And in that moment, my life changed forever.
For quite some time now a few fellow bloggers have been encouraging me to share my sons birth story. But I’ve hesitated. I’ve hesitated simply because I never felt as if I had to justify the strong feelings I have for my son. And not that this post does that, but I’ve always assumed some would take it in that manner (there’s always a few, right?). But he’s nearly three and a half now, and we’re pretty much set in our ways. I’m the mom I always dreamed I’d be. Naysayers be damned.
I found out we were expecting on November 5, 2009, my 27th birthday. Years of heartache seemed to vanish with two single lines on a tiny little test. After being told at 19 that my chances of ever becoming a mom were slim to none we’d pretty much set our minds toward adoption not long after we married. Of course we tried, and tried, and tried. But month after month, year after year we were disappointed. But we kept our hopes up, pushed forward with our adoption plans, and in the same week we finalized our pre-referral paperwork WHAM we were pregnant. Funny how that works.
The (nearly) nine months seemed to drag by. We were both so excited to meet the little miracle growing within me. We would lay in bed until the wee hours of the morning talking about the little one were were about to meet. My husband would gingerly hold my belly each night connecting with our tot long before he ever arrived. I was so proud of my growing belly, so much so my OB told me at 4 months that I needed to become best friends with a salad. EEK!
At 36ish weeks we felt ready. The nursery was set, I was HUGE, our tot was happily finishing up his last bit of growth, our birth plan was finalized, WE WERE READY.
But just shy of 38 weeks all hell broke loose.
I’d had an ongoing headache for 2 or 3 days when my husband suggested we slip into CVS to check my blood pressure. And what do you know, his hunch was right. I can’t remember the exact number, only that it was somewhere around 1-something/2-something. So we called the OB and went in for a quick check-up. Before I knew it, I was bleeding on the doctors table and sent straight to the hospital. We hadn’t packed our bags. Our dogs were running loose in the house. My family was hours away.
We checked into the hospital on Tuesday, July 6th around lunch. I still remember wanting to stop by Taco Bell for a quick bite on the way to the hospital, but my (rightfully) panicking husband wouldn’t hear of it. By 3pm I was in active labor via pitocin, they’d broken my water, and I was well on my way to having the tot I’d dreamed of.
But hours and hours and hours went by. Still no baby. And my birth plan? HA! It was if it never existed. I didn’t want an epidural, but was persuaded to get one “just in case” it became unbearable and the anesthesiologist was at home (yes, seriously!). I wanted to be mobile, but was instead forced to remain in bed. I didn’t want any interns honing their skills on me, but was assigned at least 5. I wanted to try various pushing positions, but…well, more on that later.
By 3pm on Wednesday, July 7th I’d finally reached 10 cm with little help from the “just in case” epidural. The nurse came in, followed by another women I hadn’t seen before. She proceeded to tell my husband and I that my insurance had been declined and wanted to know how I’d be paying for their services. Seriously? THAT WAS THE TIME they chose to tell me? After about 15 minutes we discovered they’d entered my birthday wrong. DUH!
But I was there. I had made it. I was about to deliver my son. The pain and heartbreak my husband and I had experienced over the first two years of our marriage was about to end. I was going to push my little heart out, they were going to plop that screaming, slimy little bundle of joy on my chest, and AT LAST our family would be whole. But two hours into pushing things went south, very south. I’m not sure if I was screaming out of pain or fear, but there I was still in labor, surrounded by 3 doctors, 6-8 nurses, one frightened husband, a panicking mother, and no idea how or when my son would be born.
After pushing for just over 2 hours the doctors suggested we try the vacuum. Say what? Just the word vacuum, when used in conjunction with any lady part, was terrifying. Attempt 1- fail. Screams. I just screamed and screamed. Attempt 2- fail. More screams. And this time more blood. A lot of blood. Attempt 3- mega fail. And I screamed. A scream that was from the very center of my being. A scream that only a mother-to-be could possibly make. A scream that frightened every other mother-to-be on the floor. And then the bad news. Our tot was stuck. Wedged to be more exact. He was 75% in, 25% out. He made it as far as his cheek bones, but could go no further. I began shaking uncontrollably from fear. All we’d gone through to get to that point, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever meet my son.
The next few minutes seemed to fly by. I remember screaming, and begging for a c-section. After the third attempt with the vacuum my sons heart rate dropped. I was rushed in to an emergency Cesarean. The anesthesiologist on call didn’t even wait for me to scoot onto the surgical table. He scooped me up as if I were the baby and laid me down. With my husband by my side we heard our sons first cry at 6:01pm. I burst into tears. I had waited SO VERY LONG to hear MY CHILD cry. It was utterly surreal.
But that one cry was all I’d hear. My husband rushed to our sons side as if somehow we both knew something was off. He wasn’t able to breathe, and had aspirated over a pint of amniotic fluid. They held him up briefly for me to see before whisking him away to the NICU. And with that, I was OUT. As soon as he and my husband left the operating room I was given a pretty high dose of morphine.
2 days in, and it was just beginning. I woke in the recovery room not long after the ordeal was over. I was, evidenced by the above photo, OUT OF IT. Within minutes I saw my husbands shadow in the doorway. His face looked heavy, and worn. He was terrified. And rightfully so. He informed me of what had happened, and where our son was. He told me I wouldn’t be allowed to see him until they stabilized him. And I cried. I cried so hard I thought surely they’d have to reconnect anything they’d just cut.
Within an hour my family had arrived. And not that I don’t know I can ALWAYS count on them, but waking in the postpartum unit to those faces hovering over my bed could mean, in my head, only one thing- and it wasn’t good. My brother and his wife (who’d just given birth a month earlier), my mom and dad, and my grandfather and his partner all stood at the end of my bed staring at me. One by one they were allowed to accompany my husband to the NICU to see our son. Again, I cried. And cried. And cried. I asked them each any and every question I could think of. What color was his hair? Was he beautiful? Who did he favor? Was he comfortable? My dear husband kept EVERYONE non-medical from touching him. He swore I’d be the first to lay hands on him, to love on him, to feel his presence. I held those two photos the NICU provided as if they were made of gold- to me, they were.
The next morning I woke still uncertain of my tots condition. I knew he had trouble transitioning, but I still hadn’t seen him, or talked to any doctors. Luckily, our lactation consultant came to the rescue by wheeling me down for my first glance at our son.
And he was perfect. Absolutely perfect, bruised cheek bones and all. And big! Over 9 pounds. A toddler already! And I was hooked. Unlike any other feeling I’d ever had. An indescribable bond years in the making. I truly enjoy every moment with him. And no, I don’t like to share him. He’s mine, selfish as it sounds. I know there will come a day when he’ll want to go off on his own, so I’m soaking up every perfect, sweet memory while I can.
And that was my birth story…or my sons that is. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t as planned. But in the end I’m living my dream- I’m a mom.