Wednesday, June 19

Son of a Biscuit Eater (Roman's birth story)

I've been meaning to write out the birth experience we had with Roman like I did for Brock (found here) but just haven't taken the time to do it yet (mostly because any free time I get to myself I'd rather spend watching Netflix reruns of The Office or taking a nap). Then I keep having these visions of the future where Roman throws in my face that I didn't care enough about him to record his birth, or Brock constantly antagonizes him by saying, "Mom loves me more. She wrote about my birth story but didn't care about when you were born." As a first-born, I know that is prime mocking material right there. So I'm going to write down some of the details (even though it's a month late), and I'm going to go ahead and give a disclaimer to Roman that he will probably not have as many stories or blog posts written about him as his brother did, but his brother was the practice round for my mothering abilities. He gets the 2.0 version of Mom, which is much improved from the version Brock had ;)

Anyway, since I had to have a c-section with Brock, I decided to schedule another one for Roman. My doctor gave me the option to try to deliver the "normal" way (normal might be an offensive word for women who have had c-sections, but I just don't want to use the "v" word here, as immature as that may sound), and part of me hoped I would just go into labor and it would progress so quickly that I wouldn't be able to have a c-section. The other part of me, however (the swollen, miserable, 35 weeks pregnant part), just wanted a specific end date and a clear-cut plan to work with. The date was set for May 14th at 7:30 in the morning. The planner in me really liked knowing exactly when and how everything was going to happen. I could make arrangements for Brock, have my house cleaned (a serious source of anxiety when I went into labor with Brock), and just have a peace of mind about the whole process because I knew the plan. Of course, plans don't always go according to plan... You'd think I would've figured that out from the first birth experience, especially since that was the title of the post I made about it.

May 13th, about 2:30 pm: My friend Kerri texts me and asks if I've had my emotional meltdown yet. I've been in serious nesting mode and have been cleaning out Brock's closet and sorting clothes and straightening the house for the past hour, and I tell her (probably a little smugly) that no, I'm not really that anxious, and I feel a little more prepared for this baby because I've experienced it before and also because we have it all scheduled and planned out. I give the disclaimer that I might just be in denial though :)  She replies and says that hopefully my meltdown will come before I get to the hospital parking lot (which is when she had hers). I laugh it off and don't think much else about it.

May 13th, about 6:00 pm: Blaine wants to take Brock to get frozen yogurt as a last little outing before he becomes a big brother. I stay home with happy plans of taking a nice, long bath and getting a little rest and relaxation before the big day. I turn the water on only to find that it is barely lukewarm and isn't heating up. That's a huge bummer because I hadn't actually had a shower that day, and I really was looking forward to that me-time bath. Normal Shelby would be disappointed. Pregnant, hormonal, weirdo, irrational Shelby felt like sitting down on the bathroom floor and crying about it. But I collected myself and called Blaine and told him I thought the pilot light might have gone out on our gas water heater. After he got back home, he lit the pilot and I waited about an hour to let the water heat back up, but it still wasn't hot. He went back downstairs to check, and it had gone out again. I'm starting to think, Oh great, we have a problem with our water heater the night before I'm supposed to have a baby. And I'm starting to feel less and less in control of the emotions that are threatening to break through.

May 13th, 8:30 pm: We're doing our nighttime routine with Brock and putting him to bed, and as the three of us sit there together singing "The Wheels on the Bus," the thought pops into my head that this is probably the last night that our routine will be like this. In a few days, we'll be bringing home a new little baby, and I don't know how our bedtime routines will go then. This slightly rational concern then snowballs into pregnant madness as I start over-dramatizing the whole thing in my mind. Will I still be able to sit in there with Brock and Blaine and sing lullabies and read stories, or will I be stuck nursing Roman and isolated from everyone? Brock is totally unaware that his little life is about to change completely, and it is all my fault! We decided to have another baby and didn't even consult how he would feel about it or whether he wanted a sibling. We are going to change so much about his life, and he's just happily singing along to "The Wheels on the Bus" without any understanding of what's about to hit him. It's going to be awful! He's going to hate his life. What kind of parent has more than one child? We're so cruel! As I look at his little oblivious, innocent face, I just start crying. The lights were off fortunately, so he had no idea it was happening, but Blaine immediately clued in to the fact that my voice was quivering and I could barely get out the words, "The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish." It had to have been the most preposterous song ever for someone to be crying during. But there I was, beginning my meltdown.

