6:07 PM

The photo I used at the beginning of this post, will forever be my favorite photo of myself. It's not your typical selfie. I have no makeup on, no trendy clothes. In fact, I'd just finished feeding him, and he passed out on my chest. The way I felt about myself in that moment was surreal. It's something I don't know if I'll ever feel again, and certainly something I never want to forget.  

     Birth stories should be called birth books. There's a prologue, chapters, and in some cases, even an epilogue. Each and every one is different and from start to finish, you literally have no idea what's coming for you next. Harrison's birth story, was very much like that.

     Let's rewind to the end of September. At this point, I was pushing 180 lbs, and sweating in places you'd think I was lying about. Going to work was marvelous. Sitting at my desk. My feet propped up, AC blasting on me, making my large, swollen self feel a little more at ease. It was about 10 am and I started getting these sharp pains. I've had a baby before. I knew they were contractions, but they were ten to fifteen minutes a part. Which in baby language, quite literally means zilch. I pressed on with my day and noticed they were getting closer and closer, and I left the office to go home and sit in the tub. With this pregnancy, sporadic contractions weren't uncommon. I'd been having them on and off since 29 weeks, but these felt more intense. I called the nurses hotline and was instructed to head to labor and delivery. Still though, it didn't feel like "this was it." I should have listened to my mom instincts. Two hours of monitoring in triage, and my contractions had totally stopped.

     I was crazy relieved. It's silly, but I've always wanted to have an October baby. I've always been partial to it. The smells, the crisp air. Apple cider and the crunch of fresh leaves. It's heavenly. It's also a huge reason we chose to get married in October.

     Everything was ready to go. The bags were packed, the car seat installed, and we were just waiting on him now. It was a Friday, the last Friday of the month and I wore a silly graphic tee Joshua had bought me earlier in the year to work. It was one of those maternity tees with the baby popping out of a little belly zipper. It said "See you in October," and I couldn't have picked a better day to wear it.

     Saturday rolled around and I woke up to a snugly Penny in my bed. It's sort of an every Saturday thing. Joshua works most weekends, so Penny will tip toe into my bed in the early hours of the morning just before the sun comes up. It was a normal Saturday. I started to get up and mentally go through my little to-do list for the day, which included going to Target to return a few things. I went to the bathroom and my shadow followed me. (WARNING, TMI) I probably scarred Penny for life for this, but when I noticed my mucus plug was coming out, I yelled for her to go grab my phone. If you don't know what a mucus plug looks like, it's messy, and bloody and yellow and- you get it?

     Josh was asking me if he should come home. The reason the plug thing was such a huge deal to me, was because Penny was born literally 24 hours after I lost my plug with her. I knew this was it. He was coming in the next 24 hours. So what did I do? I went to Target, of course. I walked around Target, and contractions started to creep up on me. I text Josh and told him to come home, and Penny and I did the same.

     Throughout the day, I was keeping my parents and sister up to date. My parents had a wedding to go to, early afternoon, but said they would be over right after. Afternoon rolled around and the contractions went to my back. Like clock work, they came every ten minutes with a vengeance. I had terrible back labor with Penny, so I figured it would be the same this time around.

     I was sitting at my dining room table, head pressed toward the wood when I saw my parents stroll passed my window. They bounced out on the wedding to be there for us. My mom and dad took Penny, I ate what I could and we headed for the hospital.

     Sitting in the waiting room of triage felt like it took an hour. I'm sure we were there less than 2 minutes. I waddled to a room, threw on a gown and waited for a doctor. I find it ironic and perfect actually, that both times I went into labor, with my kiddos, my OB was already at the hospital. There are two at the practice I go to, and by no means am I saying the other OB isn't great, but she had already delivered my other baby and I trusted her whole heatedly. I was checked, admitted, and moved to a laboring room.

     Nurses. One of the most over worked, over looked game pieces of health care. I'll even go as far to say they are like the keystones of health care. A good nurse will make a lasting impression, and Nicole was that nurse. From triage, to delivery, she was there. Holding my hand, telling me I could do it, and on top of everything, she was nine months pregnant. Yes, nine! Anyway, I'm deviating from the story, I just had to throw her in here. She will forever be a part of that day.

     Nicole came in frequently to check on me, she always had a smile on her face. It was about nine when they gave me my epidural, at which time I requested we take things slow. Remember it was still September 30th, and I really wanted that October baby. She laughed, but agreed and said things were going slow anyway and it was best to just let time do it's thing, so long as little guy's heart rate stayed up.

