My heart was pounding as I leaned against the bathroom counter, trying to catch my breath. It was 5 o’clock in the morning but I was wide awake. The last time I had felt this mixture of emotions I had been holding a positive pregnancy test. I kept glancing at the girl in the mirror hoping that she would tell me what to do but the look on her face said she was just as shocked as me. Suddenly, I was overcome with a fit of giggles as I whispered out loud, “We’re having a baby today.”
I stood in the doorway, watching Daniel sleep for just a few more seconds. It’s a strange feeling knowing you’re only moments away from changing everything in your life. I leaned across the bed, “Daniel…Daniel…” I heard a mumbled grunt in reply. “Daniel, my water just broke.” His eyes snapped open and with a huge grin he said, “Let’s do this.”
The next hour was a blur of rushing around the house getting dressed and packing our bags before heading to the hospital. On the drive over, neither of us said much. I was still trying to process that it was actually happening. Less than two days before, my doctor told me that I was only 1cm dilated and without any contractions there were no signs that Bennett was coming out any time soon. We had scheduled an induction for a week later. So, when my water broke that morning, I was completely in shock.
When we got to the hospital, I was starting to come out of my fog. As I filled out paperwork, settled into a delivery room, and changed into that hideous hospital gown, reality started to sink in. The next few hours were relatively uneventful. They told me I had started having contractions and they wanted to see how far I could progress on my own. However, when your water breaks, they only give you about an 18 hour window to get the baby out or the risk of complications gets too high. So, after getting hooked up to a fetal monitor, and the most painful IV in my hand, they mostly left me alone. Daniel and I waited around together and eventually both of our moms got to the hospital to wait with us. My contractions were starting to pick up and get more and more painful. I asked for the epidural pretty early on, and I’ve got no shame about that.
When the anesthesiologist came in to give me the epidural, I started to panic. I hadn’t been afraid of that needle even the slightest bit until that moment. Daniel was standing in front of me as the doctor prepared me for the shot. The doctor kept making the most ridiculous jokes to keep me from freaking out and Daniel kept eye contact with me the whole time. At one point I started to look over at the needle. Daniel quickly reached up and turned my face back to him, “Don’t,” he whispered, to which I nodded gratefully. The pinch and sting of the numbing shot was all that hurt. The epidural itself simply felt strange, but not painful.
After about nine hours of labor, I was completely exhausted. I had only gotten about three hours of sleep the night before and due to the amount of tubes attached to me, along with the nurses coming in to check on me constantly, I hadn’t been able to sleep at the hospital either. They had also given me an oxygen mask to wear because it would help get more oxygen to Bennett. Suddenly, our doctor came in followed by several members of his team and he didn’t look happy.
He quickly explained to Daniel and I that the fetal monitor kept losing track of Bennett’s heartbeat and they were unable to monitor how he was doing. Every time they would get it positioned correctly, he would move and they would lose him again. To correct this, he explained that they were going to do something he really didn’t like to do. He said they would have to insert a small wire under the skin of Bennett’s head, which would allow them to keep constant track of his heart rate. He also told us that this would actually hurt Bennett a little and that it would feel something like getting a shot. We didn’t have any other option but to agree.
Daniel stood by the side of my bed and held my right hand. By this point the epidural had completely numbed the lower half of my body so I couldn’t feel anything they were doing. I just stared straight at Daniel as tears flowed down my face, across my oxygen mask, soaking into my hospital gown. All I could think about was that my baby wasn’t even born yet and he was already feeling pain. I’m crying again as I type this out. It was a horrible moment.
Once the wire was in, Bennett’s tiny heartbeat thudded around the room. Within the next hour the doctor returned to explain that with each contraction, Bennett was being pressed against his umbilical cord which was lowering his heart rate dangerously. The doctor suggested that they try pushing some fluid back in to help cushion Bennett. About an hour after that, the doctor came back to tell us that Bennett’s heart rate was now too high. It had been roughly thirteen hours since my water broke and labor began. The window of safely delivering Bennett was closing quickly and my body couldn’t keep up. I was only 5cm dilated and he hadn’t dropped any lower.
Before the doctor even said it, I knew I would be having a C section. I never had my heart set on any one specific birth plan, but a C section had always been my last resort. After thirteen hours of exhausting labor, I was ready to hold my baby and just know that he was safe and healthy. I signed a few more documents and waited for the surgeon to arrive who would be performing the surgery. Daniel was given scrubs to put on and I was given a little hairnet. Just a few minutes before the surgeon arrived, our pastors got to the hospital to pray over us. There aren’t enough words to say how much I needed those prayers in that moment.
As soon as the surgeon walked into our room, everything began moving quickly. My friend, the funny anesthesiologist, returned with more jokes and more drugs, both of which I was thankful for. A flurry of nurses and doctors were in and out all around me and before I knew it, I was being wheeled down the hall into the operating room. My anxiety at an all time high.
They transferred me from my bed onto the surgery table and quickly placed a blue sheet in front of my face so that I couldn’t see anything that was going on. I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. “Do you know when they’ll bring Daniel back here,” I nervously asked the anesthesiologist who was busy moving around beside me, pushing more drugs in to keep me numb. “They’ll bring him in soon, we’re not ready yet,” he calmly replied, just as Daniel suddenly sat down next to me. (Later, Daniel told me that as soon as he walked in, he actually saw them prepping my stomach for surgery. Apparently someone told him to come in way too early.)
At this point, my memory turns into a bit of a mess. I was overcome by so much anxiety that everything felt heightened and blurred together. My heart was pounding and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I kept worrying that somehow the medicine wouldn’t work and I would be able to feel the pain. There was lots of pressure and tugging and pulling, and although it didn’t hurt, it increased my panic. I started to hyperventilate and Daniel kept telling me to just look at him while the anesthesiologist instructed me in a calm but firm voice to take slower breaths.
The only decent word to describe how I felt in that moment is overwhelmed. Everything was happening. Everything was changing. Here. Now. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe. The anesthesiologist leaned in close and whispered “Guess what? Your baby is almost here.” I opened my eyes just as I felt the most intense pressure and suddenly the room was silenced by the smallest whimper. For a moment, everything else disappeared except for me and that sound.
“Here’s your baby!” My OB who had assisted with the surgery gleefully held Bennett over the curtain just long enough for me to see a very unhappy looking purple alien before pulling him back. A few seconds later I heard someone say “Eight pounds, nine ounces.” Then the anesthesiologist took Daniel’s phone as they brought Bennett to me for the first time. He was swaddled in a hospital cloth and was very pink. He looked much less like an alien and more like a baby. I’d like to say that I held it together but at this point I was so overcome with relief and joy that the tears came back once again. Daniel held Bennett close so I could kiss his cheek for the first time. It was all finally over. He was here.
Daniel went with Bennett while they took him back to our room to finish cleaning him up. I stayed on the operating table while they stitched me back up and my very best friend the anesthesiologist gave me something special to help me relax. For the first time all day, I was just happy. It was over. Bennett was in our world and he was safe and healthy and with his dad. It didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, having to wait to see him again. I knew as long as Daniel was with him that he was okay. So, I closed my eyes and let the drugs whisk me away.
Eventually the three of us ended up in our new room together. It was cozy with warm lighting and lots of windows. Daniel and I were both completely exhausted in every possible way. Bennett’s birthday had been long and exciting and terrifying and perfect. We finally had our little boy and he was safe and happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Our tiny family of three was complete.