July 31st at 3:39 a.m. our Desmond came screaming into the world. He weighed an impressive 8 lbs 10 oz and was 20.5 inches long. The experience of bringing this baby into this world was the most terrifying, exciting, excruciatingly painful, joyous, frustrating, and encouraging experience of my life. I've thought about the 24 hours leading up to his delivery so often, trying to sear it into my memory forever. I don't want to forget one detail, one feeling, or one emotion for as long as I live.
July 30th, 2018
4:30am: I woke up in excruciating pain. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions on and off the last month, and the weekend leading up to this Monday, the contractions had become stronger and more consistent. In fact, they seemed so painful and frequent on Sunday July 29th, I was convinced I was going into labor and we ended up going to the hospital and they sent us home. Oh, how wrong I was about labor pains. All the pains I had experienced were nothing, NOTHING compared to what I felt that Monday morning and would feel as the day progressed. They became so strong, I woke BJ up and made him sit with me while I timed them. When they were consistently 5-7 minutes apart for several hours and I started throwing up, we decided to get ready to go to the hospital.
BJ: It's the worst feeling watching someone you love so dearly be in so much pain. Well, maybe not the worst feeling...I'm sure her experience could be more accurately labeled as the worst feeling. I remember being jarred awake at 6 a.m. by Mallory. "I just need you to come sit with me," she said. I jumped out of bed and went and sat on the bathroom floor while she showered and screamed. It was uncomfortable. Apparently, there's a formula of sorts for knowing when to go to the hospital: 5 - 1 - 1. Contractions five minutes apart, for one hour, lasting one minute each. After 3 hours of steamy shower screams, the time had come. We left for the hospital. For the first time that morning, there was a comfort that washed over me. We were in the homestretch and Mal's pain would soon subside, or so I thought...
9:30am: When we arrived at the hospital, we were told I was only dilated to a 1. They told us they would give us 2 hours to walk around and try and speed the process along. So, BJ and I walked the halls, stopping to have contractions by leaning against the wall and making, what I'm sure were embarrassing grunting noises. We also tried the bouncy ball in our room and as the 2 hours progressed, my contractions became more intense, but not closer together. I was also continuing to throw up. In fact, I threw up all over myself at one point and a very kind nurse cleaned me up so BJ wouldn't have to. After all that, they checked my progression and gave us the disappointing news that I was still only dilated at a 1 and they would have to send us home. They gave me an IV of fluids and a dose of ibuprofen before we left and assured us we would make it to our next Dr. appointment that Thursday.
BJ: I had a certainty that we were soon going to see our little miracle. After several hours of tests, walking the hospital halls, and watching Mal attempt to bounce on a strange ball, I was wrong. They were sending us home. No baby. It was a deflating feeling - leaving through the same doors you entered only hours before, with the same bags, and no baby.
1:30pm: After receiving fluids at the hospital, I started to feel much better and the contractions lessened. But as soon as we arrived home and I tried to lay down and rest, I threw up again and contractions started once more. I tried laying down, walking, standing...nothing relieved the pain. When they became too much for me to handle, I asked BJ if he'd help me into the shower in hopes I would be able to relax. I knew that if I could relax enough to rest, that I could do this! At some point during my shower, I realized the contractions weren't going to ease up and a fear washed over me that my body would give out before I could deliver this baby. I kept telling BJ, "I need help, I need help," and I could tell he felt so helpless because neither of us knew what to do to ease my pain. At some point, I began balling and I felt heartbroken when I realized I could never go through this again. It was too painful and exhausting and the big family BJ wanted would never become our reality. I cried even harder telling BJ this realization and he continued to encourage me that I would get through this. After this, BJ left the room for a bit and came back letting me know he had called the 24 hour nurse hotline, let them know what was going on (my contractions were 2 minutes apart at this point) and informed me that they wanted us to come back in. At this point, my contractions were so excruciating, the word excruciating doesn't even do them justice. What's a word more painful than excruciating? It basically felt like every bone in my body was breaking at once, every 2 minutes, for hours...
BJ: We arrived back home from the hospital and Mal was still in terrible pain, to the point of constant vomiting. After an afternoon of spectating a certain kind of hell, I couldn't take it anymore. The only semblance of a light at the end of the tunnel was an OB appointment 3 days away! No human could survive this for 3 days. At this point, the contractions were every 2-3 minutes. Mal was back in the shower and I was sweating bullets sitting in there with her. I left briefly to pretend to make a phone call. I returned and told her that I had called the nurse hotline, described her symptoms, and they advised us to come back. I lied. In reality, I was just ready to kick a door in and demand that she receive some respite from her pain.
8:30pm: We arrived back at the hospital and they seemed surprised to see us again, even though BJ had told me they were expecting us.
SIDENOTE: The journey to the hospital was hysterical looking back on it. We live maybe 5 minutes from the hospital but it took us almost 20 minutes to get there because every time I had a contraction, I had BJ pull over. The bumpiness of the car ride seemed to make the contractions worse. When we got there and got checked in, we used a wheel chair to get up to the birthing unit. BJ would push me in the wheel chair in a dead sprint and then stop abruptly when I signaled that I was contracting. It was so much easier for me to stand up, lean against a wall and contract than it was to sit down. I'm sure we looked ridiculous - BJ's determined and scared face, all the groans and noises I made during contractions, not to mention my hair was still soaping wet from my shower.
When we finally arrived at the birthing unit, they wanted me to lay down so they could hook me all up to the monitors and I half-screamed that I could not lay down. This wonderful nurse said "You got it," got me all hooked up, decided I couldn't wait for a Dr. to check me, and just did it herself. "You're dilated to a 4." and I swear ya'll I could have kissed her on the mouth I was so happy. "When can I get an epidural?" was my next question, and she assured me she was going to get it ordered that second.
