In honor of Mother’s Day weekend, I want to share Luke’s birth story that documents the day I became a mother. It’s a day I will never forget, and I salute all the sweet mommas out there who have all endured the magic and insanity of child bearing that comes in many forms. May we always remember that no matter how differently we choose to raise our children, we all have the most important thing in common; we have an indescribable and fierce love for our babies that only mothers can understand. We’re in this together.
To my momma, thank you for giving me an incredible example of what a great mother and mom looks like. I cherish our friendship more than you’ll ever know. You are beautiful in every way one can be beautiful. Thank you for showing my sister and me how to love boldly and unconditionally.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
I went about my normal work day and was getting everything ready for my maternity leave. My last day at work would be the next day. That afternoon, I posted on my blog the letter I wrote to Luke last April, before he was conceived. I had originally planned to post it sometime the following week, but I got the sudden urge to go ahead and publish the post. An hour after posting it (around 3:00 p.m.), I was wrapping up a meeting in my office, and when I walked to the door to see the guy out of my office, I felt a huge gush of fluid. It just kept coming. My pants were soaked. There was no doubt in my mind that my water had broken. I panicked. I kept my composure long enough to see the guy out of my office, but as soon as he left, I grabbed my keys and phone and ran to the bathroom, still gushing and still freaking out. OU was on spring break, so luckily no one was around to witness this comical event. I called Zach from the bathroom stall and the conversation was short and sweet. Zach: “Hello?” Me: “Hey honey. So, my water broke.” Zach: (pause) “I’m on my way”. End of conversation. I was shaking. I wanted to cry because I wasn’t prepared for this. I was only 38 weeks and thought I had at least another week or two to get ready! Besides, I was only dilated to a 1 as of the day before and was prepared to go overdue. I tried to breathe and stay calm, and I prayed. Ready or not, this was happening, and what a joy! I grabbed my things, tied a sweater around my waist to conceal my soaked jeans, and waddled across Boyd Street in Norman to my car. At this point, I wasn’t having any contractions. However, all logic went out the window, and I thought I had to walk slow and barely move my hips for fear the baby would fall out. Again, ALL logic went out the window. I’ve never wanted to get home so quickly, but of course, I got stuck behind a train on the way. I called my office to let them know that I wouldn’t be in the next day, then called the triage station at Children’s Hospital, and they told me I needed to come in right away. After a few more phone calls to Zach, my mom, and sister, I met Zach at home and we scrambled to pack our things (which we hadn’t done yet). I showered, Zach packed Scout’s (our dog) things and loaded the car, and we were on our way! Was this really happening today?! Still no contractions at this point, which was crazy to me. I always envisioned that my labor would start with contractions at home. Moreover, I never thought my water would break outside the hospital setting. Our “plans” were already changing so much, but it was ok. We got to the hospital around 5:00 p.m. and they checked me 3 times to make sure that it was indeed my water that broke (of course it was). They finally admitted us, and contractions started around 6:30 p.m. This was a relief since I was informed that once your water breaks, the baby usually needs to be delivered within 24 hours. We wanted a natural birth, and while I went into this process with low/realistic expectations that anything can happen and plans can change, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the now real possibility of a C-section and any other complications that could occur in the meantime. My best friend Kacie met us at the Triage room and we walked over to the labor suites. My blood pressure was high when we first got to the hospital because of the excitement/stress, but resolved itself within a couple of hours as I relaxed and accepted the turn of events. Contractions were very manageable for the rest of the night, but while they were longer, stronger and more frequent, I still wasn’t dilating past a 1. The midwife recommended that we use a Foley bulb to help progress dilation, and I complied. It was very uncomfortable, but it got me to a 3. By midnight, things still weren’t progressing, even though contractions were getting more painful. I did my best to stay mentally and emotionally calm, and Zach talked me through every contraction, giving me constant encouraging affirmations.
