It was 6am at the hospital as my husband and I walked laps around the birthing center. Since I wasn't having any contractions, the nurse suggested I walk around in hopes to progress my dilation. At the moment, I was sitting at about 2cm and roughly 80% effaced. Round and around we went, impressing all the nurses on the floor with our speed. After walking nearly 4 miles a day up and down hills, a small walk around the birthing center presented little challenge. After about an hour of power walking the halls, the nurses switched shifts and the doctor was soon to arrive.
Before we had began our walk, I asked the nurse if it was at all possible to request Margie, the nurse we had when we lost Joey. She was a fantastic nurse who had helped us through an impossible time. But the nurse regrettably told me that Margie no longer worked as a floor nurse, but was now working as a teacher for new nurses. She was known to occasionally pick up a few shifts from time to time, but she almost never did so on Mondays. I tried to swallow my disappointment and focus more on the task at hand. But I had to admit, I was really hoping Margie could have been there.
Well, by some miracle, as we walked our last few laps around the halls, Margie came walking up to us with open arms! By an unusual turn of events, she was covering a floor shift that day and, per our request, had been assigned to us! I could have cried right then and there! The wonderful nurse that had helped to bring my first son into this world was now going to be a part of helping to bring Andy into the world! When our family had arrived, they all embraced Margie like a long lost relative. The room was filled with smiles, hugs, and laughter. I couldn't have planned a better environment to bring my son into.
Since my contractions still hadn't kicked in on their own, the doctor decided to start me up on pitocine. Within the hour, I went from having little to no contractions to having full blown, extremely painful contractions. After about a couple hours of increasing pain, I finally asked for an epidural. Around noon, I was given relief from the pain. As we watched the graph charting my contractions go up and down, I blissfully sat there chatting with family, completely unaware of my body contracting and working hard at gearing up for labor.
But as the hours past, my dilation began to slow down. After reaching roughly 4cm and only 90% effaced, everything came to a screeching halt. The doctor increased the pitocine even more, but, much to my dismay, I made no progress. After awhile, it became apparent that the long use of pitocine was starting to have a negative affect of the baby. With each pitocine induced contraction, Andy's heart rate would flutter. Soon I found myself facing a scary crossroad: keep going with pitocine in hopes for a vaginal delivery but risk stressing the baby, or back off of the pitocine so as not to stress the baby but face a higher chance of a cesarean. As much as I wanted to deliver vaginally, obviously the baby's safety came first.
The doctor backed off on the pitocine and we all watched as my contractions slowed down and my progress came to a complete stop. As the late evening hours rolled into the night, I could feel the ache of day's labor setting into my body even through the epidural. Finally, around 9pm, the doctor came to tell us to start preparing ourselves for a cesarean. We were terrified. My husband and I sat in the labor and delivery room crying and praying that my body would show some progress in the next hour so I wouldn't need the c-section, but there was no such luck. Around 10pm, I was signing consent forms for the cesarean as my husband held tight to my hand. I then watched as my husband got dressed in his blue paper jumper so he could come back to the OR with me. In what felt like a matter or minutes, I was in the operating room under large bright lights, numb from the chest down, staring nervously into my husband's eyes.
No words can describe how odd it was to simply lay there knowing that I was being filleted open by a team of doctors. Before the surgery began, I noticed that I could see the reflection of my stomach in the large lights that loomed over me. I nervously squeezed my husband's hand. "I can see myself in the lights." I told him. "I can see where they are preparing to cut."
My husband squeezed my hand tighter in response. "Then I want you to look into my eyes." he instructed. "Don't look away. Just look into my eyes. I don't want you to see them cutting into you. Your job is to keep your heart rate down so Andy can be safe, and watching them cut into won't help with that. So just look at me, Tiny. I'm here. I've got you. And I'm not going anywhere."
Even though his face was covered by a medical mask, I could see the smile in his eyes. I was amazed. There wasn't even a trace of fear. Once again, my husband faced an incomprehensible situation with such bravery. Moments before we left for the OR we were crying in fear and now, he sat next to me with smiling eyes and a steady hand. In that moment on the operating table, I thanked God that I have such a remarkable husband.
I never knew that a woman in labor, even during a cesarean, could shake so badly. It started off as a lip tremor as if I were feeling cold. But quickly that lip tremor turned into chattering teeth, and then full on body shaking (well...from the chest up since my whole lower half was completely numb). A nurse fetched me a warm blanket but it did little to stop my shaking. My husband asked the anesthesiologist if it was a side effect of the drugs. But the doctor informed us that the shaking was not only normal, but quite common for a woman in labor. The tremors are apparently caused from all of the adrenalin going through the body. And for a woman undergoing a cesarean, the effects can be amplified from the shock of the surgery itself. It was weird having such uncontrollable shaking that didn't subside until shortly after returning to the recovery room.
But as I lay there shaking on the operating table, looking deep into my husband's eyes, all the world stood still when I heard the first cry. "There he is!" I heard the doctor say. "Look how big he is! Oh and look at those cheeks!" I couldn't speak. My breath caught hard in my throat as my husband and I gazed at each other in excitement. Such a precious little cry echoed through the room as I cried in joy. "Go to him." I whispered to my husband. I could see he was eager to go see him. For several minutes I lay on the table crying, straining to hear him, craning my head as much as I could to see beyond the huddles of doctors and nurses that surrounded me. "Where is he? Where is he?" If I could have, I would have ran to Andy's side and scooped him up into my arms! But I was stuck laying on the table, numb and impatient.
And there he was....
My husband, beaming from ear to ear under his paper mask, came walking up, gently holding a small bundle. "This is your mommy." he said to the bundle, turning it towards me to reveal the pink, wrinkly, little face of our son. Tears streamed down the side of my face. "Hi Andy." I said in awe. He cooed and turned his face towards me. My voice! He recognized my voice! I was overjoyed! For what felt like a day that passed in a second, I lay there looking at our beautiful healthy little boy.
Quickly we were back in the recovery room as I watched the nurse clean Andy up and give him his shots. My husband stayed by his side, only to look up with tears in his eyes as Andy gripped onto his finger. I still was shaking horribly when the doctor asked if I would like to try and feed Andy. I told her I was afraid I was going to drop him since I was still shaking so badly, but my heart was aching to hold him. Gently she passed him to me and, for the first time ever, I was holding my baby boy, Andy. Without any trouble, he latched onto my breast and began to nurse. And much to my amazement, my shaking immediately stopped as soon as Andy began nursing.
In that beautiful moment, as I watched my son drink, I was washed over with a feeling of relief. Relief that I could supply milk for him. Relief that the surgery went so well. Relief that he made it into this world safe and healthy. This pregnancy has been such an incredible journey filled with many trials and tribulations. And in a way, I don't feel like this pregnancy began when we first found out I was pregnant with Andy. But rather; I feel like this pregnancy began about a year and a half ago when we were first pregnant with Joey. We learned so much from our experience with Joey; how to protect, how to appreciate, how to love, and how to let go. Joey showed us what we needed to do to ensure the safety of our next pregnancy. I can't help but to see the two pregnancies as one. Both Joey and Andy were so much alike as I carried them inside me. And the timing of the pregnancies were so close together. Plus we couldn't have had the second pregnancies without the first, so they will forever be connected. From the very first positive pregnancy test I ever had to the beautiful healthy boy nursing from my breast, my heart and soul have been forever enriched from this experience.
There was a time that I never imagined I would feel whole again. But as I hold my son in my arms, and my first born son in my heart, I can truly say: like the phoenix, new life has risen from the ashes.