At 23 years old, I became Miss Arizona 2016, a job that I worked for…
Owen’s Birth Story
My last day of work was January 31. I convinced myself Owen was coming early. It wasn’t just me either. Throughout the pregnancy, everyone thought he would arrive before his February 12 due date. Everyone also included people I’ve never met before, typically in the grocery store checkout line. When they asked when I was due, a look of complete surprise was almost always followed by them saying, “You’re not going to make it to February.”
The first week at home consisted of trips to Costco, Target, TJMaxx and the food store. At 38 weeks pregnant, this girl still wanted to get stuff done and I figured the more walking I did, the more gravity would help me go into labor. I also deep cleaned the house and organized like Marie Kondo herself was going to assess my tidying skills. Cleaning the house is supposed to start labor, right?! That’s what my most trusted source, Adam, told me anyways.
Due date week arrives. The house – clean. The pantry – stocked. The nursery – done. Owen – same spot. Contractions – none. Signs of labor – none.
I woke up on February 12 and knew in my heart it wasn’t going to be the day. I spent it hanging out on the couch, alternating between Netflix and Google. Like most soon-to-be moms, I asked the Internet questions about labor – how to start it, what it would feel like, etc. I became really anxious that Owen hadn’t arrived yet. I could barely look at text messages coming in and would ignore almost all calls. If someone asked “where’s the baby?,” I definitely didn’t answer. A tip when dealing with a super pregnant lady: don’t ask that.
February 13, Adam’s birthday, made me super hopeful. A baby for a birthday present would make me a pretty awesome wife. We decided to go out to lunch to celebrate, and there was a big part of me that wanted to go out because wouldn’t that increase the odds of my water breaking all over the place, causing a dramatic scene worthy of a daytime soap opera? The only drama that occurred was being charged $4 for an extra slice of the tiniest loaf of focaccia.
My weekly OB appointment was February 14. I had the car packed up in case the doctor told us to go to the hospital right away. A former Miss Arizona having a baby on statehood day made total sense to me. But the only thing I was told was that I was barely dilated and to wait for a call regarding scheduling an induction. After what felt like the longest weekend ever, I got the call on the afternoon of February 17. The induction process would start the next day. I took Ranger and Roxy to my dad’s house, put extra items in the car and barely slept that night.
The induction process started on February 18 with two rounds of cervical ripening. Due to my lack of medical knowledge, I won’t even try to explain it. Round one was simple. We watched the heart rate monitors bounce back and forth, and chatted about what we wanted to do between then and round two. The most painful part was the pressure of sitting on my butt the whole time – can hospital beds get a little more cushion?! After being discharged, we went home and relaxed for three hours before heading back for the next dose of medicine, which ended up causing a few contractions. We could see them on the monitor, but I couldn’t feel them. We watched a few episodes of Park & Rec, then left again with orders to be back at 4 a.m. the next morning for Pitocin.
The Leslie Knope in me must have been fired up because instead of heading home, we took a detour to Target. I thought of some last minute items I wanted to pick up, including breakfast for the next day. I think it was the longest 20 minutes of Adam’s life, nervous that I was finally going to go into labor while power walking (pregnancy style) through the aisles. After another stop for pizza, we finally made it home for our final night of not being parents. We cuddled up on the couch while watching “The Delivery” episodes of The Office, set our alarms for 3 a.m. and tucked ourselves in for what we thought was going to be a peaceful night’s sleep.
I woke up at midnight, having to pee and feeling some slight cramping. I took note of the time and forced myself to go back to sleep. Instead of an alarm, Adam woke up to me punching the headboard at 1:30 a.m. A few seconds before, I woke up. The jab over my head happened at the same time as a very specific popping sound, and the hit was an involuntary reaction neither of us expected. Not knowing that my water just broke, I walked into the bathroom, which then confirmed it was go time. I told Adam if he wanted to shower before going to the hospital, this was it. I got dressed, which took me the same amount of time it took Adam to get out of bed, shower, get dressed and go into the kitchen to get us breakfast.
