Expect the Unexpected: Our Birth Story

by Heather on March 16, 2012

If ever there was something that I’ve learned from pregnancy it’s that you have to expect the unexpected. For example, expecting to not have morning sickness? You should probably expect that.

Or what about gestational diabetes? Even if people tell you the lowest possible risks and say no way! You’ll never have it…it might be best to just expect that you’ll have it.

And natural birth? I think I knew deep in the pit of my being that since nothing in this pregnancy was going “as expected” that I knew birth wouldn’t either…and so I should have expected it to be different than expected. Because that’s exactly what it was.

Last Thursday, March 8, started off like many normal Thursday’s lately (I know that I said we were being induced Wednesday…another unexpected event was that we got bumped to Thursday morning since there were already so many women going into labor naturally). I had two eggs with spinach and a bit of mozzarella cheese and a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter an honey. I went upstairs and showered, taking a few seconds here and there to love on the dogs and tell them what wonderful creatures they are. But rather than drive to work we took a detour to the hospital; we were going to be induced…we were going to have a baby!

Upon arriving we checked in and made our way to room 256, the room we planned on having the baby in. We met our nurse, chatted with the doctor, and got started on some low doses of pitocin to start the contractions…granted, not a natural birth but with every bone in my body I was going to refuse pain relief. After our miscarriage last year I wanted to experience everything about pregnancy, labor and delivery that I could; I didn’t want to take the ability to birth a child for granted.  We played music, napped, and watched movies for a couple of hours while we waited for the contractions to start; when they did it wasn’t painful at all, but more of a tightening like Braxton Hicks contractions felt like.  I thought I was going to just rock through this labor!

 

Around 1:30pm or so the doctor came back in to check me and I was only at 2cm, so she decided to break my water to start getting contractions going a little faster. When the water broke it was apparently full of meconium, a sign that the baby is in distress a little, so we were hooked up to another monitor for his heart rate and started to thin out the meconium with water.  Weston seemed to be responding well, his heart rate was great, and so we proceeded with our natural birth plan.

 

Y’all, I’ll describe contractions the way my friend Stefanie said it:  they don’t call it a curse for no reason.

 

They started off small and the pain was equally distributed between my abdomen and my back.  I have a high pain tolerance, and so it was completely bearable for several hours.  Then around 3 the contractions started coming every 90 seconds, the pain was ALL in my lower back (a sign that the baby is facing the wrong way), and the pain was excruciating.  Still Nate and I breathed through them while standing, doing the labor “dance” (basically just swaying from side to side), and sitting on a birthing ball.  I have to tell you guys – I wasn’t sure I would like the birthing ball but it was my best friend at that point in time.  We went on like this for 3 hours.  And at that point I had to make a choice.

I was shaky, weak, tired, and felt like I should be a lot further along, but based on the way my cervix was refusing to dilate the last 4 weeks of pregnancy I had a feeling I was still nowhere near ready to push.  Nate and I talked and I decided that IF the next time they checked me I was at a 7-10, then I felt like I could power through the rest.  But if my cervix was dilated any less than that I was going to go ahead and ask for an epidural.  I hoped and prayed that I would be 7-10 cm, but when the doctor came in and checked me I was still only at 4 cm and only 75% effaced.

 

So I did it – I asked for the epidural.

 

By the time the anesthetist arrived I had been laboring for about 8 hours with contractions coming 90 seconds apart for the last 4 hours and still in horrible pain.  When he went to place the epidural he had to do it 3 different times due to a lack of space in between my vertebrae – all in the throws of labor, mind you – but finally it went in.  I wish I could say the pain relief was immediate, but it wasn’t.  It DID help deaden the pain a little though; that, and they turned down the amount of pitocin I was receiving.  The problem now though was that Weston’s heartbeat was plummeting with every contraction and changing positions repeatedly was not helping that.  Our doctor mentioned that she thought the best course of action would be to do a C-section before things got too dire with Weston, but said that it was completely up to us.

 

I should interject something here:  as much as I wanted a natural childbirth, to feel the pain of labor, the pain of delivery, the weight of our child on my chest, our first and #1 priority going into it was always healthy mom, healthy baby.  We decided before that we would do anything necessary to insure that, so when our doctor (who we trust with making the best call of action) suggested a C-section before something bad happened, we said yes with no hesitation.  Sure, it was the absolute last thing that I wanted, but the thing I wanted most was to make sure our baby would be OK.  It was a no-brainer for us.

