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Michael’s Birth Story

On October 17, 2016 we welcomed our first child, our son Michael Lockwood into our family! It was a whirlwind of a 12-hour labor and a delivery experience that was completely unexpected. While his birth was 180° opposite of what I had envisioned… in the end, the best birth is the one that is safest. Any delivery that brings a healthy baby into the world and into your arms is a perfect delivery. Overall, it was a life-changing experience for Ryan and me. It has brought us closer than ever before and has given me a newfound respect for my body and what it’s capable of. Motherhood has brought a whole new meaning to love and a whole new meaning to life. The love for our son is overwhelmingly raw and beautiful. Our L&D experience is what makes Michael’s birth story unique, totally ours. He is absolute perfection. We are over the moon in love with our new bundle of joy. This is his story.

It was 1:20 a.m. when a gush of water woke me up from my sleep. At 39 weeks pregnant, it’s not like I was sleeping that great anyway… On this particular night, I happened to be sleeping in our guest room to hide from Ryan’s snoring that was keeping me up earlier that night. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom… did my water just break?! Knowing that only 15% of pregnant women actually experience the rupture of the amniotic sac before they go into labor… I was thinking to myself that there could possibly be the accidental embarrassing chance that I just pee’d myself instead… With my due date only 4 days away and knowing that I was already 2 cm dilated and 75% effaced, I wasn’t going to take any chances. I walked into our bedroom to wake up Ryan… “Hey babe… I think it’s time!”. Once Ryan opened his eyes and realized what just happened he sprung out of bed. I called the after-hours number for our OB and they called the hospital to alert them of our upcoming arrival. I grabbed my “day-of packing list” that was taped to the wall in our closet which reminded me of leftover items to pack that weren’t already in our hospital bag sitting by the door. I called my parents to wake them and let them know what was going on and texted our birth photographer. My mind was racing… I knew that I was going to forget to pack something… I knew that I should eat something but I had so many butterflies of excitement in my stomach that I didn’t have an appetite… for some reason I didn’t shower or freshen up with makeup because I had it in my head that I would do it once I got settled at the hospital (HA! Let’s just say that didn’t happen!)… So, we packed up the car, blew a kiss to our furbaby Henry, and off to Henrico Doctors’ Hospital we went!

 

It was such a surreal feeling during that 11-minute car ride to the hospital. There was a full moon out, it was still dark, and not a single car was out on the streets. Pretty sure the traffic lights were green the entire way there. Aside from the braxton hicks I had been feeling throughout my 3rd trimester, the “real” contractions hadn’t yet started kicking in so I still wasn’t sure if this was really happening yet. In that quiet moment riding in the car, my 39-weeks of pregnancy went from feeling like a lifetime to flashing by in an instant. It felt like just yesterday we were back in our living room on Valentine’s Day weekend and I was telling Ryan we were pregnant with our first child – cannot believe we are having a son!

 

At 2:20 a.m. we arrived at the hospital. Since it was after-hours we went through the ER entrance. We planned on leaving our packed bags in the car until we got the green light that we were going to be admitted. The lady at the front desk got us signed in, hospital bracelets snapped on, and I was whisked away in a wheelchair with Ryan walking by my side.

 

We were taken to a small triage room – the waiting period began until they could confirm that I was in fact in labor. A nurse greeted us at the door and got me hooked up to the monitors to track Michael’s heart rate and my contractions. If my water did break, then amniotic fluid would be present so the nurse ran several tests to confirm. The first couple of swabs were coming back negative… Ryan and I looked at each other with a disappointed look. Was this a false alarm?! Were we going to be sent home to wait it out? I was 2-3 cm dilated and now 90% effaced. The lower back pain started to kick in… I was anxious, nervous, excited… I couldn’t get comfortable… Then it happened… my first real contraction that scaled up to an 11 on the monitor. What felt like the worst menstrual cramps I’d ever experienced… my whole body tensed up and I gripped the sheets on my stiff hospital bed as I tried to breathe through it. When the nurse came back into the room I quickly asked her… “So, I think I just had a contraction… it was an 11 on the monitor… is that considered a small or a big contraction? Just trying to gauge what the rest of the day will feel like…” She looked at me with the most sympathetic look and said “Darlin’… I’m gonna be real honest with you… we’re in the baby car seat right now… we ain’t even gotten to the teenage years yet…” In other words… buckle up sista! You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! She did one more swab test, left the room, returned about 15 minutes later, looked at us and said, “Let’s have a baby!”.

