Jack’s Arrival


Barb pregnant with Jack, newborn Jack with Barb

As you read this, Jack Jack is turning two. I am not sure how this happened but here we are, two years after he made his early arrival. I remember it all too well! (Taylor Swift reference here).

Throughout the entire “creation of Jack” process I had been able to maintain quality detachment. I was not hyper vigilant on all the details; I did not over obsess about test results or micro-manage my medical appointments. I simply accepted each next step as exactly that, the next step in this journey to Jack.

I certainly wanted him to survive and be born but after losing a baby in the belly and then Molly, my self-preservation nature kicked in and I would tell myself that if he did not make it out of my belly then he was not supposed to and that it would be part of the plan. I would often refer to myself as a passenger on the train that was Jack. I accepted everything as it came.

Until March 18th.

That Thursday morning started off fine. I went to the gym for a quick workout. I went to checkup with my new pulmonary specialist. She was amazed and delighted to meet her 57-year-old pregnant patient. My blood pressure was a flawless 105/65. My lungs were clear. Other than some suddenly swollen legs, everything was completely fine.

Until it wasn’t.

I went to my OBGYN appointment that afternoon. I was going twice a week at this point for urine and blood pressure checks for me and heart rate checks for Jack. I peed in the cup, then got comfortable as I was hooked up to the heartrate monitor for Jack. The nurse came in and took my blood pressure. She became a bit quiet. We took it again. She then asked me to do some deep breathing and visualize a happy place.

Nothing worked.

My blood pressure was 165/85. While this is not overly dangerous, it was a sudden spike for me. Just hours earlier it was fine. I thought is must be a fluke and that eventually I would get a normal reading. Then Dr. Chaudhari came in. There was protein in my urine. He looked at my now giant legs. He looked at the monitor. Jack was fine. He got on the phone to talk to the OBGYN staff at The Family Place. He was setting up a blood test for me at the hospital. Why? I asked.

I think you have pre-eclampsia.

I tried to maintain my detached acceptance of this news but I was not having it. Dr. Chaudhari was not going to be in town for the next three days as he was going away with family. He did this so that he would be available in April, when Jack was supposed to arrive. I desperately wanted him to deliver Jack.  I went to the hospital and had the blood work. My platelets were alarmingly low.

We should induce you immediately.

I fought this. I argued that I felt fine. Could we simply give it another day. I was sure I did not have pre-eclampsia. I thought it would all iron itself out. I was given a shot of prednisone for Jacks lungs. This would also help raise my blood platelets level. I went home. I pedaled my stationary bike and watched Netflix. I drank water. I thought happy thoughts.

My blood pressure continued to rise.

On Friday the 19th I returned to Concord Hospital for another check in and blood test. Although my platelet count had improved, my blood pressure had sky-rocketed. It was 195/105. The doctor did not want to let me go home. She wanted to hook me up to a magnesium drip and induce labor. I fought this as well, but only for a moment. Then I told her I had to go home and pack a bag.

She reluctantly gave me thirty minutes, I took ninety.

I had my friend Tony come take pictures and ask a few questions, I was giving him first access to the story. He would break it on The Patch news site. I had my friend Erin come and take actual baby bump photos. I had not done this yet as I thought I had time. They came out great! I even have some naked shots.

I have to admit, I look great!

Then off to the hospital I went. Kenny dropped me off. Gracie and he stayed together at home. She had a dance competition the next day. I did not think Jack would arrive anytime soon. I was secretly hoping he would wait until Monday. I had very suddenly stopped being the accepting passenger on this baby making train. I wanted full conductor privileges.

The story gets fun here.

All of the medical professionals involved in Jack’s delivery were women, The youngest, a 19-year-old LNA, the oldest, a 55-year-old Obstetrician. Pretty much every decade was represented. I loved this. They did as well. I was hooked up to an IV and the medications started to course through my veins. The doctor checked my cervix. It was all quiet down there. We were just about to close out week 35. Nothing was supposed to be happening.

Let’s strip your membranes.

