I want to start by saying we are very, very lucky and blessed to be Oliver’s parents. I am writing this from my perspective as a first-time mom. It has taken almost 8 months for me to begin this post because I’ve had a much harder time handling Oliver’s arrival and the first few months of his life than I could have anticipated. Our story is “not that bad” compared to some, I realize that, but for first timers, it hit us (mostly me) harder than I could have imagined. I think that’s why I’ve had a hard time opening up about it. I know so many people have had harder times with their pregnancies and deliveries that I felt like I would be “complaining” to share our story. After reaching out to a few friends and reading some articles, I realized that I’m okay in my emotions and thoughts surrounding Oliver’s birth. In hindsight, I see how much we have learned about life and ourselves. We are forever grateful to the hospital staff. They were truly incredible and I hope to deliver at the same hospital if a second child is in our future.
Oliver was due on September 11, 2016, but didn’t make his arrival until September 20th. Leading up to his birth, I just “knew” he would be early. I think I was stressed about him arriving early due to our schedules and a house emergency. I also had in my head that I would go into labor naturally and able to give birth without an epidural, with the help of David and a friend serving as an additional coach. I don’t have any great reasons for wanting to try to give birth without the epidural, it was just on my heart. I wasn’t opposed to getting one if I really got to a point where I felt like I needed it, but I made plans with my coaches to help me through it. David is a good coach, but I knew his emotions would step in once I was in a lot of pain so I added my friend to also serve as a coach. She has given birth (twice) before too, and is a runner. I felt like it was a good combination to help me towards my goals.
Leading up to Oliver’s birth, I had weekly appointments with my doctor. I never dilated or showed any signs that I was going to go into labor. My doctor reassured me that sometimes it just randomly happens and the checks don’t mean much either way. Well, I made it to 40 weeks and my doctor didn’t want to go past 42 weeks so we scheduled an induction. It was basically “which day of the week do you want to give birth?” Ha! Since David was in the middle of marching band, we decided earlier in the week would be better so we had at least a week and a half before he had his next contest. The earliest opening the hospital had was to be checked in at midnight on September 20, 2016, so that’s what we did. The weekend before our scheduled induction, we tried most of the “sure ways to go into labor” and Oliver just showed that he was very comfy inside my belly! Everyone says that your birth plan won’t go according to plan so I convinced myself that I didn’t have a plan, but I guess I did without even trying. From friend recommendations, I knew my chances of needing surgery would go up since I was being induced and I knew it was a possibility, but I don’t think I thought it would happen. I also told myself that since I was being induced, I was going to have an epidural much sooner than I would have if I’d gone into labor on my own.
I decided to go ahead and go to work on Monday, September 19th. I felt like the entire month of September I was working on completely random short-term projects at work because I could be absent at any given time. I could have taken the day off, but I knew I would have just been a nervous wreck at home and I would much rather save that time for when my sweet baby would be here. We decided to only tell our closest friends and family that I was being induced. Sometimes the process can take a while so we didn’t want to post about it on social media and cause worry if they didn’t hear from us. (And boy did the process take a while!) I followed my instructions to not eat after 9pm (which ended up meaning a LONG time without food, but more about that later) and calling ahead of time to let the labor and delivery nurses know that I was still planning on coming in at midnight. My nerves started to really hit me at this point. I just called to check-in to have a baby! OMG!
At first, I was very shy about everything. I was worried about things like my gown opening for the nurse to see. That changed within a few hours, ha! After using the restroom, they began the inducing process. Once I was hooked up to the monitors, we realized I was already having contractions, but I had no idea! Crazy! I had to stay still for two hours for the process to start correctly. Since I was also on fluids, you better believe I was counting down every second of those two hours. I had to go to the bathroom so much during this time!
Later in the morning, my doctor visited and it was time to start the Pitocin. At first, it was fine. I could gradually feel things but very manageable. The Pitocin was then increased, a little too much too, and I was barely able to catch my breath. And I really wasn’t able to relax for the exams to check if anything was happening. (By the way, it took a while for things to start happening!) I decided it was time to go ahead and get the Epidural to help me relax, and I already gave up the idea I could do it without medication when I had to be induced.
I was very nervous about getting the Epidural. Of course I don’t know anyone that was experienced a major complication with one, so what if that meant I was going to be one with a complication?! I was also nervous about David because he really doesn’t like needles. We got through it okay – even with someone coming in to talk to the anesthesiologist while she was working on me!
As soon as the Epidural started full working, we began moving me around in different positions to see if I would progress at all. The nurses used a peanut ball, which proved to be quite humorous at times. At one point, David helped the nurse reposition me and my leg ended up dropping. Of course, I couldn’t feel my leg so I thought the bottom part of the bed fell…nope, just my leg!
