I apologize for the length of this post. I want to remember every detail! :)
Baby Saxon, whose gender was unknown, was due on May 6, 2018. I felt certain, though, that it would be a girl born on Cinco de Mayo. A lifetime of Cinco de Saxon birthday parties with rain plans just in queso.
We hosted a Cinco de Mayo/Kentucky Derby party on the fifth and hugged our family extra long. We’ll see you in the hospital next, I bet! We all said. Our house was clean, our bags were packed, our to-do lists were finished. We were ready.
I woke up on May 6 with no action. We decided to skip church to go hiking. Just to get this little one moving! Next, I baked lemon cupcakes because they say they can put you into labor. We ate the spiciest dinner known to man. To be honest, I was a little angsty and cried once or twice. My sister said it well: it feels like an alarm is going off in your head and there’s nothing you can do about it. You’ve been waiting for this day for so long. To have nothing happen feels very odd.
May 6 was a full moon, so we went to bed hopeful - again - that I’d go into labor that night. We woke up on the seventh with no action. This time, though, I was not frustrated. I’d made peace with the fact that the baby would arrive when it was ready. Though I did call my mom to double check that I would actually go into labor someday. I’m not going to be pregnant forever, right? I asked her. She laughed and promised the baby would come when it was ready.
Because I’d done everything for work and the house that I could possibly think of, I decided to go hang out with my parents. My mom and I had a relaxing lunch, then my parents and I sat on their porch in the sun. It was lovely. My sister came over later that afternoon. She showed me which cloth diapers to buy, then we went to Old Navy. Chris and I ate another spicy dinner.
Before bed, Chris and I ended up having a pretty long conversation about the parts of him that still didn’t feel ready to be a dad. It was so honest and cathartic for both of us to reveal our fears and hopes for our family.
Without a doubt, the Lord knew it was a conversation that needed to happen before baby Sax arrived. Within 15 minutes of us ending it and going to sleep, I got up to go to the bathroom and realized that (I thought!) my water had broken. I furiously googled what it feels like if your water breaks before waking Chris up. After some googling, it was clear: I was in labor.
I woke up Chris and he called the hospital. He then proceeded to do a load of laundry, wash our sheets, cut up the remaining bananas to freeze and run the dishwasher. Ha! I billed a freelance client for work between contractions, which I managed through by marching all over the house. Between them, we attempted to watch Modern Family in bed, but my contractions were already so long and close together we couldn’t really do it.
Within two hours of my water breaking, it was time to go to the hospital. This baby was moving fast and furiously!
The entire time I’d been pregnant, I had been hoping and praying for a natural childbirth. To be honest, though, besides that, I had not done much to prepare for it. I was shocked by the intensity of my contractions and was starting to doubt my ability to go med-free.
I needed to keep moving to help with the pain of contractions, so the seven minute drive to the hospital felt like an eternity. Walking in to the hospital felt significantly easier than riding in the car.
Right when we arrived to the hospital, they admitted me into a room while Chris checked us in. Within 30 seconds of getting into the room, I started throwing up. I had read the vomiting was a sign of the baby progressing, so I felt really happy about this, even though throwing up is my least favorite activity ever.
I got into the bed to be checked and was surprised to find that, at this point in labor, lying down actually felt better than standing. Chris came into the room and they told me I was at 4 centimeters, which felt discouraging because the pain I was feeling made me think I was at least at 6 :) The nurse told me that when your water breaks, the pain of contractions is worse because it acts as a little cushioning. This made me feel a lot better!
I decided, then, that I would try a low dose of fentanyl to see if it would be enough to take the edge off the pain. It didn’t really touch the pain and I burst into tears. I thought I was strong enough to do this without pain medication, I told Chris. Are you going to think I’m weak if I need an epidural? Chris knew exactly what to say in that moment as he reassured me that being strong, right now, was doing whatever it took to get the baby out.
