Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Harrison's Birth Story

Me and my precious baby boy.
The following is the very LONG story of how my beautiful son Harrison came into this world. I had been wanting to write down the entire story of the events before, during, and after his birth, and knew that if I waited any longer they wouldn't be fresh on my mind any more. So....I finally did it. Here it is! And just FYI...only read it you have a good 15 minutes of spare time! Haha. Brevity is not a strength of mine... :)

I truly did love being pregnant. I felt like I was doing something important and worthwhile, and I was. Growing a human is pretty important work, if you ask me. I had a few minor pregnancy related issues early on, but overall I felt pretty good and had a smooth and healthy pregnancy. As the last trimester of my pregnancy went on, I began to experience some of the not so awesome pregnancy symptoms such as swelling that continued to plague me until the day I would hold by baby boy…and some even after.  At 34 weeks I began to have major swelling in my feet, ankles, and legs…so bad that I could not fit my feet into ANY of my shoes and had to go buy a pair of black flats with the stretchy tops (the only way my foot would fit in them) from Payless. Those were the shoes I wore every single day up until the day I gave birth. At that point, I didn’t care about fashion. It became about what would fit.  After an average day at work, my poor feet would swell up so bad they looked like little muffins spilling over the tops of my shoes.  I called them my Shrek feet. I also had trouble walking.  I had gained so much weight I started to waddle… bad. To say I was uncomfortable was an understatement. After about 37 or 38 weeks I could no longer get comfortable in bed at night and would wake up multiple times a night and end up on the couch with pillows stuffed behind me and in front of me.  Eventually I just slept on the couch from the start.  At about 37 weeks, at the suggestion of some of my doula friends and other moms, I also started trying to prepare my body for labor by taking evening primrose oil nightly (helps efface the cervix) and drinking raspberry leaf tea. Hopefully my body would do everything it was supposed to on it’s own, but helping it out couldn’t hurt right?
Here are my Shrek feet at Christmas..OMG!!!
I left school on December 19th with every intention not to be back after the holidays. Everything was set.  Lesson plans were in order. Copies were made.  Tons of sticky notes decorated my desk, computer, white board, etc… all with last minute reminders for my long term sub (not that I’m Type A or anything.)  It was Christmas break and students didn’t start back until January 7th.  I was due January 11th.  I would surely go into labor over Christmas break and then just not come back until my maternity leave was over…what a perfect plan!  Christmas came and went. I enjoyed family time, but I felt like a whale. I pretty much sat on the couch with my swollen feet propped up and drowned my sorrows in sausage balls and Andes mints.  

Holy huge belly batman!!!
How much fatter could I possibly get, right?? Baby would be here any day for sure.  Monday, December 29th was my first cervix check.  I had been doing all the right things, so surely I would have 1 cm dilation…or something.  Yeah….not so much.  No dilation, no effacement, nothing.  But it was okay. I knew women who had walked around 5 cm dilated for weeks and still not given birth until 40 weeks or after.  And I also knew women who weren’t dilated at all, and then gave birth just days later.  Dilation isn’t always an accurate sign to predict when labor will begin.  I still had time.
    The next Monday, January 5th, rolled around and I went back to the OB for my 39 week appointment.  They checked my cervix again and I had slight effacement but no dilation still.  I was so disappointed. School started back the next day.  I just couldn't go back.  I was so swollen. Being on my feet all day was inconceivable!!  Maybe if I prayed hard enough I would go into labor that night and not have to go back to school.  Yep....that didn't happen.
January 10th....1 day away from my due date!
I started back school on January 6th. I had already been getting lots of “comments,” before Christmas break because nobody thought I was going to make it to my due date, but now that I was back, they started getting worse.  Every woman who’s ever been pregnant recently knows the ones I’m talking about.  “Are you sure you’re not having twins??!”  “You look like you’re about to pop!” and my personal favorite, “You haven’t had that baby yet?!” Can you not look at me and tell that I have NOT had this baby yet?  Thanks for reminding me, though!
  I left school on Friday, January 9th praying with every ounce of my being that I would go into labor over the weekend.  My due date was that Sunday.  I had to do something.  I started Googling labor inducing concoctions to try.  Sunday came.  It was officially my due date.  No signs of baby.  Our photographer texted me and gave me the recipe to her friend’s father-in-law who is an OB in Charleston’s labor inducing cocktail that had remarkable success. Hey what the heck?! I Googled the recipe and found that other people had tried a similar concoction and gone into labor within 48 hours. This was it! I went out and bought the super random ingredients – almond butter, apricot nectar, castor oil, and some champagne. I mixed it up in my Ninja blender, drank the nastiness, and waited.  Hours passed…nothing.  I went to sleep that evening (on the couch) just knowing that I was going to will my water to break during the night.  I didn’t even put a towel down.  I figured it would give us another good reason to buy a new couch.  But Monday morning came and not a single sign of labor.  I had officially passed my due date.
