“I don’t do well at the end of pregnancy”- That was my mantra the last couple o’ weeks (who am I kidding? The last month) of pregnancy. I was a ball of canceled plans, not enough work, etc… Between the vomiting, the lack of sleep, the false labor, and the anxiety of desperately wanting a natural labor, I was pretty much a hot mess. Believe it or not, I really tried not to complain about it, except to my husband. To him, well I was pretty intolerable I think. In addition to all that fun, we also had false hope at every doctor’s appointment. At week 37 I was two centimeters dilated, the doctor was VERY confident that we would go by the end of the week. At Week 38, all progress had stopped, I was miserable, I cried on the way home from that appointment. When I got home, due to the exam, my back was on fire. The babysitter left me with Lil’ Aaron and I could barely walk. In fact, I crawled to his room, pushing him in front of me to get him to his crib for a nap. It was pretty miserable. At week 39, I was not feeling too good about life J REALLY excited to meet my sweet baby boy, but really not doing well.
I woke up on Thursday, July 12th and said goodbye to the husband as he left for work. Contractions were happening, but that was nothing new, I had contractions on and off for the past three weeks. We had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for 11:30 am, Aaron would be meeting me there and my dad was going to come watch lil’ A. By 9:30 am, contractions were coming with a sense of regularity. Mind you, this was not unusual and they were very mellow. I did, however, call Aaron at work, saying with a hint of sarcasm, ‘they are regular, this doesn’t mean anything, but I thought you should know’. About a half an hour before my dad got there, they were coming every seven minutes and they were stronger than I was used to. I had the foresight to make sure my hospital bag was packed and that lil’ Aaron was all packed to stay at his grandparents. He was packed for 1 or 3 days, depending on if we were successful at a natural labor. My dad got there, I went to the doctors.
The doctor’s appointment was pretty miserable. Dr. Gruskin, the neighborhood hero tried to speed labor along a bit. They hooked me up to a machine to check my contractions to see if the spacing/strength was enough to be considered ‘active’ labor and send me to the hospital. The sweet nurse came in and delivered the news…although I was having contractions, they were not consistent enough, I should just go home. I was so upset. I asked the nurse how I would know if I was in active labor, she said, ‘trust me, you will know.’ I was so frustrated! We left and as we were walking to the cars, the contractions were stronger yet. I asked Aaron to come home with me, just in case. He said no. In fairness to him, I had asked him to stay home plenty of times in the last three weeks, to him, this was just another time. BUT, being the completely irrational wife that I am, with my back on FIRE and contractions coming, I started crying. I stormed to my car (the most I could storm) and got in (very slowly, there was a lot of pain) and drove to my house. On the way home, contractions kept coming, I called Aaron crying, once again asking him to come home. This time, he said that he was quite confident I was not in labor (as the nurse had JUST told us twenty minutes ago that I wasn’t), but that he would come home if I really needed him to. I was SO frustrated. ‘I don’t know if I am in labor’ I shouted, ‘what I do know is it hurts, they are spaced apart, I just don’t know! Keep your phone on, I will keep you updated’. When I got to my house, I told my dad I was in a lot of pain. We agreed that I should bring the bags/Lil’ Aaron and myself to my parent’s house. JUST IN CASE. The ride to my parent’s house was pretty painful, but was just an indication of what was to come.
When we got to my parent’s house, the contractions kept coming. I told my parents I was going to go into the back room with Lil’ Aaron to take a nap. I brought some water and my parents were being so great. I laid down with lil’ A, and that, my friends, is when ‘active’ labor started. And just like the nurse said, I knew it was. I screamed for my mom to come get lil’ A. I would love to say I handle this all gracefully, but I did not. I do NOT have a high threshold for pain and my sweet joseph was ‘sunnyside up’ laying on my back. I called Aaron and told him he needed to come get me immediately and take me to the hospital. I called the doctor’s office and they told me to the hospital. GAME ON! This was happening.
Um, Aaron’s commute to my parent’s house was 1 hour. I called him four times, I kept asking him where he was. I was in SO.MUCH.PAIN. I kept telling my mom and dad, ‘This can’t be normal’, ‘This pain is more than anyone ever said’, ‘I don’t think I am going to make it to the hospital’. Ladies and Gentleman, labor is no joke. Women are heroes. Everyone should just know that. I had always heard that, but um , for real, I thought I was dying.
