Oh man... how do I begin to write down the details of the best (and most intense) day of my life?! I'll start from the beginning...
At my 36 week appointment with the midwives (whom I'd switched to at 28 weeks in order to better facilitate a medication-free, natural birth) I learned that our son was breech (head up in my ribs!) Nowadays, doctors don't really deliver breech babies vaginally (there's a *very* small risk) and 99% of them now do C-sections. Well, I wanted to avoid that, so after that appointment, I did everything in my power to flip him: ice packs on the top of my belly, inversions, pelvic tilts, music playing down below, lots of swaying on my hands and knees... Luckily, he flipped head down the very next week! My plan for a natural birth was back on, so I started eating more dates and drinking raspberry leaf tea, walking every night, squats, etc. etc.
The Sunday before my due date, I noticed *something* leaking out of my vagina - I was convinced it was my water, but the midwives said not to worry unless it kept happening. It didn't, so we went out to dinner with some friends despite me having a stomach ache all night. The next day, I realized I hadn't felt him move very much (which was unusual because he was so big at that point and I was feeling every little movement). I was told to come in just in case, so into UCLA I went at 39 weeks and 5 days. Something was telling me to go in - I now know it was mother's intuition.
The monitored his heart rate for thirty minutes and it looked perfect. The midwife on call decided to do a quick ultrasound to check fluid levels (especially since I'd had the leaking water scare the night before). Everyone gasped when lo and behold, the little man had his head wedged in my ribs again! He'd flipped breech at almost 40 weeks! (I later became known as the mom who's baby flipped at 40 weeks... I was famous on the labor and delivery ward lol). That's why I'd had the stomach ache the night before - he was slowly turning, and a baby that size doesn't turn without pain at full-term!
From there, things happened pretty quickly. I was told they'd try to do an ECV (manually turning him) that night, and a C-section afterwards if it didn't work. If it did work, they'd induce me. Either way, I knew I was saying goodbye to my natural birth. To be honest, I was 100% okay with it, because I was just so grateful the baby was okay! I called my husband at work and a few other doctors came in and started inundating me with information, risks, etc. - in the end, they decided to schedule everything for that Wednesday, on my due date, due to scheduling purposes.
The morning of my due date came quickly. I feel grateful now that I had a day to prepare. I did a big grocery shop and froze a bunch of food, cleaned the house, and got ready for the day (something I wouldn't have been able to do if I'd gone into labor spontaneously!) We woke up at 4am and were at the hospital by 6. They hooked me up to monitors and our angel of a nurse (hey, Lisa!) told me that while the baby was in the wrong position, he had a healthy heartbeat and he looked perfect on the monitors. My parents got there at 8 and we all hung out for a few hours. The ECV was scheduled for 8:30am but there were a few emergency C-Sections that obviously took precedence. While I waited (totally parched, by the way... all I wanted was a large glass of water!) I started to have contractions. I actually called Lisa in at one point around noon and asked her if they were strong. Her response? "Yes, we've been watching your contractions all morning and we're pretty sure you would've had this baby today regardless!" So, little Henry was eager to come out on his due date no matter what.
Around 2 or 2:30pm, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me a walking epidural (the "lite" version of the regular epidural to relax me during the ECV... I was told it could be painful). This is where things got REALLY intense. It hurt getting that needle in my spine! I'm sure if I'd been in the throes of labor, it would've been a relief, but that ish HURT. They kept the epidural catheter attached in my back in case of a C-Section, so luckily I knew I wouldn't have to get another one. Originally they wanted to do the ECV in the operating room in case the baby went into distress, but because the labor and delivery floor was nuts that morning, they did it in my room and prepared everything to put me under in case of an emergency. That was scary.
The doctors lubed my stomach up with mineral oil and they began... holy shit it hurt. The epidural basically did nothing and I was writhing and screaming by the end. Mind you, I have a pretty high pain tolerance! I was only worried about his heart rate (they would try turning him for 10-15 seconds and then check his heart rate... those 5 or so seconds while we waited for the ultrasound to pick up his heartbeat were nerve-wracking!) Peter actually cried at one point because he could see the pain and worry on my face. We tried for a solid 20 minutes and the little guy did not want to budge, so with solemn eyes, the doctors told me to prepare for a C-Section. That's when I lost it.
I've never had a hospital stay and my only experience with surgery was getting my wisdom teeth out (does that count?) so to be told that I was an hour or two away from getting my abdomen cut completely open was nerve-wracking. Peter was solid though and kept me grounded. He made sure I didn't lose it. He kept repeating that we were about to meet our son, and that I was the strongest person he knew. I think I was in shock a little bit, as I fully expected the baby to turn! Looking back, I am so grateful that I read up on C-Sections throughout pregnancy (just in case!), because if I hadn't done some research, I would've been really terrified of the process! Thankfully, I knew the baby was healthy and so was I. This wasn't an emergency situation, and I had to keep reminding myself of that.
