3 years ago today, my baby boy began to make his way into the world; this is his story.
*written in 2014, shared for the first time today
It was Thursday night, March 14th, 2013. I came home from work, ate some dinner with Isaac and was relaxing at home. Baby was due Monday—4 days ago—so we were anxiously awaiting his arrival. I had worked every day this week and was exhausted –every day I went in that week, I was greeted with, “no baby yet?”—“nope, not yet”. Wednesday–two days past my due date, I decided to go pamper myself while waiting for baby. I got my go-to favorite of gel manicure and then ate TWO lemon cupcakes famously heralded for their labor-inducing powers. No such luck with me, but man, were they delicious!
Well, back to Thursday evening. Around 11:00 pm I started to have contractions—now I had Braxton hicks here and there the last few weeks, but this was different. I remember walking up the stairs and grabbing the railing and breathing deeply. ‘Honey, I think tonight’s the night”, I said. I remained calm, told him it wasn’t serious yet, and for him to go get some sleep—so he could be there for me when I really needed him. I sat in our chair for a while, breathing through contractions, went downstairs for a while—walking seemed to help. Then back upstairs I went, got in bed and leaned up against the wall behind our bed—lying down was not as comfortable—and tried to sleep for a few minutes between each contraction. At some point in the night, contractions became 5 minutes apart, but still bearable, so I would get up, lie back down—repeat. Then around 5:30 am, I woke Isaac up and asked him to time my contractions, at this point they were 2-3 minutes apart! Well, doctors say that’s when you go in, so to the hospital we went. It was right across the street practically.
My bag was packed, car seat installed and ready for our baby boy and Isaac was pretty calm—as was I. We got to the hospital, found a place to park and headed in, greeted by overly bright lights, the elderly lady at the front desk directs us to the elevator and said, “Join the club”. Slightly panicked, I asked, “Are there a lot of other women here?” “Oh, yea, seems they’ve been coming all night long”. ‘Great’, I thought. Oh well. I was hoping for quiet surroundings, but that just wasn’t in the cards.
We exit the elevator at the Labor and Delivery floor and make our way to the receptionist, who has us complete some paperwork and then eventually directs us to a room. I’m handed a gown to change into and then told the doctor will be in shortly. Dr. Maricini walks in to ‘check’ how dilated I am—and let’s take a short pause here, a moment of silence in remembrance of some of the worst pain I have ever experienced. As the doctor ‘checks’ me, which I’ve had done many times in my prenatal visits the past several weeks, she proceeds to say she needs to pull my cervix down and is in there for a solid minute or two. I clenched Isaac’s hand tightly as tears silently rolled down my cheeks. As the doctor moves out and away, in a detached, medical voice, she tells me, “You’re only 2 cm dilated. Your cervix was posterior, but I’ve moved it now, so we will see how things progress.” And then she leaves. I asked the nurse if we were officially admitted and she said not until they figure if I am in actual labor or not and that they will continue to monitor my progress and if nothing changes in the next hour, I will be sent home. Then the nurse left. Alone in our big room, I turned to Isaac and said this better be the real thing, cuz I don’t know what I will do if I have to go back home!
At this point, my contractions were closer to 3-5 minutes apart instead of 2-3 like before, sigh. So Isaac and I check out our room—nice bathroom with jet stream tub; a big, spacious room with a couch by the window, a rocking chair/recliner, TV in the upper corner of the room, a bed and then some medical equipment stuff. I asked for a birthing ball and one was brought in. The doctor came back to check me again, I was now 3 cm—“Woo-hoo!” I thought, progress! She didn’t seem too excited, and said she would be back to check me in an hour or so. Finally at 9:00 am (we checked in right after 6:00 am), after I was checked a third time, the nurse told me I was being officially admitted and that I was in ‘actual’ labor! I was so excited! Or at least not about to cry. Ha. I soon received a text from my supervisor asking if I was coming into work—um no. I’m in labor.
Contractions began to come on progressively stronger—and my back hurt SO badly! Before this point, I didn’t know about back labor, nor was I prepared for it! I sat on the birthing ball, the rocking recliner, had Isaac massage my lower back-over and over. Then asked (told) him to slow dance with me—rocking motion and massaging my lower back brought some comfort. The strangest thing about contractions is that in the midst of them—the world is about to end, then as soon as they are over—wa-la—I could bake a cake, go hiking, anything! Oh yes, and early on, just before 9, as I was hooked up to some things and the nurse was monitoring baby boy in my belly, she said that my fluid levels looked low and they needed to do an ultrasound. So I was whisked onto a gurney, wheeled out to the hall and onto the elevator-all the while breathing and trying to survive through my contractions—Isaac at my side. Once in the ultrasound room, and worried about my baby, anxiously awaiting what the tech will tell me, the guy says my fluid levels are low and then they wheel me back up to my room. The nurse then proceeds to tell me that I’m having ‘variables’ and that they have to monitor my baby. From what I could understand, the variable was that apparently each time I had a contraction, it clamped the umbilical cord (cutting off breathing for baby) and then would let up once my contraction was through. Oh, is that all?—like that’s not terrifying to hear. So they had this Velcro belt thing around my belly-fetal monitoring, I believe it’s called.
