Have you ever had one of those days where you go on your annual pilgrimage to a tree farm to cut down a Christmas tree and you end up having a baby?
No? So it's just me then?
From early on in my pregnancy, I had a feeling Lucas was going to come early. Except I had him pegged for a between Christmas and New Year's baby, not the one-month-early trouble maker he ended up being.
We packed the kids into the car early on December 8th to make the hour or so drive out to a tree farm we had been going to for the last ten years. We had two other families coming with us, and everyone was enjoying themselves.
I had been having contractions here and there, but nothing concerning. Until on the hayride back we hit a rather sizable thump and my uterus decided to pay me back in kind with a rather sizable contraction. The real fun didn't start until we stopped for lunch on the way home. Our friend noticed my wincing was coming at pretty regular intervals, so Fred and I decided to start paying attention. And then we realized that my contractions were every minute and a half to two minutes apart, and were lasting about 30 - 45 seconds. And we were an hour away from the hospital. So off we went, with Fred doing 100 mph on one of the worst highways in north Texas. At one point I couldn't even talk, the pain was so intense. A call to the doc confirmed that we needed to get to the hospital ASAP. I told Fred that under no circumstances was I going to have a baby on the side of a highway, and that was all the incentive he needed to make our 14 year old car go as fast as aero-dynamically possible with a tree strapped to the top of it. Fred dropped me off at the front of the hospital, and I'm sure I was quite the sight; lumbering and wincing my way to the elevator. As I got to the front desk of L&D, I tried to communicate the issue and instead burst into tears. The wonderful nurses got my into a room, one of those love;y backless gowns and hooked up to and IV with some labour-stopping drugs. When it became apparent that they weren't working, two nurses came in to tell me that the doc would arrive in an hour to do the c-section. By this time, Fred had just left to fed the kids dinner. So I told the nurses that today wasn't really a good time for me to have a baby, it being a month early and all that. It was a nice thought, but let's instead try some more drugs and do a little wait-and-seeing. The nurses said they understood, and left. I sat in my bed feeling satisfied that I had made my point. The nurses came back about 10 minutes later with a third nurse... the charge nurse, who talked some sense into me. They explained that I was in active labour and there was no going back. If they waited to long, there could be some danger involved since this was my third c-section. (The doc had a good laugh about my thinking I had a choice while they were prepping me for surgery) To make a very long story a wee bit shorter, I called Fred at dinner, who frantically started calling people to help wrangle our kids. Elise had to stay at the hospital with us because we had nobody who could look after her, but the nurses and a neighbour kept her company and she was pretty happy to be there for the birth.
They rolled me into the operating room and within 20 minutes, Lucas was born. At 6 pounds, 8 ounces, he was big for a preemie, so the took him to the regular nursery. I got to see him for about 30 seconds to give him a kiss, then he was whisked away.
Unfortunately, he started having breathing problems, and ended up in the NICU.
At 1:30 in the morning, I realized my son had been born 6 1/2 hours ago, and I had only seen him briefly in the OR. I asked my very hesitant nurse to take me to the NICU in a wheelchair to see him. I sat for 30 sweet minutes and held his tiny hand as he lay sleeping in the incubator.
The days that followed were hard. He was hooked up to tubes, wires and a C-PAP. I could hold him, but wasn't allowed to nurse him at first. And when I was given permission, I could only do it once a day because it tired him out so much.
Being discharged without my baby was the worst. I struggled between needing to be at the hospital, and needing to take care of my kids at home. I was pumping every three hours so Lucas could eat when I wasn't there.
I realize this post has become very long, and if you're still reading, you must either be related to me, or crazy. Or both.
But I thought it important to record the details of Lucas birth, as a reminder to me that despite everything that happend (and believe me, there is a lot more to the story, I just didn't want this to turn into a novel), it all turned out okay.
And I received one of my most favourite Christmas gifts, ever.