I'm what you call a planner. I try to be organized. It just works for me, keeps me half-way sane to know what's going on and not live haphazardly. So knowing that I was having a scheduled C-section with baby #2 was a relief to me. I can't imagine how it feels for those poor mommas who have to wait 7, 10, etc. days after their due date just waiting for the baby to show herself! I had an end in sight.
Having had two surgeries in the past for uterine fibroids meant I had a C-section for my first son and thus for my second baby. Our C-section date was chosen by the hospital to be Tuesday April 17th, which happened to be our third wedding anniversary. At first, I wasn't too excited about sharing our day. But we didn't get to choose the date and my husband said it was actually pretty cool, so I embraced it. I even had a T-shirt made for my husband in our wedding colors - navy blue and yellow - that said "three years and a baby." I wrapped it up in yellow paper and a blue polka dot ribbon, like our wedding theme also.
I had experienced contractions since the Wednesday prior pretty regularly. I worked up until that Friday, so for two days at work it was a little difficult walking around. My co-worker even came in one day to ask me a question and found me standing behind my desk rocking back and forth because the baby's head was so low it felt awkward sitting. She thought I was going into labor then and there! Oh, the fun I had scaring my co-workers by working right up until the end!
Each day the Braxton-Hicks contractions were happening I just thought it was my body preparing, getting ready to have the baby as I approached 39 weeks. I told my husband I was happy about this, because it meant the baby was coming on its own as much as it could despite us having a scheduled C-section. I felt so bad with my first child that we had to choose his birthday, felt like we were cheated out of letting him find his way into the world on his own accord. However, that morning of our scheduled C-section with him I ended up in labor, contractions 3 minutes apart at the hospital! So this time, seeing that the belly had dropped significantly, I felt the head way down in the pelvis region, and I was having contractions and weird discharge, made me feel relieved that this baby, too, was preparing to come as we were planning.
One last fun outing!
On Sunday morning my husband woke early to go help his brother with their new house, so I decided to have a special day with my son. I had planned that we'd do something special the following day but with the weather so nice out on Sunday I changed our plans. We headed out to the bakery to get a cookie, played at the playground for a really long time (where we met a little girl whose name was the name we'd choose for our daughter! It was so cool hearing the parents call for this girl. It made me feel like, OK, yes, that's the name if it's a girl, I can see this being her!).
Just my son and I. I didn't even have my camera - something that I'm notorious for taking along with me wherever we go. I felt sad I didn't plan ahead and bring the camera on our last special mom and Owen minus baby outing, and yet I was happy because it meant I was totally present with him. I pushed him on the swing for at least an hour... a long time for a very active toddler. We played in the sand and made a sand castle.
We went home for my son's nap and I tried tying up a few loose ends I'd been working on in preparation for my C-section in two days - finishing photo books online, packing some snacks for my son for the hospital visits, cleaning out the sippy cup drawer so it made sense to our in-laws who would be caring for him while we were in the hospital.
After my son's nap I took him over to see his dad at his uncle's house. I started feeling more contractions and an aching back, so decided to head home around 6ish.
OK, maybe something is happening...
The entire drive home from my brother and sister-in-law's house I had contractions. Again, I'd been feeling this - mostly at night or while in the car - for the last few days since Wednesday, so I again thought it was just my body preparing for baby to come soon. I got home, fed my son and put him to bed. I felt a slight sense of panic that I had not yet finished what I needed to for the surgery in two days (put away my son's clean laundry, write instructions for my in-laws, pack my son's diaper bag to take back and forth from the hospital, pack snacks for daycare, finish those damn photo books, etc.), so I thought I'd start doing something.
I tried to get snacks together in the kitchen, but the contractions hurt and I just felt weird. Weird is all I can say to describe it. Not sure what I felt, just that the baby was low and I felt strange standing up, like I needed to spread my legs apart or something. I layed down on the couch and tried to watch TV (A Few Good Men was on TV, one of my husband's favorite movies). I was so uncomfortable that I started tearing up. I moved from side to side, layed all the way back on the couch, tried standing up and walking around. I just felt weird. Yet I thought this again was normal, just my body adjusting and shifting around. I was officially 39 weeks today, so I figured this was all par for the course.
I considered calling my husband around 8 p.m. to come home after I'd been trying to relax and get comfortable for almost an hour, but I waited and ended up feeling OK. After feeling a little better and watching some TV, I decided I did need to get the laundry put away for my son because there were no clothes in his drawers. I tried walking upstairs and it again felt awkward walking so I went back to the couch.
I ended up in bed around 9ish. My husband called me shortly after. I explained the night to him, he said to hang in there, that I was almost done, it was almost over, just a couple more days. He had been saying this to me the last few days with such sincerity and appreciation for what I'd been experiencing, as he'd see me wince in the car or try to get comfortable after some contractions. I fell asleep around 10ish, having contractions, but slightly more comfortable.
Just Google it
I was up all night. Every hour or so I was going to the bathroom (I had some leaking liquid, not water breaking but just more discharge than recently and had to pee constantly it felt like). I had contractions all night and the baby was moving around a lot. I was tearing up and wincing in bed. My husband was rubbing my back, asking if I was OK. I said yes, because again, thought this was just normal a week before your baby's due date.