Luckily once we made the decision the epidural had already been placed and there was an OR available.  Nate changed into scrubs and the nurses prepped for surgery.  We rolled down the hall towards the OR.  And I was scared.  I’ve never had major surgery before and was worried about the recovery time.  I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to hold Weston immediately after being born.  I felt like we made the right call, but had to face the fact that I had been completely humbled as we made our way to surgery.

 

Once in the OR it took about 10-15 minutes for the anesthesia to kick in on my epidural, and then Nate was allowed to come in.  I could feel some pressure on my abdomen, but no pain, and within about 20 minutes from the time I was wheeled in I heard our baby’s first cries.  I saw the look on Nate’s face when he saw him for the first time, which is something I’ll never forget.  I saw a little purple fist bouncing around as they performed all of the tests on him, dried him off and wrapped him up.  And then I saw him – our incredible, beautiful, perfect little boy being carried over to me for the first time.  I wish I had words to describe how happy I felt!  All of the emotions about not being able to hold him immediately disappeared and I was face to face with Weston, the little guy who’d been living in my belly for the past 9 months.  The little one that I felt kicking, hiccuping, and squirming around in my tummy.  The one that we prayed for, hoped for, and rejoiced over.  He was laying next to me, with the man of my dreams – his daddy – gently watching over us.

Before I knew it it was time to whisk him away to be bathed and cleaned off and I stayed in the OR to be stitched up.  Nate went with Weston, and when I was done they wheeled me back to our room to recover.  Honestly this was the worst part of the whole thing – I was shaking like crazy from the adrenaline, hormones, and medicine.  And although the nursing staff could not have been more incredible, I was alone without my husband or my baby there.  When Nate brought Weston in I was shaking too hard to hold him, so they laid him down next to me instead.  I couldn’t believe what we had just gone through and yet it was all non-existent when I looked in this little guy’s eyes:

Because we had a C-section I stayed in the hospital for 4.5 days to recover and to be monitored.  Slowly but surely I had tube after tube after tube removed from my body until finally I had nothing attached but the bracelets around my wrist. I was able to feed Weston and hardly got any sleep, but every time I would look at his little face it made the exhaustion completely worth it – and still does!

 

Nate’s mom, my parents and my sister were able to visit while we were there and made sure that Weston never went without snuggles and love at any free moment that I wasn’t breastfeeding.  Every time the nurses and doctors checked on me I had a huge confidence boost – apparently I was healing quickly and the incision site was extremely well done.  Nights were probably the hardest because breastfeeding is difficult when you’re dealing with a woman who’s never done it (me) and an infant who’s equally lacking in experience (Weston).  I wish I could say I was able to just power through, but there were definitely some emotional breakdowns in the middle of the night when I couldn’t figure out how to get him to latch.  We worked through it though, and even though Weston dropped 9% body weight while we were there we still pushed through.

 

Monday we were discharged from the hospital – me with SteriStrips instead of staples on my incision, and Weston with a full entourage in tow.  The entire thing was unexpected, but looking back it’s what happened and I could not have been more pleased with the fact that healthy mom, healthy baby is what we achieved.

Yesterday Wes turned 1 week old, and I still can’t believe how the time has flown.  He had his 1-week checkup and weighed in at almost his birth weight, a feat that the doctor told us isn’t really expected until the second week.  He’s gaining weight like a champ and was deemed “perfect” (I already knew that :)).  We got the OK to stop supplementing his diet with pumped breast milk, something I rejoiced over, and we were told to basically start letting him sleep more at night – which means more sleep for us!

Having a baby is still kind of weird to me, but now that I look back at the past week I can’t really remember our life without his little face.  There have been hard times and frustration, but every time I hear his little sighs, see his little smile, and watch him sleeping peacefully it makes every frustrating and sleepless second worth it.  I may not have “felt” the birth, but I feel the love that a mommy has for her baby and FEEL so incredibly blessed that he was given to us to watch over and care for.

So maybe – just maybe – expecting the unexpected isn’t really a bad thing, but rather a blessing in disguise.  Because that blessing in disguise brought us our biggest blessing yet!

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 emily rodriguez March 16, 2012

oh my gosh, this made me cry! okay so i have had so many fears about becoming pregnant, being pregnant but most of all the birthing story. so it’s so encouraging to read yours!!! i know every pregnancy is different, but it’s just nice to know other people’s experience. i am so over the moon for you guys and happy for weston to finally be here! love love love all of you!!

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2 Ashley @ Josh & Ashley's World March 16, 2012

He is absolutely precious! What a miracle! I cannot wait to meet my little one in October. This brought tears to my eyes! Thanks for sharing Heather!

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3 Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking March 16, 2012

Heather!!!!! Congratulations to you, Nate and Weston!! How wonderful that it went so well even though it may not have gone as planned. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.
Weston is absolutely beautiful and I love the name!!
Your life will never be the same and it’s a WONDERFUL thing!

