It has taken me six weeks to finally get around to piecing together Cooper’s birth story. I knew it was going to be a doozy gathering all of the pieces, because much of it is very hazy to me. I was in labor for over 30 hours and didn’t sleep for about three days, so my memory of what happened while I was in active labor isn’t all that great. So I called on my mom, sisters, and Lamar to help me remember the details of what happened. Cooper is so special to us, and having his birth story written out is important to me. I want to be able to look back and remember it all. I labored for a while, and there were complications, and we were in the hospital for seven days, so this is a long one!
The week leading up to Cooper’s birth was a tough one. I was increasingly uncomfortable, couldn’t sleep, and was having lots of Braxton hicks and mild cramping. For some reason, I was worried he was going to stay in for another week or two, so I was pretty emotional.
On Friday, March 30th (four days before his birth) I was feeling completely normal and awesome, so Lamar and I decided to begin some of the tried and true labor inducers and we started with dancing, and lots of it! Lamar had just bought the Just Dance 2017 for the Nintendo Switch, so we danced our little hearts out. Whew! It’s seriously a workout—especially for a 40 week prego. After a couple of hours of pretty intense dancing, I definitely started feeling some cramping, but it came and went throughout the night. The pain wasn’t really intense and when I was timing them overnight, there was no pattern.
Saturday April 1 (around 6 am), I woke up to some bleeding so I called my doctor. He didn’t seem very concerned since my contractions weren’t regular or intense. He said to call back or go to the hospital if they become intense and 3-5 minutes apart. Well, I waited about one hour and was convinced I was in labor, so I took a shower and did my hair and put some makeup on, then we headed to triage to get checked out. (Side note: Looking back, I now realize I was way jumping the gun here. The next day I would feel what real labor was like!) At triage, they hooked me up to a monitor and asked me a ton of questions regarding pain. I was barely in pain (mildly uncomfortable at most), but the monitor was showing that I was having some real contractions. My doctor came in and checked my dilation and I was only a 1, and was only 60% effaced. It was not baby time, and I felt so silly for going in! We left and went to breakfast, then back home where I cried the rest of the morning. I was insisting that this baby was going to stay put for another week or two and that I was going “to be pregnant forever!” (Drama, much?) Later that afternoon, Lamar dragged me out of my pitiful state and insisted we go eat spicy food and walk around the park. This was actually so much fun and really lifted my spirits. This ended up being our last date together before Cooper made his appearance. That night we went home and did some more dancing (Lamar’s got some moves, y’all!). We went to bed as usual, and all seemed to be calm and well. I woke up throughout the night with some painful cramping, but they weren’t regular.
Sunday April 2 (his due date!): We woke up and made a plan to go walk around the mall to hopefully get things moving. (Back story: When my mom was pregnant with my sister, she went to the mall to walk around and she soon went into labor!) We went to eat at Panda Express, walked the mall for about an hour, and then came back to our house to get ready for my sister Katie’s birthday celebration. We made more spicy food, had our family over, celebrated Katie, and all made guesses on when baby boy would arrive. My mom insisted it would be later that night! Through the dinner, I began having some bad lower back pain. Little did I know that this was the start of real labor. Around 9 pm, I started to feel some more cramping, but this time it was stronger than before. After about thirty minutes of consistent cramping, I began timing them for an hour. They were finally in a pattern about 5-7 minutes apart! We decided to pack up our things quickly and head back to the hospital to get checked. At this point, I was more uncomfortable than ever, but I will still able to talk through the contractions (which is a sign that they aren’t intense enough yet). Once we arrived and got hooked up to the monitor, my doctor came in and checked me. I was still only a 1 maybe 2 dilated, and still only 60% effaced—huge disappointment. So they told us to walk the floor for an hour to see if it gets things going.