People kept reminding me that first pregnancies often do go past due.  Lots of women told me that their babies were born at 41 weeks, 40 weeks and 5 days, 42 weeks….one even said 43 weeks!  My OB (and almost all OBs that I’m aware of) will not let you go past 42 weeks.  Some won’t even let you go past 41 weeks. I knew the clock was ticking.  I was starting to get very discouraged.  I had been reading, planning, and preparing for a natural, unmedicated childbirth. But if my body was not progressing at all, how would that be possible?  I had been very against an induction from Day 1, especially seeing how quickly doctors would call for them, even when there was not a medical reason to do so.  I was determined to have my baby naturally with as little intervention as possible.
My next appointment was the next day, Monday, January 12th.  They checked me again.  I was about 50% effaced  but still 0 cm dilated.  I was still discouraged somewhat, but seeing that I was slightly effaced gave me some hope.  I expressed my concerns about being overdue at the appointment, but reiterated that I did not want to be induced.  The OB seemed shocked that I was not begging for them to induce me.  Apparently, they get requests from women to be induced quite often.  But as miserable as I was, I just did not want to go that route. The OB said that if did not go into labor in this next week, they would do an ultrasound next Monday and check on the baby’s fluid levels and talk about options from there.  He also said that if I did not go into labor before Friday, January 23rd, I would have to be induced.  I had done my research, and I knew that I was not a good candidate for induction.  With no progression AT ALL, I was going to be set up for failure and asking for a c-section, which was the absolute opposite of what I wanted.  I sent texts, emails, and called friends and family to ask them for prayers for Harrison to come on his own. Tony and I prayed every night that we would meet our son soon and that I wouldn’t have to be induced or have a c-section.
During the early morning hours of Monday, January 19th (8 days overdue), I started leaking what I thought may be my water.  It was a steady slow leak with a pinkish tint to it and enough to need to wear a pad. According to a lot of online research, it seemed to be amniotic fluid.  Only about 10% of women’s waters break before labor, but even in those 10% not all of it comes out as one gush.  Many women experience a slow leak of fluid over a matter of hours or days.  Could this be a sign of labor?  My appointment to get the ultrasound was after school that day anyway, so I decided just to wait it out. When I came in, they did the ultrasound and saw that the baby’s fluid levels were at a 10, which is still good, apparently.  Baby was fine and in no distress.  Afterwards I went to have my cervix checked again,  but the OB’s were booked that day, so I had to see a midwife.  When I mentioned to her that I had had some leaking of fluid she jumped down my throat for not coming into the hospital already.  I reminded her that a slow leak of amniotic fluid was NOT an emergency, and even if my water had fully broken I would not have come to the hospital immediately and would have waited it out until labor had gotten well under way.  She was not happy with me.  I didn’t care.  Many OBs will tell you that if your water breaks you need to come to the hospital immediately because there is an increased risk of infection.  But as long as you are not putting anything in that “area,” how does sitting at home in labor make you any more likely to get an “infection” as sitting in a hospital bed? Skewed logic to me. Whatever.  She did a PH strip on the fluid I was leaking and said it was, in fact, NOT amniotic fluid.  So there had been no cause for alarm in the first place.  In my hormonal pregnant  brain I thought, “Up yours lady!”  Very unclassy of me… I know.  She also checked my cervix again and for the 3rd time now, I was told that I was not dilated AT ALL.  No surprise. They scheduled me to come back in that Thursday for another check.  Tony said I was being bossy to the midwife. I told Tony the midwife was being a butthead.
