Yesterday as our little guy turned 6 months old we looked back on the day he was born...
As you find out quickly in parenthood, not many things go as planned. In fact it is a great feat to get a plan in motion and have it stay on track. Having said that, some of the best memories are born out of these unplanned moments.
While being trained to be a teacher it was ingrained in us... BE FLEXIBLE. Get ready to switch a lesson, come up with an idea or scratch a whole day at the drop of a hat. There was rarely a day that went according to the schedule. We were always switching something or adding in a lesson about worms because it had rained the day before the playground was covered with them. It was the unexpected things that made the best lessons and stuck with the kids. They wouldn't remember your lesson about rhyming words but four weeks later they could tell you everything about worms!
I went into Christopher's birth with flexibility in mind. I knew there was a thousand different ways that this could go and everything could change in a second. We still did a "birthing plan" to focus us and try to be on the same page before the chaos began. Plus this was all new to Tim and I and no matter how many books you read, they cannot prepare you for that moment.
Our "birthing plan" was that we were going to stay at home for as long as possible. I wanted the freedom to walk, go in the bathtub, bounce on my exercise ball and just do whatever I wanted without people poking and prodding me. We would time the contractions and go in when they were close enough together. I wanted to do this completely natural, no medicine, so staying at home would also encourage me to work through the contractions and not get an epidural just because it was available. Looking back through our birthing plan the only two things I got in were two short walks and bouncing on my exercise ball. Both were very short lived.
At our second to last doctor's appointment I was told that I was positive for Group B Strep. Basically it is a bacteria you can get while you are pregnant. During birth you can pass it on to your newborn which could cause blood infections, meningitis, etc. All of this is easily avoided by getting some penicillin administered, every 4 hours through an IV, before giving birth.
That was the first kink in our birthing plan I would need to go to the hospital earlier and be pinned down to an IV full of antibiotics. I pleaded with the doctor, asking if there was anyway I could still do some of my labor at home. She said that would be fine since we lived close but I would have to go in a lot sooner than I had liked. Leaving the doctor's office I was almost in tears, but reminded myself that it isn't about what I want, it is about what the baby needs. Plus sometimes, you just have to go with the flow.
The second kink in our plan came at 6:00am on the morning of January 30, 2011. I sat up in bed and realized I had to go to the bathroom (no shocker there since by this point I was going two or three times a night). When I stood up I felt like I was already going to the bathroom so I sprinted, as much as a 40 week pregnant women could sprint, to the bathroom. Now, there are times in your pregnancy, a lot actually, that you do not mean to go pee and you do (sneeze, cough, get startled... you better cross your legs) so I just thought I really had to go and having no room in there it just decided to come out on its own. After about a minute of this though I realized what my husband, who was standing half asleep in the doorway, had realized... MY WATER HAD JUST BROKE!
When Tim asked me if my water had broke I half wanted to lie and say no, even though we both knew what was happening. I was not ready for this, even though I had 40 some weeks to prepare, and I was devastated that my water broke because that meant we had to go to the hospital ASAP. (Basically once your water breaks you have 24 hours to get the baby out because they don't want to risk an infection). I called the doctor's office and they said the doctor on call would call us back. In the meantime I called my parents and my sister to give them a heads up and because obviously trying to ask your mother if your water was breaking when she is an hour and a half away is the right thing to do :) After hanging up with them and waiting for the doctor to call I told myself that women all over the world do this everyday and that I could do this (this argument does not help in that moment though because I was not every other women and I had never done this before!).
The doctor finally called back about 20 minutes after our initial call and told us to come on in. Tim had already started packing the car and had eaten his breakfast so it was time for me to get ready. I thought I would want to shove a bunch of food in my mouth since you can't eat once you reach the hospital but I couldn't even think about eating. Instead I was trying to figure out what to put on, keep in mind I was still a leaky faucet, so I ended up walking around with a towel diaper until we were ready to leave. I'm sure I looked quite humorous, but you do what works!
As we were walking out the door and saying goodbye to the cats (because that is what you do when you are in labor) I realized the next time we came back we would, Lord willing, have a little baby with us! This realization, and many prayers to God, gave me a calmness and made me realize that I could do this. I had a wonderful husband and family on the way that loved me, and our unborn child, more than anything and they would be there every step of the way!
Once we got to the hospital I felt like we didn't stop moving. We were shuffled in a room where the nurse basically just checked that my water had indeed broken. She then took us into the labor and delivery room and had me get changed. She was checking my blood pressure and starting an IV while another nurse was taking my blood and the doctor was checking the status of my dilation. I was almost 3 cm so I thought I was just cruising right along until the doctor said the one word I never wanted to hear...PITOCIN (if you aren't up on the lingo, pitocin would be a drug to help jump start your contractions, it also makes them hurt about 1,000 times worse... because they don't hurt enough without that, right?).
The second they left the room I was in panic mode again realizing that it wasn't even an hour into my labor, I strapped to a bed with an IV, and they were already talking pitocin. The nurses were all wonderful talking me through every step and after they had monitored the baby and me they let Tim and I walk around the halls. By this point I wasn't feeling any contractions so I was zooming around the halls. This didn't last long as I had to get back in bed for some more monitoring.
