Noah's Birth Story
It’s been 8 months since Noah was born. 8 months! How can it have already been that long? I’ve sat down to write this story countless times, but I never made it very far. Truthfully, I’ve been afraid to revisit that day. Terrified of letting loose the emotions that I’ve buried. Scared that what I write will not come out right, or that I’ll miss something. But I think that writing this story will be healing for me. It will give me a chance to re-live and process each stage of our journey and reflect on it.
While I want to document this story both to remember for myself and share with others, it’s very personal. Although I know in my head that all the thoughts and feelings I had in response to Noah’s diagnosis are completely normal, I still feel guilty about having them. I don’t want Noah to read this someday and feel that we were sad about his birth. I’m ashamed to admit that there was sadness on that day, when it should have been only joy. There was also fear. I was scared that I wouldn’t or couldn’t love him as much, scared about what his diagnosis would mean to our family, scared for the future, scared that our lives would be so much more difficult. Now I know that all of that fear and worry was unnecessary. Noah is the perfect addition to our family and I love him exactly as he is.
With that said, here goes…
In the last post about my pregnancy I left off at the point where I found out I would be induced. I was taken to a room to wait, the same floor I was on when I landed in the hospital almost exactly a month earlier (June 2013). I remembered how scared I had been at that time, how difficult it was for me to sleep during those two long nights. Strangely, I had none of the fear that had consumed me then. I felt calm and peaceful, ready to meet my little boy. I know that God was really watching out for me, because to be calm during a time like that is not me. As my husband can attest to, I am a worrier. I over-analyze everything, I tend to expect the worst, and I stress out over the tiniest of details. The fact that I lay down and took a little nap before Cameron arrived at the hospital is nothing short of a miracle. Once Cameron arrived we prayed, sent out messages to friends and family, and then put a movie on while I did some work on my laptop. That’s right, work. I sat in the hospital bed until midnight wrapping up work stuff and sending out emails. It sounds crazy now, but at the time I needed something concrete to focus on. I think it’s a coping mechanism for me. When certain things in my life are out of control, I seek to control the areas that I can. Once I felt at peace that I had tied up all the loose ends, I went to bed ready to deliver Noah in the morning.
*A side note about my mom. For her 60th birthday she and Mark (my step-father) had planned a trip to Yosemite. Once it became clear after my June hospitalization that I could be induced at any point, my mom had been anxious that this trip might coincide with the birth. I assured her that I was going to make it to 37 weeks, so she had nothing to worry about. But as fate would have it, there I was in my hospital bed leaving a message on my mom’s cell phone. When she called me the next day it turned out that she hadn’t listened to the message yet. She asked how I was in her normal cheery way. I will never forget the “WHAT???” I heard when I told her I was in labor. Although sad she missed it, she was able to arrive the next day straight from Yosemite.*
When morning came, the doctor determined the method they used for getting my body ready for delivery had worked (I’m going to spare you the details of that unpleasant experience). They moved me to a new room around 1pm and started me on Pitocin. I was nervous about the “more intense” contractions that Pitocin induced (according to my reading on BabyCenter forums), but it felt lighthearted and optimistic in my room. Cameron’s parents and sister Kristen arrived with snacks from PCC and we just hung out. Between contractions I was watching YouTube videos and laughing at Cameron’s competitive family playing a silly racecar game on their phones. It was fun. But then in the middle of a video of Bill Cosby doing stand-up comedy I had a meltdown moment. I’d had no epidural at this point and the contractions were getting extremely painful. Seeing my tears and feeling my hand grasp his in a death grip, Cameron ordered his family out and called for the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural. At that point I was about 5 cm dilated.
Then we rested. We talked. Despite this day arriving 5 weeks earlier than planned, we felt ready.
I was gearing up for the exhausting work of pushing, based on my previous experience. My labor with Landon had progressed fairly quickly from the point that my water broke until I was ready to push. Then Landon’s big head got stuck and I had to push for 3 hours until he was born. Although I knew second babies generally come more quickly (and this baby was extra small to boot), I still expected things to take a while.
About 20 minutes after the epidural I began to feel lots of pressure. I asked the nurse to check how far along I was, not even thinking that this could be it. She looked at me, surprised, and said I was fully dilated and to get ready to push! Immediately the room filled with doctors, nurses, residents, neonatal specialists. I think there were at least 10 people in there. I didn’t even care, I was just ready to deliver Noah and make sure he was safe and healthy.
Two contractions with just three pushes each and Noah said hello to the world with a loud, strong cry. This is the first photo taken of Noah:
I distinctly remember the feelings I experienced the moment Noah was placed in my arms. A mixture of love, relief and fear. Love for this precious boy that had arrived well before we expected him. Relief that he was breathing well and although tiny, seemed fine. And then a lingering fear that something was not quite right. He was so small and I only got to hold him for a minute, but I still had a brief worry that something was off. His eyes looked different, the proportions of his tiny face, something I couldn’t quite place. I remember asking repeatedly “Is he okay? Is he going to be alright?” Everything had happened so quickly that I mainly felt overwhelmed. I had come to a doctor’s appointment the day before expecting to have a routine visit and here I was just over 24 hours later, a mother of two. We had been so worried about the risks related to IUGR that I had buried my fears about the possibility of Down syndrome. The only marker they had seen in the ultrasounds had been short femurs. Surely if he had it, they would have seen more signs. Deep down I think I knew, but I was praying I was wrong.
Wow, now that I've begun writing this I realize there is so much to say. So much happened in such a short time frame that the hours after Noah's birth almost seem like days! I've written more of the story in The NICU and The Diagnosis.