From the very start, Clive was different.
His was the pregnancy I discovered the earliest. While with Ephraim’s pregnancy I was in denial for at least a week before finally caving and taking a test, with Clive I was immediately suspicious that something was up.
For one thing, Ephraim quit nursing the week I conceived. He simply refused to do it. He was nine months old, and while we rallied somewhat and would eventually make it to twelve months breastfeeding, those last three months were a power struggle. I believe we both breathed a sigh of relief when we were done.
There were a couple of other factors that led me to take a test. Almost immediately a faint positive appeared–and I wasn’t even four week pregnant yet. I went to the doctor and was given a prescription for my low progesterone. I assume this is what went wrong with my first pregnancy that was lost to miscarriage.
I was so busy with Ephraim that I remember little of the first few months of Clive’s pregnancy. I remember being easily angered. I remember my morning sickness starting on Christmas Day, when my aunt had made two lovely soups for lunch and I couldn’t eat either of them. I remember wondering if I should worry and then just not really ever worrying because I never got around to it.
If I could sum up Clive’s pregnancy in a word, it would be peace.
Everything went right with Clive. My morning sickness started later than it had with Ephraim, and ended sooner. We hoped, given this new baby would be so close in age to Ephraim, that we would have another boy–a brother he could pal around with–and were so ecstatic to find out that was indeed what we were expecting. The only thing that worried me about him was that I had anterior placenta and couldn’t feel him as much as I had Ephraim, but once I realized that’s what was happening, that worry faded somewhat.
Clive is the only child of ours to boast a mid-pregnancy name change. All others have had names before they were even conceived, or at the very least right after, as was the case with Anselm’s middle name. Clive was supposed to be Friedrich Edmund. I planned on using the nickname “Reid” with him. But for some reason, after we walked out of that 20-week ultrasound that told us we were having another boy, Jeremy expressed his misgivings over that name now that we had “seen” our baby. It just didn’t seem right. And so we went to Steak & Shake after that doctor visit, along with Ephraim and my parents, and I said we could not leave the restaurant until we had chosen another name for our new little boy. We pulled out our phones and googled names of theologians that we couldn’t remember–the ones that went by their initials–and C. S. Lewis’ name, Clive, hit me like a brick.
“That’s it,” I said. “That’s the one.” And we all agreed. We chose Louis as a middle name, as it is my father-in-law’s middle name.
Sometimes I wonder what might have happened had we continued with our plan and given our second son a name that meant “Peaceful Ruler, Protector.” Because this is what he got instead: “Cliff, Famous Warrior”. The latter set of meanings fit him like a glove. I am sure that Jeremy’s hesitancy over our first name pick was nothing less than premonition, and possibly even divinely inspired. Clive’s pregnancy may have been peaceful, but he himself sure wouldn’t be.
I had a lot to think about during his pregnancy. Those first few months I was distracted by trying to get Ephraim to nap again, as well as trying to get him to nurse. The middle months were given to designing and creating the room that Clive and Ephraim would share. Then the middle-to-late months were eaten up with Ephraim’s surgery to correct his tongue tie and all the anxieties that brought. I had OB appointments, hematologist appointments, ENT appointments, pediatrician appointments. Those were busy months.
I feel bad, writing about Clive’s pregnancy but basically admitting I was focused on Ephraim the whole time. Thoughts of Clive, however, were sweet moments of peace. I was enamored with him, and especially with his name, though I did give him an in-utero nickname–Twiggy–which has unfortunately stuck with him his entire life. The story is that Ephraim we called “Biggie” or “Big Son”, so unborn Clive was “Twiggy” or “Twig Son”, because he was smaller. Of course this has morphed to Twigs, Mr. Twigs, or, as Ephraim dubbed him, “Tiggy”. We do mostly call him Clive now, though. Mostly.
The day Clive was born,
I had a chiropractic appointment. I jokingly asked the chiropractor, “What can you do to make me go into labor today?” My mom was there with me. I got adjusted and then we did a little shopping. I kept getting these pains in my back that were coming and going. I was driving, and I would tell her when they would start and stop, and she would time them. They averaged about 3-4 minutes apart. She suggested we go home.