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4 Vanessa March 16, 2012

Sweet sweet baby boy! Congrats!

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5 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) March 16, 2012

Gah! He’s so sweet! Congrats again!

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6 betht March 16, 2012

congrats, Heather. He is perfect and it sounds like you did an amazing job during your delivery!

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7 Sara March 16, 2012

Hi Heather, Congrats on the beautiful addition to your family. He’s so beautiful. God bless him. I loved your birth story. I’ve had 2 c-sections myself and I know exactly how it feels to go thru the birthing process. I had such fears about not being a good mother just because I couldn’t labor the “correct” way. But your words are exactly what I said to myself, who cares how the baby comes, as long as its a healthy mom and healthy baby.
I’m so happy for you!! Watch this cutie grow and cherish every moment if it. Its such a beautiful journey!

Best wishes,

Sara

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8 Megan (Braise The Roof) March 16, 2012

Congratulations again! Granted, I’ve never been through it, but your attitude seems like the best one to have to prevent yourself from going crazy over the little things! (and let’s face it- most of the things we get ourselves worked up over ARE the little things in the long run!)

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9 Ingunn March 16, 2012

He’s ADORABLE!! Congratulations, you guys.

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10 Delishhh March 16, 2012

What an awesome post!! Brought tears to my eyes. My birth story was very different. I don’t know why but I was expecting the worst labor. Because all my friends had horrible stories so. That is what I was expecting. I was pretty scared though. However it was much easier than I thought and everything went really fast. I was only in 6 hours active labor and 20 min of pushing. My nurse was amazing and I thank her for how easy she made it!! I was out of the hospital in less than 24 hours. But like you said everyone is so different and every birth is different too. Weston is adorable!!

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11 Elle March 16, 2012

Heather, I can’t even say how much joy I feel for you and Nate! It’s such a miracle. Congratulations. :)

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12 Jacqui March 16, 2012

Heather congrats. I think you did the right thing for you and your little man. I was so upset when I went with the epidural as well I even cried when I told my husband I wanted it but it works out for the best and it is most important that you are both well. Enjoy the next few weeks and sleep when you can!!

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13 ginger March 16, 2012

beautiful baby and beautiful story!!

I had a very similar birth story, though I didn’t end up with a c-section. I definitely underestimated the pain of contractions.

congrats!

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14 ginger March 16, 2012

oh and GREAT JOB with the breastfeeding!!

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15 Erin March 16, 2012

Such a great story! I love the third picture where your hand is on the back of his head and your eyes look closed or at least looking down. It is so precious.

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16 Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables March 16, 2012

Such a beautiful story and an even more beautiful baby! So happy for you Heather!

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17 lindsay March 16, 2012

congratulations!!! Beautiful baby and God really had his hand over you both. March 8th is my nieces birthday. It’s a good day.

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18 susan March 16, 2012

My labor and delivery was pretty similar. After an uneventful, healthy pregnancy, my son was suddenly measuring too small at my 37 week appointment. I was induced, no progress after 2 days, epidural and then the little guy’s heart rate dropped and we were advised to go for a c-section. Turns out he really was small (4lbs) but he’s caught up quickly (15lbs now).
I wish I would have had some of your attitude 6.5 months ago, I’m sure it would have helped me get over it easier, but I was so convinced I would have a natural labor and delivery, a c-section never even crossed my mind.
Congratulations on your beautiful little family!

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19 Liz @ Tip Top Shape March 16, 2012

He is absolutely beautiful!! So happy for all three of you :D

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20 lauren March 16, 2012

congrats on the little man!!!! your story is beautiful and uniquely yours. welcome to parenthood!

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21 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat March 16, 2012

Heather, he is so incredibly adorable – thank you for sharing your story, you’re so brave and strong and confident! :)

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22 Urban Wife March 16, 2012

What a touching post. Definitely gave me the goosebumps! Praise God for His blessings every single day and for your beautiful baby boy.

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23 Marie-Sophie March 16, 2012

This first picture of you and Weston with you half touching, half kissing him … is just an incredibly touching one! Thank you so much for sharing this, Heather! And congratulations !!!

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24 Ashley March 16, 2012

So happy for you and so glad you are both healthy + recovering well. SUCH a cutie!!!!!!!!! I’m sure you’re super busy and tired, but whenever you’re up for a visitor let me know! xo

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25 Heather March 16, 2012

Anytime girl :) just give me a call!

