Anderson Caldwell Reese was born on May 24, 2018 at 5:28 in the evening. He weighed 9 pounds 5 ounces and was 22 inches long.
Let me start by saying that this was my hardest pregnancy, and by far the delivery I had the most anxiety about. Because of the sadness that came from experiencing my miscarriage almost three years ago, and because I've watched quite a few people I love beyond measure struggling to have children of their own with no happy ending, when I found out I was expecting a little one, I went into this pregnancy vowing to not complain. I wanted to appreciate the miracle my body was performing. After mourning the loss of a little heartbeat I'd seen ticking away on an ultrasound, complaining about the obnoxious parts of the experience this time around seemed so ungrateful. And even though it totally was, I still complained. Partly because being pregnant just isn't my favorite way to be, and partly because about halfway through my pregnancy I started to experience pretty much constant pain. It hurt to stand. It hurt to walk. It helped somewhat to sit down, but then hurt more when I stood back up. I went from an active lifestyle to basically a pretty sedentary life, and it was, for lack of a better word, awful. I was experiencing the full-blown side effects of what were later diagnosed as vaginal varicosities. And, lucky me, the midwife who confirmed my self-diagnosis (thanks, Google!) said they were the worst case she'd ever seen. If you're one of the poor souls who encounters this dark, unspoken of part of pregnancy, it puts you in a precarious position. It's a pretty awkward thing to bring up when people ask how you're doing. People are expecting responses about heartburn and fatigue, not details about the state of your vagina. I told people I was close to, but it wasn't something I was publicly announcing on social media or in person everywhere I went.
It still feels like an equally awkward thing for me to publicly write about, and I debated leaving this whole section out. But the thing is, when I was going through the trauma, I was so appreciative of all of the women who were honest about their experiences online. It helped me feel so much less alone, and it answered so many questions for me. So if you're another unlucky mommy reading this post, crying at two in the morning, I am so so sorry. Feel free to read the following advice (and if you're not such an unfortunate mama, feel free to skip to the next paragraph): 1) Buy a v-supporter. They sell them on Amazon. Buy it right now. I waited until the last five weeks of pregnancy, at which point it felt like a waste of money, especially if it didn't work, but by that point I was so desperate I didn't care anymore. It helped me tremendously. It didn't make the problem go away or even get better, but I could stand up long enough to make my kids a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without crying. And that was progress. My bum looked pretty lumpy in everything I wore the last month of my pregnancy, but vanity was pretty much dead at that point anyway. 2) Be forgiving of yourself and be willing to let things go. This is incredibly hard for me, and I wish I'd done a better job willingly embracing a messy house, take out, and too much TV time. 3) Believe that this issue will resolve itself! For most women it goes completely away within six weeks post-partum. This has been my experience. I read so many online forums while struggling with this issue, and sometimes that's a very dangerous thing. There are rare cases where the problem persists, but remind yourself that statistics are in your favor and you don't need to unnecessarily worry--there are probably enough other things keeping you up at night.
OK. Back to baby Anderson.
Because I have a history of being a small framed woman who delivers monster babies, they did a weight check ultrasound at 38 weeks. And little boy was showing at 9 pounds. I've heard so many women say, "My body is made to deliver big babies." Well, I've decided that my body is not made to deliver big babies; it just does it anyway. Having torn terribly with my first two deliveries, and knowing I already needed pelvic floor reconstructive surgery, I was really hoping for a little guy this time around. It looked like that was not in the cards, and I was a basket case. (Again, don't read online forums in the middle of the night.) I talked with the nurse midwife at my appointment the next day who said they would not induce until week 39. I wasn't dilated at all, which meant baby was not coming on his own any time soon, but I was still hopeful labor would start on its own. I'd experienced induction with Kaden, and the experience of laboring at home with Everett had been much more pleasant (no one telling me not to eat, no IV tethering me to a hospital bed, and lots of distractions). Together we devised a plan for me to come in the following week, have them strip my membranes, and schedule an induction for later in the week in case I didn't go into labor on my own.
Then I went home to walk. And bounce on a yoga ball. And climb stairs. Convinced I would go into labor naturally over the weekend. Spoiler alert: I did not.
So. On Thursday morning, I ate a scrambled egg breakfast, and Chad and I checked into the hospital at 6 a.m. ready to meet our baby.
Our moms joined us a little later. The big boys were thrilled to stay with Uncle Cameron.
With Chad, my mom, and Joy in the delivery room, I had a whole delivery team fanning me, rubbing my feet, and helping my back labor with counter pressure. And it was really special to have both of Anderson's grandmothers in the room to meet him right after he was born.
Everett's delivery had been a super quick three push/laugh the baby out affair, and I expected Anderson's to be the same. He took a little more work; it wasn't anything I couldn't handle though, and he arrived just a smidgen before 5:30 in the evening, my biggest baby boy, with a full head of dark hair, a chubby little face, and blue eyes that we're still crossing our fingers will stay that way. I had the instant euphoria of pure love for him There really is nothing like meeting your newborn for the first time.
I could not have asked for a better labor and delivery nurse. I was truly blessed with the best. She let me order a lemon Italian ice right before my epidural (which was not as tasty as the California burrito Chad downed right in front of me, but was better than nothing), and looked the other way when I sucked on butter rum lifesavers, jolly ranchers, and drank water during labor. She listened to all of my fears about potentially tearing beyond repair, and suggested things we could do to minimize tearing. And the things totally worked! (I'm not sure why these things weren't suggested with my previous two babies, and I'm trying not to feel too bitter about it.) I ended up with a second degree tear as opposed to a fourth degree, and without making the problems already needing correcting any worse. My recovery has also been much smoother this go around.
Uncle Cameron brought the big brothers to meet the new addition later that night, and he was an instant hit.
We bummed around in the hospital for two nights and three days. (Anderson had some jaundice and low blood sugar that needed to be monitored.) The hospital is almost brand new, and was super swanky for a postpartum experience. While we were there, I had Chad pick up some much needed sushi from my favorite joint to celebrate no longer being pregnant. My friend Jamie brought me some sushi one day, too.
And at some point we begged the nurse to come give Anderson his first bath. When Everett met him for the first time, he said, "I think he has some sand in his hair . . . "
And we had some special visitors drop in to meet Anderson, too. I went to visit this little nugget the day after she was born in the same hospital!I'm so glad her mama brought her by to hold her new buddy:
And my sweet friend Shantel brought chocolate one night and snuggled this guy in our quiet hospital room.
Grandma stayed with us the second night, while Daddy went home to be with the big boys, and gave Anderson his first manicure. He was born with some lethal fingernail weapons, so it was very much needed.
My friend Christine came to take some "fresh 48" photos of Anderson before we left the hospital. In my completely unbiased opinion, all of our boys have been beautiful, but I think we're going out on a high note. Don't tell your brothers, Anderson, but you're our cutest newborn!
Before we knew it, it was time to head home--where sadly there was no 24 hour room service waiting. We rolled Anderson a few doors down before we left, so we could all meet the Barnes family's newest arrival, baby Vivian. So fun to deliver in the same hospital so close to the same day!
Anderson, you were the missing piece. We are so thankful you came to our family!