He's finally here. Sebastian Thomas Hands was born Saturday, Sept 19 at 10:27 pm. As all of the ultrasounds predicted, he was a big boy - 9 lb 21 inches. Some days when I sit with him in my arms I cannot actually believe that he was inside of me. It is such a surreal feeling.
As most of you know, I was pretty worried that Sebastian was going to be too large to birth. I know that sounds dramatic, but I was legit terrified. Because his height and weight was greater than the 95% ile, my doctor gave me the option of a scheduled c-section. Before becoming pregnant, I thought the idea of a scheduled c-section sounded amazing. No labor pain, contractions, waiting, unknowns, etc., but a couple of months into my pregnancy, all those freaky hormones started to affect my ability to think rationally and I began to romanticize the whole labor process. In my mind, I was going to go into labor a few days before my scheduled due date. My water would break in a dramatic way, at the mall in front of a crowd of people, just like the movies. I would then rush to the hospital where I would give birth to my baby within 5 hours - pain-free, with an epidural of course. I would push him out with 3 strong pushes, birds would be singing and it would be so beautiful I would cry. I really wanted that vaginal birth experience. If only I had of been able to see into the future. If only someone would have told me what I was in for, what it was like when you are actually in the thick of it, and I probably would have slapped myself in the face and scheduled a c-section.
My doctor really wanted Sebastian to come earlier rather than later due to his expected size, so a week before my due date she performed a cervical sweep - a way to try and bring on labor. She ran her finger around my cervix trying to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac from the cervix - a success rate of 30%. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful. The following week, on my due date - Wed Sept 16, I had my second cervical sweep. The next day Thursday, Sept 17 at 10:30 pm I went into labor, or what I thought was labor. That whole day I was experiencing what they call the 'bloody show'. I know, sounds disgusting. I began feeling a little crampy, a little different and more intense than menstrual cramps. They were similar to the feeling I had when my doctor performed the cervical sweep, a stretching of my cervix. The pain was annoying but manageable. Brent and I stayed up that Thursday night until 1:30 am counting contractions, eating sour patch kids, and finishing season 1 of The Leftovers. We were so excited at the possibility of meeting baby Sebastian soon.
At this time, my contractions weren't that close, only 15 minutes apart. In the back of my mind, I knew that I had some serious time to kill before things got real, but I was still really excited that I was making progress. The last thing I wanted was to go two weeks over my due date and possibly give birth to a 10 lb baby. I tried to get some sleep that night, but I only managed to get a couple of hours before the pain started waking me up every hour. My contractions sped up to 7 minutes apart, and I was starting to get really excited. Naive as I was, I called my mom that morning and told her I was in labor and that the baby was probably going to arrive sometime that day. After that, things didn't seem to progress any further, probably because I jinxed myself. After a full day of contractions, I was fed up. Brent and I decided to walk it off because that's what you're supposed to do. Even though that's the last thing I wanted to do. We walked to the park. We walked downtown that Friday evening past the bars and the drunk people. I was a hot mess moaning and groaning, and people were cheering me on like I was running a marathon. We walked around the block what seemed like 50 times and nothing. My contractions stayed at 8 minutes apart.
I was dead exhausted. And nervous. 24 hours with no progress, to me, was not a good sign. Around 10:30 pm that Friday night, I called the on-call doctor and she told me to come to the hospital and they would see me in triage. We drove to the hospital, and I thought, this is it. We could be having this baby anytime now. Boy was I wrong. I was admitted to triage and as I lay on the table waiting for the on-call doctor, crossing my fingers that I was at least 5 cm or better yet 7 cm dilated. The doctor came in and measured my cervix. I was only 3 cm. I thought - if this is the pain that I am experiencing at 3 cm I can't imagine what 10 cm is like. At this point, I was seriously worried. When was this baby going to come? How much longer could I take? As the nurse was writing up my discharge papers, and as I lay on the table just trying to deal with my contractions, all of a sudden I heard a loud pop, and then a gush. My water had broke. It was so dramatic and everything that I hoped for. I kept saying over and over again, oh my god that was amazing, oh my god that was so gross. They then admitted me to labor and delivery.
