- I tried to keep it "audience friendly" but I also don't really leave anything out. So if you are super squeamish this might not be the read for you. If you're used to reading birth stories this is definitely on the milder side.
- Daniel was not diagnosed with Down syndrome the day he was born. So that is not included in this story! I will share part 2 of the story on the 21rst.
- I realize I'm not doing so great at this blogging every day thing. I'm just letting go and letting it happen if it happens!
Daniel's Birth Story
I knew the evening of June 9th, 2012 that I would be having my baby boy the next day. The contractions had a certain quality that I can’t really describe. I had thought I was in labor at least twice before--false alarms. But these cramps were different. Deeper. I slept fitfully, all alone in the bed, while Joe slept with a similarly fitfully-sleeping Lily in the next room.
Morning came early on the 10th. It was around 5:00am that I woke for the day and knew that my son would be coming soon. I texted Jenny (my doula) and let her know that today was the day! I woke Joe and Lily up as well. I remember very little about this time. I do remember sucking down one of those squeezable apple sauce snacks and forcing myself to drink some water. I took a shower. I’m sure I also threw some last-minute items into my hospital bag.
I remember the car ride the best. I remember Lily telling me, “It’s okay to scream, Mommy.” For the record, I wasn’t screaming! Just moaning loudly. My contractions were coming pretty close together…less than four minutes, and were lasting at least a minute. Joe joked about not making it to the hospital on time, but I wasn’t worried.
If I remember correctly we arrived at the hospital around 6:30am. I waited out a few contractions, hunched over the car in the drop-off area at the entrance to Labor and Delivery. I was not going to go in without giving my sweet daughter a hug and proper goodbye. It was the last time I’d see her as my only child. As I entered the hospital, I remember seeing my sister-in-law Jess (she was there to watch Lily), and saying something like “It hurts!” while rushing past, trying to get to registration as quickly as possible.
The lady at registration didn’t seem that excited to be there. I tried joking with her- “I don’t know how you do this job…women in labor are so cranky aren’t we?”- but she didn’t even crack a smile. I was directed to the triage area where I was forced to sign some forms in between contractions. I signed that I understood the risks of both vaginal and cesarean delivery, etc etc. It made me smile. What was I going to do--not sign? The baby was going to come no matter what.
A nurse led me to a curtained area and asked me to put a hospital gown on. A few minutes later, she came back around the curtain and checked me. 7cm! I was pretty surprised. So far, the pain hadn’t been that bad, and I was almost done!
I honestly don’t remember how I got to the delivery room. I assume I was wheeled there on the bed, but I could have walked. I honestly don’t know. The magic of labor-land! I do remember being glad to see Jenny and Joe. My friend Karen arrived at some point too. She had graciously offered to take birth photos.
A hep-lock was inserted into my arm and a fetal monitor strapped to my belly. The nurse had to see the baby’s heart rate do something specific in response to my contractions before I would be allowed to move around. There was only one problem: I really had to pee. Like, bad. I kept telling Jenny that I really had to pee. It was the only thing I could think about. Laying down the way I was forced to while the nurse got heart rates from the baby was making the feeling much worse. I continued to moan through contractions and demand to be allowed to get up to pee. Jenny was wonderful and kept telling me that I was doing a great job. I love her!
Finally the baby did what he was supposed to do, and I was allowed to pee. I asked Joe to come into the bathroom with me. I actually remember praying out loud, “Jesus, please just let me pee!” on the toilet. I am sure if anyone heard me they had a little giggle, but I didn’t care. I did finally pee a little bit. As soon as I peed, the contractions started coming hard and fast. They hurt really bad and I could start to feel myself losing emotional control of the situation. Intellectually I knew that I was very close to delivering my baby, but I physically could not move. I think I said something like, “I can’t do this anymore!” and Jenny came rushing into the bathroom. Yep, I said the classic thing women say when the baby is almost there!