When we got home, I called the doctor and told her, and she suggested I go ahead and go in to Labor and Delivery. I took a shower first, then got my hospital bag (which I had actually packed ahead of time this time), kissed Ephraim and my mom good-bye, and Jeremy and I headed to the hospital.
We got there at about 3:30 and they set me up in triage to be monitored. I was contracting–though somewhat irregularly–but because I was already dilated five centimeters, they would not send me home. Because of the atony I had experienced last time, one of the precautions they were taking was to lot let my labor last forever and ever. I was therefore given a very small dose of pitocin (a “whiff” was how my OB had described it during my last visit) to help things along.
And because I was expecting for my platelets to be under the threshold of allowance for an epidural, I just went ahead and refused one. As it turned out, they were high enough for me to have one, but I hoped I wouldn’t really need it, and I was right.
Can I go ahead and say again that Clive’s birth was my favorite?
Oh, it was my very, very favorite. It was 5 p.m. when they wheeled me back to a delivery room, hooked up to my “whiff” of pitocin, contracting regularly but barely feeling it. Even my doctor looked at my monitor at one point and asked, “Are you feeling these at all?” I was, but compared to Ephraim’s contractions, which made me feel like I was being crushed by a truck, these contractions were nothing. NOTHING.
We turned on the TV–the olympics were on. At 6 p.m. I was dilated to seven centimeters, and my doctor broke my water. Then she sat back and waited–I was her only patient there, so she just hung around in the delivery room. After my water was broken the contractions intensified, like they always do, but I still remember sitting up in the bed and thinking, in the middle of a contraction, “This is nothing like last time. I can do this.” They were painful, but not crushing. In between contractions, we chatted, watched the Olympics, whatever. It was very low-key and peaceful.
At about 7 p.m. I felt the urge to push. And push I did–and come right out Clive did. There was no time to turn off the TV, no time to adjust the bed and scoot me down to the end. I remember my doctor shouting, “Get a baby nurse in here!” Because they didn’t have any of that ready. I remember wondering why the TV was still on–it all happened so fast that no one thought to turn it off. A friend of mine gave birth to her son as the stereo softly played one of her favorite musical artists. Clive was born to the sweet sounds of the evening news giving an Olympics recap. Details.
Because I hadn’t had the same drugs I had with Ephraim, I was not so loopy and out of it as Clive was born. I clearly felt the “ring of fire”, which I hadn’t noticed with Ephraim. And I knew exactly what to do with him when they flopped him up onto my belly after he came out–scoop him up and hold him as close as I could. He was born at 7:05 p.m., just a few hours after I had been driving myself around wondering why my back was hurting.
They took us to a room almost immediately after he was born. I was so keyed up that I could hardly sleep. Actually, I didn’t sleep. I sat up in bed and looked at my little wonder–my secondborn. Oh man, was I in love that kid. Still am, actually! I think I stared at him all night. Stared at him and ate pizza, because I was starving after that wild ride.
There was no hemorrhage. No near-death experience. I was giddy.
Staying up that night with him was a terrible mistake, though. I had forgotten how rough that second night is. Or, rather, I thought that Ephraim’s tough second night was because I had almost died and because he had spent that first night in the nursery and I just didn’t know what I was doing. Turns out that the second night is just hard.
The fatigue and the hormones were not kind to me that night, and Clive would not sleep. Would. Not. Sleep.
Halfway through the night I finally asked the nurse to take him to the nursery so I could rest a little. She did, and then I didn’t rest–I absolutely cried my eyes out. I felt like a complete and total failure. I felt like I had abandoned Clive, had abandoned Ephraim, in that tiny gesture for a couple of hours of quiet. I think I did finally sleep after I spent all my tears. And I felt better for it–the tears and the rest.
As the hospital stay drew to a close, I was absolutely itching to get out of there and get my boys together. We had decided not to have Ephraim come to the hospital to see us as he was only seventeen months old and we had never been apart for this long before. I couldn’t wait to have our family whole and home together, and to introduce these boys to one another.
to be continued