On Tuesday, January 20th, I decided that I would not be coming back to school the next day.  They had already told me I would have a baby by Friday, January 23rd, which was in just 3 days, and I was growing more miserable with each passing day.  I decided just to bow out early and try to enjoy the next couple of days and prepare to meet my sweet baby boy.  I spent the next couple of days trying every other labor-inducing method known to man and praying that my body would go into labor before Friday. I tried walking waddling around the neighborhood. It was hard enough just trying to find something to wear to walk around the neighborhood in...none of my workout clothes fit and I couldn't fit my feet into my tennis shoes. My leather flip flops didn't even fit. The only shoes that would fit me were some stretchy shower shoes, so I wore those. Thankfully it was daytime during the week and most people were at work because I was praying I wouldn't run into anyone I knew looking like that. The next thing I tried was eggplant parmesan. Apparently, there is this Italian restaurant in Georgia that has this famous eggplant parmesan recipe that is known to induce labor. There is some ridiculously large number of women who have eaten their eggplant parmesan and gone into labor within the next 48 hours. They even have pictures of babies all over their restaurant from all the women who went into labor after eating there. I remember seeing a story on it on the national news like 10 years ago. So I googled until I found the place. Thankfully, they had the recipe online! Good thing....because I really didn't feel like driving to Georgia. I made the recipe and ate it by myself for dinner that night (hubby is not a fan of eggplant) and waited..... Surely the eggplant would magically make my water break overnight!! I had my fingers crossed. I awoke the next morning with water in tact. Nothing.
  Thursday, January 22nd came and I went in for my appointment. Tony couldn’t come, so my mom came with me.  We saw Dr. Gallery this time, who is actually my mom’s OB. I had not seen him before. He was an older gentleman probably in his late 50’s or early 60’s, but he was very nice.  He checked my cervix once again and confirmed that I was still not dilated any.  I had not progressed not one bit in weeks.  My blood pressure was still good, though, and he said that I had no cause for concern.  Dr. Gallery told me if I wanted to wait it out until Monday the 26th (when I would be 42 weeks, 1 day), that I could.  This contradicted what Dr. Estes had told me earlier that week when he said I would have to be induced on Friday the 23rd…that next day.  He said it was up to me.  I literally started crying when he told me this. I was so physically and emotionally drained, and now I had another decision upon me.  I had told everyone we would have our baby by Friday. I had prepared to be able to meet my son on Friday.  And now I was going to be allowed to wait until Monday??  Technically, that meant that I would have more time to potentially go into labor on my own and avoid an induction, which is what I had wanted all this time. But it would also mean waiting even longer. Dr. Gallery said that he would leave and let me think about it for a minute.  I looked at my mom and just sobbed. I literally did not know what to do. I subconsciously knew that being induced the next day was going to end badly.  Being almost 42 weeks and still having no progression…it wasn’t looking positive for an induction to even be successful.  You can pump pitocin all day long, but if a woman’s body isn’t ready, it isn’t ready.  But once they start the process, you’re on the clock.  If labor doesn’t progress as they think it should in the window of time they give you (every doc and hospital is different), they are going to do a csection.  Unfortunately, that’s how hospitals work.  My mom started crying too.  She could see how distraught I was.  Dr. Gallery came in I just told him, “Schedule the induction for Friday.  I just can’t go any longer.”  My mom hugged me and went on her way. I got in the car and just bawled. I prayed that things would go smoothly and that the induction would be successful.  The end was in sight, but I wasn’t sure if “the end” would be what I wanted.   Scheduling the actual induction for Friday meant that we would have to come in that very night to start the process.  It is not recommended to induce labor when a woman is not dilated or effaced, so most doctors use a cervical ripening agent called Cervadil that is put on your cervix the night before the induction to help you efface/dilate.  I called Tony and told him the plan.  They would have us come in at 6:30 that evening and would admit us, start the Cervadil process, and induce Friday morning. Later that afternoon while we were home we got a call from the hospital that said they were not sure if they were going to have room for us.  There had been an influx of women that evening who were in labor and they were completely full.  They said they would most likely be able to get a room for us and to call back at 8:00.  Since we officially knew this was our last night as a family of two, we decided to have a date night before going into the hospital.  With bags packed, we had a nice dinner at Travinia’s together.   At 8:00 Tony called and they still had no room. They said to call back at 10:00.  We decided to go get some frozen yogurt to pass the time and headed home.  While we were home, the hospital called and said that they did not have room for us and that they would admit us at 5:00 the next morning.  So we unpacked our bags and went to sleep in our own beds again that night, only to wake up at 3:30 am to head in.  I was already apprehensive about us starting the whole induction process in the morning. Normally, they start the Cervadil at night so it can be working while you sleep. Then they start the pitocin the next morning after you’re rested so you will have energy to labor all day.  But if they started the Cervadil in the morning, that meant they would not be able to start the pitocin until late that night.  So I would be up all day while the Cervadil was in (unable to eat, might I add), and then up all night laboring…and maybe even all day the next day too, depending on how quickly things would go.  It didn’t feel like a good plan. We got to the hospital early that morning, got checked in, and I got in a hospital gown.  The nurse came in and told me they were going to hook me up to an IV and start the pitocin soon.  I did a double take.  “Excuse me?” I said.  “I thought we were going to do the Cervadil first.”  She said that they would just go ahead and start pitocin. I told her in the in the nicest way possible... absolutely not.  I explained to her that I was not dilated any and barely effaced, and that I needed all the help I could get.  She said that she couldn’t make that call, but that we would have to talk to  Dr. Plyler (the doctor coming on to shift that day) once shift change started at 7 am.  By that time, it was close to 7, so I figured we’d talk with Dr. Plyer soon, and get everything worked out. They went ahead and put in my IV, started me popsicle...Repeat.
