Jack Koman’s Law: For every positive blog post a person writes about pregnancy, shit will go completely haywire.
Today is October 23rd, Jack’s due date, however he’s been here for almost three weeks. Here’s the tale of wtf happened to speed up his arrival into our lives.
Let’s review how I (sorta) imagined my birth story:
Around 12:30 am on Monday, October 30th, one week after my due date and halfway through the semester, I’d awaken to early labor waves. I’d remain calm, communing with my child, telling him how excited I was to meet him. I’d let Jay sleep because as so many blogs/articles told me, it’s not necessary to wake your partner yet. Maybe I’d even sleep, floating in and out of dreamland with each contraction.
My doula would come to the house the later that morning, where we’d mostly labor at home. Candles would be lit. Oils would be released. A Beyoncé fan would breezily blow my hair back. A few hours later, we’d head to the hospital where I’d settle into a tub and deliver the most perfect child within 2 hours of being admitted.
It did not go like that.
If you read my other post, you’ll remember that I ended it saying that morning we learned Jack was breeched. At that morning’s appointment, my midwife advised me to spend some time on SpinningBabies.com and see a chiropractor for the Webster technique, which turns babies in utero. She casually mentioned a procedure called an External Cephalic Version (ECV), which I’d never heard of – when a doctor manually turns the child head down. She said this would be something we’d consider over the next couple of weeks if other attempts did not work. “Read about it online,” she said, “But don’t read too much about it.” (which should be pregnancy’s catchphrase).
I left my appointment annoyed, but not too concerned. After 37 weeks, this was the first piece of “bad” news we had received and it wasn’t even that bad. However, an hour later, my midwife called and proclaimed, “Good news – I managed to get you an ECV appointment tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 8:30! Do you want it?”
“Uhhhh,” I thought. I had barely had a moment to look into the procedure. On one hand, I thought we had plenty of time to use the other methods to turn him naturally. On another, I was really trying to avoid a c-section and its required recovery. I asked her if she thought I should do it and she enthusiastically said yes. The head midwife agreed. I accepted the appointment, knowing that after consulting with Jay and scouring the internet, I could change my mind.
After discussing with a few folks, we decided to move forward with the procedure. Jay needed to go to work so my newly relocated mother came with me. I will spare you the details of what it’s like to have two doctors trying to turn your fetus through your stomach, but uncomfortable isn’t a strong enough adjective.
During the short procedure, I felt a gush and quickly notified the doctors. If you look at my paperwork or talk to the doctors, the ECV was successful! They turned the baby head down!
They also tore my placenta.
“Text Jay right now,” I said to my mother.
Fortunately, after a day of wondering if I’d be rushed into an emergency c-section, Truffle Babe wasn’t showing any fetal distress except for occasional heart rate dips. The medical team eventually decided a c-section didn’t seem necessary, but deemed that because of the torn placenta, Baby K might be safer out than in (at 37 weeks, he was considered full term). The induction would start that evening around midnight.
We sent Jay home to collect some items. Mind you, when I came to the hospital that morning, I had planned to be there for about 5-6 hours, not 4 days.
While Jay was gone, I casually watched the Goldbergs, emailed professors updates, and chatted idly with my mother. I was trying to remind myself that things were fine, even though everything felt like it was off the fucking rails. Having Baby’s heart rate be constantly monitored was the one thing giving me peace of mind. Suddenly, out of nowhere, 8 doctors walked into my room.
They had become concerned that Baby’s heart wouldn’t do well during labor. They wanted to perform a contraction stress test to see how he would fair. If during this test his heart rate dropped, they wanted me to be ready to be whisked away for a c-section. The damn c-section was a zombie, back from the dead and refusing to go away. The very thing we had been trying to avoid by doing the ECV was rearing its surgical head again.
“Text Jay right now,” I said to my mother.
When he returned, we got the rundown of what would happen if the caesarean was needed. We met with the anesthesiologist. We signed paperwork. They talked about the dreaded Foley catheter. And I wanted none of this.
“I don’t know about you!” chimed one of my nurses after the c-section brigade left, “But I’m still planning for a vaginal birth tomorrow, okay?” I nodded at her. And then I talked to my baby.
