If there is one lesson I have learned as a mother it is this: I am NOT the one who is in control. I am repeatedly reminded of this basic fact as I live out my motherhood journey, and it is never too soon to learn this lesson anew. Starting, for instance, at birth.
None of my children have followed the birth plan I laid out for them. I don’t want to boast, but they were excellent birth plans. They were detailed and specific and research-based plans. I’m fairly certain that these birth plans would have set all of us up for both short-term and life-long success–my kids probably would have grown up to be president if they’d just followed the dang plan. And yet. They had their own plans. I am NOT the one who is in control. So begins the story of Hannah.
After having two long, difficult labors with my boys that both ended in emergency C-sections, we decided to cut straight to the chase with our third baby and schedule a C-section for her birth. None of that painful labor business, thank you very much. Considering how much planning I had done for both of my previous births, I was quite proud of myself for relinquishing control on this, our final birth. After all, I already knew that I could not control how the labor and delivery would turn out so I was willing to put it all at the hands of my fully-capable doctor. At least then, I thought, someone I trust will be in control.
We went ahead and scheduled the delivery for 11:45 on Tuesday, February 9th, one week before my due date. David had been born nearly two weeks late, and Jacob had been born a week early, so we figured this would give us a good window of time to get the baby out safely (and with none of that painful labor business, thank you very much).
The week leading up to our scheduled delivery was, in usual Allison-style, quite busy. Since I knew the exact hour our baby would be born I was overly-excited and needed some distraction. The boys and I “did school”, we went to Playhouse on Wednesday, and spent the whole day on Friday at Happy Hollow riding the rides and petting the animals and painting our faces.
On Saturday Jon and I snuck out for a little date (pedicures for my choice, and the liquor store to restore Jon’s masculinity). Then there was this little thing called the Superbowl that was being hosted a few miles from our house the Sunday before our scheduled delivery. The boys and I drove out to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara to pose for a few photos and see where all the action would be going down.
On Sunday we went to church and small group, then came home to tidy up a bit before heading over to our neighbor’s house for a Superbowl party. We had a great time Sunday night “watching” football (and by watching football I mean the kids played outside on our neighbors’ new playground while the grown ups ate copious amounts of food and chatted with the TV running in the background).
My mom flew into town from Seattle late that night and Jon picked her up from the airport a bit after 11:00 PM. I was able to relax a bit knowing that Mom was finally here–she was going to be our primary caretaker for the two wild banshees (David and Jacob) when we went to the hospital later that week. Everything was going exactly to plan.
And then. I’d been having a hard time sleeping Sunday night–at 39 weeks pregnant I had to get up every hour or so to visit the restroom, and then when I went back to bed I couldn’t get comfortable and my mind was racing with all the thoughts of what was about to come. Plus, all that spicy food from the Superbowl party wasn’t settling too well. At least, that’s what I thought at first when I started having abdominal pain a bit after 5 AM that Monday morning.
However, when the abdominal pain started coming and going in waves every 4-5 minutes I realized that this was not due to spicy BBQ pork or chili. No, these were contractions. Holy moly, I was in labor.
By 6:00 the contractions were coming every 2-4 minutes and getting stronger, and I decided this was actually happening and figured it was time to wake everyone up to share the news. Jon (groggily) jumped out of bed to take a quick shower and pack his bag while I tried to get in touch with my doctor. Since we already had A PLAN, however, I did not have the necessary after-hours phone numbers to contact my OB. I called the hospital and they told me to just come straight in and they’d get in touch with my doctor for me.
I went downstairs to greet my mom (I’d already gone to bed the night before when she arrived) and let her know about the recent turn of events. While I was chatting with her in her room the boys woke up next door and I went in to tell them the exciting news: their sister was coming TODAY!
At about 7:00 Jon and I loaded into the car and took the 10 minute drive down to the hospital. The morning commute had already started but, thankfully, rush hour was nowhere near in full force at that early hour as we made our way as quickly as legally possible down Highway 17.
When we arrived at the hospital I went to the patient registration area because that’s what I remembered to do from our hospital tour that we’d taken a few weeks earlier. When I sat down at the registration desk (ID and insurance paperwork in hand) ready to go through the necessary paperwork, the representative just gawked at me and said, “Are you in LABOR?! You have to go straight up to labor and delivery!”. Oh yeah, I’d forgotten–this was one of those parts that was NOT part of the plan.
Jon went to move our car to a legal parking spot while I found my way up to the correct floor of the hospital. Since I’d already called to notify them that I was coming in, they were ready for me and whisked me straight to a L&D prep room. I changed into a glamorous pink gown that had so many holes in it I couldn’t figure out where to put through my arms–turns out the breast-feeding holes were NOT the correct place.
Once we were in the prep room, things moved very quickly. My labor was progressing rapidly–after only 2 hours I was already 4 cm dilated, fully effaced, and having contractions lasting for about a minute every 2 minutes. Since my previous labors had lasted 24 and 48 hours, I was surprised at the speed this baby was coming. I was progressing so quickly that the nurses asked me if I wanted to try for a vaginal delivery, but that was NOT THE PLAN. I declined their offer and told them I wanted to stick with the C-section.
