Connor’s Birth Story

It’s 6:55AM on Mother’s Day. My 3-year-old daughter is sleeping, Matt is downstairs prepping a chorizo breakfast hash, and I’m sitting in the nursery with 7-week-old Connor. He’s laying on his back in his gym, batting at a ball hanging above his head and twisting to the side to see his reflection in a mirror.

Three years ago on Mother’s Day morning I typed out the story of Mackenzie’s birth. This morning seems like the perfect time to document Connor’s arrival.

I was sure Connor would come early. Mackenzie had arrived at 38 weeks, 5 days, so after Kenzie’s 3rd birthday (and 3 birthday celebrations!) passed in early March I woke up every morning ready to have a baby. My ankles had ballooned beyond recognition and even my normally loose, comfy Vuori joggers left deep indents around my swollen calves. I struggled to bend over to pick up the dozens of things Kenzie seemed to drop on the floor every hour (ha), and I even woke up a few times in the middle of the night and prepped her entire breakfast and lunch, certain that that day would be the day we’d need to rush to the hospital to give birth.

But Connor was in no rush to arrive. At my 39-week checkup Dr. Wu and I discussed induction, which I eagerly scheduled for the following week. I still fully expected my baby to arrive before then, but it was comforting to have an definite end date in sight.

I was instructed to call Bryn Mawr Hospital at 6AM the morning of my induction to see what time they wanted us to go in. But, surprise! I woke up at 3:39AM and realized my water had broken. My water hadn’t broken with Kenzie so this was a new experience. I woke Matt up and called my mom to let her know we’d need her on Kenzie duty a few hours earlier than expected.

Matt and I were on our way to the hospital by 5AM. On the way we reminisced about our 5AM journey to Bryn Mawr three years ago. At that time, I was in active labor and urging Matt to drive faster, frustrated every time we got stopped at seemingly unnecessary red lights on the deserted roads. But this time was different. Yes, my water had broken, but beyond that I felt completely normal. I was excited today was the The Day, but I wasn’t having contractions or any pain.

We parked in the same parking garage spot we’d occupied three years ago and soon we were settled into a spacious room on the Labor and Delivery floor. The doctor wanted to wait and see if my labor would progress naturally since my water had broken, so I spent the morning wandering around my room dressed in a hospital gown and boots. (I felt more comfortable and supported in the boots versus just wearing the grippy socks the hospital had provided.)

Here I am, taking care of some work emails in my gown and boots. While we waited, Matt and I also re-watched the finale of Book of Boba Fett to prepare for season 3 of The Mandalorian.

Several hours into our stay Matt’s mom, Rosemary, offered to bring him lunch. I was technically allowed to have one support person so we invited her to join us in the delivery room. Rosemary is a retired Nurse Midwife and, while I hadn’t planned in advance to have her join us in the delivery room, it was very nice to have her company.

At 12:15PM the doctor started me on Pitocin. An hour later I was having contractions strong enough to cause me to pause my conversation with Matt and Rosemary. The contractions intensified quickly and by 2PM I had to focus hard to get through each one. (Although I had given birth three years ago without an epidural, at that time I had labored overnight at home and went through the worst of the contractions in the car. Laboring in the hospital was new to me!)

Rosemary helped give me tips on how I could stand and hug Matt’s shoulders during my contractions. The nurses checked my progress as I went from 5cm to 7cm to 8cm at what felt like an agonizingly slow pace. I was in excruciating pain during each contraction and looking forward to pushing, which Rosemary told me would give me some relief. (Or at least a different type of discomfort!) After a particularly tough set of contractions, I thought maybe I was starting to feel the urge to push. I asked the nurse to check me again and, hallelujah, I was fully dilated.

Dr. Cheston wasted no time getting into the room and the nurses rapidly broke down the bed. Rosemary held my left leg and Matt held my right and I started pushing at around 3PM. As I remembered from Kenzie, pushing was HARD. But I also remembered how amazing that final push was with her and I wanted to get to that moment of relief as quickly as possible. I pushed like my life depended on it and appreciated when Rosemary showed me how to reposition my head and neck to curl towards my lower body and make each push more productive.

My baby was born at 3:11PM. As his head emerged, I heard Dr. Cheston matter-of-factly state something about the cord and his arm being wrapped around his neck and I felt her deftly maneuver him around to free his little body. Moments later he was on my chest, feeling surprisingly heavy and solid. I think one of the first things I said was, “He feels SO much better out than in!!!” I also thanked my team of nurses, Rosemary, Matt and Dr. Cheston for their cheerleading during pushing. They laughed, joking that that was what I was thinking about moments after giving birth.

At 8 lbs. 3.8 oz. and 21 inches long, Connor was heavier and longer than his sister. He started nursing right away. He was perfect, with steely blue eyes and soft light brown or blonde hair.

