I'm Emily. wife, mother and interior designer hailing from the great state of Ohio. I live with my husband Josh, our two beautiful sons and our new baby daughter. This is a blog about finding my way through this new grown up life of mine.
The relief I felt after the delivery my new son was short lived - he was immediately taken to be seen by the team of nurses. They suctioned his nose and mouth, but he wasn't breathing. They gave him oxygen but he still refused to breath on his own, still wouldn't respond. I couldn't see him from my position in the bed, so my nurse relayed what was going on to me. After a few minutes I could tell things were getting tense, the neonatal nurses began to work on him more frantically, whispering quietly to one another. Then we were told they were taking him down to another room, one with more equipment they needed to help him breath. And just like that, they were gone and he was with them. The room suddenly fell silent. Josh and I were left sitting there with empty arms, waiting for news on our baby, hoping they would bring him back to us soon.
I don't know how much time passed, but eventually my nurse came in to update us on what was happening. She said they had intubated him and so the machine was breathing for him. A neonatologist was on her way over from Children's Hospital to examine him and may have to have him transported there --- where they were more capable of taking care of him in his condition. My nurse said the doctor would come talk to us soon but she wanted to come give us some idea of what was going on. She said she would want to know if it was her child.
Finally, the neonatologist came in to see us. She said Oren had begun to breathe a little bit on his own, but not enough. She said he was finally moving and responding to stimulus, but he still needed to go to the NICU. They had to move him to the other hospital and she wasn't sure how long he would be there. She promised they would bring him to my room so I could see him before he left.
When I finally saw him for the first time he was already in the transport isolette. His face was turned away from me and I could only touch his hand and arm. I wanted to know what he looked like, what it felt like to hold him. But more than anything, I wanted to know that he would be alright.
I told Josh to go to the other hospital with the baby and soon they were both gone. My midwife's work was done, but she stayed with me until I was moved to recovery. She gave me a hug and said there was no way she was leaving me there alone. When I was moved out of delivery they graciously gave me a room with two beds, the extra one was for Josh so he could stay with me later. Then my mom came to my room as soon as I got there and kept me company while we waited for news on the baby. The kindness of everyone surrounding me was overwhelming. Josh's mom and stepdad even rescued my bags from Josh's car and brought them over to me so I could shower and change.
When I finally spoke to Josh a few hours later things were already looking up for our little boy. He said Oren had been trying to pull the breathing tube out so they went ahead and removed it. He was finally breathing on his own now. And even though I had only delivered the baby a few hours before, they gave me a pass to go over to Children's Hospital to be with him. I was so excited and relieved and I couldn't wait to get there. My mom drove me over and Josh's mom and stepdad met us at the entrance so they could show us where to go. I waited in the lobby while we tried to locate a wheelchair I could use (extended periods of walking were not quite in the cards for me yet). No one could seem to find a wheelchair and I was getting anxious waiting. A young guy sitting near us must have overheard what was going on and insisted I take the wheelchair he was using. Despite all that had gone wrong that day, I couldn't help but feel overcome with gratitude. It seemed everywhere I turned someone was right there, offering me the support and help I needed to make it through.
When I got up to the NICU I started to cry as soon as I walked through the doors. It's a scary place to be and somewhere no one wants to see their child. I told a nurse who I was and she smiled at me, "Don't cry, honey. He's getting out of here!" As she led me over to where he was sleeping she told me the doctors had already decided he was doing so well he could be moved back to the nursery at my hospital, so we could be in the same place. The news seemed too good to be true and I was thrilled to say the least. But the best part was yet to come.
Because that's when I got to see my baby. I mean, really see him for the first time.
He was gorgeous.
I even got to hold him.
I never wanted to put him down again.
And just a few hours later, he was back at the hospital with me. He was placed in the special care nursery, just down the hall. And it was there that I spent the next four days holding him, nursing him and falling completely and madly in love with him.