May 13th, 8:45 pm: Blaine finishes up the bedtime routine, and I quietly slip into our bedroom and allow the tears to flow freely. I feel so guilty for having another baby, and I am apparently so afraid that it is going to scar Brock for life. I text my sister-in-law Erica who has three kids and ask her if it's normal to feel like this and if I need to be concerned about poor, little Brock. She reassures me and brings me back to a certain degree of sanity. I also text Kerri and tell her how much I appreciate her planting the meltdown idea in my head because it has started. Then I hear Blaine downstairs clicking the lighter again, and I realize the pilot light has once more gone out. I'm supposed to have a baby tomorrow morning, we're about to completely ruin our firstborn's life, and I haven't had a shower today! The water heater was the straw that broke the camel's back. I can't even hold back my sobs anymore. I'm just crying and crying and sniffling and snotting and gasping and totally freaking out. I was trying to avoid letting Blaine see me in freak-out mode, but I go downstairs to ask if we should call a plumber (at 9:00 at night, no less). He just stands up and hugs me and lets me wipe my snot all over his shirt. He's a good man.

May 13th, 9:15 pm: Blaine calls a 24-hour plumber but gets an answering machine. We discuss it, and he talks me back down out of my hysteria and says, "Look, the worst that will happen is that we have to take cold showers in the morning. We can call a plumber tomorrow if it's still not staying lit, and I'll take care of it." There really was no need to get all panicked and worked up, but my pregnant brain couldn't understand that for some reason. Blaine says a little prayer with me and specifically asks God to please just allow me to have a hot shower in the morning and just to calm my nerves and anxiety. Then we pack the rest of our bags and go to bed.

May 13th-14th: I don't get much sleep that night.

May 14th, 4:00 am: My doctor told me I needed to be at the hospital about an hour and a half before the surgery was scheduled, so I get up to get ready around 4:00 that morning. I have a hot shower! (See, you can't tell me there is no God). I feel like dancing (but since I am the size of a Smart Car, I refrain from doing so). We get ourselves ready and leave when my mom gets to our house.

May 14th, 5:30 am: We're a little early since we don't have to be at the hospital til 6:00 so we run by Hardee's to get Blaine some coffee and breakfast. I ask him to get me a biscuit and a Sprite. As we get our food, I jokingly say, "I hope it's okay for me to eat this." But in my head, I assume it's fine because if I was going to be having an emergency or unplanned c-section, I might have eaten something before the surgery and they wouldn't be able to control that, right?

May 14th, 5:45 am: After we get our food, I get a call from the hospital asking me if I am still scheduled to have my c-section today. I laughingly reply with a little confusion, "Yes. We're on our way right now." Then the nurse asks how far away I am, and I start to get nervous. I tell her we will be there by 6:00, the time my doctor told me to be there. She informs me that I am supposed to be there 2 hours before the surgery time, so I am already 15 minutes late. What?!?! Apparently, someone from the hospital was supposed to have called me yesterday to give me the details and to make sure I knew what time to be there. Well someone dropped the ball because no one called me. So now I'm starting to get anxious again.

May 14th, 6:00 am: We get to the hospital right on time except not on time and do all the check-in stuff.

May 14th, 6:20 am: I head back to the labor and delivery unit with Blaine and am immediately made aware of how much I have inconvenienced these nurses with my delayed arrival. They were slightly rude and started rushing me around and treating me a little like I was an inconsiderate child who had intentionally shown up late. I start to feel guilty and upset and then, of course, emotional. As I go to the bathroom to change and get a urine sample, I hear Blaine making it quite clear that the way they are talking to me and treating me is unacceptable. He tells them that he doesn't care how late we are, that I am pregnant and having a baby today, and I don't need to be made to feel guilty or ashamed of anything. I start to cry as I think how thankful I am for this guy who is standing up for me and saying these things I would never say myself.

May 14th, 6:30 am: The nurses (with a remarkably different attitude and much more compassion) start prepping me and getting my blood work and asking me all sorts of questions, like whether I've done any drugs in the past 24 hours (no), whether I've smoked or drank alcohol during the pregnancy (no), whether I have AIDS or STDs or any other serious diseases (no), and when was the last time I ate? I innocently answer that I had breakfast about an hour ago and immediately regret that decision. The nurse stops, looks at me, and says, "You ate before you came here? What did you have?" With much more hesitation and doubt I meekly answer, "Yes? I had a biscuit and some Sprite." Her reply, no kidding, is, "O. M. G." Now it becomes clear to me that I wasn't supposed to have eaten anything, and I'm pretty sure I have just become the worst patient ever. This tells you a little bit about my people-pleasing personality... my biggest worry here was that all the nurses were going to hate me and that my doctor was going to have to readjust his entire day around me. I felt terrible. Apparently that call I was supposed to get from the hospital yesterday would have given me details such as "Don't eat anything after midnight." I still felt guilty though because I probably should have known better and refrained from eating anything, just in case.