I wasn’t going to be allowed to eat after I checked into the hospital so this was my last chance. Adam opened the freezer to find what I got the night before – chocolate waffles. Confused and concerned about my choice, he still popped them in the toaster. My contractions were roughly two minutes apart, so we got in the car as fast I as could manage, leaving behind the breakfast burritos that were to be Adam’s for the big day. He tried to get me to eat on the drive, but that was the last thing I wanted to do. He took one bite, couldn’t stand the smell any longer and made a contribution to a street in our neighborhood. In my defense, chocolate waffles sounded yummy at the time of purchase and I did eat the rest when I got home from the hospital. And they were delicious! I bet the birds enjoyed them too.
My contractions continued to be close together with intensity. I seriously thought I was going to deliver in the car. Adam made a playlist for the day and decided it was the time to get it going. Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” started playing through the speakers and it was the first time in our entire relationship that I was truly mad at him, only for a few seconds but I was still angry. Needless the say, the speakers went silent. No traffic on the freeway (thank goodness it wasn’t rush hour) allowed our drive to be mere minutes, but they were the longest few minutes of my life.
A slow walk to OB department from the parking garage was filled with many contractions and me leaking all over the floor. Now that I think about it, where was a wheelchair? Anywho…we made it to OB triage, just in time to discover I was barely at two centimeters. So much pain and yes, only two centimeters dilated. I guess it’s a different kind after your water breaks, but dang, I thought I had a high tolerance. I previously envisioned making it to four or five centimeters before asking for an epidural. But, I inquired about it multiple times in triage, wanting to start it as soon as possible. Luckily the contractions slowed down but the intensity did not.
It took about an hour to get into a labor and delivery room from triage. I needed a liter of IV fluid before the anesthesiologist could administer the epidural. That seemed to go rather quickly and after a few other boxes left to check, the doctor came through the door and I cracked my first smile since arriving. A few teeny pokes to num my back and then it was in – I didn’t feel it whatsoever. I do think it helped that I didn’t see the needle or maybe I was just so excited to get relief. Within a few minutes, my left side was completely numb. My right side though, could still feel everything. By turning up the drip a bit and laying on my side, it numbed, just not as much as the left side. By that I mean I could still slightly bend my knee, whereas my other side was totally immobile. I did shake quite a bit after the epidural kicked in, but it was possibly due to my blood sugar being out of wack. A cup of apple juice for the blood sugar and not being able to feel contractions led to these iconic pictures.
The epidural was so good that I passed right out. Adam and I both napped for a little over an hour, waking up to find out I was six centimeters dilated. There is magic in relaxing, people. After a quick chat, Adam and I took another nap. I don’t know how we were able to fall asleep both times, but the extra zzz’s gave us the energy we needed. At this point, we were so close to meeting Owen.
Our saint of a nurse, Kayla, got us and the room ready to go. Our doctor gave us a little pep talk, and since we delivered at a teaching hospital, a resident physician joined us too. I wasn’t quite ready but the doctor wanted to have me try a few practice pushes. I still couldn’t feel the contractions, so they cued me for each set. Kayla held my right leg, Adam held my left. Practice pushes quickly turned into real pushes, as chit chat and laughs filled in between. After 45 fast minutes, I needed a break for acidic reflux medication. The reflux was bad most of the pregnancy and I guess Owen wanted to make sure I got my final experience with it, with him anyways. Fifteen minutes was all I needed for a recharge. This was when it got serious – the epidural had to be turned off. I needed to feel a little bit to get good pushes.
The team reassembled, which still included Adam, who held my leg like a champ the whole time. When I envisioned the birth, Adam was by my head, not looking down there at all and his only job was keeping me as happy as possible. I never imagined him being so involved and seeing everything – and I mean EVERYTHING. More on those feelings later.
With the epidural drip off, I started feeling tons of pressure. I kept focusing on my positive mindset, telling myself three things: pain is only temporary, he’s not that big of a baby and the names of people who inspire me. Owen measured ahead almost the whole pregnancy. At 36 weeks, the growth ultrasound to check his size put him around seven pounds. Although, when arriving at the hospital on Owen’s birthday, the doctor thought he was going to be in the eight pound range. It took about 15 minutes of serious pushes and a talented set of maneuvers by the doctors to get Owen out. Starting with my water breaking at 1:30 a.m., Owen was born at 12:57 p.m.