Friday, March 21, 2014
I labored all through the night, and Zach was the most amazing coach. He did everything we learned in our Bradley Method classes, and fought through his fatigue to be there for me. Contractions were getting stronger and more painful, but I couldn’t stay awake between them. I was torn. I knew that I could help things progress if I powered through and walked around/tried different exercises, but my body was demanding rest, which ended up being what I needed later to compensate for Zach’s exhaustion. It was a tiring routine of me dozing off while Zach helped me try different means of natural induction, then waking up for a contraction in which Zach coached me through. I was constantly having to scale the same mountain, but Zach kept me on track. It didn’t leave much time at all in the meantime for Zach to take care of himself via eating, resting, or taking bathroom breaks. Needless to say, he sacrificed a lot to take care of me during these rough overnight hours. He kept encouraging me to visualize sitting at home as a family after all of this was over… holding our cooing and beautiful son. He kept telling me he loved me and was proud of me. It was exactly what I needed for motivation to press on. Around 4:00 a.m., the midwife recommended I go on a Pitocin drip to get things moving. While I wanted to avoid Pitocin, I wanted to deliver Luke sooner than later to avoid complications. We agreed that we needed to do it. They started with 2 drops and contractions got very painful very fast. I was starting to doubt my ability to deliver naturally and was starting to verbalize it to Zach, which was discouraging for both of us. This stage was harder than I expected as the Pitocin took the pain to an entirely new level. At one point, I remember desperately yelling out, “Honey, it hurts so bad! I can’t do this!” Even more discouraging was the fact that Luke was having late decelerations (his heart rate was dropping after each contraction, a sign of fetal distress), which meant that we needed something to happen fast, or else a C-section was inevitable. With Zach being medically minded, this greatly concerned him, but he remained my partner and continued to cheer me on, even though I know he wanted me to get an epidural to help with the pain. We pressed on though, and along with putting me on oxygen for the baby and hooking him up to fetal monitors, they increased the Pitocin to 4 drops. My body was not a fan of this, as proven by uncontrollable shaking and a brief vomiting spell. Things went into overdrive at this point. I was only dilated to a 6, but during these contractions, by body (not me) was starting to push. The nurse and Zach were both telling me to stop pushing, and they didn’t understand that I was not voluntarily doing anything. My body was doing all of the work. It was so painful, and we were so exhausted from laboring through the night. Finally, the midwife came in since I was insisting that my body was doing the pushing, and alas! I had dilated from a 6 to a 10 in 20 minutes. WHOA. My body then started to push HARD to the point of me thinking I might burst from the pressure. This was the most difficult part for me, as I felt like I had no control over anything. I couldn’t even catch a breath between pushing, and I was making the most ungodly noises with each push that not even I recognized. The midwife was updating us on the progress, and I remember completely doubting her when she said we had one more push to go. It was such a blur, but after about 30 minutes of pushing, the most amazing thing happened. Luke Zachary Smith was born at 8:44 a.m., weighing 7 pounds 3 ounces and measuring 19.5 inches long. Time stood still. We did it. All of the pain and exhaustion immediately went away as soon as the midwife handed me our son. I was FINALLY holding our son. This sweet baby I had been praying over for so long was in my arms. I could see what he looked like. I could hear his cry. I could feel him breathe. This miracle that I carried for 9 months was real and perfect. Zach and I looked at each other both shocked and relieved, and I felt like the world stood still. I didn’t know what was going on around me and I didn’t care. I was in heaven. I’ve never felt such an overwhelming love. We REALLY did it. Our baby boy had arrived, we were both healthy, and we did it naturally. Together. I couldn’t have done it without my incredible, patient, loving and handsome husband, and it brought us closer in a way I never thought possible. People tried to tell us how amazing this moment would be, and we finally understood.
I looked down at our sweet babe and wondered how people can doubt the existence of God. The gift of life is an absolute miracle, and I praise Jesus for allowing us to be this baby boy’s parents. We get to have a front row seat to witness Luke experience everything for the first time as he grows with the magic that comes with childhood wonder. What an unbelievable and undeserved blessing. “Luke” is said to mean “light” or “bringer of light”, and that is exactly what he is. Life has just begun, not only for Luke, but for his mom and dad who adore him more than words can say, and whose lives are much brighter because of his arrival.
Sweet child of mine, we are going to have so much fun together.
(Photos courtesy of my bestie, Kacie)