That is NOT in my plan.
Updated: Oct 5, 2018
I can still remember the night I found out I was pregnant. There was a lingering feeling in my belly and it kept getting stronger and stronger, so I pee'd on a stick. Matthew was out of town on a detachment so it was just the dogs and I. My eyes blinked many times and I couldn't seem to get wide enough to see the pink lines that would determine our future. Shocked, no, scared, no, excited, maybe all of the above, I walked in circles around our bedroom shouting at the dogs "are you serious??" and "are you kidding me?!". Add profanities if you would like, I did at the time. Without lifting their heads four beady eyes followed me back and forth walk a ditch into our carpet. "Guess what, Woody and Jessie (our dogs)?! You are getting a baby sibling whether you like it or not!!"
I waited a whole week for Matthew to come home to share the news. He was so excited after the initial confusion of the gift and card. We always sign our cards from the dogs too each other but this time it was from baby M. The next few months were full of excitement as we sold our house in Lemoore, CA to move across the county back home-ish to Virginia Beach, VA. It was a world wind of paper work, phone calls, and busy family time. But this is what we wanted and what we planned. We had decided that 30 was a great age to start what I know now is #realadulting. Can we get a #winning in here?
When I am clueless on a topic, such as mom-ing, I dive into research. I am most comfortable when I am prepared and can get a general idea of what is coming my way. Trying to decide things like which diapers to use, what our nursery theme would be, and a birth preference what extremely daunting in a 9 month deadline. Doing all this while moving into our new home across the country and practically by myself was not where this 4 month preggo newbie wanted to be. Matthew was away until December for work so by the time he comes home we will have 3 months to figure everything out. God only knows I do NOT do well with last minute.
December rolls around and Matthew comes home. We start chipping away a box at a time to make our newly purchased house a home and get it perfect for our little boy (whose name had NOT been decided...quite possibly the hardest decision we had to make). In January we went to our birthing class to receive a 2 hour lesson on the process that I thought was already sorted out. I was surprised by Matts sense of claim through all of this. Even the some of the videos they showed didn't shake him. One of the homework assignments was to create a birth preference for the big day. I had done this already on my own before we registered for the class. Feeling accomplished and confident, I eased off the research and practiced my plan in my head over and over.
We decided to have a Doula help us through the labor experience as we both had never done this before. This decision was quite possibly the best decision we had made so far and I would recommend it for any family. Had we known the traumatic experience of Noah's birth and NOT had Kathryn with us, we would be lost. You know when you get 9 months to think about something you can almost picture how it will go in your head? Well, I did that. I was going to labor at home for as long as possible, get to the hospital and turn on my calming music and have this baby in the wonderful showers they have in the delivery rooms. Doesn't that just sound perfect? My water broke, didn't plan that, around 2:00 in the morning. Kathryn said we should go to the hospital right then, didn't plan that. OH, and we didn't even have all the necessities in our hospital bag packed because remember, we didn't plan that. Once we got to the hospital and checked in I did get to labor some in the shower on a yoga ball, I planned that.
After some hours of low tones (do this even if it sounds silly, this helped me get through labor pains without medication) and sips of water supplied by my loving husband the OB said he was "stuck" on the right side, definitely didn't plan that. I was finally dilated almost 9cm, depending on who you asked, and she recommended the epidural. Did I tell you this was NOT my plan? Exhausted and hungry, no HANGRY, I looked to Matthew first and then to Kathryn. Ultimately I wanted to do what was best for Noah and I. There are pros and cons to all different scenarios of laboring, but they outcome for each individual remains the same. Safe delivery for baby and momma. Something they don't say much at birthing class is that once your water breaks you are on a time clock. After 24 hours it becomes "dangerous" and bacteria can be introduced in the amniotic sac and usually the OB decides its time for a c-section. I frantically looked at the clock and new I desperately needed a time out. After making a group decision to get the epidural Jeremy, the anesthesiologist, comes in a performs the daunting task of placing the catheter. Jeremy was amazing and epidurals work. This was the easy part. The hard part was going through the next hours thinking about how I let myself down and let our baby down. I was so disappointed in myself for being "weak" or "lazy". But everyone was so encouraging and uplifting. They reminding me that even with an epidural I still had to go through it to meet this precious baby.
A good nap and a red popsicle was all we needed. The popsicle was always part of the plan, just so you know. My delivery nurse said it was go time and to start pushing. Here we go! But yet again, little man was just a little wonky. We slammed on the breaks and rested again, this time with a little pitocin. Not my plan. I was thinking this time as the OB was leaving the room after giving the dose of pitocin "where are my diffused oils and calming birthing playlist I created on my Spotify account?!" My birthing story was quickly turning into one that belonged to someone else. During these moments of doubt I had my husband and Kathryn to lean on. They were the sounding board for my thoughts and also a clear head to process the important information the OB was giving me. They were able to receive it and think about it logically with the baby and I in mind without the heavy burden of disappointment hanging over their heads. I am so grateful for them, especially my husband throughout this 15 hour journey.