That’s fancy talk for beating the crap out of your cervix. There is a mucous plug and other tissue that cover the cervix. Irritating it so that it loses it’s hold on the cervical opening to the uterus can speed up labor. During this procedure I was being supported (help down) by several LNA’s and nurses. The doctor was elbow deep into my vagina. (I exaggerate here but that is how it felt.) I took in the situation and has a Handmaids Tale moment where I felt like Offred, a handmaid on the story. I mentioned this and all of the nurses laughed. The doctor had not watched the show or read the book.

If you know you know.

I watched tv and fell asleep. I was to be given Pitocin sometime after midnight to cause contractions to begin. I expected to be woken up several times in the night. I closed my eyes. When I next opened them, it was morning. I thought perhaps they had changed their mind and were going to let nature take its course.  I did not know at the time that it already had.

I ordered coffee and breakfast. I went to the bathroom. I watched the news. I checked in with Kenny to let him know nothing had happened yet. It was roughly 9:00am. As I hung up, the doctor came in to the room. “How are you feeling?” she asked. I replied with “Are we not having a baby today?” She cocked her head and looked at me with a puzzled expression.

You went in to labor at 3:00am.

I was dumbfounded. I returned the puzzled expression and asked her if I had been given Pitocin. She replied no and told me that my contractions were roughly 2 minutes apart. Although my tummy had felt hot a couple of times, I did not feel the crampy discomfort that often accompany contractions. My overriding thought at this moment was the gleeful realization that I went in to labor on my own.

Jack was supposed to arrive after all.

No one could tell me how long the whole process would last. My water had not broken so we all assumed there would be several hours ahead of us. It was getting close to 10:00am and Kenny was getting ready to take Gracie to Manchester for her competition. We thought he would stay with her until things got intense with me.

We decided against him leaving Concord once we realized my cervix was dilating nicely and my contractions were picking up. Gracie went to the competition with the Hunger family and Kenny came to the hospital. We still thought we would not see Jack until evening.

Then they broke my water.

Things really picked up at this point. The pain intensified and the contractions were now less than a minute apart. No one would tell me if we were close to pushing, however, and I became anxious. I asked for an epidural. Everyone sort of looked at each other like they knew something I didn’t. I was insistent and I think because it was me (think Molly here), they did what I wanted. The needle that was supposed to provide numbing comfort did not. I was too far into labor for it to work.

I felt like it had only been three hours. It was noon.

I was actually up to hour eight which was about how long it took for both Gracie and Molly.  I laid down on the bed. I rested a bit and managed the pain under a warm blanket. I willed the epidural to work. It did not. The doctor kept checking my cervix and stomach. “His head is in the right area!” she announced. Then a few minutes later, “his head is right here, why don’t you give a push on the next contraction”. I was only too happy to oblige, although I could not believe I was actually this far along.

I gave a feeble push.

She felt his head begin its journey out of the cervix and told me to really give a good push next contraction. When the time came, I pushed with all my might. I felt the transition of his body from uterus to vagina. “Here’s his head” she squealed. I kept pushing. I bore down as hard as I could. And out he came.

It was 12:31pm.

We did all the usual things. Kenny cut the cord. Jack was placed on my chest and given a teeny tiny hat. He was toweled off. I delivered the placenta. I held Jack. I had a million thoughts whirling around in my brain. His tender, little cries were flawless. He lifted his little head and looked at me. He fell back to my chest. Holy crap Kenny, it worked!

Then lunch arrived.

For me, I had breakfast, had a baby, had lunch. When I ordered those two meals, I had no idea I was even in labor. I did not know that 90 minutes of intense pain and two pushes would bring Jack into the world. Yet here he was! After some warm blanket therapy, (I was really cold after he was born) and a few moments of looking at sweet Jack all swaddled and next to me in his bassinet, Kenny and I ate lunch.

March 20, 2021 at 21:31pm Jack Kearsley Banzhoff made is dramatic yet swift entrance into the world.

We stayed for three days after delivery because Jack was early and I had a migraine. A quick MRI showed that my brain was fine. I guess losing a daughter to a brain tumor and then having three of your own gets you an extra night in the hospital.

All in all a wonderful experience.

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