James Alexander; Our Birth Story

It has been over two months since our little prince came into the world, so I decided it was time to put his birth story in writing, including the events that led up to it. I hope you enjoy reading!

James Alexander was due on April 14, 2018. I found out at three weeks and six days that I was pregnant, so I knew almost my entire pregnancy! My husband left that morning, I took a test that night, which was VERY positive, almost immediately, and I had to wait TWO WHOLE WEEKS to tell Danny in person.. It was so hard, but worth the wait. He was THRILLED!

Originally, we were seeing an OB off post (whom we didn’t love), we were attending Bradley Birthing Method classes, which I highly recommend if you want to have a natural birth (more on this topic later), and our teacher told us about birthing centers. I did some research, scheduled my husband and I for a tour, and we fell in love! We struggled with our old doctor to get our records transferred, but around 26 weeks, we finally were completely switched.

SIDE NOTE: at 15 weeks, we went to a private ultrasound office to find out the gender of our little peanut and we were told “IT’S A GIRL!”, at 20 weeks, I had an anatomy scan and the ultrasound tech asked me, “So, who told you it was a girl?,” which she followed up with, “Because this right here, is not a girl part…” From the beginning, I was sure I was having a boy, and we would’ve been happy with either! That being said, we ended up with a beautiful baby boy!

At 28 weeks, I failed the one-hour glucose test, the next week I failed the three-hour glucose test and was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. The weekend they called me with the diagnosis, my husband deployed, so it was just the fur babies and myself.  I felt a little bummed out, but I had been eating like crap and barely exercising, so I decided to see it as an opportunity, instead of an obstacle.  I started walking the dogs after work and eating really well (mainly meat and vegetables). I cut out (most of) my Starbucks trips (which consisted of a sugary drink and warm chocolate chip cookie) and took my blood sugar FOUR times per day. It wasn’t so bad, really! I kept all my blood sugar numbers under control and, thankfully, never had to take medication for it.

Women who are diagnosed with GD, generally have larger babies, but on top of them being lager, they are built differently, with broad shoulders, which can be very dangerous and cause a lot of complications. Because of this, at 35 weeks, we went in to have a growth scan, which is very similar to the anatomy scan we had at 20 weeks. They check all of the baby’s vital organs and do all of the basics, but they also take measurements of their head, femur, and abdomen to estimate the baby’s size. At 35 weeks, Xander was already estimated to be in the 97th percentile, at 6 lbs. 8 oz, and they were estimating he would come early (on his own) just after 38 weeks, on April 4, 2018. Because he was so big, we were told, at our next appointment (36 weeks) that we were being “risked out” of the birth center and would have to have a planned hospital birth, which, at first, was a little disappointing, but definitely understandable.

Now, here we are at 36 weeks and 2 days, and for the second time, switching doctors… Sooooo, I called a reputable doctor’s office closer to us the next day, was told that their office would still take me, we just had to get my records sent over. Well, after a week of back and forth, my records were transferred and I had an appointment set for April 5, 2018, one day after they estimated he would be born. (Side note, my husband got to come home just before I hit 38 weeks and my wonderful sister flew in the day before that, THANKFULLY, so they both arrived in the middle of a decent amount of chaos…) Now, just a few days before the appointment, I get ANOTHER call from the doctor saying that since I was due before my first appointment, that they would NOT be able to take me as a patient. Were they JOKING?! Here I am, a few days shy of 38 weeks, NO doctor, and supposedly about to birth a very large baby… So, after much back and forth and explaining that I wasn’t due on the 4th, they simply think he may be this early, they cleared it up with one of their doctors and he said he was willing to still take me as a patient. They also added that he was going to squeeze me into his schedule a day earlier. WHEW!

Not out of the woods yet… April 4th comes, 38 weeks and 3 days. We have an ultrasound appointment early in the morning and our first appointment with the doctor later that afternoon. We get to the ultrasound, they do the same growth scan as a couple weeks before, only now our little man is estimated to weigh 9 lbs 15oz already which would put him in the 99th percentile! WHAT! The ultrasound doctor comes in and tells us this and springs on us that he is going to recommend to my doctor that we schedule a cesarean section. I was devastated… Holding back tears, well, not ALL of them, all I could think about was how we had been preparing for this beautiful natural birth, how I didn’t want an IV or an epidural, or ANY interventions for that matter.

