[ All photos in this post were taken by my lovely and talented friend, Krista. ]
It was Friday, August 29th and I had just wrapped up my last day of work before going on maternity leave. I had my 38 week doctor appointment that afternoon, which Casey surprised me at. He originally didn’t think he could make it to that appointment but thank jeeves he did, considering how it turned out… My initial blood pressure check was high, which is not cool at that stage in pregnancy, so the nurse took it twice more (both high) before my doctor concluded that she’d like me to go across the street to the labor and delivery wing of the hospital to take a series of BP tests over the course of an hour or two to see if it would stabilize over time. If not, we would talk about inducing. Gulp.
At this point I was thinking that maybe my BP was high because I was just a little riled up, given I’d just finished my last day of work and was anticipating a bunch of plans we had over the holiday weekend. (LABOR DAY weekend, how charming!) So I was sort of expecting to take the few extra tests and be on our merry way. They put me up in a bed, hooked me up to a bunch of machines and set the BP monitor to go off every 15 minutes in hopes that it would level out once I was able to relax in a more calm setting. Let me tell you that the setting was not at all calm, however, since my nurse decided to make it her mission in life to try to remove the wedding band that was stuck on my swollen finger. After many failed (and painful) attempts to remove it, and coincidentally many more high BP readings, we had to cut it off of my finger. Again, not a calm setting. At this point my Dr decided that regardless of the stressful situation, my BP was just too high and the baby was better off out than in. And with that, she explained that I was to be officially checked into the hospital and they would start inducing that night.
Well, damn. Of course Casey and I knew that at that point the baby could be arriving any day, but we honestly were not at all expecting to be that early. We were fully preparing for me to go way way past my due date because that’s what everyone had warned us of. But apparently everyone is a liar. Luckily, my doctor let us run home and pack our hospital bag (the only thing in our bag so far was a few pairs of Casey’s underwear and my slippers) and get the pups set up with a ride to doggie daycare. And you know, take a few minutes to wrap our brains around the idea that we were about to become parents. No big whoop.
We got back to the hospital at about 9pm (with Jimmy John’s, because priorities.) and I was given cervidil to “ripen” my cervix for labor. Which is quite possibly the squirmiest thing I’ll ever talk about in my life. But, you know, reality. Throughout the night I started having little tiny contractions but was mostly just mildly uncomfortable with having the cervidil in place.
The next morning my water broke at about 10am and from there they started administering pitocin to get labor going. I then started to have REAL contractions which ranged in frequency from 2-8 minutes apart. Contractions were not at all what I expected. In fact, once I actually knew I was having one, I realized I’d been having them for a week or two prior. I was expecting to only feel them in my lower belly but my contractions were actually the most painful up near my ribs and in my lower back. And by “painful”, I mean holy f*ck that shit hurts. But I did the damn thing and saddled up on a birth ball and rolled with the punches until mid-afternoon… at which point I threw in the towel and asked for the mother-effing epidural. Sidenote: no one ever mentioned the fact that you have to breathe through contractions while you’re getting an epidural. I mean, I guess that’s obvious but I hadn’t really thought about it. Being slowly murdered from the inside while someone is stabbing you in the spine with a needle the size of a baseball bat is no picnic. I must say though that when the sweet angel of epidurals kicked in, I was a-ok with errythang.
At that point my mom had arrived from MN (woohoo!) and with my drugs in full effect we all just kinda sat back to wait for more labory things to start happening. Not long after, the doctor informed us that the baby wasn’t responding very well to my contractions. Basically every time I had one, the baby’s heart rate would drop. Over the course of a few hours we tried a few different things to combat this – reducing pitocin, injecting me with fluid, placing an internal monitor on the baby’s head to try to get a better read on the situation, and rotating positions like crazy to see if there was one that the baby might respond to better. Which, let me tell you, is super difficult to do when half of your body is numb. We got to the point where nothing was really working and baby’s heart rate got down to a scary enough level that the doctor starting talking about a c-section as worse case scenario. We had found a position that the baby seemed to like, (which was me on my hands and knees. AKA: flattering!) and I was dilated to a 7, so the plan was to sort of wait it out and see if things got better so I could hopefully deliver naturally. Things did not get better. After one significantly scary drop in baby’s heart rate, the doctor and a bajillion other people rushed into our room and it was decided that we would be having an emergency c-section.
I cannot even begin to explain how scared I was at this point. The last drop in baby’s heart rate left me with so much fear that I couldn’t really focus on anything other than getting the baby out safely. I kept thinking about how I’d do anything, go through anything, to make sure that the baby was ok. I couldn’t imagine that we’d come that far and something would happen to him. It was the absolute scariest moment of my life.
The doctors and nurses did a dandy job of (attempting to) keep me calm and the mood light while I was wheeled back into the OR. Casey wasn’t allowed into the room until everything was set up and ready for surgery so I was left on my own while they prepped me for surgery. The meds were intense, everything was super hazy, and most of what I remember consists of my entire body shaking uncontrollably and trying to form sentences that didn’t sound like molten lava coming out of my mouth. Casey was finally allowed into the OR to join me behind the scary blue curtain of fear. And thank god because he somehow was the calmest I’d ever seen him. And I needed that. The c-section itself was much more aggressive than I ever imagined. Though I felt very minimal pain, I can’t really explain the intense amount of pressure and overall uncomfortablness that comes with being sliced open and having a human pulled from your body. (Apologies if you’re eating lunch while reading this…)
As soon as I heard that the head was out, I asked if it was cute (obvi) and then within 20 seconds the rest of the baby was pulled out. We found out then that the reason he was in distress during labor was because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his shoulder, and every time I would have a contraction the cord would pinch and his heart rate would drop. Once he was out and I heard him cry, the relief that washed over me was overwhelming.
Casey’s job was to tell me if we had a boy or girl and I remember staring up at him as he peeked over the sheet and his eyes got huge (I found out later that he got a real good glimpse of the situation that was my wide open stomach) before looking down and telling me that we had ourselves a baby boy.
We named our boy Crosby Earl Thompson. Crosby because we loved the name, Earl after Casey’s dad, and Thompson because duh. He was born at 8:23pm, weighing in at 6 pounds 15 oz and 20.5 inches long. He was also born with the most perfect head of brown hair you ever did see and the most precious button nose that I really hope stays… buttony.
After Crosby was cleaned up a bit and Casey helped cut the cord, the nurse placed him on my chest for a little skin-to-skin action while he screamed bloody murder into my face. (Crosby that is, not Casey.) It was the most fun I’ve ever had being yelled at in my life.
Casey’s parents had arrived somewhere between heart rate drops and the c-section and they and my mom were awaiting news of the little one in the waiting room. One of my favorite memories of the birth (even though I wasn’t even there to witness it) is of Casey walking into the waiting room and telling our family that we had a son. His parents weren’t originally planning on flying in for the birth, so the fact that Casey could break the news in person to his parents, and to tell his dad that we had named our son after him, is super special. I really wish I could have seen the looks on all the faces… but I can imagine. It makes me ugly cry whenever I think about it.
Looking back, I realize a lot of his story is a bit stressful and scary-sounding. But it is kind of true what they say, you forget about all of the shitty labor stuff as soon as the baby arrives. Which is then replaced by actual shitty stuff. Black, sticky, shitty stuff. That you will find in your sweet little baby’s first 10-15 diapers.
Crosby Earl, your papa and I are so excited that you’re here. Thanks for coming to hang out with us in life. We love you so much.