First day home with baby alone, and so far its been a great day! We had newborn photos taken this morning and now he's napping next to me while I write this. Wondering if it will take me a week to finish this post because something's telling me he's going to wake up soon!
These bump photos were the last day I was pregnant. I was induced the next morning and it was a complete whirlwind. Because of the two blood clotting disorders they found while we were struggling with miscarriages, my doctors decided to induce me at 39 weeks. In short, they only wanted me off the thinners for a max of two weeks (I went off at 37) so we had to give baby a little push to come a little early! Turns out when I showed up for my induction I was already having regular contractions and doc assured me I would have been in that night in natural labor. He was ready.
I love these photos that Nick took of me the day before we got to meet our son. (I just literally started crying as soon as I typed that last sentence). Being pregnant is such a gift. A gift I tried to never take for granted. If I ever complained about symptoms my guilt quickly reminded me just how bad I wanted this last year. How I would have given anything. And here we were, pregnant with our miracle. If I am never able to be pregnant again, I am so glad I cherished every moment of our sweet babe growing inside of me. Before you meet your child you can't even imagine the love you will feel. It is unfathomable. I tried to imagine how good it would feel - but what I imagined didn't even come close. He's more. He's better. He's everything.
Since our birth we've had so much support and love sent our way. And so many questions and lots of concern. When we first came home from the hospital I wasn't ready to talk about it. Actually, every time I did I cried and got horrible anxiety throughout my entire body. But time is an amazing thing, I can feel it healing me. Both mentally and physically. Our journey to parenthood has not been an easy one, and I've always been transparent, so I am sticking to that.
Porter Gene West - Born on his Great Grandfather Gene's 88th birthday - Weighing 8 pounds and 11 ounces and 21.5 inches long at 10:06pm - He was the most perfect thing we had ever seen.
The induction started off great. I arrived at almost 4cm dilated and already having natural contractions. We were so excited about this. My body was ready! But very shortly after they started on the pitocin, I got an aura migraine. Any migraine strugglers reading? Oh, these things are my worst nightmare. I have battled them since I was 12 years old and they (up until childbirth) were the worst pain I had ever felt. In short, they are completely miserable. This was SO discouraging to me only an hour into our labor. It gave me a lot of anxiety and definitely made me less confident I could handle all the pain that was headed my way. They decided to slow down the pitocin and let me rest and try to get past some of the headache. A couple hours later we were ready to get this labor going. Our nurse upped the pitocin by two and everything progressed so quickly from there.
I dilated so quickly! At first the contractions were okay. I could talk through them. I visited with my mom and sister. They hurt, but were totally manageable. I was curious how labor felt. I think every woman is. Everyone talks about their birth stories and I wondered so much what mine would be. How would this whole experience feel physically. Well, I can say contractions were the worst pain I've ever felt. I was trying to be patient on getting an epidural because I didn't know how long I would be in labor and didn't want to be bed ridden for 36 hours... They got to a point where they were unbearable. The pain was so intense I felt it all over. Thank god you get a break between them! Such a relief. I wasn't sure I was ready for the epidural before, but at this point I KNEW and a sweet man came in and dosed me and I was back to feeling okay. (Love that man!)
Very shortly after I got the epidural, they came in and broke my water. From here, everything was a chaotic frantic whirlwind. Contractions started coming hard and strong. I was 10 cm fast and we thought we were ready and that this was about to happen. Porter had other plans. The contractions came on too strong and put him in serious distress. At first my nurse just had me switch sides to see if baby would be more content in a different position. His heart rate dropped with every contraction with no signs of letting up. From this moment on everything was a blur. Within minutes there were 10 doctors and nurses rushing in our room. They decided to do an amnio fusion (which I guess is where they try to basically re-insert the fluid you lost from your water breaking to make baby more comfortable). This did not make Porter any happier. They had me in every position imaginable. I was on oxygen the rest of my labor. Nick and I were so scared. I was just trying to listen to the doctors and do everything they asked of me. Porter's heart rate got down to 30 at one point. This baby was in some serious distress. We were absolutely terrified but just trying to stay calm and trust the doctors. I kept making eye contact with Nick, we weren't speaking, but we didn't have to. They had inserted an internal heart rate monitor and baby was not getting any better. Every single contraction put his little heart and body in too much stress. We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of my doctor so we could move forward with how to get this baby out. I anticipated an emergency C section at this point because there were no signs of things letting up. In the mean time they gave me a shot to slow down my contractions. Right after this, we got some relief. The prior hour was horrible. Nurses and doctors rushing around, flipping me, putting masks on my face, buzzers going off, and two extremely worried almost new parents.