on a drip, and put the fetal monitor on. 7 am passed, 8 am passed, 9 am passed….we caught up on our episodes of CSI and Boy Meets World, and I ate popsicles....lots of popsicles.  10 am passed….   We had been there for 5 hours and no doctor yet.  The nurses explained that they were still incredibly busy from the night before and that lots of babies were being born.  Dr. Plyler was simply unable to come talk to us.  11 am passed….  I started getting really frustrated.  Tony was getting frustrated too.  He wondered why they had even admitted us.  It was getting too late to start anything at all.  It had been 6 hours, I hadn’t eaten anything, and we were just sitting there.  All I was getting was IV fluids.  We were no closer to seeing our baby boy than we had been this morning.  Finally Dr. Plyer came in around 11:30.  I explained to him that we’d been sitting in this hospital room for 6 hours, I explained to him my situation with not being dilated or effaced, and I told him my concerns about starting the Cervadil at this point in the day.  I suggested that we come back that night and start the whole process again.  He actually agreed with me and suggested that we discharge and come back that night.  So we did.  I had to have my IV removed, take off the hospital gown, get back dressed again, etc.  Thankfully, though, the hospital staff allowed us to keep all of our bags and personal belongings there so we wouldn’t have to repack the car again.
Here we are at IHOP trying to laugh instead of CRY!
So….we left the hospital and I insisted that we get food ASAP since I hadn’t eaten since before 5 am that morning.  We called Tony’s mom and sister and they met us at IHOP for lunch.  We had thought our dinner at Travinia’s was our “last meal,” but as it turns out we got to have one more!  At this point we just had to laugh it off.  Obviously our baby was taking his sweet time and it was completely out of our hands, so we just went with the flow.  We enjoyed our food and family time and then headed home to take a nap. I enjoyed our cuddle time together and cherished the rest that I knew we wouldn’t be getting much of in the near future. 
On a side note, throughout the events of the last 24 hours, I had been keeping in contact with our doula, Tammy, about what was going on. Tammy is a certified doula at our hospital, but a personal friend of ours, so she told us she would be there for our birth regardless of whether or not she was on call that day. I felt bad that I had left her hanging so many times.... we're going in tonight...wait, now we're not....we're at the hospital...oh, we're going home now....okay, we're going back now! Poor Tammy...I'm sure she was ready to throw in the towel on us. But she just kept telling us that everything would be fine and that she would be there for us whenever we were ready for her.  
 Around 5:30pm, we got ourselves up and ready, picked up some Chick-Fil-A , headed back to the hospital, and readmitted at 6:30pm.  They actually gave us a better room this time with nice windows.  I requested not to have an IV for the Cervadil procedure and the nurses agreed.  They also gave me a wireless fetal monitor which was SO much better than the monitor that goes around your belly that they had given me earlier. They took my blood pressure and it was really high….like 150 something.  The nurse said, ‘For some reason this place has that effect on people! It’s your nerves.”  She said she would come back later to take it again.  She came back 5 minutes later and it was still really high.  At that point, I knew what to do.  I grabbed my kit of oils that I’d put together to help me during labor and birthing and got out my roller bottle of lavender oil and my Serenity blend for calming.  I rubbed some on my temples and my wrists. Minutes later the nurse came back in to check my blood pressure again, and it was right back down to normal. One point for essential oils!   
Our "last meal"...home cooking from Lizard's Thicket!
Around 7pm Dr. Plyler came in to insert the Cervadil. I had to wait an hour to see if there was any reaction, and then I could eat.  My parents met us up at the hospital and brought us Lizard’s Thicket.  We ate our 3
rd “last meal” together.  Around 10pm we went to bed.  I tried to sleep, but I cramped pretty heavily throughout the night, which is apparently fairly common with the Cervadil. It got progressively worse throughout the night. Between the cramping and the nurses coming in, it definitely wasn’t quality rest.  But I hoped my discomfort  meant it was working and that I was dilating and/or effacing.
