In May, 2012, we were living in Tennessee, preparing to move to Ohio. Content with our family of six, we sold the last of our baby items.
I should have known.
At the end of June, I found out I was pregnant. Not just pregnant, but FOUR MONTHS pregnant. And do you know how I found out I was pregnant? I felt it move.
You're probably wondering HOW, after having four other children, I could have not known. I could blame it on the stress of the move, or the exercise plan I was on, or any number of things. The point is, in five short months, we'd be adding a fifth child to our family.
After keeping the pregnancy a secret for a couple of weeks, we went for our first ultrasound, which was also our full anatomy scan and where we'd find out the gender of our baby. So, when we announced the pregnancy to our families and to the rest of the world, we also happily announced, "It's a BOY!"
After finally convincing everyone that yes, we were pregnant, and no, we weren't joking, we realized we had roughly half of a pregnancy to prepare ourselves and our home for a new little one.
Thankfully, between our family and some fabulous new neighbors, we were able to borrow everything from clothes to baby gear. Of course, I picked up a few adorable outfits and items along the way. We also bought a crib, which would replace a dresser in the guest bedroom.
~ ~ ~
My due date was set for November 26, a Monday. Beginning at 36 weeks, I started to slowly dilate, and by 37 weeks, I was 3 centimeters dilated and 50-75% effaced. My doctor told me that I wouldn't have long to wait.
My 38th week came, and went.
And then the 39th week: Thanksgiving. Still nothing. My parents decided to drive down for Thanksgiving dinner and planned to stay until I had the baby. I tried everything to get that boy out. I walked, ate spicy food, walked, drank castor oil, walked and walked some more.
40 Week Belly Shot:
On Monday, the 26th, my due date, I went to the doctor. I had an ultrasound that morning and was told baby was face up-not the way you'd like to deliver a baby. (Please refer to the birth of Greyson here.) The doc checked me and told me nothing had changed and I promptly asked him to do a membrane sweep. (If you don't know what a membrane sweep is, you probably don't want to know.) He agreed to the sweep but told me it most likely wouldn't help much because the baby's head was too high. Then he asked me to come to his office to schedule an induction for the FOLLOWING MONDAY IN CASE I HADN'T DELIVERED.
I was crushed. I was miserable and had been for quite some time, and the thought of being pregnant for one more day, let alone another WEEK, was more than I could bear. I went home and walked again. I didn't have a single contraction on that walk. For WEEKS I'd had contractions on and off and now that I actually needed them, they were gone. My birthday was coming in four days. I remember joking with people months prior, that there was NO way I'd still be pregnant on my birthday. And now, that's exactly what I was facing, and I had no control over the situation.
I returned home, ate dinner, took a bath, and got ready for bed. Still, not a single contraction. I used the bathroom one last time that night and noticed some light spotting. I wasn't hopeful-I thought it was just the result of the membrane sweep in the office earlier that day. I texted my sister, who was planning on being at the hospital for the birth, but told her not to come yet-I felt nothing.
At 12:30am, I got up to use the bathroom, AGAIN. And again, there was a little spotting. I still felt nothing. I got back into bed, laying on my right side. I rolled to my left side and felt the baby roll with me-something I hadn't felt before. And then, BOOM. A contraction. A real contraction. It was 12:40am. Between the flip that the baby had just done and that single contraction, I knew it was go-time.
I decided to time a few contractions before I woke anyone up:
They weren't stopping, and they HURT. Time to wake up Jason.
Me: J-wake up. It's time.
J: Time? Time for what? How do you know?
Me: Because I KNOW.
The contractions were getting more painful. I wanted to call the doctor. Time to wake up my parents.
All of a sudden, the contractions went from ten minutes apart to five minutes apart. Time to call the doctor.
SHIT. Contractions two minutes apart. GET IN THE CAR.
No longer stopping at stop signs.
Finally, we arrive at the hospital. I walk in and someone offers me a wheelchair. I take it. We check in through Emergency and are told someone would be down shortly to take me up to Labor and Delivery. After the longest fifteen minutes OF MY LIFE, a nurse comes and whisks me up to Triage in Labor and Delivery. In between contractions, I slip into my hospital gown and get into bed. The nurse returns, asking me basic questions about my pregnancy-all the routine things. When she asks me what number baby this is and I tell her number five, she gives me a funny look and tells me she's going to check me. As she's preparing, she casually asks if I'd like an epidural, to which I respond, YES. Two seconds later she tells me I am six centimeters dilated. I knew at that point, with my history of deliveries, that there would be no epidural.
Suddenly, things shifted into high gear. She was calling for help to get me into a room. I told Jason to tell my parents that if they wanted to be at the hospital for the birth, they needed to get there. I also knew that my sister would never make it in time. My contractions were changing. My pain went from belly-tightening, squeezing pain to IT-WANTS-TO-GET-OUT pain. I knew that if the nurse did not get me to a delivery room very soon, I'd be "the poor woman who delivered her baby in triage", and I really didn't want to be THAT woman.