My doctor showed up right when things had leveled out. I labored down for another hour and then it was time to push. An hour and thirty minutes of pushing and mama and baby were both completely exhausted. Pushing was so much harder than I expected. I felt like I had nothing left in me. My doctor could see this and she looked me right in my eyes and said "okay Ashley, we are going to try a forceps delivery. If after a few contractions he's not out, we are going to C section. I need you to push with everything you have inside of you." My immediate thought was -- I know I can't do this we're going to C section..." The next contraction the forceps were in, I was screaming and pushing with all I had, and there he was. He came out in the first contraction -- and it was silent. My baby wasn't screaming. He wasn't laid on my chest. His Dad didn't cut the cord. I had immediate panic. I was yelling and crying asking what was wrong. After what felt like an eternity we heard baby cry. He got stuck on the way out and had the cord wrapped around his neck. He was stunned and silent, but after the nurses worked their magic we heard that perfect little baby cry from across the room. At this point Nick had never left my side. Holding me and supporting me through every contraction and every push. I made him run over to meet his baby. I watched them from across the room and I will never forget the look on Nick's face as he wept at the sight of our son.
Finally baby was ready to come over and meet his mama. There is no way to describe the feeling of meeting your child. There literally are not words I could use to describe this magic. So many tears. So much emotion. So much relief. So much happiness. While we were meeting our baby I could see the doctors discussing something, they looked concerned. I was told I had to be moved to the OR for repairs and that we had to go right away. Nick had to stay back and get suited up, and I begged to let them let me keep Porter on my chest. The next two hours were incredibly scary. I could feel myself draining. The exhaustion was at such an extreme. Nick and Porter stayed by my side the entire two hours I was in the OR for repair. During that time I hemorrhaged and declined quickly. It's so scary to be laying there awake, exhausted, delirious, and not exactly sure what was going on. All while knowing you are in a surgery, trying to stay calm and not panic, while losing mass amounts of blood. I was so completely out of it. That was the longest two hours of my life. All I wanted to do was snuggle my new baby, and I was literally laying there fearing my life. Nick stayed strong and kept me calm and we talked about our baby to make the time move faster through new doctors coming in, giving me my 5th IV, hearing them say "she's declining, go get the blood now."
And finally, they were finished and our horror was over. Porter looked amazing, aside from his shoulder dystocia (I will touch on this later) he was completely healthy and thriving. I had never felt worse. We were moved to a high risk room and monitored for the next 24 hours. Finally, the next day I was able to stand. I can't even begin to explain to you how hard this simple task was. Because of the blood loss, I was so horribly anemic my body had absolutely no energy. I was scared and discouraged because all I wanted to do was take care of my baby and I literally could barely move. It was just as hard emotionally as it was physically. I had all these plans to have a fresh 48 session in the hospital and get photos of our new family, but my body had other plans. I was fearful of the way I felt, and knew just how hard this recovery was going to be. I knew going home was not going to be easy. Both of my doctors were amazing and checked in on us constantly. They have been so attentive to my physical and mental health and I can't thank them enough for that. After 3 nights in the hospital, we were ready to go home. I am so glad we were able to stay and get the care I know I needed. Nick was amazing taking care of babe when I couldn't. These men in my life are everything. So patient and everything I needed.
Here are a few photos we snapped in the hospital. I cried because I couldn't take more, but he will have a long life of amazing pictures -- trying to forgive myself because I didn't have the strength to do more then.
I snapped these three shots right before we left the hospital. Porter was three days old and as ready to go home as we were. My perfect little miracle. Can't believe it was him the whole time. He's better than what I dreamt about. He's worth every tear and heart ache. Worth every loss, every blood draw, every test, every month of trying. Worth all the sleepless nights, the worry, the fear. I am so glad we fought for this baby. He is the most incredible gift and I will spend the rest of my life making sure he knows that.
We've been home almost two weeks now and we are starting to get our normal! The first week was so hard on me, I could barely do the stairs, do diaper changes, walking was hard, sitting was hard. I would have never gotten through it without all the amazing support. At two weeks out I feel SO much better. Every day I can feel my energy rising. I'm here with him today all alone, feeding him, feeding myself, and it feels wonderful. I feel like I can finally be his mama 100%. And its a truly beautiful thing.
Here are a few shots I took in his nursery when he was just over a week old. I couldn't get more than this because I just didn't have the energy, but so glad I was able to snag these few.
I am loving maternity leave! I have never in my life had 6 weeks of no work. My only responsibility right now is to bond with this baby and I can't tell you how much I am loving it. I am taking advantage of every second to snuggle and soak of everything that is his perfect squishy self. He's already growing and changing and I know that life is going to fly with him. I am savoring these sleepless nights, late night feedings, dark circles, and PJ's all day. I will miss this time as soon as its gone.
We can't thank everyone enough - for EVERYTHING. From the start. I feel like this baby was literally a labor of love. A group effort. Not possible without all of our love and support. He is living proof of miracles, and what the power of love can do. So many women that helped me through my depression in our year of miscarriages. People sending cards, food, gifts, flowers, texts. I've never felt so supported in all my life. This little babe is because of you all. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. For never making us feel like our fears weren't merited, and for pushing us towards the ultimate goal even when it felt unreachable. We love you all so much and can't wait for everyone to meet our sweet Porter!!