Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Every Birth is Beautiful: Henry's Birth Story

As long as I was old enough to think about the idea of giving birth I was terrified of it. Even when it was years away, the thought of it scared me beyond words. Maybe it was because I watched way too much A Baby Story one summer while babysitting my younger cousins. Maybe it was all of the horror stories women seemed to enjoy sharing. (Dear Mothers, this is not a good idea when there is a soon-to-be first time mama around. It just isn't nice, so save the story about how you labored for 3 years only to have an emergency cesarean that nearly killed you for another day, m'kay?). During my teenage years I can remember it seemed like every mother I knew was trying to one-up the next with how awful their delivery was. The stories of having tears and stitches in your nether region or having your stomach sliced open and your insides rearranged had me 100% terrified.

Despite my long-time fear of the entire pregnancy/birth/motherhood experience, we decided that we were ready to start a family after about 5.5 years of marriage. If you have been following along you may know that I experienced a miscarriage before becoming pregnant with Henry, so it was only by the grace of God that I was able to enjoy it and not be overcome with fear. I had a relatively easy pregnancy with no morning sickness (feel free to hate me). The most annoying thing I experienced was reflux for the entire first trimester. I felt like I had a huge lump in my throat for about three months, and I had very little appetite. I finally overcame that for the most part, and then came the heartburn. God bless the person who invented Tums because I felt like I could breath fire for the last few months. Other than having to repeat the glucose test, everything went pretty well. I felt good, slept great, and stayed pretty active throughout my pregnancy.

Everything was going pretty smoothly...until my 38 week checkup when my OB informed me that the baby was breech. What?!? I had worried about a lot of things in those 9 months, but that was the one thing I had forgotten to worry about. It was confirmed with an ultrasound, and I was given information on trying to turn the baby. After doing some research and talking to friends who had been there, we decided not to try and turn him and go ahead with a scheduled cesarean. By this point I was so totally and completely freaked out about a vaginal delivery that I was kind of okay with it. Don't get me wrong, I was still terrified, but no more so than any other form of delivery. I have never had any other surgery, but a planned incision on my stomach sounded better than the seemingly unavoidable tear in other places. Sign me up.

Even after we had decided to go with the cesarean, it still didn't really sink in. Even when my OB looked at her wall calendar and said, "How about November 7th?" it still didn't seem real. It was when the lady from labor and delivery called me one morning and said, "We've got you down for 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 7th. You will need to be there at 6:00 a.m. to fill out paperwork before your procedure."

I hung up the phone and fell apart. I mean APART. Like nine months pregnant, scared out of my wits and home alone when they call to tell me exactly what time they are going to cut another human being out of my body kind of apart. To her it was a procedure, but to me it was the most life-changing experience of my almost 30 years. I finally got myself together and called my family to tell them they could mark their calendars. I still worried. I stressed. I sort of mourned the loss of the "us" time we had become so accustomed to. I was a little crazy, but my sweet husband just kept rubbing vitamin E cream on my growing belly and telling me everything was going to be great.
Fast forward to November 7th, and we are headed to the hospital. I had big plans of taking video footage as much as possible, so I busied myself filming with my cell phone as we pulled up to the hospital. We answered some questions, filled out some paperwork, and headed back so I could be prepped. After I was all set in my hospital gown it was surprisingly laid back. We joked and laughed. The nurse complimented my nail polish. We texted my family updates and laughed at the fact that I couldn't feel any of the contractions the machine said I was having. I was nervous and excited and had no idea just how amazing that day would be.

Once we walked to the operating room they started administering meds. My husband was able to join us again, and everything was all set...except that I could still feel the doctor pinching my stomach. After everything was finally numb, the whole procedure went really quickly. It was just minutes until they told my husband to get out his camera if he wanted to take photos or video. The next thing I knew the nurse is holding my baby, I am crying, and everything is a blur. It wasn't half as terrifying as I had anticipated, and it was over before I had time to worry about it. They took great care of me, and before long I was cleaned up and able to join my boys in the recovery room.

The time in the recovery room may have been for the nurses to monitor me after major surgery, but to me it was built-in bonding time as a family of three. Henry fed for the first time while we tried to soak it all in and process our little miracle. I am so incredibly thankful for that time, just the three of us. I am actually so grateful for my entire stay. The nurses were great, my family was there, and I got all the turkey sandwiches (the thing I wanted my entire pregnancy but wasn't supposed to have) I could eat. I actually enjoyed our time there. I had such a positive experience from start to finish, and that is not lost on me. I know that is not the case for everyone.

No matter how you gave birth, you are an amazing mama warrior. You grew a person inside of you, nurtured them with your body, and did what was necessary and best to bring them safely into this world. (Mom's of multiples get bonus points for doing it again because those hormones bottoming out afterwards are no joke.) I am so thankful for my own personal experience, and I hope that me sharing it here has helped someone who may be facing doubt and uncertainty. It is scary, and there is no amount of preparation that can remedy that. The unknown can be terrifying, but trust me when I say your own story will be beautiful and wonderful in its own way. It will all be worth it when you hold that sweet baby, and your love will only grow from that day forward.

Get ready, mama. It is a crazy, scary, beautiful ride. 


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