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26 Jamie March 16, 2012

Long time lurker here! He is adorable-congratulations!! :)

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27 Maria March 16, 2012

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. And what beautiful photos to capture all the memories! Best of luck to you and your new little family!

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28 samantha March 16, 2012

Congrats! He’s beautiful!

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29 JCHokie March 16, 2012

I got chills when I saw the first picture of him. He’s just precious. Enjoy every moment. Congratulations.

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30 Lauren Z. March 16, 2012

GF – it is all about the baby! My kids are 14 months apart, and the first was an emergency-C, and then I had to have another because the boys were so close together… My scars are so worth it. You have a beautiful son, and did such a great job of telling your amazing birth story. You should see my delivery pictures – agh! You look beautiful, and you guys did great! Congratulations!!!

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31 sreebindu116 March 17, 2012

gorgeous =)

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32 Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} March 17, 2012

Congratulations! Weston is absolutely adorable. In the end, all that matters is that you have your healthy baby, and you do! :-)

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33 Kim in MD March 17, 2012

What a beautiful, touching post. It sounds like even though everything didn’t go exactly according to your plan, in the end everything is exactly as it should be…healthy mom, healthy baby. Weston is a beautiful baby, Heather, and your photos are gorgeous. Congratulations! I am so happy for you!

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34 Danica @ It's Progression Not Perfection March 17, 2012

This is a beautiful post…It’s so great to hear that, in the end, mommy and baby are both healthy and happy! Congratulations again, Heather!

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35 Tina @ Best Body Fitness March 17, 2012

I’m all teary! He is so adorable, handsome…beautiful. I know it must have been hard to have it turn out so unexpectedly, but as you said, all worth it.

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36 Heidi Bundles Of Hugs March 17, 2012

Oh my gosh what a beautiful birth story! He is a beautiful baby congratulations!

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37 Anne March 17, 2012

Congrats on your beautiful baby boy!

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38 Christie March 17, 2012

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Heather! So glad Weston arrived safe & sound. I also had to have a c-section and am so happy did. Glad you’re recovering quickly too!

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39 Amy March 17, 2012

so im 15 weeks pregnant…and that story just made me cry like crazy. how incredible. it does sound scary…but obviously, so worth it. how amazing to see that face after all that. he is adorable btw :) congrats momma!

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40 Jen March 17, 2012

Just wait for the first smile and then laughter. It makes you want to cry and laugh at the same time. Congratulations to your wonderful baby!

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41 Ky G March 17, 2012

Heather I am so happy for you! Your birth story is EXACTLY like mine…it’s scary. My little guy will be 6 weeks on Monday and each day I fall more and more in love ;-)

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42 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 17, 2012

He is absolutely perfect! I love the head of hair on your little man! And even though the labor/birth didn’t go how you expected it to go, you have a beautiful little guy!

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43 Emily March 17, 2012

Usually I don’t find most babies cute as newborns-but that they get cuter as they grow!-but your baby is absolutely adorable. Congratulations on your baby boy!

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44 Salah (BEAT) March 19, 2012

my little nephew is soooo cute!!! I couldn’t be more happy for ya’ll!!! I LOVE you!!!

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45 brandi March 19, 2012

congrats again- he is beautiful!

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46 RunMA March 19, 2012

Congratulations Heather! I’ve followed your blog for a few years and am so happy for you and your husband. I gave birth just about six months ago and I love to read other birth stories- yours is beautiful, as is your son! Enjoy being a mommy!

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47 Sarah March 19, 2012

Congratulations on a healthy baby and a healthy mama! You are both BEAUTIFUL.

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48 Robin Sue March 22, 2012

Wonderful birth story! So happy that all went according to Someone’s Plan;-) Many blessings to you and yours!! Robin Sue

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49 Julia M. May 3, 2012

Wow…this is almost exactly what we went through 15 years ago with the birth of our son! The only difference is that I had toxemia. When I left the hospital 5 days later, I couldn’t put shoes on, I had to wear my slippers because I had swelled so much and retained so much fluid after the birth. But now that is all a happy memory and we had and have a healthy 15 year old teenage son! HELP!! Enjoy your son!

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50 liz | carpé season July 24, 2013

Late to the party on this one, but I love me a good birth story! You are so right; healthy mom, healthy baby, and it isn’t it such a comfort to know that despite the unexpected nature of your birth, the Lord knew from the minute YOU were born, that this would be your experience.

Rejoicing with you, a year and a half later!

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51 Heather July 25, 2013

First of all you are too sweet – your email made my heart just burst :) Second, I’m so glad people are still reading that story! I think it is powerful in its own rite, even if it’s not a natural birth. I love knowing that by humbling my own desires I got the sweetest healthy baby boy :)

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