Here’s the (re)post of Braden’s Birth-Story as the kick-off to the Birth-Story Carnival. As with the (Breast)Feeding Carnival, this is a way for us to share emotional stories with one another. It can help us learn about one another, and it can definitely help educate.
Adoption stories, or ANY stories about how your family grew, are MORE than welcome as a part of this carnival. The more the merrier!
This post is incredibly long, as blogs go. If you’re committed to reading it, you might want to get some popcorn. But please read it and prove to me that you really do love me.
Braden’s Birth Story
It was nearing the middle of October, 2006, and although John had planned on being on Paternity Leave by then, he was headed out on the road for three more shows.
Recent occurrences had left our small family with less than the desired amount of income, pushing John to perform on the 12th –14th, against his desired plan of action.
Because of our dire situation, I was forced to eat lots of chocolate chip cookies. Don’t question the logic. Just read.
Just earlier that week we sat in an examination room listening to phrases like, “already 70% effaced and 3 inches dilate!” “water breaks early from changes in atmospheric pressure,” and “how far away will you be?” from our OB/GYN. I had to stifle a giggle when I saw the captured-prey look on poor John’s face. His constant mantra for the rest of the week was “Stay in until daddy comes home!”
John was set to return home early on Sunday morning, October 15.
Not long after John departed for his last road run before paternity leave, a cold front rumbled into town, bringing storms… and steady changes in atmospheric pressure.
I sat on the couch with the remote on my belly, the tv frozen on the Weatherscan channel. Chewing on my lower lip, I wched the barometric pressure readings dance around. I decided the best way to handle the situation was to eat more cookies.
The days passed with agonizing s l o w n e s s while I waited for John to return. In fact, time actually went backwards a couple of times.
Every day, I talked to Braden and longed to see his face… during those moments, I wanted him to just go on ahead and come into the world. Then I would think about John, and how much I needed and wanted him to be present for this wonderful delivery, and I would wish for more time again.
I decided that the best way for me to reconcile my emotions was to… you guessed it! Eat more cookies.
Finally, it was late night on October 14th, and John was on his way home. I was so excited to have him return. I was eagerly anticipating his arrival and looking forward to feeling relaxed in his presence.
And hoping he’d go buy me some more cookies, since I had eaten them all.
On Sunday morning, October 15th, we got up and readied ourselves for church. Later in the day, after the service, we returned to the church to attend a baby shower graciously thrown for us by our new Nashville Vineyard Church family.
We had an awesome time eating cake, talking to friends, laughing, eating cake, opening gifts, taking pictures, and eating cake. Thank God there was cake there, because there were no cookies.
Braden received many lovely gifts, and we were greatly loved upon. When it was winding down, we gathered our spoils and headed for home, content to be together and anxiously waiting to see what the next week would be like.
And full of cake. Yum.
That evening was lovely. We had a quiet, intimate night together to reflect on the nine months of pregnancy and to think about what the very near future would be like.
It is times like that when we realize that every day our love grows stronger – such a great blessing. After enjoying one another’s company all evening, we turned in, and snuggled each other to sleep.
Dreams came upon us… in mine, I ate lots of cookies.
Around 8:30am, I awoke to make a trip to the porcelain bowl (which must have had the imprint of my butt-cheeks on it by then)… and noticed that I was feeling mildly crampy. Having experienced my fair share of Braxton-Hicks contractions, I just waddled on into the bathroom, expecting them to slack off.
While waddling back to the bed, I made the mental note that the crampiness was not subsiding. Hmmm.
I climbed back under the covers and closed my eyes. Sleep would not come to me… my mind was whispering things to me, “Loootusss… feel that tension down below? It’s not going away, Lotus…. In fact, does it feel a little less mild now? Maybe? You think? Maybe you should open your eyes, Lotusss….”
In fact, my mind wasn’t saying anything at all about cookies, and I was beginning to think it was right about those cramps.
I opened my eyes and sat up on the edge of the bed, quietly monitoring the sensations in my abdomen. Yes, yes, it was true… the crampiness was still going on, and it was elevating.
“Hey, is my baby ready to come out now? Is this actually it?”
I decided it would probably be a good idea to let John in on the fun, so I woke him gently, and told him I was having cramps, and that I wasn’t sure, but I thought it was the beginning of labor.
