So I wrote about my pregnancy with Jude when he was almost a month old. I meant to write about his birth for that first month milestone, but obviously that didn’t happen! A lot of other things did happen … we closed on the new house, we moved, we started unpacking and sorting and organizing, and now I’m back to work. Boo. So while I’m trying to not think about being back to work, I’m going to head back to December 25 and write up Jude’s birth story!

It’s a long one, so the story is after the jump …

Weeks earlier …

I started having pre-labor signs at least a couple of weeks before my due date (December 26). There were even a couple of days where I started having contractions and I excitedly thought, “This is it! Lamb is coming early!” … and then nothing. So I was getting used to the cramps and the random contractions and just hurting.

Meanwhile, I still had my freak-outs about what would happen if the baby came before Christmas and I didn’t have any “Baby’s First Christmas” things. And would we be at Christmas Eve service? What would we do about Christmas presents if I went into labor right before Christmas?

Christmas Eve …

We got to December 24 and Baby Lamb was staying put. We decided that if I went into labor on Christmas Eve, we’d just wait and do Christmas after I got out of the hospital. Christmas Eve was a pretty lazy day, and I think we all ended up taking naps or otherwise not being ready in time for the church’s Christmas Eve family service. So that was one decision I ended up not making …

I was uncomfortable, but not having anything that made me think I was in labor. We talked to the kids about Santa, wrote a letter for Santa and left out some cookies … Santa came, and we went to bed … and the contractions started!

Around midnight, Christmas Day

I finally realized that my cramping and pain was coming on a regular basis. “Of course,” I thought. “Of course this happens right after midnight on Christmas Day.” For all my obsessions about being prepared, having “Baby’s First Christmas” outfits, and how Christmas Day would go, God reminded me again that He is control and He sets the plans and schedules for our lives. (It’s a lesson I’m not very good at remembering.) It was very obvious that God had chosen for us to have a Christmas Day baby.

As my contractions kept coming, I asked Will, “So if we’re still here at 5am, do we get the kids up and have a very early Christmas morning?” “Sure, honey.” (Translation: Whatever you want, crazy lady. Just let me sleep.) I kept using my Hypnobabies methods to get through the contractions, which were really starting to annoy me. Finally, around 2 am, I told Will that we had to go to the hospital because we were either having a baby or they had to stop this. We quickly got ready, woke up my mom to let her know, and headed toward the hospital.

2:45 ish … in an empty hospital

My other babies were some level of induction, so it was a very scheduled drive and arrival at the hospital. It was completely bizarre to walk into an empty ER (front doors were closed), through empty halls, and to the quiet, dark Labor and Delivery ward. I did experience that bit they describe in books where the contractions are so hard that you can’t walk or talk through them, so I started to believe a little more that I was really in labor!  I remember telling the L&D nurse who answered the door intercom, “Hi … I think I’m in labor …” I was so paranoid that they were going to tell me I wasn’t really!

When we got through those double doors, there were about four nurses at the station eagerly watching us. They asked, “Are you here for us? Because we might jump you if you are … ” Clearly they were bored! They got us settled in a room quickly, checked me, and said there was no doubt I was in labor … I was already at 5 cm dilation. They started processing me in and it was like my contractions had waited until we were settled at the hospital, because they just started coming faster and faster. Gotta say that one benefit of a scheduled labor is answering medical history questions and signing paperwork while you’re NOT struggling through contractions!

Meanwhile, they’re hanging fluids for the IV, setting up the antibiotics, asking me if I wanted an epidural. I love my Hypnobabies, but I was in so much pain that I wanted an epidural NOW. There were a couple of things going on, though. I hadn’t been on IV fluids long enough to get the epidural. I also needed to be on antibiotics longer (according to the on-call OB I needed them because I was previously GBS+ even though I tested negative this time).  Plus, Baby Lamb wasn’t fully engaged and ready to come out yet, even though I was at 9 or 10 cm by this time. (Seriously, that went SO fast.) They decided to try to hurry up my IV so I could get the epidural because they knew that even though I was at a 10, my body needed to labor the baby down into position for delivery.Also, my typically low blood pressure kept going even lower, making me very, very nauseated. At some point they put me on oxygen, too, which seems to be standard for how I labor.

