In honor of my little bug turning 4 months next week, I thought it was about time to write down his birth story. I apologize in advance for the long post, but it’s quite impossible to limit the number of words to describe this day. Although, one phrase does sum it all up quite nicely: life changing.
I had mentioned before in a previous post that my little boy likes to go against the grain. It’s a quality I’m sure I will increasingly admire, as he grows older. The story of his birth is just one example.
Kyle and I found out we were pregnant on November 4, 2011. I had taken several pregnancy tests during the previous months, all resulting in one solid pink line…not pregnant. I was growing increasingly anxious to become pregnant, especially because several of my close friends and family were all newly expecting at the time. I remember waking up that morning and began my regular routine of getting ready for work. I took a test and put it aside to wait for the results. A bit jaded by the process, I wasn’t too anxious to look at it. I had had a UTI the week before and had my urine tested at the doctor, so I figured, surely, there’s no way I’m pregnant. They would have told me then right? Wrong. Just before I got into the shower, curiosity got the best of me and I peeked at the test. Expecting the usual single, lonely line, I was shocked to find a faint second running parallel to that old familiar one. I stared at it for what seemed like an eternity before I grasped what those two lines meant. I opened the bathroom door and woke my sleeping husband by stating pretty matter-of-factly, “Kyle, I’m pregnant.” He awoke with a start, and shouted, “what??” I showed him the test and those two faint lines. We sat in awe, so excited, yet not knowing what to do next. Of course I took another test to be sure, there are such things as false positives. When that one came back with both lines shining through once again, we knew it was for real. The only problem was, we had no idea what to do next. I called a random doctor and told the receptionist I was pregnant. She scheduled me an appointment for 8 weeks to confirm it. Before hanging up I remember asking her, “Wait, what do I do until then?” She responded with a giggle and told me to go get some prenatal vitamins and just take care of myself until the appointment.
Holy crap. We’re having a baby.
I took the liberty of calling in sick that day for the sole purpose of buying those prenatal vitamins. I remember walking into the store and thinking to myself, “can anyone tell I’m pregnant?” I had this incredible secret that I wanted to shout out and tell everyone I came in contact with. First, we told family and a few of our closest friends. We wanted to wait to make this excitement public until after we had our first appointment with the doctor.
When we went to our first doctor appointment, I was so nervous. I must have changed my outfit ten times that morning while getting ready. I wanted to look nice for my baby. Kyle and I talked anxiously the entire ride to the clinic, wondering what was about to take place. When we got there and were checked in, we got to hear this:
This rushing, beating, beautiful, sound was the first thing we heard from our precious baby. It was an amazing moment to say the least. I remember sharing the video with my mom and sister and the three of us cried tears of joy and excitement over the phone together. Now it was real.
I had a fairly easy pregnancy. I was fortunate enough to not have any nausea or morning sickness. I was comfortable most of the time, minus a couple of hot weeks toward the end, which resulted in ballooned ankles. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant. Midway through my 9 months, we had our one and only ultrasound (thanks to phenomenal insurance….) and found out the sex of our baby.
We also found out during that appointment that our son had an abnormal umbilical cord. Babies are supposed to have 3 vessels in their umbilical cord, but Judah only had 2. Our doctor informed us that everything else looked okay with Judah, but his chances of having Down Syndrome were greatly increased. She also educated us on the possibility that Judah could have kidney or heart complications, may be born prematurely, and could be underweight. Kyle and I took it all in individually as she ran us through the information, we didn’t have time to discuss anything before she offered us amniocentesis and a 3D ultrasound to check for Downs. However, without hesitation, we simultaneously declined. No matter how many chromosomes our son had didn’t matter to us, he was ours. We loved him so much already and that love would never change, heart conditions, bad kidneys, extra chromosomes and all. Whether we knew ahead of time or on the day of his birth didn’t make any difference to us, nothing was going to change the way we felt about our little boy. We left the appointment that day elated, we had the first image of our baby in our hands, and we now knew his name. Judah.
I came home and immediately committed a big no-no regarding the information we had received from the doctor. I Googled it. Never Google your medical issues. After 15 minutes of perusing through horror stories of babies born at terribly low weight levels, developmental issues, and even still births, I shut the computer, thanked God for the little boy growing in my belly, and realized that whatever happens is completely out of my control, so I should enjoy the journey for what it is.
Judah’ s due date was June 27. As this day approached, along with the knowledge that the most common symptom of a two -vessel cord was an early birth, I kept feeling like any day could be the one. I was so disappointed when I made it to my 39 week appointment and had no progress significant enough to point to labor any time soon. That week, I got to work. I borrowed an exercise ball from a friend and I bounced and swayed on that sucker for hours every day. Kyle and I walked miles every night. I called my sister-in-law and got information on how to use clary sage oils to help naturally induce labor. I even did 200 jumping jacks one day, hoping that extra movement would get my little boy to budge. June 27 came. I had my 40 week appointment with my doctor and burst into tears after the appointment was finished. No progress, and I was scheduled for an induction the following week. Pitocin scared me to death.
I continued my regimen of walks, applying clary sage oil, bouncing on that exercise ball, and even did a few more jumping jacks. Nothing. I went back to the doctor a few days later to have my membranes swept and thought for sure that would help get the process started. No such luck. Judah was happy and content right where he was and he was letting me know that he does things on his own time.
I was scheduled to be induced at 6:00 a.m. on July 6. The night of July 5, Kyle and I gathered everything we needed for our early wake up to go to the hospital. Neither one of us could sleep that night. How could we? How can you sleep knowing that in a few short hours your lives are going to be forever changed? We laid on the couch with a movie on in the background, eagerly awaiting the sound of the alarm to let us know our time of waiting was coming to an end. On the drive to the hospital that morning, we nervously chatted with one another. I reviewed my birth plan wishes with my husband so that he would be able to speak for me if I could not. Pitocin was never on my plan. First lesson in parenting- be flexible.
