World, meet our sweet son Dax Daniel.
In keeping with tradition on this blog, it is only fitting that I share Dax’s birth story. It’s a good one. At least my husband and I think so. But I will warn you–if birth stories aren’t your thing, this probably isn’t the post for you. This was an incredibly memorable delivery experience, and I am documenting it so that I always remember the realness and perfection of his arrival.
Also please excuse my hormones as they seep into this post. I am totally submerged in newborn bliss, and I cannot seem to get enough of life with this baby boy. Today we celebrate three wonderful weeks with him.
Since I didn’t blog throughout my entire pregnancy, I will share some of the backstory. At my six week postpartum checkup after my c-section with Kendal, my OB told me that I would be a perfect candidate for a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean) in the future if we were to decide to have more children. He strongly encouraged me to think about it. At the time I didn’t give it much thought and having more children was the furthest thing from my mind at my six week check.
Fast forward four years when we finally decided to add one more to our crew. I recalled the vbac conversation vividly and wanted to explore this option. My doctor was on board right away and believed this would definitely be something to consider.
It isn’t so much that I hated my c-section. I am all about getting baby here safely, and that is exactly why I had to have a c-section with Kendal. It is more about the recovery process I wanted to avoid this time around. I had a rough recovery from my c-section, and I wanted to avoid that again.
Like most women, I am super busy. Adding the sixth member to our family surely wasn’t going to make life less chaotic. There were little things I wanted this time around after bringing home baby. I wanted to be able to go home and sleep in my own bed and not be bogged down by pain meds. I wanted to be able to take care of my girls right away or get up out of a chair without assistance. I didn’t want the limitations this time around if I could help it.
I have also struggled with coping and recovering from back-to-back birth experiences that were anything but standard. I desperately wanted this birth to go, well…perfect. As perfect as it could. I selfishly wanted to experience delivery as it should be; the way my husband and I had yet to.
My plan to attempt a vbac was intimidating. Especially when I had little to no support outside of my doctor and my husband. If I had a dollar for every time someone tried to talk me out of it, I would currently be on a hefty shopping spree for a new postpartum wardrobe. People tried to talk me out of a vbac in almost every conversation I had about it. Eventually I just stopped answering questions about my projected birth plan. This topic is an entirely separate post about things people say to pregnant people that I have sitting in my draft file, but I digress.
I did my research and sought out support. Our OB and family physician worked as a team to support my pregnancy and answer all of my questions along the way. They also instilled confidence in me at each appointment. Having a vbac was important to me; and even though I was admittedly anxious and scared of the what-ifs, I did not lose sight of my goal. Knowing that I could elect to get a c-section if I changed my mind, I did make a deal with myself and my baby that I would not endanger him or myself with crazy interventions for the sake of a vbac. I did not need a natural delivery that bad that I was willing to risk his or my health in order to get what I wanted. There were lines I was not willing to cross and thankfully the hospital’s guidelines echoed my wishes. This was a no pressure situation; and we were all just hoping that under perfect circumstances, I would spontaneously go into labor without complications.
I had a relatively smooth and uneventful pregnancy; similar to those of my girls. The only major difference for me this time around was that I continued to eat a healthy diet and exercised almost every day; a lifestyle commitment that has been essential to my health the last four years. Outside of the general discomfort that can come with being pregnant, I felt pretty well overall.
The last few weeks were hard on me physically and emotionally; however, I admired my body’s ability to grow and change for our baby. Knowing this was our final pregnancy, I tried to remind myself that soon enough I would miss every moment of pregnancy–even the particularly difficult times.
One week before delivery – 37 weeks
Starting around week thirty-three, I started to experience prodromal labor (false labor) regularly, which was pretty alarming. We certainly did not want him to arrive that early. My doctor advised me to get some extra rest and to reduce my activity some. We also began monitoring baby with fetal non-stress tests (NST) weekly as an additional precaution for his slightly reduced heart rate. The additional rest and non-stress tests helped ease my mind that he was doing well while preparing to make his arrival.
For the better part of my pregnancy, my husband continued to make the prediction that our son would be born on his birthday; which was two weeks before baby’s due date. In fact, he was absolutely certain that was the day he would be born. I disagreed. Out of all the days he could be born on, it seemed unlikely to me that they would share a birthday.
The night before our son was born, I had another fetal NST at 4:30 p.m. at the hospital. I hadn’t been feeling the best that day, but I wanted to make it to my stepson’s home baseball game. Given the fact that I had been having contractions for weeks, I paid little attention to strong contractions I started having an hour after my NST. We were packing up the car to head to the game and the contractions only got stronger. They continued to intensify over the next two hours; lasting for 45-50 seconds every five minutes and gradually getting closer and lasting longer. At the end of the game, I suggested to my husband that maybe our girls should go to their grandparent’s house for the night…just in case.
At this point, I began to accept that I was most likely in labor. I had already communicated with my doctor that I believed it was baby time. That complicated mix of emotions rushed over me; fear of the unknown, excitement to meet our new baby, gratitude for the experience, sadness for the end of another pregnancy, anxiousness for the delivery. It was time.