By 5PM we were on our way to the Maternity floor in a little rolling caravan: me in a wheelchair, Connor in his bassinet and Matt with our overnight bag. We ordered dinner from the cafeteria and settled in for the night.

The next day was Thursday. Matt got us bagels and coffee from Spread Bagelry and my mom visited us before lunch. Connor was circumcised, and he was delivered back to our room for a long nap. Everything was good. Until a tech stopped in around 3PM to take my blood pressure, that is. It was through the roof at 186-over-something. They took it again, 197-over-something. Uh oh.

A nurse and then an IV tech tried and failed to give me new IV line three times before one was finally inserted into a really uncomfortable spot on the inside of my right wrist. I was given a dose of Procardia and the doctor sent our little family back down to the Labor and Delivery floor for more intensive monitoring overnight.

Seven weeks later it still stresses me out to write about the next 48 hours. The nurses would politely but urgently ask me if I felt OK and if I had a headache or blurry vision. The automated blood pressure cuff on my arm would tighten and render a verdict (still high!) every 15 minutes or half hour. After spending Thursday night on the L&D floor, we were transferred back to the Maternity floor on Friday, only to be transferred back down to L&D Friday afternoon. I cried in the elevator on the way down.

At 5PM on Friday Dr. Wu ordered I be started on a magnesium IV to reduce the chance of seizure. This seemed Serious. A second nurse had to come in and check the first nurse’s IV setup in what clearly was some sort of two-factor verification procedure. They started the medication through my wrist IV only to realize it was clogged or otherwise not working properly and the liquid was accumulating under my skin. Another IV line was inserted (in a MUCH more comfortable spot!) on my left arm and the magnesium began. I chewed crushed ice while the bolus (larger initial dose) of medication was dispensed.

I was on the magnesium IV for 22 hours. During that time, I wasn’t allowed to walk around because the medication can cause dizziness and other side effects. Fortunately I did not seem to experience any side effects, but I was still confined to my bed. They put massaging sleeves on my calves so I wouldn’t get a blood clot. I had a blood pressure cuff on my right arm, a pulse-oximeter on my left big toe and, of course, the IV on my left arm. I had to use a bedside commode (extra fun at two days postpartum!) and a nurse had to listen to my lungs and check my reflexes every two hours. It was not a fun 22 hours.

Fortunately baby Connor was perfect throughout this entire ordeal. He was healthy, hungry and snuggly. I couldn’t get out of bed to change his diapers or retrieve him from his bassinet, but I was allowed to nurse him and his presence was comforting. I tell people now that Connor was the easiest part of our time at the hospital because he was. What a perfect little baby.

They stopped my magnesium drip at 3PM on Saturday and two hours later we learned we’d be released that night. I was given a prescription for a double dose of Procardia along with instructions to take and record my blood pressure twice a day and by 5:40PM we were in the car, driving home to introduce Connor to his big sister.

Kenzie was very happy to meet her baby brother. She proudly presented a big yellow “Welcome Home Connor James” sign that she had made with my mom, and she carefully held him on the beanbag in her room before bed. She comforted him when he cried, saying “calm down, baby, I’m here, baby” and confidently offered to carry him to his nursery for a diaper change. (After the events of the past four days it was tempting, but, needless to say, we declined!) 🤣

At around 3 weeks postpartum my blood pressure levels settled back down, and at my 6-week checkup Dr. Cheston told me I no longer needed to monitor my blood pressure at home. I’m extremely relieved to put that ordeal behind me.

Seven weeks into life as a family of five (I’m including Piper, of course), we are all doing well. Mackenzie loves helping with Connor and has even shampooed “his little head” in the shower, a task she took very seriously. She rocks Connor in his bouncer seat and is careful not to bounce too hard because of his “very delicate” neck. Piper is super relaxed about the whole second-baby-thing. She snoozes at my feet while I nurse Connor and doesn’t seem to be bothered by his presence at all.

For his part, Connor is starting to sleep for 6-7 hour stretches in the 9PM-4AM timeframe which is amazing. He loves being “worn” on my chest in the Solly wrap and he’s already been to far more public events and places than his sister attended in the first 18 months of her life. (Thanks, Covid.) He’s a perfect addition to our family and I feel so lucky to be a mom-times-two on this beautiful Mother’s Day.

It’s now 8:51AM. Piper is outside listening to the birds sing their morning songs while Matt fires up the Ooni pizza oven to cook our breakfast hash in a cast iron skillet. Mackenzie is still asleep in her big girl room across the hall. Connor is now laying on a pillow across my lap where he’s snoozing with his little cheek pressed against my chest. His head is heavy on my right arm as I type. All is good in the Thorne home. Happy Mother’s Day!

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