Do you know what I hate? 5-year plans. I used to get so annoyed when people would ask me what I would be doing in 5 years. My response was always something snarky or super vague and general. Because, guess what, I’m not a fortune teller. There are literally thousands of possibilities and opportunities that could come up that I might miss out on because they weren’t in my “plan.”
Know what I hate even more? Birth plans. Because let me tell you, if there’s one thing you can’t predict it’s babies. Sure, you can have a general idea of how you want things to go. But once you get emotionally tied to a black and white birth plan, I guarantee you are going to experience some disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back on my child’s entrance into the world with any sense of let down.
From day 1 of our pregnancy, Brad and I decided that we were going to just go with the flow and deal with things as they came up. And I have no complaints. Despite some very minor morning sickness early on, hemorrhoids, nose bleeds, and general growing-a-human aches and pains, I had a very easy pregnancy. Don’t know if I can say the same for Rory. At 36 weeks we found out he was breech and swimming around in low levels of amniotic fluid. We had a couple of options – waiting for him to turn on his own (5% chance of this happening), manually turning him (20% chance of this option working plus a pretty good chance of sending me into labor or putting him in distress requiring an emergency removal plan), or scheduling a c-section. We were given brochures on breech babies and c-sections and sent home with a weekend to talk it over and decide.
So we got to work, Brad gathering information via medical research and articles on the internet, and me by talking to literally everyone I have ever known who has had a c-section.
After weighing all of our options, we decided to go ahead and schedule the c-section. We called the doctor on Monday just to clarify some details about our case and set the date for February 11. I had exactly two weeks and two days before my son would be born.
Knowing an exact date made everything seem so real. I started making lists of all the things I wanted to do before he got here. Things like pack a hospital bag, put together a diaper bag, finish decorating the nursery, assembling his bassinet, rearranging our bedroom, preparing several crockpot freezer meals, etc. I even had a timeline of things I wanted to get done at work before my last day.
I started getting anxious and putting some of the bigger items off until another time. Subconsciously I knew that as soon as the list was completed, he would be here and I was terrified. But then he came anyway – in his own time and in his own way. Because, like I was saying before, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Here’s how it all went down. On January 27 we were at the hospital for our final childbirth preparedness class. I started feeling really uncomfortable, like a dull achy pain in my lower abdomen, but I didn’t think anything of it at first. The last words uttered by the teacher were, “Well, you’ve completed all four weeks of the course – you’re ready to have a baby now!” By this point the aches had turned into actual pains, aka contractions. When we got home I timed them for an hour (there’s an app for that!) and they were about 1 minute each, 2-3 minutes apart. Brad, Leah and I were watching some comedian to distract me, but all I kept thinking was that this was not good news. This baby could not come on his own without putting us both in danger!
I called the hospital and told them what was going on and that he was breech and they told me to come in just to get monitored. crap, I should have finished packing that hospital bag. I remained calm but Brad was really freaking out. He was running all over the house gathering things and he insisted on taking a shower before we left. Role reversal much? I made sure I had the essentials and we headed up the hill.
Since they knew we were coming they had a wheelchair waiting for me in the ER. I was taken up to the labor and delivery unit where they hooked me up to all kinds of machines and checked my status. When we arrived at the hospital at 9:45 pm I was 2.5 cm dilated and 60% effaced. Still not entirely sure what that means, but they told me I was in active labor. Their plan we to give me some fluids and try to get the contractions to stop and the labor to stop progressing and send me home. They put in an IV and watched me for an hour before they checked me again. Around 11:15 pm I was 4 cm dilated and 85% effaced. This baby was coming tonight.
After that everything was just a blur. They switched out my IV meds and put in a catheter and called in the team. Brad called both sets of our parents to let them know what was going on. My parents came while I was still getting prepped for surgery but I was in so much pain I barely remember them being there. By the way, contractions suck.
The doctor came in the room and asked if we were ready to meet our son. They took Brad away so he could change into scrubs – hat, mask, booties, the works – and I was transported to the operating room where I received the magical numbing powers of the spinal. If you had asked me before, this is what I would have told you I was most nervous about. But honestly, it was the best part of my labor experience. The nurses were really nice and talked me through everything and the anesthesiologist was very calming and put me at ease. After a sting and some pressure the pain was gone and my body completely relaxed. My anxiety went away and I was able to be in the moment without any worry or fear.
Brad came in and sat by my head holding my hand. I imagine he was pretty anxious/nervous because they don’t give any of the good drugs to the dads! I told him to stay north of the blue sheet. I got the shivers while I was on the table. The anesthesiologist put warm blankets around my head and on my arms. He kept patting my head and telling me what a good patient I was. And he told me everything that was going on. I didn’t feel the incision at all but I could feel pressure and pulling. The table was moving a lot so I’m pretty sure they were tugging pretty hard. His head was behind my rib cage, so when they pulled him out it momentarily took my breath away. Literally and figuratively. At 1:05 am on January 28 he was in the world. I was officially a mom.
They held him up over the blue sheet for a quick view but it was a blur. He didn’t cry for the first 30 seconds or so. Really I have no idea how long it was. I just remember how scared I was that something was wrong. But as soon as they cleared his airways, he started wailing. Most beautiful sound ever. Brad went over to the baby station in the OR to watch him get cleaned up. Then they left and went to the nursery to take his vitals while they put me back together on the table. On their way out, Brad brought him over to meet me for the first time. I don’t know if it’s because my new mom blinders were on, but he was perfect.
I was sent to post-op to get a more permanent IV, pain meds, blood draws, compression tights, and a myriad of other stuff I’m sure. Meanwhile, Brad and Rory got to do skin-to-skin while they were waiting for me, which I think is so special. Dads often get overlooked when it comes to that initial bonding experience. I know I will have plenty of opportunities to bond with my son through late night and early morning feedings. I’m glad my favorite guys got to connect right away.
Finally they brought me back to the room and I got to spend time with my new family of three. My parents were there and Brad’s family arrived shortly after. It was in those early hours of the morning that I got to hold my baby boy for the first time and my heart exploded.
And that’s how Rory Matthew Wood entered the world. I could go into more detail about the rest of the hospital stay, or bringing him home, or the crazy roller coaster of emotions I have experienced since. But we’ll save all that for another time. For right now my precious babe is passed out on my chest after a feeding. And my plans for the day include staring at him, cleaning the spit-up off my shirt (maybe), and trying to figure out this whole motherhood thing.