How many March 18ths have passed in which I paid no attention to the date? So many times that day has come and gone without my notice. Last year, I had just gone to a Taylor Swift concert and was on a much needed spring break from school. How a year changes everything.
Solomon Christopher Parker Smolen was born on March 18, 2014 at 9:26 pm. He weighed 8 pounds and 1 ounce and measured 20 inches long. This is his story.
On March 17 I went to what would be my last prenatal appointment hoping for good news. I had been dilated 1 centimeter and was about 50% effaced for close to two weeks. The Saturday before I thought for certain my water had broke, but 3 hours of walking in the maternity ward produced no results, and I was sent home.
My appointment brought only disappointment. I was dilated 2 centimeters, but Solomon was not close to the birth canal, positioned posterior, and quite happy where he was. We reluctantly scheduled an induction for that Friday. My doctor decided to strip my cervical membranes in the hopes on starting labor, but neither of us expected much from that. I left resigned to an induction.
The rest of my day went on as usual. I went to Target after that and ran in to my best friend, Bekah, which was a delightful surprise. Now as I reflect on that Target trip, I can’t help but think God arranged it so we could both spend a little time together and just refresh. From Target I went to Christopher’s parents’ home to celebrate my mother in law’s birthday with the rest of the family. We ate a meal of corned beef and cabbage and potatoes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (this will be important later), opened some gifts, and spent time talking together before Christopher and I headed home ad went to bed, expecting Friday would be the day we met our son.
At 1:30 in the morning, I woke up to contractions. I made a visit to the bathroom, where I lost my mucus plug. I knew this was a good sign but I wanted to be sure I was in labor before I woke Christopher up. I got back in bed and began timing contractions. Our birthing class and my doctor both said to wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart lasting for one minute for at least an hour before going to the hospital. Mine were anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes apart.
After about half an hour, I woke Christopher up. Once he got over his initial disbelief, he sprang into action. We were only halfway packed and Christopher had just washed all of his pants and hung them up to dry in the basement. His shirts were still in the washer. Reluctantly, he stayed in his pajamas. When we were as packed as we could be, we got into the car, my contractions growing more intense, and went to the hospital.
I remember getting to the hospital hoping and praying that I would have been progressed enough for them to admit me. After the initial check, I was only 4 centimeters dilated. The nurses called my doctor, who decided I should walk for 2 hours before they could admit me. So we walked, all the while my contractions, as well as a strong desire to vomit, grew stronger. We only made it about an hour and half before I couldn’t take it anymore. I sat down to rest and the nurses did another check. I was now 5 centimeters dilated, and my doctor decided I could be admitted. It was now about 5 in the morning, and Christopher began calling our parents to let them know that they would be meeting their grandson that day.
At this point, I started telling Christopher that I wanted pain killers. Up until now, we were pretty committed to having a 100% natural child birth. But as each contraction came, my resolve grew weaker. I was sure I couldn’t make it to 10 without something. Christopher remained strong, saying that I didn’t need them and I could do this. It was very hard not to get angry at him.
It was on our way to our room when we hit the first speed bump. I made it about 10 feet down the hallway, right in front of the nurses’ station, when I announced that I was going to throw up. I have never seen a trash can appear beneath me faster. And then, all that corned beef and cabbage made an encore performance. I must give credit to the nursing staff; they never batted an eye.
After all that excitement, we made it to our room, where we believed Solomon would be delivered. We got settled. I attempted to sit in the tub and relax. The warm water was soothing between contractions, but during it did very little to relieve the pain. I soon moved to the bed. Again, I told Christopher I wanted pain killers. After some more insisting, he finally relented. I was given an IV pain killer, which took the edge off but only for a little bit. I knew it wouldn’t do much in a few hours. After two doses, and another round of vomiting, I tapped out at 6 centimeters and asked for an epidural.
And that’s when I met an angel named Steve. (I think.) If you don’t believe in angels, go see an anesthesiologist. They are the kindest people on the planet. I was somewhat afraid of the epidural, but Steve made it so quick and painless, I would get an epidural every day of my life. Things began to look up after that.
The rest of the day moved by smoothly. The epidural kicked in and Christopher and I were both able to relax. Our families arrived at the hospital and we spent the day together talking and enjoying the process. Even though I really thought I would be able to do the natural childbirth thing, I’m really glad we had the epidural. We were able to share a lot of the experience with our families which turned out to be a huge blessing. They provided a lot of support that we would need later that day.
My body continued to progress through labor and by 2 that afternoon, I was completely dilated and effaced. We were ready to push. However, my doctor was in a surgical procedure that was taking longer than expected, so we had to wait. And wait we did. Finally, around 5, she was free.
And then we hit another speed bump. Solomon was facing the wrong direction. I was going to have to try to flip him, but in order to do that, the epidural needed to wear off enough for me to feel my legs. They lowered my dosage, and some feeling returned to my legs. I was helped onto my elbows and knees, and pushed like I’ve never pushed before. After an hour, which felt like 15 minutes, Solomon flipped. We were good to go.
I’ve never had a baby before, but I knew enough to know that this would be the toughest part of the labor. But I also knew it would be the most rewarding. I was feeling optimistic at this point, even though I was in quite a bit of pain. I thought for sure I would be meeting my son within half an hour. I was very wrong.
Solomon moved through the birth canal very slowly. Long bouts of pushing would result in little, if any, progress. He was not cooperating, and two long hours later, he still had not crowned. He was very close, but not budging. Against our better judgment, we agreed to try some suction to see if that would provide the extra push he needed. Four hard pushes later, I was exhausted, my contractions were getting farther apart, and Solomon had not moved at all. From what my doctor could tell, he was stuck. Our only choice was to have a cesarean.
I have to pause at this time and brag on my husband for a bit. If anyone knows Christopher, they know he can be somewhat squeamish. We were both uncertain about how he would handle the labor, and even joked about having to attach a smelling salt to his shirt. But, when it came down to it, he was a champion. He never left my side the whole time, he helped hold my legs while I pushed, let me squeeze any part of him I could reach and said nothing but encouraging things to me. There is no way I would have lasted as long as I did if he had not been there.
Going into the c section, I felt at peace. This could have been the drugs, but also there was a great sense of relief knowing that it would all be over soon. I knew Christopher was worried, as was our family, but as I told Christopher, it’s not like God didn’t know it was going to happen. This was part of His plan, and it was going to be fine. And at 9:26pm, when we heard the first cries of our son from behind a giant blue curtain, we knew it was worth the 20 hours of labor it took to get him into this world.
The days that followed were a blur of emotions, visitors, and some pretty gross recovery. But now, 16 days later, I know that this is the greatest thing I have done with my life.
Just minutes old.