Friday, May 23, 2014

Ryder's Birth Story

Dear Ryder,

I am late in sharing your birth story with the world, but I wanted you to know that shortly after returning home from the hospital I did sit down with Daddy and Nana so that we could write down the whole experience. I didn't want to forget a single detail about your birth day. 

But now almost three weeks have passed, and already the memories and scars have begun to fade as we transition into the crazy whirlwind of being your parents. So I'm glad that I took the time to document how I felt so shortly after your birth. Because nothing went as planned, and I think it was quite a bit more traumatic than any of us anticipated. But it was all worth it once I was able to see your beautiful face.

Love Always,

Ryder Steven's Birth Story...

My water broke on Sunday, May 4 at around 9:45 pm, just as Stewart was putting the finishing touches on our hospital bag. Earlier that evening we had gone out for dinner, and I had joked that it may be our last meal out with just the two of us. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I had climbed into bed a little early, and as Stew placed the final item into our suitcase, I felt a rush of fluid and cried for him to help me out of bed. I stood there, shaking excitedly and trying to remember what was supposed to happen next. We called the the doctor, and since my membranes had ruptured we were instructed to proceed to the hospital even though I wasn't having contractions... yet.

In a bit of disbelief, we called my mom to give her the news, gathered up our things, and loaded ourselves into the car, glancing excitedly at the empty car seat in the back. Our lives were about to change forever.

By the time we reached the hospital ten minutes later, I was having strong contractions just a few minutes apart. They were a little bit more painful than I expected...

We entered through the emergency department at 10:45 pm and were taken to triage, where a doctor confirmed that I was, in fact, leaking amniotic fluid and needed to be admitted to the hospital although I was less than 2 centimeters dilated. We knew we were in for a long night. 

I labored in the birthing suite for several hours, and my mom arrived at around 1:00 am. I was dressed in a hospital gown and hooked up to portable monitors that tracked both my contractions and the baby's heart rate. The contractions were so strong and painful, only a few minutes apart, that I couldn't sit or lay down... I just paced back and forth in the birthing suite, moaning in disbelief. I definitely wasn't prepared for how much this stage of labor was going to hurt. Eventually the contractions became so painful that I began vomiting.

Stew began pacing around the room, too, which I found incredibly annoying and had to ask him to stop. The nurse ran me a bath to see if that would ease the contractions, but I couldn't imagine getting into the tub and instead continued to pace. Around 3:00 am, with contractions about 1-2 minutes apart, I began to mentally panic. I knew I couldn't take much more of the pain and exhaustion, so the nurse offered me a narcotic to take the edge of the contractions, and I accepted. The medicine didn't do much to ease the pain, but it did calm me down enough so that I could lay down in bed and breathe through each contraction. 

For a couple more hours, Stew and Mom sat at my sides and talked me through the contractions. I would look directly at Mom when I felt like I couldn't take any more, and she would look at the monitor and let me know when each contraction had peaked. Stew rubbed my arm and held my hand, but I didn't want to be touched by anyone else. Poor Stew was exhausted, and at one point he even fell asleep mid-sentence while talking to a nurse.

Sometime in the early hours of the morning I decided I definitely wanted an epidural, and it was administered at about 6:30 am. The epidural itself wasn't too terrible. I sad on the edge of the bed basically hugging my labor and delivery nurse (any sense of modesty had left me at this point), and began to feel the effects almost immediately. I stopped feeling any contractions at all, even though they were still showing up steady and regular on the monitor. I was given an internal fetal monitor and a catheter, and finally I was able to get some rest after so many hours of unending pain.

At this point I also began to receive Pitocin at regular intervals, in the hopes that my labor would progress. I was still at only 2 centimeters.

Hours went by. I was able to move my legs slightly if I wanted to, but I hated the numb feeling of them, so the nurse turned down the epidural for about 30 minutes so I could regain some feeling. Eventually my back began to hurt as well, so Stew and Mom took turns rubbing it for me. We all dozed off for a while.

My sister arrived at 9:00 am and the nurses changed shifts. My new nurse didn't like the look of my IV line and decided to re-do it, which turned out to be a huge ordeal. It took about an hour, three people and five different attempts before they were able to get a good line in; my arms were sore and black and blue for a week afterward.

I continued to receive Pitocin in increasing doses, but my progress hadn't been evaluated in hours... they didn't want to check my cervix too often due to the risk of infection. When your membranes rupture, a clock starts, and I knew that I only had 20 hours from the time my water had broken for the baby to be born vaginally, otherwise the risk of infection would become too great and I'd need to move forward with a cesarean section.

My primary doctor arrived at about 9:30 am and confirmed that my cervix was thinning, but that I was still only about 2 centimeters dilated. However, she said that slow progress up until 4 centimeters is normal, and I shouldn't worry about anything at that point.