I could tell you all about his time in that nursery and every slow step he made toward getting out. How I'm pretty sure every single one of his nurses should be considered a candidate for sainthood and his doctors too. I could go on and on about Wes meeting him for the first time ("I DO like him!") and how, right from the beginning, he loved his little brother more than we could have ever even hoped for. But what I think I will remember most about those four days in the hospital is the love and appreciation I felt for my husband and how the whole crazy experience brought us even closer together.
Josh was by my side the entire time. He slept in my room with me in the other bed until I was discharged to a bonding room where he slept in a pull out chair for the next two nights. He brought in dinner and did my laundry. He stayed up with me through all hours of the night and went to nearly every feeding with me round the clock. We kept ourselves awake between feedings watching bad TV, curled up together in my tiny bed. Trekking back and forth from our room to the nursery, we walked the empty halls of the hospital every night, hand in hand. He held me when I was scared and comforted me when I was overwhelmed. Through out it all, I just kept thinking how lucky I was to have him for a husband and how lucky my children were to have him as their father.
They will be better people because of him. I know I am.
No matter what we faced, Josh was there, by my side, for all of it. Our partnership survived the test, in fact, it thrived because of it. So yes, I will always remember, treasure even, those days we spent there, watching over the new, precious little life we made together.
And believe me when I tell you, what we made was perfect.
We left Abby at home with Wes and headed to the hospital. The contractions were coming closer and closer together as Josh sped there (***disclaimer*** if you know Josh, you know his version of speeding is like, 5 miles over the speed limit). We got to the parking deck outside the entrance and found a spot. I waited until the next contraction passed before trying to walk inside. Another bad idea. I got about two steps away from the car when I nearly doubled over in pain as the next contraction took over my body.
"I can't walk that far!"
"What should we do?!"
"Take me to the ER entrance and get a wheelchair!"
That's when Josh got all flustered and tried to go the wrong way out of the deck and I had to direct him to the appropriate exit. Classic nervous dad-to-be behavior and despite the ridiculous amount of pain I was in, I still remember smiling and thinking it was cute --- just like in the movies.
When we reached the ER, Josh ran in and brought an attendant out with a wheelchair for me. Josh still had to park the car and the attendant asked if I wanted to wait for Josh to get back before he took me up to labor and delivery. I said I did and we waited for about two minutes until the next contraction hit and he had to witness me writhing around in the chair.
"Uhhh, I think I need to take you up now. We'll have somebody else bring your husband up when he gets back."
I could barely follow what he was saying and tried with all my might to remember what exactly I had learned in class that was supposed to be helping here. (FYI - It's really hard to go into a hypnotic state when you have a nervous attendant chattering questions at you and constantly asking if you're okay. By the way - No, I'm not okay. I have a child trying to COME OUT OF MY BODY).
When we finally made it to L&D he wheeled me over to triage so they could assess the situation and determine if I was in "real" labor yet. I know it's standard procedure, but give me a break, I think it was pretty obvious. Anyway, a nurse led me to a room and asked me to change into a gown so she could check to see if I was dilated. As soon as I changed another huge gush of fluid hit the deck. I guess I should have been embarrassed, but at that point I couldn't have cared less. And even though I couldn't exactly speak at that particular moment, inside I was all, Are you convinced I'm in labor now, you animals?! I don't make a habit out of smuggling water balloons between by legs! What exactly do you think is going on over here? Was this enough to convince them I was in labor? No, they had to take a sample and review it under a microscope to confirm it was actually amniotic fluid. (Could someone please tell me what else it could be? I mean, there aren't a whole lot of options, am I right?) In the mean time, Josh showed up and the nurse confirmed I was 4 centimeters dilated. As we waited for the okay to be admitted more contractions were coming, all the while getting more and more intense. Another gush of fluid, but this time something was definitely wrong. The nurse noticed right away and broke the bad news.
"There's meconium in the fluid. Do you know what that is?"
"Yes," I replied, afraid of what she would say next.
"Do you know how that changes the plan now?"
And with that one little question my hopes for the birth experience I had been dreaming of were already out the window and I hadn't even been admitted yet. She explained how there would have to be a team of neonatal nurses on standby in the room to examine the baby immediately after birth and suction out the baby's nose and mouth to make sure he or she didn't inhale any of the fluid. I knew it was for the best, but I was devastated.