At 5:30 a.m. ish I went to the bathroom and saw blood. Not a ton, but it was nothing I'd had before so it worried me. I went back to the bedroom, told my husband I was bleeding. He was half asleep, asked what we should do. I said I didn't know. He suggested Googling it. So there I went... to Google, typing in "is blood normal at the end of pregnancy?" Thinking of this now, I realize how stupid this was. Google is great, but not when you're practically in labor!
Within minutes on Google I realized that it could be pre-term labor. This made me snap into reality and recall my doctor telling me the last several months, weeks at every single appointment if I ever had blood I needed to call right away, because yes, it was a sign of pre-term labor and with my history of fibroids and surgeries they did not want me going into labor and instead I needed a surgery to deliver.
How far apart - what?! We didn't prepare for this!
So I knew I needed to call the doctor, but I figured they'd ask me right away how far apart my contractions were. I figured I should know the answer before calling, or else they'd just give me the standard answer of, "Yes, why don't you come in and get checked just in case." I didn't want to just go in if this wasn't anything to be worried about. So I sat on the couch for a half an hour trying my best to count contractions. I had no clue what I was doing and felt out of my league with this process. I didn't read the chapters in the What to Expect When You're Expecting book on this stuff, nor did we ever take a birthing class. We had surgeries. We were planners. We did not have unexpected labor that we needed to all of a sudden prepare for!
I counted that the contractions were about 15 minutes apart, give or take. I called the after hours doctor's phone number. The nurse said that with my history of surgeries and fibroids and the fact that I had a scheduled C-section for the following day I should just go up to the hospital to be "checked out." She said my doctor was actually on call to be in the hospital anyway so she could probably just check me out and see. She said, "You never know, they may end up doing your surgery today since you're so close to doing it tomorrow anyway."
Um what?! was my initial reaction, and yet still in denial that this was real. I figured we'd go up there, get checked, return and go in for our surgery the following day. Yeah right.
OK, OK, OK...
While I was on the phone with the nurse, my son woke up early. My husband went up to get him. I hung up the phone with the nurse, went to the bottom of the stairs and heard my husband whispering to my son, "OK, pal, listen let's just rest a little longer, then we'll get up soon, OK? Time for sleep now." I laughed before saying, "Um, not so much, dear. Everybody needs to wake up. We have to go to the hospital."
I won't forget this ever - the sight of my husband in his T-shirt and boxer shorts, bed head hair, holding my son in his pajamas at the top of the stairs, with a look of total confusion and shock on his face as I said we needed to go to the hospital. It was like I could see his mind switching gears right in front of me, acknowledging that our little plan of tomorrow was not going as planned.
He just said, "OK, OK, OK..." taking breaths between each word. It was pretty cute and hilarious actually. He came downstairs, asked if he could take a shower, proceeded to move around the house, grabbing diapers for my son, getting the hospital bags, etc. I helped my son get dressed and threw on some clothes myself. It was pretty surreal. We called the babysitter and asked if Owen could stay with her a few hours while we got checked out. She chuckled and said, "We're getting a baby today!" I laughed and said we'd be there soon.
Still, not really believing this was it. I was in pain, contractions happening quicker as we moved along, and yet still sort of thinking this was normal pre-labor stuff. We grabbed the hospital bags just in case.
Here we go!
We took our son to his babysitter's house. The babysitter came out to see me, sitting in the front seat in pain with contractions. She was so happy, totally knew today was the day. I started crying when she talked to me, just overwhelmed about what was going on, not sure if this was real, sad I was leaving my son, just overwhelmed. She reassured me all was fine.
We headed to Portland. I was wincing the whole time, trying to track the contractions. At one point I had 3 in a row, two minutes apart. That freaked me out. I started to say, "Um, dear, I don't think this is just going to be a check up." He didn't think so either, but he was a bit more calm than I was. We called our families to let them know we were headed up, not sure what was happening. They were all excited, thinking this was it.
I called my close high school friend Heather. She answered instantly, "Are you in labor?!" I laughed and said yes. We had plans that Monday evening to talk on the phone so she could say a prayer for me before I went into surgery the following day. She did the same thing the night before my son was born and when riding in the limo on the way to the church on my wedding day. I just needed it. It calmed me down to have her pray for me like that. So I asked her to pray for me. As she did, I started crying again.
We arrived at the hospital parking lot at 7:45 a.m. We had our bags, nice camera and video camera, etc. in the car. My husband said to take in our small camera, "just in case." I forgot my insurance card, of all things.
We got up to labor and delivery and my contractions were painful. It hurt to walk. They had me get into a johnny (which my poor husband and I could not for the life of us figure out how the hell to put on me... so instantly we had to bug a nurse to help me dress!). They hooked me up to monitors and checked the contractions and baby's heartbeat. Hearing the baby calmed me down instantly.
