This birth story series is sponsored by HCA Midwest Health.
The familiar wave of nausea had hit me hard. I crawled back in bed only to find myself huddled in the bathroom once again five minutes later. I had one test left from this time last year. I knew it was early, and most likely would be negative, but I just had to test to see if there was a happy reason for this sudden nausea.
Five minutes later, I was back in our bedroom showing my husband, Patrick, what I thought was a very faint line. He wasn’t convinced. The line was “barely there” and we had “just started trying” again. Later that afternoon, we ran out to Target to buy another box of tests. I impatiently waited until the next morning to take a test. Almost instantly, there it was, there was no second guessing it this time, I practically ran into our bedroom and to Patrick’s side of the bed. Shoving the clearly positive test stick in front of his face, “now do you believe it?” I asked him. We both looked at it and cried as he hugged me close. Here we go again…
Overwhelming joy and insurmountable fear grasped at my heart in those early moments of knowing we were expecting again, a familiar theme that would stick with me for the next nine months and beyond. Here we were pregnant again, but this time it felt different. Of course I was beyond excited that we were expecting a baby, and yet I was completely terrified this time. The what-ifs danced around in my head. I tried to push the fear down, but it just kept creeping back in. What if I get pre-eclampsia again? What if this baby has to be born early, too? What if this baby doesn’t get to come home with us either?
Fear, sadness, joy, and anticipation were all tightly knitted together in my heart. Each milestone we passed during our pregnancy was feared as much as it was celebrated.
It had been nearly a year since we had learned that we were going to be parents for the first time. We went through all of the normal first time parent anxieties, but nothing had prepared us for what our first experiences with parenthood would be.
Joshua, our first born, was delivered via emergency c-section on February 20, 2013. He was only 29 weeks and weighed just 2 pounds, 9 ounces. He was tiny and perfect and strong for 36 hours. Joshua passed from this earth on February 22, 2013.
I quickly made an appointment with my OB. I needed to be reassured that they were going to do everything possible to give us a different outcome this time. We were going to a new doctor. There was no way I could walk into the same office or hospital again. Our new doctor was so kind. She patiently answered every crazy question that I could come up with. She indulged me with extra ultrasounds just to make sure that I felt comfortable that this baby was growing healthy and strong. I took extra vitamins and did my best to stay healthy, positive, and calm.
I insisted that we set up the nursery early. We never even put the crib together for Josh since I had felt so lousy for so long when I was pregnant with him. This time I had energy to spare. I decorated and planned and organized and reorganized everything. I told my husband that I was going to just “Field of Dreams” this whole pregnancy and baby. You know, “If you build it they will come.” That was my approach.
In my head, the fact that we weren’t ready to bring a baby home last time somehow meant that was why we didn’t get to. I know that is crazy, but for me, this time, I had to be 110 percent ready. I wanted to make sure that we had everything we could possibly need and it needed to be ready soon. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to 40 weeks. I wanted everything ready just in case.
Our two pregnancies couldn’t have been more different. This time I was nauseous from 4 weeks until 38. We planned a repeat c-section for 38 weeks, 1 day, no planning for a natural delivery this time. I had so much energy this time. Looking back on it now, I realize how sick I must have been with Joshua. At the time I had chalked it up to normal pregnancy symptoms, but this time, even with the extreme nausea, I felt good.
On April 9th, 2014, we made our way to the hospital before the sun came up. I nervously chatted with the older lady at the admission desk, telling her I was nervous. She told me, “everything is going to be good.” I got into the pre-op room and was quickly hooked up to a blood pressure monitor and a fetal monitor.
I held my breath as they tried to find our baby girl’s heartbeat just like I had done at each appointment for the last 9 months. Finally, I heard the familiar thumping sound. I exhaled. I kept telling the doctor, “I’ll be fine once I hear her cry.”
I stared straight into his eyes as our doctor told me exactly what she was doing each step of the way. “You’re going to feel a lot of pressure.” “OK,” I mumbled as I tried to stay focused on my husband’s blue eyes. “Oh, look at that hair.” “You’re about to hear her cry.”
Suddenly at 8:35 a.m. the room was filled with the most beautiful sound as my doctor lifted our baby from the safety of my womb. I could hear her crying! She was beautiful! I cried as I lifted my gaze from my husband’s tear-filled eyes to our sweet baby. I watched as they quickly weighed her and took her tiny footprints.
The room was spinning. I was overwhelmed. She was here! She was breathing! She was amazing! They wrapped her up and handed her to my husband who held her as I just stared. This. This was what a dad holding his child for the first time should look like. He laid her on my chest, and I was in such awe of her. “I love you, Madeline.” “Mommy loves you so much,” I whispered as I stroked her chubby cheeks.
Everyone kept telling me to get some rest, but I found myself completely unable to sleep. I just wanted to hold her and stare at her. I was anxious to get out of bed, but knew I had to wait until I got the OK. I kept placing my hand on her tummy, feeling each breath as she slept.
Our first night home we just held her and stared at her for the longest time. We put her pajamas on and wrapped her in a swaddle blanket and laid her in the bassinet next to our bed. I listened carefully for her to fuss, being quick to pick her up before she cried. I once again laid my hand on her tummy feeling that steady rise and fall that reassured me that she was breathing. I found myself just staring at her in amazement.
These days she is seven, and often I still find myself just staring at her in amazement (and sometimes fear as my fearless girl tries new things that frequently terrify me). She has been the epitome of a rainbow baby – bringing light, color, and so much joy everywhere she goes.
For labor and delivery expertise, more moms in Kansas City choose an HCA Midwest Health hospital. Our OB/GYN teams at our delivering hospitals – Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Research Medical Center – ensure every woman has access to top-quality maternity care, including specialized services for women with high-risk pregnancies. By delivering more babies than anyone else in the region, our maternity hospitals deliver experience and safety. Learn more at hcamidwest.com/delivers.