Show time!! This is me that night at
the hospital before the Cervadil.
The next morning the nurses came in at 5:30 am to wake me up and take out the Cervadil. At that time I gave them my birth plan to look over and they sat with me and read over everything. I was surprised at how attentive they were to my wishes They told me they would put a copy of my birth plan with my chart and would brief the next nurse on my wishes at shift change so they wouldn't have to ask me questions, etc. They let me take a shower… last shower before baby! The wireless monitor electrodes were able to stay on while I showered, which I thought was pretty cool.  I put on some makeup and dried my hair.  I chose not to wear a hospital gown and just put on a black bandu bra and just sat on a pad (one of my requests in my birth plan). Before things got started, I also had Tony take all of my Bible verses that I had printed out and tape them around the room so I could look at them and be encouraged during labor. Soon afterward, my nurses, Lauren and Bonnie, came in to redo my IV and hooked me up to fluids.  At 7:15am they started the pitocin drip.  I wasn’t sure how soon I would start to feel contractions.  They started me off at 2 milliunits per minute and slowly upped it every half hour. I started off sitting in a chair in the room. Tony and I were able to watch TV and talk.  Things were pretty bearable.  Contractions were  30 seconds to one minute long.  I also had a blood pressure cuff on the whole time that would automatically take my blood pressure every 15 minutes.  It was kind of annoying, and I had to unhook it every time I went to the bathroom.....which was a lot! Those fluids make you pee like crazy.  About 8:45 I moved to the birthing ball.  I would bounce up and down and then when a contraction hit I would sit still and relax my body.  
This picture makes me cringe...I can't even
get over how humongous my belly was!!
   I used the techniques I had used from the Bradley birthing book and breathed slowly and deeply and pictured myself floating up over the contraction and then back down again.  The contractions were uncomfortable  but not that bad at this point.  By 9:45, I was at 10 milliunits per minute of pitocin. The contractions were definitely stronger now and more painful.  At 10:00am I got out my rice heating pad and got back in the chair.  I was starting to have a lot of back pain and the heat felt good on my back. Tony kept going out to heat up the rice pad in the microwave for me. Around 10:30, Tammy, our doula, showed up to the hospital. I had told her she didn’t need to be there first thing in the morning because I wasn’t in much pain yet.  But I was glad she was there now to help me as things progressed.  I labored all day long and the pitocin drip got pumped up all the way to a 14 over the course of the day.  At around noon my mom showed up at the hospital.  She hadn’t heard anything from us (because there was nothing to report) and was freaking out so she came up there to check on me.  I hadn’t really planned on having her in the labor and delivery room with us, but she was there already so she stayed.  I was starting to be in a lot of pain. The contractions were getting much, much worse as the day progressed.  At 2:45pm they checked my cervix and I was only 1 cm dilated.
My silly hubby with his "baby" aka the birthing ball!
I was just sure that I had to be dilated more than that with as intense of contractions as I was having, but unfortunately I wasn’t.  I labored a few more hours.  Dr. Plyler came in at 5:45 pm.  He checked my cervix again and I was still only 1 cm.  Since I was not progressing any more, he decided  to break my water to see if that sped things along.  I had to get back in the bed, and he basically stuck a huge needle up there and broke it.  A very uncomfortable warm gush followed.  Good thing they had tons of “puppy pads” as we called them underneath me. One thing I was unprepared for was how much I would continue to leak amniotic fluid.  I thought once they broke my water it was broken….done.  But that was soooo not how it was.  Every time I would move, cough, change positions, etc. I would just gush. It was kind of disgusting.  So it kind of worked out that I didn’t have anything on my bottom half.  It would have gotten ruined anyway.  After my water broke, the contractions got even stronger.  They kept coming hard and fast.  I got back on the birthing ball.  Tony sat behind me and put his arms around me. I just leaned against him for support.  I was so grateful that he was so hands on and supportive during labor.  At several points my water was leaking and it  got all over his shoes and probably his pants too.  I kept saying, “I’m sorry babe…”  He just kept telling me that it was fine and not to worry about it and that I didn’t need to say I was sorry.  He was so sweet.  As the contractions got more intense, it got harder and harder to relax my body and I had to grunt and make noise sometimes to get through the contractions.  They were coming one on top of the other.  As we watched the monitor you could see the contractions going off the chart.  As soon as I would get through one, another contraction would hit. I was sitting on the ball and leaning over on to the bed. Tony and Tammy took turns squeezing my hips during contractions.  For some reason that made the pain more bearable. Tammy also had all of these massage tools that she used on my back to relieve some of the pain.  