I had one full day in the hospital with Jack, one day where reality was suspended and my job was to rest, recover, and bond with my brand new baby.
I loved that time in the hospital with Liam and I loved thst time with Jack also - it felt like sacred time, and that's what these photos, taken on the second day of his life, capture for me. Beauty, peace, love, perfection.
The first photo above was taken less than six hours after he was born when I was still bedridden. And why yes I did ask a nurse to pass me my camera bag!
So yeah, we had a baby! Jack decided to make his appearance 16 days before his due date and 9 days before our scheduled c-section.
I never went into labor on my own with Liam - sonograms showed him to be a big baby and I was induced about a week before his due date. As our OB had warned was a good possibility, labor did not progress much (after several hours of labor I was only about 4cm dilated) and when his heart rate started dipping a little, indicating that he was in fact too big to come out, the decision was made to do a c-section.
This time around, the baby was also looking to be big, and we were scheduled for a c-section on December 27th. Our OB did keep mentioning that if I went into labor before then, we would try for a VBAC, but I really didn't think it would happen - in my mind, we were having a c-section. That's what we had before, and that's what we would have again! And as I never went into labor on my own before, I seriously doubted I would this time, even though I knew there was really no logical basis for that assumption.
Well, it turns out there REALLY was no logical basis for that assumption, but when I started having mild but regular contractions at around 2pm on December 18th, I pulled out my childbirth books from 3 years ago, read about "false labor" and thought, well, it's quite possible that's what this is. I had literally finished my last piece of production work for a client about an hour earlier, and had been up really late the night before working on the Fitzpatrick calendar… so the first thing I did was take a nap! I was actually able to get a little bit of sleep between contractions and woke up feeling a little more prepared for whatever was to follow. And even though I was still in denial about really being in labor, I did at least pack my hospital bag!
My in-laws were supposed to come over to babysit that evening so we could go on a last date before the baby, so we cancelled that and had them on standby to come over, but my OB seemed to think we probably wouldn't go into the hospital until the next morning. He told me to have a couple of glasses of wine and to wait and see.
I don't know why but what stuck in my head was all the stories of people thinking they were in labor and turning up too early at the hospital, only to be sent home again. What I totally blanked out was all the stories from my mom friends of second births that went extremely quickly. However, when contractions suddenly started getting stronger and longer and more closely spaced as we approached 7pm I thought, hmmm, I think we're going to the hospital tonight! We told Keith's parents to come over.
And then my water broke. And contractions were quite strong. And I told Keith we had to leave for the hospital right away, and have his parents meet us there!
Yeah, you know how they tell you that usually it's not like the movies? Well, this was exactly like the movies. My water broke, and we were on a mad dash for the hospital. We threw Liam into the back seat, grabbed our stuff, and, well, I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how Keith kept his cool, but there was some horn honking and fast driving and all the while I was timing contractions on my iphone (yes of course there's an app for that!) and trying to come up with some sort of breathing technique to get through the contractions (we never went to any childbirth classes!) and calling my OB to see if we should in fact go to the emergency room entrance… which in the end we did. He met us there with a wheelchair but of course Keith had to stay in the car with Liam (who had fallen asleep amidst all the excitement - he had missed his nap earlier!) and wait for his parents to arrive while I got whisked up to the 6th floor!
Yes, it was quite dramatic.
Water broke at 7pm, we got to the hospital at 7.45pm. Apparently I was 9cm dilated and my OB told me we would try to push the baby out. Well, that I would. And honestly, my first reaction was "Push?!!! What happened to my c-section?!" but I got some pain relief, Keith arrived, and probably about 10 pushes later, one hour after we got to the hospital, my OB said "ok, on the next push you're going to have a baby" and then "reach down and grab your baby" and… Jack was here!!!!
It was truly an incredible experience, as was Liam's birth, but in an entirely different way. I was never REALLY scared, as it didn't feel like I was going to have the baby in the car, but it did get a little hairy, and I had been counting on those last 9 days to get some rest and prepare for having a newborn in our lives again.
And yet the whole experience was perfect, exactly how it was supposed to be, just by virtue of being how it was. And it turns out recovery is a lot easier than from a c-section so I'm glad my OB pushed for the VBAC (for example, I could never have taken these photos, the day after Jack was born, if I'd had a c-section). And thank goodness for a discussion on my mom's group e-mail list just a few days earlier on some of the things to expect during recovery when it ISN'T a c-section… this turned out to be really valuable information for me!
It is quite amazing how hard it is to imagine having another child and ever loving them as much as the first… and then they're here, and you just do. Jack looks a lot like Liam did when he was newborn so it's been sort of surreal. It feels almost like going back in time… and yet not, because there is Liam, in all his adorable and rambunctious and hilarious almost-three years old ways. And he is so so sweet with Jack!
The transition home has taken a little while, especially as we did not have things quite ready beforehand, and also, well, there's a lot you forget about having a newborn! But we're slowly falling into a rhythm and we're lucky to have a lot of help - my sister was here for a week, and my parents are here for a few months, plus Keith's family is around, so I really have nothing to complain about. One of the good things about having a second child is that I already have all my mom friends and support network in place too - with Liam, I didn't start meeting other moms with babies the same age until he was 6 weeks old. I've taken Liam out a few times just he and I and that has been a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to getting back into regular playdates over the next few weeks.
Today Jack is two weeks old. Already it's been quite a ride and I can't wait to see what the new year brings.
Happy 2012 to all!
nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!