It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep… thoughts and words racing through my head. I am sitting in Flynn’s Nursery- my favorite room in the house, listening to the owl call outside in the trees. She’s been calling persistently all night, and I’m taking it as a sign to quietly begin to answer.
I have needed to write Flynn’s birth story for a while, but I haven’t quite been able to find a way to start. In one sense, I suppose it’s because in my heart, I feel his story began long before I became pregnant, and in another sense, it was a truly overwhelming, traumatic, and beautiful experience all at once…. so how do I do justice to that with words? I can only try.
Flynn came into this world on the Autumn Equinox at 1:36pm weighing 5 pounds and one ounce. I was convinced he would be born in October, but this little boy had other plans. The Autumn Equinox is the one day of the calendar year where the light (day) and dark (night) are perfectly balanced and equal. Looking back, my pregnancy was a true example of this… it was the most difficult thing I have ever gone through, (even getting sober) and the most miraculous… as I was literally growing another life in my body and nourishing him into being. I have never felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant, and I have never been in more pain. The duality of that isn’t lost on me now as I type this, and it deserves far more thought than this one sentence, but I can only articulate that I learned so much about the strength and perseverance that we as women are innately born with. There truly is beauty in the breakdown…
From the beginning of my pregnancy, I had chronic Hypertension, which is essentially a blood pressure disorder. We monitored it and kept it at bay with medication, which I’m still on today because of it. As the months ticked by, it got worse and worse, and turned into Super Imposed Preeclampsia. No mama-to-be wants to hear those words, but I knew I was in good hands and had the best team of doctors and nurses behind me.
I went into the hospital on a Monday for elevated blood pressure and proteins, and stayed for seven days. Oh those SEVEN days….. For the first few, I kept thinking, “ok they will send me home after a few more hours of observation… nope, nope, and then definitely nope.”
On the 4th day they finally decided it was time to be induced. And then the contractions started. When a woman tells you that you cannot know HOW bad contractions are, believe her! I didn’t, and this is an official apology to all the mamas who came before me that I listened to and silently thought “well, they can’t be THAT bad.” They are.
Because of The Preeclampsia, my doctors started me on a magnesium drip to prevent me from having seizures while I was given various things to make my cervix dilate. Magnesium makes you feel like you have the flu and that your whole body is Jello. It essentially slows everything down so that your body won’t seize up due to extremely high blood pressure. It would also protect me from seizures during contractions and labor.
I was so weak, in so much pain, and so terrified as to how I was going to push this baby out when I couldn’t even get out of bed to go to the bathroom. Throughout the next couple of days, I slowly dilated, kept having contractions, and my blood pressure kept on spiking. My doctors would come in every hour or more and push blood pressure medication into my IV to keep me stable. I had contractions for 3 days with no pain medication other than stadal, because it was too early for an Epidural, and once I had the Epidural, I wouldn’t be able to have it again. I have to say that I was given a guardian angel of a nurse… aptly named Joy- who got me through the worst of my labor pains and contractions. When I was planning “my birth experience” I loved the idea of using a Doula, and it just didn’t fall into place. I can tell you with utter certainty that Joy was sent to me to be my Doula. There are no coincidences. I still need to contact her to thank her…. but every time I try and write a note words fail me. I still vividly remember her eyes and her voice when she told me that I was doing so well, being so strong, and was already taking such good care of my baby. She was an angel, and her words gave me the courage and strength to keep going.
Those 3 days are mostly a blur of pain and stress, with the exception of my husband, who never left my side. He was calm, strong, and understanding when I needed him to be….. and I’m proud (and let’s be honest, a little surprised) to say I only had one monster meltdown moment where at about 5:30am the morning before I gave birth I demanded that Charlie call my mom. He started to text, and I believe I literally screamed at him, “ARE YOU TEXTING?!?!” Needless to say, he stopped and dialed.
I was done, exhausted, worried, terrified, and needed my mom. My sweet husband was immediately worried that he hadn’t done enough or wasn’t giving me what I needed, but in truth… I just NEEDED MY MOM.