The nurse I had was lovely. The one that came on at 8 or whatever, that is—because the first one I had, upon our arrival, was not so great. My nice nurse –it was her first day back from maternity leave—she had just had a baby girl. She was a balanced mix between being supportive of an unmedicated birth and also realizing an epidural is a fine option, too. She was cheerful and kind. And my friend for the next 12 hours.
From 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, the back labor continued, the contractions got more intense and I progressed to 5/6 cm. I wanted to get in the tub, but the contractions in my back made it so I felt as though I could barely move, let alone think of bending down into a tub and getting up again. Plus, due to my extremely low fluid levels, the nurse wanted to monitor baby and movement—though I was given freedom to move around the room etc. as needed. But nothing seemed to bring relief. I tried different positions on the birthing ball, tried rocking in the chair, would yell out for Isaac to start massaging my back when a contraction would hit, tried ‘slow dancing’, but what I didn’t know at the time was that getting on all fours is helpful for back labor. Well, hindsight is 20/20 and nobody knew how to help me relax or ease the pain. At 1 pm, 13 hours after my contractions began, I struggled to see any end in sight; I didn’t know how much longer it would be, I had heard of women in labor for 36 hours, 48 hours and I just couldn’t last that long with the back labor, so after talking to Isaac, and the nurse, I said, ‘Yep, I want that epidural!’
I hate needles, I hate IV’s, but I just needed some relief. The nurse proceeds to try to put an IV in my hand, then my other hand, no luck—then she goes to my arm and after a few tries, finally gets it in. Ouch! Then I had to watch a short video and then sign a form consenting for the procedure, and that no one is liable should I die. Great.
Now comes in young and charming, Mr. Anesthesiologist, chewing his gum like a teenage girl. He starts to prep me for my IV, has me sit on the edge of the bed (keep in mind my hospital gown—if you can call it that, is all I am wearing. More like a piece of fabric held by a single button at the nape of my neck) and proceeds to tell me to ‘scoot my cheeks back’ closer to him. I chuckle and tell him, ‘Only during labor could you get away with that statement’. He tells me to remain perfectly still, that I absolutely cannot move while he inserts the needle—or ‘something’ could happen. Great. I mean, I’ve only feared the paralyzing possibility of an epidural my entire life, not to mention, I couldn’t fathom how I was to stay still when my back contractions kept coming. He said to ‘just breathe through it’. Right, yes sir—no problem, these contractions that have me twisting this way and that- just to find relief, well, I’ll just not move for fear of you stabbing the wrong part of my spine and ‘something’ happening.
So I remain as still as possible, while he tapes up my back, then first inserts a needle to help numb, and then another needle, ‘the’ needle, at which point I must have twitched or something, because he suddenly says, “No, you can’t do that! Don’t move!’ So during my contraction, with the nurses’ help, I breathe through it, staying still and Mr. Anesthesiologist was able to do his thing. He leaves and the nurse tells me to just lie down and relax; Isaac goes over to the couch to lie down for a bit. Soon I begin to feel really weird, loopy and out of it—what you might imagine a high hippie to be like—or as I imagine them. I start to get a bit worried as I watch my vitals on the screen to the side of me—my blood pressure seemed to be rapidly dropping. I ring the nurses station and tell them my blood pressure is too low, and then the nurse eventually came back to check and stayed with me for a bit. She said that the epidural can have that effect. Honestly, it freaked me out. I got really worried. But soon I was feeling better, and it certainly was nice to not have the intense back pain. I could still tell when I was having contractions—would feel my abdomen tighten/pressure, but nothing like before. Now I was relaxed and smiling, I asked for something, anything to eat—I was given a Popsicle. Not the yummy kind I’m used to, but a cheap one-meh, well, it was at least something. I texted and called some of my friends and family—now that I was coherent enough to do so. Isaac napped. I wanted to (as I didn’t really sleep the night before, so it had been over 30 hours since I slept)—and the nurse encouraged me to, so I would have strength for pushing later etc., but I was just too excited! Our baby boy would be here soon (or so I hoped) and I was just so excited the day was finally here! Around 2 pm, Dr. Maricinni came in to check me and decided to break my water to see if that would help speed things along. I had the IV constantly pumping fluid in me and so every few hours the nurse would use the catheter to empty my bladder—man, was I glad I couldn’t feel anything.