I wanted to see how far I could make it in the labor process before accepting any medication. I am not opposed to medication during labor, especially if it will make the process a better one. I am also whole-heartedly supportive of those who go naturally all the way through. I wanted to see how far I could push myself, but I didn’t want to suffer if it wasn’t necessary. I wanted to enjoy this moment of my life for what it was, but I also wanted to experience the pain to fully appreciate it.
I was wheeled into my room, changed into my gown, and awaited the administration of Pitocin. I told my nurse, Sarah Anne, that I had never wanted to use Pitocin, so she agreed to give me lower doses and increase them at slower increments. She was awesome. She put my IV in and strapped me to my monitors. She pointed out what my contractions looked like. Apparently I had been having them for a few weeks, I just had no idea, this being my first time and all, I just thought Judah was pushing downward. Who knew?
I snapped a few photos of Kyle and I and our room while we were waiting for the drugs to kick in. A few contractions started and it was really exciting. Then it started to hurt. I was not allowed to move around the room to ease my pain because of the monitors that had to be kept on my belly to make sure Judah was responding well to the Pitocin. During each contraction I gripped the side of the bed, closed my eyes, and worked through deep, long breaths. Kyle was my rock. I didn’t want to be touched during this, and he understood without me telling him.He breathed through every contraction with me, encouraging me along the way. It was awesome to open my eyes and see him there, ready to help me in any way he could.
My contractions were getting closer and closer together and increasingly more intense. My nurse popped in and out to check on me and after about 5 ½ hours on Pitocin, she asked how I was doing and if I wanted an epidural. I told her yes, that I couldn’t do it any more. She told me that there were four other mothers ahead of me, so I would have to make it a bit longer. I mentally prepared myself to make it another hour. Another reason why I love Sarah Anne, she lied to me, just to get me through that last little bit. The anesthesiologist was there within 20 minutes to give me the best medication I’ve ever had in my life. Sarah Anne could tell that I wanted to make it further without medication, so she gave me this tid bit of information to encourage me. Apparently for the last 6 hours, I was going through contractions equivalent to those during the transition phase of labor. Once she told me this, I considered myself a champion and was much more at ease with letting the advances in modern medicine take over.
Once the epidural kicked in, Kyle and I both slept for a bit. When we woke up, Sarah Anne was there to check my progress. It was only 4:00 that afternoon, and being my first baby, I was expecting to not deliver until much later that evening. However, to mine and Kyle’s surprise, I was 10 cm dilated and ready to push. Kyle and I had little time to fully comprehend what was happening. Kyle rushed to grab the video camera and place it strategically behind me to capture this incredible moment that was about to occur. Sarah Anne placed a call in to my doctor who was working at her clinic down the street. She got me all ready to go and told me to give a practice push to get Judah’s head in position. Half way through the push she yelled, “stop!” Followed by a call to another nurse, a call to my doctor to find out where she was, and instructions for me to not cough, laugh, or sneeze. She told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head. He was right there!
It was becoming extremely uncomfortable not to push, even with the epidural. Finally, Sarah Anne called the on-call doctor who was already at the hospital. Then, I felt a huge contraction and Sarah Anne told me Judah’s head was out. The only response I had was, “seriously?” I didn’t even push! In the blink of an eye, he was here. The on-call doctor rushed in and my regular doctor got there about five minutes later. Judah does things on his own time, once again.
I heard his cry and remember Kyle saying, “Baby, I’m so sorry, he looks just like me.” He sure does, he’s the spitting image of my husband in baby form. He was 8 lbs, 1oz. and 21.5 inches long, defying the odds of a small, early baby. I looked over at my beautiful boy, wanting to hold him more than I’ve wanted anything in my entire life. He was perfect, ten fingers, ten toes, healthy and happy. My boy defied the odds again. I was adamant about doing skin to skin immediately after Judah was delivered, but this wish was overlooked by the frazzled hustle and bustle of the nurses who unexpectedly needed to deliver my baby. I remember saying over and over again, “I want to hold him.” I knew that the nurse who was cleaning him off was just doing her job, but I couldn’t help my strong desire to push her aside and sweep my boy up in my arms.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, and was actually only five minutes, the nurse handed Judah to Kyle and he walked over to me. I was about to hold my boy. His cries were precious, his squished face and beet red body was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. The moment that I held him and our eyes met for the first time, I will never, ever forget, or experience anything like that again. Our connection was instant. I was the calm in the storm for him. He knew me immediately; I was mom. Everyone else in the room faded away, it was just the two of us. In that very moment, I fully became a mother.
I kept whispering happy birthday, Judah to him and telling him over and over how much I loved him. Tears were flowing and my heart was so full. I remember being wheeled back to my room while Kyle went with Judah to get his first bath. My smile was beaming from ear to ear, and I was elated. This beautiful, amazing boy that Kyle and I had waited nine months to meet was finally here and I could not wait to get to know him.
We spent the first few hours of Judah’s life just the three of us, it was nothing less than one huge love fest. Kyle and I oohed and ahhed over every movement, every flicker that Judah made. We couldn’t get enough of this sweet babe. Finally we decided we had better share this bundle of joy with some pretty anxious grandparents. We called our moms and dads and they were the first of what was a steady stream of family and friends who all came excited to meet our son. It was perfect.
One of my oldest and dearest friends gave birth to her son a month prior and I remember her stating, “I hold in my arms my greatest accomplishment.” I could not have said it better.
Judah, you are the best thing to happen to your daddy and I. July 6, 2012 is the day our greatest accomplishment, our joy, our treasure, came into the world. I love you Judah.