Max’s Birth Story
I’ve been staring at the draft of this post for about half an hour. Because, how does one write about the greatest day of their life?
May 10, 2016 at 4:16pm is when I first heard Max cry. Bruno Mars radio was playing on Pandora. The room was intimate for an operating room. The doctor and nurses had great energy. And there I was, arms to my side with a sterile curtain between my head and the rest of my body, with my head turned to the side and simply staring into my husband’s eyes, telling him to talk to me about something, anything.
But while this story really starts a little over 40 weeks prior, let’s go back just a couple of days. I had started working from home about a week and a half prior to my due date because can you imagine your water breaking at work? All these horrendously embarrassing scenarios ran through my head whenever I got up out of my desk chair or visited the bathroom or was in a meeting with people from other departments. Turns out my water wouldn’t break at all, at work, at home, or otherwise.
Instead, I was met with contractions on and off throughout the day on Monday, May 9. I was still able to work (from bed) and they weren’t coming with any regularity so I just went about my day hoping that maybe I’d be one of those women for whom contractions feel just like I was experiencing and nothing more. This pain I could handle.
By that evening I was putting a call in to my doctor’s office because I thought maybe it was time to go in. Contractions were about 8 minutes apart, radiating to my back and making it almost impossible to do anything but bend at a 90 degree angle and wait for it to subside. The doctor wanted me to wait until contractions were 4-5 minutes apart before heading in so what else was there to do but get Tijuana Flats for dinner, right? Who knew that some tacos and queso would be my last meal for over a day. Maybe I should’ve requested a hearty steak dinner or something…
All night long contractions came, contractions went, contractions increased and I started timing them, thinking that in all the times I imagined this birth moment happening, it always took place in the middle of the night. I was so sure that before the sun peeked through our blinds, I would be in the hospital doing my “fancy breathing” (as one of my friends put it) and delivering a baby just moments later. Instead, sleep never came, my phone almost died because the contraction timing app was stealing my battery, and I was writhing in pain every six minutes. I was hoping for them to get worse and more frequent just so I could get to the hospital and get some release in the form of a mighty epidural.
But no. Instead, at 7:47am, I called the doctor’s office again. The long-awaited time had come when contractions were about 5 minutes apart. The doctor said he would notify triage and to head to the hospital now. In 2 minutes time we were out the door and…taking almost an hour and a half to get to the hospital. Morning rush hour traffic is the worst, right?
Everything in the next couple of hours is a blur. There were monitors for my contractions, baby heart rate monitors, a cervical check (3 centimeters and almost fully effaced), texts to family and friends (Mike took care of that part), and in between the pain, when I felt completely normal and wondered if this was all a dream, episodes of Fixer Upper.
The doctor finally came in, performed another cervical check, and told me what previous appointments with my doctor’s group had been saying: my pubic bone is very narrow and Max was still high up and hadn’t dropped (engaged) yet. Based on the exam, it was clear Max’s head was on the pubic bone and probably not dropping because he simply couldn’t. Which also means he may not break my water. The doctor suggested we be discharged from the hospital (contractions had miraculously subsided, which what the heck, how is that even possible?) and take a walk close by to try to get my water to break. If it did or if contractions came back with a vengeance, we’d be back.
Before that, though, he wanted me to go across the street to the office for a fetal weight sonogram. It would help everyone decide if there was still a chance I could deliver naturally, which would’ve been optimal. Well wouldn’t you know it, but Max was measuring in at 8 pounds, 12 ounces. Although the sonogram could be off by a full pound one way or the other, we were still looking at a pretty hearty baby, especially for my size and bone structure. With that being said, contractions were coming back like crazy, but we decided to go to Panera instead. I could only manage to have just a couple of slurps of chicken soup broth, but I wanted to make sure Mike got the lunch he needed. And thennnn, contractions were about a minute and a half apart so we made our way back to the hospital, back to the same triage room, back to the same monitors, and back to Fixer Upper (there’s always a marathon of this show – anyone else a fan?)
Another cervical check showed 7 centimeters dilated and fully effaced, but my water hadn’t broken, Max’s head was still stuck on my narrow public bone, and while the doctor likes his patients to attempt a natural delivery, he was pretty sure it would end in a c-section anyway. One thing I had expressed is that the last thing I wanted to do was go through the laboring process only to stress out the baby and end up in a c-section. The reality was that my situation looked like it could go in that way. Even if my water was broken manually, it wouldn’t ensure Max would drop to where he needed to be and even if he actually did, there wasn’t a guarantee that I could even deliver him. Worse still, there was the possibility that I deliver his head and then the shoulders can’t make their way through, which would certainly qualify me for an emergency c-section.
The choice was simple to make. I would be scheduled for a c-section ASAP that day. I would still have to wait about two hours for an OR room to become available, but for as much pain I was in and all the fun I was NOT having, it went by pretty fast. Nurses took labs, I met with the anesthesiologist, went over what would happen in the room and, after delivery, to the baby. There was enough going on to pass the time. At about 3:20pm I was being wheeled to the OR and prepped with a spinal block (did not hurt at all, FYI) and then getting hooked up to all the instruments we would need for a successful surgery.
A combination of meds and nerves made me shake, but when Mike was allowed to enter the room finally, I felt complete calm. I was with my husband and we were about to have our baby! There’s no way to comprehend the situation, ever. And hearing your baby’s healthy cry and then almost immediately having skin-to-skin contact, there’s nothing like it. After, there was a wait in recovery while they got a room ready for us and there was certainly c-section recovery pain unlike any pain I’ve ever felt in my life (as in, I had a nurse check my incision because I was so sure I had split open, all my organs falling out), but by that time I had a successful surgery, our baby was born, and everything was completely worth it. And I want to do it all over again with a second baby.
Nothing quite prepares you for meeting your child for the first time. Nothing prepares you for how you feel about your spouse afterwards either. I was, and still am, in complete awe of the guy I married. And every day Max is doing something that surprises me, or makes me laugh, or I learn from. It’s certainly a blessed life I live.