Finally, another nurse came in and we were off to the races. Down the hall and around the corner and I was in a delivery room-the room where I'd meet my baby. And he was ready to meet me. In fact, he was in a great big hurry to meet me.
My doctor hadn't arrived yet, so there was an on-call doctor in the room. I knew the pressure I was having meant that it wouldn't be long. I told the doctor that I had a history of fast labors. I also told two nurses. They all looked at me with the "Sure, honey" look I had seen several times before. He decided to check me, mostly to appease me, and announced that I was nine centimeters. As soon as he was finished, I told the ENTIRE ROOM that he was COMING OUT. They told me that he wasn't-that I was only nine centimeters. Just breathe, they said. Your doctor isn't here yet, they said. I may or may not have screamed that I did not CARE if my doctor was there and that the baby was coming OUT. (At this point, my parents showed up. They made it just in time.) Again, the entire room told me to relax and slow my breathing and AGAIN I told them that he was coming OUT. I was pushing, involuntarily, and I couldn't stop. I kept wondering why no one was listening to me. I told them that I was pushing-that I couldn't help it-that he was coming out. A nurse raised the sheet to take a peek and announced, "he's coming out!"
From out of nowhere, my doctor appeared. As soon as I saw her at the foot of the bed, I pushed. HARD. Words cannot describe the pain. I've heard people speak of a burning sensation, a ring of fire. Let me tell you, it was worse than that. BOWLING BALL comes to mind. And many, many curse words come to mind.
But then, through the pain, he emerged. It was 4:03am. He was quickly taken to the warmer where he was checked out and cleaned up. I waited, anxiously, to hold my little boy, Nash Culver Martin. Soon, he was in my arms. A tiny bundle, weighing seven pounds, twelve ounces, and measuring nineteen and a half inches long.
And he was beautiful.
~ ~ ~
Many birth stories end here, at the birth. This one doesn't. There's more to this story. I debated over whether I should include this chapter, but it needs to be told.
I required a few stitches after the birth, which was expected. And there was some bleeding, which was expected. But then there was more bleeding. Enough bleeding to bring two doctors back into my room to stop the bleeding. After some very painful minutes, they were confident the bleeding was under control. And then, twenty minutes later, I felt a gush. No, more than a gush. Billowing. That's what I felt. Blood, billowing out of me. I knew this was bad-very bad. I told the nurse. The doctors returned. My blood pressure dropped to 50/25. Noises were muffled in my ears and I was blacking out. I was trying very hard to stay awake. I looked at Jason and told him I would be okay, but I wasn't so sure. They couldn't make the bleeding stop. There were shots going in my legs and IVs going in my arms and medicines being administered and still, they couldn't make it stop.
I remember alarms sounding and being wheeled down the hallway to an operating room. There were bright lights and loud noises and many people going in every direction. I was crying. My doctor was holding my hand, while the anesthesiologist put a mask over my face. He was calm and he smelled good, like cologne. He was talking, and I don't know what he was saying, but I didn't want him to stop talking. I was terrified.
And then it was over. I was awake. I was alive. Jason was with me. My sister had arrived while I was in surgery and she was with the baby. All I wanted was to hold him and feed him and not be away from him. It had been over five hours since he had been born. I missed his first feeding. I missed his first bath. I missed those first snuggles.
After an hour in recovery, I was wheeled back to my room. I was exhausted, but I wanted my baby. I finally got those baby snuggles, and I couldn't wait for his brothers and sisters to meet him. Nana and Grandpa brought them to the hospital as soon as school was over.
I'd have to chalk that up as one of the best moments in my life: Owen, Emerson, Greyson and Alayna meeting Nash.
The next morning, my doctor came in to check on me. And to have a serious discussion. I knew I had lost a lot of blood; I didn't know HOW much until then. I had lost half of the blood in my body. And, frankly, that's how I felt: half-full. He recommended that I have a blood transfusion. There was a lengthy discussion, weighing the pros and cons, and in the end, I decided to have the transfusion. Over a period of eight hours that day, I was given two VERY full bags of blood. Even with all of that blood, they warned me that it would take many weeks to feel back to normal again, but without it, it would take months.
I was discharged from the hospital the very next day-on my birthday. I came home to decorations and cake and gifts and family and it was good.
Things quickly got back to normal around here, and even after just a few weeks, it's hard to imagine life without Nash.
He's had his first Christmas.
He's had his first smile.
He's had more road trips than I can count.
He sleeps a lot,
he loves to be swaddled,
and I can't get enough of him.
Growing up, my birthday celebrations were shared with my Grampy, who was born on November 27th. Now I have a new man in my life to celebrate my birthday with, and that's what I plan to do: