Ben Birdsong and Christopher, Part 2
First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with the Birdsong family. Ben was a member of our church. Last week, he went Home. Today was the service. I didn’t know Ben well, but he and Matt talked fairly often – about tennis and KWND and men’s group and a few other things. His son had worked with us at Chick-fil-A but I haven’t seen Frankie in several years. Ben was an important part of our church and our community. He will be missed.
And now… Christopher, Part 2:
Sunday, July 22, 2007 I told Penny that if the baby [he had no name even though we knew he was a boy] was born by Wednesday, I’d be home in time for his baby shower the next Saturday. We’d planned it a full 4 weeks before he was due to make sure his clothes showed up before he did.
He had other ideas.
That Tuesday, Matt was in Jeff City for the day. We prayed that I wouldn’t go into labor while he was hours away. I didn’t tell him till he was nearly home that I’d been having contractions off and on all afternoon. Never more than 2-3 per hour and stopped by dinner time, but they were definitely contractions.
I woke up at the usual time the next morning – about 6, maybe a bit earlier. Took a shower. I wasn’t timing them but three contractions while in the shower seemed like a bit much. It was still a full 30 days early though, so it couldn’t be real right? Besides, I had one final to review for and another to give that day. Abbie, age 3, woke up on her own while I was eating breakfast. We talked for a few minutes and then I sent her to get Dad. Tell him to come now.
I still wasn’t really timing the contractions but they were definitely real and definitely getting a bit worse. My bag had been packed for a few days so we got everything in the car [including 3 girls with their hair not combed] and headed to Felicia’s. By the time we got there, the contractions were about three minutes apart. By 8 we were at the hospital where I was promptly admitted and given – thank God – some Stadol to hold me over until the epidural was put in a bit later. The epidural went in about 9:30.
My sister was reviewing for a final for me. She’d gone to the class with my notes and stuff and was basically supposed to sit there while they went over their quizzes or whatever in a big group study session. She called three or four times with questions from students. I was like, um, I’m in labor. Leave me alone. Study your quizzes.
Dr. McCall had stopped by and reassured me that often babies born at 35.5 weeks are just fine, but also reminded me that it was possible he’d end up with a brief NICU stay. She had surgery scheduled for 11:30 but was sure that he’d be born before then. I was sure he would be, too.
Epidurals are nice. I know there are people who have had issues with them, but for me it was heaven. Except the right leg didn’t numb quite right so the doc gave me an extra dose. That was nice too. I reached 8cm and Dr. McCall broke my water. She waited a few minutes to see if anything happened – she was sure that would just do it, but nothing did so she went back to her office to try to fit a couple of patients in [her office is maybe a 3-4 minute walk away].
Suddenly… everyone was gone except for Matt and his mom. And then… something felt weird. Really weird. I paged the nurse and the next thing I know, a ton of people are in there and Dr. McCall is running back from her office. She tells me that she hopes I’ll get to hold him for a minute but can’t promise because he is, after all, a preemie. She sends them to get the vacuum because she doesn’t want him going through prolonged pushing and putting that kind of stress on him but by the time they got it to the room a few minutes later he was born.
We still didn’t name him. We hadn’t decided. It was mid-afternoon by the time we got upstairs to a private room. He was taken to the nursery to do nursery stuff. My sister had a doctor’s appointment so Penny gave my final. He was little, but he was healthy. He was actually bigger than Emily had been at birth. Two full ounces bigger at 6lbs 6oz [and 2 oz smaller than I’d been at birth]. He seemed to understand how to nurse, but he wasn’t strong enough to nurse effectively. We supplemented with gentle preemie formula and I pumped as much as I could. I was an old hand at this – I’d nursed all three girls and we’d had just about every problem you could have [including a four day hospital stay for Abbie when she was just six days old and not nursing right].
He was spitting up a lot, but Maggie had, too. She’d grown slowly but she’d grown steadily. Surely this little guy would be the same way. I sent out an email to all of our family and friends to let them know that he was here. One of the first emails I got back was from our pastor. Gary had a name recommendation – a nice strong Biblical name. Multisyllabic and everything.
Um… Yeah. Of course, to this day, Gary has a hard time remembering his real name.
Eventually, we decided on Christopher Joseph. Not Chris. Christopher. We took him home on Friday. His baby shower was Saturday and he was in attendance. We were richly blessed – both by Penny as hostess [at our house] and by our friends and family with a table full of little boy clothes [including plenty of St. Louis Cardinals stuff].
Oh – and Penny did all this even after Christopher had messed up her marriage proposal! In part, because of Christopher’s birth, a party for a friend of ours had been postponed. Her boyfriend was going to propose at the party, but that was out. He proposed anyway. She said yes ;).
Little did we know the saga that was just beginning.