Aaron finally got to my parent’s house and, brilliantly so, I began throwing up. Which was, awesome? My poor father, at one point, handed Aaron a bowl for me to vomit in, he didn’t know the bowl had vomit, and all of us ended up with a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ on us. It was a disaster. I was crying and using some choice words (thank GOD my dad didn’t even try to correct me). In between contractions, I walked to the car and Aaron and I began the 30 minute drive to the hospital. With each contraction I told Aaron, I am certain I am going to have this baby right away. I kept telling him how much it hurt. I kept crying. But, I was sort of amazed that in between contractions there was little pain. We got the hospital and we checked into triage. I was CONVINCED I was going to be 8-9 centimeters dilated and ready to push J When they checked me in, I kept telling them how much it hurt, ‘It is suppose to hurt sweetheart’ said one nurse, ‘it is labor’. They came into check me, I was excited, certain I was going to hear I was almost ready to go…the midwife said, ‘You are dilated at a good.strong.three’.
A THREE?!?!?!?! W.T.F.
The nurse tried to make me feel better, ‘everyone has different levels of pain they can take’. I felt like SUCH a wimp. Thank GOD Aaron didn’t say anything, because I know he was thinking, ‘I am married to the biggest wimp ever’. At that point, I made it clear that the next order of business was getting an epidural, ASAP. The nurses brought me over to our Labor and Delivery room and then, in walked the face of an angel, the anesthesiologist. The epidural was, um, the best thing ever. I don’t do well in hospitals, I am a huge baby and I kept apologizing to the nurses. They were all very sweet and then the epidural set in. The cool tingly itch brought sweet relief from the pain. We were introduced to the doctors/nurses and began to settle in for an evening of laboring and delivering…pain free! I kept saying, ‘why would anyone want to do this without one of these things?’ (ladies and gentlemen, labor really hurts). After a couple hours, it became obvious that labor wasn’t progressing as quickly as we’d like, so they began to start pitocen. Now, I am just going to say this, for the sake of my natural mamas that might be reading this..
I ended up with a c-section this time. I am balanced enough to wonder if the pitocen/epidural might have aided to some of the complications I ended up having. You don’t have to say it. I know it! And, I am still comfortable with the trust we put in my doctors and the sweet relief that the epidural brought us. J
SPOILER ALERT ENDED
Everything was moving along quite nicely, my mom was on her way, and we figured that in a couple of hours, I would be ready to push. My sister in law sent me a text that said, ‘always after my epidural I go from 2-10 really quick, so get ready’. I was feeling good, Aaron went to get something to eat and I said when he got back, maybe we could pray a Rosary as we got ready to welcome Joseph into the world. About a half an hour, all hell broke loose. I am still a bit fuzzy on everything that happened, I think the ‘trauma’ (it wasn’t that bad) kind of scarred me, so it is all a bit blurry. But, I shall try to explain.
When Aaron got back in the room, I started to feel sick. I thought it was because of heartburn, but couldn’t be sure. I told Aaron I thought I was going to be sick. And, of course, I started vomiting. I ended up getting quite sick and saying to Aaron, ‘I think you better call the nurse’. He, at first, thought I was just being my wimpy self. ‘We don’t need to call the nurse hon, you are just not feeling well’. But, in my ever calm way I said, ‘Call the nurse, NOW’. The rest happened very quickly. Here is what I recall. All of a sudden there were a lot of doctors and nurses in the room. They had the pediatric nurses, my doctors, the anesthesiologist team, and nurses for me. The doctors/nurses felt that I needed to get on my hands/knees and flip over (not easy to do when you are numb from the waist down- SCORE natural mamas) They finally got me on my stomach and that is when I heard them discussing the baby’s heartbeat. My mom had come in about that time (can you imagine how freaked she was?!?) and the doctors/nurses were trying to decide what to do. I just kept saying, ‘I am so scared right now, I am so scared, please pray’. I kept calling to my mom/aaron, ‘I need you to pray, I need us to pray that the baby is okay’. My mom came next to me and placed a scapular in my hands. Probably the best nurse ever leaned down to my face and said, ‘I am praying for you and your baby right now’. I was SO scared and SO frightened for Joseph. Wanting so desperately for his heartbeat to stabilize….
SIDENOTE- Someone asked us recently to explain why we decided to have another baby, how we knew it was time? See, the thing is, many people probably believe that having Joseph so soon after lil’ Aaron (especially after a c-section with Aaron and being advised to wait a year) was a mistake. An, ‘oops’ if you will. But he wasn’t. When we conceived lil’ Joey, we were trying to have another child. We were excited to get pregnant about. Lil’ Joey was a planned baby; we couldn’t wait to expand our family to one more. We did a bit of research and found out that you COULD have 2 c-section babies close together without too much of a crisis and we want/wanted a big family. Although I hate every moment of pregnancy, I could not wait to hold my new little boy. Couldn’t wait to be a mother of two boys. Couldn’t WAIT to watch lil’ Aaron be a brother and watch my boys grow up together. The husband and I wanted 5-6 kids (of course, depending on what God wants for us) with a few foster children (the husband hasn’t totally signed on to that yet)…so lil’ Joseph was all part of the plan. What was not part of the plan was his heartbeat dropping.
