I had a birth plan.
What Type-A, OCD expectant mom wouldn’t?
My husband and I were going to shoot for the most natural birth possible. We registered for a spot in “The Birth Place” of our local hospital (St. Joseph’s in Syracuse, NY) where the goal is to go through labor and delivery with as few interventions as possible.
Being an athlete, I was actually looking forward to the challenge of a little pain along the way and using the body and mind to manage the experience as it unfolded. In fact, it was nearly expected of me. As a three-time Ironman finisher, everyone in my world reassured me that I was well prepared for the rigors of childbirth thanks to the thousands of miles I’ve put in over 10+ years of training for endurance sports. You say “contractions,” I say “intervals.” Ready to push? I’m on it. I’ll go to the same place I’ve been so many times to get my weary, cramped up legs to give me just one more mile to make it to the finish line. Sure, it wouldn’t be quite the same. My vagina was never torn or stretched during an Ironman, but I’ve been on the pain train in other ways. I knew how to cope and turn pain into push, and turn push into success.
Body and mind. That’s where I would be focusing, as our due date June 30 got closer.
But on May 24, my birth plan went from body and mind, to body and morphine.
Things changed quickly, and in retrospect, in a sort of comical, ironic way.
The weekend of May 18, we were in the hospital for a two-day orientation on natural birth techniques. We learned how to incorporate water, stability balls and breathing into the labor process. We watched videos of natural births. We dabbled in conversations about dilation and timing the drive to the hospital and mood lighting. During the tour, we saw the rooms that we’d be in if we chose to stick with the Birth Place, and the traditional labor and delivery rooms where things were less “sway and breath” and more “give me the f*cking epidural.”
We saw the big double doors that would swing open in the event of an emergency.
“Moms, you’ll be rushed into this operation room where we can remove a baby in less than 10 minutes. Dads, you’ll have to wait outside,” the nurse explained as we looked through the small square windows at the bright fluorescent lighting that was the exact opposite of what I outlined in my birth plan. I’m all about low lighting anyway, but this would especially apply to any situation where I’m to be laying spread eagle with no clothes on.
Ain’t nobody looking for fluorescent lighting in THAT scenario.
The tour ended with a walk through the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). It was a heartbreaking scene that made all us expectant moms hold our breath and silently pray that we wouldn’t need to be there again. At this point in my pregnancy, I had no reason to believe that I would be. I was 34 weeks along and passed every prenatal appointment with flying colors. My pants still fit, my baby was growing perfectly, and I was in a great mood. I’d just retired from teaching three hours worth of spin classes every week. Aside from some swelling feet, I had little to be concerned about.
One thing that was highlighted over and over in the orientation was the idea that if ever we felt that something wasn’t quite right, we should always call our doctors. There were no stupid concerns, no dumb questions.
On Monday, May 20, I woke up feeling like something wasn’t right. I had a lot of clear liquid between my thighs that was unlike anything else I’d experienced yet. It was like water, but I felt it was too soon for it to be THAT water, and I wasn’t sure what it could have been otherwise. I had chest pains that seemed like heartburn, but weren’t going away when I took heartburn medications. And even after eating a yogurt and having a glass of juice, I didn’t feel my baby moving. That wasn’t normal. I called the doctor’s office to describe everything and they made arrangements for me to come in that morning.
In the doctor’s office, I was hooked up to a fetal monitor that measures the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. These were just small contractions that weren’t of the “active labor” variety, but going on nonetheless. It was news to me, I hadn’t felt any contractions in my pregnancy at that point. Then the nurse gave me a clicker and told me to click the button every time I felt the baby kick. Over the course of forty minutes, I clicked it only twice. I had my urine tested and blood drawn, and the end result of that visit was that the doctor wanted me to head to the hospital for extended monitoring.