SO, back to the good parts. FINALLY I'm really pushing and everything is happening relatively quickly compared the first couple of stages of labor. Okay, we are back on track for the plan! YAY! I can still remember the moments leading up to actual delivery. I would like to think I will never forget it but as so many more memories of our little family are being created the less likely I think I will. Then it all of the hard work paid off, and without going into too much detail, there was a flood of water. TWICE. Hence, the name Noah. He came in a flood. It was impressive in its own right. As a mother you know what it feels like. Once your baby is brought into the world you are overcome with joy immediately. This is definitely part of the plan. Baby-out. Done, right? Here comes more crunchy moments of delayed cord clamping, skin to skin for at least an hour, and no bath until the following day. This was my plan. Delivering a baby is pretty hard work. I've just complete the longest workout of my life with the greatest reward.
As I pick my head back up to see him for the first time the OB places him on my chest I notice the cord is clamped. Matthew has the scissors in hand and is getting ready to cut! I'm sure this is when I cut my eyes at my her as I blurt out "we are doing delayed cord clamping". Insert snobby emoji here. Little did I know that they had already called in the NICU team and right after the words left my mouth I looked at our son. He was blue. Now, working in veterinary medicine, I've seen a few animals turn blue. Its a terrible feeling when an emergency walks in and you have seconds to save a little furry life and see all the color turning to a blue then a grey. In those moments I become stronger because I've been trained on how to fix it and save a life. With our son, I had no clue. Sure, a mammal is a mammal and there are a lot of similarities with animals and humans, but not that much. The cord is cut, he was placed on my chest and then seconds after was taken to the warmer where the NICU team did what they do best. I couldn't tell you exactly what was going on over there. Matthew was now between Noah with his head on a swivel looking back at me and then back at Noah, over and over. We both were scared but new the expert team had it under control. And new mommas, you are not done when you deliver your baby. They tell you more about this at your birthing class.
The maternity ward plays the sweetest little lullaby every time a baby is born. It can be very encouraging during labor when you hear the short and sweet nursery rhyme and give a mental high five and a "you did it momma" to whomever just delivered their baby. I don't even remember ours. My mother and my sister-in-law, Rachel, came to the room after the OB had finished and left. Noah, who had not been given his name yet, was finally back on my chest but holding his own oxygen mask to his face. The color had returned but the NICU staff was still standing watch. After looking at their monitors they decided to take him to the NICU. Matthew and my Rachel followed because, back to the plan, our baby was not to be left alone. Kathryn, my mother, and I were left in a now quite room to go over the excitement we had been through. It all seemed so surreal to me still. I couldn't believe I was actually a mother and had delivered that baby. The human body is impressive. After some time Matthew and Rachel came back and told us he was doing alright. When they transferred me to my mother and baby room they finally gave the me okay to go visit our son.
They wheeled me into the NICU. I remember he was the first room on the right. This was the first time I could really see him. I mean really see him. He had been placed on my chest and it was hard to get a good view from that angle. Then they took him out and he was still pretty far away to take in all the fine details. He had jet black hair and a lot of it. That was the heartburn, thanks Noah. His face was swollen and he was covered in wires and tubing. I lost it. You don't expect, well everyone tells you and you kinda know its coming, but you don't expect to love something like you love your child. You don't expect to loose your cool when they wheel you in to see your son and he is taped, and poked, and prodded. You know its all necessary but you keep thinking this was NOT my plan. You second guess every decision you made while you were pregnant and think did he get this way because of the decisions I made?! All of these emotions where real and they were heavy. The nurse explained the purpose of each monitoring device and I listened intently. The staff there was exceptional. I think we knew then his name was supposed to be Noah and when they asked that was what I blurbed out through a mess of tears. He worked hard over the next 4 days to recover from a rough transition into this world. Matthew stayed by my side in a room they give new parents to as they adjust to their new lives with a little tiny human. We had a giraffe taped on the outside of our door. Later, we finally put together that it means the baby is not in the room with the parents. They even discharged me from he hospital but Noah still had not been discharged yet. We were out of that room so they could get it ready for the next set of parents. They graciously let us stay in the NICU room with Noah until he was discharged. We slept of the sofa and reclining chair that night. Welcome to parenthood! You will do anything for your little.
Seven months later we have a happy and healthy growing boy. He is smart, he is active, and he is a really good looking baby. We might be biased but we get a lot of complements on his hair, so we know. Looking back on our birthing story I think it all worked out the way God had intended. It was challenging for Matthew, Noah, and I but we made it. It wasn't my birth preference but hey, thats why they call it a preference. I am thankful for the amazing staff at the hospital and my supportive doula, Kathryn. Matt and I couldn't have gotten through the difficult moments had we not been with such a great team. I couldn't even begin to think of these moments without the love and support of Matthew. He was calm and steady and just what I needed. I can't ever thank him enough for how great he was. But guess what? This was my plan. We were given the perfect gift and couldn't be more blessed. He was always our plan and sometimes it was hard to see. Don't ever feel disappointment in yourself if it doesn't go the way you thought. God has the plans, we have the preferences. He knows whats up and knows what we need even if we don't.