After about 5-10 minutes without being able to stabilize the boy’s heartbeat, my doctor came up to me and said, ‘Mary, I know you want a natural labor, but I think we are going to have to do a csection’.
Here is the thing, I did NOT want a c-section. I was very afraid of what it would mean to future births (that is pretty much the only reason I cared; I don’t really buy into some of the conspiracy theory stuff). I trust my doctor, but I also know that I want/wanted lots of future babies (btw- I know I can have seventeen hundred c sections, but just not without pretty serious consequences), so having a c section was really REALLY not what I wanted. But, as I have told many people since, when you are afraid, for the life of your child, it pretty much doesn’t matter. I looked at the ol’ doctor and told her to do whatever she needed to do. Within ten minutes, I was staring at the operating lights and the surgery had begun.
One thing that was really cool, the same nurse that told me she was praying for me, leaned over and clarified before I was wheeled into the OR ‘Just so you know, this is NOT an emergency c-section, if it was, we would have already delivered your baby’. It calmed me more than you could know.
That is not to say everything was spectacular. I didn’t mention that I continued to throw up through most of this ordeal (is that too much detail?) and when they took the husband away as they brought me in the OR (they brought him back) I was REALLY scared. I asked several times if the baby was okay, and no one was answering me. So then I said, ‘I am noticing nobody is answering me, can someone please tell me if the baby is okay?’. One of the people who was near my head said, ‘right now the baby is not hooked up to any monitors’. That was their only answer. Then I began praying, and fighting being sick again. It was a very scary SCARY bit of time for me. Aaron had been brought in and was sitting next to me. And then I heard it…
I have said before the best.sound.ever is the sound of a child’s cry after delivery. With lil’ A I just cried and cried when I heard that sound. With Joseph Michael, when I heard him cry, I literally whoop’d and hollered like I was at a tense sporting event. It was such a feeling of relief and exhilaration to know that he was okay, that he was out, that whatever was making his heartbeat erratic within me was now cleared. Unlike when I had Aaron, this time the doctor held him up over the sheet so we could see him. Everyone was shocked at how tiny he was. ONLY 7 pounds 14 ounces. He had a full head of hair it was reported. The doctor said his shoulder must have been on the umbilical cord, which was part of the problem, but other than that everything was fine. It took an uncomfortably long time for them to sew me up, that part sucked. The husband was holding Joseph Michael. They said there was quite a bit of scar tissue from lil’ Aaron, but that I would def. be able to have a third (SCORE). I was so tired at that point, I kept falling asleep (sorry little Joseph) and, for those of your familiar with the c section procedure, I just kept shivering and shivering.
They brought me over to recovery and Aaron and I had time to be with our sweet baby boy. We needed to bring his temperature up, so we immediately did skin to skin. My sweet baby boy laying on me, warmed up quickly. I felt so grateful and so bewildered at all that had occurred. In a very short amount of time, things went from very okay to very not okay. I went from the emotion of being so excited that we were naturally laboring, to being scared scared scared that sweet baby boy was not going to be okay. By the time they brought us into our room, my head was in full processing mode. The whole thing seems like a bit of a blur. Obviously snuggling with my little one was incredible, but I was also processing everything that had just happened. The husband went to bed right away, but even though I was tired to the point of tears, I could not shut my mind off enough to sleep. I sent a text my very good friend Ann, who had an unexpected c section with her baby boy and asked her to pray for me. I was just so freaked out by the whole experience. I am quite confident I have never felt the range of emotion in one day that I did on July 12th. But, then it was July 13th…
…And we had a beautiful baby boy. I am not gonna lie, the husband and I make some cute babies (and I am not one that thinks all babies are cute). Joseph is no exception. His lack of eyelashes and freakishly long toes make him unique, but he is just perfect. He doesn’t cry except when he is hungry or gassy. He never spits up, he latched on to nursing right away. He opens his eyes and looks at us with such a cute little curious face. We kept telling the doctors/nurses/pediatricians, ‘can you believe how small he is?’. Finally one doctor was like, ‘um, he is a very average sized baby’. And we realized he was only small to us due to lil’ A’s 10 pound 6 ounce status.
The stay in the hospital was much calmer this time. Less visitors, more time with just the hubster, me and lil’ Joey. God has a funny way of working things out, it was just what we needed.
Although not much about my pregnancy with Joey or his delivery was easy, it was just as it was meant to be. I am so SO thankful for every single nurse/doctor/etc…that we came into contact with during our time at the hospital. I am so thankful for modern medicine and so very thankful for our two boys. We do not know what God has in store for the future of our family, but we are thankful for what we have been given (well, most of the time, when both boys are crying at once, I become a little less thankful!).
That is the story of how Joey entered the world. I am one.blessed.mama!
(Professional photos by Russ Wasyhyshyn)