Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Birth that Didn't Go According to Plan

Yes, he's wearing a Green Bay Packer onsie!
Happy 11th birthday to my wonderful, awesome, gorgeous, intelligent son, Benjamin!

I always wanted to have children.  I was that little girl that wanted to be a mommy, so I was ecstatic when I found out less than a month after our church wedding, that I was pregnant.  We weren't shocked or anything.  We planned it. I'm a planner.  I like a good plan and the more detailed the better.  Heck, I used to pack for Summer vacation in the early Spring!

Anyway, my husband and I were stationed in Hawaii and we tried to decide when having a baby would be the best for our careers and for our units' training schedules.  It finally dawned on us after comparing his unit's schedule and my unit's schedule  that having a baby would never be convenient for the Army, so we decided to start trying immediately and had immediate success.

The guys at work were very supportive of me being pregnant.  They were awesome and didn't treat me any differently.  Sure I had a profile now, but I was able to do pretty much everything I did before except really heavy lifting and I had to stay away from certain chemicals.  I even went "to the field" a couple times while pregnant.  I was asked if I wanted to move to headquarters while pregnant and gave a resounding (or was it deafening) response of "NO WAY IN HELL!"  You don't leave your buddies...pregnant or not.

I had some crazy cravings when I was pregnant with Benjamin...bologna sandwiches (this grossed my husband out), and broccoli with LOTS of butter.  The guys in my platoon joked that they should buy stock in Junior Mints with how I was eating them!

I was no small pregnant chick!
My pregnancy was uneventful.  I had to take a 3-hour glucose test (yuck) because there was a concern that I might have gestational diabetes, but after getting stuck with a needle four times in three hours by a very inexperienced med-tech, it came back that I was good to go.  There was lots of morning sickness, although I would get sick around the clock.  My husband joked that, "It's always morning somewhere!"  I suppose so but that didn't make me feel any better as I leaned over the toilet, holding my hair crying and wondering what I had gotten myself into.  Note-to-self:  Do not eat kimchi when suffering from morning sickness.  That burns coming back up!

About halfway through my pregnancy the sickness just stopped and I felt better.  I was huge, but felt better.  When you're in the Army, you have to stay in shape and watch your weight.  Not when you're pregnant and I took advantage of that.  I was afraid that with my throwing up that the baby wasn't getting enough food (HA!) so if I ate and then threw up, I would eat again.  How silly I was!  I weighed 127 pounds before I got pregnant.  By the time I gave birth I weighed 183!  Not the 25-30 pounds of weight gain they tell you about.  My First Sergeant would joke that I now weighed more than he did....but it was really no joke...I did!

So an easy pregnancy, and eventually it came time for the ultrasound. I wondered if they would be able to tell what our baby was, but Ben was asleep and lying there legs wide open, just showing the world that he was a little boy!  So we new the gender now, and had to find a name.

Daddy finally gets to see his boy

Noah, was what we decided on.  Noah Romand.  We knew that we wanted Romand for his middle name.  Romand Kuehl was my husband's maternal grandfather, although we were saying and spelling it as "Roman" until just before filling out the birth certificate.  Luckily we checked!  But as you can tell, Noah is a Benjamin.  I would love to say that I wasn't hormonal when I was pregnant, but that would be a bold-faced lie and my husband would no doubt let everyone know that in a comment to this post! One day, he came home from work and I just started blubbering that I didn't like the name, "Noah" and didn't want to name the baby that.  It's not that Noah is a bad name.  In fact one of my dearest friends ended up having a son around the same time as me and named her son Noah, but when you're hormonal, you're hormonal! Noah, but what to name him?  We had no idea.

A peaceful moment
My pregnancy continued and soon it was difficult to tie my combat boots (and yes, I wore them the entire sneakers for this old sergeant!).  The guys in the platoon office would get a kick out of (or was it get freaked out by...) my stomach just moving.  I would sit there at the end of the day or at lunch with my BDU top off and they could see my bump under the brown t-shirt move.  The guys said it looked like something from Alien.  I just thought it was neat as heck.

The end of my pregnancy was nearing.  My due date was January 27th and the baby had been head-down for weeks.  Dr. Ellis (our awesome baby doctor that was also a good friend of my aunt and uncle) had to go away for just under a week, but he set me up with another doctor to see for the one appointment he would be missing.  He promised that he would be back before my due date.  I had had no contractions yet, and being my first pregnancy he wasn't too concerned about me going into labor early.  What could go wrong...right?

