Our little miracle joined the world last Friday, July 25th. It was a fight for both of us, but he arrived in perfect health, weighing in at a healthy 7lbs 3oz and 20 3/4 inches. We are in love, still overwhelmed by this ultimate gift. It’s still hard for me to comprehend that Sam and I are parents. It doesn’t seem real yet.
I can’t believe it has been a week since Harrison was born. All day I’ve been reliving that Friday in my head. My husband and I didn’t know what delivery would be like, especially at the hospital here in Williston. We had heard so many negative stories about ER experiences and bumbling doctors, I actually had a fair amount of fear about having the baby at such a small and over-capacity hospital. Turns out, I couldn’t have been in better hands. Since sharing birth stories seems to be a thing now, I’m going to share ours- no graphic details! 🙂
Sam and I doing some exploring at a national park the weekend before Harrison was born.
Sam was up for work at 4:30am on Thursday. My poor sister, here to help me in my last weeks of pregnancy, was sleeping on the trailer pull-out bed which is as uncomfortable as it sounds and right next to the kitchen. Sam and I tried to talk quietly about the day and dinner plans. As we were talking, I had to run to the bathroom about 5 times in 5 minutes- I couldn’t tell if my water broke or if my beat-up bladder had finally succumbed to the weight and rigorous kicking of my little boy. Sam had an important on-site project that day, so he left for work and I went back to bed.
My sister Brookyn, who has been a non-stop help since she got here. We couldn’t have done this without her.
I woke up a couple hours later to a massive thunder and lightning storm. It was so loud my sister was startled awake too, but nothing could prevent us from falling asleep again! When we finally did get up, I called my doctor and asked if I should come in to be checked. I was surprised when I was told to go to Labor and Delivery at the hospital. First of all, that seemed a little excessive since in all likelihood I was just peeing myself, and second, because I wasn’t due till the following week and this baby had shown no signs of showing up sooner. I took my sweet time getting ready, so we got to the hospital around 10:30am.
Me and my HUGE bump!
Tests confirmed it- my water was broken! Time to get labor started! I walked a couple miles around that hospital trying to get contractions going, but no dice. I did run into some great people during my walk- a friend of a friend who had dreamt the night before that I was there having my baby (How neat is that?!) and the hospital chaplain, who yelled as I walked past, “What are you hiding under there?!”
“A little rascal,” I said, patting my voluminous belly.
“I think you’re stealing hospital pillows!” he bellowed. “Can’t trust people these days!”
My sister and I laughed our way down the hallway. Sam was there now, excited at the unexpected turn of events. We were so hopeful that the birth would be natural- the baby had finally moved head down from his breech position and my water broke without assistance. But, a couple hours later, contractions still hadn’t started. If your water breaks and you don’t start contracting, doctors have to induce labor because the risk of infection is high. My doctor put me on Pitocin, which causes contractions twice as strong and long as natural contractions. I endured six hours before the pain was so unbearable I had to get an epidural. Despite my concerns of the effects of an epidural on the baby, it actually seemed to help him and me relax enough to make some progress in labor.
I thought for sure I would have the baby that night, but labor continued without progress in dilation. By Friday midday, my blood pressure had risen dramatically, the baby’s heart rate was fluctuating a lot more, and there was concern that I had not dilated nearly as much as would be expected . I was in severe pain from high blood pressure and the baby sitting on my spine- my back hurt as if it were broken, it hurt to breathe or turn my head. They gave me oxygen to help me breathe, but there was nothing that could be done about the pain.
When my doctor came in at 5p.m. that evening, I could hardly talk. I was so sure that the 24+ hours I’d been in intense labor had brought me to the moment I’d been waiting for- the natural birth of my son! And then, my doctor told me. I had only dilated to 6cm. You have to be at 10cm to deliver. I knew I couldn’t do anymore. The baby couldn’t do anymore. I cried as I told the doctor how I felt…and we agreed to do a c-section. I felt so guilty for giving up, but I realized later that my doctor wasn’t going to let me continue in labor anyway.