May 14th, 7:00 am: I have been crying for about 20 minutes, and the angry nurse at the beginning of the process has become like a mother hen hugging me and telling me not to worry about anything, that it's no big deal. A very sweet anesthesiologist comes in and gives me the good news and the bad news. The good news: I will be having baby Roman today, for sure. The bad news: It's going to be at least 6 hours later than what we thought because they can't risk giving me anesthesia with the food in my system. The day shift nurse comes in and introduces herself and must be able to tell what a fragile state I'm in because she is just oozing compassion and gentleness. She says I don't need to worry about anything and that I should be thankful that I got to eat because usually the women are starving when they come in to have surgery. Then she asks, "Well, was it a good biscuit?" I laugh and say, "Not that good!"

May 14th, 7:30 am: Blaine notified all of our family who were in the waiting room expecting Roman to be there within the hour that it was going to be pushed back to later in the day. It would now either be 2:00, if the doctor could rearrange his office schedule, or 5:30, after his office hours were over. I felt awful for inconveniencing everyone who had gotten up so early to come and see Roman, and now they were all going to have to rearrange their day. Then the jokes start coming in about how I couldn't restrain myself and just had to have a biscuit. It actually made me feel a little better because they were trying to show me that it wasn't a big deal, but I did feel a little like the fat kid in the room then. Why couldn't it have been a salad or a cup of fruit that I ate?

May 14th, 8:00-1:00: Blaine and I just sat in the tiny little holding cell pre-op room waiting to find out when we were going to be able to have the surgery. At about 9:00, it suddenly hit me and I looked over at Blaine and said, "Roman is a son of a biscuit eater!" If that phrase means nothing to you, don't worry about it, but I thought it was pretty humorous. Around 1:00, I was tired of lying in the bed and being confined to the room, so I put on some clothes (instead of the open-back hospital gown) and asked Blaine to walk around with me. We left the room and looked for my nurse to let her know, and as we were turning to leave, she says, "Oh wait! They're about to start your pre-op stuff. He's doing your surgery at 2!" Well, that would've been nice to know before I went through all the effort of putting on my clothes (that sounds melodramatic, but believe me, it was a lot of effort; I was really huge). But I'm happy that we don't have to wait til the end of the day, so I get back in the room and get myself ready before any staff member can be upset at my delay. (Really, we were over all the drama from the morning... several staff came in and apologized for how things went down, and they told me I shouldn't feel bad because they were the ones who messed up in not calling me to give me all the instructions. I wasn't upset or angry; I just didn't want them to be upset or angry with me and think I was some jerk patient who just did whatever I wanted to do regardless of what the rules were. I think all the crying might have helped a little - either that, or it just made me look unstable and they wanted to be very careful with me).

May 14th, about 1:30 pm: They get me all ready, and my sister-in-law Lee gets there to take pictures. She and Blaine get suited up in their super attractive scrubs and face masks (Lee is really enthusiastic about her hair net too).

May 14th, about 2:00 pm: I've had my spinal block (which I liked much more than the epidural I had with Brock because I didn't feel ANY thing with it, and I had a lot less shaking), and they've got me laid out on the table ready to go. Blaine comes in and sits by my head, and they start the process.

May 14th, 2:26 pm: I hear a little baby start screaming, and I know my second child has now arrived. Roman Ellis Vandegriff was born, and we are now a family of four.

I never understood how parents could love all their children equally and feel the same kind of affection and pride over each baby. I still don't understand it because logically it seems like you would need time to develop an attachment with the new baby that is as strong as it is with the one you have had for two years, but somehow the love of a parent defies logic (I guess any kind of love defies logic really). I loved that little boy from the moment I knew he was being knit together in my womb, and finally I was able to put a face to that love when he came into the world that afternoon. Once again, I think God was trying to help me realize that even if I make my plans and have my expectations set on a certain path, I can't control everything around me, but He does. Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." I think I needed that reminder again that I am not the one calling the shots here, and I am not the one who has all the wisdom and understanding and awareness of the world and the future. This next paragraph I'm putting in was the concluding paragraph for Brock's birth story, and I think it was what I needed to learn once more because of my slight arrogance that I knew what I was doing and that I had everything under control this second time around. Maybe eventually I'll have a birth experience that I don't need to learn a lesson from.

From Brock's birth story: Nothing about that day went according to my plans, but at some point God put an impression on my heart that made me realize I am not the one in control of my life. I told Blaine that this was my first lesson in parenthood: I am not in control. We will be this child's guardians, his disciplinarians, his protectors. We will love him, teach him, scold him, and direct him, but we will never be able to control him. He is his own individual, and he will make his own decisions, and we will guide him and pray that he makes wise ones and that he will seek to honor us as his parents and that he will one day recognize his need for a Savior, but we have to trust God to be in control and take care of this little person from now on for the rest of his life. So ultimately, all those things that I thought went wrong about that day served to show me my smallness and to magnify the greatness of our God. What a day!

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