When Wes was born he had the cord wrapped around his neck so tightly that it had to be cut before he was even delivered and he was immediately whisked away to be given oxygen. I didn't get to see or hold him for about 20 minutes while they checked him over and made sure he was breathing and everything was alright. I was not prepared for that. I never imagined they would take my baby away before I even got to see him. And while I knew it was what had to be done, the memories of that disappointment still nag at me to this day. This time I had really wanted it to be different. After nine long months of pregnancy and all the hard work of labor, all I wanted was that one magical moment where with that final push you bring your baby into the world and they lay him on your chest and you get the see and hold this new little person you have been waiting so long to meet.
I started to cry. This was all wrong. They were going to take my baby away from me again. I had diligently crafted a birth plan to be handed out to everyone involved in the delivery. It had instructions for when we wanted to cut the cord, how we wanted to delay weighing and measuring the baby for up to two hours so I could immediately nurse and we could begin to bond. All of that planning was in vain and I was loosing control of my birth experience yet again. I turned to Josh, tears welling up in my eyes and he knew exactly what was going through my head.
He tried to reassure me, "It will all be okay. It's just what has to happen. A healthy baby is the most important thing."
Of course I knew he was right, so I tried to focus on what he was saying, tried to remain calm and relaxed. But all the while my heart was breaking. Why was this happening to me again?
What happened after that is all a bit of blur. They admitted me finally (FINALLY) and I was given a room. The contractions were literally on top of each other at this point and all I wanted to do was get settled in and start putting to use all the relaxation techniques we had learned for labor. I also wanted in the birthing tub as soon as possible. Of course, nothing is as easy as it seems. Once I was in my room they started asking me to fill out paperwork and they had to draw blood and prep me in case I should need an IV. Now my contractions were coming back to back, no break between them at all. I could barely breath, I couldn't focus on what they were saying to me. I was trying to sign my name and answer their questions and all the while I felt like my insides were about to burst open.
I needed in that tub.
Thank god for Josh, he was doing what he could to manage the situation for me given our circumstances. He asked the nurses to hold their questions and stop working on getting me set up when I was having a hard contraction. He asked them to quickly start filling the tub so I could get in as soon as they were done prepping me. Later, he told me he had even put on a relaxation cd that we had brought with us, but I never even noticed it was playing.
He was my advocate. He was my support. He was amazing. And there's no way I could have gotten through it without him by my side. Total gorilla dad.
When the last of the forms were signed and my midwife had arrived I was finally allowed in the tub. It had only been about 20 minutes but it felt like an eternity. I could hardly stand the pain anymore and I was desperate for the water to ease it in some way.
It didn't. Not. Even. Close.
I reached out for Josh and clung to him, my arms draped around his neck, my face buried in his chest.
I couldn't do this. If I was only 4 centimeters dilated, there was no way I was going to make it through the other 6 without any pain relief. I had planned to have a natural childbirth without any drugs, but the rest of my birth plan was already shot anyway, so I asked for an epidural. I had only been in the tub 5 minutes.
Josh and my midwife helped to get me out of the tub and back to the bed while they sent for the anesthesiologist. The pain was incomprehensible, it felt as big as the room. There was nowhere I could turn to escape it. And that's when I felt an uncontrollable urge to push --- I began to moan.
My midwife looked at me bewildered, "Are you feeling like you have to push already?"
"Yes! What do I do? I'm only 4 centimeters?!"
"Do whatever your body is telling you to do."
She checked me, "The baby is right here, you're fully dilated!"
I couldn't believe it. I hadn't even been in my room a half an hour.
"Emily, I don't think you're going to have time to get an epidural" she warned.
"Okay, that's fine, as long as the baby is coming now!"
And with that, I began to push. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I was no longer in control of my body. The contractions took over, my every muscle responding. Nothing eased the pain, there was no relief. I cried out, "I can't do this!"
"You are doing it!" Josh smiled down at me, holding my hand.
