My first post of the new year is Cameron’s birth story and that seems like a perfect way to celebrate the close of a decade that made me a nurse, a wife, and a mother.  It will forever be the best years of my life and by far the busiest time but I’m sure I’ll be saying the same thing after raising these little munchkins to be pre-teens in another ten years.  These baby days are so so special and they all started for my little family in the twenty-teens.  In honor of the end of the greatest decade of my life I’m sharing the birth story of the little boy who made me a mother back in 2015.

Cameron David Tuttle, 7 lb. 4 oz. 19 inches long

Cameron was due on the last day of July in 2015.  We were fortunate enough to have a very uneventful, textbook pregnancy, with no issues and just a lot of waiting for each monthly appointment to come and go so we were one month closer to meeting him.  I went on maternity leave just after the 4th to prepare for his arrival.  Every morning throughout the month of July I would wake up and think..maybe today is the day.  I was so excited and a little terrified to finally go into labor and meet this little person I’d been feeling kicking me for so long.  Those last couple weeks I spent a lot of time thinking about how it would happen- would the contractions come on all of a sudden, would my water break in the middle of the night, or would I have a slow labor and have to wait to head to the hospital?  It was exciting but I was pretty nervous about the unknown.

A week before our due date I started experiencing some high blood pressure but since I didn’t have any of the other signs of pre-eclampsia I just kept an eye on it at home and it stayed steady in the 140s.  I even worked in a trip to the Jersey Shore just a few days before I was due.  Not many first time moms would travel almost three hours from home the week they were due but I could tell nothing was brewing.

Cameron’s due date came and went and the days were ticking away and still nothing.  Looking back I realize I was in fact experiencing contractions throughout that last week but they came on every time I got out of the car or sat up after sitting for a while.  I was told that real contractions are not affected by a change in position and so I assumed they were some really bad Braxton-Hicks.  They were bad enough that they took my breath away and I would have to stand still till it passed- only now do I know they were contractions.

About 5 days post due date I was at my OBs office to talk about what our plan would be.  We decided to do a membrane stripping in my doctor’s office.  I wasn’t prepared for it and I hadn’t researched it but my doctor described it as one of the more natural ways to get your body to go into labor.  By that point I had tried all the old wives tales at home (had rasberry tea, took long walks, jumping jacks) but nothing was happening so I decided to give this a try.  Let me tell you- that procedure hurt like hell but it was over in what felt like a very long minute.  With that my doctor told me she thought she would be seeing me that weekend and I prayed she was right.  I went about my afternoon, it was a Thursday, and not until the early evening did I start to feel contractions.  This marked the beginning of a very long two days.

I downloaded an app to track my contractions and I’m not sure if that helped or hurt me because as the clock was ticking away I knew another one should be coming based on the pattern I was maintaining.  All I could do was walk around and pace back and forth- I couldn’t sit and I was NOT NICE TO DAVE.  They were painful enough to take my breath away but not nearly close enough together that I could go to the hospital or even call my OB.  This continued the entire night until they just stopped at around 7:00 in the morning.  I was baffled, relieved I was getting a break from the pain, but worried something was wrong for them to just abruptly stop.   I hadn’t slept one minute the entire night so I checked in with my OB, who told me it was totally fine, and then took a nap.

Dave went into work that day and when he came home by about dinner time the contractions started to come back again.  I got my phone out and started tracking them all over again.  This time they were ramping up quickly and getting closer together.  I called my OB close to 9:00pm and she told me to take my time but get ready to head to the hospital.  I am so glad I had everything packed and ready for the hospital because I was in so much pain I couldn’t focus on putting things together.  We got in the car, and I kept counting through the contractions, and clenching my jaw, and doing deep breathing.  Every bump on the road was so painful and I did not want to be sitting down but that seemed like that was all everyone was asking me to do when I showed up at the hospital- they wanted me to sit in the wheelchair to go up to L&D, sit and get my vitals when I got there, sit on the bed so they could give you the belly band to monitor the baby.  I was in SO much pain and needed to be standing for some relief!  On top of that I was so tired from not sleeping the night before and was officially starting to get nervous because I wasn’t handling the pain well.

When you check into a hospital when you’re in labor they send you to a triage room before you get to your delivery room.  A nurse mentioned that if I wasn’t dilated enough I may not quite be ready to check in but by the grace of God my water broke right there as the resident was checking me. She swore she didn’t do it and I remember saying I didn’t care who did it as long as this meant I didn’t have to go home and wait any longer.  They assured me that now that my water broke I was definitely staying and the baby was coming!

Off to the delivery room we went.  I remember my nurse who was with me all night and she was with me again when I delivered Nolan and Mari.  I got my epidural and I felt so much better.  (Ladies, you feel better in about a minute of getting your epidural- it’s glorious.)  That is when I finally started to calm down a bit and attempt to get some rest.  The nurses shut the lights off and let Dave and I get some sleep- until they all came running in because the baby’s heart rate was dropping.  This would continue all night.  At one point we couldn’t get his rate back up after trying to switch my position.  More people ran into my room, the resident was talking to us about an emergency cesarian, and anesthesia pumped my line with something that made me go ten times more numb to prepare me for the OR.  I was also starting to have a reaction to the anesthesia and I was shivering (even though I didn’t feel cold) and was so itchy.  I had this feeling of impending doom from this point forward.  I was not enjoying it and I was so nervous.  The nurses helped position me to a place where Cam’s heart rate went back up and I stayed there and didn’t move the entire night.

