After a long and painful pregnancy, we couldn't possibly be more excited to finally be introducing baby.

The birth story of baby Bam. Prodomal labor aided by hypnobirthing, LOTS of walking and eventually a therapeutic epidural.

He's here, he's heavy, and he's nicknamed “Bam.”

The pseudonym seemed appropriate because he's already had a pretty big, awesome impact on our little universe. And he's definitely proven that he does things his own way.

All throughout this pregnancy, one of our primary goals was to keep baby from being born pre-term. There was a big risk of that due to my uterus condition. I had to go to considerable lengths to keep the contractions from coming on too strong, too early. We made it to 37 weeks, though, and the doctors gave us the go-ahead to bust this baby free. Walk! Run! Do jumping jacks! They told us that baby was fully-cooked and ready to go, measuring over full-term to the point that there was now some serious concern about his apparently-overgrown size.

Cool.

I stopped taking the various medications that had slowed my contractions before, and birth appeared to be imminent.

And then we got to experience two weeks of prodromal labor.

My sister helping during labor

I didn't know what prodromal labor was before this, so there were several occasions where I almost rushed to the hospital. At 37 weeks and one day, contractions started coming on long and strong and closer and closer together. Until they'd get down to 8 minutes apart…and stop completely. I can't even describe how maddening this was. I'd spend about 6 hours every day or two contemplating, “Is this it? Is he coming now?” wandering around Oma and Opa's property feeling like the Verizon guy muttering aloud to myself.

Nate and my sister and everyone else were masters of patience with me as I cried and spiraled and generally just didn't know what to do with my pissed-off self. I was so worried, gnawing through my fingernails and binge-eating, pacing and unable to sleep. After everything we'd gone through with this baby, all I wanted in the world was to hold him in my arms and know that he was safe.

Walking to progress labor

And then it happened. At 2pm on the 38-week-plus-5-day mark, contractions started getting significantly worse. They weren't particularly different-seeming, but they stayed consistent at 8 minutes for several hours in a row and I suddenly reached a point where I wanted to punch anyone in the face if they so much as looked at me. So we headed down to the hospital where labor…stopped completely. And started again. And stopped. And started. Anytime I sat down or ceased moving, everything halted. I was 4 centimeters dilated and sent to walk in circles around the hallway, where I again tried to avoid throat-checking people while contractions became excruciatingly painful and got down to 2 minutes apart. I vaguely remember clutching onto Nate and crying, “Why does nobody ever believe I'm in labor!?!” After being sent home repeatedly with our previous babies, this felt all-too-familiar.

At that point, a worried-looking nurse quickly rushed us into a room.

Four-and-a-half centimeters. No contractions detected.

KILL ME.

As luck would have it, my own OBGYN happened to be on duty that night (a huge blessing in a medical group where the odds of being delivered by your doctor are about one in twenty) and she intervened. “This has gone on long enough. I'm admitting you, but baby's high and there's a good chance we may need to use some pitocin or break your water to get him down.”

I had vocally opposed any intervention throughout the pregnancy, but I felt strangely confident and at-peace with her advice. Hypnobirthing had been a huge help to manage my pain and mental state up to this point. As much as I tried to relax, though, it was obvious that I had a serious mental block about delivering this baby. Maybe it was stress from being left to deliver my baby alone last time. Maybe it's just the nature of PTSD that I'm a huge control freak about my body. I felt the clutches of flashbacks wrapping around my mind, and I had reluctantly admitted to Nate a couple days earlier that I was…slipping. As any survivor of sexual abuse will tell you, delusional thoughts tend to lurk around every corner, and situations like this aren't ideal. The more I tried to exert my will over everything, the more the world seemed to mock me and the more frustrated and full of despair I became. None of this was what I wanted. None of this was what I envisioned. I had to come to terms with that.

I reminded myself that this, quite frankly, was not about me. I didn't set out to prove that I had power or control over my body. I set out to bring a baby safely into this world, as peacefully as possible. Pacing the hallways indefinitely wasn't going to accomplish that. So I opted to submit completely. I had the dude come and put the tube in my back and I willfully laid down on a table with bright lights and constant monitoring. My sister was hovering in the corner, looking surprised at how quickly I'd made a sharp right turn from my birth plan. I'll admit I fought some feelings of dejection and failure as I got the epidural in place. Rising above those feelings, though, was an immense sense of confidence and safety.

Contractions abruptly started back up and we casually watched Eurotrip and laughed and chatted with the kind nurses. The epidural was only working on one side so I was feeling a good deal of pressure (hypnobirthing-speak for “pain”) and eventually felt annoyed with the TV, so we dimmed the lights and I relaxed to the point that I somehow managed to drift off for about an hour.

A gush of liquid woke me up, and I deliriously mumbled something about my catheter falling out.

The nurse laughed and told me my water had broken, and the doctor quickly assessed that I was “ready to go.”

Introducing baby after 14 hours of labor

About four pushes later, Baby Bam was born into the hands of someone I trusted at 4am on the day before Nate's own birthday.

Introducing Baby Bam

He weighs 9 pounds, 6.7 ounces and is remarkably shorter than his brothers at just 18 inches long. He has an inquisitive face and a strong neck that he likes to pull up to stare intently at me with his dad's eyes. He despises sitting in a poopy diaper (obviously nitpicky like his dad, too!) and wants to be held at all times. We're having some feeding issues and he's lost a lot of weight, but we're slowly getting on-track and I'm confident he'll inherit the rest of the family's appetite soon. We won't have any further updates about his kidney function issue for 2-3 weeks, since he's too swollen for the ultrasound to give us any answers right now.

Introducing baby to his brothers

I was wheeled off to get a tubal ligation shortly after he was born, and I'll admit that part of things was a lot tougher than I expected. The epidural unfortunately couldn't be used for surgery since it only worked on one side, so they gave me a spinal block. That also failed. Nothing quite like being “test-stabbed” repeatedly with a needle and feeling the whole thing! The anesthesiologists looked confused as they rushed around for meds to put me under at the last minute, while I was totally unsurprised that my body wasn't cooperating. Seems par for the course this time around. Because of all the poking and stabbing and needles and whatnot, recovery has been pretty tough. It's not something I regret, though, since I am done (really, really done) having children.

Our family is complete.

All four boys with Oma

Some Boy has suddenly decided he doesn't want his picture taken, but aside from that he is overjoyed about having another baby brother. He keeps asking me why baby can't play trains with him yet. Sidekick has regressed a bit, crawling into our bed at night and acting somewhat unsure about the whole situation but trying his best to be a team player as usual. Minion is also demanding some extra attention, constantly wanting “up,” but overall seeming intrigued with his new friend and quite intent on physically exploring baby's head and eyeballs and diapers and receiving blankets.

Baby and dad, sleeping

We're tired and done and happy and home.

Well not “home,” actually, since our house is being renovated. Yeah. More on that later.