I can’t believe it has already been two weeks. Two amazing weeks with our sweet Baby Brooks being earthside. I am still pinching myself at how blessed we are. And because I never want to forget, this post is all about Baby Brooks and his birth story…
It was Thursday evening of October 5th. I had been experiencing contractions all week, but nothing consistent enough to officially be in labor. Plus, we were scheduled for an induction and I have never delivered early with any of my other babes. So I put it out of my mind that it was a possibility despite the fact that I was already 3 cm dilated following our OB appointment just a few days earlier.
However, it was obvious that the contractions were becoming consistent and strong enough to say I was laboring by Thursday evening. When the Bearded Gent walked in the door from work that night, I told him that we were headed to the hospital. We grabbed the bags I had already packed, waited for my mother to arrive to stay with the kids and before we knew it we were making the trip across town to the hospital. I will forever remember being in the dark during that drive, holding his hand while breathing through each contraction, watching the headlights grab at the road in front of us while we both contemplated and excitedly talked about what life would be like in the very near future for us. And I said a silent prayer that all would be OK…
Our laboring room was large and the nurse on the night shift quickly got me everything I needed and set us up to make sure we could get as much rest as we could before things really started progressing. After checking my cervix and even though I was still only at a 3 and not fully effaced, we all joked about how quickly this baby was going to arrive. After all, it was my fifth babe and my body had been through this all before so it was just a game of patience and I mentally prepared myself to meet our little boy within the next few hours.
After a short time, we decided the contractions were intense enough to have the anesthesiologist come in for the epidural. And thank goodness for medical professionals with good senses of humor who are able to make patients feel comfortable despite high anxiety – especially when they are the ones sticking a needle in your spine. As many times as I have done this, the idea of going through it and the anticipation always gets me worked up. The Bearded Gent squeezed my hands tight throughout the process knowing I just wanted it to be over and then held me close as my body started shaking (always a side effect I deal with). Before I knew it though, the meds were working, my body was relaxed and I was feeling tired. Following the epidural, my doctor called in to start me on Pitocin to make sure things kept progressing since I was still at a 3 and hadn’t effaced any more. Once that IV was started and they had begun my first antibiotic round for Strep B (which I had tested positive for), and the Bearded Gent and I got comfortable in order to get a little bit of sleep.
Nurses were in and out constantly, always making sure I was comfortable, adjusting my pillows, refilling my ice chips and I was so grateful for how attentive they were and how hard they worked to keep me relaxed. My doctor had also stopped in to check on me by this point, and while he also thought we would have been in labor by now, he told me to get in as much rest as I could. Before we knew it, we were into the afternoon hours and still nothing. The Pitocin levels were increased several times, contractions were still consistent, I had finally progressed to a 6 and Baby was comfortable and happy.
Each of my other births had gone exactly the same way so I was officially in new territory. With all of the others, I was induced, took hours to reach 3 centimeters and then, within 15 minutes, I was a 10 and pushing. When I heard that I had progressed to a 6, I remember looking over at the Bearded Gent and I knew he knew what I was thinking. I was preparing to feel that urge to push at any moment, yell for the nurses to call my doctor and we would finally have Baby in our arms.
Before we knew it was 4:00 PM. Contractions had become inconsistent, but strong enough that we called in the anesthesiologist to top off my epidural again since it was beginning to wear off. My doctor stopped in and was still surprised we hadn’t progressed anymore due to my history. He told us he was going to run some errands close by and would be back in no time and instructed me once again to continue to rest as much as I could.
It was now evening time and I was beginning to feel emotional. It was probably due to being tired and, despite being medicated and not feeling pain, my body was still working through the labor process for almost 24 hours at that point. The contractions still hadn’t become regular again and I was still only at a 6. Our new nurse that came after the shift change checked in on us and we discussed possible options. She was hesitant to mention a c-section because everyone feels so different about it but wanted to make sure I mentally prepared myself for that possibility and that we would make more decisions once my doctor arrived. She did say that because the labor was somewhat at a standstill that it could be because of Baby’s size. And it was then that my eyes welled with tears and all of the stress and anxiety that gestational diabetes had brought into my life was right there once again. And it was the fact that I had never mentally prepared myself for a c-section. That the idea of it was terrifying, but I was exhausted. And I just wanted it to be over. I wanted Brooks to be here, healthy and safe, and again… I was exhausted. The Bearded Gent held my hand, kissed my forehead, and told me everything was going to be OK.
Before I knew it my doctor had arrived, heard that we had discussed the idea of a c-section and asked if I was OK with it. I bit my lip as the tears started to roll down my face. My nurse hugged me tight and asked if there was anything I needed. I couldn’t open my mouth to respond to anyone because mentally and emotionally I was spent. And I was stressed. And I was terrified. And completely losing it in front of the entire room was not something I cared to have to remember about that night. The one thing that calmed me down was knowing that Baby was under no distress and everything looked good on the monitors. That is all that mattered to me.
