Warning: This will likely be the longest post ever. Where to begin?!
First, let me say that I just feel so so blessed and happy. I am loving being a mother to this little guy. It's hard. But it is soooo worth it. Everything we went through to get to this place now has all been worth it. I don't know why we had to go through so much - there are no answers for any of it so I've stopped asking the questions - but I am just so grateful to be holding my little guy now while his sibling watches over us.
So Jack officially turned one week old yesterday **EDIT: He's now almost 2 wks old - that's how long it's taken me to be able to find time to type this** and while I can't believe a whole week has already passed, it also feels like he's been with us for so much longer. Here's his birth story:
Monday night (4/6) I woke up to a contraction. I could tell it was different from all the Braxton Hicks I had been having over the last 2ish months because it was painful and crampy-feeling. I didn't wake Hubs because I wanted to wait it out and see what would happen. That ended up being a good choice because over the next 3 hrs I had approx 2 contractions per hour (kept falling asleep and then waking up to another one) but then they stopped. During the day on Tuesday 4/7 I was on pins and needles but nothing happened. Tuesday night, same thing with the contractions. [I should also mention that the previous weekend I lost my mucous plug. It was gross. It was like my vagina had a cold and the mucous just would not stop. But because of that I wasn't surprised by the contractions since it was obvious my cervix was doing something and labor might be starting soon.] The difference on Tuesday night was that the contractions never really stopped. All through the day on Wednesday 4/8 I had contractions off and on. Sometimes 1 an hour, sometimes 1 every 2 hrs but they were continuous. I admit I was slightly miserable. (Okay, okay, I was a cranky bitch that day.) Most of them were painful, some of them felt like my back was breaking, I could not find a comfortable position all day long, and every time I went pee it brought on another contraction. In the early afternoon I had my "bloody show" so I knew that if the contractions continued I was likely in labor. Starting around 10pm they began getting stronger and more consistent so I sent Hubs to bed since I was feeling pretty confident this was the real deal and double checked my hospital bag to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I felt surprisingly calm as I crawled into the bed in the spare room in an attempt to relax and get some rest myself. It didn't work. I laid there having contractions every 30 mins, then 20, then 10... eventually a little after midnight I gave up and went downstairs. I forced myself to walk around the house even though some of the contractions had me bent over in pain and after another 1.5hrs they were coming every 4 mins - every 7 mins. At that point I decided to call my OB and let them know we were thinking of heading to the hospital. Hubs heard me on the phone and came down to ask if it was go-time. It was! I think Hubs had a moment of panic but I was pretty serene through the whole thing (minus the more severe contractions). We took care of the dog, contacted my MIL who would be coming to stay at the house while we were at the hospital, and got on the road. This night was, of course, the ONE night we were having wintery weather with snow and freezing rain so that was fun. I could tell Hubs was anxious as he drove in the bad weather with me having contractions every 7ish mins next to him (we were also both afraid my water would break) but in the end it was fine and it was actually sort of nice that we were one of the only cars on the road!
We got to the hospital about 2:45am, got me a wheelchair and checked into L&D. A nurse took me to the triage room had me strip and change into a gown and then started hooking me up to the monitors to check my vitals, uterine contractions, and baby's heartbeat. They asked me to rate my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the "worst pain I could imagine". Worst pain I could imagine? Like a gunshot? I said a 3 or 4. The nurse monitored me while we waited for the midwife on call to come check my cervix. Everything was moving pretty slowly, I couldn't quite remember what the nurse was doing during that time but there was no real sense of urgency, especially since my contractions were around 8-10 mins apart on average and didn't feel all that strong. All the monitoring was going well and when the midwife got there we chatted for a bit and eventually she got around to checking how dilated I was. As she stuck her entire hand up my vag I saw her eyes get wide. She asked again what my pain level was and I shrugged and said "about a 4". She told me I must have the highest pain threshold of anyone she's ever met because my cervix was 6cm on it's was to 7! Holy SHIT! At that point both she and the nurse sprung into action and called the doctor. They asked me what we wanted to do - did I want to continue to labor and have a vaginal delivery or did I want to proceed with the c-section that was originally scheduled for the very next day? Hubs and I really didn't know what to do. So far my labor had been quite "mild" (it hurt - sometimes a lot - but nowhere NEAR as bad as I thought it would be) so I felt like I could keep going but we still had the unknowns related to Jack's dwarfism that had a slight chance of making a vaginal delivery dangerous for him. We had to make a decision quickly and in that moment I chose to release my long-held vision of a vaginal birth with immediate skin to skin time and breastfeeding and made the decision to go with surgery. Healthy baby is the most important thing above all.
Once I officially decided it was like everything was thrust into fast forward. The nurse called the anesthesiologist and also some guy to come take blood (phlebotomist?) and then went to work hooking up my IV. She BUTCHERED me. I swear she blew every friggin vein in my left arm, wrist, and hand and still could not get it in. I could see her getting frantic. The doctor arrived while that was happening and he was a stern guy who kept saying: "if this is going to happen we have to move" and it kept stressing her out more. She moved over to right arm and I braced for more blown veins. At that point the blood guy got there and had no choice but to draw from my battered left arm which hurt like a bitch. While the doctor waiting impatiently the nurse blew the vein in my right hand as well. Sigh. Oh yeah, and I was having painful contractions on top of all this. Fun. The doctor decided to check my cervix once more and announced that I was at an 8 so he instructed the nurse to call in for backup with the IV. When she arrived she found success on the first try in my right wrist. Not the most comfortable spot but whatever, it was FINALLY in.
They wheeled me down the hall to the OR, gave Hubs scrubs and directed him to wait in a different room somewhere while they got me prepped. We had time for just a quick peck before they brought me in and had me get on the operating table. They introduced me to the anesthesiologist whom they said was "amazing!" (debatable) and had me sit on the side of the table with my legs dangling off. He had me hunch my shoulders and curve my upper body over my belly bump as much as possible so he could access my spine to put in the spinal. HO - LY FUCK that hurt. I screamed. Like - at the top of my lungs. I couldn't help it. And then come to find out, he missed whatever spot he was trying to hit. And so he did it again. And again. And AGAIN. He finally got it on the 4th try ("amazing" my ass) and that was absolutely hands down the worst part of this whole experience. I don't know how many times I screamed or how long it took him but it felt like forever. My legs had fallen asleep so long ago that I actually had to request for two nurses to stand up against each of my legs, bracing me so that I wouldn't fall off the table. I was feeling so much pain in different areas of my body each time he would stick me and I wasn't allowed to move through the whole thing!! Do you know how hard it is to try to be completely still when it feels like someone is stabbing you in the spine? Even just sitting up and hunching over my belly was extremely difficult since I was having intense contractions through the whole thing as well! Ugh, it was awful. The spinal was just such a gross and painful feeling. I would like to forget all that.
Anywho, once that was finally in properly they laid me down, set up the sheet right in front of my face, gave me an oxygen mask and strapped my arms straight out to the sides Jesus-on-the-cross style. I had forgotten that was going to happen. That gave me a tiny sense of internal panic. Then I had a BIG sense of internal nausea. I yelled out to whoever might be in hearing range that I was gonna vomit and someone put a little bucket/tray thing up against the left side of my mouth with one of those sucky-tubes like at the dentist. At some point the nurses had given me some gross liquid to drink that was supposed to neutralize my stomach acid, I think in the hopes of avoiding this very thing but it didn't matter. I vomited it all up. Tasted just the same coming up as it did going down, haha. I had read somewhere that it's common to puke after a spinal but that if you have to you should avoid lifting your head at all because it can cause a painful spinal headache for a while afterwards. I don't know what that feels like but I know I wanted to avoid it so I just turned my head to the side and pitifully let it just fall out of my mouth as someone sucked it up. At that point I really did not care about much.
After that Hubs was allowed into the OR. Having him there made me feel a bit more normal and the doctors started doing their thing pretty much as soon as he sat down at my side near my head. I believe it was the anesthesiologist who was standing behind me the whole time to make sure everything was okay and he offered to take Hubs' iphone and be the photographer. We ended up really appreciating that as he got the exact moments Jack was born which we could not see because of the sheet. (He also got our first pics of me and Hubs with Jack.) Hubs didn't want to see it anyway and I don't blame him, because he really did not want to peer into the inside of my body. Also, I really needed him up at my head holding my hand. I focused on his face the whole time as he kept me distracted by telling me about what we would do with Jack as he grew; playing baseball and going fishing and taking him to the zoo and how excited everyone was going to be... it was very helpful to have that distraction so I didn't focus so much on the yucky tugging and pushing and pressure below my waist. I didn't feel any pain at all thankfully but I can't say the sensations were exactly pleasant. It felt like it only took a couple minutes tops and then I heard the absolute most beautiful and awe-inducing sound I had ever heard in my life: my son's first cry. He had a good set of lungs and the moment we heard him, Hubs and I both started crying immediately. I couldn't believe it. After everything, we finally had a child. He was here. He was breathing. He was ours. The midwife held him up over the sheet for a split second so we could see his bright pink little body and full head of dark hair and Hubs and I just stared at him in amazement and then at each other in awe that we created this little human. It really was an incredible and indescribable moment. I have been through a LOT of emotions over the past 3 years since we started TTC and none of it could compare to what I felt in that moment.
We really only got to see him for a moment or two before the nurses brought him over the warmer to clean him, weigh him, administer all the tests, etc. That part sucked. Hubs sat with me as we both cried a bit but eventually asked if he could go over to see his son and I said "yes, yes, go!" but while he could walk around and go see him, I remained strapped down since the doctor still had to remove my placenta and stitch up my uterus and then my abdomen. Again, I could feel them doing a bunch of stuff to me but I was so distracted, following my baby with my eyes and trying to get any glimpse of him that I possibly could between the bodies of gowned staff. There were SO MANY people in there. I never actually counted but I would estimate there were at least a dozen people in the room. I knew the operating doctor, the midwife, the two nurses and the anesthesiologist, and besides that I have no idea who all those people were. But they were all gathered around looking at Jack and doing whatever they were doing. There was just a wall of people around him at all times and I started to get so impatient for them to come back and bring him to me. I also started shivering uncontrollably while I laid there. I was reassured that this was totally normal after a c-section because of the flood of hormones that shift in your body (and also being opened up) but I couldn't believe how violently I was shaking and I couldn't do a thing about it.
After what felt like forever (but was probably 5 minutes), they brought my son to me. They placed him on my chest and it was...indescribable. It was almost overwhelming and I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that this was my child. We had worked so hard for this moment and it was finally here. He was ours and he was real and he was healthy. I felt so unbelievably grateful and emotional. While he was on my chest it was hard to see him because he was so far up that he was almost in my neck due to the sheet being so high up so I kept straining and straining to move my head enough so that I could see him. They also released one of my arms so that I could touch him. It was hard though physically. I was so exhausted and still shaking uncontrollably and in such an awkward position. Eventually I asked Hubs to take him since I felt really unsteady holding him with one weak arm and once Jack was in Hubs' arms I could finally actually see him. And he was perfect. I know I am biased but he was seriously the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He still is. He looks exactly like a miniature version of my husband. I love that more than I can say. Watching my husband hold him gives me feelings I didn't even know existed - like my heart is just going to burst :-)
I was so smitten just laying there watching my husband hold our child that I don't even remember what happened next. Eventually I somehow ended up moving/being moved over to my own hospital bed and covered up with a gown and blankets and then my baby was put in my arms and I gazed at him while we were wheeled to our recovery room/suite where we would stay for the next 4 days.
~Okay, this will not be the longest post ever because it's taken me the better part of a week just to get this written. I'll stop here and then the next post (hopefully soon) will be about the time in the hospital, recovery, and first two weeks.~
Obligatory baby pic: