A Birth Story: Troy Michael Petersen edition
Before we had kids...
I got pregnant back in the Spring of 2015. We were on round whatever of fertility medication and I truly got the faintest positive pregnancy test of all time--in fact, I was so *barely* pregnant that when my doctor took my blood sample it hardly registered the HCG and they told me it would probably end up being an early miscarriage or "chemical pregnancy."And yet I hung on to hope like I hoped the baby would hang on to me. Back then I used to fall asleep counting nine months on my fingers thinking "If I got pregnant today, I would be due when?" So I already knew when I got that barely positive pregnancy test that I would be due in January... and despite the doctor prepping me for the worst, I created this mantra in my head. "This baby will be alright. They'll be ok. I'm having a baby in January." I said it in my head constantly and even aloud on my drives to and from work, just willing it to be true...but, it wasn't meant to be. I did miscarry. Fortunately, I got pregnant with my Ellie girl five months after that and became a mom in May instead of January.
Three kids later
I found out I was pregnant with Troy after watching an insanely gory Dr. Strange movie in the theater with Michael and eating a dinner that consisted of a bag of gummy worms, some buttery popcorn and a Monster Energy drink (the last one I would have for the next nine months.) We came home and brushed our teeth in the bathroom together. Michael didn't notice that I gagged a bit on my toothbrush, and that paired with my bloated midsection that warranted more than two outfit changes before our date was enough for the alarm bells to go off. Once he slipped out of the bathroom I dug around in my medicine cabinet for the box of pregnancy test strips I begrudgingly had taken home from a white-elephant gift exchange a few months prior. Now I'll have you know, this was just a precaution, and very like me to take a pregnancy test just willy nilly. I truly wonder how many sticks I've peed on in my life. Probably more than you could even imagine, reader. Anyways, I casually laid the test on the edge of the sink as I finished up my business and before I was even done zipping up my pants I saw two definite lines starting to form.
Despite the subtle signs, I was shocked. I ran out into the dark kitchen where Michael was locking up the house and flipped the kitchen light on. "Michael! Michael! Michael! LOOK!!!" It took him a few seconds to register what I was waving in front of his face. (He later told me that he didn't even know we had a pregnancy test in the house for me to take.) He was all, "Whaaaat?"There was just a lot of open mouthed gaping and then we both laughed a lot. I mean literally in the early hours of that very morning Michael grumpily declared "No more babies!!!" after a particularly rough night of waking up multiple times with each of our kids. And yet, there we were. Forgotten was the IUD consultation I'd had the week prior with my OB or the playful banter Michael and I had been having for the last few months about him getting a vasectomy. ("I just think that's a bit extreme for us, considering we've never gotten pregnant on our own." Ha!) We went to sleep with smiles on our faces and my hand protectively over my bloated belly--my last prayer before I finally drifted off being that this little January baby would stick.
Nine Months After That
It was hard to imagine how my delivery would go after delivering Lila via emergency cesarian. My doctor was fine with me going for a v-bac but said if the baby got bigger than 9lbs he'd feel better about another scheduled c-section. I'd had a couple of 7lb babies and then there was Scarlett--born five days past her due date and a whopping 9lb 1 oz...so I truly knew this could go either way. The whole pregnancy I had a feeling that I would go into labor on my own, and before my due date of January 20th this time, but was worried I was getting my hopes up. The last month of pregnancy was some of the most miserable times of my life. My kids kept getting different illnesses (from stomach bugs to strep throat to ear infections, etc) and I had the worst cough/cold of my life that lasted for four solid weeks. When I say I hardly slept I really mean it. The last few weeks I was either up with a sick kid or awake coughing and blowing my ever-stuffy nose. I longed for the regular aches and pains of the end of pregnancy without the added misery.
Because I was already a bit dilated (2 cm), my doctor said he'd be willing to set up an induction date. He threw the 17th out there and said he'd start by breaking my water to see if labor started on its own. I really had my heart set on going into labor on my own, but my kids were all on antibiotics and I had a window of good health and I wanted to take it!
Again, my whole birth experience with Lila didn't go as planned, and because it was in the thick of 2020 Covid madness, it was also very isolating because I wasn't allowed hospital visitors. This time I wanted my tribe there. The extrovert in me just loves socializing through childbirth--as weird as that may seem. I am a girl's girl through and through and I had my baby crew all taking the day off so that they could be there for the big day. My mom, sister-in-laws Natalie and Alexa, and my sister Courtney all planned taking Tuesday off to come rally this baby out. As anyone that has been deep into the third trimester knows, those last days can be miserable--so even though my induction date was setup I still curb-walked (Michael always let me know how insane this made me look) and bounced on a medicine ball desperate to get this little baby boy here sooner. Monday the 16th was MLK Day and the weather was unseasonably warm. I spent the day at the park near my mom's letting the girls play with all of their Jones cousins. We made our way home and Natalie offered to watch my girls so Michael and I could squeeze in a date night. I ate a greasy burger from one of our favorite places, Simply Burger, and afterwards we went to Walmart to pick up some snacks for the girls while we were gone. (For the sake of documenting, I want Troy to know that we grumbled sooo much on this outing at the cost of everything because #inflation) A sweet cashier looked at me and said, "Today? or Tomorrow?" I said, "Tomorrow!" and it started to feel real! I was having a baby the next day! We came back to Adam and Natalie's to pick the girls up and we ended up staying a while and watching the Cowboys play. I eventually remembered what an early morning we had the next day, how much I had to do when we got home annnnd that it was a school night so we corralled the girls and I cried a bit tucking them into bed because it's always emotional that last night before you add another little human to the clan--because, as you know, it changes everything.
I packed the girl's lunches for the next day and watched the Cowboys win. I showered and my mom came over close to 11 pm to sleep on our sofa as we had an early 7 am induction set for the next morning.
As expected, I had a hard time sleeping. It felt like a long night and at one point I looked at the clock hoping it was close to time to go (my alarm was set for 5:30 am) and it was only 1:00 am. I must have slept at some point but I can't say for sure. Lila woke up (she has a terrible habit that we completely enable of needing a water refill in the night) and I sent Michael to help her as I knew how hard it would be for me to find a comfortable sleeping position again if I got up. It felt like just moments after he returned to bed and shortly before 4 am that I felt that warm gush of water and I was instantly lying in a puddle. There was no doubt in my mind that it was my water breaking. I called out for Michael who groggily answered "yes?" and I said "I think my water just broke." He hopped out of bed super fast and I waddled to the bathroom, leaving a trail of water everywhere I went. Unlike how television depicts it, water breaking is not a one and done gush. It comes in waves and I had a hard time figuring out what to do about the mess I was making. I had Michael go and grab a size five diaper of Lila's to stick in my pants but I may as well have dumped a gallon of water on one. It's so shocking how much water there is! I waddled down the hall to tell my mom about my water breaking and she told me to put a dress or skirt on and roll up a towel between my legs. Smart lady, that one! I wasn't having bad contractions, in fact, I'd been having some very uncomfortable contractions down low and in my back days before and if anything they seemed to disappear with my water breaking, so I knew I wasn't in full blown labor and that I could take my time getting to the hospital, but I was just itchy to go. I didn't want to take the time to eat or do my hair and makeup and just wanted to get there! Plus I was strep B positive and knew they liked doing a few rounds of antibiotics while I labored. It was so convenient that our bags were already packed and that my mom was already at our house. I thought it was very considerate of our little guy to wait until we had out little ducks in a row!
