Welcoming Baby Benjamin

Hi Friends!

I’m so excited to finally share some photos of our time at the hospital with Ben. Life has definitely gotten a little more hectic with two children, so I’m sorry it’s taken a while to post our story.

At around 28-30 weeks, I asked my Doctor about traveling. We hadn’t really set anything in stone for our babymoon, but we knew we wanted a weekend getaway before our son made his entry into the world. The Doctor said that since I don’t have a history of preterm labor or anything else in my pregnancy to make him hesitant that I could travel up to 38 weeks up to 4 hours away, or I could go anywhere within a day’s drive up to 36 weeks. Jeremy had a work trip to New York around 36 weeks and we contemplated doing it, but by the time we looked at tickets, they were too expensive. We decided instead to see some friends in the Blacksburg area and have a little more of a leisurely weekend with not much planned.

Our main goal for our babymoon was to finally come up with a name! We had such a hard time coming up with a boy’s name in case Chloe was a boy and I ultimately didn’t love it, so I’m glad she’s Chloe. But the weekend passed us by without us really discussing a name, so on our 2 hour drive home, we brought out the pen and paper and brainstormed. We finally came up with Benjamin Silas about 20 minutes from home.

We got home Sunday night and Jeremy left Monday morning for Tennessee. I picked up Chloe from my parents’ house Monday and had a grand to-do list that I wanted to finish before Jeremy got back. Of course none of it got done since I was 36 weeks pregnant chasing around a toddler. Jeremy got back home around 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with plans to leave for New York on Thursday.

(The rest of this is the actual birth story, so feel free to skip if you don’t want to know all the details!)

At 3 a.m. on Wednesday, I woke up wet. I was definitely in denial that it could be my water that broke, so that and knowing how terribly I slept in the hospital with Chloe (we went around midnight) I decided I’d rather go back to bed. I woke up again around 5 and knew for sure that it was my water that time. Aside from a couple outfits for Ben, I had nothing in my hospital bag. I still felt bad waking up Jeremy, and Chloe was still asleep, so I tried packing my bag as quietly as I could and hopped in the shower. I called my mom at 6:30 telling her that I was pretty sure I had to go to the hospital and asked if she could watch Chloe.

It wasn’t until I verbalized that my water broke that I realized how real it all was. Was my baby going to be okay? I had photographed a lot of NICU babies when I lived in NC – many that were born at a much earlier gestation. I knew the statistics said he would be okay, but nothing is guaranteed even with full term babies. I can’t tell you how many prayers were said for him to be healthy.

After packing, getting Chloe up and packed (I didn’t even consider that she would need to be packed too!) and fed, we finally made it to the hospital around 9:30. We were smart this time and grabbed food right before being admitted. By the time Chloe was born, I had gone around 21 hours without eating and was starved. We wouldn’t make the same mistake this time! Testing in triage took about 1.5 hours to make sure it was amniotic fluid. When the results came back, we found out that our son just didn’t want to miss his first opportunity to attend a prom! Only this time, it was Premature Rupture Of Membranes. Since I was 36 weeks and all my appointments had looked great before, they decided to induce me to avoid the risk of infection or too much amniotic fluid lost.

While in the back of my mind, I knew I was coming to the hospital to have a baby, I didn’t realize that you could rupture your membranes and be sent home. My water broke 8 hours prior and I still wasn’t having any contractions which I knew meant that I would have a repeat of Chloe’s birth. I didn’t want to be put on pitocin again because it was so painful with her! I had an epidural much longer than I wanted to and I had to push for 1.5 hours. I tried to mentally prepare myself for a similar situation, but thank goodness it was totally different!

It took a while for the Pit to really kick in, but when it did, I was able to breathe through my contractions. Since my membranes were ruptured, the Dr didn’t want to check how dilated I was very often since it is always a risk for infection. I was at 2 cm when I was admitted, and I felt confident that I was probably around 8, so I asked to be checked around 4:30 so I knew how I was progressing. I was at 4. Whomp, whomp. About half an hour later, it was like a switch had been flipped and I could no longer breathe through the contractions. After a few minutes of crying and barely having time to breathe between contractions, I asked for an epidural. I immediately felt better, but after about 15 minutes, contractions started to feel so strange. It was unlike anything I experienced with Chloe.

So to recap the time frame, about 45 minutes prior, I was 4 cm dilated and it had taken 5.5 hours to get from 2-4. My mom was in the room at this point and asked if I felt like I needed to push. I said no, because I assumed that I was still at 5 or 6 cm dilated at best and didn’t want to look stupid saying I was ready to push when I really wasn’t. She let it go for a few minutes, and then the Dr came in to check on me and she asked to have me checked. He semi reluctantly agreed and everyone was shocked and not ready when he said we were good to go.

Since we knew Ben was going to be a preemie, he needed an extra nurse in the room just for him, and she wasn’t there and our Dr wasn’t in his scrubs (he got them on in time!), and the table wasn’t ready, but I sure was. 3 pushes and he was out of there! Ben was 7 pounds even and had a beautiful head of hair.

I wish I had my camera with me to capture Chloe’s reaction! If anyone else had been holding Ben, she probably would have been like, “Baby!!” But since it was me and I was in the hospital bed, she kind of waltzed in the room, saw me, stopped, and just stared. She eventually warmed up to him and gave him lots of kisses throughout our hospital stay.

If you have a healthy pregnancy with no history of preterm births, you typically don’t do a lot of research about what can happen with preemies. At least I didn’t! So when Ben came into the world at 7 lbs and 20 1/2 inches (I’m still skeptical about that measurement), I was expecting everything to be fine and dandy. Shortly after his birth, a nurse told me that they would have to do regular checks of his glucose levels to make sure his body was regulating his sugar levels properly. He did great for a few readings, but then they started getting lower and lower, so they had to put him on an IV.

I wasn’t prepared for that, or for the fact that for the duration of his time on the IV, he couldn’t be in the room with us. RMH doesn’t have a NICU, so I just assumed that he could still stay with us, but he had to be wheeled back to the nursery. They started him at 11 ml an hour, and after each feeding, they checked his levels and were able to lower it 1 ml an hour. When he got down to 4, we were able to take him off the IV. They checked his levels before 3 feedings after that and since they were all in a normal range, he was finally able to be discharged.

I’m so grateful looking back that staying an extra day in the hospital with an IV was the most that Ben had to go through being 4 weeks early. I’m also so grateful that he decided to join our family in the small window of time that Jeremy was home with us! He was trying to get a lot of travel in before we got too close to my due date so he wouldn’t be gone. It all worked out in the end!

We absolutely love Ben! He is such a joyful addition to our family and is just the sweetest. Chloe is such a great big sister and loves helping grab diapers and wipes. My 2 favorite things she does is whenever he sneezes, she says, “Bless you, baby!” and whenever we ask what his name is, she says, “Benjin!!”

P.S. Thank you to my amazing mom for capturing some photos during Ben’s birth and shortly after!

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Harrisonburg, Virginia