BJ: The trip back to the hospital reminded me of my days as an ice cream man, traveling 3 miles per hour so to avoid any bumps in the road and intensify Mal's already lethal contractions. We arrived and it seemed like days since we had been there. Luckily, they welcomed us back and quickly admitted Mallory after checking her cervix? I'm still figuring out the female anatomy. They gave her proper meds and she turned back into a regular Dr. Jekyll.
10:30 pm: Epiderals are life changing... I seriously applaud the women that give birth with no modern medicine. You girls are my heroes. Finally, after being in pain for hours, I was able to relax. They encouraged us both to get some sleep. At one point, BJ stepped out to get some coffee and let our families know we were in the hospital and they came in to break my water. I mention this part of the story because the Dr. on-call was one of the kindest, most encouraging men I've ever encountered. I must have made a noise when they broke my water because he asked if I was ok. I said I was, just nervous. Without missing a beat, he reached down and squeezed my hand until they were finished. Seriously, a calm washed over me and I knew he would walk me through this whole process.
BJ: A modern medicinal marvel sent Mal into a temporary paralysis. It was amazing! Finally, the woman I married was back in my midst. The nursing staff was so knowledgable and accommodating, that for the first time that day, I was able to catch my breath. I stepped out to get a cup of coffee and some fresh air. I still remember how starry the sky was and the song that was playing when I got in my car. My little guy would soon be here. It was a good feeling.
12:30am: They came in to check our progression and I was at a 7. They told me it wouldn't be much longer and to get as much sleep as we could.
3:00am: I woke up to see 2 nurses, the Dr, and the resident all standing, arms crossed, staring at the heart monitor. I looked over at BJ who was also just waking up and his face mimicked the fear I felt. The nurses then began having me shift from one side to another and everyone kept looking from the monitor, to the Dr. who looked stoically at the monitor. After several minutes, he said, "We are going to go ahead and do a C-section. Your baby appears to be in distress and I don't want to chance it." At this point, everything started happening very quickly. A waiver was signed, BJ was changed into scrubs, and the anesthesiologist was brought back in. I began shaking uncontrollably which was so embarrassing! The nurses assured me it was hormones, but I think they just wanted me to feel better because I knew what I was feeling; terrified.
BJ: The hospital staff encouraged Mal and I both to get some sleep. I had no objections. However, I awoke to an onslaught of doctors and nurses in the room, staring intently at the baby monitor. No one was saying much. The nurses and the resident doctor were looking back and forth, but my eyes were fixed on the doctor that wasn't breaking his gaze with the monitor. He seemed so intense...almost like he knew what he was looking at. To me, it was all a bunch of numbers and squiggly lines. After what seemed like forever, the doctor (Mr. Intensity) declared they would move forward with a cesarean. Apparently, the baby was in distress. Terror is the feeling you would think I had at this point, but honestly, I had an abundant trust; trust in the medical personnel and trust in God. I quickly suited up. They gave me a pair of scrubs that were at least 2 sizes too large. I looked ridiculous. I thought, "Is this what I am going to be wearing when my son sees me for the first time?" Not to mention, the birthing center was extremely busy on this particular night. I feared that because of my scrubs, I would get mistaken for someone important and be summoned to deliver a stranger's baby. For the record: I could have done it.
3:20am: I was taken to the operating room without BJ and they said he could come in shortly. The anesthesiologist got me set up, asked if I wanted the window in the tent open so I could see the C-section happen (heck no I didn't want to see!) and he then began poking my arm and then my side, gauging what I could feel. I then asked him when they were going to start cutting me open. He said, "They already did." At this point, they brought BJ in, and a few minutes later our boy had arrived. After getting him all cleaned up, they brought this screaming boy over to me. The second they laid him on my chest he stopped crying. HE KNEW ME. I've never experienced a feeling like it. I can still remember how it felt to kiss him for the first time. This sweet boy I had been carrying inside me for 9 months was looking up at me as I kissed him over and over again. He knew me just as I knew him. My voice, my smell, it was all familiar to him. I held him there until my arms gave out, and even then, a nurse held him on my chest just a moment longer.
BJ: Looking ever-so-offical, I strolled into the operating room, only to see my wife's intestines in a bowl. "Hmm," was all I could say. The anesthesiologist, whom I felt I had befriended, called me over to what he referred to as "The Captain's Chair." I was seated next to Mallory's head. I was able to hold her hand and stoke her face and give her updates on what I was seeing when I would stand up. "He'll be here in about 30 seconds," my friend said. I stood up and watched them pull my son from my wife's stomach. It was miraculous. He instantly started to wail. I was beside myself. I got my phone out and immediately starting capturing pictures and video. I was attempting to describe him to Mallory from across the room, seeing as her guts were still spilled. I watched them clean him off. I just kept saying his name over and over. Then, I cut the cord and shortly after, they took him and I over to Mal. Mal held him and we just gawked at him. They escorted Dez and I both across the hall. Recalling something called "skin-to skin," I ripped my shirt off and was able to hold him for the next couple of hours. To be honest, it was the fastest 2.5 hours of my life. I just stared at him and he back at me. I can't describe the love I felt.
Now we are a family of 3. If you made it through this whole story, thank you for sticking it out! I know it was long, but there was so much to tell. It definitely wasn't the easy, glamourous birth I had envisioned for myself so many times, but it was perfect in its own way. He is everything we had been waiting for our whole lives, we just didn't know it.