The doctor came in to check and I hadn't progressed any further so she wanted to start me on pitocin. I thought, alright, it will help get me started and maybe help me dilate super fast (wishful thinking)! So they put another tube on my IV drip and started the pitocin. It took a little bit to take effect so while we waited we played a game of Skip-bo with both of our sisters. During this time I was out of bed bouncing on my exercise ball praying it would help me to dilate. I also got a little jello and a popsicle, which was good at the moment but I paid for later (What goes down, must come up... or at least that's how it worked that day)!
The next couple hours felt like a lot of the same thing, getting checked (my vitals, baby's vitals and how far I was dilated), making sure I had the penicillin for my Group B bacteria, pumping up the pitocin dosage and finally the contractions were hurting. Tim and I went on one more short walk but this time weren't walking as fast and only made it around a few times before the nurse upped my pitocin dosage and the contractions really started to hit home. When we got back to the room I had to lay down to be monitored and I knew this would probably be where I stayed until Baby Sherald made his arrival.
During this time I appreciated the company of our family and just listening to everyone talk, the distraction was just what I needed. With my mom rubbing me feet, my sister controlling the fan and Tim monitoring the contractions (and Dad in the waiting room, which was the best place for him) I felt like we HAD to be getting closer, especially when I would have three contractions in a row! After awhile though it started to get more and more difficult to breath through the contractions and every time the doctor checked me I was getting more and more discouraged.
Around 6pm, I had been in labor for 12 hours (thankfully only feeling contractions for about 8 of those) and the doctor had just checked me and said that I was only 5 cm dilated. Seriously, 12 hours and I had only progressed 2 cm! I felt like I was going to cry, all this pain and work and nothing was happening. My biggest fear going into labor was that I would have to have a C-Section and at that moment it was flashing right in front of me. I was already halfway through the 24 hours they allow you and I was only halfway dilated.
I knew that thinking that way wasn't going to help at all and I had to stay focused because the contractions don't stop just because you need a minute to think. Plus if I started to freak out and gave into the anxiety and fear there would be no end to it, and that wasn't going to help anything. I decided that I would keep going, it was too early to give into the epidural and I just knew next time she checked me I would be 9 cm, I had to stay positive!
The nurse came in about 30 later after she had talked with the doctor she was monitoring me and kept switching the belt that was monitoring the baby. She seemed a little worried about his heart rate but assured me that these belts can just be tricky. Even still, I didn't like the look on her face and knew that as strained and tired as my body felt the baby was feeling it too. I looked over at Tim and looked at my mom, ready to start crying at any minute.
At that moment I knew what the next step was, an epidural. I was getting anxious and tired, which wasn't good for the baby or myself and I was no longer able to breath through the contractions. While discussing it I felt sick to my stomach, like if I didn't go through with the all natural birth I was a failure as a mom, already. I believe it is the exact opposite though and my mom instincts were already kicking in and I realized that this is what I needed to do to keep the baby and myself safe.
Since it took awhile to be administered I told the nurse I wanted it. I figured then if I was too far along for it, it would soon be time to push anyway. Or if I did need a C-Section I would already be one step closer. After verbalizing my decision I felt calm again and knew this was just the next step in our process of meeting our beautiful baby boy. It took about a half an hour for the anesthesiologist to come down and everyone was asked to leave. Now, normally, I would be freaking out about a large needle in my spine, but at this point I didn't really care about anything.
He asked the nurse if she had checked me within the last 30 minutes and she said that I wasn't any further than 5 cm. Truth is she hadn't just checked me but she knew that I might be right along the "too late" line and didn't want to take the chance that I couldn't get the epidural. She knew, as well as I did, that I was getting tired and would probably need it to push. I had never felt more thankful in my life!
It took him a few minutes to administer, which felt like hours because you have to sit completely still while all you want to do is writhe around in pain. He gave me the lowest dosage possible because he said that my blood pressure was too low for a higher dosage, immediately though I felt some relief. I still had a small window on my right hip where I could feel the contractions. Even though it felt like someone was continually breaking my right hip it was a huge relief to only feel the pain in a small spot rather than everywhere!
After a few minutes of lying on my side I didn't feel any contractions, just a lot of pressure. That was the nice thing about getting the lowest dosage, I still had complete control of my legs and I could still feel some of the pressure, which allowed me to know when I was having a contraction. I thanked the anesthesiologist, repeatedly, before he left and Tim said I was a brand new wife by the time he got back in!
Not only did I get amazing relief but the nurse checked me as soon as the anesthesiologist left and said, "IT'S TIME TO PUSH!!!!!" She instructed me on what was going to happen next while Tim told the family, it's time :) We worked as a small team, Tim, myself and the nurse on "learning" how to push and finally ending this labor! I find it funny that the doctor sees you right when you get there and you don't see them again until seconds before the baby is going to come out. You do most of the "pushing" with the nurse and they call the doctor when the baby is ready to make it's arrival.