 

It was around 4:00 a.m. when we were admitted into our labor and delivery room. We lucked out in having a newly renovated corner room. They hooked me up to an IV, did some blood work, and got my heart rate and contraction monitors connected. At this point, pain-wise I was feeling okay. Contractions were pretty spread out and I was trying to move around a bit in the room while I could. I had an email drafted that I sent to a group of my girlfriends to let them know that “it’s time!” – needed them to be my prayer warriors as the day went on.

 

7:00 a.m. rolled around and my contractions were now roughly 3-5 minutes apart. The doctor told me that I had an irritable uterus meaning I was having a lot of constant small contractions followed by one large one instead of having a good break in between… I was trying to hold off on doing an epidural as long as I could… not just because I was terrified of needles but I knew that it would restrict me from walking around and I figured we still had a long day ahead of us… Instead they gave me fentanyl which provided some mild sedation – taking the edge off and made me drowsy so I could try and get some rest.

 

Around 8:15 a.m. I was having a strong contraction and it felt better to hold my breath instead of taking deep breaths through it… several nurses and my doctor rushed into the room… they told me that Michael’s heart rate had dropped significantly and they needed to adjust my position in bed to get him breathing more regularly… they helped roll me to my other side, put an oxygen mask on me, and told me to take some deep breaths… Ryan stood up by my side and held my hand… my heart was racing but I was trying to stay calm. I closed my eyes and tuned in to the sound of my baby boy’s heartbeat coming through the speakers of my bedside monitor. It started to pick back up and everything was back to normal. Our doctor told us that she would monitor us closely as his decreased heart rate was concerning…

 

By 9:00 a.m. my contractions were getting stronger and I couldn’t hold off any longer… I knew that it would take about 30-45 minutes to get the anesthesiologist in our room for an epidural so we asked the doctor to start that process. By the time she arrived, I was 5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I was in a lot of pain at this point. We waited until a contraction was over before the epidural was put in. I had to sit on the edge of my bed, lean forward as much as possible, and arch my back outward. Ryan held my hands as I breathed through it. To my surprise, getting the epidural wasn’t as bad as I had envisioned although I did have a contraction while she was still putting the medicine in and having to stay completely still through it wasn’t fun… It was crazy to know that the contractions would still be running havoc on my body but I wouldn’t be able to feel a thing… I took a deep breath of relief to know that the pain would soon be gone.

 

By 10:00 a.m. my parents, Ryan’s mom, and Emily (our birth photographer) arrived. Everyone was in our L&D room and we were chit-chatting to pass the time. My epidural had kicked in so I was feeling much better! Aside from feeling a little pressure when big contractions were happening it was nothing like the pain I was feeling earlier. I kept dosing in and out of rest while Ryan, my mom and dad, and mother-in-law took turns sitting next to my bedside.

 

Closer to 11:00 a.m. our doctor and the nurses came rushing back in since Michael’s heart rate had dropped again. They rolled me to my other side, gave me oxygen again, and positioned a large oblong yoga ball in between my legs to help alleviate any pressure on my cervix. They put a monitor on Michael’s head to watch him more closely. His heart rate started to go back up. Our doctor eluded to the possibility of having to do a C-Section if this episode happened again to ensure the safety of me and the baby. Hearing that news crushed me… while of course I wanted the safest delivery option for Michael… Having a C-Section was not part of the plan… I knew going into labor that my Type A personality had to be more flexible and open-minded… I told her that we had a birth photographer and she told me that only one person could be in the operating room with me… {insert tears!}… If a C-Section was going to be our delivery route then I knew that not only my photographer couldn’t be there to capture the moment as it unfolded but my Mom couldn’t be in the room by my side either… I’ve also never had surgery before so that terrified me. I tried not to get myself too worked up because there was a chance we could avoid a C-Section all together… For the next two hours, we tried to remain calm, said lots of prayers, and waited it out. Around 12:30 p.m. our family cleared out of the room so Ryan and I could try and get some rest.

 

Shortly after 1:00 p.m., I started feeling more pressure… our doctor and the nurses came rushing back in the room… Michael’s heart rate had dropped again. The tears started rolling down my cheeks because I knew that our son would now have to be delivered via emergency C-Section. I was still only at 5 c.m. dilated so I wasn’t at a point where I could start pushing. I asked about getting on pitocin to help with dilation and our doctor said that would likely slow things down and put Michael more at risk. So, the visions of pushing Michael out, Ryan cutting the umbilical cord, having our reactions captured, and having them put Michael directly onto my chest with my husband and my mom by my side was suddenly displaced by worries about the surgery, about being stuck in the hospital longer, and about the tougher recovery (not to mention the scar)… I felt guilty that I felt so robbed of those moments that I had always dreamed of experiencing… The nurses threw Ryan a set of scrubs to put on while they scurried to unhook my monitors and IV so they could transport me. Ryan rushed to the waiting room to tell our family the news of what was going on and quickly returned as they were wheeling me to the operating room.

 

I couldn’t stop shaking. I was cold, nervous, scared, excited, anxious… I tried to stay positive in knowing that I was escaping what could’ve easily been hours of pushing and exhaustion and that I would get to meet and hold my baby boy much sooner now… Still the tears kept flowing. The look of concern on the medical staff made Ryan and I uneasy… The unknown of what was about to happen in the next twenty minutes and not knowing if my son was okay was terrifying… I had full confidence in the medical staff to perform the C-Section… roughly 32% of babies delivered in the U.S. are by cesarean so I knew this operation would be very routine for them.

 

We turned a corner and arrived at the OR door. They told Ryan to wait in the hallway until they had me settled. The foot of my bed pushed the double-doors open and all I saw were lots of bright lights, medical staff scurrying about, the air was thin and cold… it felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy… They told me to cross my arms across my chest as they slid a board underneath my back to swap me to the operating table. A blue sheet went up from above my belly to block my vantage point. I asked for another dosage of the epidural because I was starting to have feeling in my feet and calve muscles… I certainly didn’t want any feeling from the waist down while this operation was going on… While they were getting me setup, Ryan was now sitting by my side dressed in full scrubs, a mask, and a hat – I remember thinking that he would make one cute doctor. Thankfully Emily had given her camera to one of the nurses and Ryan had it to capture what he could. The anesthesiologist pinched my belly and asked if I could feel that… yes. She dosed me up more. A few minutes later she did the same thing and asked if I could still feel it… our doctor then poked her head around the sheet and said that if Michael’s heart rate dropped again then they would need to put me to sleep so they could start the operation… Well, this put me over the edge! I couldn’t fathom being unconscious when my child entered into this world and not having any recollection of it… I knew then that it was my epidural dosage that was slowing us down so the next time she asked if I could feel her pinch, I lied, and said I couldn’t feel anything so we could get started. My adrenalin was racing I didn’t think I’d feel any pain. I gripped Ryan’s hand as hard as I could. He wiped away my tears, assured me that everything would be okay, and told me to keep looking into his eyes.

 

The whole procedure leading up to delivery only took about 10 minutes or less. The next several minutes I experienced was a bizarre mix of pulling, tugging, pressure, suctioning, rolling, kicking, and more pressure… It felt like my stomach was a big pot of soup and the doc was stirring and stirring it up… I remember looking at Ryan and saying “is this really happening right now?!”… He did his best to keep me calm as I was still shaking. I will always remember the gentleness in his eyes as he looked at me in that moment.