At this point, the hunch was that I had preeclampsia. At the hospital, I went on the monitor again for a couple of hours and started a 24-hour urine catch (saving all of your urine for 24 hours in a big jug. It’s as sexy as it sounds). The doctor also checked to see if my cervix had dilated — not surprisingly, it had not. Zero centimeters. This baby was staying in the womb, thank you very much. Since my blood pressure was okay over the course of the afternoon, the doctor released me that evening and said I could complete the urine catch at home, with the caveat that if ANYTHING felt weird or like it was getting worse, I was to call her. That night, things were fine and we breathed a sigh of relief, as it seemed that all was well with mom and baby. Around 4:00AM on Tuesday, May 21, I woke up with the chest pain again and it was worse than the day before. We called the doctor and were asked to return to the hospital.
The plan was that I would be back under the monitors again until 3:00PM that afternoon, when the 24-urine catch would be completed and they could test it. So we grabbed a few things to keep us occupied for a “long day” and headed back to the hospital where I was ordered into a gown and given a Hep Lock. I have a REALLY big phobia of veins, and was really queasy at the thought of this tube structure being inserted into my hand and left there for “whatever” for any length of time. Little did I know, the Hep Lock would be the least of my worries in the near future. To better tolerate the invasive wad on my hand, I asked the nurse to cover it completely with tape so I could not see it. And I named it “Charlie.” I proceeded to hold that forearm in a straight position like a robot so not to bend Charlie around in positions that would flex or stretch my veins.
Being in the hospital from 4:00AM til 3:00PM means meeting a parade of new nurses with every shift change. I did my best to convince every single one of them to remove the Hep Lock seeing as how the only thing I was really doing all day was peeing into a giant cup and getting my blood pressure taken every hour. Nobody would take Charlie out though. He had to stay there “just in case.” Meh.
At 3:00PM, the urine catch was complete and the nurse said she thought it looked good enough for me to be discharged home. She had been dipping test strips into my urine all day and found nothing of concern. Sure enough, the doc was just entering the room to tell me the results were good, when the fetal monitor alerted the nurse that the baby’s heart rate had dipped. Nobody was certain if it was actually the baby’s heart rate dipping, or if the monitor had momentarily picked up my heart rate instead of his. Whatever the case, it was certain that the mood changed in that room. I locked eyes with my husband, and tried to focus on him through the chaos.
A team of nurses rushed in and the light banter that had been going on was replaced with doctor lingo going back and forth around the room as Charlie was hooked up to an IV, my underwear were stripped off, and the doctor’s hand went whoosh into me, followed by the words, “Two centimeters.”Come again? The day before I was zero centimeters dilated. Now I was two?
Needless to say, between the dilation and fetal monitor meltdown, I was not released from the hospital that afternoon. Things got a little bit crazy from that point on. We ended up spending the night on Tuesday, and a whole bunch of “fun” was ordered for me.
“Order” is a term that I learned to hate while staying in the hospital because it usually translated to, “a request for someone to come in the room and stab you with something.” Before this week, “order” was what you did to get Chardonnay or burritos to appear in front of you. “Order” was a way to get shoes in the mail from Zappos. “Order” was not about making a fist while a giant rubber band cut off the circulation in your arm.
By Wednesday, May 22, my blood pressure and lab work was good enough that the doctor ruled out preeclampsia, and the fetal monitoring showed no more abnormalities with the baby’s heart rate. The silver lining for Wednesday was a) ruling out my chest pain as a cardiac condition, b) ruling out my chest pain as a gall bladder condition, and c) having a full-fledged sonogram of the baby to determine if his motor skills and development were on track (they were). I don’t know what I would have done without my husband in the hospital with me for all these tests. Though most of them were just precautionary, I knew better than to think that everything would be okay anymore. For twenty-four hours I’d been poked, prodded, lubed up, checked out and woken up for various tests. Eye contact and hand-holding with Krispin were necessary, simple pleasures that helped me to leap-frog from one scary, crappy moment to the next.