The rest of the afternoon, I just laid on the bed, nibbling some ice or a Popsicle, watching the screen that had both my and baby’s vitals and waiting for 10 cm to get here! As the nurse and doctor would periodically come in and check my progress, I would ask, “Do you think the baby will be here before midnight?” I was desperately hoping that labor would not have to continue through another night. The doctor and nurse both assured me they were pretty sure this baby would be born before midnight. I can’t tell you the relief that brought me. It was like I finally had that light at the end of the tunnel. At 7 pm, I was 8 cm and by 9, I had hit 10 cm! At this point, I have a different nurse (sad day) who I did not particularly like. She comes in and tells me we are about to start pushing. She tells Isaac to get on one side and hold my leg and she will hold the other.
Quick pause –it’s funny, because prior to my being in labor, Isaac and I had discussed his preferences during labor/delivery. He had no desire to cut the umbilical cord, which was fine with me, and he said he preferred to be up by my face and holding my hand during the pushing process—as opposed to watching the whole ‘pushing’ and ‘crowning’ etc.-which was also fine with me. Prior to labor, I had been told to warn Isaac about the amount of blood, as some husbands were caught off guard and ‘scarred’ for life by what they saw. So anywho, Isaac’s not a real science/birth enthusiast—not to say he wasn’t ecstatic about meeting our son—he just wanted to be there for me to help me through it—not the type of dad wanting to video the delivery of the baby etc. Well, I don’t know if it was my perception from the movies or something—but to think that Isaac could be up by my face as opposed to watching the baby get pushed out is just silly—my torso’s not THAT long–if he’s by my side, he’s going to get front row viewing
So, back to where the nurse instructs Isaac to grab my right leg, while she takes the other and then, as she watches the screen for my contractions, she tells me to hold my breath and push, then to exhale, wait 30-60 seconds and repeat. I felt as though my face was going to explode. Literally. (Which I was surprised afterwards that I had not bust any blood vessels). As I’m pushing—I can’t tell if I’m making any progress, and from what I had been told, epidurals can prolong the pushing process, as the woman cannot feel everything in the same way—can’t listen to her body in the way one without an epidural can—and I remember pleadingly asking Isaac, “Am I making any progress??!” and he keeps telling me I’m doing great, and I blurt, “How do you know?!!” and he replies, “I can see his head”. “What?!” Then the nurse has me reach down and feel the baby crowning, which was the strangest feeling ever. I could feel his hair—surprised how much I felt (Isaac and I were basically bald babies) and it was just the most unreal sensation—my baby, our baby—coming out of me. Whoa.
After only 20-30 minutes of pushing, the nurse says it’s time to get the doctor. As of the last hour, I have a new doctor—Dr. Cook. I had seen him a few times during my prenatal care. Nice man, in his late 50’s, rather dry and boring, but competent. He comes in, tells me to push, then mid-push says, “Stop”. The baby was here! Just like that. I barely pushed and he was out. Our boy born at 9:43 pm Friday night. I reminded the doctor that I wanted the cord clamping delayed, so with cord still attached he laid our boy right on my chest. I remember seeing him for the first time. He seemed to look a bit purple. And so..tough. I can’t explain it really. His features were just such that he looked so tough. I held him. His eyes were wide open. He didn’t cry at all. He came out wide-eyed and content. There was no slapping of the baby’s butt—like the movies always portrayed. He wasn’t all bloody either (the doctor didn’t wipe him off, just handed him to me). I was so tired..and didn’t even know what to think or how to feel. Our baby boy was here; he was healthy and mine. And I loved him.
The next hour was a bit of a blur. They took our baby from me to weigh him (in the same room I was in) and to measure him: 21.5” and 7 lbs. 4 oz. I weighed 7.4 oz when I was born, and so did Isaac’s dad. The nurse put some sort of goop on my baby’s eyes and laid him back on me to breastfeed. Baby boy took right to it, had a good latch from the first try. I was thankful. They gave me some ginger ale, I drank it so fast—I was so thirsty. They gave me another. Soon, I remember yelling for Isaac to grab our son off me, as I felt as though I was going to puke. He rushed over and grabs him and I immediately threw up, twice. I remember the nurse coming over to take out my IV and give me a ‘saline rinse’, which was SUPER painful—still gives me the shivers to think about. I began to have a fever and I was shaking some—after-effects of the epidural and likely a combination of not having eaten in over 30 hours.