Monday April 3, around midnight: While walking, some of the contractions were bad enough to make me need to stop, hold on to the railing, and breathe through it. The nurses in the hallway were so sweet and cheered us on at every lap. I was pretty convinced we would be delivering the baby that night! I was wrong. After an hour, there still was no progress. My doctor explained that I may be in prodromal labor, which means that I am feeling real contractions, but that they aren’t causing me to dilate or become more effaced (aka, they aren’t preparing my body to deliver the baby). They gave me a shot and a pill for the pain and sent me home. The medicine made me feel really loopy, and I remember waiting for Lamar to pull the car around I felt so good and happy (and very very loopy). When I got home (this was around 2am Monday morning), Lamar made me a comfy place on the couch to sleep (it was more comfortable to my pregnant body), and I tried to rest. I slept pretty well for about one hour, then I woke up with really intense contractions. For the next three hours, I experienced some of the worst pain. I was so confused and didn’t know if this was labor or if this is what “prodromal” labor was that my doctor mentioned. I knew I didn’t want to go back to the hospital again if this wasn’t real. So I waited until 5:30, and I finally called Lamar and told him to come downstairs. I cried and told him I was scared and confused. He said we should just go back to the hospital and see what they say. I was already embarrassed for going in twice that weekend only to get turned away, so I wanted to know for sure that I was in labor before we went back. I decided I needed to get up from the couch and walk around to see if that eased the pain. When I stood up, I felt my water break. I went to the bathroom to check, and sure enough—my water had broken! I was so relieved. At this point, I didn’t care what I looked like or what I was wearing. All I wanted was to get to the hospital and have this baby. We threw our stuff in the car and headed up there. I knew it was time—the pain was way too real. We waited to text our parents, though, just in case. We didn’t want any more false alarms. When we arrived to triage and got checked (the nurses knew us by name now), my doctor said I was dilated to a 3 and that my water had in fact broken. It was baby time! My contractions were progressively becoming more intense and my entire body ached. I was pretty much begging for epidural at this point, and we hadn’t even left triage! Lamar texted our parents and told them we were admitted and that the baby would come today. Around 8:30 am, my mom arrived and at the same time the anesthesiologist gave me the epidural. Life. Was. Good. I immediately felt relief and could actually enjoy everything that was happening. I was able to get a few hours of rest before the action began. I was exhausted and hadn’t really slept in 3 nights! Eventually they started me on Pitocin to keep my contractions regular. (Side note: we were having tornado warnings and really bad storms during all of this! Another fun fact? My epidural button wasn’t working for much of the day, so the pain would get bad on and off throughout the day while it quit working. The button had to be replaced a few times, and the anesthesiologist had to come back and give me more meds. Fun stuff.)
Tuesday April 4th: Cooper’s Birthday!
Contractions had slowed down, so they gave me a break from medicine (Pitocin) to see if my body would naturally begin contracting again. Our hopes would that I would go from an 8 dilation to a 10, but the doctor said this was a long shot and that it probably won’t work. If it didn’t work, she said we would need to prepare for a C section instead of pushing. They took the medicine off and we immediately texted our small group to pray for this to work! Well, 30 minutes later the doctor checked me and I was at a 10 and ready to push! (Side note: Our labor room didn’t have windows, so we had no concept of time. I had no idea if it was 4 am or 4 pm unless someone told me.)
4:30 am I began pushing at every contraction, but then they became more spaced out. The babies heart rate would slow down at every contraction. They gave me oxygen at this point. Sometimes his heart would slow down so much I couldn’t hear it anymore on the machine and it would terrify me. Since they could see his head, they would scratch his noggin when his heart would slow down to get it going back up. At some point during the 5 hours of pushing, my fever spiked to 101, so they had me rest and covered me with cold cloths to get my temperature down, and they began antibiotics. So all around, we were pretty nervous for baby. My fever/infection, his slowing heart rate during contractions…it was a high stress situation. The baby was also sunny side up instead of face down, which will make delivery even more difficult. The nurses could see his head, but it was not making it’s way through my pelvic bone because of his size as well as him being face up. I continued pushing until 9 am (about five hours!) when my doctor called a C Section. The baby’s heartrate kept slowing at every push, and it was just time to get him out. (Side note: For the record, my doctor and the nurses said I was a great pusher!)
