival. We never really knew if this day would even come. There were so many opportunities for this to go another way. But we had made it.
And now they were almost here. I realized that if I gave the anxiety too much room in my head, it would take over and I might become paralyzed in a way that was absolutely unacceptable. Tere needed me more than ever to be strong, to handle all of the details that would be coming at us in short order and to be clear when she wouldn’t be able to.
I started to doze back off, listening to Tere and the girls giggling and making jokes. She was happy which made me happy. I’m sure she had a ton of anticipation running through her; she had worked so hard and sacrificed so much for this day. She deserved to laugh and have fun.
I loved her more than she knew and finally fell back to sleep. It was good that I did, as the rest of the day was going to give me a run for my money. That slingshot was about to let go.
It seems like it will never end. Each contraction pulsing through your body, climaxing and then falling providing a stint of relief before the next one hits you.
My birthday was Sunday. I turned 25. I usually throw extravagant parties to celebrate myself; but this year was a little different. We had invited my close friends over for an evening barbecue with an “in case-she-goes-into-labor-cancellation policy” at the bottom of the invitation. I had been in early labor all day, but love a little celebration, so I hosted a party. During labor. My contractions getting closer and closer together, we played bocce ball, ate ribs and homemade strawberry shortcake, and kicked everyone out by 10pm.
I was chatting and telling stories in between each contraction until I was forced to throw myself over the back of a chair in agony resting my face in my hands. They were getting worse…
“BREATHE! Relax your shoulders… low tones, Allison, relax, breathe into it…”
Yeah? Is that all?
Ten minutes apart, then eight, seven, five and finally four. Time to go to the hospital.
With my mother, sister and doula, I grabbed my baby blue Samsonite suit case at 6:00am and tried to make it to the car. Stopping along the sidewalk to double over through a contraction, I finally made it to the car and endured the four minute ride to the hospital… I knew our apartment location was a good idea!
I moaned, groaned, cussed, laughed, cried, wailed and clenched for the next 14 hours. My contractions were a minute and a half apart. I thought I was going to die.
Finally, without an epidural, I was ready to push. I pushed and pushed and breathed and pushed and grunted and pushed and screamed and pushed. I had an incredible team and the vibe in the room was electric. Finally, at 8:29pm on August 3rd, my sweet Baylor was born. He had a few short cries, and then calmly looked at everyone in the room. Bay was alert, healthy, and absolutely the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen in my entire life.
A new person. Forever in my life. Someone to love more than anyone or anything else, ever before. What a feeling… this was the best “oops” that could have happened.
We have plenty of adventures ahead, and I can’t wait.