They were putting on my hair cap, the Bearded Gent was changing into scrubs and the anesthesiologist had come back into prep me along with my doctor. Through tears, I asked the nurse to walk me through what to expect. And at that point, I would have given anything for them to put me completely to sleep. I was officially panicking and there was nothing I could do to slow time down or make it completely stop. I wanted to be anywhere but there in that small and exact moment.
Before I knew it I was being wheeled down the hallway and I remember focusing on the lights above me as they passed by. The doctors and nurses were talking, but they sounded so far away. I was completely and totally in my head at that point as I searched for any bit of comfort or peace I could find. They asked the Bearded Gent to wait outside the operating room while they prepped me. I lay there with my arms stretched out as they placed the surgery cloths on me and prepared everything. My anesthesiologist explained that he was increasing my epidural to numb me from the chest down and quickly tested that I wasn’t feeling anything on my abdomen by poking me with a small tool. Everything moved so quickly that I didn’t trust myself with what I was feeling or not feeling. My head was spinning and my breathing quickened as I asked someone where my husband was. It was at that point they were ready to start and I suddenly saw the Bearded Gent’s face above me. He sat down next to my head and I pulled him close until we were forehead to forehead.
They told us they were starting and I grabbed my anesthesiologist by the arm and asked him if I really was numb enough to not feel anything. He squeezed my hand, looked down at me, and said everything was absolutely fine and that they would take good care of me. I suddenly felt pressure as they made the cut on my abdomen. A few minutes passed. They then informed me that I would feel some pressure. My heart started beating faster. I squeezed the Bearded Gent and asked him to stay close. The idea that, just on the other side of that surgery cloth, was my body cut open literally made me sick. The pressure was the most intense thing I could imagine. Brooks was tucked up into my ribs and I could feel the pressure of them inside of me rising up towards my upper abdomen. I closed my eyes, tears streamed down my face and I prayed that it would be over soon and that Brooks would be OK. And while it seemed to last forever, at the same time it felt like seconds that the pressure of them pushing inside of me and pulling him out lessened as they called out to me, “He’s out and he’s great”.
I know they said he was fine, but it is such a natural thing as a mother to wait for that sound. And it suddenly filled the silence of that OR room. The most beautiful and raspy cry I could ever imagine. I opened my eyes and sobbed out loud – from absolute pure relief. And it was then that it felt like I had been holding my breath throughout the last 9 months. From all of the complications and scary possibilities, he was here. I immediately nudged the Bearded Gent to go be with Brooks as I watched from the operating table. I called out to him a few seconds later, searching for answers to the questions that were running through my head. Was he breathing OK? Was his coloring good? Did he have all ten fingers and toes? How big was he? The Bearded Gent looked on but continued to turn in my direction every minute or so with the biggest smile on underneath his mask. Everything was OK. All 7 pounds, 13 ounces, and 20 inches of him.
My baby was OK and now I wanted to be as well. I continued to feel pressure as they worked on me and I remember praying so hard that it would end. I felt sick and I could not stop the tears from flowing. Knowing that I wanted my husband to be right next to the baby, my anesthesiologist sat by my head, held my hand, and wiped the tears from my eyes while my doctor and his assistant finished everything. And he will never know what that meant to me.
Once they had finished they layered several warm blankets over my body, they gave me a moment to have the Bearded Gent bring Brooks up to me so I could see him. I gave him a kiss on his head and told the Bearded Gent to hold him close. As badly as I wanted him to be on my chest right then, I was still needing to calm down from everything and get my head back in the game. They transferred me from the OR table to a hospital bed and my doctor squeezed my hand. “Good job,” he said as he smiled at me from underneath his mask. They then wheeled us into recovery where we would spend the next hour or two. Once we were in the recovery room, I told my nurse to give me something for nausea as quickly as possible as I felt the need to throw up and the mental picture I had after just having my abdomen cut open and what damage that could do made me panic.
The Bearded Gent continued to hold and rock Brooks as I closed my eyes and took some slow deep breaths to calm down some more. My eyes felt heavy. All I wanted to do was sleep. I don’t think I have ever felt so exhausted and worn down. Some more slow deep breaths.
They performed the first of three blood tests on Brooks to see what his blood sugar levels were at. He passed the first one. It was then that I looked at the Bearded Gent and told him to bring Brooks to me. He pulled my hospital gown down as much as he could as he laid Brooks skin to skin on my chest. And it was then that I felt my entire body relax. I tightened my arms around him, breathed in deep, and suddenly felt completely whole. I scanned him as much as I could to begin memorizing every piece of him. His perfect fingers. His perfect nose. His lips. The way his chin wrinkled when letting out a whimper or two. Everything was OK. He was OK.
