Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Availeth Joy: A Birth Story

"8 days. 39 weeks pregnant tomorrow and if this isn't labor then shoot me because.... ouch!"--My FB status update. Nov. 21, 2011

One month ago today, November 21, 2011-- at 4am in the morning, I knew that it was time to have a baby! I started contracting around 9pm the night before. I got out my watch and began to time.

They started out far apart. 12 minutes. 11 minutes. 15 minutes. But by 4am we were at 7 minutes apart lasting about a minute a piece and I was convinced that I was in labor. My Grandma (a retired labor and delivery nurse) came over and checked my cervix. I was dilated to a 2. She told us it would be awhile yet and Brady decided to go to work. I called my mom and she agreed to come over and walk with me.

She showed up around 7am. I decided to go back to bed to try and get a little rest but after trying to sleep for an hour I decided that it just wasn't gonna happen. The contractions were a little bit more painful than before and rest was making them worse it seemed. We headed to the mall at 9am because it was too cold to walk outside. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart when we got to the mall and started doing laps.

It wasn't soon after we got to the mall that my stomach started to growl. My mom (a nicu nurse) told me I could spilt a pretzel with her-- she didn't think it was wise to eat a big meal while I was laboring. I agreed and we made a pit stop at the bathroom before we got our pretzel.

That pit stop changed everything. While in the bathroom I realized I was bleeding a little abnormally and we decided it was best to go to the hospital. I called my Grandma and told her that I would keep her updated. I called Brady and after a short talk we decided it would be best if he left work and met us there. Even though it could have still been hours before we saw a baby. --I am so glad that we made that decision.

We were admitted at 11:46am. I was taken into a room where I undressed and put a hospital gown on. I was sure that they were going to send me home. So sure that I left my bags and my camera in the car. The l&d nurse was young, beautiful and friendly. She asked me a million questions.

Brady arrived.

The nurse strapped on fetal monitoring, took my blood pressure and put me on oxygen. She told me that Avey's heart was decelling after every contraction and that it wasn't recovering.

She flipped me over on my side and told me to take deep breaths. I did. It didn't help. I stayed positive after all only 4% of women actually have something go wrong in labor. Only 4% of women actually have to have emergency c-sections. The odds were in my favor.

They put in a IV.

"Do I really need that?" I asked. I wanted to have a natural labor so bad. Brady and I had spent 8 months researching and preparing. I spent weeks making us a custom birth plan. I didn't want an IV.


They kept me so busy signing papers and answering questions that I didn't have a chance to worry until they told me they wanted to break my water and insert some internal fetal monitoring into the top of my baby's head.

"Wont it hurt her?"

"No. Not at all. It's whats best."

It wasn't the natural birth we had planned but they gave me no other option. I was a little bewildered and definitely confused. They told me that the anesthesiologist was going to come in so that I could sign papers saying that if I needed to have a c-section he could give me the proper medication. I told them that I didn't want a c-section they told me it was just a precaution. Just in case...

They drew blood. They monitored the baby. I never even had a chance to talk to Brady.

Shortly after being told they were going to break my water my OB made her first appearance on the scene. She asked me how I was doing. I told her that I was okay.

She dropped the bomb. She informed us that she wasn't going to bother breaking my water. Avey was in distress. She was not tolerating the contractions at all... the only option was a c-section.

My heart shattered to pieces. You could hear it in the sobs that arrived with the news. After months of research-- dreams of having a completely natural labor were crushed with two words. Brady was upset. We still weren't convinced that it wasn't some ploy my OB came up with to get us delivered by lunch.

The poor anesthesiologist (a man) stood there, holding the papers I needed to sign, telling me he could give me a minute. I just wanted it to be over so I signed the papers through my tears.

"Can my mom come?" I asked.

"No. Just Brady. I'm sorry."

"It's okay."

"Do I have time to run out and grab her camera?" My mom asked.

"Hurry." My mom said later that it was then that she knew Avey was in big trouble. She ran all the way to the car and all the way back. 

I stopped crying as the numbness started to set in. I can't quite explain what I was feeling. Shock? Sadness? Disappointment? We had done the research on what a c-section would mean for subsequent pregnancies. C-section had become such a bad word in our vocabulary. I was terrified.