His eyes came alive like they never do early in the morning, and he was up.
You know how they tell you to wait until your contractions are 5 minutes apart before you call the doctor’s office?
HAHAHA! Mine never were.
Before I knew it, there was NO question that I was having contractions… I went from mild crampiness to booming labor in the blink of an eye.
Realizing that it was on, I knew I wouldn’t be showering again for some time, so I jumped into the shower and took the shortest shower I have ever taken in my life – probably about 3 minutes. I had a contraction while in the shower stall. I looked down at my rotund belly and imagined Braden break-dancing inside.
We started timing the contractions as I was dressing (which is difficult when you have to constantly stop to lean into the bed, panting and jittering your legs around, trying to figure out if any of this crap will ease the pain) and they were, to our amazement, coming about 3 minutes apart… no 2.5, wait, 2, what the heck – 1.5?!? Holy crap!
John called the doctor, and of course, they wanted to speak to me (they do this evil thing to see if you are really in the thick of it). I tried my best, but it was difficult… talking to someone when all you really want to do is bite down on your arm is a hard thing to do.
The nurse decided I was just dehydrated.
She told me to drink a lot of water and call back in an hour if the contractions were still coming very close. I wanted to kill her, but I hung up and screamed for water instead.
I moved my show to the living room. I drank as much water as I could between bouts of crawling around on all fours and rolling around on my back with my feet pushing at the back of the couch.
“Hee-hee-hee-hoo! Hee-hee-hee-hoo! Hee-hee-hee-hoo-DARNIT!!!”
After about 20 minutes went by, I growled at John to call the nurse back and tell her I was IN LABOR AND I REFUSED TO WAIT A WHOLE HOUR.
He promptly grabbed his phone and called. As another contraction came on, I lay on the floor with my legs in the air, on my back like a turned-over bug… and I heard him say, “I THINK my wife is in labor.
Rain. Rain! LOTS OF RAIN!
And Pain. Pain! LOTS OF PAIN!
We hopped into the car, and BOLTED out onto the highway. The ride to the hospital was an insane flight of excitement, terror, screaming, wiggling, hee-hee-hoo’s, and honking. John drove like a bat out of hell.
I wish I had had some cookies.
We finally got to the hospital and I was dropped into a wheelchair and whisked to a teenie room with a bed and 2 nurses. I started getting naked before they even closed the door. I really didn’t care. I threw my clothes across the room and got on the bed… I was being hooked up to things and prodded, and questions were being asked.
The nurses seemed casual, chatting with one another about ‘blahdee this and that’ as I “heee-heee-heee-hoooo’d” with vigor. One of them ventured where the sun don’t shine, and suddenly her facial expression changed. “You’re 100% and 7 inches!”
I’m sure I gave her a look of, “No crap, lady! I’m quite aware that it’s on!”
Moments later, the bed I was on was quickly moving through countless hallways. People we passed grinned at my exasperated “hee-hee-hee-hoo’s.” They smiled and oooh’d at my huge, bulging belly. It was like a crazy, silly carnival ride.
At some time during the hallway ride, John had joined the parade. We arrived in a large labor and delivery room. Many things were attached to me and many questions were posed to me.
I was lucid, in pain, excited, concerned, eager, poised, and thrilled.
One of the things attached to me was an IV, on the back of my hand. It was uncomfortable in an odd way, but was feeding me fluids. Once I had drained the bag, I was told, I could have my epidural.
Machines around us beeped and hummed. We could hear and see our little Wiggle Bean’s heartbeat. Like music. Beautiful music.
On a monitor above that one, we could see a real-time charting of Braden’s heart rate and my abdominal activities. My contractions took visual form. It was amazing.
The anesthesiologists came into the room and started asking me questions, and mixing things.
Pain predominates my memories at this point.
My nurse, Amy, asked me to sit on the edge of the bed. She stood right in front of me, and like a loving mommy with a little kid, held me, putting my forehead close against her chest. John kneeled to one side and held my hand. The drug-givers stood behind me, rubbing cold things on my back and feeling around on my spine. They warned me of pressure and I felt it… along with pain. It took a small while for the needle to be properly inserted.
The contractions were amazingly painful. Trying to describe them with words is futile. No one who has not had one can ever understand. Never.
Sitting still during the peak of this while pushing out your back and awaiting a needle into the spinal area is a crazy experience. Soon it was over, and I laid back. Before long, I was peaceful. I watched in amazement as the dancing lines on the monitor to my left told the active story of my contractions… while my tummy was none the wiser. John and I chatted.
[having trouble with the video, it will be back again soon]
For the next several hours, many people saw my unmentionables. I didn’t care. My water was manually broken (not exactly what I had desired, but it didn’t really upset me, either). My birth plan was discussed. I was moved this way and that.
I wore an oxygen mask to keep Braden’s environment stable (his heartbeat was actually blipping around a bit).
My vitals were monitored, and so were Braden’s. John made phone calls, and took videos that he narrated. We laughed and talked. I rested and waited. We listened to the sounds of my womb and Braden’s heartbeat. We could hear little sounds when he would move. John gave me ice chips.
Labor s t r e t c h e d out, and pitocin came to call.
That’s right… the epidural s l o w e d my labor, and now we had to jack it up again. Soon, my contractions were raging again, and all was good. Every now and again, my pain medication was adjusted. By a little after 7pm, my body was ready, and it was time.
We were excited and giddy.
Then the real work began.
The actual work of labor was the most exhausting, and greatly rewarding experience of my life.I LOVED it. Am I crazy? No – the epidural I had allowed me to fully enjoy every minute of the delivery! I was totally in control of what was happening, and I felt empowered and strong. (Yes, you can actually feel that way even if you had an epidural!)
I felt the amazing miracle of life in action!
(I also felt my face swell to enormous proportions, due to the effort of pushing and all the extra fluids I was retaining… but that’s not really important, is it? And who else can later give themselves the nickname, “Mushroom Face?”)
John was at my left side, holding my leg during pushes, and stroking my arm and touching my face at all the right times. My nurse was at my right side, holding that leg and directing me to breathe and push when the contractions came on. Lisa, the nurse, kept telling me what an amazing pusher I was, and that I was progressing at an astounding rate for a first time birther. She was giving me a total ego trip – but apparently, I am made for birthing.
Chalk one up for me and my reproductive system.
When Braden was staying in the birth canal (no more peek-a-boo), Lisa wheeled over the mirror I had requested and placed it so that I could observe the delivery.
Such an amazing site I have never before witnessed. I would take a deep breath in, bear down and puuuuuuuuuuush… and leaning forward I would look into the mirror and see my son’s head and his long, curly black hair!
John and I grinned at each other and beamed. It was all too incredibly amazing. Soon, the doctor came into the room. Braden was crowning, I could see his head slowly emerging, and the doctor told me this experience was impossible without an epidural. The next parts all happened so fast… before I knew it, Braden was coming out of me, very quickly. John and I were elated! An attending nurse yelled, “Broken cord, broken cord!”
Apparently Braden was not hip to the fact that John wanted to cut the umbilical cord. He had snapped it himself as he was coming into the world. I expected my son to be placed on my lap, but the doctor quickly handed him off and he was whisked away to the little station across the room.
“I’m going to let them go ahead and take him and stimulate him a little bit,” she said.
“Is he okay?” I asked her.
“Yeah, he’s very stunned from having his head down in there.”
I’m assuming she meant in the birth canal for so long – he did have QUITE a glorious conehead.
[gore alert: this video shows a bloody baby. No, you will not see my Vag.]
[having trouble with the video, it will be back again soon]
Soon, it became apparent that he needed more than just a little stimulation…”He breathed in some meconium, but he’ll be fine, we just need to clean him up….” For those of you who don’t know, that means he crapped inside me, and upon his first breath upon birthing, he breathed in his own poop. Ever have poop in your lungs? That can’t be pleasant. The thing is, they had no idea it had happened. Usually, if this has occurred, when your water breaks, it is greenish. When they broke my water, it was nice and clear. Apparently, Braden decided to take a crap sometime after that. While John stood nearby, NICU nurses rushed into the room and surrounded Braden at his little station. They quickly worked at cleaning out his lungs and stimulating him.
He failed his first Apgar test.
