Our wonderful neighbors came to pick Brady up around 11:30 and the house was blessedly quiet. I’d been in labor for three and a half hours and had reached the point where I did not want to move. Somehow I’d released my grip on the bookcases to reposition myself perching on the very edge of the couch. I was focused: don’t-talk-to-me-don’t-look-at-me-and-don’t-even-THINK-about-touching-me focused. At this point Craig took it upon himself to call our midwife and let her know that I’d tricked her and she needed to come right now! He pulled out the inflatable tub she had sent over a few weeks prior and started to inflate it. I wasn’t planning on a water birth, but I wasn’t about to discount something that might help with pain, so we were blowing it up just in case. By the time he had it blown up, I had migrated across the rug to a kneeling position in front of one of our chairs, gripping it for dear life with my face buried in the seat. Rebecca knocked just before noon, Craig let her in and she took one look at me and immediately set to work making our home her own and giving instructions to everyone. “Craig – give up on that tub, there’s no water in it yet and there’s no way you’re going to have it filled up before she’s given birth. Meredith – lower moans, not so high pitched. Stay in control.”
I was starting to push. Actually, I had started to feel myself pushing when Craig called Rebecca but now I felt an uncontrollable need to push with every single contraction. So I pushed. There’s really nothing else you can do at that point no matter what you want. It only took a couple of contractions and then – pop! – my water broke all over the living room rug. (My perfectionist self actually thought at that moment, “ Dang it! I’m going to have to wash that!”) Rebecca grabbed towels upon towels and layered them all over the floor, first under me and then all around and then instructed me to get those pants off or the baby would be born in them. I was still gripping the chair for dear life and had no inclination to move any additional muscles but I didn’t want my son to be born in my underwear so with her and Craig helping and my cooperation we finally got the pants off. And it’s a blur from there on out. All I really remember is mind-numbing contractions, and Craig asking me if I wanted a drink and me cussing at him. I was going a little bit too quickly (and I was worried about a long labor – ha!) so Rebecca told me to slow down. I tried but it felt like the baby was hurtling through me anyway because the next thing I knew he was out of me and in Rebecca’s hands.
I couldn’t see him because my face was still buried in the chair but she calmly mentioned that the cord was wrapped around his neck a couple of times and proceeded to do a few somersaults with his small, slippery body to untangle him. Then she handed him to me and I got to see my Abram Joseph for the first time. He was so big and so beautiful: eight pounds and thirteen ounces. He looked exactly like his brother had but even chunkier. A glance at the clock told me it was 12:53pm, just shy of five hours since I'd started labor; my fastest delivery yet.
Craig and Rebecca made a bed of towels, blankets and pillows on the floor and I lay down on it with Abram nestled against my chest. I lay there staring at my beautiful baby while we waited for the placenta and Rebecca stitched me back together again. Soon I moved to the couch where Abram found his way to my breast and nursed for the first time. The creamy, white vernix that had made him so sticky when he was first born was slowly soaking into his skin revealing an unbelievably soft little person.
When Abram had finished nursing and I had recovered enough, Craig took the baby for some daddy-time and I headed to the shower – my own shower in my own bedroom – to clean up a bit. I put on some fresh pajamas and climbed into my own bed where little Abe was brought back to me again. And then I could really look at and fall in love with my tiny man. He had so much hair! Soft and brown. His face looked just like Brady’s had at birth – almost a carbon copy, but his forehead seemed just the slightest bit taller with a large birthmark on the side. His hands and toes were identical to Craig’s - crooked second toe and all. I looked for Lily in him but the only resemblance I found was that they both looked so much like Brady. I knew when I looked at him that he was his own person. He was not a replacement for the daughter I had lost but an additional blessing and would grow to be simply himself, completely unique from anyone else. And I loved that.