7 weeks ago my husband posted an update on Facebook that read ” So, after 40 hours of labor this little guy showed up in the operating room. Mom was amazing and is recovering well. He’s a voracious eater whose favorite foods are 1) milk, 2) fingers, 3) wrist. Pretty sure his name is Fitzgerald, aka Fitz.”
I just reread that post and the beautiful messages from friends and family that followed the birth of our baby boy. I just finished looking at all the images from my labor and c-section. I just told my full birth story to my friend, for the first time, yesterday. Before my birth maybe I had imagined posting pictures of us all smiling on the hospital bed or writing something sweet but I learned, with my birth, that birth will happen not always the way one plans, or wants, but the way it needs to.
My birth story started 7 weeks and two days ago. I went into the labor naturally, the day I was scheduled to be induced. It was snowy outside and Marcos timed contractions starting at 3 minutes, two minutes, then 90 seconds apart as we enjoyed walks, brunch, lunch, and labored at our favorite restaurant over dinner.
(Marcos timing my contractions at Dio Mio)
We texted family and friends with updates and were giddy and nervous thinking our baby boy may come within a few hours…we didn’t plan on a few days.
We took a peaceful nap in our room and packed last minute items in our hospital bags. I still remember laying in our quiet bedroom and feeling close and cozy. We went to the hospital and ended up having to stay the night because it had been several hours since my water broke.
(Arriving at St. Joes)
I labored through the night and as the sun rose the next morning. We walked around the hospital, outside, and even home because we live ten minutes from the hospital. My Sister, close friend Gina, and Mom came in the afternoon. They took turns rubbing my back, walking with me, using essential oils, and breathing along with me. They said I was doing an amazing job, they added more Beyonce to my playlist, they laughed and cried with me. We labored on.
I used Nitros gas, the robozo, a birthing ball. I dialated, but not enough. We used Citotec to get contractions started, then pitosin, then the jacuzzi tub and finally, after 36 hours, an epidural.
Marcos, was as close to an extension of myself as a partner could be. He held my hand as I squeezed his through painful contractions. He counted with me, he made me a hospital mix with “Cheery Music.” He got into the tub and held me as I moaned in pain. He whispered over and over that he loved me and was so proud of me from the first hour and as we approached the end of my second day of labor. His words kept me breathing and hopeful.
At hour 43, our midwife held my hand, while Marcos held the other. She explained that while my contractions were strong the baby was showing signs of distress in the birth canal. I was not dilating and the risk of infection and further complications was increasing. The thing I wanted to avoid was a c-section and the next step, for a safe delivery, was a c-section.
The surgeon sat by my bed and with a bright and peppy voice listed off the risks that could occur during surgery, including the removal of my uterus or death and if yes, I was giving permission to go ahead…Sure. !
I remember I had to take off my gold earrings and give them to my Sister and also that I was SO thirsty. As they wheeled me into the operating room I was shaking and Marcos held my shoulders still. I kept licking my lips and just wanting it to be over so I could drink a gatorade. They pinched me and asked ” Do you feel this Shannon?” I did. They said “Really?” Then they pinched further down… “Does this feel the same as this?” The two pinches felt the same. I felt the blade of the knife and it hurt. Eventually it numbed but it was more than a little pressure. I just kept staring up at Marcos. Then, quiet.
The baby was having trouble breathing. They were about to take him to the NICU and then… he took a big breath of air and was breathing on his own. No NICU. I heard laughter and I saw relief in Marcos’s eyes as he brought me our baby.
Fitz had so much hair and they laid his body haphazardly on my chest while they finished stitching me up. I was shaking and when they laid him on my chest I calmed. His feet and lips looked exactly like Marcos. I remember the Dr. saying “Shannon, we are just putting your uterus back.” I didn’t love this real time update but was relieved it was over and the baby was actually here. I had started to doubt he would ever come out.
The sweetest moment was when they were wheeling us into recovery. My baby was nestled beside me and he confidently grabbed my fingers, like “we got this.”In that moment I felt like we did it together, and we were fine. I felt proud for bringing him here, and strong, and a huge cloud of relief surrounded me.
In the recovery room Marcos held our baby while I rested. We had both been up around 46 hours. I heard grunting and movement like Marcos was trying to wrestle a bull or something. The baby wanted to nurse and was trying to latch onto Marcos. Marcos brought the baby over and his little body melted onto me. He was instantly quiet. Marcos kept saying “Wow, that is what you were looking for. ” He was looking for his Mama… and he found her.
Your birth story is not one that you get to write ahead of time, I think some people go into it with that idea. The story unfolds the way it needs to. The process is where you find you are stronger than you ever imagined. The best part was the end, when I met, finally! my beautiful baby boy.