I knew I had to stay as relaxed as possible and let my body do its thing. I grabbed my exercise ball and bounced for just a few minutes in my bedroom. Eventually I took a bath and continued to wait it out. Next I tried to rest but wasn’t able to do so for long. Just before 11 p.m. I decided it was time to head to the hospital.
The next five and half hours were a whirlwind. Upon arriving at the hospital, I told Dan to leave our bags in the car. You know…so to not jinx my obviously imminent labor. Even though I could see he thought this was ridiculous, he knew enough in that moment to comply with my wishes. Bless his heart. Once we were in the OB unit, we were set up in our room. The same nurse I had with Tessa and in the same room where I delivered her; as if the beginning and end of my delivery experiences had come full circle.
That realization hit me unexpectedly, and it took so much to control my emotions. I recall expressing to my doctor that I was suddenly very scared of the impending delivery, and that I was not sure if I could do it. There is a lot that she and I had endured since my first pregnancy. She had seen me at my most vulnerable in my worst moments; not only delivering both of my girls, but delivering two of Tessa’s life-changing diagnoses over the years. In typical fashion, she calmly reassured me that I was fully capable of this delivery and that everything would go great.
It was well after midnight, and labor continued to progress as expected. The pain during contractions was mostly tolerable, and I felt in control of my pain. Because of that, I was able to move around more freely. Dan turned on my favorite Pandora station…Johnnyswim Radio, but I remember the playlist that night being absolutely terrible. Somewhere after 1 a.m., I looked at the clock and laughed, then turned to Dan and said, “Happy birthday. Of course you’d get exactly what you want.” He was going to get his birthday baby after all. Anyone that knows Dan well, knows exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t know how or why, but things just seem to go in his favor…a blessing and a curse, really. Naturally he was thrilled with this series of events playing out just as he had always imagined it would.
Dan caught some sleep while things continued to progress. At some point, it was decided that baby needed to be monitored more closely so our OB attempted to place a probe on his head. In the process, my water broke and things immediately progressed. My contractions became so intense. It quickly became unbearable and the pain escalated to new levels. Yet I had still managed to go without any pain interventions. I also wasn’t aware that my body was transitioning to the end stages of labor since this was the first time I had experienced labor without pain medications. Dan was an amazing support system. He was right by my side, encouraging me and telling me how proud of me he was throughout all of labor. I was equally proud of him for being so wonderful to me in such an intense couple of hours.
The time came where I was physically and mentally done. In my mind, I could no longer continue. The pain was far too great for me to manage, and I felt like I was losing all control. Knowing there was still a window for an epidural, I put in my request to get one. I hear this is the time where moms typically say “I can’t do it,” which is funny because I probably said it 452 times while I waited for the anesthesiologist…among many other choice things that spewed from my mouth during that time. By the time he arrived upstairs to administer the epidural, the pain was excruciating. This poor man…it was 4 a.m. I shot him a glare as though he owed me some sort of explanation as to where he had been the whole time, scribbled my name on the consent form and tried to get back on the bed. But I felt it…an incredible urge to push. This baby was coming out. I expressed that I needed to push. They advised the anesthesiologist to wait while they checked me. “Yup, you’re at a 10. Complete. Baby is right there and he can come out right now Becky.”
Like right now?! Fear took over and by that point I was totally inconsolable. There was no way I could do this without the epidural! We were so close, but the thought of pain medication sounded so much easier; so much safer. They reassured me that all I had to do was push a couple of times and he would be out; that I did not need the epidural. However I was adamant and continued to demand the meds. Finally the OB grabbed my hands and talked me off the ledge. The tone in her voice let me know she meant business, and gave me the final voice of encouragement I needed to get my baby here. A few seconds and barely two pushes later, he was out. Though his cord was wrapped around his neck three times, they quickly freed him and then placed him on my chest as my husband held my hand–a first time experience that I had dreamt of my entire pregnancy. I felt an incredible surge of pride; like I was capable of doing anything. I really did it.
Dax Daniel was born on his daddy’s birthday, June 23, 2018 via successful vbac. He weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces and was 21 inches long. Not only does he share a birthday with his dad, he looks just like him as well. He was long and skinny with little wrinkled arms and legs. He had dark hair that covered his sweet head and ridiculously long toes.
This perfect meeting, forever etched into my heart.
It still amazes me how quickly the pain subsides immediately after delivery a baby. How our bodies can transition so quickly from one feeling to the next; the most unbelievable torment to incredible bliss. Making us forget (momentarily) that the pain had even happened at all.
We are still adjusting to life with a newborn again and how to be a family of six. We’re a work in progress, but it is going well. Dax is the perfect addition to our family and we adore him.
It is safe to say I am obsessed with his sweetness. I am trying to grasp onto everything that makes these first few weeks so wonderful for as long as possible. Endless milk-drunken snuggles, sleepy grins, the smell of his newborn head, how his legs criss-cross the same as they did in my belly, the way he wraps his fingers around mine, and even the all-nighters he likes to pull. Lord, let these moments last a little longer for us mamas. And if not, then let us remember them this way forever.