In November of 2008 I realized that my period was late. That wasn’t completely abnormal for me since I sometimes would skip a month or two. Most of the time I didn’t worry much when I missed a period, but this time I felt weird. I suddenly needed naps in the middle of the afternoon that I never needed before, and I swore to my boyfriend, Alex, that I had grown a cup size from all the chest presses that I had been doing! The thought that I could be pregnant lingered in my mind for about a week, and then I decided that it would probably be a good idea to take a pregnancy test. On a Saturday night we went to Walgreens and picked one up. When we got back to our apartment I went straight to the bathroom proclaiming on my way that, “This is just for a peace of mind that I am NOT pregnant.” A few minutes later I yelled, “GET IN HERE!” When Alex walked in he had to have known right away. The look on my face was surely shock. I held up the pregnancy test and said, “HOW?” Then I immediately started crying. I wasn’t a grown up yet! I had just graduated college that spring, but still hadn’t really done anything mature with my life. I had a job at a gym making a little above minimum wage and was personal training on the side, but never had built up my client base yet. I was focusing more on having fun. I didn’t even have health insurance. Alex was right in the middle of his college career, and didn’t even have a job. We were in trouble!
A few days later Alex asked me to marry him. Once again I was in shock. I got angry and said, “Do you really think I am that ignorant? To think that I have to marry somebody just because I am pregnant!?” He was crushed I am sure, and he kind of just retreated into the background for the next few months. I became incredibly sick and basically just laid in my living room for what seemed like the whole first trimester. I think a lot of it had to do with stress, and this kid gave me some really bad morning sickness all day long! Then one day I was laying on our couch before work and I felt a little movement. It was beyond magical. I still remember that exact moment clearly. I yelled for Alex to come in. He put his hand on my stomach and right away the baby pushed against him. His mouth dropped open! “I feel it too,” he said excitedly. I think sharing that moment made me realize that this pregnancy wasn’t just mine. It was ours, and the way I had been excluding Alex and treating him was horrible. If we weren’t in love before, we certainly were then at that very moment. It took our son to tell me that.
I looked up when a person besides the mother should be able to feel a baby move. It was really early! I was a very proud momma. I embraced my pregnancy after that, and was proud of our strong little boy growing inside of me. A few days after that I told Alex that if he was still interested that I would like to take him up on his offer to marry me. :) Thank goodness he forgave me for the months that I had treated him horribly. We decided that sometime after the baby was born we would get married. We were head over heels in love, and I couldn’t picture myself with anyone else. We got our lives somewhat in order, and moved back to the small town that I grew up in. Alex ended up dropping out of college because he had trouble getting another loan to start his third year, and decided that a job was more important. We basically lived off of nothing with his first job, but we loved each other and made it work. We didn’t have anything extra, and even had to go to a local church to receive food from Angel Food Ministries. We joke about the stuff that Alex had to take for lunch at work, and we spent most of our free time relaxing in our living room watching Friends DVD’s and reading books to each other.
It took a long time for me to start really showing, but around 7 months all of a sudden I had this big belly! It seriously felt like it came out of nowhere. Unfortunately I had stopped exercising all together because it made me nervous. I gained a lot of weight, and retained a lot of water. I would show people at work my ankles and tell them that I looked like Shrek! It was an ongoing joke at the gym for the last two months of my pregnancy.
My due date came and went, and unfortunately the clinic that I had been going to had lost a lot of care providers. The midwife that I like had transferred in the middle of my pregnancy to a different group, and the doctor that I had been seeing literally retired on my due date. I had never met the other OB who was helping at the clinic. When I went into labor it was a Tuesday night three days after my due date. I hadn’t had any braxton hick’s contractions that I was aware of, and wasn’t sure what I was feeling but it was different. It was a tightening sensation that wrapped around to my back. I was used to having back pain so it didn’t seem too bad. I just kind of shook it off and went about what I was doing. Then about ten minutes later it happened again. That made me excited, but I tried to ignore it because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Things went on like that for the next couple of hours, and by 10pm we decided we should try to go to bed. They weren’t painful feelings, but it was intense enough to wake me up during each one. They were still spread every 10 minutes apart or so for awhile so I was able to sleep in between most of them. At 2am I decided that I wasn’t really able to sleep anymore. My back was aching pretty badly and they were coming about every 5-7 minutes. I decided to get up, and Alex helped by putting some pressure on my back from time to time. At 5am I was having contractions 3-5 minutes apart that I was stopping to relax through. We decided to call the doctor. He told us to go ahead and go to the hospital. It was definitely too early, but I was a first time mom and excited. We called my mom, and she drove over to go with us. At the hospital they checked me and hooked me up to the monitors. I had a lot of bloody show when I went into the bathroom and that got me even more excited. They said I was only 1cm dilated and not very effaced, so they sent me home. At the time I was discouraged, but looking back I know that was the best thing for me.