The Bearded Gent and our nurse worked together at packing all of our belongings up and prepping to move us to our room while Brooks and I soaked each other in. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. For nine months I worried if he was OK. I worried if he was going to be born with something difficult to deal with. I worried about anything and everything. But he was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
They transferred us up to our room where we would be staying and we met our new nursing staff as well as said goodbye to our old one. I lost count of how many times I thanked them for taking such good care of us. And then I cried some more.
As the Bearded Gent got settled and got me what I needed, Brooks received his first bath. I was chomping at the bit to finally get to be in more of an upright position and to really have the opportunity to hold and comfort him the way I wanted to. The way I craved to right after he came out, but I just couldn’t.
They performed the second of three blood tests on Brooks and again, he passed. One more and we would know that gestational diabetes hadn’t affected him enough to have his levels be off.
When I did, I would jump every 20 minutes or so and quickly peek into the bassinet next to me to make sure Brooks was still breathing. When he would wake and want to be fed I remember sitting in the dark just staring at him with the glow of the lights outside our window illuminating our room in the softest way. The next morning, I lay in bed unable to take my eyes off of him. I was on cloud nine. The intense pain my body was feeling was the last thing I cared about. Because he was here. And he was OK. And it was all over.
They came in to perform the last blood test on Brooks and again, he passed. And I remember looking over at the Bearded Gent with the biggest smile on my face. He was OK.
I called my mother by 6:00 AM that morning asking how quickly she could get there with our kids so they could meet him face to face. Nine months of talking all things Baby and answering their constant questions and they were finally going to get to meet him. After being informed they were on their way, I held Brooks close as we both closed our eyes for a little bit of sleep.
Unable to move or get out of bed still, I watched as the kids quietly entered the room, and, as each one set eyes on Brooks, they let out quiet gasps as the biggest smiles draped across their faces.
My mother came to my bedside and wrapped her arms around me. I squeezed her tight as my eyes welled with tears because I was so grateful that my kids had her available while the Bearded Gent and I were in the hospital. As they received updates on the labor the night before, our two oldest were concerned and had question after question about what was going to happen if the Baby wasn’t going to come out on his own. My mother was the comfort they needed and I will forever be grateful for that. Despite how big of a deal having a baby is and how much your focus needs to be purely on that, when you are a mom to several kids your mind is all over the place and nothing is about you. I never once stopped thinking about the other four while trying to focus on bringing this new one into the world.
Each of the kids took turns holding Brooks and I loved how excited they got over how small everything about him was. The two younger ones couldn’t stop stroking his little fingers and toes while the olders decided who he looked like most. I laid my head back on my pillow and smiled as I soaked in the entire scene of the moment. It truly might be the most beautiful thing I have been able to witness.
The next 24 hours were spent taking pain medication, getting up to move around in order to make sure I kept the blood flowing in my legs, getting started on blood thinners (due to a history of blood clots), working on regaining my appetite, downing fluids, feeding and changing Brooks, monitoring my temperature and blood pressure, catching small cat naps where we could and doing everything possible to leave the hospital asap. All I wanted to do was be home with my entire family and I made sure my entire nursing staff knew it.
On day two in the hospital, Brooks needed to get the OK from the pediatrician as well as pass his hearing test in order to get the green light to go home. And I had to get the OK from the OB on call since mine had left town that morning to enjoy fall break with his family. I remember having a conversation with a good friend that morning who experienced c-sections and she gave me the advice to make sure that my doctor and nurses saw me moving around and that I was doing well enough to continue recovering at home.
My abdomen was on fire and my incision was so incredibly tender to the touch. The last thing I wanted to do was get up and move, but after they removed my last IVs as well as my catheter, I powered through it and made sure to get up several times throughout the day – I even pushed myself to shower and put on my own clothes. I kept reminding myself that the pain was temporary and that I would get through it.
By 2:00 PM that second day, Brooks had passed his hearing test and was cleared to go home by the pediatrician. The OB finally made the round to my room to check on me and I made sure to really sell it at how great I was feeling and doing. She also cleared me to go home. She left the room and I wanted to cry from excitement. And I don’t think I have ever seen the Bearded Gent move so fast as he packed up all of our things to take down to the car.
And God bless our nurse who knew how badly I wanted to go home and made sure our papers were already prepped for discharge that morning.
The entire 35 minutes home, I never took my eyes off of Brooks. I was a mother of five now. I was headed home to begin a new stage in life and it was completely surreal. Still in so much pain and not sure how the next several days and weeks would go, I just know the smile never left my face.
And two weeks later, it still hasn’t…