Jenny urged me to get back into the hospital bed, but there was just no way. I couldn’t move my legs if my life depended on it. Joe told me later that Jenny said, “Elicia, don’t make me do this!”, but I don’t remember anyone saying anything. All of the sudden, I knew I was pushing! I don’t think I even pushed more than two times, and there he was in Jenny’s hands, screaming his head off. 7:50 am, less than three hours after I woke up that morning. I think that was when the OB, who had been paged to come to the room at least twice before, walked into the room.
God only knows what he was thinking, but the OB did not look happy. I was instructed to walk back to the bed, while Jenny held my son, still attached to me by his cord. I duck walked to the bed, splashing blood all over the floor. It wasn’t my most graceful moment. Thank you, Karen, for not capturing that forever on film!
Our son’s cord was quickly cut (by Joe) and he was handed to me. I stared at him. He was beautiful! But something nagged at me. I do remember asking Jenny, “Does his face look normal?” She reassured me, but everything was in such an uproar at the time that I am positive she did not get a good look at him.
The doctor didn’t even introduce himself before asking me to slide down the bed so he could inspect things. He did lots of uncomfortable things which I won’t go into here (not uncommon or unnecessary things, he just did them not very nicely or gently), but my first and only post-birth experience with an obstetrician (I should note he was NOT my regular OB, who happened to be out of town visiting a sick relative when Daniel was born) was pretty horrific.
The doctor was upset that my son’s birth had gone the way it did...that Jenny had ended up catching the baby in the bathroom. Mad at the nurse, mad at me, and mad at Jenny. I think Jenny was even berated by a nurse in the hallway, though I do think she tried to shield me from as much of the drama as possible. She said goodbye quickly and left the hospital to help diffuse the situation.
After Jenny left our female relatives came into the delivery room to meet the baby. Lily, my mom, my mother-in-law June, and later my sister-in-law Jess all came to meet our precious boy. I didn’t let any men in the delivery room other than Joe! Lily was pretty set on the name Daniel for him towards the end of my pregnancy, so when she met him that day we made it official. Daniel Foster Conroy. Named after both Joe’s and my grandfathers. Karen took some beautiful pictures. I know at some point Karen left because she hadn’t slept well that night (she was also pregnant at the time!) and wanted to get home and rest.
It took a little while to get Daniel latched on, but he finally did and nursed well for quite some time. Eventually he did have to go to the nursery for his bath and to be checked over and observed. Everyone left, I think to have breakfast or to see Daniel in the nursery or something, and I was left alone in the delivery room while they started trying to get me ready to go onto the mother and baby unit upstairs. The head nurse came in and interviewed me about the “incident” (Daniel being caught by non medical personnel), I think just to make sure we wouldn’t sue them. I was fine with it obviously, so the discussion went well.
Eventually I was transferred upstairs to our room, and we got to see Daniel for a short time. At this point I took several pictures of him to post to Facebook. I remember picking the one where his face looked the least “weird.” It makes me a bit embarrassed to even think back on that now. I love his face. I think that was my first real indication that something might be really different about him, if I had to cull pictures of a cute baby for public consumption. He wasn’t with us long before he was brought back to the nursery for observation because he was unable to maintain his temperature, even skin to skin.
I remember asking Joe several times that day if he thought Daniel looked different in any way. Joe even asked me, “You don’t think he has Down syndrome or something, do you?”
I said no.
If you know me at all, you know I am kind of a hypochondriac and that I have dealt with anxiety issues. I worry about everything health-related. I knew I was starting to obsess about Daniel’s features and I was really trying to remain calm about it. I was worried that nothing was wrong with him, but that I would continue to obsess and that it would turn into yet another thing I obsess about. I don’t think I honestly thought anything was different about Daniel at that point. I thought something was wrong with me.
(end of part 1)
Enjoy some of the wonderful photos Karen took of Daniel's birthday!! The song in the background is "Psalm 139" by Danielle Rose. I encourage you to make it full screen if you can.
My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.
-Psalm 139: 15-16