I thought that in honor of his birthday, I would do something I have wanted to do ever since he was born, but never took the time, and never really had a forum to do so, until starting this blog; that is to share Connor's birth story, so that someday he can read all about his earlier than expected entrance into the world.
Connor Alexander's Birth Story
My entire pregnancy was pretty uneventful, and honestly, one of the best times of my life. I, for obvious reasons, took better care of myself than ever before, kickboxed regularly the entire pregnancy, and only threw up one time (and that wasn't even Connor's fault -- We were in San Antonio and I experienced an unfortunate combination of a fish and chips dinner with a Cold Stone Creamery dessert. Bad idea...bad results.). All in all, I had a healthy, positive experience during my pregnancy.
At our 36 week appointment, Dr. Crosslin gave us the okay to travel to Louisville to spend the weekend. I was not dilated, and there was no cause for concern. Jason also had a revival at a church in Magnolia Thursday through Sunday of that week, so spending the weekend in Louisville (with Jason's parents) meant that our drive to the church would be shorter.
|36 weeks pregnant -- 6 days before Connor was born|
On Friday night, after revival, Jason and I decided to have a spur-of-the-moment late night date to one of our favorite spots, The Melting Pot. We enjoyed some delicious S'mores fondue and each other's company. Uknown to us, it would be our last date before Connor's arrival (and what was supposed to be our "babymoon" became our first date after Connor was born). I remember vividly what fun we had that night at the restaurant, talking and enjoy each other's company. I am so thankful God gave us that time together before things were about to change forever...in a great but scary way.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I woke up very sick to my stomach. I threw up several times before finally being able to go back to sleep for a few hours. I felt pretty terrible for the remainder of the day, while Jason and I ran some errands, had lunch at Cheddar's in Southern Indiana, and got ready for revival that night.
Before revival, we met my mom, dad, and sister in Elizabethtown for some Red Lobster goodness before heading to church. I love seafood, and was disappointed when I still didn't feel good enough to eat more than a few small bites. I put the leftovers in the car, hoping to refridgerate them at Jason's parents' house and enjoy them when I felt better, which did not end up happening as planned. We went to church that night, and while I wasn't feeling sick at my stomach any more, I couldn't stand for long in my heels (which I--probably unwisely to some--wore during my entire pregnancy), and just didn't feel like myself.
I immediately went to bed once we returned to Jason's parents' home, and was hoping to feel good enough to participate in two church services, including a lunch at the church between the two revival meetings. As I was getting ready, I felt some fluid, almost like I was peeing on myself, but just a little (sorry for any moments of TMI). I ignored this, continued to get ready, grabbed a bottle of water, and headed to the car for our 50 min. drive to Magnolia.
Once we hit the interstate, this small leak became much more pronounced, and it was then that I knew something was going on. I told Jason I thought my water had broken (or at least had a slow leak), and he was a bit reluctant to believe me at first. To be on the safe side, though, he called his mom (who works in the medical field) and asked her where we should go. She advised us to head to Baptist East, and she would meet us there. I, of course, had no desire to go to a hospital in Louisville. I wanted to see Dr. Crosslin, so I called the *in case of emergency only* number for his office and talked to a nurse. Dr. Crosslin could not be reached at the time (He was out on a morning run, darn it.), but I was told they would call me when they reached him. Until then, Jason insisted we go on to Baptist East.
Once we arrived we waited for several minutes before someone started taking down all of my information. Walking into that emergency room was surreal, but I had no idea it would be the last time I would see the outside world for three days. I was having no contractions, and I felt perfectly fine, so I thought that I couldn't surely be in labor. Once I was wheeled up to a room, a nurse (who turned out to be a fabulous, helpful, God-sent woman) informed me that she would check the fluid with a strip to see if it was amniotic fluid. If so, my water had indeed broken, and I would be delivered Connor that day. The strip turned dark the second she touched it to the liquid, and that is the one moment that I truly lost it. I began bawling, telling both Jason and the nurse that, in no uncertain terms, I was getting in a car, going to Somerset, having Connor at the hospital I had already toured, with a doctor I loved and trusted. I am not even sure what all was said, or how crazy I really acted, but it was bad.