Later that afternoon, we go to my first appointment with the doctor. They take my weight, BP, etc and put us in a room to wait for the doctor. The doctor comes in, barely asks any questions, and after reading the ultrasound report tells us that we need to schedule a C-section. Period. He explained all of the risks and said he could not, in good conscience, allow me to try to have a natural birth because it was just too dangerous, IF the baby was as big as he was estimated. Reluctantly, we agreed, and decided to schedule the C-section. After a minor breakdown in two different offices, we had been through all of the pre-op procedures which included lots of questions, a urine sample, and some blood work. The women who helped me in the different pre-op areas were so amazing! They were talking to me about my situation and assured me that I was making the best decision for my baby and told me reassuring stories about themselves and others who had similar outcomes and how it went great. About four hours later, we were finally done, we had a C-section scheduled for Sunday April 8 at 5pm, and I was both hangry and emotionally exhausted. What did the three of us do to make me feel better? Food, DUH. We got a huge steak dinner and then relaxed at home.

Something you don’t think about is how often people ask, “When are you due?” when you are pregnant, or make the comment, “You most be due anytime!” and I found myself struggling to find a response. I was struggling, I realized, because I was embarrassed to tell people that I was scheduled for a C-section. I wanted a natural birth so badly that I let my selfish wants cloud the fact that I was making the best decision for my baby. Talk about a great lesson to learn just before entering motherhood. It was no longer about me. All that mattered was that my (not so) little peanut made it safely into this world and was healthy when he did. So after a long night of emotions and frustration, wondering if we made the right decision, I woke up with a whole new mindset. My main emotion was excitement. Excited that we had a date, we would be able to hold our son no later than Sunday night! I could NOT wait!

Sunday April 8, 2018, IT’S TODAY!!! My parents, my mother-in-law, sister, and brother-in-law were all able to make it in time, and we started the day with church. It was a great message and after my sister took me down front and had the prayer team pray over me and the baby, cue the tears… After this, we went home, and got ready. I checked and double checked the hospital bag and diaper bag, put on some makeup, curled my hair and took some pictures. How do you prepare to meet your baby for the first time?!

We arrived at the hospital around 3pm, Danny and I went in through the emergency entrance, and the rest of our family parked the vehicles and went to the L&D waiting room. We walk in and the receptionist says “I bet I know why you are here! How far apart are your contractions?” to which I responded that I didn’t think I was having any, but we were there for a scheduled c section. We were directed to the elevators, to labor and delivery, where we waited in a small little office to be checked in. At this point, the nerves had seriously kicked in. We were there to have a BABY!!

After we got all checked in and I got my first wristband, we were taken to a triage room. We were greeted by another nurse, I was given a gown, I got undressed and put on the stylish hospital attire… After I was changed there was a lot of waiting around, in between which, I was hooked up to some monitors, got blood taken, given an IV, asked about different procedures that would be done/not done after the baby was born (eye ointment, vitamin K shot, and a Hep B vaccine), and got a visit from both the doctor and our family from the waiting room. To my surprise, the IV didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would! Once everything was all hooked up and the OR was just about ready, they wheeled us out of the triage room and we headed for elevators. Just before we left the room, the nurse asked if I had been feeling any pain, because I had been having some contractions. Crazy right? Two main emotions I can remember so clearly: I was excited/felt like a celebrity being pushed around on a bed with wheels and I was also terrified and on the brink of tears (yes, a few squeaked out) because I was about to be cut open and we were about to meet our little baby boy.

Once we got to the floor with the OR (I can’t remember if we went up or down, I was too anxious…), we stopped outside of the elevator, Danny was given a groovy suit, hairnet and booties. We had a quick meeting with the doctor and anesthesiologist, just to answer a few quick questions and go over the procedure one more time, and then it was time to head to the OR. They wheeled me toward the big double doors, I gave Danny a quick kiss, he took his seat on the bench outside the OR (just for my prep) and they wheeled me in!

