Exactly one month ago today, Rob and I dropped Lola off at the sitters and told her she’d be a big sister soon. We kissed her goodbye and as we left tears returned to my already flooded eyes. I was just a couple days shy of being 41 weeks pregnant and per my doctor’s advice (for reasons I’m choosing to remain private about), I was going to induce labor. The decision had been made the day prior and for some reason, it wasn’t sitting well with me. While it was ultimately my choice, the thought of forcing our unborn child into the world made me feel somewhat guilty. I pictured our child all snug in this safe haven surrounded by warmth and comfort. Yet I was going to alter the natural chain of events women have been successfully achieving without medical intervention since the beginning of time. You would think for someone who is – sure I’ll reluctantly admit it – a type A personality, I’d be ecstatic about controlling when my child was going to be born. I do best when I know what’s coming, when I can plan, and how I can best prepare…so what made this situation different? What made it different was the looming thought in the back of my mind. What if I force the baby to come out and something terrible happens? Perhaps it was the hormones or my inherent ability to overthink everything. Regardless….I was afraid. Yet once we arrived at the hospital and we got settled into our room, the fear – while still present – became less gripping and the excitement began to set in. We were finally going to meet our son or daughter.
I was immediately checked by the resident on staff and found I was already dilated to a five. The resident – who sensed my opposition to inducement – suggested I try to kick start my own labor by walking around and bouncing on the birthing ball. A couple of hours later – as if God himself decided to suddenly listen to my emotional prayers – I went into labor on my own.
And boy did it come on with a fury!
Without indication or any type of warning, I went from relaxing on a birthing ball while chatting it up with my husband to being keeled over on the side of the hospital bed from the incredible pain. I labored like this for a couple of hours, but the contractions were intense and I had little time to recover in between each one. And while I didn’t want to medically intervene too much, I did have every intention on getting an epidural. After the epidural was placed, I laid in a paralyzed position for the next several hours. I was intermittently checked and just before 8 pm, I was finally fully dilated. The intention was to break my water, I would start pushing and ta-da…we would have our baby.
The iPad video camera was recording, the hospital staff was ready and Rob and I gave each other a reassuring nod that this was it. Then I began to push and I pushed and I pushed. For 45 minutes I pushed but was having no luck on getting our baby out. It was becoming remnant to when I gave birth to Lola as I pushed for over two hours with her. So Rob stopped recording for the time being and our nurses began to get creative. They had me pull on a sheet in an effort to push harder and I tried to envision holding that baby in my arms. After several of those, the baby’s head was finally starting to crown.
And this is where everything got scary.
What went from a relatively calm process suddenly got overwhelmingly intense. An additional doctor was called, nurses came in, one nurse demanded to be given a stool, NICU was on their way, all the while I lay there being told to stop pushing. I frantically asked what was going on and kept being told to remain calm. Except I could see the panic in the staff’s eyes. I looked at Rob for reassurance that our baby was OK, that I was OK, that we were going to be OK yet behind his affirmations that everything was all right, I could see an unsettling fear I’ve never seen in my husband before. Knowing I could do nothing but remain calm, I tried to stop asking what was happening in order to just let the staff do their jobs. I began to see sweat beads pour down one doctor’s face as he asked for the other to take over and a nurse was on top of the stool pushing down on my abdomen with intense force and determination. I didn’t know what they were doing as all I could feel was pressure, but I knew whatever it was…it was an emergency.
After several of the scariest minutes of my life, the baby finally came out. And yet I heard no sound. The sound I had been longing to revel in for nine months was not filling the air with its echo’s. After passing seconds – which again felt like an eternity – I finally heard our baby cry. A big, loud, wondrous cry. We were told we had a baby boy. I was so stricken with fear, I had almost forgotten we didn’t know the sex. I just wanted the baby to be out and I wanted to know the baby was OK. But here we had a son. Our baby boy, Sebastian. I was able to catch a quick glance before he was whisked over to the other side of the room where the NICU staff was waiting. I could see the helpless look in my husband’s eyes as he went from one side to the other trying to reassure me that our baby boy was OK. After a close examination, the NICU nurses brought my son to me, my Sebastian. They told me his breathing was rapid and they would keep monitoring it, but he appeared to be healthy. As they handed him to me, he was crying yet it was the most beautiful melody of words. I kept repeating, “You’re OK” as I envisioned him telling me how frightened he was. Our eyes met and without words, the exchanged glance said, “I know son. I was afraid too.”
