8.08.2013

07.08.13

I've had this post in my drafts section for a couple of weeks now, and it seems more than appropriate to post it on my Ford's one month birthday. I plan on doing a monthly post on his month birthday days just like I did with Watts, but I haven't had a chance to make his picture today with his "one month" sticker. That post coming soon along with a post in his "newborn" sticker. But for now...

Before time gets away from me and small, seemingly insignificant but truly important details slip my mind, I need to document the days leading up to and, most importantly, the day of my Ford's birth. Since this is the only time I'll actually write down the details of his birth, I have to warn you that this post is about labor and delivery, so if those things make you squeamish, you might just want to skip over this post. But, I will keep it PG. And there definitely won't be any questionable photos here!

My last prenatal OB/GYN appointment was on Wednesday, July 3. My doctor, Dr. Cary Crowe, examined me and said I was favorable for an induction since it did not seem that Ford would make his way into the world on his own any time soon. We scheduled my induction for Sunday, July 7. I had to be at St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham on Sunday night at 8 p.m.

On Sunday morning, I woke up and got Ama-Watts dressed and ready to go to church. I sent she and Mat off, and I settled down on the couch to rest up and watch CBS's Sunday Morning live. (I usually DVR it, and we watch it on Sunday nights. After all, who doesn't love Charles Osgood?!) Mat and Ama-Watts got home from church around noon, and Chris and Valerie came by to pick up Ama-Watts. They went shopping in Birmingham while Mat and I finished packing for the hospital and installing the infant car seat in the Jeep, because we love living on the edge and waiting until the last minute. We drove to Birmingham, followed by my mom and my sweet baby cousin, Morgan, who's more of a young woman and like a little sister than a "baby cousin." We met Chris, Valerie and AWA at Firebirds for my last meal before Ford entered the world. I enjoyed a steak with a loaded baked potato. Go big or go home. Amen. (I also had several...and I do mean several...glasses of sweet tea.)

After dinner, we had a little bit of time before I had to check-in at the hospital, so Mom, Morgan, Mat and I went to Steel City Pops and the Gap. Because, what else are you going to do right before you're admitted for an induction besides look at Maxi dresses and skinny capri pants with ikat designs on them?

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We left The Summit and went straight to St. Vincent's Hospital. We parked and went to the third floor of the Women's and Children's Center. I was admitted right away, and my sweet nurse, Ashley, took us to Birth Suite 319. I changed into my hospital gown and got right into bed while Ashley asked me about 36,421 questions about my medical history.

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Ashley put a monitor on Ford so that she could watch his heart rate. She was so sweet to offer to turn it up so that I could hear it without having to look at the computer screen. Ashley was so great, and she helped lighten the mood when she was having a hard time finding Ford's heartbeat by telling me all about her upcoming wedding. Turns out, little Ford was hard to find on the monitor, but he was there and he was doing just fine.

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Mat, Mom and Morgan went and got all of our stuff out of the Jeep, and I settled in for the long haul in my hospital bed. Ashley came in at 9:05 p.m. to check me; I was 1 1/2 cm dilated. Right after that, around 9:35 p.m., Mom and Morgan left the hospital to go to their hotel suite where Watts, Chris and Valerie were.

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At 10:05 p.m., Ashley inserted Cervidil to help the process along. It was sometime around this fun event that Mat was offered and accepted his first free Diet Coke of the hospital stay. Ashley brought a couple cans for him to store in our refrigerator in our room. The man loves a Diet Coke.

About 10:30 p.m., the good Lord gave us the gift of late night re-runs of "Seinfeld" on tv. Ashley came in with an Ambien about 11:05 p.m., and sometime after that, I fell asleep listening to the quiet beep of Ford's heart monitor and Mat's subtle snoring as he lay beside my hospital bed on his pull-out couch.

A couple hours later around 2:40 a.m., my heavy eyes opened to Ashley quietly coming into my suite. Ashley let me know that I was having very strong contractions, and she adjusted Ford's monitor on my round, protruding belly. A couple more hours later at 4:30 a.m., Ashley put my IV in and took my Cervidil out. She told me that I had been having very strong contractions since around midnight. (She had been monitoring me from the nurses' station.)

At 5:00 a.m., she administered my first round of antibiotics for my Group B Strep. At this point, I was having contractions every 2 minutes, and I was just starting to feel their effects. At 5:15 a.m., I was only 2 cm dilated, so Ashley administered Pitocin (my favorite drug, haha) at 5:30 a.m.

My sweet doctor, Dr. Crowe, came in at 6:25 a.m. and broke my water. It was clear and everything looked great, she said. I was 3 cm dilated at this point, but Ashley was saying that I would have a baby by 10 or 11 a.m. because I was progressing well. (Little did I know...)

At 7:00ish a.m., we said goodbye to Ashley (her shift was from 7:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m.), and we met my new nurse, Stacey Pickle. I couldn't have imagined how much I would grow to love Stacey...but more on that later.

