For the most part my pregnancy with Ezra was a healthy, semi-smooth 9 months. The hardest part was spending the first 3 months attached to the bathroom as "morning sickness" became "all day sickness". Even as we moved to Africa in month 4 things carried on as normal. Battling heat and the occasional sickness was something I could handle compared to what many others have faced in their pregnancies. And around month 6 we headed back to states (per doctor's orders) to settle in for the third trimester and wait for baby Ezra to make his debut.
At my last sonogram before the baby came, the doctor noticed that our baby was a bit on the larger size, she estimated that his birth weight would probably be around 9 pounds as he was already 2 pounds bigger than the average baby at his gestational date. On week 39 the doctor suggested we schedule for induction since it was not advised to go much beyond that date due to his size. She also wasn't sure if his head would fit, but said we won't know until we try! So while c-section did get planted in the back of mind, I never really had the courage to consider it an option.
On Thursday, September 22nd (2 days after his due date) we headed to the hospital to begin inducing. After 2 hours of laying on my side and not moving, I finally finished the first part of the process. Side note, more than 20 minutes on my side at 40 weeks was killer on my hips; two hours and I thought they might explode, but having the season opener of Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder on tv sure did help take my mind of the pain. Thank you Shonda Rhimes...
Afterwards I had my last meal until little guy comes, and settled in for the night. About 2 hours later, the strangest sensation happened—my water broke! My mind started rushing, wondering if this meant he was coming now, should we call the parents, should I be scared, where's the doctor. But it turned out I was barely dilated at 3 cm, so they had to re-give me the medicine and have me sit still for 2 hours again...yay... I'll spare the details of what the rest of the night held, but let's just say I felt like I was sleeping in a pool for the rest of the night. It's comforting when the nurse tells you it will feel like this till you deliver...awesome.
The next day, the nurses came in and checked on me, they started the next round of inducing and we began to wait. Family started to show up and check in on things. I had received my epidural at this point so I was pretty content in my bed. Not gonna lie, but not having to get up to pee at 40 weeks pregnant and exposed is kind of greatness, I think I like that part of the epidural more than the pain medication. Plus since active labor hadn't started I wasn't in much pain, but we made the decision to go ahead and put the epidural in now instead of waiting, and I'm glad we did.
Later that afternoon I still hadn't dilated much so the nurse brought in a peanut ball. In my mind (and the mind of my family) we imagined something small that would fit comfortable between my legs, ha! It was ginormous! But lo and behold it started to work. An hour or so with that guy and I started to dilate to about 9 cm, we are almost there! And then something happened. I started shaking uncontrollably and throwing up. I had been shaking all day, but that was the side effect of the epidural, and it was manageable, but this was different. My jaw couldn't stop moving, my whole body would just move with no control. We wrapped blankets around my head and all over my body to try and control it. My husband put on worship music so I could focus on the lyrics and try to control the shaking.
After hours of sweating I started to get cold and chilly. In a matter of minutes my fever spike to 102, and the decision was made to do an emergency c-section. At the time of my shaking and fever all of my family had decided to take a break and walk around the hospital. Imagine their shock when they came back after 30 minutes to find out I was being wheeled into surgery.
Even though I had known a c-section was a possibility, I thought it would be because baby's head wouldn't fit, not because I had a fever, shakes, and the signs of an infection that the baby could get. I honestly had never been so scared in my life. The thought that I could sick and pass it on to my unborn child minutes before birth was frightening. Reed immediately sent out an email asking people to pray, then he suited up in his scrubs and met me in the OR.
The next part was just plain scary. I have a hard time watching Grey's Anatomy and the whole reason I started watching the show was so I could build up my tolerance to blood and guts. I never wanted to think about a c-section because the thought of having people cut me open while I was awake was just too much for me, and now it was happening. But it turns out the hardest part, was holding my neck up. I have no idea why, but I just remember how much it hurt and how the pillow kept falling out under my head. Afterwards I had spasms in my neck from trying to keep still, who knew that would be the hardest part of the surgery. Also, can we just say how opposite Reed is of me. He kept standing up to look over the sheet and watch my insides being opened on the table. Brave man, that's all I got to say.
What I do remember is when the baby came out is how the doctors and nurses were shocked at his size. I remember my doctor saying he had linebacker shoulders as the rest of the nurses gasped and all took guesses at his weight. Turns out everyone under-guessed, as his real weight was a whopping 10 pounds and 13 ounces. I immediately felt justified for the lack of laziness I had during my last few weeks of pregnancy. No wonder I couldn't bend down, walk, or sleep right, I had an almost 11 pound baby inside me!