The nurse checked me and I had progressed 2 centimeters in the 30 minutes since arriving. She told me I had to decide quickly if I wanted an epidural since it would take the doctor a little bit of time to get there. I decided to get one, though I still felt really uneasy about it. Aside from the challenge of a natural labor, I felt scared of something going wrong. I’d heard so many horror stories!
The doctor arrived and the hardest part of getting an epidural was sitting still. And that it didn’t take the first time. At this point I felt sad - I’d given in to the idea of knowing pain relief was just around the corner. The doctor told me he wasn’t sure there was time to try again since I was so far along at this point, but he’d try once more. It took!
At this point, I’d only been in labor since 11:15 pm on May 7. It was now around 6 a.m. on May 8 and, with the instant pain relief, we both fell asleep.
At 7 a.m., we woke up to the sound of loud beeping. Nurses and doctors rushed all around us. They could not find the baby’s heartbeat. They woke me up by putting oxygen on my face and prepping me for surgery. I felt so scared. I asked a nurse if the baby was OK and she didn’t say anything.
After a minute that felt like an hour, they realized the baby had progressed from six to ten centimeters in just one hour. It was go time! You’ll have this baby by noon! The nurse told me.
My doctor came in, then, and coached me through pushing. She - along with the nurses - were all amazing. They explained how to push and Chris turned on music. I have no doubt that I’ll try for a natural birth again if we’re fortunate enough to have another baby. But in that moment, I was so thankful for the epidural. I was having so much fun! I loved pregnancy so much and felt so grateful, right then, to be loving labor. I felt strong and excited and happy.
Chris, however, was not feeling quite so well at that exact moment. We knew he was a fainting risk throughout pregnancy because blood draws make him queasy. As he stood there holding my leg and they warmed the room up for the baby’s arrival, he told me he thought he was going down. The nurses helped him lie down and got him some juice. We later laughed about the image of him having the nurses huddled over him while I labored, asking if he was OK. It still makes me laugh in the best way!
Once he recovered, he was back by my side. Cheering me on. I wonder what song our baby will be born to, he whispered. Maybe not this one? I smiled at him. He laughed and changed it from Kanye.
The nurse had said she thought we’d have our baby within a few hours, but, at just after 8 a.m. - only an hour of pushing - he was almost here. The doctor told me it would be just one or two more big pushes. I’ll spare you the details, but after just a few moments, the most beautiful head was out. She told me I could pull him the rest of the way if I wanted, so I reached down and pulled the babe to my chest. They asked Chris to cut the cord and announce the gender. It’s a boy! Right? He said. We all laughed and cried and laughed and cried as we held him for the first time.
Holding him for the first time was the most incredible and surreal moment. It was like I already knew him - and him me. He latched right away and slept on my chest for the next two hours, which felt like minutes. He had such cute black, curly hair and a mohawk.
It has taken me until now to write this all down because I knew my words would never feel big enough to describe what I felt. I once heard someone say that when they held their baby for the first time, they finally knew what their hands were for. I totally understand that. Holding him was the most beautiful, precious feeling. I would go back to that moment every single day if I could!
Chris and I spent the first few hours alone before family arrived. We snuggled our sweet baby and talked about names. We’d had a boy and girl list before heading to the hospital, but, after meeting him, we both agreed that this little dude was the perfect McCoy. We gave him the middle name of Howden, which is my mom’s maiden name.
I realized then that I put a lot of pressure on myself to have an epidural-free labor. I had to mourn that and give myself grace. But, once I held McCoy, I realized absolutely none of it matters. There is no right, wrong or better way to have a baby. It was my very first lesson in the way we can judge one another as moms. I realized that most people are just doing their absolute best to serve their families and love their babies well. It is a lesson I hope I carry with me forever and always. Sweet little babe was already teaching me life lessons during his first day on Earth!
Those first few days in the hospital were the absolute sweetest and I am so, so grateful for them. I still feel so warm and happy when I remember them. We are so grateful to the Lord for our sweet, healthy babe and a safe delivery.
We love you, Mac Saxon! :)