Here I am, almost three months postpartum and I am just now writing Hudson’s birth story. Truth be told, I have started writing it many times, but I always get too emotional and have to stop. When I say that there are no words to describe the love that I have for my son, I mean it. So much so, that it has taken me three months to find the words and they will never be enough.
At 12:00AM on Thanksgiving day, I awoke to cramping that was much stronger than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had previously experienced. I had been having Braxton Hicks since very early on in my pregnancy, so I didn’t think too much of it. Before going to bed, I had been experiencing some stronger contractions and even said to Chris and our family, “My contractions feel different than normal.”
I got up and used the bathroom. My water had not broken and my contractions didn’t seem to be getting any closer together, but they were growing stronger. I walked around a bit, swaying back and forth, and woke up Chris. After about 30 minutes of increasing contractions, I decided that I wanted to go to the hospital.
I was 10 days away from my due date, so we weren’t sure if I was in labor or not. Chris had to get up for work very early that morning, so his mom offered to take me to the hospital. (We had been staying the night at his parent’s house for Thanksgiving since Chris’s brother and sister-in-law were in town.) Luckily, I had my hospital bag packed many weeks beforehand and was ready to go! Chris carried our bags downstairs and I kissed him goodbye. The ride was long and cold, but I was filled with so much anticipation and joy. The thought that I might be holding Hudson that very day was enough to make my heart burst.
We arrived at the hospital sometime between 1:00-1:30AM. I was taken up to Labor and Delivery to be examined. The nurse asked me to put on a robe and an electronic fetal monitor was put on me to monitor my contractions and Hudson’s heart rate. I was checked to see how dilated and effaced my cervix was and my doctor was called.
After about 45 minutes, my doctor and nurses decided that I was not in labor, and that it was dehydration causing my contractions. I was sent home and told to drink a lot of water, but Loretta and I were convinced that I was in labor. I was told to come back if my contractions continued to become more intense and closer together.
We returned home. I ate some toast with a banana, drank lots of water, showered, and then laid on the couch. For two hours, I counted contractions, one after another, each stronger and closer together than the one before it. When my contractions were 2-4 minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds or longer, I called L&D and they told me to come back to the hospital.
Once again, Loretta and I packed up the car and left. Chris stayed behind until we were positive that I would be admitted. I remember being so excited and so nervous. Thinking that it was time, this is what I had waited and prayed for these long nine months.. This was the day that I would finally become a mother and meet my son.
We arrived at the hospital and I was taken up to L&D to be examined. It was decided very soon after that I was infact in labor, as my nurse told me, “We’re going to have a baby.” We called Chris and my mom, and they came up to the hospital.
I had previously decided that I wanted an epidural, but I wanted to wait until the pain was no longer bearable before receiving it. Within a couple of hours, the anesthesiologist came in to give me an epidural. For those of you who don’t know me, I have a terrible fear of needles. I cry, sweat, shake, tense up, and have even passed out before. I told the nurses that it was too soon and that my contractions weren’t even that painful. I didn’t want or need an epidural yet. They told me it was now or never, so I picked now. My husband and two nurses held me as I was shaking, sobbing, and scared out of my mind. And just like that, he was finished, and I had barely felt a thing. All of the horror stories that I had heard about epidurals had been put to rest. I guess it’s a good thing that Chris wouldn’t let me look at the needle or catheter, because I probably would have jumped off of the bed.
Several hours passed and I felt amazing. The epidural seemed to be keeping my back pain at bay. I was so ready to meet my sweet boy.
My sister came up and brought everyone food, since it was Thanksgiving and all. My sweet husband wouldn’t eat, because he knew that I couldn’t until after giving birth. So, we sat, and waited and waited, and waited some more.
At around 4:00PM, the first strong dose of my epidural was slowly wearing off, and I was beginning to feel the pain and pressure of labor. I was thankful to have made it so far with such little discomfort, but I knew that it was almost time. Those last few hours were so hard. I just breathed, not the crazy kind of breathing that they teach you in Lamaze classes, but I found my own rhythm. I found my zen, and I went with it. The pain got so bad, so strong, but I was okay. I kept going, I kept pushing through it. All I could think about was Hudson, seeing his face, holding his tiny hand in mine. I was determined to meet the baby boy I had dreamed of and loved for my whole life.
When I reached 7 CM dialated and was fully effaced, my doctor had arrived. She came in and asked that I get up on my knees to try and progress the labor. I still had no feeling in my left leg and my nurses knew this, so they came in and checked my progression again. Part of my cervix was stuck on one side of Hudson’s head and his heartrate was low.
My nurse began pushing it to the side to make way for him, and I thought I would die right then and there from the pain. I had never felt anything like it in my entire life. I begged her, crying, to please stop but I knew that Hudson needed out quickly. She looked at me and told me that if I would trust her, I would have my baby. So, I did. I mustered up every bit of strength, courage, and will that I had and I bit my blanket and held my husband’s hand through the pain. I prayed to God for strength and guidance and peace of mind.
My nurse looked up at me, smiled, and told me that it was time. My doctor came in, my feet were put in stirrups, and I was told to start pushing as hard as I could as soon as my next contraction started. I pushed as hard as my body would allow. Over and over again, I gave it everything I had. Those moments seem so blurry now. It was like a superhero version of myself had jumped into my body and was doing the pushing for me.
Less than 15 minutes later, my son, Hudson Alan Rarick, came into this world at 6:44PM weighing 7 pounds 4.5 ounces, and 21 inches long. The moment that my crying baby was laid on my chest is a moment that I will never forget. A moment that I cannot describe because no words would do it justice. That moment changed my entire world, my entire life. He was every dream and every hope that I had ever had staring up at me.
It’s incredible what the mind and body are capable of. How in the midst of so much pain, you find strength. You find a way to keep going and you come out on the other side so much stronger. The birth of my son was the most incredible, beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. I never truly understood life before that moment. It changes your heart, forever. Having this innocent soul to care for makes you want to do better, to be better. You see life with new eyes. You see beauty and joy in ways in which you never imagined. You see the version of yourself that you’ve always wanted to be and you do everything in your will to be that person.
The things that you obsess over about your child’s birth never really matter in the end. I had the perfect birth plan typed up. I didn’t want a ceasarin section unless it was an emergency, I wanted to be cut horizontally instead of vertically if I had to have one, I didn’t want an episiotomy, I wanted immediate skin-to-skin contact, and for the cord to be cut after it stopped pulsating. But, I ended up not thinking about any of those things during my 18 hours and 44 minutes of labor. My birth plan never even made it into the delivery room. All that mattered to me was that my baby was healthy and happy. I was perfectly fine with God’s plan instead of my own. After all, if there’s anything that having children teaches us as parents, it’s that our children have an agenda of their own.
It’s been 12 weeks tomorrow since I gave birth to Hudson and I still catch myself wondering if this is all real. I stare down at his beautiful face and I wonder how he could possibly be mine, or what I did to deserve him. He is truly my heart outside of my body.
Birth Photography By Loretta Kay Photography | lorettakay.com