Within 10 minutes they came back into the room saying that yes, these were real contractions. They said they were going to start an IV of fluids. I asked if that meant we were here to stay. The nurses dodged the question, looked over their shoulder, and said they'd be right back. A few moments later my room was very busy and taken over by nurses and anesthesiologists. A doctor on call came in to say that yes, I was in labor and yes, I was staying. My contractions were 1-minute apart! We were going to have a baby today!
I started crying... again. I was just so overwhelmed. It was not what we planned. Was my son OK? I didn't finish writing instructions for my in-laws to care for my son for the week in the hospital and he had no clothes in his dresser drawers. Was the baby OK? Would they be able to do my C-section in time, which was a concern since with my history of surgeries and fibroids they didn't want me in labor? The nerves just set in. My husband reassured me we were OK, things were going great. Then I started laughing, thinking how COOL it was that our second child came on its own, didn't want to share its special day with our anniversary the next day.
Luckily my own doctor was on call at the hospital that morning. When she came to see me and reassured me all was great and she was excited, that's when I felt so much better and excited about the birth.
Everything went REALLY fast. Within a matter of 30 minutes I was signing a ton of paperwork, hooked up to IVs and had a hospital bracelet on. My husband called our family letting them know that yes, baby was coming today. He started dressing in his scrubs and we took a final picture of us pregnant before surgery.
My husband kissed me and told me he loved me, and again I was crying, nerves and overwhelmed. The worst part for me of my two C-sections is this part where I had to say goodbye to my husband for a half hour or so while they wheel me into the surgery room and did my spinal. I hate that part!
The spinal went great though, thanks to a couple of good nurses helping keep me still and calm. Before I knew it I was laying on my back on the operating table and my husband was back at my side, holding my hand, saying, "We're going to have a baby!"
The doctor told me I'd start to feel tugging, which I did. My husband kept saying I was doing great, baby would be here soon. Then all of a sudden Dr. Shinners told Jared to get ready because baby was coming. My husband stood up and watched the whole thing! I heard her cry first before seeing her. It was the best sound, instantly crying, as if to say, "I'm here!" My husband said in a matter of fact tone, "It's a girl!" There are few things I'll ever really remember exactly how they were said, and for me two of those things are both times my husband announced what just came out of my belly - two years ago, "It's a boy!" and now "It's a girl!" He was so sure we were having a girl, so the way he announced it to me then and there was as if to say, "Told ya so." I was convinced this baby was a boy, so shock and surprise and delight was what I felt instantly.
The second the doctor lifted my baby girl over the blue paper to see me I started tearing up. Sobbing, I was speechless. My husband said, "We have a girl." I finally spoke saying, "I have a daughter!" It was very surreal. One of each, how amazing.
We named her about 10 minutes later, after they checked her out and put her on my chest. Addisyn Rose Avery was born at 9:31 a.m. (see how quickly things moved - we'd only gotten to the hospital parking lot at 7:45 a.m.!) on Monday April 16th, Patriot's Day and the Boston Marathon Day, gorgeous 80 degree weather! She weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long. My husband chose her name, including naming her middle name Rose the same as my middle name.
Keeping her close
The best part about this experience was that they put my daughter to my chest within about 15 minutes of her being born it seemed like. With my son two years ago they put him near me and I was able to kiss him and touch him, but could not hold him until after being stitched up again. My husband and son went into another room for about 45 minutes without me while they finished my surgery.
This time the hospital changed their practice for C-sections, acknolwedging how important skin-to-skin is for the baby. So instantly she was on my chest and staring at me and I was holding her close. She started to latch within five minutes of being on me. It was amazing. I held her for about an hour. I kept telling my husband I felt bad he had not yet held her much. He said he didn't mind since with our son he held him for an hour before I go to.
We eventually were wheeled into the original room where they monitored me and the baby for a while in recovery. Our family members were able to come in and see her briefly at that point. We were so happy to announce our little girl was here!
And then there were four!
Addisyn's birth was so incredible. I love that I've experienced labor like that. I know it's not as long and intense as what many moms go through, but being able to know what real contractions are like, feeling my body really prepare on its own without being forced to deliver by surgery, it was incredible. I'd always felt bad or cheated out of an experience knowing I'd have a scheduled surgery to deliver my children. Knowing that now both of my children came on their own times feels great. These are their real birth days.
Addisyn has surprised us ever since she came on her unscheduled day. She sleeps and eats well - both things we were not expecting. She has even stolen our son's heart, as he completely adores his "Baby Addisyn."
Now, we are a family of four. It's been a swift and easy transition so far. It just feels natural. Yes, there are tough moments, but just like the birth of this little one taught us, we have learned we can't really plan anything anymore. We are just going with the flow, trying to enjoy all that this new life has to offer us and being patient with the challenges of figuring it all out one step at a time.
I am a blessed mama. I have a healthy boy who is active and happy and sharing his screwdrivers and hammers and stickers with his baby sister. I have a daughter, a girl to dress in pink and play dolls with someday. I have a husband who shows me he appreciates me for bringing our babies into the world and whom I still adore like I did in high school when we met. I have not just one but two babies now... something I was once told I'd possibly not have. I am truly blessed.
Life is good. It's really good.