While I know the Epidural helped my labor, it was very hard to not feel like I had any control over my body. It was the weirdest experience to see my legs being moved but I could not feel them at ALL. The doctor breaking my water was another weird experience. It seemed like I felt pressure being released, but had no idea that I was soaked and was shocked to see blood.
In the early afternoon, I jumped in progress fairly quickly, so the nurse told me to call my friend that was going to take pictures and we can began practice pushes.
I tried any and everything I could with multiple nurses, and the baby wasn’t making much progress at all. At one point, the nurses did tell me that the baby had dark hair and an ear. 🙂 I was so out of it, though, it took me a few contractions before I realized they were talking about MY baby! I began to get very frustrated as we continued pushing. I really was trying my hardest, but I could not feel anything and barely knew the difference between the good pushes and the bad pushes. I kept reminding myself (and everyone around me) that I have finished 11 marathons, SURELY I could do this. After three hours of pushing, we talked with my doctor.
At this point, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I begged David to make a decision regarding trying to push longer or just go to surgery. He was able to get me to calm down a bit and we decided together to just go to surgery since my Epidural was starting to wear off and I couldn’t handle the pain very well. The decision was made, I was to have a c-section. It wasn’t an emergency situation, but it wasn’t planned at all. I’ve never really had a surgery before, and I can’t explain my feelings as the prep started. They had to wheel me down without David. He stayed in the room to gather our belongings.
They wheeled me down to the surgery room and I felt like it was a complete out of body experience. I couldn’t grasp everything that was happening. I remember stressing to the anesthesiologist that I was worried about the drugs not working because when I get dental work done they always have to give me one or two extra shots to numb my mouth. He reassured me I would be okay and gave me multiple “tests” to make sure I wouldn’t feel anything. I remember my body going numb in another way. I also couldn’t stop shaking. I wasn’t cold, but the shaking was uncontrollable, which they said was normal. Can’t Stop the Feeling! played in the surgery room during prep, and it put me at peace that everything was going to be okay. During my pregnancy, I told the baby that Can’t Stop the Feeling! was “our” song since it was so popular that summer and it described how I felt anxiously awaiting the arrival of my baby.
While I waited for David to arrive, a former student and now friend of mine, was able to scrub in for the surgery since she was a labor and delivery nurse. I will never forget her bending down, brushing the hair out of my face, and asking if I was nervous. She gave me all the reassurance I needed in that moment. I was very excited but also very scared at that time. (Thank you, Robin!)
David arrived and then the doctor entered shortly after. I started to feel pressure, and again, it’s hard to exactly describe what was happening. I couldn’t see the details exactly and I felt “out of it.” I’ve heard the surgery to get the baby out hardly takes any time, and I remember thinking it was taking longer than I expected to meet our baby. The next thing I know, my doctor was practically on top of me trying to get the baby. Since I had been pushing for three hours, Oliver was partially in the birth canal. Our doctor was amazing and able to pull Oliver out safely, even though it was trickier than a planned c-section. Robin saw Oliver as he was being born and noticed that his fist was beside his head. This is the explanation as to why I couldn’t push Oliver out . . . and he still puts his fist beside his head today!
“It’s a boy!” I remember the doctor saying and then I got to see my baby boy for the first time. Of course I was overcome with emotion. It was a special moment when I first looked at David after seeing our son for the first time. I remember an overwhelming feeling of something being wrong, I realized I hadn’t heard our baby cry yet. I turned my head to David and started asking over and over if something was wrong. He was trying to make sense of the situation and keep me calm and I finally said, “David, we should hear his cry by now!” Then out of the corner of my eye I could see them bring in what looked like an incubator for a mediflight. I began to really freak out. We FINALLY heard his cry a minute and a half after he was born. The LONGEST minute and a half of our lives! We found out later that Oliver scored a 2 on his 1-minute Apgar test, but later went to a 9 on his 5-minute test.
Oliver was taken to the NICU shortly after our family photo was taken and I went to recovery. The first few days, specifically the first 24 hours, of Oliver’s life were some of the hardest days I’ve ever lived through. My plan is to write about that in another post. Again, I want to say how well the doctors, nurses, and staff took care of us and our family. The recovery process has been much harder than I could have anticipated. Even though I thought I was prepared for every situation, that minute and a half that I thought something was wrong with our baby stung for a long time after the fact. I also didn’t realize that not having that instant skin-to-skin moment and picture would break my heart. (I still can’t watch this Pampers commercial without crying.) He’s a happy, thriving baby now. I still want to write about my journey to this point to help myself heal, and maybe someone else will be helped too knowing they aren’t alone!