The nurse gave me the bad news that if I left the hospital at that point, I would be considered leaving AMA (against medical advice) and nothing they had done for me would be covered with my insurance, which Jason and I definitely could not have afford to pay out of pocket. I called Dr. Crosslin's office (again) just to be sure, but they told me the same thing. I was devastated at that moment, but the nurse and Jason brought me back to reality, and I, fairly quickly, calmed down and realized that I had to make the best of the situation I was in.
At this point, my only concern was that Connor was coming three weeks early. While I knew that he was considered "full term" at that point, I still worried that he would be too small or not ready, but I tried to push that out of my mind and enjoy the experience as much as possible.
By this time, Veronica had arrived, so she called her family, Jason called my friend and colleague Sarah to let her know that I wouldn't be at school on Monday and to let my sub know that I would need her to come in early. He also called all of my family (and closest friends), who were at their respective churches, but rushed to where we were living at the time (our house was being built) to pack a bag for me, to get Connor's bag (which had already been packed), and to get the carseat. This was probably, for a Type A personality like me, one of the hardest parts. I was not "prepared." It wasn't, in my opinion, the time for Connor to come. It wasn't happening the way I expected, and I wasn't ready. I don't guess I would have ever felt totally ready, but I was thrown for a loop that I was having Connor in a hospital I had never been to, working with a doctor I hadn't even met yet, and I wasn't even going to have all the things I really wanted in my bag. It was just going to be thrown together in a hurry (although I was grateful for my mom picking everything up and bringing it). God was showing me clearly that my plan was not His.
|settling in -- prior to any pain meds and after my original I-can't-believe-this-is-happening-here meltdown|
Jason also tried repeatedly to contact someone from the church to let them know about our situation and why we wouldn't be there that morning, but to no avail. He finally left a message on an answering machine, and it wasn't until the meal was over and this particular church member went home that he discovered why we had missed the service (which Jason was supposed to speak at) and meal. The humorous part, though, was that when the man returned his call, he asked Jason if he would be able to make it to the last service that evening...I was in labor! :) Jason, being the smart man is he, informed him that he would be with me at the hospital, and that he was sorry to inconvenience them.
By this time, I had changed out of my church clothes (which happened to be a maternity dress I had borrowed from my best friend Carrie-Nell...I apologized to her later for getting amniotic fluid on her pretty garment.), and into a lovely hospital gown (not really a flattering color or silhouette on me). We were given a final ultrasound to be sure that everything looked good and that he was still head-down, which he was, so we could start the process. Later, the doctor we talked to said that my situation was unusual, that my water had broken before I had any contractions, therefore I had to, in a sense, be "induced" even though my water had already broken.
In all honesty, the worst part of the entire experience was getting the IV. I am not particularly afraid of needles and give blood often, but, I think because I was still so overwhelmed about the surprise of the situation we were in, I tensed up and caused myself more pain than necessary. After getting some fluid (which made my hands and feet look lovely and plump later), I was started on pitocin to get my contractions going since I wasn't having any on my own. By this point, it was nearing lunchtime.
Did it ever...wow! That medication took me from feeling completely pain-free and lying back, to hanging onto the rail of the bed and gritting my teeth. I thought beforehand that I had a pretty high tolerance for pain (I had lived through years of Mr. Bertram's torturous kickboxing classes -- which, incidentally, I believe, helped me tremendously in labor.), but I suddenly felt like a wimp.