After my water broke the contractions came on strong. I mean really strong. I had no idea that that type of pain existed. My contractions went from every 8 min to every 60 seconds lasting 90 seconds. The on-call doctor could see my pain and suggested that I get into the jacuzzi tub before opting for an epidural because I was concerned about mobility. When I got to the room I took off all my clothes in front of a bunch of strangers because I really didn't care at that point. I got into the tub and was surprised at how disgusting the water felt, which is weird coming from me because I love hot tubs. The water was luke warm and made me feel nauseous. I tried to get out of the tub, but I was in so much pain I just laid there shaking. And then I started screaming where is the epidural? Everyone was like - you never asked for an epidural? I was pissed that nobody could read my mind. Five minutes later the anesthesiologist (bless that man) arrived, which was perfect because I probably would have killed someone pretty soon, and it likely would have been Brent. I thought that I was going to be really nervous about getting a giant needle into my back, but by that point I really couldn't give a shit. He numbed my back, inserted the needle, and the next thing I felt a cold flow of water down my back and then the pain disappeared. I was in absolute heaven. I can't even imagine what it would have been like if I didn't have that pain relief.
For a good while my contractions stayed strong, but eventually they became weak and further apart. In retrospect, I blame it on the epidural and the fact that I was immobile, but seriously, I wouldn't have changed a thing. The doctor came to check me around 5 pm that Saturday evening and I was only 4 cm dilated. We decided to start the Pitocin. At first the Pitocin worked like a charm. I had dilated 4 - 7 cm in a few short hours, but then my contractions slowed down and got weak. At this point, the baby was becoming stressed. At every contraction, his heart rate dipped lower and lower. By this point, he had pooped and it had been close to 24 hours since my water had broke. Things were not looking good. For some reason, I was not dilating and this baby was not coming anytime soon. My doctor increased the Pitocin and gave me 1 hour to get to 10 cm. My doctor checked me at 10:00 pm and no change. At this point, the baby had turned so that we were both back to back (sunny side up they call it), and unfortunately, epidurals are not that effective at blocking the pain of back labor. I was beginning to lose it. The baby was getting more and more stressed each time I had a contraction. There were multiple nurses coming in and out of my room, and everyone started to get pretty serious. My doctor told me that the safest thing for me and the baby was to get him out via c-section. I was so delusional by that point, I was like, ok. let's do it. I had 5 nurses prepping me at once, which made me think that things were more serious than I thought. Five nurses, 2 doctors, 1 anesthesiologist, 3 NICU nurses, and 1 husband all in the room at once. Before they started the procedure, the anesthesiologist performed an ice test to check if I had adequate pain relief. My epidural wasn't quite cutting it, so the anesthesiologist performed a spinal tap, which I thought was working fine until I felt the doctor cutting into me. The anesthesiologist asked me if I could take the pain, and I was like - seriously, are you f-ing kidding me? The next thing I knew they were rushing Brent out of the room, I had an oxygen mask on and they started me on an IV of propofol. I was out.
The whole thing was really surreal. Like a dream. A really long 48-hour dream. Brent tried to document as much as he could with the camera on my phone so that I could at least feel like I was present when Sebastian entered this world. I'd also like to note that I'm really glad that he didn't get any pictures of me lying on the operating table because that would have been seriously creepy. Once they pulled little Sebastian out, he was wrapped twice with the umbilical cord. The doctor said there was no way he was ever coming out vaginally, and it was good that we decided to do the c-section when we did because it would have been an emergency otherwise. The poor little guy needed resuscitation once delivered, and a lot of attention from the NICU. Neither Brent nor I got to do that initial skin to skin which is so important, and that really bummed me out. Although, as soon as they could, they put Sebastian on me and the first thing he did was latch onto my chin and start to feed. Brent said I was only out for 30 minutes, but I didn't start processing memories for an hour or two. When I finally came to, I had some weird looking nipple shield on my breast and Sebastian was trying to feed. It was so bizarre. I think that deep down I'm a little sad that I didn't get the labor experience that I had planned, but it seems so selfish to say that, because the most important thing is that Sebastian is safe and healthy.
After the procedure, they wheeled my up to post-partum, where we spent the next 3 days being pampered. The nurses took such great care of us. The automatic bed was amazing, the room service was incredible. We had an amazing view of Elliott Bay, Brent had his own bed, and I had 24-hour nursing care. We even had someone come in and give Sebastian his first bath. I really didn't want to leave. They day after the c-section, they had me get out of bed. I'm not going to lie, it was intense. But every day seems to be getting better, and I am now walking up to a mile per day. The hardest part about the whole recovery is the willingness to ask for help and letting others do things for me. I am one of those 'I can do this by myself' types of person, so learning to just sit back and relax hasn't been easy. We are so lucky that Sebastian is healthy and such a well-behaved baby. He is pretty chill most of time, except between the hours of 12 - 3 am when he thinks it's 'let's drink all night' party time. He has such a personality already - the most intense facial expressions. Everything is serious business all the time. Becoming a mom has changed me in a way I never knew possible. My love for Sebastian is so deep and so strong sometimes I just feel like crying from pure happiness, and pregnancy hormones.