This picture is not pre-c-section, I’m not sure when it was taken. We didn’t know Brooklyn was taking the photo, which is why I love it. Sam was by my side the entire time, and when we had to make the difficult decision to do a c-section, he let me cry through it with words of love and encouragement. So blessed to have him as my husband.
I don’t remember much about what happened after that point. My room was flooded with nurses and anesthesiologists, I was being prodded and unhooked off monitors in the room, the hallway lights were fuzzy as they raced me to a cold surgery room, and then I was being strapped to a bed, asked if I could feel pinching, and then Sam was by my side. I was so out of it I didn’t give the anesthesiologist an accurate rating of what I could feel…I begged Sam to talk with me to distract me. We talked about what dinner we would eat to celebrate, and what we’d eat as soon as we got home. I could hear a doctor say to Sam, “You can look now, see your son!” I was confused because I hadn’t felt them pull him out yet. They hadn’t. I can’t believe Sam didn’t pass out, but he saw our son looking up out of his cozy home as the doctor tried to bring him out. He sat right back down next to me to tell me in the most ecstatic voice I’ve ever heard that he could see our son, that he was ok!
When I heard the baby cry, I was so relieved. I didn’t really get to see him. He was being quickly cleaned off and checked, and Sam was up like a shot to be by his side. Sam was allowed to show him to me briefly, but I was weaving in and out of awareness, and only had a glimpse before Sam had to leave for the nursery with him.
I still get emotional thinking about what happened after that. I didn’t have enough anesthesia and couldn’t help but yell out, I could hear the doctor and knew I was bleeding too much, and I kept almost passing out. I asked the anesthesiologist to hold my hand. She did.
Sam holding our baby skin-to-skin since I could not. That was my one request if I had an emergency c-section.
I woke up in recovery where I had to wait about 45 minutes. I just wanted to see my baby. When my doctor came in, the first thing she told me was that my son had red hair. 🙂 She said he was perfectly healthy and that Sam was holding him in the nursery. Sam had refused to officially name him till I was awake. My sister was real worried about me, and standing right outside the nursery. I had come through the c-section just fine, they just had to adjust recovery medication because of the bleeding. When they finally wheeled me to my room, I saw my sister standing at the nursery windows down the hall.
Sam put Harrison in my arms a few minutes later. We sat in the hospital bed holding him for what seemed like forever. Out of all our names that we had listed, Harrison was what we both chose without hesitation. He was beautiful, alert, and he even breastfed right away!
The nurses helped me hold him skin-to-skin and nurse even though I had just been stitched up. They were wonderful.
It’s hard to express what the rest of that night was like. I didn’t sleep. I stared at him the whole night. He had his first bath in our room; one of the amazing nurses in the unit brought everything into the room so we could be a part of it. I fed him, listened to him breathe, and worried incessantly about possible fluid in his lungs. The nurse took him at some point into the nursery to cuddle for a little bit so I would shut my eyes. 🙂
My favorite nurse taking Harrison’s footprints after his bath.
I stayed in the hospital another two and a half days. Sam’s father and two brothers were able to visit, my friends from work stopped in, and my parents and youngest brother drove in to stay for a few days. It was amazing to have my mom there with me in the hospital. She stayed with me my last night there because Sam had an early morning meeting. The power went out about 1:30am and didn’t turn back on till almost 5 am. The nurses were incredible and brought lanterns and checked in on us often. They said the blackouts happen sometimes because Williston doesn’t have the infrastructure for the amount of people living here. I don’t know if the overload was responsible for that blackout, but it was definitely a Boomtown issue.
It felt so good to be leaving the hospital with our sweet boy!
I have to take a moment to completely applaud the nurses on the day and night shift at Mercy Medical. They are an incredible group of women. Not only did they make me feel very cared for, they also were a wealth of information. They coached me and Sam through those first couple of days and we’re never impatient or rude. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Harrison’s birth would have been so much more traumatic if it hadn’t been for the wonderful OB nursing team.
We’ve been home now for about four days. Life with a newborn is exciting, discouraging, and full of more joy than I thought possible. It’s not easy living in a trailer, but we are making it work. Honestly, we are still so caught up in adoration of our little guy that nothing else seems to be that big of a deal.