With the upcoming arrival of Atlas, I thought I’d better finish writing Oliver’s birth story before I have another one to write! I started this about a year ago and now I feel I’m finally in a good place to finish it and share it with others. <3
August 27th 2010
After a night out at Buca di Beppo with Daniel, Mal and Eric, we came back home to their house in Aurora, CO. Daniel and I retreated down to the basement (where we were staying until we moved to our apartment in Denver) and I decided that I might as well take a pregnancy test because we had a couple and I was due to start my period that day. So I’m in the bathroom peeing and talking to Daniel about who knows what. As soon as my pee ran up the stick a second line immediately appeared. Shocked, I say, “Sweeeeeeeetie!?” in an unsure voice. I showed him the test. POSITIVE. My first thought was – false positive. So I took another. POSITIVE. I tell Daniel that it might be that brand, so he runs out and picks up another pack. I take 2 more. Both POSITIVE. Amina and Blythe assure me that I am pregnant. The next morning I take another one just to be absolutely sure (and hCG levels are the highest with morning pee) and yep. I was pregnant! Sooooo happy! It might seem like I took so many tests because I was hoping for a negative, but on the contrary, I wanted to be so sure that I was before I got excited.
Prior to becoming pregnant I wasn’t sure whether I would have my children in a hospital, birth center or at home. As soon as I knew for sure I was pregnant, I knew without a doubt that I was meant to have this baby at home. Around Thanksgiving we got an ultrasound while visiting family and friends in Simi to find out the gender. It’s a GIRL! Despite it being the blurriest, lowest quality ultrasound I’ve ever seen, it “proved” that everyone’s guess was true! Then we got another ultrasound after the New Year and surprise, it’s a BOY! A couple nights prior to the boy ultrasound I had a dream that they discovered that I was in fact having a boy. Also, on my way to the ultrasound appointment I kept thinking to myself, “I’m having a boy, I just know it.” For the rest of the pregnancy we decided we’d leave the gender up in the air, even though we figured it had to be a boy.
May 1 2011
Received this text from Kaitlyn:
May 7 2011, Saturday
Daniel and I planned our “last date” since we knew the babe would be arriving any day now. We got a bunch of food from Whole Foods and walked over to Cheesman Park to have our picnic. I remember I was so tired and that 1/4 mile walk felt like a marathon. We ate under a tree and made a squirrel friend and I again just knew that this would be the last time we would be alone together before having a baby. That evening/night we hung out with Cydney and Ryan and I couldn’t get myself to go to bed. Finally around 11-11:30pm I soaked in the bath for a long while and went to bed around midnight.
May 8 2011, Saturday (Mother’s Day)
3:30am: I woke up having to pee and as soon as I got up I had a contraction. I came back to bed and tried to go back to sleep but I had another one 10 minutes later, then another 10 minutes later, then another 5 minutes later, and another and another… I woke up Daniel and told him that I think I’m in labor! It was finally happening!
4:30am: We called the midwives and told them that the contractions were happening about every 2-5 minutes apart.
5:30am: One of the midwives arrived and we started to set up the birth tub.
Meanwhile, I was mostly laboring in the bathroom and wanting to be left alone. I tried laboring in the birth tub for a little bit but it was so awful. I kept slipping around, the water wasn’t warm enough, I just wanted to be in the bathroom! We had my laboring playlist ready to go and when Daniel put it on, it was the worst! “TURN IT OFF!”.
~ Noon: I was entering transition and was hating life. I so so so desperately needed a break, a nap, anything except more contractions. I got to the point of sort of wanting an epidural just so I could rest, but I was reminding myself how much I don’t want that for myself and my baby. My midwives kept reminding me that I CAN do it because I WAS doing it.
~ 2pm: I was fully dilated, but had a swollen cervical lip and the baby’s head was at a weird angle so I had to labor like an ostrich with my head down and butt up in the air so the baby could realign.
(NOTE THE 5 HOURS LULL RIGHT HERE WHERE IT WAS ALL ^^^^ + MORE LABOR)
~ 7pm: No progress with the swollen cervical lip so the midwives decided to try and manually push the lip to the side while I pushed to help allow his head to enter the birth canal. This was the lowest point of my labor. I was beyond exhausted, discouraged, and in a labor daze where I couldn’t mentally process much and my body was just acting on its own.
~ 9:45pm: After about 4 unsuccessful attempts, I decided to get back into the birth tub to try and relax. As soon as I got in the tub, I started having involuntary pushing and I felt almost a pop as he entered the birth canal. FINALLY! Finally time to push this baby out. I’ve heard women say that while in labor they enter this very primitive, instinctual mode and I get it. As cheesy as it sounds, I turned into mega warrior and pushed with everything I had.
