It has been a week since Baby Monkey arrived, and already it is hard to imagine our family without him. My Big Boy Monkey has demonstrated what an amazing brother he is, always careful to be gentle with Baby Monkey and making sure the baby has been properly introduced to all of the toy trucks and trains in the house.
It seems like there is already a friendly competition between the Monkeys as to who can add the most drama to our lives. Monkey was born a week early, so Baby Monkey was born 3 weeks early. Monkey was born just before New Years, so Baby Monkey was born just before Christmas and a day after my husband’s birthday. And the births themselves? I’ll let you be the judge.
The Birth of Big Boy
Most hospitals in our area ask you to check in when your contractions are consistently 5 minutes apart. But our as-natural-as-you-want-we-have-birthing-tubs-and-volunteer-doulas birthing center advises you to wait until contractions are 3 minutes apart for an hour, so you can labor at home as long as possible.
When my contractions with Monkey reached 5 minutes, I called the midwife on duty, and she reiterated the advice to wait, even though we lived 30 minutes away. After all, it was my first baby, and they always take a long time, right?
After a few hours, my contractions reached 3 minutes, but only 45 minutes went by before I went through transition and felt the urge to push. By this time, my husband was frantically loading the car and trying to figure out how to move me down the two flights of stairs to the garage.
We managed to get me into the car in between contractions, then we peeled out of the garage and sped down the highway at 90 miles an hour to the hospital, as my husband kept yelling, “Don’t push!!”
Although we had alerted the midwife, she really didn’t understand how far long I was until she examined me upon arrival and could already see Monkey’s head! Thirty minutes after we arrived, our little Monkey was born.
The Birth of Baby Monkey
As a result, this time around we made sure to head to the hospital quite a bit earlier, when my contractions were just 5 minutes apart. But Baby Monkey decided that was a little too tame for our family, so he made sure things slowed down once we reached the hospital. As my contractions slowed and then stabilized at about 8-10 minutes apart, we reluctantly headed back home.
By now it was about 1:30 am, so we sent the babysitter home and tried to get some sleep. Only a couple hours later, though, my contractions had sped back up, and we knew we had to make the long drive back to the hospital. Big Boy Monkey, somehow anticipating that something was afoot, was also wide awake. It didn’t seem worth calling the babysitter, who in any case would have to head to work soon, but we didn’t have anyone else to watch Monkey until about 8 am.
So after much debate but few options around 4 am we bundled him up and headed back down the highway. Monkey was wide-eyed, as he is rarely out after dark, and I tried to carry on a broken conversation with him in between contractions, though it got more difficult the further we got down the road.
They set us back up in a birthing room and hooked me to a monitor, then dimmed the lights and left me to labor and my husband to try to figure out what to do with Monkey.
Over the next hour or so my husband tried in vain to get Monkey back to sleep, then finally gave up and entertained him with some new games that we had packed.
Meanwhile, my contractions were getting more intense, and finally I buzzed the nurses station to tell them I had the urge to push.
But the midwife took one look and declared, “We have a baby! You’re fully dilated, so get ready to push!”
About 20 minutes later, Baby Monkey was born, as my husband called out encouragement and blocked our older son’s view by showing him a favorite video on his Tablet.
Amazingly, Monkey was fairly nonchalant about the whole experience. After all, we had been prepping him for Baby Monkey’s arrival for months. Plus, as someone pointed out, perhaps he is still simply too young to understand and therefore be concerned about the birthing process.
And so within minutes of the birth he was able to greet his brother and give him kisses, as well as open a present “from Baby Brother” that I had tucked in my bag. He finally napped once they went home later that morning and was excited to come back and visit us later in the day.
Unfortunately, this story has a negative twist, since Monkey woke up quite ill on the morning Baby and I were set to come home. So he and my husband couldn’t meet us in the room as we had planned but had to wait for us just outside the hospital entrance, since the nurses were nervous he might get someone sick (if he hadn’t already).
As Monkey’s illness has advanced from croup to a bad chest cold to finally an ear infection, for fear of getting the baby sick, we have had to keep the boys more or less apart. This also means splitting parenting duties, so that I primarily take care of Baby Monkey and my husband primarily takes care of Older Brother. In other words, not the family bonding we were hoping for.
The silver lining? So far Baby Monkey has decided not to up the ante in the family drama competition by getting sick himself. In fact, he and Grandma are the only members of the household so far without any sign of illness. [Update: As of this writing, unfortunately, both are now sniffling.]
And so, as the year draws to a close, we are grateful to have both of our boys home with us, safe and (soon to be) sound; grateful for grandmas and aunts that fly in from faraway places to lend a hand when they are most needed; grateful for friends that run errands, drop off dinner, and generally check in on us; and grateful for all the love that has been poured on our Monkeys.
What are your birth stories? When have you had things not go according to plan? What are you grateful for this year?