Mom, Morgan and Wattsie came to the hospital at 7:45 a.m. Wattsie did come into my room, but she wouldn't have much to do with me, which was understandable. Mat took her for a little stroll around the maternity wing; I know she enjoyed it. (She's such an explorer.) Chris and Valerie came to the hospital right after that.

At this point, my contractions were starting to strengthen, and I could feel every single one. I can't say that contractions are the worst things I have ever experienced, but I only felt 2-3 contractions with Ama-Watts' birth, and I felt just a few more than that this go around. (A few...haha.)

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The anesthesiologist came into my room at 8:00 a.m. to administer my epidural, and Stacey held my back while Mat stood in front of me. The last time I had received an epidural, I didn't feel a thing, so I was more looking forward to the pain relief than being afraid of the "pain" that the epidural itself might cause. The anesthesiologist was so nice, and he was really personable and funny, which made the whole thing that much easier! The epidural went in without a hitch, and soon, I was completely pain free.

At 8:30 a.m., I was dilated to 3 1/2 cm, and they inserted my catheter. I was feeling so much better-- especially knowing that I wouldn't have to keep getting up and down a million times to go to the bathroom! I got to rest for awhile on my side while I received the news that my sweet girl Watts had met a friend in the waiting room. Watts and her friend, Elizabeth, watched "Little Einsteins" and played together.

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At 10:00 a.m., I was dilated to a "good" 4 cm. At this point, they were still saying Ford would come soon, so Stacey sat my hospital bed straight up so that Ford would move down some. It had also been 16 hours since I had last eaten, so I was starting to get sick from hunger pains. Mom, Morgan and Mat were still in the room with me, and since I thought Ford was coming soon (such a laughable thought now), I decided to freshen up my make-up...after all, I didn't want to meet the new man in my life without fresh make-up on. :)

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At 10:15 a.m., Stacey set up all the "baby stuff" in my room-- she prepared his plastic bassinet and the baby warmer with all the little things they would need when he first arrived.

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Around noon, I was still progressing, but Stacey thought I needed some oxygen, so she handed me a fancy oxygen mask that I hung on to until almost 4 hours later...

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At 12:35 p.m., I was 8.5 cm dilated (I went from 4 to 8.5 in a SNAP!). They turned me and rolled me around in my bed all sorts of ways to help my dilate to 10, and around 1:00 p.m., I was dilated to 10 cm, and it was time to start pushing.

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I asked Stacey how many people could be in the room when I delivered, and she said up to 5 or so, which was perfect. Mat, my mom, Morgan, Valerie and my birth photographer, Amy, were all able to be in the room as I was laboring. Such a blessing!

I pushed a couple times with Stacey as we waited on Dr. Crowe to come to my suite (she was delivering another baby at the same time). And to be completely honest, much of 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. is a blur in my mind; trying to give birth is hard work...especially when you pushed three times to have your first baby, and your second baby decides he doesn't want to enter the world AT ALL.

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So, that's pretty much all I remember from 1:00-3:00 p.m....pushing, pushing and more pushing.

I was exhausted. Literally exhausted. I know, I know...some women push for hours and hours, but mentally, I was just not at all prepared to have to work THAT HARD to have Ford because of how easy it was to have Watts. I dilated just fine, and the boy had plenty of room to make his way into the world, but for some reason, he got to a certain point, and he just would not come down any further.

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The nurses and Dr. Crowe put me in all different kinds of positions and used all different kinds of techniques to help me with the process, but nothing worked at all. He was where he was, and that was it. He wasn't coming down any further. Dr. Crowe and Stacey and all the other nurses were so puzzled as to why things were the way they were. No one really had an explanation.

Dr. Crowe asked me how big Ama-Watts was. I told her that she was 8 lbs., 14 oz., and Dr. Crowe said, "Well, maybe you have just hidden the fact that you're carrying a huge baby." At this point, I mentally prepared myself to have a 10-pound baby...even though the thought of it terrified me to my core, especially since I've always wanted just one tiny, tiny newborn. :)

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Around 3:00 p.m., the end of hour two of pushing came, and I glanced up at the clock on the wall in front of me. I felt tears begin to sting my eyes, so I asked Mat to come closer to my bed. I didn't have the heart (or the energy, frankly) to ask my sweet four visitors to leave the room, so instead I asked Mat if he could request they leave the room for just a moment. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. And tired and hungry. And really, really frustrated. I didn't understand why I was giving every ounce of energy within me to bring Ford into the world, and it wasn't doing a bit of good. Dr. Crowe and the nurses were encouraging with every push, telling me that I was doing so great. With every single push, I'd pray and pray that he would be born, but without result. Ford wasn't coming like I'd hoped. And I was too exhausted to even breathe.

My mom, Morgan, Valerie, Amy, all the nurses and even Dr. Crowe left my room, and Mat and I were left alone. As Stacey left the room, she looked at Mat and said, "Don't you let her cry. She's doing everything she can. She's doing great. Don't let her cry!"