For those of you who have never seen the inside of an OR, it really doesn’t look much different from the ones you see on tv, except it was a bit smaller than I imagined. After we were in the OR, they moved me from the comfy bed to a long skinny metal operating table with some towels at the top to make it more comfortable for my head. I sat up, and the madness began. There were 6 or 7 people in there talking, prepping, moving about the room, keeping me distracted with questions, jokes, and humorous remarks. The anesthesiologist walked me through the spinal block, while another doctor put his hands on my shoulders to keep me relaxed. I had no idea what to expect from a spinal block, but it was definitely not a great feeling… The weirdest part is that the needle isn’t what is most uncomfortable, but when they push the medicine (or whatever they inject), I could feel it like a cramp or a pinch that I felt from my mid back down into my hip. Uncomfortable, but not unbearable. After that, they helped me lay down, attached the arm pieces, and put up the curtain (which they really only bunched the curtain on my chest, because I wanted to be able to see as much as I could). After all of this was in place, there was one man accompanying the doctor below the curtain and someone else strapped my arms down.

Side note: once the spinal block kicked in I could still feel my toes! I could even wiggle them, so I was sure I was going to be able to feel the entire thing. Spoiler alert… I couldn’t, and I honestly think that being able to wiggle my toes helped keep me relaxed because the thought, and even the reality, of not being able to feel the entire bottom half of your body is actually kind of terrifying.

The doctor asked if I cared if he played music, of course I was okay with that, then him and the other man put on these alien looking face masks with lights and stuff on them and they began. He asked me if I could feel anything as he poked my lower belly, I couldn’t, so I said no. He said he was going to start the incision while a nurse went to get my husband. I felt extremely nervous, which made me a little nauseous, and I had a panic moment. Where do I puke?! I turned to the anesthesiologist and asked “so, if I have to puke, where do I puke?” He replied “If you feel nauseous, you tell me, and I am going to fix that now.” Almost immediately after he said that, I felt better, just in time for them to start. The worst part of the entire experience was the first cut. It wasn’t because I could feel the cutting, I couldn’t feel anything, except my toes, which I wiggled the whole time. It was the worst because I could feel the baby start freaking out and moving a lot up in my ribs, which made me feel so helpless and like he wasn’t okay, but I took some deep breaths and just then, they brought Danny in.

MY POOR HUSBAND… as he walks in, they had just made the first cut. He walks up to my head as both large men grab opposite sides of me and literally pull my muscles and stomach apart, it was unreal seriously, because they were literally pulling me apart. Danny looks at me, then looks back to below the curtain, looking petrified, and asks “Are you okay? Can you feel that?’, “No, I’m okay” I replied, he says “GOOD because that would f***ing hurt!”

After that, it all went pretty quickly. They both put their hand at the top of my belly, pushed down really hard, the doctor at some point said “That’s a big head, I don’t know if it’s gonna fit” (lol…) Finally, the doctor said “Look down!” I looked down and at 5:40 pm he held up our beautiful baby boy, whose hair looked SO RED under the lights! As soon as he started crying, tears just started pouring out of me, and they took him to the side to clean him up, make sure he was okay, and weigh/measure him. He weighed 10 pounds 10 ounces and was 21 1/4 inches long! Danny got to cut the cord (shorter after the initial cut was made by the doctor), and even got to go below the curtain where the doctor showed him MY INSIDES, showing him my uterus and bladder, etc. Once all of this was done I got to hold my baby. It was the happiest moment and I experienced love at first sight for the second time in my life. Yes, I loved him before he was born, but there is just something different when you get to actually hold this (not so) tiny baby in your arms for the first time.

After I was all stitched up and finished, they took us to recovery. We spent about an hour in recovery, where I was covered in warm blankets because I was shaking terribly and was so cold, had skin to skin with Xander almost the whole time, breastfed him for the first time, and Danny got to actually hold him. Since it was a Sunday evening and the doctor squeezed us in while on call, the post op area was empty and quiet and it was some really nice and peaceful family time. After all of this, they took us to our room where all of our family was anxiously awaiting our arrival.

I can’t convey all of the emotions that were felt through this crazy experience, but in the end, we have a happy and healthy baby boy. He is the cutest little muffin and even though my “birth story” isn’t how I had always imagined it, it is ours and I wouldn’t trade these amazing moments for anything. We love you baby Xander and can’t wait to see who you grow up to be.

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