My nesting was in full force, I was cleaning probably way more than I should have been and nagging my husband to put the finishing touches on our son’s nursery. The theme is travel and I finally got him to hang up the world map we were using as an accent piece. As I sat there in most comfortable glider imagining how our life was going to change at the end of the month, I had no idea we would be bringing our Baby Viking home the very next week.
FYI My son’s name is Szymon but throughout this blog I’ll be referring to him more frequently as Baby Viking. We have a fascination with Vikings, even the show, as it was one of the first we watched as a couple almost 3 years ago. Szymon’s middle name is Ragnar, also derived from a historical Viking. Follow him on Instagram – babyviking.
On September 8th, I went in for my routine OBGYN visit for my 37 week appointment. At this point, the visits are weekly to check your progress. I was seeing my regular doctor after not seeing her for a few weeks and I couldn’t be more excited. I absolutely can’t stand going to the doctor, let alone to one that I am not familiar with. More so, a male gynecologist. Both times that I saw him, my blood pressure was sky rocketing. The first time, he sent me to the hospital to get evaluated. By the time I got there, it was normal and they sent me right home. I’ve always dealt with my blood pressure being high as it runs in my family and was already monitoring it at home, however when I saw this particular doctor my numbers had me lifting my jaw off the ground. At home, my BP remained fairly constant and I never had to worry.
As I went to my 37 week appointment, I was confident that it would be smooth sailing. To my surprise, my blood pressure was high again. I believe the rule is that if they record you having high BP 3 times towards the end of your pregnancy, they will send you in to get induced. That is exactly what happened. I was so shocked that I immediately began shaking and crying. I hadn’t prepared myself emotionally and psychologically for this baby Viking to come any sooner than September 29th. I was so upset that I told my OBGYN that I hated her! No joke! Now that I look back, I was being ridiculous and selfish but in the moment it was so terrifying. She called the hospital and I headed home to wait for my husband and to get my bags ready.
Once the shock went away and I made the phone call to my husband that this is it, I was home and I started vacuuming. Again, no joke! That is how my brain is wired! I wanted everything to be so perfect for his arrival and if I wasn’t ready emotionally, at least the house would be. I did not even let my parents know because vacuuming was top priority at that very moment. Nesting is a real thing! My husband made his way home from his work site but of course, calling everyone first and letting the world know that this is it. Way to keep it low key, hub! Before I knew it, my phone was blowing up and I was ready to have a meltdown.
I’m really happy that my husband didn’t forget me, as he did almost drive off without his wallet and phone. Eventually, we did make it to the hospital and I felt a sense of relief as I had already walked through the doors during our hospital tour and when I got sent for a BP evaluation.
I had already been preregistered so I signed off on a bunch of paperwork and we were taken to the labor/delivery room. Before I knew it, I was wearing that very fashionable nightgown and hooked up to all sorts of cables monitoring both baby Viking and I. At my appointment a few hours prior, I was already 4cm dilated. They checked if that had changed. They checked that often. By they, I really do mean numerous people. Doctors and nurses I’ve never met before just getting in between my legs and checking out the situation.
Since this was an induction so that my high blood pressure wouldn’t harm the baby, the first step was the Foley Catheter. Let me also mention that by the time I was hooked up to the cables, my BP was normal! My husband asked if that meant we could go home but they laughed and said this was it. So this was the first time I had ever heard of a Foley Catheter. We took the labor classes and never was this mentioned. It’s basically what it sounds like, they place a balloon catheter inside your cervix and inflate it with a saline solution. This causes you to dilate more and hopefully stimulates labor without induction. From what I remember, this gave us a few cm but in the end I still needed Pitocin.
I was in labor for 20 hours, 13 of which I did without an epidural. Around 8am, the real contractions started. This was immediately after they went ahead and pierced open my water as it had not broken on its own yet. (This part I don’t really remember, I just remember it being uncomfortable and not as big as a deal as they told me it was going to be.) I have never felt such pain in my entire life, I never would wish this pain upon anyone! My birth plan was to go all natural but I never foresaw induction which was my own mistake. During the worst contractions, I had sent my husband to the cafeteria to get some food as I didn’t want him to miss the big shebang later on. He was starving and I couldn’t eat so off he went. In that short time, my contractions only got worse. I called him and only thing I remember saying is, “will you be mad at me if I get an epidural?”. Of course he wouldn’t be mad at me! I just felt like such a failure and already a bad mom for not sticking to what I had planned. It meant so much to me to have this baby naturally and give him a drug free entrance but life doesn’t go as we plan and I had to learn to accept that. God had a different plan and all that mattered in the end was baby Viking’s health.
After I got off the phone, I pressed the nurse call button as fast as humanly possible and begged for the epidural. The anesthesiologist came shortly after my husband returned from his breakfast. As he was setting up shop on my back, my lovely nurse (who I will never forget her name – Bonnie! at Advocate Lutheran in Park Ridge) held me tight from the front and helped me breathe through my contractions as I had to sit still while the epidural was being done. Without her, I probably couldn’t have done it. The pain was unbearable and I was squirming like a fish being held in a child’s hand. She didn’t judge my change in decision and she was the most amazing support. The only downfall during this whole moment was that a nurse from a different room came in and shouted “[insert name] is screaming that her epidural isn’t working and she can still feel everything.” That’s not really the best thing to hear as you are getting a large needle placed into your back.
My epidural immediately worked, thankfully. From then on, it was smooth sailing. My contractions went from feeling like hell to feeling like I just had to poop constantly. Which in fact, I did and no one said a thing. I was the first to notice and told my husband. None of the staff said anything to me, it was just cleaned up and taken care of as if nothing had happened. Same thing for when my water was dripping down my leg after being manually broken. While you’re pregnant, you’re terrified that all these things will happen to you but when you are in that moment – all that matters is the support you have around you.
Once I was completely dilated, it was time to push. My husband and I were watching Ancient Aliens on the History Channel and 45 minutes later, Baby Viking was born. I pushed for those full 45 minutes and gave it absolutely everything I had. One of the OBGYNs from the clinic came in when the nurse gave the thumbs up on me being able to push and said it call her in when it was almost time. Well, she was shocked when baby’s head was already showing in less than an hour. Sometimes I wonder if it was maybe the smell of Portillo’s making my urge to push even greater as I had not eaten since the previous day. Or just the adrenaline and lack of sleep since all I could do the whole night was stare at the monitors.
I know I mentioned Bonnie but I have to mention her again. She made the pushing so much easier with her verbal support. Also, my husband on the side of me just continuously telling me that I have got this and that I can do it was all I needed to hear to give it my all. I was absolutely exhausted towards the end but his support still rings in my ear to this day.
Before I knew it, Szymon Ragnar was born at 2:54pm on September 9th at 6lbs9ozs, 18 inches. He was the most beautiful miracle I have ever seen. He was placed onto my chest for skin to skin and the tears began to flow. Our lives were forever changed.