She arrived shortly after his call, and things started to escalate quickly. I started the pitocin in the morning, and was FINALLY given the Epidural with Joy coaching me through it. Her shift ended, and I wanted to cry… we looked at each other, and I knew she didn’t want to go, and I absolutely wanted her to stay, but she kissed me on the forehead and told me I was doing amazing. I will never forget her.
A few hours later, at about noon, my mother in law Susan arrived, as she would be in the labor room with me, Charlie, and my mom.
The nurses had checked my cervix, and I was about 6 centimeters dilated at that point, and was told that the baby would most likely come that evening.
My mom and Susan decided they had plenty of time, so they headed down to the cafeteria to have some lunch. At about the same time, I asked a nurse what I should be feeling when I was ready to push. She told me that I would be feeling a lot of pressure in my bottom. Without hesitation, I told her I was ready. She laughed a bit, and told me she’d get the doctor to check me soon. He came in, and to everyone’s surprise (BUT MINE) I was 10 centimeters and was ready to push.
Charlie immediately called our mothers who dropped their salads and came running back upstairs. It was all so quick they almost weren’t let back in the room- but anyone who knows my mother, knows she got the heck back in there, hell or high water!
While the doctor was washing up, the nurse told me I could do a practice push as I had no idea what I was doing! I listened to her instructions, pushed, and Flynn’s head crowned! The nurses yelled for me to stop, and I had to hold him there until the doctor came back in.
Five minutes, and two quick pushes later, Flynn Thomas Martin was born. He came flying out and the doctor caught him like a football. I heard his cry, and relief flooded over me, and I looked over at my mother as she cried with me.
Then everything changed. The nurse put Flynn on my chest with his back towards me, and my whole body was screaming that something was wrong. He wasn’t moving. After about 15 seconds I think I screamed, “take him, take him!” And he was whisked over to the side of the room where 11 doctors and nurses rushed in to try and resuscitate him.
Charlie stayed by my side as the doctor sewed me up, and I watched the sheer terror on my mother and mother in law’s faces as they stood in the corner with Flynn. I remember being suspended in that moment thinking…. “This is happening to my family again…” It felt like hours. Hours of being in that moment of sheer horror that we could be at this place between life and death again.
It was 10 minutes. Our amazing doctors and nurses worked on Flynn for 10 minutes to get his breathing stable, and thank the Divine it stayed that way. He was whisked off to the NICU for oxygen and monitoring, and I was stitched up and kept on Magnesium for another 24 hours.
This meant that after DAYS of labor, the only contact I had with my son was 10 seconds of his still little body on my panic filled chest. My body didn’t know what to do with itself… where was the skin to skin…. where were the tears, and happy pictures of Charlie standing over me as I held my son in my arms for this first time? I spent the next 24 hours in an exhausted daze, smiling tearily at pictures of Flynn that Charlie took from the NICU.
My mother always taught me that every cloud had a silver lining… and this story is no exception. My husband introduced me to my son. First…. through pictures and stories of how he was already a little fighter, and was ripping off his oxygen tube. Then, he recounted for me that he fed him for the first time, and Flynn grabbed ahold of his hand and didn’t let go. I had no doubt that Charlie would be an amazing father…. but I really can’t find words that do justice for what he became that day…. because of the way our birth story played out… Charlie and Flynn got to bond first- and it was and still is beautiful.
FINALLY… I was wheeled into the NICU 36 hours after giving birth to my son, and Charlie placed him in my arms.
My whole body inhaled, and then exhaled into a MOTHER.
THIS is what my body, heart, and soul had been waiting for… to hold my child in my arms and know that he was safe, healthy, and mine.
After two additional days in the hospital, Charlie and I brought our little boy home. I rode in the backseat with him, and he held my hand the whole way….. squeezing tight when we went around corners or took a bump in the road.
He is 7 1/2 months now, and still holds my hand just about all the time. He is a little rascal, and full of magic, and wins over everyone with his big blue eyes and rakish smile. And when he wakes in the night, it still just takes my hand in his for him to fall back asleep… I know we have so much life ahead of us, but I also know that whatever sharp corners or bumps in the road we come across…. my hand will always be there for him to grasp.
I love you, Flynn Thomas Martin. Thank you for giving me the greatest joy I have ever known. You give me butterflies everyday, and are such a magical little boy. You already shine so brightly…. I am honored to be your mother and watch you glow.