Meanwhile, Dr. Cook has been ‘suturing’ me up. I remember seeing him—through my dazed exhaustion—holding what looked like a GIANT pair of scissors and a needle and thread—going back and forth, up and down—like some seamstress or something. I felt a slight tug—and was increasingly aware that my epidural was quickly wearing off and anxiously asked him if he was almost finished. He assured me he was and then informed me that I had what they call a ‘compass tear’ –torn in all four directions. And that I had a few other tears as well. Forty-five minutes and 50+ stitches later, Dr. Cook pulls away just as I feel the last bit of the epidural wear off. After he left, or before- I honestly can’t remember—sometime in that hour after our boy was born–the nurses (there were now about 4-5 staff in my room) pressed firmly on my stomach as they expelled my placenta..and everything. Not a pleasant experience, but I was so tired, I barely cared. I remember before they wheeled me to Mother/Baby, the nurse came back over to me saying she wanted to ‘check’ and see if the doctor had left the cloth up in me. Say what?? She proceeds to stick her arm up me, comes back out saying, “Good. It’s not there”.
Before we were moved to the Mother/Baby unit, Isaac’s mom and brother came to visit—our first visitors. I remember feeling dazed, tired but smiling. It was after 11:00 pm at this
point. They stayed for just 20 minutes or so before leaving. Then Isaac, baby and I were moved over to Mother/Baby. I was sooo hungry. We ordered room service—by the time we ordered and received it, it was nearly 3:00 am.
I snuggled our baby son in the first few hours alone. Successfully breastfed him and remember paging the nurse asking if they could please bring a pacifier for him when he wouldn’t sleep. I was so utterly exhausted. The nurses left him with us all night—I thought perhaps they would take him to the nursery—so I could have just a few hours of rest –but hospital policy was to leave new baby with mom the entire night. Finally falling asleep near 4am, I was rudely awakened at 5am by a bright light as a nurse steps in declaring that she is here to take my labs. I ask if there is any way she could please wait and do it a little later and she says, ‘No, not really. I’m here now’ and proceeds to draw five vials of my blood. Sigh. Each time the nurses came in and out, they would press firmly on my stomach to expel ‘anything’ else that needed to come out. I remember one of the nurses—as she changed my dressings, remarking that I was lucky Dr. Cook was the doctor working last night—as he was the best suture they had. The next several hours I drifted in and out of sleep—feeding our son, snuggling him and getting to know him.
Dr. Cook came in around 9 am to check on me. He apologized for how badly I tore—saying that most all of it had happened during pushing—before he ever came in to deliver the baby. He told me to take it easy and take Motrin. The nurse came in and said I needed to get up and use the bathroom. She and Isaac had to help me hobble over to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, the nurse tells me that she needs to see that I pee, otherwise she will have to hook up a catheter, and “You don’t want that, do you?” I was in so much pain. I couldn’t even turn on my side while lying in bed, let alone walk and I feared going the bathroom at all. But you can be sure that I “told” her that I did go.
I felt so terrible—desperately wanting a shower, but struggling to move at all. I couldn’t sit at all because of how bad I tore—not even with their “air pillow” to sit on. I laid in the bed all day—slightly upright. My mom arrived later that morning—which was lovely. She left a little while after to go get our home ready for our homecoming. Isaac’s cousin and his wife also came by to visit that morning. Luke was whisked away for circumcision and brought back a bit later. Then for his first pictures, he was dressed in his new red polo and jeans. Isaac and I agreed that his name would indeed be Luke. But we had never decided on a middle name. I turned to Isaac as I just got off the phone with the birth certificate people and said we needed to decide on his middle name. Isaac turned to me and said, “What about Samson?” As soon as he said it, I knew it was right. I asked him how he came up with that and he said, “I don’t know. He just looked like a Samson when he was born”. He was so right. Luke was so tough and strong looking when he was born. I loved the name. Luke Samson. Luke Samson Terry. Our son. I immediately looked up the meaning of the name—as Samson had never once came up in our naming discussions during pregnancy. We were pretty set on Luke—which means, “Bringer of Light”. As I lay there in the hospital bed and look up the meaning of Samson, I was delighted to discover it means, “Man of the Sun”. So fitting. I loved that Isaac chose the name and that we agreed on it so beautifully.
We left the hospital the next morning- Sunday, March 17th. St. Patrick’s Day. Luke was happy and healthy. I was exhausted and terribly sore, but happy to have our boy. Daddy was helpful and supportive. We all made our way home—as it began to rain. We arrived home to family and friends who had prepared a lovely lunch. Luke got all the love from his Uncle Adam, Grandma Terry and Marmie. Luke made two women a grandmother that day and he made me a mother. Happy Birthday, Luke Samson. I love you.