On a side note, by this point, people had started to arrive. First more of Jason's family arrived, then my sister and her friend Erica, and then my family, followed by Jason's best friend Bo (His wife, my best friend, was in Alabama visiting family, so she wasn't able to be there, and of course, my other close friends were all two and half hours away.). For a few hours, I was able to work through the contractions. They were far enough apart that I could focus on getting through the pain, then relax, get the tension out of my body, talk and joke with people in the room, and enjoy a brief moment before a new contraction. People came in and out, a couple at a time, so as not to overwhelm me, which I appreciated, and it actually helped me take my mind off everything to have them around...at least at first.
|our families invading the entire waiting room|
However, after a while, the contractions not only started coming closer together, but they were more intense each time. At that point, I know I started getting snippy with the people around me, even though they couldn't control what was happening (I guess we all get a little irrational when in pain.). The most annoying part was that Jason and Bo were sitting in my room watching a Bengals game on television while I was trying my best not to scream out in pain. They were talking about the plays as if I weren't even though, although I knew they could see me gripping the rails and hear me gritting my teeth. They were completely oblivious, though, to how annoyed at was that they were having fun while I was miserable.
This was the point that I knew I wanted/needed/[insert other appropriate verb here] some medication.
SIDE NOTE: *While I totally respect all those moms who choose a natural, drug-free childbirth, I am not one of those people. My experience with my epidural was nothing but wonderful. It allowed me to relax the entire time, to talk with my family, and honestly, to have Connor with basically no pain until after all my medication had worn off the next morning. I will be the first to admit that this may mean that I am not as strong as all those out there who are troopers through a natural birth, but my experience is the only thing I have to speak on, and it was beautiful, and one I still remember vividly, despite being medicated. You moms who went drug-free by choice or necessity: I commend and respect you! For me -- bring on the epidural. No matter how a woman births her child, be it naturally (drug-free of with an epidural) or by C-section, it is a miracle, a blessing, and a tremendous testament to the strength of women.*
When the anesthesiologist arrived, I did get a little nervous. As mentioned above, I don't mind needles, but I had also never had one put in my spine, so I was a little leery, but with the promise of pain relief, I sucked it up and went for it. Jason was fantastic...he held my hand, told me I was doing great, and did not pass out (He is not a fan of needles or blood, so I was really more worried about him than me.). However, when the anesthesiologist left the room, he informed me that while the needle was being inserted, the doctor took a second to look up from his work to watch the Bengals kick a field goal and comment on it to Jason...seriously? He did a great job with my epidural, but since when is a field goal more important than making sure an epidural is perfectly administered? :)
After a few short minutes, I was no longer in pain of any kind. I was able to spend the next several hours relaxing, reading, spending time with my family, and even sleeping off and on, while Jason paced the floor, drank 25 cups of coffee, texted everyone he knew, and posted nearly-hourly updates on my progress (I didn't know he was doing this at the time or I would have been mortified!). At that point, he was much more anxious than I was. I think that once my medication kicked in, I was just happy to be lying there.
Every couple of hours our fabulous nurse would come in, check to see how much I was dilated, and would give me some words of encouragement. She later told me that she liked me best of all her patients that night because I wasn't "high maintenance" which I took as I a huge compliment, and I tried to remember that for the other nurses I would be receiving care from in the coming days. I was making progress, slowly at first (I suppose because I didn't have contractions on my own), but by the late evening I was progressing more quickly.
|with my amazing nurse (ignore how terrible I look)|
By this point, it was just Jason and me in the room. Everyone in the waiting room was depending upon Jason to text or come out to give them updates. I am so thankful that we had so many people we loved there to support us, but at the time I felt a strange sense of guilt because they had all been there since early afternoon, and it was after midnight by then, although I knew there was nothing I could do to make things move more quickly.
Some time after 1 a.m. a nurse (not my first nurse whom I bonded so much with, but still a wonderful help) came in to check me, and she let me know that I was fully dilated and that we would need to "practice" pushing before they would call the doctor to make his way over (not sure where he was at that point, but he was at least 10-15 minutes away). She gave me the basic pushing instructions, and we waited for a contraction (by this point I could feel a good amount of pressure but no real pain). When she told me to practice what she had explained, I did, and she immediately yelled out for me to stop pushing. I was worried that I was doing something wrong or something was wrong with the baby, but she told the other nurse to call the doctor because she could see Connor's head.