     Joshua's mom showed up at the hospital. I expected her to, as she did the same thing when we had Penny. To this day, she still talks about her ear practically pressed to the door as she heard Penny's very first cries. A too familiar dull pain started to present itself in my lower back, still I tried to close my eyes and get a good nap in, but that's so easier said than done. My sister showed up a little passed midnight after she got off work. October, we made it. It meant the world to me she was there, but the lower back pain was getting so intense that I wasn't sure she'd be able to handle seeing me in such a state .As I laid there, trying to relax, I felt something. I woke Josh up and told him to check under my blankets, my water had indeed broken. This was exciting for me as my water never broke with Pen. This time, I felt it, I knew it was happening.

     The pain was intensifying and I knew that my body wanted to push. The pain I was feeling was him in the birth canal. Joshua went to grab Nicole, and my sister and Josh's mom went to the hallway. To my surprise, my OB came in. I thought it was odd. I mean when we had Penny, nearly four years ago, I pushed for over an hour before the nurses called my OB to basically "catch." This time, I hadn't even started and she was in the room. She checked me, said it was time, and before I knew it I was blinded by lights. But something was not right. One after the other nurses began to pile into our room. At one point, I counted eight of them. I knew something was not right.

"We may have to perform a c section. I felt something when I checked you, and at first I wasn't sure what it was, but now, I see it's his nostrils. He's coming out face first." 

     Those words basically could have been spoken in a different language. I'm pretty sure I only responded with "no, no no."

     Listen, I'm kind of a baby. I've never had any sort of surgery, never broken a bone. I still even have all my wisdom teeth. The thought of a c section, made me physically sick. She tried one last time to get him to turn his head back down and then all I can remember is chaos. Nurses to my right throwing a gown on Josh as he repeated "you can do this, you can do this, you're going to be fine." Nurses to my left pulling who knows what out of the wall behind me, and suddenly my entire body going numb beyond my control. Morphine.

     They wheeled my bed out of the room and I remember the look on my sister's face. She was white, and I was sobbing. I can only imagine what she was thinking in that moment, and for awhile, they told her nothing. I hope to never see that look on her face again.

     I don't know if Josh was standing by the bed as they wheeled us down to the OR. I was in full panic mode counting the exit signs, until we reached our destination. I couldn't believe my biggest fear was happening. The mom who has had two c sections is rolling her eyes something serious at this birth story. I get it. What I think is scary might not be what you think is, and visa versa. In those quick, panicked moments, I truly didn't know how the next ten minutes even of my life would be. Experiencing that sense of helplessness; letting go and trusting your life and your baby's life in someone else's hands, is the most conflicting emotion I've ever felt.

     They moved me to the operating table and Josh wasn't there yet. I guess they keep the husbands outside until they're literally about to make the first cut. I couldn't feel anything. The anesthesiologist, who put in my epidural, stood at my head chatting with the most calm voice I could ever hope to hear. She made me promise to keep my arms down. In a c section, you're basically numb from the chest down, but you still have full mobility of your arms. Typically, one's arms are strapped down, to to prevent any sort of movement that could disrupt the surgery. I think at that point, she had too much empathy toward me that she just couldn't bare to put me through one more thing.  Nicole came to my side and held my hand. She was due in a week. A scheduled c section. She'd been through this before, and she started to tell me pieces of advice I wish I could remember to this day. In case you're wondering, Nicole had her baby six days later, and she and baby are as happy and healthy as can be. 

     Finally Josh came in and sat to my right. I don't think I've ever felt the kind of relief I felt when he reached for me. It had probably only been a few minutes, but I felt like he was gone an hour.  He held my hand and I squeezed his so hard I thought I'd crush it. Not even a full minute after he sat down next to me, we heard it. The cries of our sweet baby boy. My OB walked to the side of the table with him in all his newness. There he was, and he was perfect.

     They cleaned him up and my OB asked me from behind the curtain if I wanted him. Of course I did. They carefully tucked him down inside of my gown and Joshua held him steady. Skin to skin has always been very important to me, and when I was told I would have a c section, I assumed I would miss out on those first precious moments. Those moments I still remember with Penny. In this case, I was the lucky one. Apparently not all OB's are so understanding of this importance. 

     We held him there. Together. For nearly 45 minutes while they closed me back up. I could feel his little head against my chin. The tiny fingers brushing against my chest. It was everything I wanted, and I never wanted to let him go.

     Our little Harrison James came into the world October 1st, our one year wedding anniversary, at 3:19 am, weighing at 7 lbs. 14 oz via emergency c section due to a face presentation. It was not the birth I planned, but it was the experience I needed.

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