John, pained and scared, stood by… he didn’t tell me then that my baby looked like a limp ragdoll. I didn’t know until later when I viewed the above video.
I lay on the delivery table all the way across this mammoth room. All I saw was nurses behind the curtain, attending to my son. And my doctor kept talking to me. I asked her about the placenta, which I had just birthed.She showed it to me in detail, describing each part. It is an incredibly amazing organ, by the way.
I now know what an incredible master of distraction my delivery doctor is, too, by the way.
I made eye contact with John, from across the room, and he looked worried. I asked the doctor, who was now sewing up a few small tears, if my son was okay. “Yes, oh yes, he’s going to be just fine, they just need to suction out the meconium and wake him up a bit, he’ll be okay. You’ll see him soon.”
Feeling reassured, I made a joke about my son already being a turd (since he inhaled some).
Only one person laughed. And there were lots of people in the room.
And I’m funny, darnit, okay?
So I realized that it wasn’t funny because of the timing… not funny. Now I was worried.
“IS MY SON OKAY?!?”
Finally, a nurse brought a small, pale bundle over to me. She leaned over towards me with my little boy. I took him and he made little whimpering cries as I held him. His face was beautiful.
I kissed him and I tried to impart all of the HUGE LOVE I had for him into his little body through my lips where they touched his face. John took a short video of Mommy and Baby meeting, on the outside, for the first time.
[having trouble with the video, it will be back again soon]
Braden was quietly grunting at the end of each little cry, and the nurse explained that this was because he was having trouble breathing. She said they would have to take him to the nursery instead of leaving him with me.
Having trouble breathing?
We had just enough time for the nurse to take a photo of the 3 of us together. Our first family photo! My face was so swollen that I could barely keep my eyes open when I smiled.
I wanted to hold onto him all night long.
She took him from me.
He was taken to the nursery, and they kept telling us that he would be fine, just fine. They said he’d just need a little time, and he would be with us again later. I kept telling John that “he’s in the nursery, not the NICU, so he’s going to be fine… right?”
Hours passed by.
John left the room several times to check on Braden. I was in agony when I was alone. John took a few pictures with his phone and our digital camera to show me. I melted, and my need to hold him intensified.
I’ll spare the details of my clean-up and eventual journey to my room. I will mention that I had some difficulty getting to the wheelchair that would transport me to my boarding room. I later found out that I had temporarily lost the use of my left leg due to the fact that I’d crushed the femoral nerve near my left hip during labor. Pretty scary stuff, considering that:a) If I had crushed the femoral artery instead of the nerve, I would have bled to death almost instantly. A good argument against an epidural next time.
b) I was told it could take as long as 6 months to heal, and it might never heal completely. (I had complete use of that leg before the end of the year, by the way. Thank You, Lord.)
I was dying to see my beloved, so my awesome nurse took me past the nursery and parked my chair in front of my prince. John stood next to me. The three of us stood there for what I believe was at least 20 minutes, though it flew by.
Tears, smiles, laughs… long silences thick with emotion. Love, awe, excitement, Love, relief, fear, anticipation, Love, desire, admiration, LOVE.
I sat there and stared at the product of the great love that John and I have for one another.
Then it was on to our room… not as large as the delivery room, but still quite a good size. John left to get himself some food. While he was gone, I met the graveyard shift nurse, and she explained some things I would need to do to care for myself, and what they would be doing to care for me.
When John returned, we chatted while he ate. We turned the lights off to try to get some sleep. I couldn’t sleep – a part of me was in another room.
Finally, around 4am, someone knocked on the door, and when it opened, a nursery nurse wheeled a bassinet into my room. In said bassinet was the best part of my life.
John and I rejoiced.
Braden looked at us with his amazing little eyes and we became his.
We chose to have our son room in with us, and the next couple of days were blurs of intense love, cuteness, limping, diapers (mine and Braden’s), pain killers, making Braden Burritos, hospital meals in bed, crying (me and Braden), laughing, feeding, tests, and watching him sleep to make sure he never stopped breathing.
And holding him.
And wanting to hold him forever.
Life will never be the same.
Did you actually read all of that? If so, what’s your favorite color? Just checkin’.
Now link in with your Birth Story (or any story about how your family grew/is growing!).