As the doctor began to take care of the aftermath of Sebastian’s birth, he began to explain to me about what had happened. Sebastian had what is called Shoulder Dystocia which means after his head crowned, his shoulder became caught in my pubic bone region. This can be incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons including the possibility of damaging the umbilical cord due to heavy manipulation while trying to get the baby out. Hesitantly, I asked the doctor what could have happened if they couldn’t get him out and he shot off a number of possibilities…among the scariest being the need to break Sebastian’s clavicle bone or even worse…death. This explained the beads of sweat, the frantic looks, the inherent need to keep me calm. I was told nobody in the room had ever had to perform a shoulder dystocia birth – and while I don’t feel any sort of privilege for being the first – I am incredibly thankful for the diligent staff that helped safely bring our son into the world.
After the chaos began to calm in the room, I was asked if we wanted to finally get Sebastian’s birth measurements. Now he felt on the heavier side to me, but what did I know about newborns? Lola was only 7 lbs 3 oz so I knew he was bigger than she was. Yet all I can say is I was beyond SHOCKED when they told me our son weighed 10 lbs 6 oz and was 22.5 inches long! I had to ask them to repeat it as I simply didn’t believe it to be true. Yet it was. And this would help explain why I was so ridiculously uncomfortable towards the end of my pregnancy. It would also help explain why his birth was so complicated. My little 5’3″ body simply wasn’t designed to birth such a big boy. Except I did and he’s here and he’s healthy and he’s sleeping in the crevice of my arm just as he has for the entire day…because that’s where he sleeps best.
Sebastian was the missing piece to our little puzzle. He has been with us for a month now except it feels as if he’s been part of our family all along. He has a distinct personality for his young age. When he’s ravenously hungry, he’ll stop at nothing to find me. And when he’s happy, the smiles begin to shine through. He’s strong and not just physically. I think he gets his head strong personality from his Polish mother, but he looks very much like his father. He resembles Rob in a number of ways and not simply because they share the same amount of hair (ha ha honey). His eyes have a sense of awareness much like Rob’s. When he looks at me, I feel as if he sees much more than what is on the surface. It was those same looks that led me to fall in love with his father. While their connection is still forming, I see many years of sports being played, encyclopedias being read and Rob will probably teach him a thing or two about space and graphic novels.
But in truth, Sebastian is a mama’s boy. It could be because I am his sole feeding source (breastfeeding came to him quite easily), but there is a deep bond between us even this early on. Mother and son. We meld together like our journey began long before this lifetime. Thankfully, we found each other once again. I can feel his entire body relax when he is in my arms. And every so often he wakes from a nap, looks up at me to make sure I’m still there and he drifts back off into dreamland. I always thought I would want little girls yet I am beyond in love with my son. I was ecstatic when we got the news at the hospital. I would have loved another baby girl just as much, but I’m simply happy to have my boy.
My boy and my girl. Sebastian and Lola.
Lola has adapted quite well to his arrival. In the beginning days, you could sense her confusion as to what this odd thing crying was. And you could see the disappointed look in her eyes when she realized I couldn’t just pick her up as readily as before. Yet she is now her father’s daughter. I knew it would happen as I have to tend to Sebastian more and that’s OK for now. I try to make sure to give Lola extra love and snuggles to make up for the times when I can’t.
I’ve often wondered how I could create such a large baby, but I’ve finally figured it out…Sebastian had to be big enough in order to handle Lola right away. While I am constantly shielding him, Lola has snuck a few grabs and pulls in here and there. She doesn’t mean it in a malicious way, it’s simply that she feels differently than most. What may feel hard to us may feel like a light touch to Lola due to the sensory component of her life. But she is learning. I put them both together on the bed so she can see who he is and she can practice being gentle with him. But Sebastian is a haus who can certainly hold his own. And even when she tries to grab at him, he gazes at her with lovey eyes. You can see the bond forming. One that will have much more meaning than even I can predict. He is here to protect her, to shield her, to love her.
And as I begin to wrap this up, Louis Armstrong’s, “What a Wonderful World” has begun to stream on Pandora. I’m sitting here with this amazing little boy, waiting for my beautiful daughter to get home from school all the while chatting with my loving husband online. Even though life has its ups and downs, I can sit back and agree…what a wonderful world.
Happy One Month Birthday Sebastian!
In the coming days, find out why Sebastian’s room looks like this…
And see what is new with our girl, Lola…