Amy got me ready on the table and both Jeremy and I were hopeful. “Hmm.” She said. “I think you are about a 6-7.”
“A SIX OR SEVEN?!?” At this point there was no controlling my volume. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN? A SIX OR SEVEN?!?”
My heart was racing.
“YOU MEAN I WENT BACKWARDS?! WHO GOES BACKWARDS?
WHAT THE CRAP? Why isn’t this working? Why isn’t my body working here!?!?! The frustration was all over me but I couldn’t dwell very long before the next contraction hit me. I know I am a slow learner…but I thought this was like a natural thing…like twisting your ankle or getting a black eye…it’s not person specific…people just do it. People just have babies.
The facts were clear…I was a week overdue. I had gained 54 pounds and they thought that the baby was probably pretty large. Even though he wasn’t in distress, I had a little under 24 hours to give birth. And the doctor thought that my uterus was stalling out at 9 centimeters. The doctor said that when I bared down, that Will’s head was probably pushing against the opening of the cervix and was causing it to swell. Causing it to close up. This could happen because of a long labor. Because of a big baby. Because my uterus was tired. I tried to argue that I had the energy to do it. That I could “paint a house”. But it wasn’t me…it was my uterus. Apparently giving birth was going to need a push. And that is when I remembered the options the midwife had outlined. I could try Pitocin…which might kickstart the labor back into full speed. I could also give an epidural a whirl…hoping that the drugs would allow my uterus to relax enough to get the last centimeter. But both could fail…and that’s when I would need a csection.
I looked at Jeremy and we talked about the options. My head was still swimming. My eyes were red as the tears poured down my cheeks. The labor didn’t hurt as much as failure. I just couldn’t wrap my head around going backwards. I just didn’t think it was possible. I hadn’t read about it in any book before and I didn’t really understand how it could happen. Wasn’t your cervix like a sinkhole? They don’t close up…they can only get bigger, right? My confusion was suffocating. I attempted to cling to the fact that the baby was ready either way.
Manage your expectations Katie!
He started coming on his own.
He’s healthy. That’s what’s important.
My heart sank as I realized that this natural childbirth wasn’t going to be quite natural anymore. I would need something. The drugs were going to come one way or another and I would need to let go of my natural dreams. Letting go would have to be my choice. Because the aftermath of having those dreams ripped from my heart would take too long.
“Ok. We decided. We want to try the epidural.”
The anestheiologist entered the room soon after our decision was made. He was tall with a dark tan and long fingers. And he seemed young. Way too young to be a doctor.
“Ok Katie, your contractions are about two minutes apart now and this is going to take about 8 minutes. So I need you to hold still through your contractions.”
This is when Jeremy became my hero. He looked at me with these big blue eyes. And he knew my pain. He grabbed my hands and helped me lean over my knees. My back was arched like a cat after it met an enemy. I was the cat and the giant needle about to get stuck in my spine was my nemisis.
“Look at me.” He said. “Look me in the eyes. Don’t look away. You can do this.”
I held my breath as my eyes started to fill with tears. All my fears were floating around me as I stared into his eyes. His beautiful strong eyes. As I stared into my favorite pools of blue, I noticed something else. Jeremy’s lower lip started to quiver. Then his chin wrinkled up and his eyebrows furrowed. As he bit his lower lip, tears started rolling down his cheeks. He was crying. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw him get emotional. Not like this.
“I would do this for you if I could.” He said.
How did I get so lucky? How did I get such a man? Such a provider? Such a protector? I was so caught up on my labor plan that I forgot what was really important. I get to have a baby with my favorite person in the whole world. I got everything I wanted. I got my love here with me. I got to have a dip in the tub. I got a midwife. I got to hear my babies heartbeat over and over. It was strong. And I have to be strong too.
The epidural was over before I knew it. When Dr. Hood prepared to check me, he said “I truly hope this worked.” And I did too. But in my heart, I knew the status before he said anything. It didn’t work. I would need a csection.
The hospital crew prepped me in a heartbeat. The catheter was the most uncomfortable thing…and I kept on telling everyone that I felt like I needed to pee. As I was ready to be wheeled out of the room, my mom reached over and told me that she was proud of me. I knew that she wanted me to have a natural childbirth…that she wanted me to get the chance to push this baby out into the world. But she reassured me that the baby was probably just too big and her smile was contagious. This was the hour. The hour that we were going to meet this baby.
Ten minutes later, I was strapped to a table with my arms out like a cross.
“Yes.” He said.
