We Three Ladies decided that we would share the birth story for each of our children on their birthdays. As Jude will be turning three in three short days, here is the story of his birth. I’m afraid it’s not a short story, there were a few complications along the way, but luckily everything turned out fabulously in the end.
Chris and I knew from the start that we wanted kids. We weren’t sure whether we wanted two or three, but we knew we wanted to start right away. We were married on August 21, 2009 and we didn’t do anything to prevent a pregnancy from happening, but decided we wouldn’t focus too hard on whether or not I got pregnant right away. A month later, on September 25th, I took a pregnancy test and had a very very faint positive line. It was so faint, I wasn’t sure it was accurate. We were cautiously ecstatic and made an appointment to see my doctor right away.
On October 2, 2009 our doctor confirmed that I was indeed pregnant! We were happy beyond belief and a little surprised that it happened so quickly. Our baby was due to be born on June 8, 2010. I had intimate knowledge from my nearest and dearest of what could go wrong, so I was pretty nervous all throughout the pregnancy, even past the first trimester when most women tend to relax. The process of growing and giving birth to a baby was and still is so unbelievable to me. It’s a miracle that any woman is able to do so successfully.
The first ultrasound. Oh boy. As I laid on that table in November and Chris held my hand, we saw our little teddy bear (that’s exactly what he looked like in the first ultrasound) and we both cried tears of joy. His (of course, we didn’t know at the time it was a ‘him’) hand looked like a little circle and as we watched on the screen it looked like he was waving. That ultrasound is when it really became real for me. I think up until that point I had it in my head that the test was wrong and there was no way a baby could be growing inside me. We weren’t able to hear his heart beat at that appointment, but we were able to see it and it was amazing.
We had an appointment towards the beginning of December to hear the heart beat for the first time. They weren’t successful at locating it, which we had been warned about, but it was still disappointing. I’d researched everything enough to know that I shouldn’t be overly worried if they couldn’t find it at that point, but I think it’s still natural to have a bit of worry over it. They tried again just before the new year and it was a success. Jude proved to be difficult throughout the entire pregnancy for locating a heart beat. He was a wiggle worm then and now.
On January 27th we learned we were having a baby boy. Up until then we both thought we were having a girl (Chris even spoke in his sleep one night telling me that Emma was crying and that it was his turn to go to her. He started to get out of bed before I woke him up, it was quite funny) so we were surprised to hear boy. We knew we’d be overjoyed whatever the sex was. We had his name picked out since before we even got married so we knew right away he was Jude.
In April, they did another ultrasound to monitor Jude’s size due to the fact that I was overweight. They discovered during this ultrasound that he was breech so they scheduled an appointment for an ECV (external cephalic version) where they would attempt to turn him. By the time I went for the ECV he had already turned himself around and was in the correct position so they didn’t end up doing anything.
I watched my due date come and go. In the UK they won’t intervene with your pregnancy until you’re 42 weeks along unless it’s medically necessary. I was still fairly comfortable and I was happy being pregnant so this didn’t bother me too much. I was anxious to meet him, of course. I also had family flying in from Michigan that my husband was going to pick up from the airport and their arrival date clashed with my induction date, so I was really hoping Jude would come on his own before that date arrived. He didn’t. Chris and I arrived at the hospital at 9:30 pm on June 21st so they could start my induction.
They started by administering a pill to induce my labor. I’m not sure what the name of the pill was, but through Google searching I believe it was Cervidil. This was supposed to be a gradual process, so they wouldn’t let Chris stay with me. I knew that beforehand, but it still terrified me and I was heartbroken he couldn’t stay. They assured me that if the pill worked quickly, they would call him immediately and he could return for the birth. I didn’t get any sleep that night. I tossed and turned, I read a book, I took a shower, I called Chris a lot. I was too wound up and anxious to sleep!
5 am rolled around and I started having contractions. I’ve heard that contractions are a lot worse if you’re induced. I don’t have anything to compare this to since my second child was born by cesarean, but let me just say that contractions with natural labor can’t get much worse. The pain was incredible. Chris and my mom arrived at the hospital at 8 am on the dot, which was the earliest the hospital would allow. I was contracting, but I wasn’t dilating. They ended up breaking my water for me. That was an interesting experience. Without getting too graphic, I’ll just tell you they use a device that resembles a crochet hook. They put a clip right on Jude’s head so they could monitor his heart rate (remember how I told you it was always difficult to get a read on his heart rate?). I don’t know if you know this, but there are two bags of water in your uterus during pregnancy. I’m not sure if it’s two bags in all women, or just some, but I had two. They broke one bag and they were going to let the other go on its own. They gave me another dose of Cervidil that afternoon and then I got up to take a walk around the hospital and try to get things going.
My sister and her family had arrived from Michigan at this point and while they weren’t allowed to come back to the labor ward, I was allowed to go out and meet them. They were on their way to the hospital by taxi so my mom, Chris, and I all went out to sit on a bench in front of the hospital and wait. While I was out there waiting, I felt a strange sensation and knew it was my second bag of water breaking. Chris and I walked back inside so I could change, but I noticed the water didn’t look how I expected it to so I paged for a midwife. They quickly identified that mixed with the water was meconium, the baby’s first bowel movement. Typically this happens after birth, but sometimes it can occur in utero and it can be dangerous for the baby. They sent me to a delivery room right away. Luckily, they broke protocol and allowed my sister to come back and see me for a few minutes, so I was able to give her a hug after not seeing her for almost a year, and she was able to see me while I was pregnant, which we didn’t think would happen. Once I was in the delivery room, they went ahead and gave me my epidural. Although I was still only dilated to a 2 at this point and they don’t normally give epidurals that early, they said they could see on the monitor just how strong my contractions were so they were going to do it anyway. The epidural was heavenly. I knew from the start that I was going to opt for the epidural and I have no regrets (had I not had the epidural, I wouldn’t have been able to be awake to see my son being born. More on that later!). They wheeled in some scary looking machinery for the baby, but they said it was all just precautions due to the meconium. Chances were good that after he was born they would be able to successfully suction the meconium away from his face before his first breath so he wouldn’t breathe any into his lungs, thus avoiding any danger.