At 9:15 am, my doctor gently told us that it was time to do a C Section. She knew this wasn’t what I wanted to hear, so she gave me and Lamar a moment to process which is one of the most vivid memories I have of the entire process. Lamar had been next to me the entire time pushing, he was covered in sweat from working so hard. At every contraction, he had helped push me from laying back position to a crunch position up to my knees over and over for the entire 5 hours. We were both physically and emotionally exhausted. We knew it was time to put our desires of a vaginal delivery aside and do what was best for our child and for us. So when the doctor gave us a moment to process, we looked at each other and both wept. It was the most tender moment full of so much emotion. He reminded me over and over how well I had done and how hard I had tried. He told me I was so strong, and that he loved me so much. When the doctor came back in one minute later, we told her we were ready and immediately nurses swarmed in to prep us. The room became so chaotic, my mom left to go to the waiting room, and we began our journey to the OR.
I remember feeling pretty scared when we finally got to the OR and they put the screen up in front of me. I started to feel pressure of being handled and I swore I could feel some cutting (probably just pressure) and I told them I could feel it, so they knocked me completely out with medicine and that’s when things got weird. I had the strangest dreams. Then what seemed like hours later (really only minutes), Lamar was beside me with our baby. I will still high at this point, so all I could notice was that I was seeing six of Lamar. I finally realized the baby was there and tried to focus my eyes on him, but my eyes felt like 100 bricks were weighing them down. I think I fell asleep again.
Cooper was born at 10:04 am weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces and 22 inches long. It was a very rough delivery. Since I had pushed for so long, Cooper had to be pushed back up into a place where they could remove him from my incision. His shoulder apparently got stuck on the way out which caused him some distress. He was unresponsive when he initially came out, and the only thing working was his heart. He wasn’t breathing, so they had to manually pump air into his lungs which caused a partial lung collapse. His first Apgar score was a 1. Five minutes later, he was up to a 5, and 10 minutes later he was up to a 7. After he met me, they quickly took him over to NICU where he would stay for the next four days. I wasn’t able to see him or hold him until later that evening at 10:15, nearly 12 hours after he was born. I never wanted to leave him!
For the next four days, we visited him 3 or 4 times a day for at least an hour each time, sometimes three hours. Then I would have to go back to the room to rest and pump. Each time we left the NICU to head back to our room, I cried. I immediately missed him so much, and hated leaving him all alone. Cooper was on antibiotics and was being fed through a feeding tube, so we didn’t get the opportunity to have many good attempts at breastfeeding. We still did plenty of skin-to-skin, and I pumped as often as possible so that the NICU nurses could mix his formula with my milk to give him even more nutrients. He had low blood sugar which made him stay in the NICU so long. A man from our church surprised us with a visit on Cooper’s third day in the NICU. He prayed for Cooper’s blood sugar, and let me tell you—from then on, his blood sugar kept rising! The next day, his blood sugar was stable and Cooper graduated from the NICU! He came to our room, but would still need to have his antibiotics. They moved his arm IV to his head so that he could have more mobility with his arm, and to keep him from pulling it out. It was a sad sight, though. We had officially been discharged from the hospital, so I was no longer a patient, but we were able to stay and room in with him until Monday. On Monday April 10th, we packed up the car and brought Cooper home with us! What a surreal feeling it was to finally bring home our baby after being in the hospital for 7 days!
We are thankful for all of your prayers and well wishes. And a special shout out to our family for sticking around the hospital so long waiting for Cooper to arrive! Many of them pulled all-nighters in the waiting room. Cooper is six weeks now, has gained three pounds since birth, is out of newborn clothes and diapers, and is always smiling (okay, maybe not always, but most of the time!). He brings us so much joy, and we are so thankful to have him here with us!
In case you’re wondering where the name Cooper comes from, it comes from my Bobo (my mother’s dad) who passed away years ago. He was very special to me, and I love that my son is named after him! Lamar is Cooper’s middle name which comes from his dad (Lamar), and Lamar’s grandfather who passed away many years ago.
Two days after we got home from the hospital, we had newborn photos taken in his nursery. I’ll be sharing those soon!