Duke Benjamin Hodges - September 13, 2016

7:18 AM

Okay, so it's been a week, and one thing I learned when I got married is to write everything down right away, or the small details get forgotten. It's easy, you know, to forget. The first days after delivery are a blur because you have this brand new human, who is so small and helpless, and the hospital just lets you leave with them. Even if you're clearly not qualified to do this. So then the next couple of days, you spend just trying to figure out how to keep them alive, while trying to be alive yourself, and you don't get much sleep. Henceforth known as the zombie zone.

Anyway, Duke's birth story.



Let's start with his name. Ryan and I had a serious disconnect when it comes to taste in baby names. I was really gunning for Bryson or Anders, while Ryan had a more traditional vibe, like James or Luke. I had downloaded this baby name app and in the beginning, I would just scroll and scroll forever while we watched TV and throw out names as I came across them. We had a small list -- Benjamin, Brody and Luke -- that we agreed on, but one night I just stumbled on Duke and that was it. That was his name.

His middle name is another thing completely. Up until the day he was born (!!), we intended for his middle name to be Ryan. Then on them morning of his birthday, Ryan threw it out there -- "how do you feel about Benjamin?" Ben was a friend of Ryan's that passed away the week I found out I was pregnant and we both felt really strongly about honoring him, so in the final hours -- it just fit.

Now, onto the holy miracle.

Last week, on Monday, I went in for a routine appointment, and with my due date coming and going, I was expecting some good news. When my doctor told me that I was not dilating and my body was not progressing at all, I put on my spoiled brat face and was obviously visibly disappointed because he asked if I was upset. I rolled my eyes and said "no", but I mean, duh. Anyway, I begged him to induce me, but he wouldn't even talk about it until 42 weeks, which is when I really broke down sobbing.

I went home, moped around all afternoon and felt really sorry for myself.



Around 7:30, Ry and I ventured out to TSC to go buy some dog food, which was the highlight of my day for real because it had been a drag of a day. TSC is really not my kind of place, so I was being bored and looking at pink camo boots when I felt my first sort of contraction. Isn't that a special memory? I might not hate pink camo ever again. Anyway, I kind of shrugged it off, because hello, not dilating. Don't toy with my emotions, uterus.

The whole way home I told Ryan that I was feeling these contractions, but they weren't crazy strong and I didn't really even consider timing them. So we got home, Ry made me some tomato soup and I just sort of intended to fall asleep on the couch while we watched TV. He's been really into this mini-series called Harley and the Davidsons, which is actually alright, so we settled in.

Around 10pm, my contractions were sort of painful and I was whining my way through them still not convinced this was the real deal. But, just in case, I downloaded a timing app and starting timing those suckers. It's weird, because a week later, I still haven't deleted it, because I emotionally cannot. I need that contraction log in my phone for life. Anyway, I was in quite a bit of pain around 11pm and so I decided to go to bed.

Quick background -- Ryan had been salmon fishing with his brother for the entire weekend preceding. Getting up at 5am and going to bed around 2am. Basically he was already exhausted, so I tried to let him sleep. I thought, if I still feel contractions at midnight, I'll wake him up. Then when that rolled around, I decided to wake him up at 1am. He was so conked out, he didn't hear me moaning and cursing -- not in my indoor voice -- until I shook him awake at 1:30ish.

A rundown, because it gets kind of long here:
  • At 2am, we made it to the hospital, where I was so sure they were going to send me home. I must have asked the nurse a good five times.
  • At 3am, I had an epidural. God bless 'em. Really, modern medicine is the real savior here. 
  • Then we waited. Ryan and I dozed on and off for a while, him a little more than me, because my baby's heartbeat kept dropping or disappearing off the monitor and a gaggle of nurses would come flying in the room which is actually 10000% scary. 
  • They gave me an IV to pump me full of fluids, which fun fact, made me look like the Michelin man. 
  • My doctor poked his head in the room early in the morning to say hello. He wasn't on call, but he saw my name on the L&D list, so he swung by. I was much kinder and we all had a chuckle about how quickly things had changed. 
  • My sister showed up around 10:30am to keep me company, and Ry's mom came a little later. Lucky, because I had no idea it would be hours still before the little dude and I were ready to get things really started. 
  • Not fun fact - they don't let you eat while you're in labor. I hadn't had anything since the night before and it was crappy tomato soup and stale crackers, so obviously I was starving. All I could talk about was food -- grilled cheese and mac and cheese and meatloaf with mashed potatoes and lots of gravy. 



Finally, around 5pm, the stars aligned and I started pushing, which is where it gets really good and fuzzy. I've heard rumors about epidurals making you feel zero pain, and while mine was good for the contractions, it was not good for the pushing. I was deliriously screaming through the pain. Literally crazy facing it -- the pain was so intense, I lost my mother fucking mind. Ryan was next to me and he was the only person I could see or hear or focus on. 

But, an hour later, there was Duke. And I would do it ten thousand times over again. 

***

Having a baby is a little like God taking your heart out of your chest, handing it to you and saying "here, keep this thing beating." It's such an incredible chemical change, and while I've lived 28 years without him, I can never ever live in a world without Duke again. Crazy, right? 

We are so complete -




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