Have you ever wondered what heaven smells like? I have, and I now know what heaven smells like. A new baby, is the freshest and closet smell of heaven on this side of eternity. I promise! Everything about a newborn smells heavenly! It is intoxicating. The Mr. and I have found that we love to soak in the smell of Dutch, from his laundry, to his breath and his hair…it all smells like heaven…….like a miracle. Everything about Dutch’s surprise conception, questionable pregnancy, and exciting arrival was from God, and we are beyond grateful. There are no words in the english language that accurately express our grateful hearts. I wanted to write down Dutch’s birth story before I forgot the little details. In truth, I wrote them down on a legal pad weeks ago, and I’m so glad I did because the details are already foggy.
First of all, nothing in my life has ever gone according to my plan, despite the fact that I’m an intense planner. The Lord has been teaching me that my time is never as good as His timing for as long as I can remember, and the conception and birth of Dutch was yet another teaching moment. We had planned and trained for a natural vaginal delivery…….spoiler alert…..it didn’t go down like that. Not at all. ***FYI- I will be describing our birth process honestly. This is not meant to be used as medical advice, this is simply our birth experience based on our specific circumstances.***
My due date was May 28, 2014, but I was convinced that Dutch was coming on May 18th…….this is where the laughing can begin. At my appointment on 5/22 I was 2 cm dilated and had been in early labor for two weeks already so my membranes were stripped in the hopes of moving labor along. I tried every single old wives tale to get that baby moving (exercising, dancing, eating pineapple, drinking raspberry leaf tea, acupressure, nipple stimulation, pure cranberry juice……you name it I tried it!). A week later at my next appointment (Thursday 5/29, a day past my due date) I was 3 cm dilated and my membranes were striped again. My doctor made an appointment for me to be induced on Monday 6/2 at 8pm. My doctor was concerned because Dutch was measuring on the larger side for a natural vaginal delivery (over 9lbs). I was NOT excited about the scheduled induction at all, and spent the weekend trying more old wives tales to get him moving and praying that we could avoid all medical interventions (more laughing here at my attempt to plan). Over the weekend my contractions continued but still nothing regular. They were intense and would stop me in my tracks, but they weren’t getting closer together.
On Sunday night (or early Monday morning rather), at 12:32am I had my first time-able contraction (I was 40 weeks and 6 days). I labored through contractions on my birthing ball in our living room. I tried to rest between contractions, but spent the majority of the early morning hours breathing slowly, on all fours on my yoga mat with my head on the ottoman, and humming. I went through the rotation of positions we practiced with our doula for weeks before and that position (on all fours) worked the best for me. The Mr. helped me to take a few warm baths through the night and washed my hair for me to help me stay relaxed. Being in the warm water was extremely helpful for my pain management. As I labored, I graciously watched the Mr. finish off my list of things I wanted done before going to the hospital (wash the dogs, sweep, vacuum, dishes, laundry, etc.) After about 12 hours my contractions were 3 minutes apart and we decided to head to the hospital to be assessed. When we walked in, I remember thinking, “If they tell me I am only 3 cm dilated still, I will cry!” In fact, I’m pretty sure I told the security guard that as we were checking in. The hospital was great and got me back to a room very quickly (I seriously can’t say more good things about our hospital; every step was amazing and perfect!). Guess what?! After being assessed I was still only 3 cm dilated; let the water-works commence! Since I was supposed to be induced that night anyways, my doctor decided to just admit me instead of sending me home (the tears stopped when they said I could stay).
Around 2pm, I was started on pitocin at a low dosage, and it was increased every hour. As expected, my contractions intensified and quickened. A little before 7pm, 20 hours into labor, I was 4 cm dilated . Everything seemed to be okay, slow but okay, so I told the Mr. to go to the car to get our bags and grab something to eat. When he left our room I felt my water break, and as soon as that happened everything changed….and really fast. When the nurse assessed my bag of water, she noticed that my temperature was pretty high and that Dutch’s heart rate was beginning to increase. I was quickly diagnosed with chorioamnionitis. I felt really bad for the Mr. because he was only gone for 15 minutes and when he left me everything was fine, but when he walked back into our room I was on oxygen, there was a swarm of medical professionals, and I was started with an epidural for the probably eminent c-section.
Because the doctors started talking about a c-section, we asked for a little more time to see if my body would break the fever on its own with antibiotics. I fell asleep and Phil prayed over me and Dutch for the next 2 hours. The entire time he kept watching Dutch’s heart rate on the monitor go higher and higher. At 10pm the doctors noticed that Dutch’s heart rate was 220 (normal shouldn’t be higher than 165ish), and that Dutch was at risk for a stroke and cardiovascular damage, so we were rushed in for an emergency c-section. The Mr. was brought into the operating room after they had me and the NICU team set up. Getting to the OR was very fast, and the medical team started right away trying to get Dutch out. The doctor had a tough time getting Dutch out because of his wide shoulders, and the NICU team was closely monitoring Dutch and waiting to get their hands on him due to his cardiovascular distress and lack of oxygen. Dutch was born at 11:05pm on June 2, 2014 weighing 7 lbs 11oz, and was 21 inches long.