One of them we jokingly called the "Mars Rover" because it looked like a little moon buggy with wheels. Another thing that happened that, thankfully, I had prepared for, was nausea.  I would get these waves of nausea during contractions that was overwhelming.  Another oil in my labor kit was peppermint, which helps relieve nausea.  Whenever I would feel like I was going to throw up, I would yell, “Peppermint!” and Tony or my mom would grab the bottle of peppermint oil to put under my nose. Just breathing in the scent of the oil took the nausea away almost immediately. Point number two for the oils.  Bonnie actually came in shortly after and turned the pitocin down a little because they were hitting me so hard with so little rest in between.  At about 8:45 that night, after 14 hours of labor, Dr. Plyler came in to check my cervix.  I was slightly more effaced but was still only 1 cm dilated.  Nothing had changed.  I couldn’t believe it. Saying that I was absolutely devastated would have been a gross understatement.  All of that hard work and pain had brought me no closer to seeing my sweet Harrison than before. I felt like a complete failure.  Going two weeks past my due date and being pumped full of synthetic pitocin was still not enough to make my body ready to deliver my baby.  I still remember just sitting back in the bed and just wanting to weep.  I was completely overcome with emotion.  Dr. Plyler, Tammy, and Tony could see that I was absolutely exhausted and at my wits end.  If I had been at 6 or 7 cm by that point, I would have had some hope that I could go all the way unmedicated.  But only 1 cm after 14 hours of labor……I just didn’t know how much longer I could keep going. Would it be another 14 hours just to get to 2cm???  Everybody kind of looked to me like, “What are you going to do?”
I asked everybody to step out of the room because I wanted to talk to Tony alone.  He held my hand and I just looked up at him and cried.  I was exhausted, devastated, and in absolute anguish. How could this be happening to me? I had done everything right.  I had been so careful during my routine, uncomplicated pregnancy. I had worked so hard to train myself how to get through contractions so I could have a natural birth….and I had been doing it.  But nothing was changing!  My body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing.  I told Tony that I wanted an epidural.  I told him I felt like a failure, and that I was sorry and that I hoped he wasn’t disappointed in me.  I still remember him looking at me and in the most stern, yet loving and reassuring voice telling me that I better not think for one second that he was disappointed.  He told me I had absolutely nothing to be sorry about and that I was doing a great job.  I could tell he felt so bad for me and there was nothing he could do to make it any better.  He felt helpless. The nurse and Dr. Plyler came back in and I told them that I wanted an epidural.  I had been so adamant about not receiving any drugs and had stressed to my nurses that I did not, for any reason, want to be offered pain medication, so they almost didn’t believe me.  They looked at me and then looked at Tony, and he nodded affirmatively.  Dr. Plyler seemed to be happy that I’d made that decision.  He told me that it would take the anesthesiologist a little bit to get to me, but that he would be in as soon as he could.   I winced through contractions for another 30 minutes or so, and finally at 9:10 the anesthesiologist came in and gave me the epidural. It didn’t hurt at all.  I couldn’t feel the effects at first.  It took a little bit. And even after I started to feel numb there were certain spots in my legs I could still feel. After a while, I was completely numb from the waist down and was no longer in any pain.  It was weird to look at the machine and see my contractions going off the chart but not being able to feel anything.  I put on some more lavender and just breathed deeply and tried to calm myself down and relax my body. Tony told me to get some rest.  We told my mom she could go home too.  There was no point in her being there at that point just to watch me sleep.  She didn’t want to leave me, but we convinced her that she needed to go home and rest so she could come back and have some energy when the baby was born. I finally went to sleep.  Tony stayed up and talked with Tammy while I slept and then eventually he went to sleep in the chair in the room, and Tammy went to the doula room to try and sleep. The nurses came in throughout the night to take my vitals, but it felt good to get rest and to have a break.  Tony woke up periodically through the night and watched the monitor. I labored hard throughout the night with contractions off the chart one after the other.  At some point during the night I spiked a 101 fever. They came in and hooked my IV up to some antibiotics while I was asleep.  At around 2 something in the morning they came in to check my cervix and see if there was any progression.  Dr. Plyler checked me and I was only 3 cm.  It had been almost 20 hours, and I was only 3 cm (less than most women are when they START labor!).  The baby hadn’t dropped any….. nothing was happening, my body was exhausted and the fever  could possibly have negative effects on the baby. Dr. Plyler said that we needed to go ahead and do a csection. My worst fear was coming true. They said it would be about an hour before things would happen.  