Baby Jack’s Arrival

For a long time, baby Jack’s birth story was really hard for me to talk about. See, I had a plan. Not just a birth plan (more on that later) but a sweet notion of how his birth was going to be a dream come true. I was going to dance and laugh through labor pains and my husband would hold my hand as our son entered the world. Well, plans change. Here’s how Jack actually came into the world…

On December 18 at 11 am, I went to the hospital for a routine non-stress test. It was my fourth or fifth NST, so of course, I told my husband, Johan, to stay home. I was sure everything was going to be fine, as it had been all along. It never actually occurred to me that they were doing these tests because something could actually go wrong (of course, logically it had occurred to me, but you know, not deep down in my bones…) They had a bit of trouble finding Jack’s heartbeat to start, but I didn’t think anything of it. He’d apparently been training for Cirque de Soleil in there and it wasn’t the first time he was playing hide and seek with the fetal heart rate monitors. They eventually were able to catch the little guy and I settled in for the normal half hour or so. I noticed a few drops in his heartbeat and again, didn’t think anything of it because he had made it a habit of hiding from his monitors. This had happened in the past and the nurses just repositioned the monitor and all was good.

Which is why I was a completely shocked when my midwife, Alanna, came into the room and told me that she wanted to induce me THAT DAY. I knew Alanna was at the hospital that day and thought her presence in my room was just for a friendly hello. My head spun. The drops in Jack’s heart rate had nothing to do with moving and losing the monitor. His heart rate was actually dropping. He was 37 weeks. I knew that technically he was considered full term. I knew that the chances of anything being wrong with him were very slim at this stage. There was no reason to believe that I wouldn’t deliver a completely healthy baby. But still, he wasn’t ready. I knew it because if he was ready, there would have been a sign. But I hadn’t even experienced Braxton-Hicks contractions, much less had an indication that labor was imminent. And selfishly, I wasn’t ready. I loved being pregnant and was in no rush to get to the end of it.

We discussed the possible complications of getting him out versus leaving him in. But Alanna felt it was just too risky to wait. Another week in utero might give him some improvements, but we could be risking fetal death. Obviously at 37 weeks there was no conversation. We were inducing today. (My heart truly goes out to any mother that is presented with this “choice” before their little angel is full term. I can’t even imagine.) Regardless of knowing that this was the best decision, we cried together. Alanna is my friend and knew that I wanted to come to labor naturally, I was against inducing. But that just wasn’t in the cards. But we saw no reason the rest couldn’t go to plan. She told me to call my husband and have him come to the hospital.

{Side note: I was trying my best not to be devastated. I was not ready to have my baby. I genuinely enjoyed being pregnant and I was in no rush to bring that to an end. I felt fantastic and I loved having Jack in my belly. I felt so good in fact, that just the day before, Johan and I had planned to go paddle boarding. The only reason we didn’t was due to a spike in my blood pressure and I had planned to discuss that with Alanna before doing something so active.}

Fortunately Jack was due on January 8, my birthday. And because it was just past the holidays, I had everything prepared early. I wanted to enjoy Christmas and not have to worry about packing a bag and finishing up baby prep. So I called my husband and told him to come to the hospital. And bring the hospital bag. We were having our baby.

I was moved to a labor and delivery room and waited there for my husband and Alanna to come back. The Cervidil was inserted at 6pm. This is basically a drug that softens the cervix and induces contractions, which is inserted like a tampon. Alanna, Johan and I had a conversation and we all decided he should go home. It would be at least 24 hours and there as no reason that he should have to sleep on the crappy hospital couch. At least one of us should get a good night sleep in our bed at home. We ate hospital food for dinner together and then he went home for the night.  Or so we thought.

Just an hour or two later, my nurse came in and told me that Alanna had ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound technician came to my room and I laid back and waited for the results. Alanna came back to the room, to wait for the results. I told her she didn’t need to come back (look at me being so polite, what the hell did I know?) She clearly felt differently. Not only did she need to be there, but she told me to call Johan and have him come back to the hospital. He should spend the night, she said. Honestly, I’m still not really sure what she saw on that ultrasound to lead her to this conclusion. I’ll have to remember to ask her when I see her again.

Johan returned and we settled in for the night. Sort of. The nurse kept returning, asking me to turn over about every 45 minutes. I wasn’t getting much sleep. (Plus I was still pregnant at this point, so every other time they came to the room I had to get up and pee.) But at midnight she came and in told me they were removing the Cervidil. Alanna would be in shortly to tell me more.

Alanna did come to deliver the news. I would not be having a natural birth. Baby Jack was not tolerating contractions. And this was barely early labor contractions. It was like pre-early labor contractions. She didn’t see anyway that he would survive labor. I would be having a c-section.

{This was the second blow. I had desperately wanted to deliver naturally. Although in much hindsight, not having to push a baby out of my vagina wasn’t so bad. ~ See, finally seeing the upside here…}

Alanna told me that I would have a c-section around 7 or 9 the following morning, depending on what was on the schedule. The removal of the Cervidil did not immediately cease contractions, but Johan and I settled in again, determined to get some sleep before the surgery in the morning. Unfortunately removing the Cervidil does not immediately cease contractions (apparently when you start messing with your body, it’s not so quick to just go back to normal) and because of the ongoing contractions, Baby Jack continued to struggle. I was still being instructed to turn over on a regular basis. This sleep pattern was clearly just meant to prepare me for bringing an infant home.

I’m not exactly sure what they saw on the screen, but at 3 am, Alanna advised me that it was time. We could not wait until 9am or even 7am. Baby Jack had to come out now. From there it was a flurry of activity, preparing both me and my husband for what was going to happen over the next hour.

We were walked through what was about to happen and medications were started. I spoke to Alanna and the obstetrician. I met with the anesthesiologist and the nurses helped me change from my comfy nightgown to a hospital gown. We were walked over to the operating room. I received the anesthesia and immediately began to shiver uncontrollably. I felt nauseous and was given meds for that. It felt like an eternity before Johan was let into the room to be with me.

He held my hand while my baby was removed from me. He held my hand while we waited for him to cry. He watched as best he could to see what the doctor was doing, to be able to reassure me that every thing was ok. And thankfully, it was. For the most part, but I’ll elaborate on Jack’s early days in another post, this post has already gotten far too long.

Johan and Jack left for the nursery and I lay on the table, being sewn up, waiting to hold my tiny baby boy.

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