Our nurse, Mindy, was WONDERFUL (all of the nurses during delivery and post delivery were!) she worked hard with us, encouraging me and including Tim in everything. She said that I was doing a fantastic job and called the doctor after about 45 minutes of pushing. When the doctor got there we worked on pushing and even though they told me I was doing an amazing job the baby was stuck! We tried everything to get him out and the doctor finally said that he wanted to use the forceps.
Looking over on the table of tools I saw a small set of tongs that looked like they belonged in a kitchen. Assuming this is what he meant I said, "Sure, if it will get the baby out." But, noooo, they bring in this set of salad tongs that looked like it belonged to a giant (exaggerating a little). He pulled them out of their sanitary sack and I was thinking, "You are putting those where?" I figured, he knows what he is doing and I really would like to end this labor after almost 15 hours.
Needless to say after 3 pushes with the forceps (I still cringe when thinking about them!) we got to meet our beautiful baby boy! Tim got to cut the umbilical cord and I laid back so they could place him on my chest. After our brief greetings they took him away for testings and to get measured. Tim was taking pictures and looking up every once and awhile to yell a measurement or fact about our adorable boy over to me. Once he was in his burrito (swaddle) and was all cleaned they brought him over to us and we decided on his name, Christopher Blake.
There is no real reason that we picked this name other than, we liked it! It took us FOREVER to decide on a name but we went it with two; Christopher Blake and Tyler James. The second we saw him though we knew he was Christopher Blake Sherald. We got a few moments together as a family and then our visitors came in to greet this little boy we had all been waiting so anxiously to meet!
Was it the perfect labor, no. Did it all work out and give us our healthy, precious gift from God, yes. It truly is an out of this world and painful experience, but it is 100% worth it! Throughout the whole day I tried to stick to my plan or change it as the "hits" came and even though it didn't work out as I had imagined, it all came together at the end!
Not only do I do this in parenthood but also with my relationship with God. I try and make a plan of mine work and keep trying even after he shuts the door. I push and push in that direction while the door right next to it is wide open just waiting for me to walk through. There is so much joy in learning to trust God even if his plan is scary and not what you want to do. His strength and love will carry you through and the faith in that should be more than enough to help us walk on his path and give our lives to him completely.
Now for a picture recap of our always growing "little" guy :)
Getting checked right after he was born!
Sleeping in his Boppy! (1st Month)
In his Pack N' Play (1st Month)
Just woke up from a nap (1st Month)
Drinking from the bottle for the first time (1st Month)
Playing with Mr. Moo, his favorite friend (1-2 Months)
Learning how to have good head control (1-2 Months)
I LOVED to smile already :) (1-2 Months)
I LOVE to read books! (2-3 Months)
Shaking my fist at Mommy at the doctor's office (2-3 Months)
Sitting in my Bumbo for the first time (2-3 Months)
Sleeping in my swing with my bunny! (2-3 Months)
Laughing :) (2-3 Months)
More smiles :) (2-3 Months)
I LOVE bath time! (2-3 Months)
Having fun playing cards in my business attire (3-4 Months)
In my warm bear suit for our walk! (3-4 Months)
Playing with my toolbox (3-4 Months)
Just woke up from a nap (3-4 Months)
Sitting on my Daddy's lap (3-4 Months)
Being silly after my bath! (3-4 Months)
Wearing my diaper bonnet (3-4 Months)
Happy Easter! (3-4 Months)
I have officially found my feet! (4-5 Months)
I love to rock out in my Baby Banz! (4-5 Months)
I only stay on my back for about 10 seconds before rolling to my belly and trying to crawl! (4-5 Months)
Being silly in my car seat after a walk (4-5 Months)
Me in my duck (aka my traveling bath tub that is an inflatable duck) (4-5 Months)
My twisty teether, just right for my little hands (4-5 Months)
My first time swimming! (4-5 Months)
This about sums up my love/hate relationship with my paci (4-5 Months)
Getting on my knees to crawl (4-5 Months)
Hanging out in my doorway jumper (4-5 Months)
Getting dedicated (4-5 Months)
Eating some oatmeal (4-5 Months)
Hanging out at the doctor's office (4-5 Months)
Knocking over the block buildings that Daddy builds (5-6 Months)
Wearing my puppy blanket on my head! (5-6 Months)
Flipping myself over in the car seat (5-6 Months)
Wearing my hat from the hospital (5-6 Months)
I LOVE avocado!! (5-6 Months)
The Sherald Men (5-6 Months)
Playing with my activity table (5-6 Months)
Rolling my ball back and forth with Daddy (5-6 Months)
Loving the swing (5-6 Months)
Getting really good at sitting unsupported (5-6 Months)
Doing some push-ups (5-6 Months)
Making funny face (5-6 Months)
Chilling in my "pool" (5-6 Months)
Mommy was tickling me while drying me off! (5-6 Months)
I am a squirmy wormy! (5-6 Months)
The boys of the house (5-6 Months)
Helping my Daddy telework :) (5-6 Months)
Sitting in the laundry basket, "helping" Mommy (6 Months)
Looking back I can't believe how much he has grown and everything he has learned in these first six months! I'm sure his first birthday will be here before we know it :) For right now we are just taking it day by day and soaking in all the moments we have together!