“What do you use? Like do you use glue or staples or sutures?” I remembered back to a conversation I had with a friend about the weirdness of glue holding you together after a caesarean.
“Dissolvable sutures and stainless steel staples on the surface.” He went on to explain how they don’t leave a bad scar.
“I am very vain.” I joked trying to lighten the air in the room.
That was the last thing that was said before it started. The entire thing felt surreal. Like flashes of memories. The anesthesiologist had adjusted my epidural for the operation. The student nurse had grabbed my camera ready to start shooting. The nurses were buzzing. I didn’t really feel much of anything except the squeezing of Jeremy’s hand in mine.
Someone said outloud that the cord was in the way and that is the only indication that I was opened up.
Dr. Hood warned me of some pressure. Then suddenly there was a collective gasp in the room.
I heard 15 people take in a breath of air at once.
“HE’s HUGE!” They said at once. A choir singing in unison about my baby.
Jeremy looked down with a huge smile peeking out from beneath his face mask wrinkling his eyes. “He’s huge!” He said excitedly.
I couldn’t help but bust out laughing. I laughed out loud as I imagined that they pulled out a toddler from my belly.
He was here! He was finally here! I could hear the nurses shuffling their feet. As Dr. Hood worked on me, the nurses worked on our new baby. I imagined what they were doing…rubbing, cleaning, turning my little guy to a ripe pink color and checking his eyes and ears and mouth and reflexes.
Then I heard the cry. The sweet cry. It was literally the most delicious sound I have ever heard.
“Go Jeremy!” I knew that he wanted to be with his little boy. “Go be with him.”
The next moments of his life were the longest of mine. I tried to imagine what he looked like. The color of his hair. The shape of his face. His lips, his nose, his little fingers.
From across the room, I heard the nurses announce his weight…nine pounds eleven ounces. My smile was stretched to its max. I couldn’t believe it. I knew he would be big but over nine pounds? My grandma would be proud.
Jeremy came back to see me.
“He’s got hair!” Jeremy beamed, “He’s got lots of dark hair!” Jeremy looked like he was glowing with pride.
Amy came over to give us our ID wristbands…we were officially parents. Parents with wristbands. Like bonafide identification that we were officially part of a club. Jeremy never stopped smiling.
And then I saw the nurse carry something over to him. The bundle was wrapped in a blanket and the nurse placed it in Jeremy’s welcoming arms. I knew what was about to happen. I was about to see the person that would change my life. I was going to become something entirely new. Something entirely different. Something special.
Jeremy turned and it was a moment that I will never forget.
My eyes swelled and my heart soared. There he was. My baby. I laughed as I cried.
“Honey he doesn’t look like either one of us!” I giggled with Jeremy. “He looks Chinese! I swear he’s yours!”
Jeremy was laughing too. My eyes filled with tears of joy. Everything was right. Everything worked out. Everything was good.
In that moment, that very nanosecond, I knew that everything that had taken place was there in our little family historybook for a reason. There was a reason that labor came on it’s own, a reason to have Dr. Hood chosen as our doctor, a reason we had the midwife, a reason for the student nurse, a reason that my cervix went backwards….it was all leading us to that moment. A moment of pure elation, identifiable pride, and undeniable love.
Dr. Hood reached out to shake Jeremy’s hand becoming the first to congratulate him on becoming a father. Then he turned to me and said the very sweetest thing that could possibly be imagined…
“Next time, you will be able to go natural.”
All I could do was smile and genuinely thank him with the sincerest heart possible. I realized in that moment why God gave us him. God knew that I was going to have a caesarean before Will was even conceived. That is why God gave me a midwife. That is why He provided this surgeon for Will. And for me. All my anger and resentment toward Dr. Hood was released in my heart and in flooded a sense of gratefulness.
Moments later I was wheeled into the recovery room and my little boy was finally placed in my arms. My blood pressure was very low and it made me swirl in a land of dizziness but I knew that I wanted to see him, touch him, look into his eyes. I reached out and Jeremy placed him into my hands. He didn’t feel almost ten pounds. And then I pulled back the blanket to see his face.
His big dark grey eyes peeked out from underneath, locking with mine.
“I’m yours.” His eyes bored into my heart.
I had planned this second for the longest time…imagining what I would say…fighting to stay lucid as my dizziness increased with each heartbeat.
“Happy Birthday Will.” I whispered. “I’m your mommy and I love you.”
WANT TO READ MORE BIRTH STORY? CLICK HERE TO READ WESTON’s BIRTH STORY!