Birth stories are all the rage on blogs and as a history major I appreciate the value of recording momentous occasions. Understandably this may not interest everyone or if you’re like me who really likes some highlights here are some general takeaways.
- Natural birth is insane: Everyone should use the drugs. The difference cannot be overstated.
- No Scarlett, but Melly: I’ve complained for over 36 weeks about the hands-off medical approach being taken – particularly, the lack of ultrasounds. I now feel completely justified. No one knew that I was having a 9lb baby or that he wouldn’t fit.
- C-sections are a bitch: I don’t know how women survive recovery without a partner or with other children. I’d be lost without Danny but his wonderfulness warrants its own post. The only positive is that you get suctioned out so while you have a list of things to worry about, messes aren’t one of them.
- You can be too tired to hold your baby: Adrenaline and anticipation can only carry you so far and after 30 hours of sleeplessness, holding your baby can be dangerous but the overwhelming bond is instant by both parties and that makes all the difference in the world.
- It’s beyond worth it: Even as a person who always wanted to have kids, I never guessed how amazing it would be to have a baby. Seeing this little person Danny and I created and who looks and acts like us already is absolutely incredible.
Lucas’s Birth Story:
I am a naturally anxious/worried person but I’ve developed solid coping strategies over the years. One is to set a parameter of expectations to help manage my emotions. This got me through weeks and weeks of pregnancy but the deadline for that was February 27th. As soon as that date passed I found myself having panic attacks. He moved erratically and then not at all and I was a wreck, crying in the bathroom. A couple days later I couldn’t remember the last time he moved and couldn’t get him to move. At 3:00 a.m. I was doing flights of stairs, drinking orange juice, and poking him until I broke down into a full-fledged panic attack that I even woke Danny for. I was crying and could barely breath for fear that something was wrong and finally agreed to let Danny take me to St. Mary’s. Fortunately, we didn’t make it out the parking lot before he started to move a little.
I had an 8:30 a.m. appointment that day and shared the experience with my OB. I’d been dilated, effaced and more for two weeks so she asked if I wanted to be induced. I immediately said yes. My water hadn’t broke and I wasn’t having regular contractions but it was a risk I had to take.
I called Danny to have him turn around. Went home to do a little work and make sure everything was put in its place before we headed to the hospital.
When we got a room and I was prepped the on-call OB came in and I discovered that what I had believed to be Lucas trying to murder me from the inside all this time was actually contractions and that I was already in early labor. She gave me the option to see where things go or start petocin. I decided to wait and see what happened.
We had a fantastic nurse. Cara, Mom and B were in the room with us. I wasn’t in pain but was being told I had regular contractions and could hear Lucas’ healthy heart.
By 5:00 p.m. I made progress but not as much as hoped so I went and had petocin. The pain gradually increased at first but I toughed it out a little too long so that when I asked for the epidural I had to ride out an hour of pain while they prepped [Note: Get an epidural and make sure you tell them when you check in that you want it to save time]. Fortunately, the pain wasn’t unbearable at that point and it kicked in quickly.
By 4:00 a.m. I was ready to push with the great pleasure of having no pain. Instead Danny, Cara, my nurse and two doctors would tell me when to push. I was told I was doing great but his head wasn’t descending to the plus 5 required and his heart-rate dropped so it was decided to take a break.
A little after 5:00 a.m. we started again. A small group, lots of encouragement and no pain. It really appeared to be going perfectly except, I honestly couldn’t imagine how a head was going to come out. I said so multiple times but was reassured it would happen.
All was well and I remained in good spirits until the shift change. Basically at once my support group disappeared. The epidural had been turned down so I was increasingly uncomfortable, there was no doctor and the new nurse was too busy looking at my records than paying attention to me. More pain made pushing harder and no doctor made me feel like my attempts were futile because they wouldn’t let me have a baby with no doctor. My confidence was gone and my ignored request for the epidural to be put back made me feel completely helpless.
I spent 1 hour and 15 minutes in so much pain I couldn’t talk or open my eyes. I cried and was so pitiful that both Danny and Cara were crying beside me as they tried to make me as comfortable as possible. They were both amazing during the entire process but during that period especially I don’t know what I would have done without them.
When the doctor finally arrived to approve the epidural I felt none of the support I had experience with the first two shifts. Instead I was told I wasn’t making progress. It was a slap in the face because I didn’t know how I was expected to make progress without any help and being in too much pain to push. With the medicine back I felt determined to end the torture but Lucas’ heart rate dropped again and a dozen hospital staff arrived. I was told I might need a c-section. Going into this process I was always of the mind that I didn’t want to suffer for hours just to have a c-section and it seemed I had ended up there anyway.
I was only at the hospital because I had been scared about Lucas’ health and now a room full of medical staff and beeping equipment was too much. I only ever wanted to do what would keep him safe. The doctors suggested I keep pushing for a bit more so I did. Still silently crying and unable to talk but at least not in pain and with Danny, Cara and some empathetic nurses cheering me on.
It didn’t take long for the doctor to finally suggest that Lucas was too big to be pushed and I’d need a c-section. After all this work I felt betrayed but fine with a c-section as long as Lucas was healthy. Danny was the only one allowed in the OR and I had to be prepped alone.
I couldn’t bring myself to open my eyes or do much other than ask for Lucas’s status. He was stable but my blood pressure was low and I required oxygen. When Danny was admitted it took all of two minutes before Lucas’ was removed. I was so exhausted however that I honestly didn’t connect his cries with him being born until they told me. I had always planned to do skin to skin and was surprised when the nurse told me that was an option since I was laying with my arms stretched on either side with my vitals being monitored and had a curtain on my chest down. Nevertheless, after Danny watched them do Lucsas’s vitals, she brought him over and set him on my chest. As much as I wanted to hold him, I simply didn’t have the strength or energy and asked Danny to take him.
Aside from the moment with me, Lucas was screaming like a banshee this entire time. It gave me so much joy and peace of mind when I could brush his cheek and tell him it was okay and he stopped crying. During our brief first moments of a family of three I noticed Danny was as exhausted as I was and nearly passed out. I asked him to give Lucas to a nurse and go get something to eat. It was the nix of time really because the nurses felt they should walk him to get a snack.
Nearly asleep I couldn’t care that my number 1 hospital goal of never having Lucas alone was broken. It did help that all the nurses were fawning over him to each other and saying how cute and big (9lbs 1oz) he was.
After an hour of repair, I was brought into post-op and given Lucas. I was still exhausted and anxious for Cara or my Mom to get back and hold him more steadily but even 30 hours of sleeplessness couldn’t take away from seeing my healthy baby boy and having him rest on my chest – especially when he basically immediately started eating. Danny came back and we were our little family – just us three.
The biggest question everyone had was what would he look like. It was incredible to look at him an hour after his birth and see a perfect blend of me and Danny. His forehead, hair and blue eyes and my nose, mouth and bent left ear. He is better than we ever imagined and we could not love him more.