The Birth Story Of Edward
I love making plans. I even make plans about how I’m going to make the best plan. And you do not want to be sitting next to me when things do not go according to plan. For this exact reason, I had a very bare bones birth plan:
1) Have the baby at a hospital
2) Ask for an epidural if I feel too uncomfortable
3) Baby gets put my chest immediately after birth
4) My husband gets to cut the cord
5) Stare at the baby with awe and adoration
Step one, two and, after a brief scare, five went according to plan.
Step one. I arrived at the hospital early Sunday morning to be induced due to polyhydraminos (excess amniotic fluid). I did end up asking for an epidural around midnight when it was clear that the baby wasn’t coming any time soon. So there was step two.
In between check-in and epidural, it was a long day of waiting, watching tv (thank you, AMC, for the Breaking Bad marathon), visits from doctors and nurses, dilation checks (nope, not very dilated), contraction checks (nope, nothing much happening there for the better part of the day), going to the bathroom and walking around the room, trying to find a remotely comfortably position in which to sit, stand, lie. I tried to keep distracted and tried to keep calm but patience is not my strong suit and that Sunday was an extreme exercise in patience. It was a marathon of patience. I hadn’t realized it until I got to the hospital that day, but somewhere in the back of my mind I was convinced I would have a quick labor and a very quick delivery. But no.
The highlight of the day was having my water broken to try to move labor along. Then I got to see what they meant by “excess amniotic fluid.” There was a massive rush of water. After that, any time I changed position or took a few steps more warm fluid snuck out. I was fascinated and found the sensation to be completely hysterical. Step, step SWISH. I was amazed my baby still had enough fluid in there to keep him safe, but he did. Having my water broken did nothing to spur him along.
So, a midnight epidural it was. After my epidural I was all about trying to get some sleep so I would be rested for what was sure to be a challenging Monday. My husband dozed in the recliner next to me. The equipment around beep, beep, beeped, but I got some much needed rest.
Monday morning came and baby was still happy in the womb, so back to more waiting. But this time, with the epidural, I wasn’t doing any walking around. Talk about an exercise in patience. I had brought a book and some magazines with me but I didn’t want to read, I didn’t want to watch tv, I just wanted to have my baby.
Finally, about 30 hours after I had checked in, my body had made some good progress and the doctor announced it was time to push! That’s when things got a bit shaky and steps three and four went out the door.
About two and half hours into pushing, my doctor became concerned that I wasn’t making much progress and my son was starting to show signs of stress. I had been actively trying to evict him from his warm home for hours, so it was no surprise he was physically stressed. I would be stressed, too! And I was, but for different reasons.
Despite the epidural, I was still quite uncomfortable. Also, I was terrible at pushing. “Push like you’re trying to poop” the nurse told me. I’m not sure if it was my fear of literally shitting the bed that made me push wrong or what, but nothing I was doing was working. Waves of determination hit me, followed by waves of hopelessness and helplessness. I wanted to meet my baby so badly, but my body and mind were exhausted and frustrated from pushing without any baby to show for it. My son was positioned slightly crooked and wouldn’t line up correctly over my cervix. I felt bad for him and a bit guilty I was causing him stress. Then the doctor asked me how I felt about having a c-section. It was looking necessary if I wasn’t able to deliver my son soon. At the mention of “c-section” I felt an unexpected release of tension. It was a relief to know I could stop pushing. Relief that I could be still for a few minutes. Relief that I’d be meeting my baby soon.
I was encouraged to keep pushing while the OR was being prepped just in case maybe, maybe, I could get him out on my own. My doctor even brought out a mirror so I could “see the progress.” I fought that mirror with tears. WHY would I want to see that? I was mortified. But damn if that mirror didn’t help. Occasionally I could see his little head make a brief appearance, only to retreat as soon as I stopped pushing. I had expected constant progress, not an ebb and flow of baby head. But ebb and flow it did. My kid was stubbornly happy in the womb and had little interest in reaching the real world. Honestly, it’s not unlike getting him out of his crib these days. He has always love his sleep. But push him out I did. FINALLY. And I felt another quick wave of release and relief. He was born and I didn’t have to add “recovering from a c-section” to my list of new mommy things to do.
But then came a quick twinge of panic. For three hours I had been completely focused on getting my son out of me. Now that work was over and I was instantly and irreversibly “mom.” What did that even mean? Before I could process any of it, another deeper wave of panic and fear hit. He wasn’t crying. Weren’t newborns supposed to cry? Edward, because he was Edward now, wasn’t making a peep. He was born with blue tinted skin and the cord wrapped around his neck. Hands that weren’t mine or my husband’s quickly cut his cord and shuttled him to the little medical bassinet on the other side of the delivery room. While I lay still as I could getting a 2nd degree tear stitched up (thank god they took the mirror away for that part), my son was in his own little bed surrounded by a flurry of hands; doctors, nurses, techs. I couldn’t think straight enough to count how many. My husband wasn’t sure where to stand, how close he could get to Edward without getting in the way of the doctor tornado surrounding him. We had both expected a squirmy messy thing to be snuggled up on my chest by now. We expected to be staring at Edward with awe and adoration. But instead we were confused and worried. This lasted, simultaneously, seconds and hours. Time does not move correctly in these moments.
And then – cries. Edward’s tiny sharp wail was the most perfect sound I had ever heard. A weight was read out – 7 pounds. Someone’s hands placed a calm, exhausted, warm pink boy on my chest. My husband settled by my side and as quickly as the tornado of activity entered our room, the room emptied. First the flurry. Then my doctor. Then my nurse. And it was just our little family. Finally we had that moment of awe and adoration we had been waiting for. I laughed at his seven pound weight. He had measured right around ten pounds at my last ultrasound and he was such a challenge to deliver that I thought for sure he would be a giant. But no, he was simply a long lean boy with a giant head. A crooked cone head for then, thanks to his angle heading down the birth canal. The doctors assured me it would even out (it did).
I’m grateful I didn’t write out a detailed birth plan. Like I said, I love making plans, but I knew I would be attached to my plan and disappointed if it didn’t work out the way I expected. I try to think back now on what my ideal birth plan might have looked like but I never get far. That labor and that delivery were so specifically mine and Edward’s that I can’t even think about what it would have looked like had it gone according to my own plan. And while I am a bit disappointed that my husband didn’t get to cut the cord, I’m grateful that strong steady professional hands stepped in to make sure our son got the care he needed in those critical first minutes. Those 30 hours of waiting around the hospital, three hours of the hardest work I’ve ever done and three minutes of foggy panic will forever be part of Edward’s story. And I will happily share the story with anyone who’d like to listen.
Kristen was voted “most unique” in her high school graduating class. 20 years ago. And she holds that in the highest honor. She has traded her vampire red locks for a more natural auburn shade, her eyebrow ring for a fitbit and her book of poetry for excel spreadsheets. She lives outside Boston with her husband, toddler, dog and two old lady cats. She has a blog in the works – www.anotherworkingmomblog.com so keep your eyes peeled. One day she may actually upload a post!
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