Life, that is. Our entire life has done a total 180. I want to update you all on everything that has happened over the past few months and also explain some of those changes that I made reference to a while back. I think I will start where we became a family, more than just the two of us. December 5th, 2011. Be warned. This is VERY long and detailed.
Actually, lets start on December 3rd, 2011. Nick was working until 3pm and we had plans to head over to Santa Barn (a Christmas event held by our friend’s family) when he got off work. I woke up that morning with an insane need to get life organized. I knew I wanted to have Bennett’s room done by December 1st and we still had a few little things left to do. I was only 35 weeks pregnant, so I didn’t really think we needed to rush, but I wanted it done so I just didn’t have to think about it any more. Since we had plans on that Saturday, we decided that we would get started when we got home. Since I couldn’t sit still, I cleaned up my bathroom and do a few house chores while I waited for 2:30pm to roll around. I was kind of blown away by the fact that I had some energy to spare when I left the house and headed up to the hospital to pick up Nick and ride together to Santa Barn.
When we arrived at the event, I was in a great mood. I was surrounded by a group of people I adore and everyone was full of compliments. I knew I was really swollen and felt huge, so the “Wow, you look great!” comments helped ease the pain a little. I stood the whole time and generally felt pretty awesome. After the event, we made the trek home and began working on the list of “Things To Do Before Birth”.
I was literally on my hands and knees scrubbing the bath tub, picking up lost socks under the bed, and cleaning/sorting/folding all of Ben’s adorable clothes the rest of that night and into Sunday. What was I thinking?
In the middle of the night that night, I woke up earlier than normal to use the bathroom. I had been on a pretty consistent 12am, 3am, 6am schedule of peeing in the middle of the night, but this time I was up at 1:30. I thought it was strange, but got up anyway. Much to my surprise, I had lost my mucous plug. I tried not to think much of it because I had been told that girls can go weeks without it and it can even grow back.
I woke up Monday morning, December 5th, at 6am to get ready for work and felt really odd. My initial thought was that I had just pushed it a little too much over the weekend. I had the most faint, barely there, cramps and my body just felt out of it. I contemplated staying home from work, but decided to suck it up and save those hours for my upcoming leave. As I made the drive, I started feeling worse. I really thought I was getting sick or something, so I called my OBGYN and he said just to keep track of how I was feeling and if I had any timeable contractions that increased in severity, to call him back.
Fast forward to about 10am. I was sitting at my desk and decided to quickly pull out my phone and use the app I had downloaded the week prior to time these cramps I was feeling. Honestly, the “cramps” weren’t even nearly as bad as period cramps, so I wasn’t too worried. They were timeable, about 7-10 minutes apart and 45-55 seconds long. I messaged my work friend, Heather, and asked her what she thought I should do and she said that she had been sent home for preterm labor when she was pregnant and that I was probably experiencing the same thing. After all, I was 5 weeks away from my due date! She suggested I just stay calm and try to make it through the day. I decided to let Nick know what was going on and I will never forget our conversation.
“Hey hun! How are you?” I said.
“Tired. What’s up?”
“Well, I lost my plug last night.”
“Your plug? Which plug?” He later told me that he thought I meant the plug for my iPhone and was going to suggest that I check the outlet by the bed, because that is where he last saw it.
“The plug that is holding Ben in.” I replied the best way I could think of. How else could you explain that?
“Okay? What does that mean?”
I went on to explain that it probably didn’t mean anything, but I called the doctor, I did feel a little off and would be keeping track of everything from here on out. At about 12pm, the cramps were getting just a tiny bit stronger, and 5-7 minutes apart, but still not strong enough to make me think I was having contractions. I was starting to get hungry, so I went downstairs to talk to the other girls at work about what we all wanted to eat. As I was standing at the counter, at 12:30pm, I felt a tiny trickle and thought Ben had moved and somehow pressed against my bladder. I was convinced I was peeing my pants. I rushed into the bathroom and as soon as I pulled down my pants, I felt a huge gush. I froze right there, with my pants around my knees, and smiled. My water just broke! My next thought after that initial HOLY CRAP, was to clean up the floor so no one else had to. Yes, I was in the bathroom with my pants around my knees, after my water broke, bent over with handfulls of paper towel, cleaning up my mess.
I walked out into the lobby and told everyone that I had to leave because my water had broken. They all froze, with panicked looks on their faces. They asked if I needed a ride to the hospital and I insisted that I could do it on my own and that no one needed to worry. I was still barely feeling anything, except for my very wet pants. I grabbed up my things and headed out the door.
While driving, I made the necessary phone calls. I called Nick first, who acted exactly as I thought he would. He was very calm, but I could hear that urgency in his voice. He freaked when I told him that I was driving myself and asked me a million times if I was sure it was a good idea. I told him I was fine, I felt normal, and I stayed as calm as humanly possible. I was more worried about Ben being born early, to be honest.
My next call was the OB office, which was closed for lunch. Awesome. I called at least 10 times and no one picked up, so I just called the Labor and Delivery area of the hospital to let them know I was coming in. They didn’t really seem to believe me when I told them what was going down.
As I was on the phone with the hospital, Nick called in at least 20 times. I couldn’t pick up, obviously, and that immediately sent him into a panic. In his head, I was on the side of the road somewhere in the middle of that 45 minute drive giving birth to our baby boy all alone. I got off the phone with the hospital, called him back and told him to relax. He just wanted to check on me and tell me he had a wheel chair waiting. “I don’t need a wheel chair, Nick. Don’t be dramatic.”