People always talk about this overwhelming sense of love when they meet their baby for the first time. When Owen was placed him on my chest, I was overwhelmed with shock. I didn’t feel a type of love I ever felt before, but maybe that’s how love at first sight feels – taken aback, no words, barely being able to breathe. I’m still processing those first few moments of emotion and don’t know if I will ever be able to accurately describe them.
As I was getting taken care of, Owen was whisked away for his vitals and measurements. While the epidural was really starting to wear off, I got a little something to help with the pain. I mention that because when his weight was announced, I thought it was the drugs playing tricks on my mind. His stats were written on the white board in front of me and I couldn’t stop staring at them – 10 pounds, 4 ounces and 22 inches long.
While Owen was only on the other side of the room, he felt so far away. I kept hearing the nurses and doctors talk about his arm and I could gather by the feel of the room that something was wrong. Since I was getting worked on, it’s not as if I could position myself to see Owen and I was going crazy with no one was saying anything to me. Adam told me everything was fine, but he later admitted that he just said that to keep me calm and he had no idea what was going on either. All wrapped up in a blanket, Owen was given to Adam because the doctors were finishing up with me. It was then they explained what was going on.
Upon his entrance into the world, Owen’s shoulder got stuck, causing shoulder dystocia. I won’t attempt to go into the complexities of it, but he had nerve damage, initially causing no movement in his left shoulder, arm or hand. We were very lucky that it was minimal, there was no broken collar bone, the doctors did everything they could to minimize the injury and both of us were okay. Owen eventually gained full motion without needing physical therapy, but we did quite a bit of arm exercises with him at home. If he becomes a left-handed pitcher in the MLB, that’s why.
We spent the next few hours doing skin-to-skin, trying to feed him and soaking in all that just happened. Honestly, that part is a total blur. Evidence captured by a few snapshots is really all I have in my memory bank.
Kayla helped transfer us to the postpartum suite, and after getting settled in our room, she gave me the sweetest hug and I will never forget that moment. Ironically, the tallest people with the biggest baby ended up in the smallest room on the floor. Since we did a hospital tour prior, we knew that to be true. Adam went to the car to bring up our bags and I got to eat for the first time. I can’t even tell you what it was, but I can confirm it was not sushi, the only thing I really wanted to eat.
The rest of the day and night, we needed to work on getting Owen’s blood sugar under control. It’s not uncommon with large (or small) babies, but it was still worrisome, especially for us first-timers. Our nurse, Kim, who got to be with us both nights (which we loved and we loved her), eased our minds and made it as smooth as it could be on all three of us. Owen got multiple heel pricks, a few rounds of glucose and multiple meals. On his final test, he passed, meaning he got to stay with us in the room instead of going to the nursery for additional help.
The three of us spent the next day and a half getting acquainted with each other, and Adam and I learned how to take care of a newborn, who still seemed rather tiny, even for his large size. We tracked diaper changes, began our breastfeeding journey, played with his chubby cheeks and slept when we could. We spent most of the time trying to process what just happened – that this brand new human being came from us.
No TVs, no social media, not much texting or calling, just us together as time seemed to stand still. Family made a visit, and all left eager for us to get home so they could see Owen again.
Doctors made rounds, nurses helped us with every push of the button and lactation consultants gave advice with every feed. It was rather funny when someone new came through the door. They would see Owen in our arms or the bassinet and realize he was a significant size. Upon seeing his chart or the card in the bassinet, they really realized it. Eyes widened or “wow’s” became more emphasized as they found out he was not delivered via c-section, I was up walking around and he was our first baby.
We left the hospital on February 21, excited to bring Owen home, introduce him to his fur siblings and begin our lives as a family of five. We are beyond thankful for all of the hospital staff for such a beautiful experience welcoming Owen into the world. It exceeded our expectations, so much so that Adam and I have had multiple conversations about when we get to do it again. 😉