They would prep the OR and get the anesthesiologist to give my epidural a boost, and then they would come get me.  It’s hard to remember the details of that next hour, but I think as much as I was against a csection, I was just relieved that there was something definitive happening.  I knew I would get to meet my son in the next hour.  The nurses came in and lifted me up onto the rolling bed.  I tried to help them but I couldn’t feel anything.  It was actually happening.  I was about to have a csection.  As they wheeled me out of the labor and delivery room I closed my eyes.  I have no idea where I went.  I couldn’t open my eyes. I felt like if I opened my eyes I would freak out, so I just kept them closed.  I was scared to death.  I remember being wheeled into the OR.  It was so cold.  The radio was playing.  I heard lots of voices. On a 1, 2, 3, they lifted me up onto the operating table.  Tony and Tammy were there by me. The anesthesiologist started walking me through what would be happening.  He told me that I would feel several big tugs. They pulled my arms straight out on either side of me. It was so uncomfortable.  I started shaking again really bad like I had during labor before.  It was also freezing so that didn’t help any either.  As they started the procedure I started to get sick again. I yelled to Tony that I was going to be sick.  He held out a bag and I turned my head to the side and threw up.  I continued to keep my eyes closed as much as possible.  As they worked on me I continued to shake
and throw up. It was miserable. I just kept hoping that they were almost done.  I felt so out of it….almost like I was drunk.  The whole thing felt like an out of body experience.  After a while the anesthesiologist told me I would feel a big tug and that was the baby coming out. I didn’t feel pain but a lot of pressure.  They tugged on me hard…enough to move my whole body from side to side.  I heard a cry.  It was all so surreal.  Shortly after, Tony brought the baby over to me and I tried to kiss him but I couldn’t even sit up
enough to reach his face. I wanted to hold him so bad and nurse him like I’d imagined I would get to right after birth, but that wasn’t going to happen. I still had to be stitched up. Tony left with Harrison to go get weighed and have his bath, but Tammy stayed by my side. I was so grateful for her at that moment more than ever.... As they worked on me my mouth started to get so dry like cotton.  I kept trying to swallow but there wasn’t even enough saliva to swallow. I begged Tammy to give me a sip of water or some ice chips.  She just kept telling me that she couldn’t and that she was so sorry.  I felt more tugs.  All I could think about was how dry my mouth was.  It was the most overwhelming sensation.  I was almost in tears. I begged again for water.  Tammy kept telling me that it was almost over.  Finally they were done.  I got wheeled into the recovery room. I finally got some ice chips.  The nurses checked my vitals and I just sat there and waited.  I still had not gotten to hold my baby.  Tammy left for a while to go be with Tony and Harrison.  Even though the nurses were there I felt alone.  All my family was getting to see my baby have his first bath and get weighed, and I was stuck in this recovery room.
  (Days later, Tony told me that leaving me in that operating room was one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do.  He said that after Harrison came out, he knew that he was supposed to be instantly in love with his baby and want to go over and be with him, but he said he was so worried about me that he didn't want to.  He wanted to stay with me. "I'm married to you...I was just meeting this kid for the first time," he said to me. Haha. I thought that was one of the sweetest things he'd ever said to me. He said that Tammy was the one who reassured him that I would be fine and told him to "go be a daddy" and that she would take good care of me while they stitched me up.)
Tammy came back into the recovery room maybe 40 minutes later holding Harrison. She handed him to me.  I was so overwhelmed.  All I had on my mind was that I needed to nurse him. I put him to my breast and it took him a few seconds, but he finally latched on.  I was scared that he would have trouble since we’d been separated for so long, but he did really well. He was so beautiful.  I just stared at him. I nursed Harrison for a while in the recovery room for what seemed like a while, and the nurses kept checking my blood pressure, etc. Finally, we got to go into our postpartum room.  It was much smaller than the other room. I just soaked up every second of my sweet boy. He had the brightest blue eyes and such a cute little round head.  While I held him he would just stare up and look at me, and I would just melt. He was so alert for a newborn.
Here's Aunt Andrea beaming with her birthday present!!
   Our family came into the room later to see us and hold Harrison. Everyone was so happy and excited….especially Aunt Andrea!  She had joked all throughout my pregnancy that she wanted  Harrison to be born on her birthday.  I had politely said, “No way...that means he would be TWO WEEKS LATE!” Well, Aunt Andrea got her wish!  Haha.  She and Harrison now share a January 25th birthday.  Tony and I joked that we would never have to buy her another birthday present again because we gave her the best birthday present ever...a nephew!  