“Hi kiddo – I know it’s been a crazy day and I’m sorry for that. Yeah, those people really flipped you upside down by hand! We’ll discuss that later, but for now, I just need you to do one more thing for us – can you do that???”
And boy, that kid passed his contraction stress test with flying colors. He hadn’t even made it earthside yet, and I was already one proud mama.
So began the induction. The plan was two rounds of Cervidil (which softens and dilates your cervix) and then a round of Pitocin (which gets contractions started up). I really DID NOT want Pitocin. I knew it increased the intensity of contractions and likelihood of getting an epidural. But chances were low that my body would begin to contract on its own, thus its necessity. And so, the first round of Cervidil went in Wednesday, right before midnight, to be removed 12 hours later.
When I woke up on Thursday morning, the mood felt better. There was no Beyoncé Breeze blowing, but my midwives were more involved than the previous day, my doula, Karelia, had arrived and I had a room with a tub, that my baby boy would make his debut in.
Karelia also did not love the idea of Pitocin and told me we could do this without it. I knew chances were slim, but she helped me to remain hopeful.
At noon, they removed the Cervidil and reported minimal progress. We’d proceed with round two as discussed. I showered, ate, round two went in, and we sent Jay home to get more things because there wouldn’t be any action until around 1am – right????? Ha. Silly us.
Around 2pm, my body apparently decided it also didn’t want Pitocin and my contractions started on their own. Shit got really real, really fast and poor Jay got his third text message of the week telling him to high tail it to the hospital.
My brain never really processed that this baby was en route. All I knew was that I needed a break from these contractions (sorry, “birthing waves”) and there was only one way for that to happen.
Karelia was amazing. When I just wanted to lay down and do nothing, she wouldn’t let me. Walked me around, sat me on an exercise ball, one leg on the bed, deep squats. She did a move that Jay swears saved me an hour or two of labor. I really, really disliked her for 5 hours, but Lordy, is she great at her job. I’m eternally grateful for her energy and support.
Around 6:45 pm, I asked if I could finally get in the tub. The room went quiet. “Well,” the midwife said, “the tub takes 30 mins to fill up. And that baby is going to be here before that.”
“WHAT are you people talking about???” I asked before being thrown into another contraction. And that’s when I realized, Jack was actually about to be here.
At 7:11 pm on October 5th, 2017, I pushed one final time and heard the entire room cheer. I was so confused by this. What are you people cheering??? Have you been here for the past 5 hours???
You will hear a lot of different adjectives describe the aftermath of childbirth. Mine was shock. I knew what had happened, but hadn’t grasped the magnitude. Apparently, I took a phone call about 10 minutes after he was born.
Right after he arrived, someone plopped him on top of me and my first thought was “Oh my God, is this a really small baby??? This baby is really small, right?”
The answer is yes, he was super teeny – 4 lbs and 15 oz to be exact. Even though he was full term, he needed those few weeks to pack on those extra pounds. I suddenly heard someone mention their concern about his body temperature and how skin-to-skin with me would warm him up. Shock and all, momma mentality kicked in and I commanded my body to become a furnace and warm that baby up, which it promptly did.
Jack Charles Koman is tiny but mighty. Those first few days, I questioned every decision I made that led to his early arrival, wondering if my decision-making would have long-lasting effects. But like so much of life, I made the best decision with the information I had.
Jack, however, scoffed at my second-guessing of myself, passing every single test the hospital gave him, including having to be in his car seat for 90 minutes (what fresh hell is that?). His pediatrician reassured us by telling us he’s perfectly healthy – he’s just small! He is currently eating us out of house and boob, reminding me that this tininess will be short-lived. Also, both my giant brother and dad were 5 lb babies, so…..yeah.
Jack’s unexpected arrival felt like a quick tutorial on parenthood. You can plan as much as you want, but you gotta learn how to be flexible and roll with the punches as they happen.
Those punches just might result in the sweetest little nugget you’ve ever laid eyes on.
I should probably change the name of this blog, shouldn’t I?