The anesthesiologist came up around 5 am (I think) and tried some sort of procedure that would be more localized and not as long-lasting as the epidural. I’m sitting up, trying to breathe through these major, close-together contractions, feeling like I’m trying to balance on top of a very painful bowling ball. (Hello, baby head.) I lie down, he starts the meds, and I’m like … “Um, I am numb across my back and butt, but that area where the baby is? STILL INCREDIBLY PAINFUL.”  He was confused by that but decided to do a real epidural. So I sit back up, wait through all of the procedure again, crying by this time because it just hurts so much.  It finally gets started, I start to relax, but I get the epidural shakes on top of the other things. Whatever … the pain is gone. Now we just start the waiting process for the baby to come on down. They have me try a couple of practice pushes, and nope … baby is still up there.

Eventually, around 7 am …

At 6:48 am, I posted to Facebook, “Lambie, we are go for launch.”  My doctors change and one of the other doctors from my OB’s practice comes in. I remember the nurses kept saying throughout the morning that if my water would just break, I’d probably have the baby right away. The doctor checked me again and said “I think her water DID break at some point, it’s just sealed off by the baby.” They futz around a bit, watch the clock to make sure I’ve had four hours of the antibiotic because they don’t want me pushing before then if I can help it. I haven’t had any urge to push (which I did with Seth and Nora even through the epidural), so I’m good with that. Well.

The doctors and nurse are in, the support staff for the baby comes in and are just kind of milling around and checking things out. The doctor decides it’s time for one more practice push. So we do our thing and the baby crowns a bit … the doctor and Will talk about how much hair they see, and I start to think maybe we’re having a girl after all since Seth was a baldy and Nora had so much hair. The contraction and the push end, the doctor and nurse turn around … and Will calls out, “Um … guys, the baby is still coming!”

They whip back around, tell me to stop pushing (“I’M NOT!!’) and don’t even have time to get gloves back on before our baby boy enters the world. According to Will, the doctor barely got back around in time to help the baby out!

So at 7:32 a.m. on Christmas morning, Jude Matthias was born.

Because of an ultrasound tech’s slip-up on our anatomy ultrasound DVD, I was pretty sure we were having a boy. I was a little disappointed … I’d had so much fun with Nora that I was hoping for another baby girl in our family at some point, and I wasn’t sure if we were having any more children after this baby. (Note: When Nora was born I was freaked out by having a girl because I’d had so much fun with Seth. Our brains are crazy.)

Then I got to thinking: my due date was the day after Christmas. A baby boy at Christmas (whatever the real date was) was the ultimate gift. How wonderful a gift would it be if we were given our own baby boy at Christmas?

When my precious Lamb arrived on Christmas Day itself, I felt like it was a gentle reminder from God about how wonderful the gifts are that he gives us, especially the baby boys born on Christmas. We’d already chosen the name Jude Matthias, but it was so much more appropriate now because Jude means “praise” and Matthias is “gift of God.” Every Christmas I have a reminder to praise God for the gifts he gives.

The rest of the stay …

Was mostly non-eventful, mainly because there is NOTHING happening in a hospital right around Christmas. It was kind of nice, but it was kind of lonely. There were no drop-in visits from friends because everyone was busy with the holiday. Seth and Nora were sick, so they couldn’t come see Jude in the hospital. The hospital put Jude in a Christmas stocking and had a red and green striped baby hat for him, which was sweet.

In some ways the quiet was probably good. By the morning of December 26 I’d developed a full blown spinal headache … basically, some of the fluid in my spine was slowly leaking because one of the punctures related to my spinal anesthesia procedures went a little farther than it should have or something like that. That fluid is what keeps your brain floating, so my brain … wasn’t floating as well as it should. It was worse than any migraine I’ve ever had, and it didn’t help that the second anesthesiologist I saw didn’t believe me that it was a problem. The third guy who checked me the morning after Jude was born was wonderful. He believed me and got me quickly set up for yet another spinal procedure – the so-called “blood patch” which sounded scary but was a lot easier than the epidural. The relief was almost instantaneous, but I did have to spend most of the day lying down.

Jude has been a wonderful baby from the start … good at eating, good at sleeping, and just a delicious chunk of baby. We Skyped with Seth and Nora a few times from the hospital, but we were so glad to go home and see them. This hospital stay definitely felt the shortest … we were home the afternoon of December 27!

Recovering from Jude was pretty normal. I had more sweating than I remember with the other two, but I also lost a lot of the baby weight a lot faster. I was down about 25 pounds within the first month. (And there I hover …) Overall he’s just been an easy baby, and I’m so very grateful for him!