Michael and I got to the hospital just before 5 am, just two hours earlier than we were scheduled. They checked me and determined I was at a 3 (my doc would later come in and tell me I was at 2 and 3/4 which I did not appreciate being given 1/4 of a centimeter only to have it taken away thank you) and said that the plan had been to break my water anyways so we were right on schedule, or a wee bit ahead. I bounced on the medicine ball and did some squats trying to get labor started but I was actually feeling less contractions than I'd felt in over a week. The nurse came in and gave me my IV (blew my vein the first time and OW!), I had a round of antibiotics and Michael was able to fall asleep but I, of course, wasn't.
Natalie was the first to arrive with delicious blueberry muffins that I rebelled and ate not one, but two of. Shortly after Courtney, Alexa, and my mom showed up making it a real party!
At some point the doctor came in and said they'd go ahead and start me on pitocin since I wasn't in labor yet, and my nurse, Erin, said she would start me on intervals of 2, starting at 2 going up every 15 minutes (they said it goes up to 40 so they start very low). I didn't want my epidural until I felt like I was really progressing because I didn't want it slowing any progress down.
I think it was when it got turned up to an 8 that I really started feeling the contractions. I suspected I would feel back labor as that was where my contractions were in the days prior to this, and well, I wasn't wrong. The hurty part of labor is always a blur and this was no exception. I think I endured half an hour or so of painful contractions before I was asking for the epidural. My angel nurse had me jump in line (she said the other mom needing one was a first timer so I got priority? I don't know why but ok I'll take it! ha!) and it wasn't too long before the anesthesiologist came in, although truly, I was in a LOT of pain so it still felt too long. They sent my baby crew out so it was just Michael and I in the room for the epidural. I thought it was a good sign that the anesthesiologist was one of four and had three big sisters. This is also the point where my nurse kindly asked me who was all going to be in the room when I delivered. I was like "All of them." and I could tell that was not her favorite answer but the room was super big and it's my delivery and it was my 2020 redemption---it was gonna go my way this time, dang it. The epidural kicked in on my left side but my right side, not so much. I felt a lot of pain on the right side of my tail bone. The nurse had me try some different positions to see if the medicine would trickle down, and I humored her but honestly I knew I just needed more drugs. My doctor came in and said we could do better than half an epidural but I still feel like I took my nurse too long to send my drug man back in. It's cool, because eventually he did come back in and booooy did I get numb! I couldn't feel a dang thing. It was awesome, although it did make me totally useless. Erin brought in the peanut ball and they heaved-ho'd me into position to straddle that thing. It was great listening to my girls talking about my contractions really starting to pick up but to be utterly numb and blissfully unaware. At this point I even took a little cat nap which was nice as I hadn't slept well in days. The next time the doctor checked me he said I was at an 8, almost a 9 and it would be pushing time soon! They were setting things up and getting ready for push time and I was just so happy that my v-bac plan was smooth sailing so far! My girls helped me get my hair all up and I asked for a mirror because I feel like it helps me see how to push.
They must have checked me again and told me I was complete because then the doctor was saying that I could push for my next contraction and he went ahead and walked out because I guess he thought it would still be a while--however the next contraction hit and they told me to give it a push when I was ready and bam! I saw baby boy's head in the mirror. The nurse quickly told me to stop pushing and hurried out to get the doctor. I had to wait for about two more contractions before they were back, and I was just so eager to push my little guy out! Finally they got back and I gave another long push-- I had Michael at my left and my mom at my right and she whispered to me "You're so good at this!" and I just felt so empowered at that moment. Like, I AM good at this. This is what I was made to do. The doctor told me to stop pushing and just exhale and out came the rest of my little guy at 3:28 PM. The doctor quickly unwrapped the cord from around his neck and placed him right on my chest. It's the best feeling on earth, I swear. I loved getting the whole golden hour to snuggle and nurse him. When they did weigh him, they told us he was 8lbs 12 oz, which is exactly what the doctor guessed when he picked him up.
I got a little January baby after all. I still can't believe this boy is mine. That he's a he! He's such a miracle. We needed him to be complete and we are so glad he's here.