To start, I will tell you I don’t
think I ever reached the “10th level of hell miserably
pregnant” stage of my pregnancy. Yes. I was hot. Yes. I was tired.
But... Ella never really dropped. I never felt her in my pelvis.
There wasn’t ever any pressure. She was just “up there.” I
don’t know why this seems like a pertinent part of the story,
but...here we are.
As many of you know, Tim and I
destroyed our house with projects in the months before my due date.
Like...no-flooring in the kitchen...oven in the living
room...DESTROYED. I often told my baby I “wasn’t ready.”
“not readiness” was actually 1 part “still cleaning” and 2
parts “terrifyingly-horrifically-afraid.” Which I can see now
makes very little sense.
I have often heard women say they
cry on their due dates. The weekend before, I was like, “Why do
women cry. I’m fine.”
And then my actual due date hit.
All this to say... never one to disobey
Ella was late.
I won’t bore
you with details (IS IT TOO LATE!?!?!) ;)
On my due date,
(Monday, September 21st), my doctor informed me that
absolutely nothing had changed (not dilated or effaced). I may as
well have been 30 or so weeks pregnant instead of staring 40-ish
weeks in the face. We talked about induction...I cried the entire day
and was scheduled to go back on Wednesday. Cry. Cry. Cry.
know the drill. I was officially past my due date, and for various
reasons, doctors wanted to induce..
Um...is there another term we could use
for “hysterical mess?” God bless the people in my life who
didn’t screen my calls between my due date and my next appointment.
I was scheduled to come back Wednesday
afternoon (September 23rd).
That morning, I cried and prayed (and
prayed and prayed). I put on some of the only clothes that still felt
like they sort of fit (black shorts, a purple tank top, a soft gray
cardigan and flip flops...ALWAYS flip flops...heehee). This is the last "belly photo" I took before she was born.
I (somehow) pulled myself together and
went about my day. I was on the hunt for “tiny pumpkins” to
decorate our front porch for fall before Ella arrived. I looked at
several different places. I told my mom I thought I was projecting
ALL MY ANXIETY on finding those tiny pumpkins. For some reason, they
just felt desperately important. I dropped off a load of “junk”
at salvation army and bought three Christmas ornaments for Ella at
Hobby Lobby. I felt like I needed confirmation that she would get
here in time to see them. At that point, I was honestly preparing
for a 2016 baby (haha).
I scarfed down drive-through chik-fil-a
and watched Parks and Recreation on Netflix as I stared at the
clock. I practiced DEEP BREATHING. Tim was running late, so we were
going to meet at the office. On the way, I blasted part of my labor
and delivery playlist (Bethel Music, Lauren Daigle & Jeremy
Riddle) and continued breathing. The appointment went very fast. The
nurse looked at my chart and said, “They might send you over to
I thought she was joking.
We spoke briefly with the doctor and he
told us we needed to go check into the hospital.
THIS IS NOT THE PLAN GUYS. THIS WAS
NOT THE PLAN. I did not have my bags with me. There were tons of
items still unpacked (make-up, chargers, hair dryer, etc.). I did
not say good-bye to the dogs...I had an entire list of things “to
do” before we left the hospital in my fancy Erin Condren planner.
I thought I would be hysterical, but I
was excited. So excited. People. This is proof that God exists.
We checked in at the front desk...took
a selfie...of course...and headed to our room.
The first nurse I met was a God-send.
She became my instant bestie. I will remember her forever. No joke.
You L&D nurses...don’t ever underestimate the importance of
your job. Holy Smokes.
When we checked in, our good friend
(who happens to be an anesthesiologist) stopped by to see us. I
didn’t want to tell anyone we had been admitted until everything
was settled (paperwork finished, blood drawn, etc.). I wanted to be able to make my phone calls without being interrupted. I remember
cracking up because we were just chatting casually while NO ONE in
our families knew what was happening.
Tim went to get my bags, feed the dogs
and gather a few necessary things. (Like snacks and a steak dinner
for me from Outback, to-go). Funny side note: My DOCTOR and Nurse
Best Friend actually sat with me while I looked online and decided
what I wanted to order as my “last meal” before delivery. It was
very sweet and not what I was expecting at all. Outback Steakhouse
for the win. (For the record, I was allowed to eat a little after that because my induction took soooooo long, but we didn't know that at the time).