Shortly after we arrived at the hospital, my OB (Dr. Kilkenny–she’s Irish and I love her and would truly like to be her friend) arrived. Mondays are typically her day off, and she had just gotten up to meet with her personal trainer when she got the call to come straight to the hospital instead. Over the past year I’ve developed a strong relationship with Dr. Kilkenny–we’ve been through a lot together–and I was so glad that she was there to be the one delivering our baby.
Just after 8:00 I was prepped and set for surgery so they wheeled me down to the OR. Once in the OR I got my spinal and was ready to go. It was time to get this baby show on the road.
At 8:39 AM on Monday, February 8, 2016, our daughter made her debut (and for those of you who are the stat-seeking sorts, she weighed 7 pounds and was 20 inches long). Hannah Doreen entered the world, gorgeous and perfect, without so much as a squeal of greeting–she was wide-eyed and curious, simply taking in this amazing new world in which she found herself.
Alrighty, quick time out here–I have to make a note about Hannah’s name.
Sticking with the Biblical name tradition we already had going with our children, we chose Hannah. I have always found inspiration in the Biblical story of Hannah–she had great faith and obedience to the Lord, and she found great favor in His eyes. The name Hannah means grace, which is fitting for the circumstances we find ourselves in welcoming a child into our family.
Her middle name, Doreen, was the name of Jon’s beloved grandmother who passed away this November. Gramma Doreen played an integral part in our family and it is no stretch to say that Jon and I would not be where we are today without her care and support. She loved our children deeply and it was her greatest desire to meet her first great-granddaughter before she passed. In addition to the personal connection we have with this name, we also discovered that the name Doreen is of Irish origin (another place we have a deep personal connection with) and one of it’s meanings is gift (which, of course, she is). Little Hannah Doreen, our grace gift.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled birth story.
While a nurse and Jon took Hannah next door to clean her up and take her vitals, the doctors completed my surgery and got me stitched up. It was then that I learned Hannah had been Frank Breech in my womb, basically doing a gymnasts pike position instead of diving head-down ready for delivery. She almost certainly would not have been born naturally. I was grateful all over again that I decided to stick with our plan for a repeat C-section and hadn’t changed my mind last-minute to give V-BAC another try!
Once I was all stitched up I rode on a hover mattress onto my recovery bed (I also had a robot clean my bathroom at the hospital. True story. Welcome to Silicon Valley.) and was wheeled next door for 2 hours of bonding time with my new daughter. We were immediately placed skin-to-skin and she began nursing straight away. I couldn’t believe how beautiful and tiny and perfect she was. Oh my, I was in love.
Our next stop was our new home-away-from-home: our own personal recovery room in the maternity ward. We were in room 271–a perfectly functional space with a hospital bed for mom, a rolling cart bassinet for baby, and a too-short fold-out chair/bed for Dad. Plus, there was a nice view of the parking lot two floors below (Daddy liked being able to keep an eye on our car, so this was an actual perk).
Over the next two days we mostly hung out in our room, nursed a very mouthy baby around the clock, scorned the nurses who woke us up every two hours to check my stats, and took infinity photos of our precious baby.
We were not alone in our stay in the maternity ward–in fact Hannah was born right in the middle of a baby boom. Turns out her birthday was the first day of the Chinese New Year (year of the Monkey…quite fitting for our family of little monkeys!). Since it is considered good luck to be born during the New Year–and we live in an area with one of the highest-density Chinese populations outside of mainland China–it was a very popular day at the hospital for scheduled C-sections and inductions.
The boys and my mom were able to come by for a few hours each day for little visits with their new sister. I have never seen David and Jacob so excited and gentle and affectionate–it was love at first sight for them, too. On Hannah’s birthday they brought a gift for their new sister: an adorable stuffed pink pig, swaddling blankets, and HEADBANDS (oh my goodness, I’m going to have to buy stock in headbands before we go broke on my shopping binges). Hannah is such a thoughtful baby that she also brought gifts for her big brothers: a new movie and balloons that they could blow up and shape into animals and swords.
Our visitors also brought cupcakes so we could have a little birthday party for Hannah. The best part of the cupcakes, though, is that they were actually frosted cornbread muffins. In my rush to leave the house that morning I had spouted off instructions to my mom to take the cupcakes out of the freezer and frost them to bring to the hospital…only she went to our second freezer and took out corn muffins instead! No worries, though, because–as always–the Funfetti frosting saved the day.
Unfortunately I couldn’t eat the cornbread-cupcakes that first day because the anesthesia I’d had for my surgery was making me nauseous. After throwing up a few times that morning–and getting some good anti-nausea medicine in my system–I felt much better and was quickly on the road to recovery.
I was able to get up and start walking around my room by the end of day 1 and, despite what the doctors had expected, we were ready to go home on day 2. We got our hospital discharge papers on Wednesday, February 10–still 5 days before my February 15 due date–and went back to our real home sweet home.
We are settling in well to being home again, this time as a family of five.
I still can’t believe that we have three kids–that this will be our new forever life. It is so much more wonderful than I could have dreamed of, and infinity better than I ever could have planned. So, even though this birth did not exactly go according to plan, it was exactly as it should have been. This is our life, and we are abundantly blessed.
Welcome to the world, little Hannah. We are so glad you’re here!