Today is about you, sweetheart.
Alex’s birth story began with three years of infertility. In the process of overcoming that we started seeing a doctor two hours away, who was so amazing that we decided it was worth staying with him throughout pregnancy and childbirth, despite the distance. So three weeks before the due date, I moved in with my grandmother, who lived very close to the delivery hospital. We walked every day, we went to daily Mass, we talked and she pampered me, despite me feeling there was something very wrong with that setup. 🙂 Christian came every weekend, but it was very stressful. Still, I really value those weeks, as I got to know my grandmother on a much deeper and more beautiful level than I had before.
Alex’s due date fell somewhere from the 15th to the 19th of April 2005, depending on the ultrasound and the NFP chart. Do you remember what else was going on that week?
At the Catholic hospital, the flags were still at half mast for Pope John Paul II. Tuesday the 19th, Grandma was quilting up at her church when white smoke came on the TV, and I called the parish office and asked them to please let Grandma know I had called, without panicking her, because I was not in labor.
Another day, no labor. Another day, no labor. Another day, real contractions while I was lying in bed, but they stopped when I got up. It was the pregnancy that wouldn’t end. The following weekend, as we approached nearly a week past the latest possible due date, Christian and I agonized about inducing. I really wanted to do a drug-free birth, but this was getting intolerable. I mean, look at me!
So Sunday night we checked into the hospital for a “soft” induction. They gave me Cervadil to finish ripening the cervix, in hopes that labor would then start on its own. Which is what happened: around 2 a.m. I started having contractions. I hadn’t been able to get to sleep in the hospital bed so I put Christian there and I sat up in the recliner in the LDR. I dozed a bit but basically I didn’t sleep that night. I didn’t wake Christian to tell him I was contracting, because they were easy contractions and I figured he needed to sleep. I, of course, hadn’t slept much in the last week, but I wasn’t going to sleep anyway.
By morning things were cooking along nicely, but I was having nastier and nastier back labor. It was a quiet day in the delivery wing, so I had a nurse who sat and rubbed my lower back almost nonstop for hours. “You’re gonna have this baby by noon,” someone said. My parents got on the road….a decision that turned out to be premature, because around lunchtime I stopped progressing altogether. For three hours I had contractions that did nothing at all. They broke my water to get things moving, but instead the contractions stopped altogether for about forty-five minutes. And when they started again–WHOA, it was ugly. My mother and grandmother had been telling me labor was uncomfortable but not painful, and up to that point I would have agreed with them. But what I felt from 3-4p.m. on April 25, 2005 was definitely pain. It was pain that redefined the worst pain I had ever experienced. After four or five of those I-can’t-stop-yelling contractions, the nurse checked me and I had not dilated at all. Not one teeny, tiny little bit. I could have withstood the pain without drugs if I’d known it was moving, but I knew I couldn’t do this for very long. So I had them put in an epidural, and then I laid back on the bed and went to sleep for a bit.
My doctor came over at 6p.m. when he finished seeing patients for the day. He fanned through the day’s worth of monitor readings, asked a couple of questions, walked in and out, talked to the nurses, examined me–in six hours of hard labor, I had managed to go from 7 to 8 cm dilated. He wouldn’t meet our eyes. Christian was panicking. I had to tell him to listen to the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor. “The worst it’s going to be is a C section,” I said. “It’s okay. I’m okay with that. The baby’s fine.”
The baby was not exactly fine, as it turned out; his heartbeat was no longer ramping up when contractions happened, which meant he wasn’t yet in distress but he was starting to conserve energy. The placenta was giving out. “We need to get this baby out,” the doctor said. And so off to the OR we went, at which point we discovered the reason why I couldn’t cross that transition point: Alex was 10 pounds, 6 ounces, with a head the size of a 2-month-old’s. His head couldn’t engage on the cervix.
When it was all over, I just wanted to sleep. “Go with the baby,” I said to Christian, but he said, “No! I’m’ staying with you.”
“But I just want to sleeeeeeepppp…”
“Don’t go to sleep! Stay with me!” he said. I knew he thought I was going to die.
“I’m fine,” I said. “I haven’t slept in two days. Go be with the baby.”
So he followed the crib down the hall past the waiting room, where my family was gathered. They leaped up and called out to him, and he fell apart in my dad’s arms. That still makes me all weepy inside.
But when it was all over, we had this adorable sweetheart:
Who today, has grown into this humongous sweetheart:
Happy birthday, Alex. I love you.