When we got home we went for a walk. I was still very upbeat and ignoring the fact that I had barely slept. Someone I knew rolled down their window when we walked by the post office and said, “Aren’t you going to have that baby soon?” I excitedly replied, “I’m working on that at this very moment!” After we walked for a while we decided that we should probably go rest. That day kind of became a blur. My contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart and were intense enough that I had to completely stop what I was doing and focus through them. Around 5pm that night Alex called the doctor again and told him that I was exhausted and crying. The doctor advised him to give me some extra strength tylenol and help me try to sleep. I remember saying to Alex, “I haven’t taken a single pain medication this whole pregnancy and he wants me to poison my baby now!?” I am not against using tylenol during pregnancy by the way, but my first pregnancy that was the mind set that I took. My goal was for an all natural pregnancy and delivery. I refused the tylenol and tried to sleep. It didn’t work, so we decided that I would get into the bathtub and Alex would read to me. We were right in the middle of the last Harry Potter book. He had read the whole series to me during my pregnancy. I stayed in the tub for hours until about 2am when I told him that I just could not take it anymore. I was exhausted and something had to happen. On Thursday morning at 4am we went back to the hospital. I was 3cm dilated. I remember being excited to finally be admitted into the hospital, but a little discouraged about being only 3cm. The nurse that I got for the first hour was horrible. She had such a deep foreign accent that I could barely understand her, and when I would ask her to repeat what she said she got annoyed with me. I was so glad when there was a shift change! The nurse I got after that was great! She was so upbeat and had such a positive outlook. I think it really helped me to labor naturally for a little while longer. Finally around 1pm I came out of the bathroom shaking and crying. I feel like I didn’t even know who I was. I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was exhausted and after every contraction I would talk about being terrified for another one to come. I decided that I needed help. I asked for Nubain. I thought that it would be a good idea for me to get some sleep. The nurse checked me first and I was 6cm dilated! The whole two hours I felt miserable. I would sleep for a minute after a contraction and then get woken up to another one. I slightly remember looking across the room at Alex, who also looked completely exhausted, and saying, “DOWN, DOWN,” throughout the whole contraction. He was getting annoyed with me, and kept saying, “I cannot make them stop for you.” It was definitely not helpful, but I know he was exhausted, and also probably in a little bit of shock.
When the Nubain was wearing off I told the nurse that even though I was against the epidural I didn’t think that laboring like that was a good option for me. I decided that I needed some relief. Around 3pm on Thursday the anesthesiologist came in and administered an epidural. I know that pain medication was not in my plans, but things don’t always work out the way you expect them too. Once I got the epidural I kept thanking everyone for going through this with me and being so patient. I ate a popsicle while my mom braided my hair. Then I felt sick! I threw the popsicle up and started trembling. The nurse decided to check me again. My cervix had swollen and I was back down to 5cm. I was in shock! How could that happen? I started to cry. I had no idea what was going on. My babies heart beat was still great. I wasn’t running a fever, but I was going in reverse. The doctor came in around 9pm and said that he thought a cesarean was a good option at the moment. I was pretty stressed out at that notion. The epidural was wearing off and I started to have sharp pains shoot down my left leg. I began to cry, and so did my mom and Alex. I was ready for it to be over though. My patience had run out, and I was scared. I slightly remember shouting obscenities toward the hall about fixing the epidural if I was going to have a cesarean anyway. That was definitely not my best moment!
I was wheeled out of the room and taken to the OR. Although, I didn’t like the doctor much, the nurses were really nice. My favorite person in that room was the anesthesiologist. He sat right by my head, and reassured me through the whole process. It was very calming and comforting. I was nervous, and being situated on the table like that felt stressful, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was about to meet my strong little boy. I wondered if he would have a lot of hair, and if he would look like Alex or I. There was a lot of pressure and I was being rocked pretty vigorously. Then Alex stood up with the camera and his mouth dropped open. I said, “WHAT? What do you see?” He said, “The baby,” in a monotone voice as he snapped pictures. He was surely in shock. I heard the doctor say, “Oh you want a picture?” The next day when I saw the pictures Alex had taken I understood why he sounded so shocked. He had taken a picture of Brayve with only his upper half of his body out of me. The doctor was holding his hands. Brayve was crying...probably because he looked up and saw that the doctor was wearing an Iowa Hawkeyes stocking cap. That would be enough to make anybody cry at first sight!
When I heard his first cry it was earth moving. I was so overwhelmed. Tears started pouring. It took a little bit for them to finally bring him to me, but when they did I took one look at that little face and was seriously changed forever. I had told Alex to follow the baby every where he went until I was able to do it myself. I didn’t want him to be out of our sight. We were going to protect him forever. When Brayve and Alex left I fell asleep. The anesthesiologist had given me a sedative. I don’t know if that is standard procedure, or if he did that because I was slightly freaking out. I don’t remember a lot after I was wheeled back in the room. I have a few pictures that help with memories, but thats about it. Brayve was so exhausted that he slept through the night and didn’t even wake up to nurse. Around 5am the next morning I was woken up by a nurse to try to get up and walk to the bathroom. I was in a little bit of shock. Seriously? She wanted me to walk after the night I had. I stood up for one second with her support and got light headed. I sat back down and we decided to wait a while before I tried that again. Then I saw a little bassinet by the bed! Oh yea, I had a baby! The night was kind of a blur and everything started flooding back to me. I saw this fuzzy dark hair sticking out of a blanket. I asked for him. The nurse handed him to me and he started making a sucking sound. We decided it was time for him to eat. When he opened his eyes he stared right into mine. He was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. I was a mom. No matter what the experience was that led me to that, overall I was this little boy’s mother and nothing could ever take that away. My Brayve boy is the most amazing thing that ever has happened to me, and I am thankful for him everyday.