There is So Much to Say. Where Do I Begin?

Friday, November 23, 2007

How about at the beginning? My water broke at about 5 p.m. on Saturday night, the 17th. It was funny, because I really wasn't SURE that's what had happened. It felt mostly like I had peed a little, but without any control over it. Kinda awkward. So I let it go for a moment, deciding to wait to see if it happened again. Well did it ever!! For the next twenty minutes or so I kept feeling these little trickles (never a gush), and finally (after consulting my nurse hotline AND Katie) woke Joe from a pre-work nap to tell him we should probably go to the hospital. Thrilled to call in to work, he got up and we calmly tied up a few loose ends around the apartment, adding a few things to our pile already packed and ready to go. We called our families to tell them we were headed in to check if it was REAL labor, and then headed out.

We got to the hospital around 6:15, checked in, and got to our delivery room. The nurses determined pretty quick that this was indeed "real labor" and got me hooked up to monitors and IV. The room was comfy (for a hospital delivery room), and we settled in for a long night. I had begun feeling mild contractions in the car, and they stayed pretty mind for a few hours. I had also already been dilated to a 3 at 80% effaced all week, so the early labor work had been done. We decided to hold off on Pitocin and the epidural for the time being, just to see what my body had in mind for the evening. The pain wasn't really unbearable. Joe's sister Mary arrived to lend some support and she hung out with us through the early waiting phase.

After nearly three hours of waiting, however, I was still a three. We reluctantly agreed to the Pitocin and she started it REALLY lightly at about 9:00 p.m. At about 9:30 p.m., some REAL contractions began, and I managed them by sitting on the birthing ball and clutching my belly while Joe rubbed my back. We hung out that way for 30-45 minutes, and when the nurse checked again, I was at a 4. She said we needed the contractions to be closer than 4-5 minutes apart, so she upped the Pitocin a bit more. Within minutes, the contractions got harder and more frequent.

At this point, my coping mechanism involved a weird focus activity-- I found that if I said the 50 states alphabetically, rhythmically, sometimes picturing them on a map, sometimes picturing unique features of each one, I was able to NOT go crazy with the pain. I mean, even at a 4-5 dilation, these babies were HARD! Yikes!! When the nurse popped in at about 10:30, she checked me, said I had made it to 5, and asked if this was the time for the epidural. YES YES YES YES, please. I was done. I'm a bit embarrassed to cave at only a 5, and am AMAZED at all you non-epidural women, but WOW. It was time. She said he was just down the hall and it shouldn't be more than 15 minutes or so, and you better believe I watched that clock between "Alabama...Wyoming!!!" and the next chant. And it was more than 15 minutes, let me tell you.
Joe was AMAZING. He was calm, responsive, not annoying, soooo sympathetic, and very willing to push that massager into the small of my back-- HARDER, JOE!-- when I barked at him to do so. He was right there for me until the epi guy showed up a bit after 11:00 p.m. After one failed attempt (blood in the catheter means he nicked a vein), he smoothly got the epidural in while I sat on the edge of the bed, hugging a pillow, humming, and rolling my feet in circles to keep from crying out from the contraction pain. The epi pain was NADA. No biggie. By 11:30, the epidural was working, a Foley catheter was in place, and the blessed numbness was letting me take a much needed rest.

My parents and sister Beckie showed up at 12:30 a.m. from Columbia, MO and they and Mary took turns coming in to chat while we watched the baby heartbeat tape and contraction tape record their findings. We were fascinated by the contractions especially, since they would rise and fall steadily without me feeling an ounce of pain. My family would sometimes tell me when a big one came along, 'cause I didn't know. The nurse came in around this time and took my blood pressure. It was REALLY low, due to the epidural medication, and she immediately upped my fluid IV and put me in an oxygen mask. I never felt any different, but this low blood pressure became the issue of the night. At one point, it got down to an 86/46 and she had the epidural guy come in and give me a shot of something to help my pressure go up. This happened twice between 12:30 and 3:00 a.m. My two other sisters, Sarah and Kirsti, arrived during this time and I still felt fine so we all chatted for a while. Throughout, the nurse would keep coming in when my pressure dropped and check the machines and my fluid. I stayed on oxygen for most of the time. She said it was because she didn't like how my baby's heart was responding to each contraction. She told me it wasn't cause for alarm, but we needed to perk him up. Reassured, I was able to stay so relaxed and peaceful throughout all of this late-night stuff. I even got a good little nap between 3:30 and 5:00, when I was woken by a new doctor, a heart specialist, telling the nurse that she wanted the fetal heart monitor inserted for a more accurate read.

At this point, nearly 12 hours after arriving, I was dilated to an 8. The heart doc told me that they had been monitoring my baby's heartbeat all night and were concerned by the distress it was showing. She told me that the little monitor that was being inserted into my baby's scalp was to determine more accurately if we needed to do something more immediate to relieve the baby's distress. She said it was very possible we were heading into C-section territory. Still a bit groggy from my nap, my heart froze. I had never considered this to be a possibility. While the room was clear of personnel, I asked Joe to get my dad so I could have a blessing. I still felt that Noah could come on his own. The blessing was sweet, and brought me peace, but immediately afterward, my on-call OB came in to say that they had decided the surgery was best and explained the procedure and got the preparations started. There was no sense of EMERGENCY, just an efficient process that would help my baby have a smoother entry into the world.

