Before you read to the end, I’ll give you a spoiler alert…there will be a part three! In an effort to remember all the details for later and not make you read an entirely too-long post, the best will be saved for part three.
I left you with some pictures and ideas of how we made it through the deployment. Everyday I had to change my attitude and pull myself away from questioning if I could do it alone at home and why the timing happened the way it was happening. We would tell each other, “At least Brendan won’t remember you being gone,” or “At least he’ll probably just be sleeping most of the time.” Many of my thoughts included, “At least you’ll get out of the hardest stage of babyhood,” “out of every newborn poopy diaper,” “out of every middle of the night feeding.” Yeah…my attitude was not awesome. One thing that Wes taught me when he was gone was that being away was hard, missing all those fun times with Taylor was hard. Not ever getting to feel Brendan kick, or hear his heartbeat was hard. He didn’t need me to reiterate to him how hard it was.
I kept laughing at myself when I caught myself complaining because my complaints wouldn’t change anything. If you’ve ever been connected to the military somehow then you know that you don’t have control over much, if anything. If you’re a military wife, you certainly don’t have any say in if your husband gets to come home for the birth of your baby. The mission is the most important task for our soldiers and if he was needed in that mission, he would stay there. Well, the mission was that important and there weren’t enough men to be able to spare Wes. It took a little while and a lot of tears for that to sink in. If Wes was going to be gone, then I might as well make the most of it.
In Wes’s absence, my mom stepped up to be my birth coach. When Taylor was born, my mom ended up being in the room with us for most of my labor and it worked really well. We hadn’t planned my labor with Taylor to go as fast as it did, so we didn’t know that my mom and dad would get to experience so much of it. I have to take a moment to laugh, because the word “plan” and birth experience do not go together for me. For baby #1, Wes and I flew by the seat of our pants. We didn’t take any birth classes, we didn’t pack bags early, we just knew that somehow or another we wanted her in our arms when it was all said and done. Brendan, however, was all planned out (except for his existence in the first place, of course). We had plans A, B, C…probably up to Z. What would we do if labor came in the middle of the night? Who would I call about the kids? Would I even know if I was in labor? You’d think with the second kid I’d be calm as could be. You would think so. With Taylor, my water broke in the night and I fell back asleep and went to the hospital in the morning. My dad still makes fun of me for driving myself there since Wes was at work. I had no plans going in and didn’t really mind how it went. I apologized for every loud noise I made during labor and squeezed Wes’s one working hand as hard as I could. Ultimately, I loved my birth story with Taylor…it just looks nothing like how it all went with Brendan.
To prepare for Brendan, my mom and I took a birth class together. As a non-planner, I actually really enjoyed it. Not only was it a secret way to get a free massage four weeks in a row, but I learned so much as well. Although my labor didn’t end up being normal according to what we learned, my anxiety about all those “what if’s” slowly went away. We decided all the positions I wanted to use that were comfortable. We chose what music I would bring. I packed my bag with pictures I loved of my family and a crossword puzzle. I had travel size of everything ready to go. My mom came with me to my check-ups and I was so excited to make it to my 36 week appointment. Taylor came at about 36 weeks and I was really hoping to make it all the way this time. The longer I made it, the less time Wes would miss. At that appointment, I told my doctor about the strange feelings that I was having – that Brendan was going to fall out. Sometimes when he moved he pushed on nerves and tendons that made my legs go numb or twitch. Most of the time it just felt like he was coming out. Gross, weird, I know. My doctor decided to check on the little guy and he told us that my pregnancy was progressing well, that I was beginning to dilate and efface and that he could actually feel where Brendan’s hand was pushing down so hard. That explained the strange feeling but also brought some cause for concern. If my water broke, his hand could easily come out first, leaving space for his cord to come out and get squished. This meant an increased risk for a c-section if that scenario came to be. We decided to get a sonogram in one week to see if he was still on his hand.
Fast forward one week. My mom and I went for my sonogram on Wednesday, October 12 in the afternoon. When the technician began to look for his hand, she was surprised to find a foot instead of a hand. Brendan was breech and those strong shoves were coming from his feet. I was so not expecting that. I mean, plans A, B, and C did not include an upside down baby. I knew the risks of a breech delivery and was nervous to learn that I had more decisions to make. Back with the doctor, he explained the risks of a breech birth with Brendan’s position as well as the risk of my water breaking and the cord escaping. He also told us that the technician had discovered something else. In an attempt to skip all the medical jargon, I’ll try to simplify the story. Every baby needs a placenta to get its nutrition and dispose of toxins the baby doesn’t need. Every placenta can be graded on a scale from 0 – 3. A typical placenta can last even longer than 40 weeks. I was 37 weeks and my placenta was a grade 3 and was beginning to deteriorate. Although this was not a major, immediate concern, it meant that my placenta was not going to make it to 40 weeks. That Halloween due date wasn’t going to happen. With my “senile placenta” I couldn’t try any fancy methods to get Brendan to flip over because of the risk of the placenta separating. We decided that if I went into labor, which was likely to happen soon anyway with my pregnancy progressing, I would have a c-section if he was still breech. If I made it to October 24th, we would have a scheduled c-section. A c-section was kind of not the natural birth I was ready for.
So that was Wednesday. I left the appointment and composed myself. I began the process to contact the Red Cross to get all the official information to Wes and his commander. Before the Red Cross even contacted Wes, I got a call from Wes and was able to talk everything through with him. Although we had little faith, there was a greater hope that with the official information from the Red Cross, the commander may consider to send Wes home. By Thursday morning, the Red Cross still had not gotten in contact with Wes’s commander. I went for a nice long walk. My hope was low and basically disappeared when I got another call from the Red Cross. A very unhappy woman let me know they had sent the message to the commanding officer and then told me that she, as in the Red Cross worker, thought there was no way they would send a soldier home before a delivery. She said it just didn’t happen. On that same walk, Wes called to say that although the message was sent, it hadn’t been received. It didn’t matter though. For some crazy reason, his commander had already decided that Wes’s service would be better spent by his family’s side. He was sending Wes home. Not only was Wes going to make it for the scheduled c-section, he was told to go pack his bags for a flight that left in a few hours. Oh how I wanted to call back that Red Cross worker and let her know that she was wrong.