    For the rest of the day, we enjoyed our beautiful son. To tell you the truth, I don't remember much of the details of the rest of that day. I was so very sore from the c-section and was on pain meds, so I'm sure I was pretty out of it. I do remember feeling disappointed still about how the delivery went, though, but still very happy and grateful that it was all over and I had my baby boy, finally. Later that evening, though, we had another turn in our story. One of the nurses came in and told us that Harrison had to be taken to the Special Care nursery. She didn't really tell us why or any details, but just wheeled our baby out of the room and took him away. I was in disbelief. They had told us he was healthy and perfectly fine....what was wrong with him?? I was so upset. I had just been through so much to get my baby born, and now he was being taken away from me. As it turns out, we later found out that the results of some tests had come back and Harrison had a high white count, most likely caused by the fever I had had during labor.  Nothing was "wrong" with him per say, but because of the results of the test, it was protocol that they admit him and administer antibiotics as a precautionary measure. As upset as I was about the whole thing, it was Tony who took it even harder. He was really angry and upset about it and had to have a little talk with God, as I remember. I think he just couldn't understand why we were having to go through all this. 
The next two days were rough. We had to get up every 2 ½ hours, and Tony had to wheel me down to the nursery in a wheelchair to nurse Harrison in Special Care, because I was still too sore to walk. Every time we had to scrub in. Constantly having to get in and out of the bed combined with being incredibly sore from the c-section made things very difficult and painful. I hated seeing Harrison hooked up to so many tubes and with so many needles in his tiny hands and feet. But as we came in each time to feed Harrison, we got to see all of the other tiny preemie babies in incubators hooked up to feeding tubes and goodness knows what else.... Harrison was by far the biggest and healthiest baby in there. As upset as I was that he had to be in there, I was so grateful that he was full term and healthy and not tiny and sick like those other little babies. It definitely put things in perspective for us. Tony and I both struggled for those couple of days. It was exhausting going back and forth and I missed having my baby next to me, but looking back, it was Tony who said that those long nights of waking up every 2 hours and wheeling me down to Special Care were some of his favorite times together. We talked, we laughed, we cried, he pretended he was driving me in a race car....haha. It was hard, but it bonded us on another level. We had to lean on each other and make the most of the situation.  
Eventually Harrison's white count improved and he got to leave Special Care, and 6 days after we had checked in to the hospital, we finally got to take our sweet baby boy home.  It was a joyous occasion. I remember being home on that first night nursing my sweet boy and being so grateful to not have to worry about all the "stuff" attached to IV's, no wires, no monitors, no hospital bracelets....just us! It felt so good to be home. Over the next few days, I saw a side of Tony I never saw before. He was and is so in love with our baby boy. Harrison has stolen his heart...and mine too! I can definitely tell that our birth experience, as flawed as it was in so many ways, has melded us together as husband and wife in a whole new way. Tony kept telling me our entire time in the hospital how proud he was of me and what a good job I was doing. He was so reassuring. He was strong when I was feeling weak, and the one day he snapped when they took Harrison away, I was strong for him when he was feeling weak.  
As any new parent will agree, that first month is hard.  It is beautiful, wonderful, special, and amazing….but hard.  Now that my precious boy is almost 5 months old, I look back and realize why people say, “Don’t blink.”  It truly goes by SO fast. But I can safely say that becoming a mommy is one of THE most incredible things I have ever done in my life.  Harrison is the sweetest, cutest, most adorable baby in the whole wide world. Everybody says that all mommies think that about their babies, and it’s so true.  When you look at your baby you truly think that they are THE most adorable baby EVER….because, well…..they are. I don’t know if it’s innate or if it’s because I worked so incredibly hard those first couple of months getting Harrison on a schedule and being consistent, but my baby boy is so happy and well-adjusted. He sleeps good, he smiles all the time, he laughs, he loves to talk and squeal and make cute noises.  He loves listening to music and loves to hear me sing.  He loves snuggles and for me to read books to him.  He loves his bath.  He hardly fusses unless he’s hungry or tired.  I just absolutely love being with him. He is my angel.  
  Is having a baby a lot of work? Um.....yes.  Is it stressful sometimes?  Definitely.  But it’s the best thing EVER!  I thank God every day for my beautiful baby boy and I still look at him sometimes and just cry tears of joy at how grateful I am for him. Every single stretch mark and every single pound that I gained (all 65 of them!!!) were worth it. Hands down. He was definitely worth the wait. 

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