As the heavy door to my room slammed shut, I pulled the sweaty oxygen mask off of my face and looked at Mat, and I began to cry. I got a huge lump in my throat and shook my head at Mat. I didn't know what to do. Mat prayed for me the sweetest, kindest prayer that I am still to this moment so grateful for. I would like to say that at this moment, I pushed on my own and Ford arrived, but that's not what happened.

After I had a moment to compose myself, Dr. Crowe came back into my room around 3:10 p.m. I pushed two more times, and Dr. Crowe shook her head. "I think you could push for 30 more minutes, and it wouldn't make a bit of difference," she said. My heart sank. I knew what was coming. I don't exactly remember how she phrased it, but she basically told me a C-section was an option. I nodded my head at her, and I took a quiet inventory of my own energy and exhaustion level for a moment. Dr. Crowe then said, "If it were me, I'd go with the C-section."

And that was it. That was it for me. I never wanted to have to have a C-section, but because of my doctor's recommendation, I just thought it was the best option for me. In that moment, I wasn't scared about the surgery part, but I knew that recovery would look much different this go-around than it did with Ama-Watts.

"I want a C-section," I told Dr. Crowe. She said, "Ok, good decision." She glanced at the clock, and she said, "It's about 3:10 p.m. now. We can be ready and begin by 3:30 p.m." Dr. Crowe left the room, and then a flurry of activity began around me. They began to prep me for surgery.

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As a side note, sometime between my time-out for a good cry and Dr. Crowe advising me to have a C-section, my sweet nurse (and new BFF) Stacey had to leave to go to a meeting. While I was pushing, another nurse had come in and reminded her about a meeting that she had to attend at 3:00 p.m. Stacey replied, "See if someone else can go. I'm not leaving her. I can't leave her until her baby is born." Sweet Stacey will never know how much her words and commitment to me meant. Even though she still had to leave (she couldn't have been in the OR with me during surgery anyway), it meant the world to me that she wanted (and tried!) to stay with me. She is the epitome of a great nurse. I couldn't have asked for a better one.

The nurses did a few things in my suite to get me ready for surgery, and then they rolled me into the OR to begin the real prep at right around 3:30 p.m. Mat got dressed in his scrubs and waited outside the doors until it was time for the surgery to begin. The nurse anesthetist (a guy whose name I cannot remember) stood over my head the whole time. He was so kind to me and explained everything that was happening to me with such concern and care. He was so genuine and personable. He also asked about my comfort level several times. I adored him! Mat sat at my left side and offered sweet, kind words to me with a few jokes to make me smile mixed in.

I don't remember much about the surgery besides the sounds the tools made and the small talk Dr. Crowe and her assistant were making with each other. And then, almost as soon as it had begun and before I knew it, there he was...a faint, but strong cry from my little boy.

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Winford Paul Alexander was born into the world at 3:55 p.m. He weighed 8 lbs., 4 oz. and was 21 in. long.

The nurses brought him over to Mat and Mat showed him to me. I, of course, teared up a little. I had just brought another human being into the world, and there's not really an emotion or a feeling that can accurately sum up that whole experience. It's so many different things all wrapped up into one fleeting, but lasting moment. The moment you become a parent...the moment you become a MOM again.

I was a MOM again. A MOM.

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I don't remember a lot after this point. The finished stitching me up, inside and out, and then Dr. Crowe came over and told me how perfect our son was. She smiled and touched his little head as Mat held him. As they wheeled me out of the OR, Mat handed me our son, and my heart swelled up. I held him (as best as my totally numb body was able to) all the way back to my birth suite.

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They let me have some skin-to-skin time with him, and he nursed for a while. Then, our family was able to come in and meet him. They oooooed and ahhhhed and cuddled and kissed him until I'm sure he was sore. We talked about who he looked like, and we talked about me having to go the c-section route. We had plenty of time to visit and love on our sweet new addition before the nurses came in to tend to my little boy.

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Ford got a bath while his big sister watched. Then we all got some more snuggle time while Ford napped.

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Later that night, after everyone had gone home, and it was just me, my sweet Mat and our new son Ford in our room, I gave thanks to God for the gift of parenthood and for this new journey we were embarking on as a family. I also gave thanks to God for my son, and for Him seeing fit that it would be me to be Ford's mother. What grace. What great grace!

I closed my eyes that night completely exhausted, but so full of love and thankfulness. The birth days of my children are sweet, sweet times. Times that I will cherish in my heart for as long as I live, and I'll carry them with me into eternity where I can thank a loving, gracious God for allowing me the absolute privilege of this thing they call motherhood.

Happy birth day, my sweet, darling Ford. Your daddy and I thank God for you every single day. You are a great blessing to us. We love you more than you'll ever, ever know.

**All images courtesy and copyright Amy-Cole Photography/Amy Sullins. All images were made on 07.08.13. Thank you for these beautiful images that I will cherish always, Amy. We are thankful for you!!!**

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