The Mr. noticed that the doctors were getting very quiet and giving each other knowing glances with big eyes over their face masks. Due to the chorioamnionitis and prolonged labor, I started to lose blood really quickly. At this point I began vomiting, and received many shots in my shoulders to try to control and prevent the vomit from filling up my lungs. I lost 4x the amount of blood that is normal for birth via a c-section, so I don’t remember much because I was in and out of consciousness due to the loss of blood. However, I do remember the doctor quickly holding Dutch over the blue screen for me to see him, I remember the many shots I was receiving in my shoulders to try and stop the vomiting, I remember the silence in the room as they were trying to get Dutch to cry, and I remember asking the Mr. if Dutch had a clef pallet (I can’t believe I remembered to ask that in the chaos of the moment, but that was something that I was worried about since we could never get Dutch to move his hands from his mouth during ultrasounds.) The Mr. was back and forth between me and Dutch. As my doctors were trying to get the bleeding under control to avoid a blood transfusion and sew me up, he would report back to me what the NICU team was doing to get Dutch’s oxygen levels up and what medications he was started on through his IV. Sidebar- I had no idea organs were removed to be sewn up before returning them to my body! It’s no wonder why a c-section recovery leaves your insides very sore and tender!
The medical team finished me first so I was sent to recovery around 1:30am. When the NICU team was at a stopping point with Dutch, they brought him to us in recovery so that he could nurse, before being returned to the NICU. This was where I first got to hold Dutch for about 10 minutes. Before going into labor I was asked many times by friends and family, what I was most looking forward to saying to our baby boy when he arrived. While I knew exactly what I wanted to say, I could never tell them because I would get choked up. But when the time came, and I got to hold that sweet boy in my arms for the first time, I was able to tell him exactly what I wanted to say, “Jesus loves you little boy”. Through my tears of joy I knew that those needed to be the first words he heard from my voice. This precious boy was all in God’s plan; it was His perfect masterpiece and I want Dutch to always know that.
For the next 6 hours I was tested to make sure that my white blood cell count was increasing. I had 8 medications going into the IV in my left arm, a few into my left hand, blood drawn every 30 minutes from my right arm and right hand, and more shots into my shoulders due to blood incompatibility. My right arm quickly turned black and blue from all of the needles drawing my blood. I never sweat, even while exercising, but I remember being super hot and sweaty from the fever while I was in recovery. Sweat was just rolling down the sides of my face. This continued until my blood platelets stabilized and my fever broke.
Around 6am on Tuesday, the Mr. and I were taken to our postpartum room, and Dutch was delivered back to us from the NICU around 7am. Because of the chorioamnionitis, prolonged labor, and Dutch passing his meconium, he was on several antibiotics through an IV in his right hand covered by a large paddle. Tuesday was such a whirlwind of tests on our temperatures and blood levels. By the end of the day my foley catheter (for urination) was removed. While it was incredibly painful to get up to use the restroom (thank goodness my hubby practically carried me to the bathroom each time), the absence of the catheter made adjusting to Dutch so much easier. Trying to hold, nurse, or change Dutch around all of my IV’s, his IV’s, my spinal catheter and foley catheter was challenging, so just having one of those removed was incredibly helpful.
On Wednesday (6/4), Dutch’s pediatrician stopped by to assess him in the morning. He only lost 3% of his birth weight and was now weighing 7lbs and 7 oz. After he passed his tests for the day (hearing & bilirubin) he was circumcised. While that was happening, the Mr. got me showered and changed for the first time since I was in labor. Since I had not been allowed to shower I was really looking forward to this monumental task, however I had no idea how extremely painful it would be and how weak I would be. Praise the Lord for my strong, compassionate, and patient husband! When Dutch was finished with his procedure we went to lactation class. At 11am everyday our hospital offered a lactation class for all new moms and it was awesome. Dutch was the star pupil at booby class that day lol By the end of the day my spinal catheter was removed and all of my IV medications were completed and removed. Dutch completed all of his antibiotics and his IV was also removed from his right hand. While we had a lot going on Wednesday, the day really was great: everyone was on the mend, we had two visitors, and the hospital gave us our celebration dinner- complete with blue cake and sparkling cider. Our evening was a little more challenging because my milk had not arrived yet and Dutch was very hungry (read “hangry”), we were all exhausted, and Dutch was uncomfortable from his surgery that morning. After a few hours of Dutch & I both crying, Dutch went to the nursery for supplementation around 2am. I was concerned about weight loss from not eating increasing his risks of jaundice, so I had to deal with my extreme mommy-guilt and send Dutch to the nursery (I still cried though). When 6am rolled around and Dutch wasn’t back, the Mr. walked and I shuffled to the nursery to pick him up.
On Thursday (6/5), we met with the pediatrician in the morning and Dutch received his vaccinations before he was discharged. He was discharged weighing 7 lbs and 2 oz. While I was waiting to be discharged we had two special visitors come by and keep us company, I practiced walking laps around the 12th floor of the hospital, and I had my staples removed. In the afternoon my physician came by to assess me; he wanted to keep me one more day and send me home on Friday, but we asked him if I was really careful if I could go home and he said that I could……I mean when he looked around the room he saw that everything was packed up and piled by the door ready to go. How could he say no? At 3:30pm the discharge papers were signed, and we were pulling in our driveway at 5:30pm.Since arriving home, we have been playing “get to know you” with Dutch. And to be honest, with each other too since we have completely new roles as a mama and daddy. We have both been soaking in the sweet smell of heaven. The scent of heaven are the miracles of God; that’s what babies are….miracle after miracle. It is the sweetest smell I have ever experienced. Going through the birth experience and the transition into parenthood with my husband has been a true joy. Even though our experience was nothing close to what we had planned, it was perfect; better than we could have planned. I have fallen more in love with my husband; more in love than I ever thought was possible. His dedication, patience, and compassion are characteristics that stare me in the face everyday. He is a magnificent man, husband, and father. I am blessed to have the Mr. at my side walking through this journey with me, and we are in awe of the blessing and miracle God gave us with Dutch.