Throughout my pregnancy, especially near the end, people would often ask if I had a birth plan and my response was always a resounding, “No!”
If there’s one thing I learned from my pregnancy it was that my life-long expectations were wrong. For some reason I was not the floating-through-a-field-of-daisies pregnant woman that I thought I would be. What the crap? Instead I hated almost every minute of the whole experience so the thought of having a birth plan seemed pointless to me. I figured I knew enough about birthing babies to know that my ideal would be a natural, drug-free, vaginal birth but I also knew that my only true goal was to have a happy, healthy, full-term, chubby baby. I got neither. Well, not exactly anyway.
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Turns out I was right, I didn’t know what to expect, and my body surprised me, yet again! What ended up happening was never even a consideration…
After 34 weeks and six days of a textbook pregnancy– like PERFECT…perfect growth, perfect blood pressure, perfect glucose, perfect EVERYTHING…my water broke, I went into labor and had a c-section for a breech baby that wasn’t quite ready to be born, here’s how it went down…
Sunday, April 10th— I started losing my mucus plug.
Googled it: labor could start in 1-2 weeks…or it could grow back. “Ummm…what the crap?”
The 2016 I’mperfect Life Women’s Retreat that I host each year was scheduled for the following week! I had 13 women from all over the US, Canada and England coming to spend a week together, learning to embrace their I’mperfect Life. I could NOT miss it.
“Please grow back little mucus plug. PLEASE!”
At least we finished the nursery that day!
Friday April 15th— I go to my 34 week check up and mention the loss of my mucus plug to the doc. He says, “Eh, don’t worry about it. This is your first pregnancy, the chances of anything happening are slim.”
“But I have a retreat that I’m hosting next week and I CANNOT have this baby before then. Is there anything I should avoid?”
Him, “Just don’t lift anything over 20lbs.”
“I will be walking a lot, is that okay?”
“Yep, just be sure to drink plenty of water.”
“What about sex?”
“You’d need to have a lot of sex in order to make anything happen.”
Me,”Okay, so no sex. Thank you and goodbye.”
This picture was taken that afternoon…
Sunday April 16th— 7am- go to the bathroom.
Same day, one hour later– Either I got kicked in the bladder or I lost a little fluid. Not sure which since bladder control wasn’t one of my strengths at that point in my pregnancy, and although this was a little different than usual it wasn’t different enough to feel alarmed.
Monday April 17th— I tell my mom what’s been going on, she says, “you know…you should really go get checked out before you leave for the retreat, if for no other reason than peace of mind.”
“Yeah, yeah, okay, I will.”
I play phone tag with my doctor’s office all afternoon.
At 4pm the nurse tells me that the doctor thinks I’m fine but if it would make me feel better I could go to the hospital and they could run a test to make sure I’m not leaking any fluid and have me in and out in about an hour since the lab is onsite.
Okay, cool. I had a shit-ton of stuff to do that night, including pack my clothes for the retreat the next day… but since “it will only take an hour” I could spare that for some “peace of mind.”
4:50pm— I arrive at the hospital, go to labor and delivery, tell the intake person my whole life history, tell the triage nurse what’s up– she kind of thinks I’m crazy but also understands. I take off all my clothes, put on a hospital gown, lie down on the world’s 2nd most uncomfortable bed just to have the nurse make it worse by shoving a pillow under my right hip “to help the baby monitor” and then I stay there unable to move for what felt like, forever.
The doctor finally comes in around 7pm, I tell him my story, he also thinks I’m crazy but understands as well. He does 3 tests. Most importantly the “swab test”– basically he stuck a giant q-tip up my vagina and left it there for one minute (timed) which might as well have been 45 minutes because it was so painful. **No lube on the speculum because it would contaminate the results…perhaps the worst pain of the next 24 hours…which, spoiler alert: includes labor! Then he does a cough test, basically looked at my cervix while I coughed to see if he SAW any fluid leaking, and then he checked my cervix to see if I was dilated.
Based on his exam he was sure everything was okay. Told me to get dressed and that he wouldn’t see me again because there would be no reason for him to see me again, and that the nurse would be back in about an hour to tell me the swab test was negative (after the lab checked it) and that I could go home.
One hour later…
“So…remember how I told you you wouldn’t see me again?” Says the doc as he hesitantly opens the door to the room in which I’ve been held hostage for what has now been almost four hours.
“That swab test came back positive.”
“Shit. No. That’s not possible.”
“Well the other tests were negative, so only 1 of the 3 were positive but that one is the most reliable. I’m going to call your OB and send you for an ultrasound, then we’ll follow back up after that.”
Fast forward another couple hours– ultrasound looks fine. Fluid levels are normal.
Doc comes in…”Everything looks good, your OB wants you to stay overnight and she will come in the morning to run some more tests just to be sure. It’s possible that the swab was a false positive, so you’re probably fine.”
OH MY GOD I’M STARVING!
I get admitted and sent upstairs to the “high risk” unit. Brett goes to the cafeteria (which is all but closed for the night) and finds me two, likely 12 hour-old salads, which I devour while telling him that they are probably going to give me diarrhea.
He leaves for the night and I try to get some sleep in the world’s 3rd most uncomfortable bed– basically a plastic air mattress with a thin fitted sheet which caused me to sweat uncontrollably all freaking night. (the first most uncomfortable bed was the one in the family unit, post delivery– worst EVER!)
Tuesday, April 19th, 6am…I’m wide awake.
The (presumed) salad has taken over my digestive tract and I feel bloated, gassy, uncomfortable and anxious to get the frigg out of the hospital because I have shit to do…like pack my clothes, then pack the truck with all of the retreat supplies, drive them down to the retreat house, unload, set up, and then go grocery shopping for 5 days worth of groceries for 15 women. I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO JUST LAY HERE AND WAIT!
9AM- My OB comes in…we laugh at this ridiculousness. She knows about the retreat and how picture perfect my pregnancy has been and…what are the odds? Etc. She does the same swab test and a couple others– they ALL come back negative.
But we’ll do one more ultrasound just to be sure.
12PM– the ultrasound tech comes in to do my ultrasound– everything looks great! Fluids are normal, baby is fine…the doctor will be in to discharge you shortly.
12:30PM– the tech leaves, I stand up to go to the bathroom because at this point I am having excruciating gas pains (which I kept to myself for the duration of the 20 minute ultrasound) and all I want to do is poop! As I stand up I noticed that my butt feels wet. “Eh, it’s probably just sweat from lying on that friggen 100 degree balloon this hospital calls a mattress!”
12:32PM- I go to pull up my underwear and think, “Ew…these are gross. I need a new pair of underwear.” Remove underwear.
12:33PM- I think to myself, if these are too gross to put back on, maybe I should mention it to someone.
12:35PM- I tell the nurse about my underwear. She asks for them, I hand them over.
12:36PM– the doctor comes in to discharge me and tell me that she wants to follow up in two weeks because the baby is measuring small.
12:37PM– the nurse pinches a piece of litmus paper between the crotch of my underwear.
12:37:05PM- “Honey, your water broke.”
“SHIT. SHIT. SHIT! No. No! This cannot be happening!”
All smiles, “Yeah, you’re having a baby today.”
All I can do is swear a lot while my brain is processing what’s happening. “The retreat. THE MOTHER FRIGGEN RETREAT! What the hell am I going to do? I CANNOT have a baby today. Shit, shit fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.”
The doctor, “So change in plans, we won’t be discharging you today.”
Everyone is being a cute and cheery at this point, because who wouldn’t be excited to have a baby today?
Um..ME! I would NOT be excited today. This is the worst possible day for me to have a baby. Of all the days, this is the absolute worst!
“I need to call my husband” who by the way is at home helping my assistant, the amazing Melinda, load the truck with all of the retreat stuff so we can hit the road as soon as I get discharged– because remember, until 2 minutes ago, everything was a-okay!
12:39PM I call Brett.
Sobbing ensues. “Maaahh ahh ahh yyyyyyy water broke.”
“Maaahh ahh ahh yyyyyyy water broke.”
“Holy shit” (according to Melinda who was with him at the time, he turned white as a ghost) “What does that mean?”
“That means we’re having a baby today.”
“I’ll be right there.” (We live a 90 second car ride to the hospital)
In the meantime, my doctor informs me that since the baby is breech, I’d be having a c-section.
Organized chaos ensues.
“When was the last time you ate?”
“Um…I had a graham cracker and 1 TBS of peanut butter about 2 hours ago.”
It is determined that I will be scheduled for a c-section at 7pm.
Some time between 1 and 3 Melinda came to the hospital so I could hand over the retreat binder, where everything is outlined and organized, and I talk her through everything she needs to know…as best as I can through some really fun contractions.