The worst part of the day was when they took me back to the operating room to get me all set up - Peter had to stay behind, and I couldn't stop shaking. They laid me down and strapped me in, and my teeth started to chatter. I kept asking them for anxiety medication (lol) but they couldn't give me anything for nerves as it would affect the baby. The anesthesiologist saw that I was having a hard time and placed his phone by my head and started to play music - Bon Iver to be specific. I don't actually like Bon Iver but it reminded me of my husband (he saw them in concert and still jokes about how boring it was) so that made me feel better. Slowly, the anesthesia started to kick in. I looked to my right and there was a giant window overlooking LA - and it was the golden hour, so it was beautiful! This is when I began to get really excited. I knew we were less than 20 minutes away from pulling the baby out, and at that moment, my husband walked in!
The anesthesia must've made me a bit loopy because they kept asking me if he was my husband and I laughed and said, "I think so," LOL. The said they were beginning and pulled the curtain up! I didn't feel a thing - the anesthesiologist sat by my head and adjusted my medication (I got really nauseous and my blood pressure dropped) but I didn't realize they were in until I heard one of them say, "We're in." The next few minutes were a blur - Peter played music from the playlist I'd created, and I remember I kept telling him to change the song, haha. I wanted the perfect song for his birth. About ten minutes later, I felt a ton of pressure, and the doctors warned me that I'd feel the baby come out, which I did. It was an incredible feeling. I'd been so big and full, and when they pulled him out, it was as if the weight of the world disappeared. There was a second of scrambling to suction him and then - the first cry! Oh my god, you guys... I'm tearing up just thinking about this moment! He cried for a few seconds, I cried, and then Peter was gone to be with him. Little did I know, Peter recorded everything from this point forward, and I am forever grateful that we have a video of this entire process!
Nothing can describe the feeling of hearing your baby cry for the first time. It's like I was one person before it happened and then I heard that little wail and I changed forever. My heart doubled in size, and tears streamed down my face as Peter shouted his stats to me from across the room. He was born at 5:38pm, weighing 8.4 pounds and measuring 20 inches long. Peter was crying too, and I heard him say, "He's beautiful, he's perfect!" I was so glad Peter could be with him to hold his hand while they cleaned him up and checked his health. He was perfect - scored a 9 on the Apgar! Henry was SO alert and looking around (I only know this from watching the video and from what Peter told me) and he was so calm right off the bat, just like I knew he would be. Sigur Ros's Hoppipolla was playing when he was born, by the way! I'll never be able to hear that song again without sobbing.
That's when things got a little scary for me though. Right after he was born, my blood pressure dropped a bit and I started to feel really dizzy. At that moment, the anesthesiologist left and another one took over (one thing I hate about hospitals!) As they were stiching my uterus up, I started to feel... everything. I'm still not sure what happened, but the medicine wore off a bit and the new anesthesiologist didn't believe me when I said I was in a lot of pain! I had to cry to get his attention! Obviously he wasn't my favorite person, but in the end he upped the medicine and I started to feel better. Then, I got to meet my son!
After I had some skin-to-skin with Henry, they asked Peter to leave and finished me up, and transferred me to my hospital bed, and then placed the baby in my arms and wheeled me to the same room we'd been in all day. I honestly don't remember most of the next hour, only that I'd never been so happy and so in love in my life! Peter met us back in the room and we had an hour to ourselves. Henry came out rooting, so he was STARVING and latched on perfectly immediately. I'm so grateful that breastfeeding has and is going so well, considering the craziness of his birth! I felt pretty great right away - I was sitting up and joking with Peter ten minutes after they finished stitching me up. After that, my parents came in, and we FaceTimed more immediate family so they could "meet" him.
Finally, as my parents went home and they wheeled us to a private recovery room (and got me cups and cups of ice chips!) it started to sink in... he was here!
That first night, I didn't sleep AT ALL - I was too enamored. I watched TV as I held him all night, nursing him and cuddling him skin-to-skin. Peter got to change the first dirty diaper as I couldn't get out of bed yet, but other than that, I didn't let him go.
The next morning, they let me walk to use the bathroom and (FINALLY) took the catheter out. I started walking around the room immediately, and the next day, I was doing laps down the hall with the bassinet. I only took the pain meds for 24 hours - I am so pleased with how well the recovery went, considering it was major surgery! I started feeling better right away.
Today, at almost 3 weeks postpartum, I feel 97% back to normal. We went home on day 3 and Henry is honestly the chillest baby ever - he even lets me sleep 3-4 hour windows at night! :-D Being home and getting into a routine with him has been so fun despite the learning curve (not all places have changing tables... did you know that?! Also, it takes approximately 20 minutes longer to leave the house with a baby than without... for such a small human, he requires a TON of stuff! haha).
We are both so beyond happy and adore Henry, and despite the unpredictibility of his birth, it was the best day of my life! I wouldn't change a single thing. :)
Welcome to the world, Henry York! <3