It isn't too often you have the opportunity to tell an EPIC story. In fact, in my life, I have many experiences that are amazing to me... but EPIC? That's only happened exactly one handful of times. The Arrival of Mr. Benson Ray makes EPIC STORY #5.
It all started one Friday... July 25th. I'll take us back to the day before his birth, because it's interesting. I woke up that morning feeling sick. Legitimately sick. "Sick" kind of became my friend at the end of this pregnancy, I was frequently feeling yucky, but this was just a full on sick. I didn't really leave my bed much that day, and then about two o'clock I noticed I was having rather hard contractions somewhat consistently. I timed them for two hours, and they were 5-7 minutes apart. But then... they stopped. I was feeling a little better, so got up and puttered around. Talked to my Mom on the phone and she reminded me that the next day, July 26th, was my Grandpa KJ's birthday, so I should just go ahead and have Benson then. That has been kind of a running joke the whole pregnancy -- something we would love but not really realistic, since I had never gone into labor on my own. The Primary was in charge of the ward 24th of July celebration the next morning, and while I had divided up all the responsibilities for the event beforehand, I still knew I should go. Because... I was in charge. I told the Double B as we climbed into bed that even though I knew I should go, I just didn't know if I felt up to it. He convinced me that at 39 weeks pregnant, missing it would be just fine. And I went to sleep, happy not to worry about it.
At 1:30 in the morning on Saturday, July 26th, I woke up because as I'd turned over (a seismic event that occurred multiple times a night), I'd felt a small gush of water and thought maybe I'd peed my pants... crazy. Woke me right up. So I got up, and as I sat on the toilet there was a gush of fluid -- and then -- I went potty. Two separate things. This seemed unusual, so I sat there for several minutes thinking "Did my water just break? Nah... did it? Nah..." I stood up and sat down several times (which must have looked as funny as it sounds), hoping for the same effect, but nothing happened. So I climbed back in bed, determined to go back to sleep, but I just kept wondering. So a while later, I got back up to go to the bathroom again, and once again, a small gush of fluid when I sat down. By now I'm thinking "Either I am crazy, or..." I laid in bed for awhile, waiting for contractions, but they were very irregular and nothing to write home about. At 2:30 the Double B's alarm went off to get ready for work and I told him I thought my water might have broken, but I just really wasn't sure, as I'd never had my water break and had nothing to compare it to. He said "Well, don't you think you should call the doctor?" And I said I didn't want to wake her up, so he suggested I call the hospital and ask them. The nurse said she thought I should come in, which just really surprised me, because I've always been more the send home type! I called Dr. Morris and she said she thought we would be having a baby today! I was so shocked. So we got everything ready and wrote the kids a note (we'd gone over the plan with them beforehand), but KJ heard us rustling around and woke up, ready to take action -- to snuggle in our bed and send us off, large and in-charge. As I walked him downstairs with my arm around him, he looked at me with sleepy eyes and said he had been dreaming that Benson was being born that day. Interesting. While BB was upstairs and I was changing, sure enough, there was a great big gush of water down my legs, and even a puddle on the floor -- life-long dream come true! No doubt now, my water had broken, which I thought I would never get to experience and was totally awesome and weird, and we were on our way to the hospital!
I would like to say now that I recognize that in that last paragraph there was a lot of talk about water and bathrooms, and stuff. I can't help myself. The gory details are part of the experience, man.
We calmly drove to the emergency room where they had asked us to come, and while there, the nurses mentioned they could not believe how busy the night had been for the maternity ward, and sure enough, another pregnant lady came in with a broken water while we were standing there! They had four "spontaneous water ruptures" that night, which apparently is super-de-duper uncommon and they attributed to the unsettled atmosphere. Cool. I was just happy to be one of them, man. A WHOLE WEEK BEFORE MY DUE DATE! A modern day miracle. And I'm not joking about that, I was (and am) totally blown away that it actually happened,. Surreal.
A very nice nurse got us all settled and we watched the sun slowly lighten into morning. Lovely farmland out the window. The Double B called our parents to let them know we were at the hospital and the fireworks show was about the commence. It was about 2:30 their time, so I felt bad about that, but as my Mom said, they would have been mad if we wouldn't have called! Interestingly enough, my Mom had woken up about 1:30 like she'd been startled awake. So much so that she got out of bed to check the house. Finally, she and my Dad wondered if maybe I was getting ready to have the baby. Don't you find that just absolutely fascinating, that both she and KJ would have been dreaming dreams? I know I do!
I had a sweet moment laying in that bed in the very early morning, realizing my little son would share a birthday with my Grandpa KJ, whose legend has loomed so large in my life. I not only felt pleased that Benson would have that reminder of heavenly help, like his big brother, but I felt so cared about. Maybe that's funny. But I could feel my grandparents in the room briefly, sharing their love and support and excitement. Like maybe they'd helped arrange things so I could have that little memento, and feel not quite so alone and not quite so far away from family. It was awesome. It brought tears of appreciation to my eyes.
