I knew as soon as I stepped onto the the chair that it was not my most brilliant idea... but our Bremerton, Washington rental was a very old, drafty house and I was nesting. As I stretched to put up the window shrink-wrap, my giant belly threw off my balance and I fell off of the chair, landing on my hip/side. My first thought was oops, and my second was uh-oh. Jeremy came home from work shortly after and he literally had never (and has never since) been so mad at me! He made me call the hospital to report my fall to labor and delivery (which I was sure was totally unnecessary) and they were also mad at me and said I had to come in and get checked out.
Upon arriving, they hooked me up to the machine that tracks contractions and it showed strong consistent contractions - that I honestly didn't really feel. After being watched for a few hours, they told me to go home, rest and under no circumstances stand/climb on anything. We finally got home and I was embarrassed and exhausted. I decided to wait until the morning to call my mom and tell her what happened - which was a mistake because the next morning she was very mad at me as well. When she heard that I was having real contractions she changed her plane ticket and came out the next day, which was January 15th.
My due date wasn't until February 1st, but with my contractions and Nathan measuring over two weeks ahead, we didn't think I would make it. My mom and I went on lots of walks, I bounced on a exercise ball and waited. Finally, I started feeling real, strong contractions 6-8 minutes apart. We all went to the hospital to get checked and they told me I was only 2cm, to go home and come back when the contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. I labored at home for two days, until finally they let me stay. I was almost 4cm and things were going very slowly. When a nurse asked me what my pain level was, I honestly told her a 3. She rudely replied, well we don't usually let people stay until they are more like an 8. What!? That moment right there was when I learned to lie about my pain, because living with migraine my pain threshold is very high. I ignored the rude nurse and looked to the doctor. He said to go walk the hospital for a while to try and get to 4cm and then they would admit me around 11pm. I was exhausted and just wanted to get things going, so we walked and waited some more.
Once we were finally admitted, they hooked me up and started pitocin in order to progress my labor and help me dilate. In the early morning hours, Jeremy decided to go home and let out Henry (our puppy) and come right back to the hospital. We only lived 5 minutes away, so I knew I wouldn't be without him for long. An hour passed. I called and texted and called again- no answer. Two hours passed. My concern turned into a burning anger, and I told my mom he better be in a ditch (labor makes you crazy enough without having your husband disappear)... Lord only knows how long he was gone, but I probably sent 100 texts and called 50 times. He was not in a ditch, he fell asleep. Once he got back to the hospital I was so upset I didn't know if I wanted to just cry or set him on fire (like I said labor makes you crazy.) I told him I could have had the baby, something could have gone horribly wrong or I could have died and he would have been clueless because he wasn't answering his phone. He said he was playing with the dog on the bed and was so tired that he just fell asleep. Word to the wise for all the husbands out there, do NOT tell your laboring wife how tired you are. After we talked and he profusely apologized, I got my epidural and we settled in for a long day. (Some people may not think that was important to the story, but it is and as a couple we learned a lot about communication through that situation!)
At the military hospital you get who you get for a doctor, but thankfully the day Nathan was born I had the head of the whole department. I feel like had it not been for him, my delivery would have gone another way. After a scare with the heart rate and backing off the pitocin, turing it back up and finally progressing to 10cm it was finally time to push. Almost 2 hours later I was still pushing, and I had only had a break for one contraction. The thing I remember vividly was a nurse saying, "Push, push, pushhhh" over and over and over in the most grating voice. My mom kept telling me I can see his head, he is right there and I yelled then why is he not coming OUT!
I was exhausted, frustrated and felt like all my hard work was getting me nowhere. By this point, there were about 20 people in the room and everyone was uneasy. The doctor looked at me and said, "Okay, this is your last chance and I'm going to help you (with the vacuum) but if he does not come on this push we are going to do an emergency c-section." I told him "Okay" but in my head I was thinking F that! Miraculously, at 4:07pm January 26, 2013 Nathan was born. They laid him on on my chest and then snatched him away. He was blue and not breathing, but soon I could hear his sweet, tiny cry. Jeremy was holding his hand and falling madly in love.
