Waiting for our second child to arrive was a bit
nerve-wracking maddening. See, Allie arrived two weeks early and, when we were given an estimated May 26 due date, we expected this little one to show up 10-14 days ahead of schedule (for what it’s worth, I predicted May 16). Just in case Dana went into labour, I worked from home for what ended up being two weeks; if nothing else this showed me I’d go stir crazy being a home-based employee. And to really hammer home how little control we had over the arrival, we thought we were about to meet the newest addition to our family on May 18, then again on May 20, and again on May 21. Maddening.
This time for real
By May 23, I’d pretty much resigned myself to the fact that this baby was staying put until Christmas and would have nothing to do with the eviction notices Dana had been sending (squats, spicy food, bouncing on a plyometric ball). So when Dana’s water broke at 12:30pm (which Dana didn’t think was the case at the time) and wasn’t accompanied by contractions, we were both a little skeptical that this was it. All the same, we headed down the Anthony Henday and arrived at the Grey Nuns at 1:30pm to get Dana checked out. The drive was far different than the last time; we loaded up the car, chatted along the way, listened to the radio, and lamented the possibility this may be a false alarm. No strong sense of urgency or trying to time contractions while rocketing down the Henday. By 2:30pm our skepticism was quashed with the confirmation that Dana’s water had broken but she was only 1-2cm dilated. We were admitted and the little one was going to take its sweet time.
Walk it off
To hasten the contractions – inconsistently 9 minutes apart – the nurse recommended we go walking for an hour to encourage the baby to get this show on the road. So we explored the hallways and cafeteria, made a few phone calls, and reported back to check on Dana’s progress. Two whole centimetres; it felt like winning five bucks in the lottery. They moved us to an antepartum room and we took a lap around the hospital. At 5:15pm, we were enjoying burgers and fries from A&W and contractions had finally picked up speed – now inconsistently 5 minutes apart. Still no sign things were going to get moving so more walking and waiting.
With a little help from my friends
After a visit from our friend Lisa who had finished her shift in ICU, Dana had a sneaking suspicion the baby had pooped. Once we alerted the nurse we were finally on our way over to Labour and Delivery at 9:30pm. Upon confirming that the baby had indeed pooped, and with contractions remaining inconsistent, it was time to give the baby some help finding the exit. Oxytocin was started at 10pm and the nursing staff had Dana on a monitor until the baby arrived. It sounds all well and good but the best position for the monitor to pick up the heartbeat wasn’t the most comfortable for Dana to labour in. So we got creative in changing things up and holding the monitor as needed. With a mix of U2 and Ed Sheeran blaring to help Dana get through the stronger contractions coming every 3-4 minutes, our friend and doula, Nicall, arrived at 11pm. She brought combs, fragrant oils, and helping hands to apply a cold cloth, gentle massage, and counter-pressure.
Ready or not
From there on things really started moving. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart at 11:30pm and Dana was 8cm dilated by 12:15am. A few more big contractions and at 12:40am it was time to start pushing. Four minutes later we met our son for the first time. I checked twice (listen, you don’t want to get this wrong) before loudly proclaiming, “It’s a boy!” and smiling at Dana through overjoyed tears. Jude Matthew was born at 12:44am on May 24, weighing 7lbs 6oz and measuring 20 inches. There is no feeling that compares with welcoming your child into the world and no words can properly describe it. I would say the only thing different from when Allie arrived was the lack of not knowing what comes next. Not that I knew what having two kids was like but at least I knew the things to do to care for our family. I digress.
With Jude nuzzled against Dana, I sent texts and made phone calls and we got ready to move to the antepartum theme room. Read that again: a theme room. Complete with double bed, curtains, chairs, and paintings. A theme room is the Ritz Carlton compared to a private room that holds a hospital bed for mom and mummy-shaped bench for dad. We settled in around 3am and grabbed a few hours of sleep before diving into being parents to a new baby again. It was a long day at the hospital but we had lots of great visitors: Dana’s parents, both sets of my parents, and Lisa (who happened to be on shift again). As nice as the theme room was, we preferred to head home so we spoke with the obstetrician who gave us the green light at 7:30pm. Thirty minutes later, we put Jude down in his bassinet and headed for bed ourselves. Allie had come down with the stomach flu and stayed with Dana’s parents for the next night and day which gave us a chance to catch up on a bit of sleep, get to know Jude, and adjust. Once she’d recovered, Allie met her little brother Jude. She didn’t know what to make of him at first and couldn’t understand why someone else was living in our house and getting attention. She’s still working on that last bit.
Two months later
It’s been two months since Jude was born and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by or how much of an adjustment it is (whoever told me two kids is four times harder was right). The sleep deprivation of a newborn and aggravation that comes with a two year-old demolition expert are no doubt wearing at times, but having two kids is the best thing I’ve done since I asked Dana to marry me. Allie loves having Jude around and I can tell she wishes he was bigger so she could play with him. Until that time comes, she watches Jude get his diaper changed, pats his head, holds his hands, helps rock him in his swing, and makes sure he knows that “Everything will be okay, Jude,” when he cries. I frequently have moments when we’re all out walking, sitting in the backyard, or simply eating dinner where I look at Dana and my kids and my heart feels full. This is the best.