We had two sonograms of the Little Man that day. In the first one, he was happily sucking his thumb. In the second, he had his foot in his mouth. The nurse said those were good signs, because the “sucking” action was an advanced skill for that age. I felt my motherly pride kick in when she said that, and in a weird “foreshadowing way,” felt relieved that if he were to come out early, he would be okay because he was doing so well with his growth in the womb.
We were released that night, and I was “ordered” a follow-up appointment with my doctor in the regular office on Friday morning. Thursday, May 23, I went back to work as usual. Co-workers asked how I was feeling, and I told them I felt good and was happy that I didn’t have preeclampsia, and that I would be sitting at my desk with my legs crossed for the rest of my pregnancy so that my baby would stay put until he was full term.
Thursday night, I didn’t sleep. The heartburn struck again and we tried several things to relieve it. Heartburn medicines didn’t seem to do anything, but Greek yogurt took the edge off. Krispin started a food diary for me, jotting down the time I was eating and what every item was. We were determined to pinpoint the source of the problem. I had three Greek yogurts that night, and I’m not sure if it actually relieved the pain or if it was a placebo effect — but I went with it. I slept on the couch for a precious hour with my body propped up at a ninety-degree angle, waiting for dawn to break so I could just be awake and feel normal about it. At 7:00AM on Friday morning, May 24, I got myself into the shower and focused on having a normal day. I had a client meeting at 9:30AM, after which I would leave work to go to my follow-up doctor’s appointment. Since the heartburn was feeling better, I was anticipating a brief visit — bang out a good blood pressure, pee in a cup, and get on with Memorial Day weekend. I was thinking it would be a good night to go catch a movie — The Great Gatsby, or maybe the new Star Trek.
I got to the doctor’s office at 11:00AM, with a freshly printed Birth Plan in hand. One of the prerequisites for the Birth Place was to draft such a plan and review it with the doctor prior to submitting it to the hospital. I also had a food log that Kris wrote down. Since I was expecting a ho-hum appointment, I told my husband to stay at work and that I could go on my own. I was called back to the exam room to get my blood pressure taken, and knew within about 30 seconds that things were going to be crazy again. And that I wished Krispin was with me after all. As soon as my blood pressure registered on the device the nurse’s face twisted into a “holy sh*t” expression and she immediately said she would redo it because it was so high. In an effort to calm myself, I explained that I’d literally just run from work to the appointment, and from my car into the office not 20 minutes ago. Plus, I’d forgotten the folder with the Birth Plan and the food log in it, so I had to quickly run back out to the car to grab it before I was called back to the exam room.
See? There was a perfectly fine explanation for my astronomical blood pressure.
She took it again in 10 minutes, and I was still high. This is when I felt my face getting scrunchy and my eyes burning. Normally, Kris would be with me and be able to quash these seeds of emotion before they became visible to the outside world, but as I was alone this time, I did a piss poor job of holding back the tears. I was brought back to a little room where a fetal monitor was set up — gear that I was overly familiar with at this point having just spent a few days attached to it in the hospital. Once again, I was told to click a button every time I felt any movement in my belly. As tears streamed down my face, the nurse assured me that everything was okay.
This was just a fetal monitor! No big deal. I don’t think she realized what I’d gone through in the past few days, and that to me, it was obvious my “ho-hum” appointment was sprouting red flags like dandelions in a summer lawn.
She offered me a juice to ease my fears, which I gulped down in a fury to inspire the fetal movement I so desperately hoped to feel this time around on the monitor. Luckily, over the course of 30 minutes, my Little Man was kicking up a storm as if to say, “See Mom? I got your back. I’m doing well in here, don’t worry.” I breathed a sigh of relief as I continued clicking and clicking through the session. “Take my blood pressure now, “ I thought to myself. “Now, I am calm.”
After another 15 minutes, the nurse returned and took my blood pressure again. “Lower than before, but still high,” she said. Then she ran her fingers over my swollen feet and the concerned look on her face told me that we were not out of the woods on this, not even close. “I’m going to have Dr. Bowen see you now,” she said.
Dr. Bowen was one of my favorite people in the practice, and the doctor that discharged me from the hospital the day before. He said my son looked strong and that everything was going to be okay with my baby. He had the demeanor of Mr. Rogers and the most soothing voice in the whole world as he described medical situations. When he arrived in the room with his stethoscope and blood pressure cuff, he was all business that morning.
At this point, I could do nothing to stop the building deluge of tears that were forming behind my face. They were streaming down my cheeks when he came into the exam room and he said nothing soothing, no reassuring words, no “it will be okay.” He did the blood pressure twice, and told me that I needed to get to the hospital again for monitoring, that the numbers just weren’t going in my favor.
I left the office sobbing, and called my husband. In short bursts of speaking, I explained that we had to go back to St. Joe’s for more monitoring. He came home to get me, and we packed a bag. This time, we brought a few more things — power cords for the iPad, our own toothbrushes, a change of clothes, etc. I was prepared for an overnight stay, but didn’t think it would come to that. I certainly wasn’t packing as if our baby would be arriving in a few hours.
In my mind, we were still going to see The Great Gatsby later.
Things changed quickly once we arrived to the hospital. The blood that was drawn at the doctor’s office earlier was evaluated and a doctor came into the labor and delivery room I was assigned to. Based on my blood work, they determined that I had HELLP Syndrome. HELLP is a life-threatening pregnancy complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. HELLP stands for H (hemolysis, the breaking down of the red blood cells), EL (elevated liver enzymes), and LP (low platelet count). Looking at websites with information on the disease, I can see how the week’s worth of symptoms and monitoring FINALLY gave the doctors a clue as to what was going on with me. While HELLP shares some of the symptoms of preeclampsia (protein in the urine and high blood pressure), it doesn’t have to include those and can be present even when urine and blood pressure are okay. So when the doctors were monitoring me for preeclampsia and thinking that I was improving as my urine and blood pressure got better, I was actually getting worse with HELLP and part of the key to my diagnosis was the ongoing chest pain which was never heartburn, but my liver being inflamed. Chest tenderness, pain in my right upper quadrant and shoulder pain while breathing deeply were all HELLP symptoms and all things that I was experiencing and believing to be some combination of heartburn or the baby taking up so much room within my petite frame that I was having trouble breathing because my diaphragm was being pressed.
We were all wrong, but Friday morning the pieces came together.
The doctor stood before me and outlined the options, with the caveat that once another set of results came in, she might make a call on what would happen based on my current platelet count. As it stood in that moment, not 10 minutes after I arrived to the hospital to get a new Hep Lock inserted into my already Hep-Lock bruised hand, we were having our baby. The plan was to induce me, but if the blood work wasn’t great, I would get a C-Section. Neither option thrilled me. I was still nervous about having the baby so early, but I could tell that the situation was dire enough that we didn’t have a choice. While the baby was absolutely fine, it was me — my body — that was not fine.
In the five minutes or so of sitting in shock over the idea that we were having the baby more than a month early, I thought about the irony of my friends and family reassuring me of my ability to experience birth because of my years of endurance training.
I’m not going to lie — I had visions of my baby breezing through the birth canal on or about June 30, sliding into the doc’s hands as he crowned in the aero position. I’d been healthy and active throughout my pregnancy. I ate the right things. I did the right things. His head was already down and in position. I completed orientation and had a birth plan all typed up, proofread and printed up for the big day! I couldn’t help but think that my body was letting me down in this moment, that if I didn’t get my baby out of me quickly, I would be putting him in danger because my blood wouldn’t be able to clot once the labor started and the delivery occurred.
How could my body make it through three Ironman races, but shut down before my first birth? It was a jarring feeling for me.
The doctor returned, and the mood changed yet again. “The number isn’t what I was hoping for,” she said, in reference to my platelet count. The new option — the only option — was an emergency C-Section. A normal platelet count is 150. Mine was at 50, and rapidly declining. They start to worry with anything lower than 80.
What happened next seems like a blur. A lot of people came into the room. My parents hadn’t arrived to the hospital yet, so it was just me and my husband and a lot of medical folks. I was being hooked to an IV of magnesium which I kept confusing with an IV of “magma.” Might as well have been, it made my whole body burn as if there was fire in my veins.
The anesthesia guy came bedside and proceeded to give me the spiel on signing the consent form, which boiled down to “you might die, now sign this.” On the other side of my bed was my husband who was trying desperately to make the situation feel less scary than it was. Just before I was whisked away, he reminded me that this is how we do things…fast, crazy, out-of-the-ordinary. A true statement for the couple that got engaged, married, bought a house and became pregnant all within about a year and a half. The idea made me smile — our crazy life together was just proceeding in a normal fashion. Our son wasn’t going to be a June baby, he was going to be May baby. And while I’d been joking throughout the pregnancy that I’d be happy if he came a little early (because I would prefer a Gemini to a Cancer for optimal mother/son relationship potential), I didn’t want him to be five weeks early. June 21 was the cutoff for Gemini…but my Little Man was comin’ right now, and it was time for mommy to buck up and get to the OR without being a Sally about it.
One of the nurses, Laurie, made the experience much more calming for me. She had the quintessential nurse vibe. A pleasing tone, just the right amount of fact and detail when she explained what was about to happen to me and why, and a happy confidence that things would be okay no matter what she was talking about with me. This was all very important as we bonded over the next few days. She gave me a catheter, a sponge bath, and took a lot of blood. She was with me for the surgery from start to finish. I couldn’t imagine her ever using profanity, which is why I was embarrassed to learn that the first words out of my mouth as I came to from the anesthesia were “my uterus feels like a f*cking Jack-O-Lantern.” But what are you going to do? It was an apt description when I felt like the incision was a smile that was being burned into my flesh with a blowtorch.
I was told that Emmett was screaming when they took him out of me, and Kris got to see him within minutes of the procedure. Then he was taken to the NICU. I was relieved that things were okay, but sad that the expectation was for him to be in the hospital for the next four to five weeks.
By the time I saw him, I was happily hooked up to a morphine drip and thankful that I hadn’t died during the C-Section. My throat felt sore from being intubated, but other than that it was as if I’d gone from the conversation about being induced to the baby being in my arms. Not exactly the natural birth experience we had hoped for, but it really didn’t matter to me how Emmett got here as long as he was healthy. And despite the IV and leads that were attached to him when he was placed in my arms for the first time, he was just that — perfectly healthy.
It was tough to see my baby with a big splint on his arm and the same little Hep Lock in his hand that I had in mine. The beautiful thing about babies is that they don’t have all the mental baggage and negative associations that we adults form as we go through life. I looked at Emmett with cords and lights fastened to his body and told myself that these were just his superhero accessories — the little red light on his foot that detected how much oxygen was in his blood was just a sign that he was thriving. The leads were just picking up numerical representations to show the world what his spirit was made of. When I held him in the NICU, I tuned out the sounds of beeping monitors and alarms all around me and pretended instead that we were in an arcade. My Emmett wasn’t a baby that was sick in the NICU, he was my little fighter and he was acing the game of “premature baby” despite all the odds.
While I was falling in love with my baby for the first time, it felt like I was falling in love with my husband all over again. Like any couple, we have our share of stupid fights and nitpick each other over annoying habits. It’s funny how having a premature baby in the NICU can change all of that. Krispin dropped everything to care for me. Wheeling me to and from the NICU to feed Emmett, wiping away the ever-flowing batch of tears that seemed to generate out of nowhere thanks to zero sleep, crazy hormones and the fear that our situation would worsen before it would improve. And waiting on me without question. During the week we were in the hospital he happily got his hands on whatever snacks I wanted, kept my Nalgene bottle filled with water and ice, made sure I was comfortable in every possible way, and even made a few trips out to our house so he could get things in order before our eventual return home. All of that aside, I have to confess that watching my husband become a dad also had a profound effect on me. There’s just something about seeing our soft, new baby nestled against the tough exterior of my man. I know that he will be there for him in every possible way from here on out, just like he’s been here for me. Emmett has an amazing dad, I have an amazing husband. The Dolbears would get through this.
All through my pregnancy, people told me that I was an Ironman…I HAD this. But the real Ironman is my son. He’s the one that rolled with the punches on “race day” and crossed the finish line successfully despite the obstacles. Mom’s low platelets and all. Can’t stop my Little Man.
And he had already won more than just my heart along the way — the NICU nurses were quite fond of him. He was getting a reputation for exceeding expectations as they finally decided after four days (not weeks) that he was okay enough to be released from the NICU and move into the normal post-partum delivery room with me, though he’d still have to be under the blue lights for jaundice and have a monitor hooked up to alert us of any abnormalities in his breathing patterns.
I’ll never complain about the sound of my alarm clock ever again. When you’re woken up to the sounds of a monitor going off to tell you that the oxygen in your son’s blood is too low, you quickly reassess what it means to be annoyed in life.
Moving into the new room was bittersweet. It was an upgrade in terms of environment — we got a window with an awesome view of the Syracuse Dome and city skyline, and the overall décor of the room was very upscale and modern. The previous room had no windows, and looked as though it could have been the set for a 1970s medical show.
But the new room didn’t have Laurie, the nurse that I had become very close to in the first week of our hospital stay. I wasn’t ready to let Laurie go, and I don’t think she was really ready for it either. I can’t really articulate why we bonded so quickly, other than to say that she was on the front lines in the most serious and scary situation I’ve ever faced in my whole life. I clung to her hope and soothing outlook on our prognosis. Next to my husband, she was the only person that had any ability to make me feel calm in the situations we were going through. She helped to move my things to the new room, and Krispin told me that he’d overheard her explaining to the shift nurse in the new room how things should be set up.
“She likes a little fan right here on the bed, but not pointing at her, just around her. She likes her blanket folded up and placed on the end of the bed,” Laurie explained. I didn’t really compute the fact that my move to the new room meant good-bye until she leaned in for a hug and told me that I’d made her weekend really great. The moment she left the room, I sobbed into my husband’s shoulder. I was sad that Laurie was out of the picture now.
In the days that followed, life seemed to get a little easier. Instead of being woken up at 1:30AM by someone who needed to draw more blood from my arm, I was woken up to feed my baby. Though I tired of hearing the parade of nurses do their own unique song and dance every time the shifts changed and I needed my vitals to be taken, I was relieved that “vitals” were the most pressing thing on my radar. I had given so much blood in the previous days, that the regular nurses were no longer able to find “good veins” to draw from any longer, and I would routinely get a visit from the phlebotomist (a person’s whose sole job is to find a good vein and get blood out of it). I was also shocked to learn that the phlebotomist is not really a medical person. Every one that I talked to had taken the job because it was easy night work. By day, these people were in bands, worked the day shift at Tim Horton’s or sold cars at Hyundai. Okay then. That wasn’t the most reassuring dossier for someone who was regularly probing my arm for a place to jam a needle, but whatever. At this point in the week, I was pretty much over my fear of needles and even stopped giving people my usual speech.
“It’s fine if you want to say ‘here comes a little poke,’ or, ‘here we go,’ but please do not describe what you’re doing beyond that,” I’d say. The very first nurse who took blood from my arm that week was overly verbose while she took the blood. “Nice, juicy veins you have here,” she said while tying the rubber band around my arm and tapping my inner elbow with her fingers. I nearly passed out. I’m not a vein girl.
By Thursday, May 30, we had cleared most of the major hurdles and were hopeful that with one more overnight, Emmett’s monitor would show that he was well enough to go home. By this time, I had been discharged as a patient but the hospital allowed me to stay in my room with my baby, considering him the patient and me his guest. I can’t express how great the staff was at St. Joe’s hospital in accommodating us during this whole ordeal. Typically, when the mother is discharged as the patient and the baby still needs hospital attention, the mother can try to stay in the guest room that is near the NICU — but she must share it with another woman, and your partner cannot stay there with you. The hospital really went out of their way to make us as comfortable as possible, and it really made such a huge difference in our spirits as we continued to process what was happening and how we would handle it moving forward.
On Friday, May 31, one week since Emmett’s birth, we were told that he was being released and we could all go home. Since we had him on a monitor for two days that would sound an alarm any time something wasn’t right with his breathing, we were slightly nervous over the idea of bringing him home. There would be no monitor, no leads and no nurses. The doctor explained to us that as they were observing him over the past few days, they were sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. He was doing so well, it was almost too good to be true.
“But the other shoe doesn’t have to drop,” he finally explained. “He’s a healthy kid. We have no reason to keep him here. Get out of here already,” the doctor said with a smile. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. It felt like a miracle, and it was just one of the many blessings we counted that week.
Everybody was a little sad when it came time to leave the hospital. Kris and I made friends with several of the nurses and with so much happening in such a short period of time, the people we interacted with while staying at St. Joe’s felt like a part of our family now, and they were definitely a part of Emmett’s success story.
As I finish writing this, I’m sitting in my dining room watching my baby sleep peacefully, almost one week out of the hospital. We already took him to his first pediatrician’s appointment, and he was perfectly okay. He’s back up to his birth weight of five pounds, and we continue to breastfeed with no issues (another blessing). We’re adjusting to our new life with a newborn, and though everyone says the hardest part is coming home that first week, we’ve found it to be pretty easygoing in comparison to our two weeks in the hospital.
My health continues to improve. My blood pressure is still a little bit high, but otherwise the HELLP Syndrome seems to have been cured with the delivery of Emmett, which is what was supposed to happen. I’m finding it much harder to adjust to “recovery” from a C-Section than to get up at 2:00AM for breastfeeding. It will be a while before I can get back to my long runs and bike rides, but I know my body needs this time to heal, and I’m okay with that.
Right before we left the hospital, one of the nurses told me that it might be hard for me to process the idea that I was robbed of my birth experience. After all, I was knocked out for Emmett’s official arrival into the world. I am saddened that I didn’t get to see how the “Ironman” in me would have held up to labor and delivery, but another part of me feels lucky in a way to have had the experience that we did. In an odd way, being in the hospital for almost two weeks felt like a sort of forced retreat from the go-go-go lifestyle I normally lead. After the major medical issues subsided, Krispin and I actually found a lot of time to connect to each other and the idea that our baby was here five weeks early. It felt like being away at camp or something, as we tucked ourselves into the small twin bed in our room to watch Arrested Development on the laptop and eat Oreos under a blanket while our baby slept just a few feet away from us in the crib. Emmett’s time in the NICU was special too…the nurses kept a little scrapbook for him with his milestones for the day, and we know that someday he’ll love to hear the story of how he was born and all about the adventures he had as he powered through everyone’s expectations as a premature baby.
He stole my heart in his first week here. I’ve always considered myself a fairly emotional person, but I feel like I’ve never had any real emotions until now.
I didn’t get to feel my uterus tighten as Emmett prepared to enter the world, but I felt my heart squeeze the moment we knew we were having a C-Section and would get to hold him so much sooner than we expected to.
My water didn’t break, but I made up for it with a steady stream of joyful tears.
I didn’t get to breath deeply and count the seconds between contractions, but I got to exhale a sigh of relief and count my blessings between test results.
It doesn’t matter to me how Emmett Lester Dolbear came into this world, just that he arrived safely and we get to have him home in our arms.
Our Little Man has changed our lives in a huge way, and we’re excited for the adventures ahead, no matter what they might include.