I had no clue what to expect. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like. I talked to as many people as I could about it. I read as much as I could about it. I wanted to be as prepared as I could. But it turned out that my story was just that – my own. It wasn’t like anyone else’s and that was OK, even great.
I looked like a beached whale. I really did. We were having a heat wave at the end of May, and my ankles had long disappeared. I was ready for my first child to arrive. I waited every.single.day for 2 weeks. I tried eating pineapple and eggplant. I stood out in my backyard in the full moon. I walked miles at night with my husband, waddling down the main road we lived off of. But none of those things did it.
I had just about given up on bringing on labor. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary, and then went to bed. That night, 1 day before my due date, I woke up at 2 AM having full on contractions. There was no slow progression. I woke up having intense contractions that were 4 minutes apart. After a few contractions, I woke my husband up and called my doctor. She said she would meet us at the hospital, so we grabbed the bags and headed out the door.
We arrived at the hospital along with another couple who was also in labor. We waited for what seemed like forever, but in reality was probably only a few minutes, for them to check in ahead of us. Once we got checked in, we settled in a triage room and I got hooked up to the monitors. I was 5 centimeters dilated with contractions moving along, so it was straight to L & D for me. I walked over to my labor room, and my nurse came walking in behind me shocked that I was her patient and was moving so well.
Everything moved along from there. I got the epidural, which was quick, painless, and made the rest of my labor delightful [this was the opposite of my epidural experience with my second baby]. My husband and I really enjoyed our time with each other. He had made a playlist that we listened to while we just hung out. And it was one of the sweetest times that we have had in our marriage. I love having those memories.
Around 10 o’clock it was time to push. After a few minutes they needed to get Jack out quicker, so the doctor used the vacuum. Jack Thomas was born at 10:24 am on a Wednesday morning just outside of Washington D.C. He weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. He had Apgars of 9 and 9, and he was beautiful and just perfect. I had no clue what to do with him, but I was crazy about him from the get go.
Honestly, everything with my labor and delivery went so smoothly. It was a great experience – although the hardest thing I had done up to that point in my life. I was so happy with how everything went. And then six hours later we realized that something was really wrong with our son. He wouldn’t eat. He wouldn’t sleep. He cried a little but mostly just grunted. All the time. I was upset that I couldn’t take care of my baby. But finally, a nurse noticed something and took him to the nursery “just to make sure” everything was good. About an hour later someone walked in my room – it was the neonatologist who was there to tell us that our baby was very sick. She said they were trying to figure it out, and they would do everything they could to help him. She asked us to sign forms for procedures and things they would need to do. She told us they would take good care of him, but she couldn’t tell us if he would be okay.
It was the scariest, hardest moment of my life up to that point. I’m so thankful to say that Jack was healed, and I’m able to write this post as his mama nearly 3 years later. I never could have imagined how my labor and delivery would go. I never would have imagined my baby would be critically ill. But that is part of our story, and it’s so very precious to me.
You can read more of our story of Jack’s critical illness and NICU stay on my blog.
Any other NICU mamas out there? How did you deal with your time in the NICU?