When I decided I wanted to blog again, it took me a months to come up with a name. How would I define this next chapter of my life? After Pushing made sense on a few levels. It was an obvious sequel to Pushing Thirtyy and it picked up at an important beginning of the next chapter for me – becoming a mom.
But the truth is, when it comes to giving birth, I didn’t actually push. My son was one of the 32% of Cesarean births that happen each year in the U.S. And there was good reason for it. My son was born to save my life.
I was scheduled to have my monthly 6 month prenatal check up in the beginning of October 2015, but the doctor had to reschedule. My husband and I had planned our baby moon to align with our anniversary, and following that I had a business trip, so my appointment was postponed for 2 weeks. My pregnancy was completely normal until that point.
I was fine on our baby moon. We went to Vermont. We stayed in a fancy resort, I got a massage, and we ate all the local treats Vermont has to offer. The foliage was beautiful. It was exactly the break we needed before our major life change.
A few days after we got back, I flew out to Vegas for work. I remember my ankles being extremely swollen as I gave a presentation on branding and publicity. I was 26 weeks pregnant, so this seemed a little early for such swelling but also possibly normal. How should I know? Pregnancy does weird stuff to your body. The last night I was in Vegas, I went to a Cirque de Soleil show with my coworkers. Before the show started, I ran to the bathroom and forced myself to throw up. Something just didn’t feel right.
I didn’t sleep well the few days I was in Vegas, but again that seemed normal with pregnancy. But when I flew back that Friday and still struggled to sleep in my own home, I knew something was wrong. I’m not one to complain about discomfort but things just didn’t feel right. I woke my husband at 2 am and told him he had to take me to the hospital.
We live in a building with just a few apartments and a shared driveway. Our car was blocked in so in our panic, we walked to the hospital which was luckily less than a mile away. I had nothing but my purse with me. At the ER, they asked me to enter my social security number. My husband got mad that they asked as I was in obvious distress but luckily I was able to enter it before blacking out. The last thing I remember was being wheeled into a room freaking out stating “I’m pregnant!” My husband stayed in the waiting room. When it seemed like things were taking too long, they allowed him to come in. He stayed with me in a room in the ER waiting. We were all alone when my hands went up. My husband, who works with disabled populations recognized the sign. I was having a seizure.
I don’t remember much after that. I know at one point a friend’s girlfriend who worked at the hospital came to say hi to me, and I remember knowing I’d have to deliver the baby. The top number of my blood pressure was over 200. If I didn’t deliver him, I could die and the baby could die. I was likely already sedated at this point as I remember being calm about it.
My husband was not calm. I guess knowing that you could lose your wife and son in a blink of an eye could do that to you. The doctors had him against a wall trying to calm him down. He was not in the room when 5 hours later I’d give birth. Although I was awake the whole time, I have no memory of it. I did tell my husband after the fact that the baby cried. It must have been my way of saying he was going to be alright.
I was taken to the ICU after that and my son to the NICU where he’d spend the next 3 months. He was born at 7:43 am October 17. My due date was January 22. He weighed 1 pound 8 oz. He was born tiny but with no other serious issues.
I remember waking up in the ICU exhausted and thinking how loud everything was. It was daytime but to me it sounded like a party raging through the night. I spent 3 days there as they attempted to stabilize me. My husband would go back and forth between the NICU and the ICU caring for his family.
They let me have a few visitors in the ICU. Some good friends and family. They even allowed them in to see my son. I didn’t get to see my son until 3 days later. Desperate and feeling helpless, I used a hospital grade pump to try to provide milk for him. I remember the lactation consultant plucking my nipple to test my supply. They say that first pump is like liquid gold.
I was transferred from the ICU to cardiac for a few days before my release. At some point while giving birth, I had had a stroke as well. My right hand was temporarily paralyzed. I broke the screen of my phone. I couldn’t text. I remember trying to be cool going for the MRI and then freaking out once in the machine, the closed-in space felt suffocating to me.
I met the woman who delivered my son in the cardiac ward. It was very much a “so, we meet at last” moment. I never made it to the maternity floor. I came home after a week. My son came home a day before his due date when he was finally big enough to breathe and eat on his own.
Now, a year later and it’s hard to imagine the ordeal we went through. I have a scar on my abdomen and a beautiful healthy little boy to remind me.
I’ve lost the baby weight since then and don’t have any stretch marks. Aside from the scar, my body is back to being mine. But to me, it’s different now. It looks different and feels different. It’s hard to explain. I guess once you carry a child, it changes your perspective on your body.
When people talk about having a birth plan, or when I read on mommy blogs about how c-section moms had it easier than vaginal deliveries, I just roll my eyes. If parenting has taught me anything it’s that you just have to go with it and appreciate that at the end of the day, you are bringing life into this world and that is an amazing thing.