Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ethan Thomas' Birth Story

We are a family of five! Can you believe it?! I still can't. Ethan is a treasure and we all adore him. Just like his brothers, he has fit into our family so easily we know he was always meant to be here.

At 36 weeks I went in for my checkup and discovered I was dilated to 3cm and 50% effaced. My doctor informed me Ethan was coming early and to stay off my feet to try and stall labor as long as possible. I was very nervous. We don't have any family in the area and help wasn't arriving until I was 39 weeks, so while trying very hard not to panic, we made several phone calls and back up plans to get help sooner than later. My contractions remained steady and strong, but miraculously Ethan held on til I was 37 weeks and family arrived to help. Thank goodness! Now I could get on my feet and bring on labor! Then somehow I made it to 38 weeks... and then 39. Turns out Ethan didn't want to come early. I was frustrated at the time, thinking I'd cried wolf and made everyone rearrange their schedules for nothing, but I have since been grateful he took his time so I didn't have to worry about him spending any time in the NICU. Heavenly Father has a plan, and we may not always understand it, but it is always better than our own. Funny how I have to learn and relearn that lesson constantly.

So on August 5th, at 39 weeks to the day Brenton and I got our things ready and headed to the hospital. Even though I hardly slept the night prior, I was very calm that morning. I felt reassured everything would be fine. I'd been through this all before, and knew I'd be in good hands. I kissed my boys goodbye and we headed for the hospital.

We breezed through check-in and I met my nurse, who would stay with me through the entire delivery. I had never had that before. Usually with a csection you have different nurses poking, prodding, transporting and touching you for every different step. It was wonderful to have only one nurse to explain my birth plan to. Amazingly, this lovely nurse had already done her homework and read up on all my doctor's notes about my wishes, knowing everything we were planning in advance. She also knew I would most likely have a panic attack in the OR, and was prepared to help me through that, too. I was so grateful to have her there with me.

 At about 10;15, it was time to go to the OR and have my spinal block put in without Brenton. The last time I had this done I was wheeled in on a gurney, sparking my panic attack with Jackson's delivery as it triggered my terrifying gurney ride to the OR for Ryan's emergency csection. This time they let me walk there myself. I felt so empowered by that. I know it's a simple thing, but it made all the difference. I was walking down that hallway by myself. I was in charge of my body and what was about to happen to it. I can't fully express how the simple task of walking into that room unassisted lifted my spirits.

While it was a little chilling to be back in an OR with all the bright lights and tools lined up that would soon be in my body, I was greeted by cheerful nurses and assistants all ready to help. They chatted with me as I climbed onto the operating table and readied myself for the spinal block. My nurse helped me hold still as the needle went in, and I assumed I was done. Nope. For whatever reason the anesthesiologist had a hard time getting the needle in just the right place for the nerve block to work. I don't know if you've ever had a large needle shoved into your spine but, for the record, it's extremely painful. After about twelve tries (not kidding), she decided to call in some back up. I was sure during all of this my panic attack would arrive. I was just kind of expecting it. However, my nurse knew it would come, too, and she kept talking to me saying, "you're so brave, Katie. You can do this. You're such a brave mom." So I kept repeating out loud, "I'm a brave mom. I can do this. I'm a brave mom." Later on my doctor came in and held my hand, talking to me about Ryan and Jackson to also keep me calm. I'm so grateful for her and my nurse because while I shed several tears as my back kept getting stuck, I never lost control. I'm still amazed by that. The second anesthesiologist got my spinal block in first try. Moving on.

Because I had so much medicine in my back from all the attempts to get the spinal block right, I became very nauseous, and threw up a little before they slipped some Zofran through my IV. Brenton came in and I felt much better. It is always such a comfort to have him beside me, feeling his hand brush my hair and tell me everything's alright. After a minute or two I realized they'd already made the incision and were working their way down the layers to get Ethan out. Brenton talked to me and things settled down until before I knew it, I could barely breathe as they pushed and pulled Ethan out. I felt like it went much faster than Jackson's, but maybe that's because the spinal block took so long.

At 11:02 Ethan came out with a full head of jet black hair. I couldn't believe it! About three feet to my left they wiped him down and weighed him. Brenton walked over to cut the cord which is always a little funny to me since the cord is already cut, and he's really just trimming it. Anyway, our beautiful baby boy weighed 8lbs 6oz, 20" long, the smallest of our three little guys. I loved him instantly.

Moments later my beautiful son was being laid on my chest. No blankets, no diaper, just me and him, skin to skin. I'd never had that before. Even with Jackson's delivery he was all swaddled in blankets and although I got to hold him in the OR, the pediatric nurse never let go of him either. Not this time. Every person in that operating room honored that fact that I was Ethan's mother, and no one held him but me. They backed away and gave me, Brenton, and Ethan our own little space to be in, just the three of us while I was stitched up. No one tried to intervene or talk to us, and it was as perfect as if I had delivered him like any other mom. I have had many sweet, precious moments in my life, but this one may have taken the cake. It was indescribable. 

As I was getting close to being finished up, the pediatric nurse said, "well, it's time for Ethan and Daddy to go to the nursery." Before I could open my mouth in protest my wonderful doctor firmly said, "No, the baby will be staying with mom." The nurse immediately backed off and that was that. I didn't have to say a word. If I could I would have sat right up on the operating table and hugged my doctor. She was my hero. Minutes later we went to recovery. All three of us. 

I was very tired and hungry, but we got through Recovery just fine. I even managed a quick phone call to my mom to tell her the good news. We all rested together and they never took Ethan off my chest, even when they were checking vitals on us both. That skin to skin bonding did wonders for both of us. I've always known the benefits of skin to skin for the baby, but really got to understand the benefits for the mother this time around. I felt so relaxed and happy just holding him and not having to fight for the privilege to do so. 

Because I threw up on my way to postpartum, they restricted my diet to only clear fluids. I'd been fasting since midnight and was starving. I knew I was fine and the nausea had nothing to do with my stomach, so we may or may not have begged a nurse who didn't know my dietary restrictions into bringing me a turkey sandwich. Bless you, uninformed nurse!! They put me on solid food after that, thank goodness!

Later in the afternoon Ethan got to meet his two very eager brothers. They were thrilled! Jackson wanted me to snuggle him a lot, I think to reassure him everything was okay, but the visit went well. Both boys just adore their new brother. It was very sweet to see them all together, and I realized I loved all three of them more than I ever had before. My heart expanded to a whole new level that afternoon.

The rest of my hospital stay was wonderfully uneventful, and we were both discharged 48 hours later. It was lovely to be home again and be able to rest. It's always surprising to me how little rest I'm able to get in the hospital. There is someone coming in literally every 20 minutes needing to check something, give advice, bring meds, check the baby, etc. I never got an hour of uninterrupted sleep, even during the night.

We are so happy to have Ethan here, and that my delivery went so smoothly. Csections are different at every hospital, and I'm so grateful for my doctor and the staff who made the surgery seem as natural as it could be. Our sweet little boy is so loved already. We can't imagine life without him. I still can't believe I have three children. We are so very blessed!


  1. Beautiful, beautiful boys! All three. I'm glad things went so well for you this time. Sounds like your doctor was awesome supporting your bonding time. We are so happy for you and your beautiful family! BTW, you look like a model in you photos, even when delivering a baby. How do you do that?

  2. How completely wonderful that you had a doctor and nurses who championed for you! Baby Ethan is just perfect. Congratulations mama!!!

  3. Third child, eh. Well, we all are familiar with that personality. Laissez les bon temps rouler!