 

At 1:20 p.m. I heard the sweet little cries of my baby boy. I gasped for air like I could finally breathe again knowing that he was okay and cried tears of my own. Ryan got to look over the sheet and watch him being born. Our doctor cut the umbilical cord which was wrapped around his little foot – this was the reason why his heart rate was dropping when I was in labor. We would’ve eventually had to do a C-Section to get him out safely since my placenta would’ve kept him from descending in the birth canal. We were so very appreciative that our doctor made the emergency C-Section decision when she did before things got worse. They brought Michael around the corner so we could see our son for the first time. He was so handsome! I looked over at Ryan and the look on his face gave me goosebumps – he looked so proud. He was a Daddy! They took Michael over to get cleaned up, weighed, and measured. He was 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and 20.5 inches of absolute perfection. He scored a 9.9 out of 10 on the Apgar test – this measured his muscle tone, heart rate, reflex response, color, and breathing. The results of that test was music to my ears to know that he didn’t need any further medical assistance. Thank you God… my baby is alive and well.

 

Waiting to hold my son for the first time after he was born felt like an eternity. A nurse came around the corner with him and placed him on my chest, skin-to-skin. Suddenly my whole life of yearning to be a mother, 2 ½ years of infertility struggles, 9 months of pregnancy… and now every breath, every smile, every tear, every single ounce of every emotion flowing through my body has come down to this moment… my first child… my son… was finally in my arms. I was in awe of him. It was in that moment that my life, my purpose, my heart would never be the same. We’ve only just met yet how could I already love him more than life itself?! My heart was exploding out of my chest. I felt whole, I felt complete. I remember telling Ryan, “all of that was so worth it!”. I just laid there kissing his head and admiring every inch of him… that newborn smell, his soft skin, his little fingers and toes, those baby blue eyes, and that tiny head full of hair. He didn’t cry. It was as if he was just as content and I was – staring into my eyes and he even lifted his head to look over at his Daddy. It was the most beautiful moment for our family. We were soaking it all in.

 

For the next 20 minutes or so I continued to lay there on the operating table while our doctor put everything back into place post-surgery and stapled me up (yikes!)… The epidural had finally settled in and I was numb up to about my shoulders.

 

We were then taken back to our L&D room. My parents and Ryan’s mom were there to greet us. Introducing my son to my parents was such an amazing moment. I burst into tears once they set eyes on him. I was so proud, so grateful, my heart was so fulfilled. Watching Ryan hold Michael for the first time completely melted my heart. He already looked so different to me. He was a proud Daddy now. He was beaming with happiness. I still couldn’t believe that we created this little miracle. He was all ours.

 

We were eventually taken to our postpartum room where we stayed for the next two days. My brother (Michael’s Godfather) and his family drove down from New Jersey that day and were able to hold Michael that first night. We were so overjoyed to have Michael’s godmother and our dear family and friends visit us in the hospital – they spoiled Michael rotten with balloons, flowers, gifts, and cards. It was all so incredibly thoughtful! The nursing staff did such an amazing job taking care of us. Ryan never left my side while in the hospital or that entire first week home. Ryan was a rock star and was so gentle in caring for me.

 

After spending only 2 nights in the hospital we were able to bring him home. It was a beautiful and sunny October day when we walked outside to our car. We couldn’t believe it was 87° out! We secured him in his car seat, waved to the nursing staff, and headed home. Let the adventures begin!

 

Michael, the love your Daddy and I have for you is beautifully overwhelming. It’s a kind of unconditional love that comes from the depths of our souls — the purest, indescribable love. We didn’t know that our hearts had the capacity to hold such a love. You truly are our everything.


Immensely grateful for Emily Gerald Photography beautifully documenting this incredible season in our lives. We will forever cherish these images. Professional photographs included in the slideshow © Emily Gerald.

 

Click here to view our pregnancy announcement

Click here to view our gender reveal party

Click here to view our maternity portraits

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