My OB came to see me very early in the morning and all was quiet with Cam’s heart rate as long I stayed to the left side.  We started Pitocin to try and get things to progress a bit because I wasn’t dilating any further.  When they came to check me at about 7:00am I was so incredibly numb that I had no feeling of the contractions and was surprised when they told me I was dialated enough and ready to push.  After birthing four babies, I know now that I shouldn’t have been that numb but my epidural must have been too strong.  Before I knew it I was all set up to push and since I did not take a lamaze class I asked them right there on the spot how to do it.  My nurse and my OB told me what to do, counted down how long to push, told me when to stop, and how to breathe and I picked it right up after a couple tries.  I rememeber telling my nurse I wanted to have my baby before her shift ended in thirty minutes and my OB reminded me it’s a marathon, not a race.  A marathon it was. 

I was pushing, but not much was happening.  My new day nurse and my OB were so awesome, so patient, and tried to encourage me throughout every single push.  Nothing was happening though. He’d come down and then go back up again with each push. I was making small progress.  By about 8:15 my OB turned down the epirdural to allow me to feel a little more in hopes that that would help me make more progress with the pushes.  I’m pretty sure I looked like what you see in the movies- dripping sweat and huffing and puffing, and totally running out of energy.  At one point I looked at Dave and told him I was going to die- he was horrified.  We tried different positions, made a little more progress, and determined the umbilical cord was wrapped around his shoulder.  When I pushed, it pulled him right back up, but he was very slowly making his way out.

Somewhere in the middle of pushes my OB and my nurse just looked at each other- and didn’t say anything. I saw the look and it wasn’t good.  Cam started to pass meconium and a risk can be that the baby will aspirate while they are in the birth canal.  After my OB explained what was happening I got a new boost of adrenaline and sat up and start pushing again.  The pain wasn’t at the forfront of mind from that point forward, but getting my baby out as quickly as I could was all I focused on.

With two pulls with the suction cup to Cam’s head, Cameron entered the world at 10:11am crying from the top of his lungs.  I gave birth to him in a busy room with a team of pediatric respiratory therapists and NICU doctors waiting in the corner to grab him and start suctioning my sweet little baby.  They cleared his airway, cleaned him up, and I got to hold him for one beautiful minute before he was whisked away to the NICU for meconium aspiration.  While my husband followed him, I asked my OB a million questions about what will happen to Cam.  She had seen that type of thing many times before and even thought they might bring him back to me that day,  but he did indeed need to stay.

I remember sitting in the hospital room, alone, for just a few minutes when all the doctors had left my room and I had just told my family to come to my room right away.  They had driven down in the middle of the night to be here when he arrived.  I remember the look on their faces when they saw me- I didn’t look like myself at all! I hadn’t slept in 48 hours, I had broken blood vessels all over my face from pushing, but most importantly- Cameron wasn’t there for them to meet.   I gave them the run down and shortly there after the NICU doctor came to my room and said he was fine but just needed some observation and so he was to stay in the NICU.

Four long hours later I finally got to go see my baby.  There he was, wide awake, wiggling in his bassinet looking at me like he was glad I came.  I had two thoughts simulateously- he was going to be just fine and he looked exactly like Dave.  He was totally alert, breathing well, and I swear he looked at me like he knew who I was.  That little look on his face will be engrained in my memory for the rest of my life.  We spent the weekend sitting by his little bed, doting on his every cry, learning to breast feed with a dozen wires hanging off his little body and we were able to start bonding like a mother and baby should.  Dave and I would go to our room to sleep for a couple hours and go right back to Cameron’s side.   

Cameron’s birth story did not go like I ever thought it would before I had him but I was so grateful to have a healthy baby after what I witnessed other mothers going through in the NICU.  It may not have been “the plan” but he was here, he was healthy, and I was finally a mother.  For that I was so grateful. 

Our stay over those three days was a mix of good and bad.  The bright side was that Cameron and I got so much extra attention from the nurses that he would not have received in a regular room, and I got to sneak off the floor and get a Starbucks every day when my post partum nurses thought I was just walking to the NICU.  We had nurses right there coaching me with breastfeeding and monitoring every little breath from Cameron.  However, when I look back and watch all our videos of our first moments together there is a steady hum of beeps and random alarms going off in the background.  We never got a chance to lay together and do skin to skin right away and we did not have a peaceful environment to bond.  Luckily, I didn’t know what I was missing then and was too consumed with Cameron’s health to worry about that.  We had some bumps in the road and each day not knowing if they would discharge Cameron made my confidence drop and my anxiety soar but after three nights, on August 11, we took him home.

Truthfully,  I was so nervous that I didn’t want to leave the hospital with Cameron after everything that we went through.  I’ve never heard another mother say that before but I have heard mothers say they worry about everything when they are pregnant and that was just it.  I worried about everything when I carried him and everything went perfectly so when he was carried off to the NICU and they were telling me he should be peeing more, he’s not eating well enough, his heart rate is a little low….. I thought all the worry was for a good reason, there really was something wrong and that all those little things were symptoms of something bigger that they didn’t catch.   Despite all that going on in my head we were given our discharge order for Cam and after hours of reassurance from the doctors and my husband, because he knew Cameron was perfect, we hit the road. 

It took me months to rebuild my confidence and I was a big ball of anxiety in those first couple weeks but I got through it.  Everything fell into place and Cameron wouldn’t stop eating and peeing and his heart ended up to be fine after a visit to the cardiologist.  Now he is a perfectly healthy boy that lights up my world every single day and I love reliving this story.   

If you haven’t already, you should document your birth story somewhere.  With each of my births I make a note in my phone while I am in the hospital and go home and write it down at some point.   It’s almost midnight, and I have to take Elena to gymnastics in the morning, but I’m in awe of the fact that Cameron is now four and a half years old and I am doing the same thing again with Mari, only a million times more confidently.  I want to go back in time and give the nervous mom that I was a big hug and tell her she was doing everything just fine…..