Side note: she is amazing and obviously someone I would trust with my life (IPL is my life!) so I had complete confidence in her, but I felt awful handing over this responsibility to her. Not to mention how sad I was that I was going to miss the whole retreat experience! I work for an entire year planning this thing. It’s my (now other) baby that I work on creating for 9+ months in an effort to birth a life-changing event for those who attend. I couldn’t believe I was going to miss it!
By 1:30 I was in full-on labor, having regular contractions which made going through all of the retreat stuff with Melinda…interesting.
Despite the stress, I was remarkably calm. Lots of deep breathing and reaching up to hold on to the bed rails during the peak of my contractions. Because Joshua was breech they wouldn’t let me get out of bed because they were worried a foot might make it’s way to my vagina. Isn’t that a pleasant thought? This made me afraid to cough, sneeze, or laugh, too.
Once Melinda was all set I was totally cool. Everything changed. I knew that things I could control were taken care of and it was time to just let go and be present. I was relaxed and ready to meet my baby.
Other than the fear of delivering a random foot, I wasn’t nervous or anxious at all about labor or surgery. My only real concern was that Joshua was going to be okay. According to the ultrasound that morning he was measuring at 33 weeks, and his head circumference was at 31 weeks (he was actually 1 day shy of 35 weeks)…which seemed very concerning to me since he had measured at or ahead of schedule at all of my previous appointments and ultrasounds. Ugh. In fact when the doctor was coming in to discharge me she was planning to schedule a follow up ultrasound in a few weeks to check on him because she was concerned, too. Ugh.
Throughout the afternoon the scheduled time changed from 7, to 6, to 5 to, “alright, as soon as Dr. Croche is done with her current c-section you’re next!” Presumably because Baby J was not going to wait to be born.
Having a c-section is a really weird thing. It all happened very fast, yet in very slow motion. I remember everything– I was completely present.
I remember being wheeled to the OR. I remember the needle going in my back for the anesthesia. I remember moving from the hospital bed to the operating table– the very narrow table that resembled a crucifix.
I remember them draping me, asking me if I minded having an oxygen cannula, which I thought was weird. I remember hearing them count all of the instruments– 27. I remember Brett coming in.
I remember them telling me that they couldn’t believe how relaxed I was and I remember thinking, what’s the alternative? What else can I do besides lay here and wait?
I, of course, couldn’t feel them cutting me, but I could most definitely feel the movements of everything else. If you’ve never had a c-section before, let me tell you…it’s CRAZY. I could feel my body rocking from side to side as they did whatever it was that they were doing…you know, birthing a baby through about 7 layers of skin, some fat, a few abdominal muscles and a uterus. Apparently he was WAY down in there because at one point I heard the doctor say, “I really need to work on my upper body strength!” Based on what I could feel, I’d agree, because I could tell she was struggling.
Like I said, it wasn’t painful, but good gawd it was violent.
When she pulled him out and I heard him cry, it finally felt real. Up until that moment I was caught up in the physicality of it. Totally calm and just taking in the goings-on around me. But when I heard him cry, it all changed.
In an instant, I was a mom.
They invited Brett to go over and meet baby J, until that moment Brett had been behind the curtain at my head. He says he went over and just stood there, staring until someone finally said, “do you want to take a picture?” He already had his phone in his hand but none if it was registering.
He took a picture and brought it over for me to see.
My first words were, “whose baby is that?”
He did not look ANYTHING like I expected. He was not cute AT ALL. And had we not been there in the room the whole time, I would have suspected they switched babies on us. Of course, babies always look weird when they first come out, but he was exceptionally weird.
The nurse brought him over for me to see him. I looked at him…maybe cried a little and then asked if I could kiss him. Which based on their response, they thought was strange, like, “duh, of course you can kiss him, he’s yours.”
How was I supposed to know?!
All I knew was that I was having a baby that was 5 weeks early, who last I saw, was measuring two weeks behind– I wasn’t sure what to expect, or what was okay, or safe or what.
Unbeknownst to me he was perfectly healthy and totally ready to be alive, able to breathe on his own without oxygen
His APGAR scores were 8 and 9 and he was strong and wiggly but oh SO TINY! Born at 18″ 4lbs 15oz.
I will stop here and write a separate post on the NICU stay that followed and then another one on my first month as a new mom, because, WHOA!
But all this to say that I’m really glad that I didn’t have a birth plan because none of this would have been on that list. And despite the surprise ending to a picture perfect pregnancy, we did end up with a picture perfect baby boy…eventually.