Baby Daniel Todd Prescott arrived safely into our arms on Monday, September 8th, 2014.
8 lbs 4 oz/19.5 in
To tell the story of his birth is to rewind to getting pregnant once more and wanting above all else for this baby to arrive in our arms, “full of life,” a phrase I would repeat over and over in prayer and meditation. Being pregnant after a stillbirth is to endure nine months of anxiety and fear and facing it all, sorting out what is understandable and valid versus what is unnecessary and warped.
I delivered James’ naturally and so badly wanted to do the same with Daniel, however I felt the odds stacked against me as I was treated as high risk. About two months prior to Monday I was at a routine non-stress test to monitor baby (which I did twice a week along with an ultrasound once-a-week) and baby Daniel started showing distress. So I was sent immediately to the hospital (all while experiencing a mild panic attack) to find out that all was well except for the fact that Daniel had a nuchal cord (cord wrapped around his neck) which would cause some heart variations. So I was told not to worry, that 25% of babies have nuchal cords, etc.
After expressing increased fear and worry, I felt a great deal of peace and increased trust in my doctor as he took the time while on vacation to talk to me and relieve any fears. We continued to monitor and then over labor day weekend (also my birthday weekend) after completing my ultrasound and waiting to finish my non-stress test, I received a call from the on-call doctor saying that my fluid levels were too low and he wanted to induce me. He was being cautious which I appreciated but after some discussion, I was able to hydrate and have another ultrasound a few hours later to compare fluid level readings to really make sure it was necessary. We were totally prepared to get induced and felt a great deal of peace about going forward with it if the second ultrasound gave us the same low levels. However, the second ultrasound revealed the initial had been faulty and I was discharged with full assurance that baby was 100% okay.
However, that roller-coaster Friday made us antsy to just get baby Daniel here and as we approached 39 weeks I felt an increase in my anxiety. It was palpable and my twice daily kick counting turned into hourly checking for m)ovement. Poking and prodding whenever my mind reminded me of how close I was before and how I just hadn’t noticed that he had stopped kicking until it was far too late.
So at my last doctor appointment we decided to schedule an induction for 39 weeks + 4 days, three days before his due date. Talking with my doctor I expressed my sincere desire to have a healing birth. In my mind that meant approaching it as naturally as possible but ultimately getting baby here alive. He was extremely supportive of this and I felt a great deal of peace surrounding baby’s arrival.
Monday came and I arrived at the hospital at 6am and had my membranes swept and was given Cervidil at 7:30am. After an hour or so, I was able to get up and start walking at get things going. I immediately starting feeling contractions intensify, especially in my lower back. I was reminded of the back labor I experienced with Max and grew increasingly worried as I tried to work with both the physical pain of labor as well as approach and confront the emotional pain and trauma from James’ birth.
Kyle was an amazing support and listened to and encouraged me every step of the way. As contractions and pain intensified I felt a increased prompting to receive an epidural. I was EXTREMELY hesitant toward this fact due to my strong desire to deliver naturally, but the prompting continued and I expressed this to Kyle. He reminded me of my desire for a natural birth but of course was supportive with however I felt was best to move forward.
My contractions reached a point where I finally requested an epidural from my friend Stephanie (who is a CRNA at the hospital). She had stopped in to visit previously and we had talked about her epidural technique. She explained that she liked to give enough pain relief to take the edge off but still allow the mother to feel contractions, move her legs, and feel the baby moving. I was shocked that that was even possible due to my only other experience being complete numbness and inability to move. She assured me it was possible.
When they checked me (before the epidural) to see how I was progressing I was at 5 cm and in extreme pain. I had been staring at that pain level chart in the room, the one with faces going from smiling to frowning with tears. The crying face was emblazoned and I realized I had reached that point as each contraction came I was crying. I was crying because of the pain, I was crying in remembrance of the pain I had felt bringing James’ into this world, dead before he had ever had a chance to be alive. The pain was continuous, I felt no break, no relief between contractions and then Stephanie came and provided the peace and calm that felt SO necessary for Daniel’s arrival.
Her promise of an epidural that took the edge off was true and I felt extreme peace at that. I also felt a great deal of peace regarding my decision to go forward with the epidural even though once they checked me after it was given I had already reached a nine (meaning I was in transition stage and had gone from 5 cm to 9cm in about 15 minutes). I was able to laugh, apologize for biting Kyle during one contraction, and have the mental clarity to approach Daniel’s delivery.
My doctor arrived a few minutes later and in a room of complete peace and silence he asked if I would like to start pushing.
“Once you feel ready, go ahead.”
The spirit in the room felt exactly like it had once James’ had been delivered, except in addition to the sadness of losing James, there was an additional layer of happiness, of Daniel’s arrival. Of knowing with a surety that James was there helping us bring Daniel into the world. I was grateful for the mental clarity that the epidural gave me to deliver Daniel in a room so calm and quiet.
I pushed for under ten minutes, remembering to breath, to give the last bit of shared oxygen to the baby within me still and then he was born at 4:38pm. Most surprising of all was that he had managed to remove himself from that nuchal cord that had still been there in the ultrasound just the week before. He came out looking freshly bathed, but with the grumpiest grandpa face I had ever seen. He nursed and we sang to him and I was surprised that I didn’t cry.
I was up in the clouds once more, surrounded my all the angels that had guided me during this pregnancy and kept both me and Daniel safe. Angels who had ministered to my heart and spirit and who had led me to have the most healing birth I could have imagined. The peace was overwhelming.
Maxwell came about an hour later and then I cried. He walked into the room and a few quiet tears fell as I watched him take his time, observing from a distance, and talking to us about preschool and a new toy from Grandma, as if Daniel’s arrival was nothing new to him. He expressed his excitement with me being able to carry him once again, since Daniel was no longer inside my belly. He stayed for a little while, then left to go grab some food. Before he left, he gave me a kiss and then without prompting he asked to give one to Daniel as well. Then off he went.
Birth stories are always amazing to me. Each experience is so unique, so singular to mother and child and family. So much can be wrapped up into hopes and expectations and so much can depend on nurses and doctors and elements that are beyond your control.
I wanted a healing birth and in my mind it looked very specific, very thought out in my mind and controlled by my hopes and expectations. Daniel’s birth taught me that healing doesn’t always look the way we imagined, but that when we seek healing with sincerity, open to letting go of complete control, we can experience exactly what we need.
My greatest hope was having a baby arrive in my arms “full of life,” I received that and infinite amounts more.
p.s. Upon arriving home the following day, I noticed we had received our first bloom from the flowers we had planted in memory of James. A beautiful reminder that James is never far from us.