When they checked me at 4 a.m., I was at a 4 and 50% effaced. Kind of disappointing. And so it continued until about nine -- still a 4, not really any magnificent contractions, so they started me on Pitocin. Still pretty slow going, though I could feel things starting to steadily pick up, for which I was thankful. Around 10:45, I was in some pretty serious pain and ready for my epidural. The doctor that put it in was super nice (his name was Michael, and I told him I would name my baby after him -- big lie. I tell it all the time. Every time I have an epidural, that is. But I was at least honest and told him I was probably lying.) and he was also super fast, which is good when someone is sticking a sword into your spinal column. The problem is, it hurt quite a lot when he thought I should only be feeling pressure. Finally I could feel the beginning tingles and they got me settled again, laying flat, while he cleaned up. But where normally I felt totally numb, I felt more a dullness -- the pleasant warmth, but I could still feel the contractions. Not super painful like before, but I could definitely feel them. I had no problem moving my legs. They thought it would pick up and I wasn't worried, because it was just enough to take the edge off. When my nurse checked me at 11:51, I was at a 6. We joked that if we were going to have that baby by noon, we were really going to have to pick things up! Just before 12:10, I suddenly felt almost like an explosion of pain -- incredible pressure like I've felt when the baby is ready to come, but also incredible pain. It built and built and built and I told the Double B (when I could talk again) that I needed the nurse. She came in right then and said we needed to get me on my side (she'd been watching the baby's heart beat in the hallway), but when I explained the pain I said "I know I'm probably crazy, but it feels just like the baby is ready to come" and she said "That's not crazy, especially when it's your fourth baby" as she got the gloves out. But when she moved the sheet she said "Oh boy, he is right there!" and obviously did not need to check me. She quickly went into the hall and told them to call Dr. Morris right now and tell her to hurry. Nurses came in to help get things set up, but here is where it gets a little fuzzy... while I am thankful for what help that the epidural gave me it really wasn't doing it's thing as far as pain management. By that point the baby was wanting to come and it was like nothing I have ever felt before -- the crazy desire to push and the overwhelming pain. Like going from zero to a million. I was shaking like an earthquake and making quite a lot of strange sounds (by the way, I always thought that was WAY overstated in movies. Not so much. I was the crazy lady.). The nurse kept telling me to breath and then a million years later Dr. Morris was there getting gloved up, etc. The nurse went to put my legs in the stirrups and said "Okay, well, we'd better not do that. You let me know when you're ready, Dr. Morris." Trying to hold the baby inside, essentially. So I had some feeling in the back of my mind (that was still with it) that Baby Benson was going to slip right out. Unfortunately, not so much.
I've always been lucky with pushing -- I could always tell right where to push and it didn't take too long -- especially with my girls, so fast and focused. Not so with Benson. I was in so much pain that it was difficult to control my body to push, and then -- his head got stuck (and I say this with all the love in my heart, that kid does have a big noggin). He was stuck. When he wasn't coming after several tries, the pain kind of took over and I went far, far away. That's the only way to describe it. Things were kind of black around the edges and everything was just muffled noise and pain. I honestly could not focus my brain to tell it where to push. My body was so confused, that's the only way to describe it. During a short break, Dr. Morris very sternly got my focus back and told me I just had to pull my legs clear up into my chest and push with everything I have -- that I could not give up. But as the next wave came, I honestly remember thinking so forcefully that I COULD NOT DO IT. It was a very powerful thought, and again I say -- yes, cliché. The movies totally were not lying! I knew that I could NOT do it, I remember shaking my head and the Double B trying to talk to me and Dr. Morris talking, but I don't know what about. All blurry. The Double B said she had just called for more nurses when somewhere in my mind the thought came to pray for help, and I did that with what I had left. Not sure what I said in that prayer, but I know I asked for the strength that I did not have, and guess what -- Benson was born. (Not that I knew that. I was out of it.) Next thing I'm aware of, Dr. Morris was essentially yelling my name: "Marie! Marie!!! Look!" And there was a baby. I saw him and dropped my head back. I do remember hearing that his cord was short -- (like Katelyn's) -- because she couldn't reach him up onto my stomach. I remember she asked the Double B if he wanted to cut the cord, which I knew he didn't. And suddenly they set him right up on my chest, literally on my neck, so he was right up against my face. They took my hands and pressed them onto him, and he started to wail. This was the moment where my mind reentered the room. It became clear that this baby was MY baby, that he was born, that it was over, and he was mine, and he was here. It was real. I started to talk to him, and as I did that, my whole body started to calm down. His did, too, he responded to my voice and would just wail sporadically, otherwise being obviously comforted as Daddy and I talked to him. It was a very wild experience!