The next few minutes were spent waiting for the doctor to arrive. It seemed like years, but it was only about 10 minutes or so before he arrived. He again reviewed the directions I had been given by the nurse, he spoke with both my nurse and the nurse who would take care of Connor once he arrived, prepped the room, and then we waited for the next contraction. I pushed twice during that contraction, and at that, Connor arrived (while Miles Davis played in the background on Jason's laptop).
He was born on September 28, 2009, at 2:22 a.m., weighing 6 lbs., 2 oz., and was 19 1/2 inches long. We had been at the hospital for approximately 15 hours by then.
He was roughly cleaned off and then placed on my chest. He was loud, red, and absolutely gorgeous. He had such piercing, beautiful eyes, and the most pillowy lips I had ever seen on a baby. The love I felt at that instant for that little bundle was unlike anything else. I was excited, scared, overwhelmed, and feeling so blessed. Jason and I kissed and cried and looked at him for a bit, until he was taken away to be cleaned properly. Jason followed, taking pictures the whole time. I don't think I had loved Jason more than that day. He was so supportive the whole time, and it was obvious from the start that he was smitten with our little boy just as much as I was.
Jason also took the time, while I was being sewn up from a very minor tear, to head out to the waiting room and tell the family all about the new addition (see the video below).
That is when things got a little hazy for me, for just a few minutes. While I was being taken care of, I started to feel queasy (I really think it was from the shock my body had just been through) and threw up a couple of times, although there wasn't anything in my stomach after not eating all day. I was given something to help my nausea, and I drifted in and out of sleep for a few minutes, until Jason and Connor came back from his very first bath.
At this point, everyone came into the room to meet our precious boy. Although I was in no shape to entertain company, it was the least I could do to have everyone come in after they had been waiting all day and night. We also have video from that part of the evening (see below). Once you will see it, you will understand why Connor has known how to pose for the camera since birth, and still loves having his picture made to this day.
A dozen people were all piled into the delivery room, snapping photos (I look back now and wish someone would have brushed my hair!), taking video, crying, laughing, and loving on our little man. There that evening were: my mom, dad, sister, her friend Erica, Jason's mom and dad, brother, brother's girlfriend, Bo, Gran, and Grandma and Grandpa Egnew.
After an hour or so, we were ready to be moved to a room, and I was starving. I had thought often of what I wanted my first meal after going without food for so long to be, but after 3 a.m., not many places were open, so Bo graciously ran to McDonald's and got me what I believed at the time was the best bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich I had ever had.
By this point, everyone was headed home, and most of them got no sleep before having to get ready for work the next day. As exhausted as I was, I was unable to sleep much, even though the nursery had Connor, checking him over, for a while, both because of the excitement, the unfamiliar bed and noises of the hospital, and the nurses who came in to check on me every hour.
We had many visitors in the next two days, including two of our pastors, friends (like Lindsay W.) who drove all the way from RC with a huge bag of goodies, and family (Mom, Dad, and Linds came up the next day, as well as Aunt MB and Uncie, and Jason's parents came by each day), and even one of my students.
Despite the fact that Connor's birth did not happen where, when, or how I had envisioned it, I would describe it as a blessed experience. God knew exactly where I needed to be, and He took care of me and comforted me each step, even in the moments when I wanted to be in Somerset with my doctor. This experience reminded me to trust God, and that He is in control, no matter how often I believe that I am.
I cannot believe it has been two years since that early morning moment that changed my life forever. I will never be the same after having had Connor as a part of me. He has made me more loving, patient, vulnerable, and awestruck than I ever thought was possible. Jason and I are blessed to be gifted with the task of raising this boy, and I pray that we do justice to the task. Please pray for our family, that we will continue to do His will in this next year of Connor's life, and always.
Happy 2nd birthday, Connor Alexander!