Since I had a fever the baby also came out with a fever. I was already on antibiotics by IV and now it was time for Ezra to receive his. He was immediately rushed to the NICU so I only saw him by a photo that Reed had taken once he was delivered. After they were done with sewing me up, I was then wheeled into recovery. I was monitored and given more IVs to try and reduce my fever. At the same time Ezra was also put on a c-pap machine and they started his round of antibiotics.
After spending 3 hours in post-op I was then wheeled in my bed down to NICU so I could see Ezra. I don't remember much, other than he was hooked up to the c-pap machine and it just broke my heart. I couldn't hold him but only touch his little hands. Afterwards I was then wheeled into my room while nurses began monitoring me every couple hours. Eventually my fever broke, and I was allowed to eat again.
The next day after my epidural and catheter were removed I had to start the process of walking on my own. I will stop right here and say this was the most difficult thing I had ever done. I now have tremendous respect for all those who going through physical therapy and recovery from major surgery. It is no easy task. After having two people help me to the bathroom, then to a chair, and then to a wheelchair in a matter of hours, I eventually broke down and just cried. I couldn't even carry myself to the bathroom much less sit on my own with shooting pain, how in the world would I ever take care of a baby. In my mind this was going to last days, and how would I do this again in an hour when I had to pee again. Questions flooded my mind as tears flooded my face. Eventually I calmed down and was wheeled down to see my baby boy.
Day two and Ezra was no longer on the c-pap machine, which meant all the fluid was out of his lungs, and he was a much happier baby. Being that big, the nurses said he was so strong he kept pulling it off anyways. Hard to blame him...I'd want to do the same thing.
The next few days involved a steady rotation of pain pills, sleeping, eating, pumping, crying, and checking on babe. Each day recovery got tremendously better, and even by that night I was able to get to the bathroom without crying (though still with help of 2 people). One of the things that helped me the most in my recovery were two things:
1. A binder. If you have a c-section make sure you don't do anything until the hospital staff puts this on you. I cannot tell you how much this helped with my pain and that feeling as if your organs are falling out. Seriously, I regret not having this in those first few hours of trying to walk.
2. Stories from those who have gone before. Most of my family had no delivered via c-section so they weren't exactly sure what to expect, other than they knew I was in pain and it was not fun. I had shared my struggle and asked for prayer for both Ezra and I on social media and in response got an overwhelming amount of stories from others who had had c-sections. I cannot tell you how much every single comment meant to me. For the first time I felt as if I would recover, this would not last forever, and I wasn't the only one going through this. People also shared their experiences of having their little one in NICU and how they managed to survive. I wish I could say thank you to each and every one of you who reached out, but if you happen to read this just know I am beyond grateful for your words and stories.
While I was recovering, so was Ezra. He was still fighting low blood sugar and the doctors were still running tests to see if he had caught my group B strep. Because Ezra was not going to be released by my discharge day, the hospital provided a courtesy room for us to stay in while he was in the NICU. Honestly, this was a major blessing. I was not ready to transition home. I had no idea how I was going to sleep or use the restroom, as I was not strong enough and needed A LOT of help. Let's not even think about how I'm gonna crawl in a car on day 3. So when I found out we would get to stay in the hospital and I would have access to that awesome bed with hand rails and the ability to lower and raise the frame, I was ecstatic. I knew this would help me recover faster and allow us to be close-ish to Ezra at all times.
Finally the day came where Ezra was no longer fighting low blood sugar, and a couple days after that he finished up his round of antibiotics and was officially declared free of any infections. This meant we could go home! My body was much stronger and for the first time I knew we could actually manage the huge transition out of the hospital.
It was one of the longest weeks I'd ever experience, but at the same time I feel blessed. I never had to worry if Ezra was going to be okay or if he had made it through the night. He was a healthy baby boy and just need a little extra attention in those early days. He also only had to be there a week, unlike many who have had to wait weeks before they could bring their baby home. But being in the NICU I saw a lot of babies who parents didn't know if their child would make it, in fact, one didn't. My heart ached when I saw them bring in the body bag to the room down the hall. I cannot even imagine what those parents were going through.
If Ezra's birth story taught me anything it was that I have the upmost respect for nurses. The nurses that took care of me and Ezra were excellent. I cannot imagine doing their job, and I seriously tip my hat off to anyone in the medical field. You guys are what get people through recovery and you do the hard stuff that most people could never do, so thank you. And thank you to everyone who prayed for Ezra and myself during our time in the hospital. I know it was through your prayers that we made it through so smoothly.