My mom was still by my side and suddenly something felt strange and the doctor was asking me if I could feel what he was doing- I could and it was painful. He sent a nurse running out of the room to an OR for supplies. I was hemorrhaging and he couldn't move me. After several tense minutes, that seemed to last much longer, I was finally out of the woods and everyone was breathing easily again. The doctor asked me, "Were you an athlete?" Confused I told him yes, I did years and years of cross country and track. He nodded his head, said I could tell and then gave me a high-five. I have never felt more proud of myself or more like a badass than in that moment.
Nathan was finally in my arms and all was feeling right in our new world. He was 9lbs 7oz, 21in long... Thank goodness he decided to come early, I can't even imagine how big he would have been if he had cooked the full 40 weeks. We decided that Jeremy should go home and check on Henry. Once he left I was just about to attempt a feeding and the pediatrician came in the room. They told me and my mom that they were concerned about Nathan because he was born with a subgaleal hematoma (blood between his skull and scalp) and they needed to take him to do an ultrasound and some further blood tests. My mom went with Nathan, I didn't want him to be alone and I couldn't go with him. I called Jeremy (he picked up on the first ring haha) and he rushed back up to the hospital.
Once all the testing was finished, the doctors told us that Nathan needed to be moved to a different hospital that had a NICU in case he needed a blood transfusion. I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. All I wanted was to hold my baby, bond with him and watch him sleep, and now they were telling me that they not only had to take him from me but to a whole different hospital. No amount of preparation or birth plan can get your heart ready for something like that. When you go through everything, you just think about the sweet prize of a healthy baby in your arms... you don't anticipate the what-ifs of something going wrong.
The helicopter flight crew wheeled in a giant stretcher loaded with medical equipment and an incubator. The team leader gave me a tiny hat, looked at how huge Nathan was and said well maybe it will just have to be a souvenir. I got to hold Nathan for ten minutes before they took him, and letting him go was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I knew in my heart that it was obviously the right thing to do, but having in out of my arms and unable to protect him or control anything happening was a nightmare. Everyone left the room and Jeremy and I just held each other and cried. My mom later told me that all of our nurses were crying in the hallway. Nathan was less than 3 hours old and I had only held him for 30, broken up minutes.
Jeremy didn't want to leave me, but I begged him to go be with Nathan since I couldn't (plus I had my mom.) So he kissed me goodbye, drove an hour away to Tacoma, alone. He held Nathan for hours and sent me pictures. Meanwhile, they moved me to a different room . My mom went in the hallway to ask for another blanket and to please remove the empty baby bassinet. The rude nurse from the beginning of this story was back and said to my mom, "Sure, and would you like an extra blanket for the baby too?" Now it was my moms turn to be on fire, she could not even believe what she was hearing and said, "NO the baby is not here, he was taken by helicopter to Tacoma." Our favorite nurse said "Oh that's right" ... Seriously?!?
Eventually Jeremy came back to the hospital and my mom went home (thankfully a friend had been taking care of Henry throughout the day.) I got no real sleep and was very stressed being away from Nathan. They reluctantly agreed to let me leave the next day, knowing that I was desperate to see Nathan. Jeremy brought me home and I felt horrible. I had planned on quickly changing so we could head right to the hospital. Instead I spent hours on the couch, nauseous and sleeping off and on. We didn't get to the hospital until 7 that night, but having Nathan in my arms soothed my aching heart. Everyone at the NICU called him "the big baby" and they told us he was doing better than they expected.
After three days in the NCIU we were allowed to bring Nathan home. I felt like I could breath for the first time since he was born. Our initiation into parenthood was anything but smooth, however we were so thankful that Nathan was healthy and thriving. There were many more challenges health-wise for me in the days and weeks to come, but I would go through it 100 times if I had to just to bring our sweet boy into the world. Nathan gave me my greatest dream, to be a mother, and showed me the strength, love and connection that this amazing miracle gives you from the second your baby is in your arms.
*Oh, and I don't think it was really an accident that I fell off of that chair. It got my mom to come early, her original flight was January 26th!