collecting souls

Irving's birth.jpg

In the words of my dressmaker (who is british and has a much more beautiful turn of phrases) we have "finished collecting our souls." Baby number four, Irving Stone Thigpen, joined us last month, making us a family of six. And yes, I sincerely believe this is it. Everyone has a buddy. River and Oswin are just under two years apart, then a four year gap, then Linus and Irving are 18 months apart (...and Tyler and I...we're buddies, too).

Despite the fact that he was my fourth baby and that the first three came au natural, pretty fast, and that the last one wasn't that long ago, Irving took some prodding to get here. With weeks of start and stop contractions and then minimal progression after about 15 hours of (mild/moderate) labor in the hospital my doctor finally broke my water, gave me the smallest dose of pitocin possible, and headed back to his office for his scheduled morning visits, assuming it would still be a while. But all it needed was that little jump start and it was full on and he was out in less than an hour. In fact, I knew it was happening faster than my sweet and green little nurse realized and had to tell her to call the doctor back in. He came right away,  I fought to hold the baby in a few contractions longer (the hardest thing ever), and within about 60 screaming seconds of him walking in the door there was a baby in my arms (and my sister in law caught my  smile in the picture above).

He was 9 pounds (significantly bigger than the rest!), healthy, and nameless for the first two days. I was so grateful to hold him and see him and know that he was healthy but I'l be honest, I was also so grateful to be done with childbirth. I know a lot of women say it is such a beautiful, meditative experience for them...I wish I could say the same. I guess because I am such a sensitive person, I think I am also highly sensitive to pain. I very clearly feel everything happening in/to my body. A friend who was a very experienced delivery nurse was with me all the way through my second delivery and said she'd never seen someone so in tune with their body; that I was accurately describing everything that was happening...how much I was dilating and when, which way he was turning, everything. I try to imagine the contractions like waves in the ocean and that as the waves get bigger I imagine myself diving under them and letting them roll right over me. That lasts for a while and then.... Well, a few days after giving birth this time I actually dreamt I was standing ankle/knee deep in waves on this beach...there were tiny waves and then all the sudden I was hit by tidal waves and I was getting thrashed in them. That's about how it is for me. My whole body starts to shake with pain and I feel like this thing has taken over me and I'm just hanging on for dear life.

I felt pretty emotional about it afterward...more than after the previous three. After the last three I felt like I still had to be strong because a part of me knew I wasn't done yet. But this time I knew I was done and I was so relieved to be on this side of childbirth. I had made it through and come out on the other side and received my prizes. I read a study that  recently came out that said gently touching/stroking a newborn can help to soothe and even reverse the trauma of birth. I felt like that was exactly what we both needed. Poor Irving had little bruises on his face and even his eyes were bruised. He seemed jumpy to me. And I would definitely consider what I had just been through as the most traumatic thing I've ever experienced. I needed days of quite and tenderness.

Irving sleeping.jpg

Fortunately that's mostly* what we got. The first thing I did was go get my nails done. :) Tyler took me. I just wanted someone to rub my feet. We had so much support from family, my au pair, and friends bringing meals that I got to just rest. I turned my auto-reply on and just rested. The caveat was this: Irving also had a tight attachment under his tongue (as did Linus) which made it impossible to nurse correctly (translation for anyone who hasn't experienced this: more toe-curling pain every 2-3 hours) until we got it diagnosed and he had it clipped. Then he had to learn how to nurse again (i.e. almost no sleep for the first two weeks by this point). But at least that was all that was on my plate. Everyone else took care of everything else for me. All I took care of was Irving. Who, incidentally was just my speed. I wasn't even close to being able to catch Linus but Irving didn't move which meant I didn't have to move. Perfect. I just held him... For the first three weeks my hips felt so detached from one another I felt like I had to shuffle like an old lady or use my hands to move my legs. Physically I was recovering from the most difficult labor and delivery yet. Emotionally I was recovering from four. And closing a chapter in my life. I will never again carry a baby inside my body (which I mostly love) nor will I ever again push one out of my body (which I mostly hate). But we have gathered our souls. This is our family. These are the ones I have been given.

Irving Stone Thigpen.jpg

Going into the hospital we didn't really have a name for him. I kind of thought it'd be Solomon. But when we saw him, he really didn't look like a Solomon to us. We were back to the drawing board. We eventually came up with Irving Stone Thigpen. Irving, on its own means 'handsome friend' or 'green river' which we liked, but Irving Stone was the author of Lust for Life which is one of Tyler's favorite books. Its about the life of Vincent Van Gogh and holds many messages we want our son to know and embrace. And I felt like it rounded out and belonged with our other children's names. I can't help but wonder where they will all go and who they will become...but I know I'm so honored that they are in my home for now.

I realize this is probably more information than most of you want to know but I think I needed to write it.

Its been a little over a month now and mother and baby are doing fine. :)

Oh! and I gave the site a little facelift! (It's actually what I was doing when I went into labor and its just taken me this long to finish it up.) :)