Next call was to my mom, to tell her to stay at home until I gave her the green light. I thought I would be in the triage for at least a couple hours and might even get sent home.
As I pulled into the hospital, I felt my very first contraction and WOW, did it ever hurt. It almost felt like someone had taken an extremely hot belt and wrapped it around my waist and didn’t stop tightening it. That was the first contraction of many to come. I pulled into a spot in the hospital parking lot and Nick came trotting out with a wheel chair in front of him. I just look at him and rolled my eyes. “Just get in it, please?” He said. So, I did and we rolled on up to the birthing center.
Thank goodness I jumped in that chair. On the way up and while waiting at reception, I had a bunch more contractions. They were coming stronger and faster by the minute. Once in triage, I was hooked up to monitors and Dr. Cantor came in to check on me. We lucked out because he was one of my favorite doctors in the practice and he just so happened to be on duty that day! The first thing he said after checking me was that it looked like we were going to have a baby that day! I immediately looked at Nick. The face he made told me exactly what was on his mind… “Holy crap!” The doctor went on to tell me I was already 3cm dilated, 100% effaced and -1 station. This was really it! I can’t even begin to explain how uncomfortable I was, but listening to Ben’s little heart beat and watching him try to kick the monitor, really helped me get through that little bit of time. Our amazing nurse, Erin, rushed to get us a room and after about 45 minutes we were finally able to settle down. She said she would put the order for an epidural in right away, as soon as she had my vitals. In the meantime, I jumped in the shower to help ease some of the pain. I was beyond ready for that epidural! The back pain was insane, so I hopped on the yoga ball to help get Ben to turn around. He was facing the wrong way!
Erin did my tests and called the doctor in for a quick check. At this point, it had only been about an hour, so we weren’t expecting much at all. I had only been on the yoga ball for about 10 minutes and I even tried getting on all fours on the bed. You do just about anything, no matter how ridiculous you look, to make that pain go away. Thank goodness for Nick’s counter-pressure massage.
Dr. Cantor was with another mom who was also in labor, so Erin did the check herself. I was shocked to hear the results! I had gone from a 3 to an 8.5 in just about an hour! At this point, someone made it clear to me that I could no longer get an epidural. I begged for something, anything. I think I even mentioned Tylenol. Like that would do anything. ha! Erin said that she could feel his head and that I would soon feel a strong urge to push. She wasn’t joking! She turned around for about 3 minutes to fill out some paperwork and that feeling really set in. I HAD TO PUSH! I was like I had lost all control over my body. I had to use every ounce of self control that I had not to push while we waited for the doctor to come in for delivery. He walked in the door, they set up the delivery stuff and got me into position. I pushed a few times just leaning forward but it wasn’t working as well as we’d hoped, so that brought in the push bar and I pulled that sheet with all my might.
All I could focus on was Nick. He was quietly encouraging me. There were people all around me yelling and shouting to push, and all I could hear was Nick’s calm voice telling me that I could do it. He placed cold wash cloths on my forehead, held my hand, and was pressing his face against mine. He was my pain medication. I screamed louder than I ever remember screaming and begged for someone to pull him out of me, but in the end, it was just me, Nick and Ben. That is all that mattered in that split second before our lives had changed forever.
I pushed through about 10 contractions, for no more than 30 minutes, and I will never forget that feeling of complete relief when Ben finally made it out into the world. I looked down at him and then over at Nick and his teary eyes. I was in awe. We had done it. We were a family.
Ben was the cutest baby I had ever seen. I remember saying “He doesn’t look like an alien or an old man! He is just a really, really cute baby!” I wasn’t able to hold him for awhile because he was struggling to breathe. Not hearing his little cry for those first couple minutes was really scary, but eventually he let out the sweetest sound imaginable. Nick went over while they checked his vitals and did the new baby routine. I remember just looking over, as I was stuck on the bed, and seeing Ben’s tiny hand holding onto Nick’s giant finger. It was in that moment that my mom instincts kicked in.
I knew he was having a hard time breathing. I was torn between wanting to hold him and wanting them to take him to the CCN (our hospital’s version of NICU) right away. They wrapped him up and brought him over with a warning that we would only have a minute. I stared into those eyes for what felt like hours watching his little chest sink as he struggled for air. We got a couple photos, I cried those new mom tears, and I handed him off to the CCN nurses. He would be in much better hands if he went with them.
Those next couple hours were the hardest of my life. Not the post labor stuff though. I got up, walked around, ate dinner and sat in bed without any problems thanks to not having any drugs in my system. The rushed med free birth was a blessing! It was the fact that I couldn’t see our baby boy. I couldn’t hold him or snuggle him like you see in the movies. I could take tons of pictures and post them on Facebook to show him off to the world. I had to wait. For four long hours, we waited.
Once we were finally allowed to go see him, I was an emotional mess. Seeing your newborn baby in an isolette under an oxygen hood, is not an easy sight. We couldn’t hold him, we couldn’t touch him. The urge that takes over your body is so strong. You just want to reach in and grab him. You think to yourself “He is mine. I can hug him if I want.” but really, you can’t. He was so beautiful. So fragile.
It was the hardest test of my life, but we made it. It was a constant struggle for that time. There were more good days than bad, thankfully, and it was 3 days before I was able to hold him. Nick finally changed his diaper, I eventually gave him kisses, the grandparents all held him and fed him, and 11 days later, we were able to take our little guy home. We were finally together, our little family of three. Just in time for Christmas.