I don't know how many pushes it was or exactly how long it took, but I powered through the most magnificent and ferocious pain imaginable and finally, with every ounce of strength I could muster, I delivered my new baby into the world.
"It's a boy, we have another boy!" Josh told me, choking back tears.
I closed my eyes and collapsed back into the bed smiling, "I did it."
It was Monday afternoon and all I could think about was how I was headed back to work the next morning and hadn't gotten much accomplished over the weekend. As I glanced around my house suddenly all I could see was dust, cat hair and dirt everywhere I looked - and I needed to clean it. All. Right then. So I started --- wiping down furniture, scrubbing floors, cleaning out the fridge and pantry, batting my eyelashes at Josh while gently persuading him to haul the vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs for me. He texted my sister and told her I was nesting like a madwoman and to get ready because he was convinced the baby was coming soon. I kind of shrugged him off and told him I just wanted everything clean before the work week when I wouldn't have the time to get to it. Besides, I wasn't having a single contraction or any other sign of impending labor. So, I just kept on cleaning into the evening, I put Wes to bed and kept going well into the night. Finally, by 11:30 I was satisfied and knew 5am would be coming too soon. I had even finished the last few things on my mental "baby to do" list. Exhausted, I crawled into bed and as I closed my eyes and began to drift to sleep I rubbed my belly and whispered down to my baby, "I think we're finally ready for you little one."
10 minutes later my water broke
I shook Josh
"I think my water just broke!"
"What? Are you serious?"
"Look!" I pointed to my wet pajama pants
"What do we do now?!"
"I don't know!"
Josh ran off to get me a towel and I went into the bathroom to clean up. Another huge gush of fluid. This was definitely it. I was stunned and practically shaking with excitement. I changed my clothes as Josh called my midwife. She asked if the fluid was clear. I said I thought so. She asked if I was having contractions yet. I said no, nothing yet. She told me the contractions would probably start in a few hours and suggested I go back to bed and try to get some sleep.
riiiiiight... I'm only about to become a mother of two and to do so I have to give birth and I plan to that drug free, so while I wait for the impending pain to begin I'll just go ahead and grab a quick nap. Sure, no problem, crazy lady.
So, even though it was almost midnight I called my mom who had given me strict instructions to call her as soon as any labor related developments occurred. I also called my dad and stepmom, and before I was even off the phone Josh had called my sister and she was already on her way to our house.
Another huge gush of fluid but this time it looked a little off. We called the midwife back and she asked if it looked like there was meconium (if you don't know what that is you can find out all about it here) in the fluid. I described it to her and she said not to worry too much about it and to call her back if anything changed.
Then my contractions started --- it had only been about 15 minutes.
So much for a few hours. Okay, no problem, I could handle this. They weren't too bad and I started using the relaxation techniques I had learned in my HypnoBirthing classes. It was working well and I was calm and focused, totally in control.
Abby showed up about 10 minutes later and she and Josh and I gathered in our bedroom while Josh timed my contractions to establish a pattern. Within barely a half an hour they were already three minutes apart and lasting a minute long. This was going fast, really fast. We debated about whether to call our midwife back again since we had already called her twice within the last hour, but they were starting to get really intense. Josh made the call. She asked if I could walk and talk through the contractions. I said I didn't know, I hadn't tried. Just as the words left my mouth I felt another one building so I gathered myself together and attempted to walk across the room. That was a bad idea.
"Nope, no way! Not into it!" I croaked as I sat back down on the bed. The midwife said to follow my gut and whenever I felt ready to go to the hospital to go ahead and go. She would call ahead and let them know I was coming and instruct them to get the room with the birthing tub ready for me. She said they would call her when I got there and when and if I was in active labor they would let her know and she would head down.
So we waited through a few more contractions until I realized I really needed to be at a hospital, like, NOW.
While Josh and Abby set about getting the bags in the car I hobbled into Weston's room and spent my last few minutes at home just watching him sleep, kissing his little cheeks and thinking about how this was our last time alone together before he was no longer my one and only. The weight of that thought was heavy and bittersweet but I knew there was no turning back now.