The only thing guaranteed about birth is there are no guarantees. I knew this going into my 39th week of pregnancy and had already decided early on to keep my expectations in check. This was my first baby and I wasn’t going to pretend like I had a half a clue. All I wanted was to get my little man here safe and sound and that was my mantra.
During my pregnancy I had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and they were estimating that Cooper could be over 9lbs so my OB told me at my 38-week appointment that the plan would be to induce at 39 weeks. I didn’t know anything about induction, but frankly I was so excited to meet my son that all I heard was:
“Baby boy is coming early and you don’t even have to make a guess about when you’re going into labor.”
So the hubs and I said “hell yes” and marched our happy asses into the hospital on April 25 (our wedding anniversary as fate would have it). As far as we knew (and no one at any point corrected us), we’d be having our baby that day… easy peasy!
What Induction Really Is…
As hours and then days unfolded and my ornery cervix remained utterly immune to the power of medical induction, I found myself in a much different place. As some of you know and others may have guessed, my son did not arrive on day one of induction.
Instead, my husband and I faced a very harsh and different reality regarding what it means to force your body into labor when it isn’t ready.
Here’s a brief timeline of events:
- Day one: After 18 hours of a vaginally inserted pill, cervix says “no, try again sucka” and our first attempt to get me into labor is a bust. Our spirits are high, contractions are mild and though we did not get to meet our boy we say “Meh, tomorrow it is.” I learn the difference between a nurse who is good at a cervical exam and one who is not, but other than that, I’m pretty comfortable. I’m eating normal, sleeping well and walking around to try to get labor going.
- Day two: Something new is put in my vagina… it looks a little like a shoestring and is supposed to release magic hormones to soften up that stubborn cervix. Still no dilation, but again, fairly comfortable. I think my water breaks (I will soon find out what that actually feels like) and though it’s just an amniotic little leak, it seems like a sign of progress… though it’s becoming clear it is barely progressing and today will not be the day we meet him either. Suck it up, be grateful for good company and assume tomorrow is the big day.
- Day three: Here comes mother effing Pitocin. If I ever have to hear the word Pitocin again I might actually snap an IV pole in half. This is when the real stuff starts going down. My contractions are kicking my ass and at times only give me 30 seconds or so to breathe before the next one wallops me. Hubby holds on to me as I writhe, staying strong in the body, calm in his voice, but his face shows he’s sharing in my pain. This is the real deal, I think to myself, as I breathe through the intensity and repeat over and over “this is the pain that gets my son here” and “this pain is good because it will get my son here.”Sadly, this was not the pain that would get my son here. As a nurse checks me to tell me regretfully that I’m only at 1cm after hours and hours of hard work I flatly drop an F-bomb. And with a heavy heart and some feeling of failure ask for my epidural.
Before the anesthesiologist arrives, the doctor breaks my water. I will spare everyone a detailed description of this tidal wave of terror, but suffice to say, I now know how much my husband truly loves me. He held me, he showered me and he somehow did it all with a smile on his face, something I could no longer muster, but despite all odds, he retained for my sake while selflessly cleaning and caring for his wife who had gone from a cute, classy pregnant girl to a meconium-covered, amniotic-soaked nightmare in a matter of minutes.
Epidural arrives, numbness ensues and Pitocin continues to pour in.
- Day four: Need a booster in my epidural. Stopping and starting Pitocin because, well why not? If pumping a ton in doesn’t work, stop the Pitocin and start over. Today I hate science for inventing things. However, I have progressed from 1cm to 2cm… whoo! And then from 2cm to 3cm. And then to 5cm. Holy cow, something is happening. And then nothing again. No progress with anything other than an infection that has leant its way to a fever.So I ask for it. I ask for a C-section because even if induction is working now, there’s no way I will have the strength to push. I haven’t eaten in almost 48 hours. My water has been broken for over 24 hours. My temperature is over 103 degrees. Though no one had explicitly told me I could ask for a C-section at any time, I learn quickly that I’ve held on to the idea of a vaginal birth for too long and within 30 minutes I’m in an operating room.
A C-section Like Any Other
At this point, everything goes fairly routinely. More epidural, cutting, tugging, a lot of pressure and a cry. A glorious, breathtaking, earth shaking little squeak and the most beautiful words ever spoken as my husband stands up, looks at our boy and says simply and eloquently “Oh, he’s beautiful.”
And my god he really was. He didn’t scream uncontrollably. He wasn’t an alien shade of purple. He wasn’t a 9lb super chunk as the OB had predicted.
He was 7lbs 4oz of perfection with a little dark hair on top (just as I had pictured in my daydreams). Cooper Antonio Lujan was born April 28, 2016 at 6:52PM. The doctors placed his head next to mine and I was speechless. Much like on my wedding day, I couldn’t cry because of the overwhelming happiness and stunned disbelief I felt about being so blessed. I was floored and frankly a little dazed. How anyone can possibly absorb all the meaning in that moment is beyond me.
I didn’t get long with him because he and I both had an infection to deal with. After I was humpty dumptied back together my pain meds wore off quick. Too quick. I was in a ton of pain, he was in need of antibiotics and for a confusing and scary couple of hours we were separated. He was in the nursery and I was in a Demerol-induced stupor as we both tried to recover from an incredibly strenuous 4-day stretch.
Though I resent missing my golden hour with him, it didn’t make the moment I got to actually hold him any less miraculous. He was mine and we both knew it. He looks just like his dad and my heart runs through every vein in his body. There was no doubt about that.
Choosing to Love Instead of Linger
My birth was far from perfect. In a totally different toned blog post I could talk about how I felt like my body failed, how I felt confused and ill-informed about the induction, how I felt my C-section took the few things from me that I felt were important parts of bringing my son into the world. I could talk about being mad and crying hard at some of the aspects I felt were just downright wrong. I could do all those things and linger in the emotional and painful parts.
Or I could choose love.
I could choose to glow in the light of my perfect, healthy son. I could hold my husband tighter and stare even more adoringly at him as I reflect on just how strong and supportive he was for our weeklong hospital stay. I am doing those things. In an age where many choose to sit in the sadness and lament publicly over things gone imperfectly, I can’t in good conscience complain about my experience when ultimately I still got to hold the most precious gift in my arms and be called mom at the end of it.
There is nothing that compares to this feeling and nothing that can overshadow it. I am blissfully happy and exactly where I want to be. Cooper Lujan, you have one proud mama and a family full of people who love you beyond words.