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During the night, the nurse came in to check on me several times and asked me how I was feeling. I felt bad for complaining about this, but my one and only symptom was that I was so itchy! I felt like I was wearing a woolen body suit and it was air drying after being washed. I couldn’t scratch my face, hands, arms, or stomach hard enough! Why did I feel bad complaining about this? Well, the woman in the room next to me was obviously doing a natural birth and. . . let’s just say. . . there were times where, out of context, someone might mistake her cries/screams were a goat being tortured.
However, by about 10am, I still hadn’t progressed any further. So Peg broke my water to see if that would do anything. At 11am my contractions were still very weak, but there were technically coming every 2-3 minutes and still, I had not dilated any further. (Did I mention I didn’t feel them at all? I had to ask if I was having contractions. Oh the glories of modern medicine.) “Well we are here to have a baby, so how do you feel about trying a small dose of Pitocin?” Peg asked. At this point I was all for it! I was anxious to meet my baby and because I already had the epidural, I wasn’t concerned about my ability to handle the intensity that can come with Pitocin.
After my first dose, though, a team of nurses rushed in after about 20 minutes when we (and they) heard Hewson‘s heart rate begin to drop off again. They moved me onto my left side and then onto my right and then back again. They picked up a heart beat after about a minute and left, telling me that Peg would be in to see me in a minute. My mom was in the room with us at the time and when I saw Peg walk in with a doctor and I saw the looks on their faces, I knew something wasn’t right. I asked my mom to step out for a second and prepared to face the inevitable.
My midwife introduced the doctor and explained that the nurses, midwives, and doctors had all been carefully watching Hewson‘s vital signs throughout the night.
“Baby isn’t doing well, Nicole,” they told me.
Given the circumstances, they felt that he would not likely survive a vaginal delivery.
JL grabbed my hand and with one look between us said it all. “Well let’s go, then,” I said quickly, “Get him out.” The doctor started explaining the procedure of what was about to happen as they prepped me for a c-section, including giving JL instructions on what to do. Although I was trying to be brave, I wasn’t really listening and I could only nod my head while tears started to stream down my cheeks. This was not what I had planned. It was not what I had prayed and hoped and prepared for over the last nine months. I was terrified.
Before the doctor left, she thanked me for being so open to doing what was right for my child. I couldn’t believe she thanked me. “What? You’re the ones giving me my baby. I’ll do whatever it takes.” Apparently, many women in my position will try and fight the medical staff and insist on delivering the way they planned. To me, that is insane. I felt that they had given me a fair chance to get the birth I wanted and I saw how concerned they were. I knew that these were good people and although I was scared and disappointed, I knew in my heart that this was the right thing to do.
JL held my hand and prayed while stroking my hair. He kept telling me that everything would be perfect while the anesthesiologist bumped up my meds. I tried to make jokes and maintain a positive attitude, but the tears never stopped.
“I’m so sorry things turned out this way. We know this wasn’t what you wanted,” said just about every nurse and doctor. I started shaking uncontrollably from a potent cocktail of fear and the drugs–which the doctors assured me was normal. I practiced my breathing that I had intended to use for pushing and it did help a little.
I kissed JL goodbye (temporarily) as they wheeled me towards the operating room. Peg held my hand the entire way there and I heard my mom call out to me as we passed the waiting room. Everyone was being SO nice to me and I knew that everything would be fine, but I remember apologizing for crying and thanking them all for being so nice to me. “This is just not what I had in mind,” I said though my tears.
The OR was blindingly bright and a team of surgeons, nurses, NICU doctors and nurses, and anesthesiologists were in the room waiting for me. I stated chanting to myself “This is good. This is good.” While I was, in fact, completely numb, I could feel the doctors were starting to cut me open just like you can feel a dentist working on your mouth after being numbed.
“Wait! Where is my husband? I need my husband before you start.” I called out.
Peg, still holding my hand, softly said, “He is walking in right now, sweetheart.” She transferred my hand to his and I could see that JL was just as scared as I was, even though most of his face was covered by a mask.
He sang to me softly and helped me focus on breathing while the doctors worked until we were interrupted by their announcement, “Okay, Nicole, you’re going to feel a little pressure.”
That was a lie. Just like at the dentist, a little pressure means a LOT of pressure.
But almost immediately I could feel them pull Hewson‘s tiny body from mine.
And then it happened; the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. Hewson gasped for air and his cry rang out as clear and strong as a church bell. JL and I both burst into joyful, tear-filled laughter. We did it. Our baby made it!
A nurse brought him around the sheet and although he was still a little blue and covered in all of the things babies are covered in at birth, but he looked so beautiful. “He’s perfect!” The nurse called out to us. JL and I continued to laugh-cry and hold hands as the NICU team examined him.
“You have a little blondie,” one of the nurses popped around the sheet with a smile. “Wanna see, Dad?”
JL looked at me to make sure I was okay and I could only smile and wave him off to go.
As I lied there, feeling them put my body back together, I was so far beyond relieved. Hearing my son cry made me feel as though everything I had lost, every hope and dream for what I had wanted on this day, was now returned to me tenfold.
But that was nothing compared to when I got to hold him for the first time. Right there in the OR, they placed Hewson on my chest and he stopped crying, opened his eyes wide, and snuggled up on my bare chest.
There are no words for the moment when someone hands you your child for the first time. I knew him for the last 41 weeks and five days as the tiny little baby in my womb and here he was in my arms–so much more than I had ever hoped for.
He was perfect.
JL and I sang him Happy Birthday and as they wheeled me back to my room, I was deliriously happy. I told Hewson how happy we were that he was safe, that we had prayed for him, and that we were going to be there for him no matter what.
A lot of people try to glorify one type of birth over another. Many of these same people view a c-section as a failure and shame women who get them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This birth made me a mother and I felt the joy and triumph of winning a marathon. His birth was not what I had hoped for, but it didn’t, and doesn’t, matter. It was the birth that brought us our son. For that reason alone his birth was perfect and I will forever cherish it.
— Hope you enjoyed it! Here are a few of my favorite shots of the day by my midwife, Peg–