11:22pm: The baby was out and born into Daniel’s arms! I yelled out “What is it!?” and someone yelled back, “Boy!”.
The rush of oxytocin and adrenaline and all the other hormones was so powerful I felt like I had just woken up from the best night of sleep. Not one ounce of pain in my body. It really was like a light switch. The lowest of the low to the highest high. My beautiful little baby in my arms staring up at me.
While the midwives were helping him out, he was on my chest. Not for a moment were me and Daniel fearful. Oliver was brought into the world in the most peaceful, loving, gentle environment— at home. At his home. When they said we would have to be transferred because he wasn’t breathing, I just figured it’d be a quick in and out situation. About 5 minutes after I had Oliver I birthed the placenta while the EMTs were walking up our apartment stairs. I got dressed and rushed to the hospital with Daniel while one midwife followed and the other rode with Oliver in the ambulance. At this point we were in such a trance and my hormones were still going wild.
May 9 2011
~Midnight: We got to the hospital and Daniel wheeled me to where the doctors were with Oliver. Probably 6 people were surrounding him, poking him with needles, shoving tubes down his throat, and monitors and sounds were beeping all around. I had to admit myself to the ER to get stitches while they had Oliver and I didn’t get to see him for 4 hours. Poor Daniel was rushing between the NICU and ER to try and keep tabs on both of us.
~ 4am: This woman comes in my emergency room and tells us they are going to transfer Oliver to Children’s Hospital (across town) because he requires this treatment called Head Cooling that they (Denver Health) can’t provide that. The woman also says something along the lines of that there may have been permanent damage done to his brain with the lack of oxygen. With the best timing in the world, they push Oliver up to the doorway and say, “Would you like to see him before we transfer him?”.
Daniel and I finally leave Denver Health and hurry back home to grab our hospital bag and pack a few more additional items. I called Amina to give her a quick update to spread to everyone back in California. On the way over to Children’s I felt my empty stomach and realized I only got to hold Oliver for 5 minutes before he was whisked away from me. We could not process what was going on and was just doing what we were supposed to be doing. Grab our bag, drive to the hospital, check in…
~5:30am: We finally get to see Oliver and it was such a contrast to Denver Health. Up in the NICU, the lights are dim, the halls are quiet, and there’s a sense of order that was so severely lacking at Denver Health. We find Oliver’s little station and we finally got to take a good look at him. We see that he has my ears and toes and Daniel’s mouth.
The nurse greets us and tell us they don’t need to do the Head Cooling treatment and that Oliver isn’t as sick as the doctors at Denver Health made him out to be. We stay there with him until just before 7am and finally we head to our room they provided for us and get some sleep.
The rest of the time at Children’s seemed to take forever, but looking back it seems like it all happened within 2 blurry days. But it wasn’t only 2 days. It was 10.
They took a series of x-rays, blood tests, and so forth and never really came to a definite conclusion except that they believe he had congenital pneumonia and pulmonary hemorrhaging (which I completely attribute to the aggressive doctors and nurses shoving tubes down Oliver’s throat repeatedly). Some nurses were so sweet and respectful of the situation, while others took advantage of our ignorance and being first time parents. I swear if a nurse now tried to tell me not to touch my baby because it makes him too excited and may raise his fever, she’d have another thing coming.
May 19th 2011
~11am: GOOD NEWS! Mallory had Maple and we were going home! Although we had to somewhat fight our way out, we took charge and knew it was time to get out of there.
~5pm: We’re finally home in bed, snuggling and nursing and enjoying our privacy.
Looking back at Oliver’s birth is really hard and emotional, but Daniel and I are finally at a point of moving forward and so confident and excited about having another baby! We can’t wait to find out what Atlas’ story will be. Oliver’s birth and first 10 days in the hospital has really shaped who he is. I attribute his affectionate nature to the fact that we were able to have those first 5 minutes of relatively peaceful skin-to-skin. Nurses at the hospital even said that we were so lucky to have had a home birth because we were able to share those first moments together whereas at the hospital, it would have never happened. Oliver is an example of “what can go wrong” with a home birth and it made us so much more trusting of the birthing process and the importance of those first moments outside the womb which is why we will continue to put our trust in midwifery and home birth. (NOTE: Oliver would have been sick regardless of where he was born was what we were told by numerous people in and out of the hospital). It’s crazy to think about that woman at Denver Health who said Oliver could have suffered some permanent brain damage and how wrong she was while I have this bright, beautiful, creative, silly, loving little guy next to me. My Oliver Henry.