I was antsy for him to get back because
OMGOODNESS WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENED!?!?! I watched news about The
Pope’s visit to the U.S. While I waited. Riveting.
Little did I know, this is where it
gets incredibly boring for the next 30 hours. Ha.
Wed. night (Sept. 23rd) and
Thursday (Sept. 24th), they pumped me full of drugzzzz and
like...nothing happened...except I was bedridden and super
uncomfortable. The first prescription they used was...in a
word...unpleasant. If you end up being induced, call me first.
We’ll chat. ;) Thursday afternoon, they let me off the wires and
machines for an hour so we could walk around and I could shower.
Best hour of my life. I’m not
kidding. It felt so good to get up and stretch my legs. The shower
was magnificent, and Tim didn’t leave my side. He even sat outside
the bathroom door and kept me company while I showered. It was really
They started a new drug around 3pm
because nothing....nothing....NOTHING was happening. Nurse best friend had returned for a new shift (WE WERE THERE FOR SO LONG), I was getting really discouraged, so she fashioned a tiny hat with a bow and hung it on the bassinet at the foot of my bed. I needed a sign that Ella was actually maybe probably someday coming.
Tim left to potty the dogs,and I was so
bored and bed-ridden that I did my make up. Like. Full-on make up.
Another side note: Do yourselves a
favor and find a trusted friend or family member to potty your dogs
while you have your baby. Not that anyone would have minded doing it-
we just didn’t bother to ask, initially. Kind of like...how
inconvenient can it be, right? The answer is...very inconvenient.
And we live 7 minutes from the hospital.
Fast forward to around 9:30 that night.
I remember my doctor saying he thought we should talk about
“throwing in the towel.” I was SO RELIEVED. They had upped my
pitocin to 14 and Ella was still locked in tight. TIGHT! The
highest they will go is 20 (I have no idea what this measurement
means...and didn’t care to ask...haha). By this time, I was having
contractions, but they were mild (?) and uncomfortable. I was
breathing through them a bit but they weren’t doing anything
We had been at the hospital for 30
hours. Yeesh. If you guys want her out, that’s fine...but you’re
going to have to go in and get her. I had made my peace with that. I started sending out frantic texts and making phone calls. Tim was still gone, and I was allll, "You need to get back here." Thinking back, it feels like he was gone a lot...haha. We laughed about it afterwards- it seemed like EVERY TIME the doctor came in, Tim wasn't even in the room.
Once we were alone, Tim walked by the
bed, and I reached out my hand. “Look at me.” I pleaded. “This
really is the best thing? Everything is going to be ok?” He
nodded casually. “Yes. Yes. Sure. It’s fine.” He prayed with
me, and he decided to try to get some sleep (there was actually a
c-section ahead of me...by this time, it was around midnight). I had
zero expectations about sleeping. I was too wound up and was
constantly being checked and monitored by the nurses. (This was around midnight).
I was really hoping to have
skin-to-skin time with Ella, and I was worried that surgery would
hinder that. They told me their lactation consultant was still there
(she would be the one to help hold Ella to my chest), but was on a
I sent a text to friends and family,
asking them to pray. I watched the clock. Nervous that we would run
out of time.
When the anesthesiologist arrived, he
was gruff and to the point. As he wheeled all his fancy machines
around the bed, hooking up my IV’s, he commented on the amount of
“stuff” in the room. I watched the ceiling tiles as Tim
emphatically agreed, “I tried to tell her...it was too much.”
(For the record, I had a bag of clothes for me/Ella, a canvas tote
that held her nursing pillow and a small tote bag of snacks and that
was IT). I remember thinking to myself, “Ok. Are we REALLY having
this conversation NOW?”
I was dreading the moment we would get
separated (I went into the OR first while Tim stayed behind and put
on his scrubs). I knew any kind of affection at all would evoke
tears, so I simply called out from my bed, “Tim Young. I will see
you on the other side.” as they wheeled my bed out the door.