Several more hours went by. My dad and father-in-law arrived, and I was actually starting to feel hungry so I had some apple juice, jello, broth and water (the only things I was allowed). The birthing suite was huge, and everyone lounged around, dozed, and watched a movie while we waited. I progressed to 4 centimeters, and really expected things to start moving along.

Sometime in the mid-afternoon my doctor checked my cervix and excitedly exclaimed, "Oh, you're at 7 centimeters! No wait... I'm feeling something else. Sorry, still only 4 centimeters." At this point I was starting to feel fairly apprehensive. I could sense concern on the part of the doctor and nurses. They started a sort of "amniotic bath" which re-introduced fluid into my uterus and was supposed to make the baby more comfortable and encourage him to move into position.

We watched the clock. The doctor had planned to come and check my cervix again at 6:15 pm and I was really hoping for good news at that point. However, the doctor arrived 15 minutes early and I could tell something was wrong. She explained calmly that the baby's heart rate was beginning to drop to a concerning level, and unfortunately we needed to move forward with a c-section.

 I felt disappointed, unprepared, and scared. I had not mentally prepared myself for a surgical delivery, and had never had ANY sort of surgery before. I am extremely claustrophobic, and was terrified of being awake and panicking on the operating table. Luckily, there was enough time to provide us with lots of explanations and answers to all of our questions. I was given an oxygen mask, but it made me feel like I was suffocating and I fought the urge to panic. I was so terrified of being awake and numb from the chest down, unable to move.

Mom brushed my hair, put it into a ponytail, and covered it with a horrible cloth medical cap as the nurses prepped me for surgery. They came at me several times with a razor and continued to exclaim as they realized I had recently had a Brazilian bikini wax (is this not typical?) We signed release forms and Stew put scrubs on over his clothes. Mom kissed my forehead as they wheeled me out of the room, and I started to cry silent tears. I have never been more terrified. 

Compared to the dim, calm, quiet birthing suite, the operating room was blindingly bright, freezing cold, and filled with about 10 hospital staff members in scrubs and masks. As I helped transfer myself to the operating table, I tried not to look at the table of sharps that was being prepared next to me. As the anesthesiologist administered the numbing agent, the doctor explained that I would feel pressure and tugging sensations, but not pain. She pinched my stomach as hard as she could to demonstrate, and I felt just a bit of pressure, which calmed me slightly. I tried to stay calm and focused as my arms were strapped down.

As the surgery started, so did a digital clock on the wall above the door, which I could see just beyond Stew's head. I tried to focus on that and his face. Unfortunately, if I looked directly up I could see a slight reflection of the surgery in a light fixture above my head, which was absolutely horrifying. I kept asking Stew to move the curtain so I wouldn't see red in the corner of my eye, but there was nothing he could do.

Even though I had been warned, I was surprised at how much I could feel. The pressure and tugging sensations were intense, and I kept watching the clock, wondering how long it would take them to get the baby out. I started to feel more than just pressure... PAIN... and I started to panic, whimper, and shake uncontrollably. The doctor tried to explain that what I was feeling was normal, but eventually the pain and panic overwhelmed me to a point that the anesthesiologist was forced to give me a strong dose of medication that essentially knocked me out for a while.

Stew stayed by my head, holding my hand, periodically standing up to look over the curtain at the surgery's progress. They were having a hard time getting the baby out because he was up so high, and at one point someone had to actually get up on the table and physically push him down and out.

Ryder Steven was born on May 5, 2014 at 6:59 in the evening. He was a perfect 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 22 inches long.

Once he was delivered, one team took the baby while another worked to close me up. Stew stayed with me while they worked on Ryder, and after what seemed like an eternity we finally heard his first wailing cry. It took me a few minutes to convince Stew that it was okay for him to leave me for a moment to go meet our son. He went back and forth between the two of us, checking our progress.

I began to become extremely upset at how long things were taking. I could still feel pain and smell burning flesh as the team cauterized blood vessels in my uterus, and I begged to see Ryder, beginning to sob, "He should be with me!" Finally, Stew brought him over and they unstrapped one of my arms so I could touch his precious face -- the only thing I could see so far. Ryder had stopped crying and looked at me quietly, and all I could say was, "Hi... hi... hi!" as tears streamed down my face. I remember Stew just looked and looked at him. It was the very first moment that we were all together as a family, and probably the most important moment of my entire life.

Happy birth day, sweet baby boy!

Family photo with very tired Mommy and Daddy.

Grandpa Russ.

So excited for another generation of Always!

Grandpa and Nana love.

Aunt E adores you already.


  1. Holy.crap.

    A.) congrats. He is a beautiful baby.

    B.) ummm no. Terrified. This is what scares me about pregnancy.

  2. Gah! He's beautiful -- and you really got me with that last sentence (((tears))). Enjoy that sweet baby boy you two!

  3. you look beautiful and so does your bundle of joy.