I hadn't even bothered to research them seriously. That is how far out of the realm of possibility it was.

As Brady suited up I dotted the i's and crossed the t's. Then they wheeled us back into the OR. I started crying again. I wasn't supposed to deliver in an OR. I had her birth song picked out. It was going to play as she was delivered. What about the massage oil and the request for a dimly lit atmosphere? What about the birth classes we took that taught us how to breathe through contractions and focus?

What about our plan?

I was freezing, sobbing, broken, and literally naked before everyone in the OR. It was awful.

The epidural was the worst part and then the shakes. Brady stayed glued to my side the entire time. Running his fingers through my hair. Whispering secrets into my ears. Being encouraging even though I saw his eyes glistening with the same tears mine were crying. One of us had to stay strong.

"Meconium." The doctor said. "It's like a swamp in here. Poor thing."

"Wow. She's tiny. Smaller than I thought."

Then I heard her little bird cry. Little one squawked like a pro the moment she made her debut. And just like that my life was changed.


I didn't get to hold her at first or see her but her little birdy cry let me know she was okay and that things, somehow, were going to be just fine.

When I saw her for the first time I was still a little  disoriented. It was nothing like I excepted. There was no grand moment where I burst into tears and an overwhelming feeling of love washed over me. I was still confused. Still sad. Still disappointed.

They let me see her for two minutes. I know because the nurse videoed the entire time. Then they took her away and said that I could have her back when I went to recovery.

She was born at 12:54pm. 1 hour and 8 minutes after we were admitted.

They wheeled me into recovery and a nurse followed us cradling Avey. She was feeding her a bottle of formula. My hear broke again. They explained to me that her blood sugar was low and that they were trying to get it up.

I told the nurse that it was okay but on the inside I was crying. I wanted to breastfeed so bad. They didn't even give me a chance. The nurse told us that her temperature was a little low as well and that after she gave her the bottle we could do some kangaroo care.

I was shaking so bad I didn't think that I could warm her up when I was still so cold. The nurse told me that it was because of the medication they gave me.

"Everyone shakes."


I got to hold Avey on my chest for 5 minutes-- maybe. I tried to get her to nurse. She was tired and full from the bottle. The nurse took her temp again and told us that they were going to take Avey to the nicu but I could come see her as soon as I was out of recovery.


"Okay." I said. It was like a dream.

Brady took care of me. He kept requesting more warm blankets because I kept insisting that I was cold. He didn't leave my side even though he could have gone with her to the nicu. He kept telling me that his place was with me. That I was his number one priority even though he hadn't even held his little girl yet.

"Baby girl was born at 12:54pm. Weighing in at a whopping 5lbs 1 oz! She is 18 inches long and has lots of beautiful dark hair. We've only been able to see her twice since delivery and Brady hasn't been able to hold her yet. She is having some blood sugar issues and she wasn't getting warm enough so they whisked her away to the NICU. Please pray because I'm having a really rough time. I just want to be able to hold her and have her near me." --My FB status update. Nov. 21, 2011

We spent three hours in recovery and on the way to my postpartum room we swung by the nicu. Where one of the nurses was kind enough to snap a family photo in the 3 minutes we got to spend with her.


That first night was so hard. I stayed busy with pumping but I kept bursting into tears. I kept telling Brady that I just wanted her to be in the room with us. That it wasn't fair that I only got to see her for ten minutes the day she was born. That she was a full term baby. She shouldn't be in the nicu.

A lot of things didn't go according to plan this month. Her birth. Her nicu stay. My recovery. But we lived our way through it.

Brady and I have grown closer than we've ever been before. I don't think you go through something so traumatizing with a person and come out unchanged... unbonded. The way he loves me... it's a crazy kind of love. A love I didn't even know existed until he came along.

Avey has become the highlight of our little world. She makes us laugh and coo like idiots. I didn't know a love like this existed until she came along. It's a crazy kind of love.

This month has been the hardest, most exciting, saddest, happiest month of my life. It was nothing like I expected. And even though I'm still really raw and I'm still trying to make sense of it all... I wouldn't change any of it.

Read about Avey's nicu stay here.

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