Things were progressing normally; my mom, Chris, and I were all in the delivery room chatting and joking, I was comfortable now that I had the epidural, and I had a pitocin drip to speed things along. Then Jude’s heart rate started to lower. They had me turn onto my side and that brought it back up to a normal rate. I laid that way for a while and they stopped the pitocin drip and his heart rate stayed normal. I turned back onto my back and they started the pitocin again and his heart rate lowered, so they stopped it again. In England, your pregnancy and labor is overseen by midwives unless you have any complications. Once Jude’s heart rate started fluctuating so drastically, they brought the doctor in to talk to me. They started the pitocin again and monitored me for a half hour. Same thing was happening, his heart rate was normal if I was on my side, but lowered when I turned back around. The doctor came back and said they could continue to monitor me for another half hour or they could do an emergency cesarean. The choice was up to me, but she said she didn’t honestly believe things would improve in the half hour. I told them right away to do what is safest for the baby so they brought me papers to sign for the emergency c-section.
I said right from the beginning of my pregnancy that I thought it would end in a c-section. I don’t know why, and you’ll probably think I’m crazy for saying so, but I just had a feeling. So considering that, it seems that I’d have been calm in the situation, yes? No, I wasn’t calm at all. I think it was because as soon as I signed the papers things went from a calm, monitor-the-situation pace, to a frantic, let’s-get-her-to-the-operating-room-stat pace. They wheeled me back to the operating room after I kissed Chris goodbye. He was going to have to change into scrubs and then once I was all set up on the operating table they’d bring him in. I was terrified they’d forget him and in my frantic state I must have asked them about 20 times if they had forgotten him. They kindly kept reassuring me that he would be there before they started.
They administered a spinal anesthetic for the c-section through my epidural line as I was being wheeled toward the OR. Had I not had the epidural already in place, they would have had to put me to sleep. Once there, I had to try to slide over to the operating table from my bed. That was a fun task. My legs were already so numb I couldn’t feel them so I had a hard time with this, but the nurses helped me. Once I was on the table the anesthesiologist told me that they had to tip the table because of Jude’s heart rate and that it would feel as though I were falling because of how numb I was, but not to worry because they were holding onto me. Even though I heard this and I believed him, I still panicked once the table started rotating. I muttered over and over, “I’m falling, I’m falling!” And he kindly kept reassuring me I wasn’t. I had a bad reaction to the spinal anesthetic; my face felt like it was on fire, I was shaky, and I was more panicked than I had been. I am thankful for the doctors who successfully performed my c-section and brought my son into the world that day, but I didn’t speak much with the doctors. I did speak with the anesthesiologist and his team and I am beyond grateful for what they did as well. I don’t know what I would have done without them there and I ended up sending a thank you card to them afterward. They were the sweetest people and they were the ones who finally managed to calm me down before Chris came back to the OR. They were my Chris replacement at the time. I know it couldn’t have been an easy task to calm me down that day and I appreciate it immensely.
Jude was born at 8:02 pm on June 22, 2010 weighing 7 pounds and 4 ounces. There was a space of a few minutes that felt like a few hours between when they pulled him out of me and when he first cried. The reason for that is that they rushed him over to a separate area to clear the meconium from his face so he wouldn’t breathe it in. We finally heard him start crying and to this day that cry (and his sister’s cry when she was born) is the best sound I’ve ever heard in my life. It was like a remote control to our emotions because as soon as we heard it, we both started sobbing like basket cases. They brought him over and Chris held him up to me so I could see him and kiss him and I had never seen such a beautiful little creature in my life.
They finished my operation and I went to recovery. They allowed my mom to come back (which was against their rules) so she could see him since it was late and visiting hours on the maternity ward were over so she wouldn’t have been able to see him there after we left recovery. We weren’t allowed to have a camera in the delivery room so the first pictures of Jude were taken in recovery when my mom brought our camera to us. After spending some time in recovery and bonding with Jude, they moved me onto the maternity ward. They let Chris stay with me for a half hour or an hour once I was on the ward, but then they made him leave. I was so nervous and I hated that Chris couldn’t stay overnight with me. I couldn’t do anything for Jude because I was still numb and had the epidural and catheter in. If he cried, I had to page for a midwife to come help me. They were very helpful that first night (wish I could say the same for the night after) and they took him to the nursery at one point so I could sleep. I was in and out of it from the drugs and I remember whenever I’d wake up, I’d hear a baby screaming its head off. Turns out that was Jude. They brought him back to me in the morning when I was more with it and I had some bonding time alone with him before visiting hours began again and Chris was allowed to return.
We brought him home on the 24th of June and started this crazy adventure of parenthood. It’s hard to believe this all happened 3 years ago. It’s a blessing to be his “Mummy” and I thank God for him every day. Chris and I will still look at each other sometimes and say, “I can’t believe we had a hand in making him!” I’m not sure that element of disbelief will ever go away.