Dr. Morris exited the room, and when she came back, she had a cold cloth and wiped my face very gently for a few minutes. It was actually a very sweet act of service. She kindly and repeatedly told me what a good job I'd done (which was nice, because if it's possible to have a low self-esteem about giving birth, suddenly I had one and felt like I'd done just a terrible job! ha ha!). When I thanked her, still very weak and listless, she explained to me that my body was in shock and the adrenalin would kick in any moment and I would start to feel more alert and aware. She congratulated us, made sure all was well, checked Benson again, and rode off into the sunset.
The family was called and I vaguely heard what was said, exhausted but happy to have my little son. I started to feel more with it after I'd eaten and laid back for awhile.
Bringing Benson into the world was my hardest delivery -- by a long shot. It was very difficult and took some time to not feel a little traumatized! But I'm so glad I had the great privilege of bringing him into this world. An incredible blessing was my rate of recovery... by the time a couple of hours had passed and they came to transfer us to another room, I was perfectly able to get up and move around, walked down the hallway myself (even pushed Benson in his little cart!) and was already feeling quite a lot better. Even my hands felt better then they had in months. My body was just so relieved to be done with the ordeal of pregnancy and delivery! It was great. In fact, almost as a trade off, the difficulty of delivering him brought the easiest recovery I've ever had. I felt great. A little sore, maybe. But I was not in any pain at all, all afternoon and evening. Some cramping, as is normal, but my body just felt GREAT. It was quite glorious, actually! Amazing. The Double B just kept saying how he could not believe how good I looked and how good I was doing -- like nothing he'd seen before in our past history! It was truly an enormous blessing. I took some medicine just before trying to get some sleep that night because night is always harder, but I took it more as a precaution and it was a very low dose. And I even did get a few hours of sleep! Miraculous! (Of course, I'd been awake since 1:30 that morning, too.) I told Heavenly Father during the night that I could see his miraculous hand in the ease of my recovery. An enormous, enormous blessing. I am so appreciative of that! That adrenaline really did kick in and I was pretty much high on life. It also made a difference that since he is my fourth I recognized the worth of a couple of hours of sleep, so I was perfectly happy to send him to the nursery in little bits and snatches, and perfectly happy when they brought him in to eat and snuggle again. What an absolute angel. He just had the very sweetest spirit about him and it was an absolute pleasure to be in his presence! We love, love, love him.
The kids were so, so excited to come and meet their new baby brother! We were incredibly blessed, because the Tate's were going to watch our kids but had run into some scheduling problems, and as it turned out we had to find some back-ups because the only day they could really do it now was Saturday -- the day he was born! Ha ha! So Bev was able to go pick up the kids about seven. KJ had been such a champion. I honestly think this experience of being responsible as Benson joined us and finally having a brother has been a maturing experience for him. He woke up his sisters at the appropriate time, fed them breakfast, got them dressed, helped them pack up backpacks to take to Bev's (an interesting assortment of items), and had them ready to go for Bev. She said they marched out like ducks, so excited to tell her that Baby Benson was being born that day!
The Double B went and picked them up a little after four to bring to the hospital. They were joyful. Happy to see Mom, and very happy to meet Benny. KJ was so elated -- it was so sweet to see.
Dr. Morris came in to check on us just as the family was leaving. She talked to all the kids and watched them walk out. Then she turned to me and cheerfully said "Do not tell me there is a pressing reason for you to be home tomorrow. That is a circus! You are staying for an extra day." And I did. And it was awesome! The Tate's kindly had the kids stay over that night so my honey could stay with Benson and I. He felt better being able to be there with us, and we so, so appreciate their kindness and friendship. Don't know where we'd be at this time in our lives without them.
We named him Benson Ray.
I was the naming Captain this time, but could honestly, for the life of me, never ever figure out a middle name! A real conundrum. The only reason he even has one to this day is because they didn't want us to leave the hospital without one, ha ha! So hard. I'd probably still be undecided. So many good men for him to look up to. It would have been perfect to name him after my Grandpa KJ, but -- we'd already taken that one! And even given KJ the middle name of John, which was his middle name. So... honored. Bam. So... Ray. Ray is the Double B's Grandpa's name. And just a few days before would have been his own hundredth birthday. And here was this sweet great-grandson, a hundred years later. He and the Double B loved each other very much, and he was a good man. He lived a good life! And we love stories about Grandpa (and his great love for black pepper). I knew Benson would be wise to follow his path and that made me happy. Ray is also his Uncle Tony's middle name. I knew it would make the Double B happy, and hopefully would feel like we were honoring my wonderful Mother-in-law, too.
The name "Ray" means "grace." It truly is through the grace of God that I hold this tiny baby in my arms -- a marvelous gift. I'd spent the few years before his birth pondering the will of God for our little family, learning to accept that His will would be accomplished and that I would be able to accept His will. So you can imagine that I am so grateful for this gift. I recognize that Benson is truly a gift from Him! Yay for Benson. Yay for tiny Benson B.
He makes us happy, and our hearts are full.
Welcome to the world, Bens!