    I was born the same way with the heart rate dropping and my mom having an emergency c section. if i had been born here in my town i wouldn't be here to today so lucky my mom's doctor wasn't here and it was an hour away

  4. Oh my goodness, this sounds terrifying! I'm so glad all was well in the end, you have such a beautiful son.

  5. Gahhhh! He's so cute and snuggly looking!!!! :D
    Good job, mama... I don't blame you for being so terrified... this sounds like a nightmare! Good for using against him one day if he sasses you. ;P

  6. Wow you went through so much! I know it was entirely worth it in the end but I'm so sorry you had to have such a scary and painful delivery! I guess you never know what yo expect and have to prepare for the worst with labor and delivery. :/ I'm utterly terrified!! But I want to have a baby in the next 3 year's so maybe ill get braver between now and then lol I am very happy for you guys though, congrats and welcome baby Ryder!! <3

  7. Oh what an experience! I am so glad that you were able to remember and document it all Ryder will be so pleased with this! He is just adorable and completed your family so well!

    Ps. I can't get over how much you and your mom look alike!!

  8. I was seriously tearing up reading this story. My friend just went through the same thing and it was so magical and yet so terrifying. He's absolutely perfect!! I'm waiting to see his first hawks outfit!!

  9. welcome Ryder :) thank you for sharing you story!

  10. Love this story, filled with love <3 And... OMG you look so much like your mom!!!!!

  11. What a great story, made me tear up! Especially the part about looking back at the empty car seat knowing your lives were about to be changed forever. *SIGH* Just brings me back to the birth of my children! And isn't it crazy how "prepared" you are and then when it's all happening, you feel lost anyways??? Cute though! Labor is no joke huh? Oh my gosh, vomiting. Crazy! I kept telling the nurses that I couldn't do it and they told me I couldn't come back later and finish. This was it. LOL about Stew annoying you because EVERY woman is annoyed at their partner in the delivery room!!! You sure are a trooper through the very long labor!!! And a traumatic C-section :(. I'm so sorry dear! BUT, he is gorgeous. And hope you can remember that despite all the stuff that went on to get him here.

  12. tears are streaming down my face, thinking of everything you, Stew, and Ryder went through. I'm so proud of you, and he is absolutely perfect. sending all my love always!!

  13. Thank you for sharing your story. I have been looking forward to reading it for the last couple of weeks. I am very proud of you and your new family!

  14. Despite all of the craziness, this story is beautiful. I'm so happy that everything turned out ok and you have such a precious little one. You are so incredibly blessed! I couldn't be more proud of you and your new, little family. XOXO

  15. Wow Sarah, thank you so much for sharing this amazing story. I can't even imagine all the emotion that was going on during those 24 hours - excited for what is about to happen, but so scary with all the unknowns that were happening. I'm so happy that your sweet and beautful boy is here and I know that you are enjoying mommy-hood! Sending love!!

  16. Oh wow. This just brought tears to my eyes (in a good way). I was feeling so stressed for you as I was reading, and favorite part...where you got to see Ryder, and you just touched his face and said, "Hi..." Absolutely precious. He is just beautiful!

  17. aw, thank you for sharing your story! So glad to see your baby boy, he is precious! :)

  18. Wow. I just read through this and all I can say is that you are one brave lady! <3 So glad this all passed you and you have a sweet little boy now!

  19. I don't understand why they strapped your arms down. You should have refused this since this is unnesesary. In the UK where I am from no woman having a C Section is strapped down as this is not done at all in the UK and would be assault under UK law. So I don't know why they do it there in America.

    1. It's just a precaution as far as I know. I think they are worried that you will panic, knock something over, or try to lift your arms which moves the muscles in your sides and abdomen. Plus with all the drugs you're on you're kind of out of it and they don't need limbs flailing around. It was probably good that mine were strapped because I had the shakes really, really bad.

    2. No they don't strap your arms down at all in the UK during C Sections. In the UK they have never done that. It is actually illegal in the UK to restrain patients in that way so they don't do it. So I am surprised that they do it in the USA. But surly in American hospitals you can refuse to have it done?

    3. I'm sure you can refuse just about anything if you want to, but I completely trust my doctor, so I knew she was doing what she thought was best for me and my baby. And it all turned out ok! :-)

    4. Well as long as the hospital give you a choice and don't force this on people maybe that's not so bad. But if you don't want your arms strapped down and some women don't. Since many women cannot handle being restrained in such a way, then the hospital should not force you to have it done. As I said in the UK they don't strap or restrain the arms at all during C Sections or any other surgery. And they don't strap any part of you down to the OR table. The thing is in the UK a woman can refuse any treatment or procedure she does not want and the hospital cannot do anything to her without her consent. But in the USA it could be different in some States maybe.


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