I cried a little with Joe. This wasn't how I had pictured things. I was sad that after all that time and work, we would have to "give up" and let them do it their way. I was sad that the whole "movie scene" wouldn't play out the way it should. Still, we wanted what was best for our baby, and so we took a deep breath and readjusted our ideals.

The epidural was cranked up to high, the bed was wheeled to an operating room, Joe was put into disposable scrubs and a blue sterile curtain was hung in front of me to block the surgery from germs and my horrified eyes. Everything moved so fast at this point, and before I knew it, the cutting had begun and Joe was holding my hand, helping me through it. He got the camera ready and within minutes Joe was saying "there's his head!" and the surgeons were saying "Oh he's a BIG one!" and the sound of suctioning and crying filled the room. Joe took photos (including the REMARKABLE one at the top of this post) and then watched in awe as they carried our screaming son to the warming table to my right. I looked and all I saw, honestly, was this FAT, PURPLE, CONE-HEADED UGLY thing. I thought, "Darn it... I guess I'll have to get used to him." (Isn't that AWFUL??) But within minutes he had pinked up, a hat was hiding the cone, and his angry cries were too irresistible. I loved him. Joe just stood and watched, took some photos and video, and I finally asked him if he had even touched him yet. Joe looked surprised, said no, and I told him to get over there! It was comforting to know that even if I couldn't hold him just yet, Joe could be there instead.

Finally, FINALLY, after what seemed like hours, but what was really probably only ten minutes, they let Joe bring him over to me. For the first time, Noah stopped crying and I reached out to touch his face. I couldn't speak and the emotions flooded in powerfully. (one of the most meaningful photos Joe took was this one:)

I spent more time with my new son in the recovery room, where we got a little skin-to skin time as I practiced nursing. He then got taken away for his bath and other things, and I got settled in my room for a nice. long, post-C-section four-day stay.

So. Wow, that was lengthy. But it's a story I want to remember, and it is a relief to have it down now so I know I won't forget the little things.

Yes, it was unexpected and sad for me to have the surgery... but ultimately, I don't regret a single moment of my time in the hospital. It was the most peaceful, affirming experience i could have had, and we left, nearly a week later, rested, informed, practiced and ready to try real life.

Now, what y'all were REALLY looking for, this whole time... More photos!!!!

{right after delivery}


{getting weighed}

{Dad's moment}

{Family moment}

{bonding in the recovery room}

{a quiet evening moment with Dad}

{they're so irresistible when they sleep!}

{look at that face!!}

{a favorite one... taken by Joe!}

P.S. That cone head thing went away within hours, and I honestly think he might be the best looking baby ever. Am I biased? Never.

(and aren't you impressed to learn that Joe took most of these?? I love it!)


  1. thank you for sharing "the rest of the story" as they say. Now I feel even more like I was there ;-) Seriously, though, it has been a wonderful weekend to see you guys and to hold him and to hug you...

    Love you

  2. He is so so so adorable!! I love the photos and I am glad that you are doing well. :) How is everything? I am sure that you are so tired. I miss you lots and can't wait to finally hold the little rugrat! p.s I am probably super lame for asking but I was wondering if I could get one teensy tiny photo from our shoot to do a Christmas card? If you are too tired I totally understand! You should call me when you are rested and feel up to it. :)

  3. He looks beautiful. You look beautiful. How do people pull off these beautiful hospital pictures? I cried reading your story, what a special day.

  4. Genny4:32 PM

    Oh lord, that first photo of you and Noah made me cry. Thanks so much for posting the story! I can't wait to get up there and hug you all. :)

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story. He's here, he's healthy, he's beautiful. Much love to the three of you!

  6. Joe did a great job with the pics... I love them. And I can totally relate to the ugly newborn thing! Fortunately, my girls' coneheads vanished literally within minutes.
    Seriously, though, congrats! I loved reading about your labor-- I went naturally, but if my labors lasted as long as yours did, I would go for the epi for sure! You did the work, babe.

  7. Those photos are amazing! I am so glad you have so many great shots to document the event. And it is so good you told your story here (I like to think of it as your own little war story) so you can remember it because somehow the details get a little fuzzy over time. Congratulations, he is gorgeous!

  8. Oh look at that little pooper! Emily, he is GORGEOUS, and I'm NOT just saying that... he really is! I can't wait to talk to you.

  9. Anonymous12:00 AM for life with this guy in it.


  10. oh wow! congrats! i just love little boys. :-) he is beautiful.

  11. even though i had already talked to you about it, i cried. probably because i really know what all of that is like. i'm glad you married joe. otherwise i would have never met you!!

  12. Like you, I had an "emergency" c-section as well. I'm so happy to hear that you & little Noah are doing well. Be sure to take it easy on the recovery...I remember feeling just a little better and then I did too much and I'd be down for the count. It looks like you have a good man there to help you out. :o)

  13. Congratulations! He is so worth the wait!
    These pictures are amazing! How do you get such glorious pictures in a delivery room?!?!?
    Can't wait to see more!

  14. He's SO CUTE! I too think he might be among the best looking newborns I've ever seen. Kudos!

    I am enjoying your blog!

  15. Amanda3:17 AM

    I just stumbled on your blog, and I have to agree, the first time I saw my daughter I hought she looked like a purple, fat, coneheaded alien.


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