As my son’s 4th birthday approaches, I can’t help but reminisce about how he burst into this world. The truth is, I don’t remember one second of the actual moment he arrived. Not his first cry, not what he looked like fresh out of the womb, not holding him to my chest. I’ll explain why in a bit. As a first time mom, I envisioned an amazing and all-natural birth. I got the exact opposite. My son’s birth story reminds me that our children are born to make a mark, and some of them sure like to make an entrance.
An unexpected complication
At my 39-week check up, my doctor had some news: the baby was transverse. That means he had wiggled out of birthing position and was diagonal, possibly because he was running out of room in the oven. This explained the gymnastics I had seen in my belly only days prior. To avoid complications, he would be delivered by C-section the next morning— as in, be at the hospital in 12 hours. My husband and I scrambled to alert our family. My parents drove in from San Antonio that night. At 6 a.m., both sets of grandparents were at the hospital and we were ready to have a baby.
Except…my platelets were not ready. There’s a thing called gestational thrombocytopenia. It’s when you develop a low platelet count in pregnancy. (Go ahead and google it.) Due to my low platelets, I could not receive the epidural for the C-section. I had to have general anesthesia, which meant I was totally knocked out. Let me say that again, TOTALLY KNOCKED OUT. I would not get to experience his birth. I would be unconscious.
As soon as I received this news, I broke into a panicky puddle of tears. It wasn’t supposed to be like this! I wanted my mommy. I cried. My mom cried because I was crying. My husband tried to reassure me it would be fine. I shook with anxiety, unsure of this new, unexpected birth plan. I felt robbed of a natural childbirth, and now I would not even be awake and consciously present for his birth.
The last to meet my little boy
My husband suited up in scrubs and held my hand as the nurses wheeled me into the operating room. Another whammy— he could not go in with me. Turns out, they only let fathers in a C-section operation to support the mother. If mom is not awake, well, dad stays outside. The last thing I remember is telling the anesthesiologist in a whiny, scared voice, “This really sucks.”
And just like that, I was out. My husband watched our son come into this world through a window.
When we talk about that day, he fills in the gaps for me. Our son was born, he cried, they cleaned him and weighed him. They put him in a bassinet and wheeled him to the nursery where my husband held him for the first time. My mother-in-law tells me a nurse held him up in the window and made a distraught face, pretending she was struggling to carry him because he was a big boy, weighing in at 9 lbs.
I woke up in the recovery room to my husband, mom and doctor telling me everything went well. The doctor asked me if I wanted to see my baby. Of course! Everyone else already had. As I held him for the first time, I took him all in. He was all mine.
The feeling that I missed something melted away. I was a little late to the party, but I would not miss another moment. Our time apart was brief and, to be honest, it felt like only a minute had passed. Being unconscious sure makes time fly.
Celebrating our unique birth story
Today, my parents are driving in from San Antonio and both sets of grandparents will be present to celebrate my son’s 4th birthday. He will be surrounded by family, friends and love. I will celebrate that he is here, that he is healthy and growing, that he is smart and hilarious. I will celebrate his imperfect birth because it got him here and he is absolutely perfect in every way.
As I look back on the chaos and panic of the morning he arrived, it somehow doesn’t matter anymore. I have found humor in it. A sort of, “of course that would happen to me” feeling. It reminds me that as with anything, we can plan all we want, but ultimately there are some things we just can’t control. It also reminds me every child comes into this world with a story. Our births and the details of how we get here are a mere page in a life’s book that is yet to be written.