Monday, March 7, 2011

Marissa's Birth Story

In light of my pregnancy, I'm going to be sharing a birth story every week for the next 20 weeks.  Hopefully, at that time, I will deliver and have a story of my own to share with you.  

This week, a good friend of mine, Marissa, is going to share her story.  Thanks for sharing Marissa! 

I wish I had a great labor story to tell my son about his birth.  I wish I could tell him that his father and I were trapped in a cabin in the middle of a snow storm in the dead of winter and that I went into labor at the peak of the blizzard, requiring his father to harrowingly and bravely deliver him on the floor, cut the cord with a Swiss army knife, and wrap him in a spare blanket while we waited for the paramedics to arrive, staring out the window at our own private Winter Wonderland while we gazed lovingly at our little miracle baby.

I wish I could tell him that, but that's not the way it happened.  He was born in the middle of California, not in the middle of a snowstorm.  In fact, it wasn't even winter; it was the middle of April.  And I didn't even get to go into labor, nor was I induced.  He was a scheduled C-section, because my doctor was concerned about how big he was getting while I was still only 36 weeks along.  My "little" guy was measuring 9.5 pounds on an ultra sound at that point, and my belly was measuring an astonishing 47 cm from breastbone to pelvic bone.

I went home (after shedding a few tears in my doctor's office) and began to fret over my impending surgery and the earlier-than-anticipated arrival of our little one.  I passed a very fitful week, and I secretly did a lot of walking and started eating a lot of pineapple (someone had actually told me that eating pineapple in your last trimester can cause contractions), hoping and praying that I would go into labor and that my doctor would not have a chance to perform the C-section.

Much to my disappointment, all I experienced were some mighty uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks contractions and some severely swollen cankles, the result of too many trips up and down the mall in the hopes that I would begin to experience labor pains.

The Big Day arrived all too soon, in my opinion.  My husband and I were both terrified and excited.  My surgery was scheduled for 5:00 that evening, so aside from being nervous and on edge to begin with, I was one cranky soon-to-be mama all day, because I couldn't eat anything after 5:00 that morning.  I checked into the hospital at 3:30pm and begrudgingly lay there in my hospital bed and my ugly blue hospital gown, feeling embarrassed because said gown made me look just like the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  I was poked and prodded, shaved, had all my jewelry removed, and then had to shove all my hair up into one of those papery surgical shower cap-things (and if you know me, you know what a feat this is--I have enough hair to replace a Shetland pony's tail if it ever loses it for some unforeseen reason), and then...

The anesthesiologist came in.


Well, hello there, frail little apparently-eighty-five-year-old Asian man whom I can't understand well enough to glean a name from and whose hands are shaking like you're having a nasty case of the DT's.  How do you do?  Of course I'd be perfectly comfortable with you sticking a huge needle into my spine, why ever would you ask me such a silly question?  

By the time the 12th try came around, I was holding on to one of the nurses and dutifully hugging my pillow so as to be in the exact right position for the needle to enter the space between my vertebrae.  I was also sobbing freely at this point and begging my doctor to just put me out and wake me up when the baby got here.  I'm not ashamed to say that I begged.  I may have even tried bribery, I honestly don't know.  I do remember my doctor coming over to the side of the table and, holding my hand, saying, "You don't want me to do that, trust me; if I do that, your husband can't come in here, it will be harder on you and the baby, just let's try this one last time, okay?" 

I remember sucking in all the air I could and holding my breath, screaming at myself in my head to not move, just let the needle find the right place this time and to not move, even if there was an earthquake and the floor opened up and swallowed me whole, and I begged god to help that anesthesiologist find that magical and elusive spot in my spine where that needle belonged.  I felt the needle pierce my skin.  I heard one of the nurses tell me that it was in and remind me not to move, and then everything from my armpits down went mercifully numb.  I was still crying when they laid me down on the operating table and someone finally went to fetch my somewhat-frantic husband, about an hour late.  He immediately rushed to my side and, seeing my tear-stained and swollen face, gripped my hand.  No one had given him an update or told him what was going on.  They just left him sitting there waiting for close to an hour. 

It took almost an hour to get that spinal block in.  It took less than 10 minutes for my doctor to cut me open (while a fountain of blood, I'm told by my wonderful husband, sprayed up out of me, all over the floor, threatening to splatter the shoes of my operating team) and introduce my son, Ethan, to this world.

I actually didn't know that he was out at first, and I didn't find out until afterwards that it was because he didn't cry right away.  All I remember is someone bringing my precious baby boy around to the head of the table and showing him to me; all I remember is seeing his beautiful little face, kissing his cheeks (my cheeks!) and touching his nose (his daddy's nose!), and holding his tiny, tiny hand; all I remember is crying happy tears and thinking,

"Oh, yes, my little love...for you, I would do this all over again." 


  1. Thanks to Marissa for sharing this! I bawled like a baby as I read it.

    Keep 'em coming, Shondra!

  2. Great story Marissa! Keep em coming S-Dub

  3. Being pregnant, I am so excited for these posts! What a great one to start out with, so many ups and downs! Thanks so much for sharing Marissa!

  4. Thanks so much, everyone! I'm excited to see everyone else's stories so we can all compare experiences!

  5. Amen to doing it all again for the bundle of joy! Thank you for sharing.