I stepped out of my bed and sat on the
operating table. I just remember thinking, “I really, really,
really don’t want to do this.” Ugh. It was such a feeling of
There were several nurses in the room,
but you could hear a pin drop. In the moment, I thought they were
sharpening all the tools. Ha. I later heard someone say they just
count everything to make sure they don’t sew you up with their
scissors still inside. This makes perfect sense. Sharpening tools?
Hello? This is childbirth...not a mafia interrogation.
Needless to say, I felt very small and
And then (OH MY WORD), I started to
panic. It felt like I was being held upside down. I could feel the
“numbness” creeping up towards my lungs (none of this was true,
by the way). Then I started worrying that if I panicked, they would
knock me out and I would miss Ella’s birth.
PANICKING ABOUT THE PANICKING!!!!
YOU GUYS! I still carry a
little bit of shame about the miniature panicking. I don’t even
know why. After 7 months, the fog has lifted I’m trusting that
eventually, it’ll clear completely.
Let me just tell you...my team was the
perfect mix of tough and tender.
The anesthesiologist said, “Your
heart is racing. You need to get it together RIGHT HERE.” And he
poked my forehead.
Looking back, the funny thing is, I found
his refusal to coddle me SO OFFENSIVE that it actually distracted me/
calmed me down.
Hello...I’m freaking out over here. WHY
AREN’T YOU BEING SUPER NICE TO ME!!!!
Also, it must be noted that...like an
idiot...I kept informing them OVER AND OVER AGAIN that OMGOODNESS I
CAN STILL FEEL THAT!!!!!!
You guys. No one wants to feel
themselves being cut open.
Interestingly enough, the doctor I
ended up with was actually number 4 on my mental list of preferred
doctors on call. I just didn’t know him that well, and he seemed a
bit standoffish. I now realize that I had just misread gentle as
“aloof.” God bless that kind, genius of a man.
We chatted about my sister’s kids (he
actually delivered my nephew) and the next thing I knew, My Tim had
arrived and all was right with the world.
I made him tell me EVERYTHING HE KNOWS
ABOUT GUITARS OH MY WORD JUST KEEP TALKING.
background, I heard Dr. F say, “Well, hello there.” (At this
point, he could see Ella).
“Are you guys ready to be
And then we heard her cry. (At 2:21am EARLY
Friday morning, Sept. 25th).
And we both bawled
our faces off. She was finally here.
Tim took photos and videos while they
weighed and measured my tiny, beautiful child. As I waited, I
whispered, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.”
People have a lot of hang-ups about
c-sections. I get it. Kind of. I do. But here’s the thing. It
was the most amazing experience of my life because I don’t have a
choice. I can sulk about unmet expectations or I can enjoy it for
what it was- the birth of my tiny, beautiful child. It was something
my sweet Ella Baby and I survived together. Don’t we all want to
be able to look back and say, “Oh...by the time I got to the
hospital, my contractions were getting a little more painful, but
guess what...I was already 9 centimeters! I didn’t even have time
for an epidural. Three pushes later, my baby was out! And I went
home in my pre-pregnancy jeans!”
I think THAT experience
is pretty rare. (And if that’s your experience, we’re very happy
for you, but seriously. Keep that story to yourself). ;)
true that I was (technically) not the first one to hold my baby. Tim
did not get to cut the cord.
But you know who WERE the first
ones to hold her? People who are passionate about healthy mothers
and babies. People who have spent long days and late nights studying
techniques...pouring over research...perfecting their craft. They’ve
sacrificed holidays with their families and outings with their
friends...they’ve dedicated their entire lives to the act of
birthing babies...and that’s a really beautiful thing. The first
person to REALLY look at and photograph her was the same man who has
cried for her and prayed for her before he even knew she
existed...I couldn’t ask for a better experience ushering her into
this world...they held her for 2 minutes. I will hold her forever.
After having said that, we had enough
staff present to do skin-to-skin in the O.R. While they stitched me
up which was a HUGE praise.
Armed only with my wavering courage,
and their sharp, metal tools, We had waged war with Mother Nature,
and we had won. When the nurse held Ella to my chest, I felt like
the conquering queen presented with a fallen country’s treasure.
I talked to Ella as she squirmed and
wriggled on my bare chest.
The anesthesiologist wiped my tears for
I was worried that I would feel like my
body had failed me. I realize now that my body was just asking for
grace. I am not very good at giving that to my body so...this lesson
was hard but also necessary and good. As someone who has needed
heaps upon heaps of grace in my lifetime, who was I to say no?
This was the end of the road for us. I
had asked my body to carry a child for 40 weeks. I begged it to keep
her warm and healthy and safe, and it had done exactly that. It had
helped Ella grow organs and eyes and arms and legs. She had my lips
and Tim’s nose (which I actually prayed she would get).
In the coming days, I would ask it to
heal and produce milk for my tiny, beautiful child.
I had no complaints.
They moved me from the table back to my
hospital bed, placed Burrito-wrapped Ella by my side and wheeled us
back to the room with Tim following closely behind.
I don’t remember a lot about the 2
hours I spent in recovery, but I do remember feeling warm and safe
and so loved. I know there was a lot of temperature taking, incision
checking, and the like. Tim was in his element. I cannot say enough
nice things about That Tim. If I didn’t know any better, I would
have thought he and the nurse had come up with an entire recovery
plan... “You go left...I’ll go right.”
As the numbing meds wore off, I
shivered uncontrollably as they held Sweet Ella to my breast. She
nursed for a long time. Tim rubbed my sore muscles. (I had strained
my neck looking up at Ella on my chest after surgery). Tim sat next
to the bed and kept vigil while I tried to sleep with her on my bare
chest. I think whatever I lost from not having a “natural birth
experience,” I gained back in Recovery. A lot of good memories.
|Excuse the weird shadow over my left eye...5am selfie lighting!|
By then it was nearly 5am. We barely
slept the rest of the day. The food was surprisingly good (might I
recommend their burgers, deli sandwiches and oatmeal). We snacked on
coffee and ice cream from the nearby “snack room” while all our
people came to see us (Ok. They came to see Ella, right?).
Before bedtime on Saturday, I fed Ella
and Tim fed me vanilla pudding while we watched HGTV. Oh my word, I
want to remember that sweet scene forever.
Here me now, you intelligent,
beautiful, teenage girls on the internet...this is why you don’t
have sex and make babies with someone who is not your husband. There
is blood. There are guts. (GUTS!?!?!) And you will want to
experience it with someone who is in it with you for the long haul.
Alex P. from your 12th Grade English Lit. Class is going
to go home and crash on his parents’ couch while playing XBOX as
you’re nursing your hungry, incredible child. He’s not going to
feed you pudding at 1am because that is not the way of The 12th
Grade Boy. That is, however, the way of the
You almost can’t even understand it until you go through it, but I
Saturday night was rough (We didn’t
go home until Sunday). Babies do this thing called cluster feeding
where they just want to eat all the time. It’s really kind of
maddening but also super sweet. Babies also don’t realize they’ve
been born...you know...in the middle of the night. Which makes
complete sense. Like, “I’m a baby...how am I supposed to know
it’s NIGHT TIME!?!” So...they have to learn about their own
little sleep cycles...night and day and what not. It’s a lot for a
little, tiny, baby.
So...I was awake. A lot. I
intentionally let That Tim sleep because, having just endured a
c-section, I knew I would NEED HIM IN THE MORNING AND PRETTY MUCH ALL
DAY AFTER THAT FOR AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE!!! I devoured
season after season of Parks and Recreation and ate deli sandwiches
and sodas from our room’s tiny fridge. I paced the floor and read
every single poster hanging on the walls of our room...at least
twice. In all seriousness, when I think about that night, as hard as
it was, it still makes me happy. Just me and my teeny, floppy baby.
Early the next morning, I heard a loud
voice in the hallway coming from the intercom. It was Sunday.
Someone was praying. I cracked open the door to hear the sound from
the speakers, and I rocked Ella as she fussed through the entire
prayer. I tried to pray along but couldn’t organize my thoughts in
time. The only three words I could make out were “Dear God” and
And so I prayed. Dear God, Amen.
Those were the only three words my exhausted soul could muster.
And they were enough.