During that one visit with the other doctor I found out that my plan had a pretty major kink in it.  The doctor measured my belly and then felt it.  He told me that the baby was breech.  I told him that it just couldn't be.  My baby had been head down for over a month.  He sent me for an ultrasound to confirm it and to check the size of the baby.  Yep.  Breech.  We were also told by the technician that  the baby weighed around 8 pounds, give or take an ounce.  At that diagnosis the nurse that was in the room put her hands on my belly and commented, "Eight pounds?  Feels more like you have 2 five pound bags of sugar in there!"  Let's just say that she was closer than the tech was...

A daddy-Benjamin moment in the hospital
So we had to discuss options.  Luckily, with my aunt (a nurse/midwife) and my uncle (a doctor) living in Hawaii, calling them was a no brainer and they came out to be with us and to help us with our decision.  I was getting a little scared. Our options were to do nothing (not really an option), induce labor (I didn't want to do this and deliver a baby the labor could last for days with an induction and I wasn't thrilled about that), or they could attempt an External Cephalic Version (ECV) and turn the baby.  If it was successful, they would induce me so I could have the baby before he turned again.  If it wasn't successful, they would go straight to a C-section so that I wouldn't go into labor breech.  We opted for the last option. I was feeling a bit harassed by some of the staff (not my doctors) for not just trying to deliver breech.  I kept saying no, and they kept coming back.  Like if they asked a million times, I would eventually say, OK.  "Why not try?  He's not a really big baby or anything," they would say.  I think my aunt or uncle finally said something to them, because shortly after I told them that the staff was beginning to upset me with their pestering, it stopped.  Have I mentioned that my aunt and uncle are awesome!?!

So on my due-date I was given an epidural and they attempted the ECV.  What is an ECV? Essentially, what they do is push the baby out of the birth canal and attempt to turn him.  So there's a lot of pushing on your belly from the outside.  The epidural was to help with the pain and so they could go to a C-section if needed without additional meds or waiting.  My aunt briefed me before going in for the procedure.  She told me that it should be a firm, but gentle pushing.  That if they were too forceful, that they could hurt the baby.  She also told me that if I wasn't comfortable at any time with what they were doing to stop them.

So I'll segue briefly at that scary ECV thought and remind everyone that we still had no name for the baby.  As luck would have it my husband walked through the hospital (Tripler Army Medical Center) and saw a name on an office, "Dr. Benjamin Berg".  He told me about it.  It sounded good.  After all, the last 4 letters of our surname is "berg".  It was decided as easy as that.  Benjamin Romand Cayemberg it would be.  I loved it.  Yay...a name!  OK...back to scary ECV stuff...

9 pounds 5.8 ounces of baby...8 pounds my butt!
So my doctor was back, the epidural was given and into the operating room I went.  My husband was there, Dr. Ellis was there, the doctor that had noticed the baby was breech was there, and another doctor that was also a surgeon was there in case I needed a C-section...oh, yeah...and the rest of the delivery team was there too. I was strapped to a table.  And no joke, I felt like I had been strapped to a cross.  My arms strapped out to the left and right of me. Not a good feeling.  It didn't get better.  I could feel the pushing for the ECV and it hurt.  A lot.  I was in tears, by the time I told them to stop.  They went straight into C-section mode.  An ice cube was rubbed across my lower abdomen and I was asked if I could feel it.  My smart-ass answer, "It's's kind of cold and numbing.  I don't know."  So they began the c-section.

I stopped them again.  I could feel the incision.  I told them that and they just reassured me that I would feel some pulling, but that was all.  They continued.  I stopped them immediately.  No, really, I can feel that.  It's like a bad paper cut.  They wanted to up my epidural, but they were told that I was maxed out. No more meds for me.  It was time to put me under general anesthetic.  My husband would have to leave.  He kissed me and left.  Before they put me under the last thing I remember saying through tears was, "I'm scared."  And I was.  I had never been under general anesthetic.  I was scared that I wouldn't wake up.  Silly, but I was.  The nurse anesthetist was very understanding and comforting and under I went.

The first time I held Benjamin
My husband apparently had to be kicked out of the operating room a couple times.  He kept going back in there, and they kept escorting him out.  He was scared too.  To me, I went to sleep and woke up a groggy mom. I didn't realize that I had been in the operating for an unusually long time.  I wouldn't find that out until later. The baby was born fine.  Benjamin was doing great, but they were having a problem controlling my bleeding and my husband was scared.  SPOILER ALERT!!!!  I lived....

When I woke up, I was in the recovery room with my husband, my baby, my aunt and my uncle.  My hubby came over with Benjamin so that I could hold him.  I didn't want to.  Yep, you read that right...I was too scared.  I  was afraid that I would drop him.  Luckily, I had some great support there that day.  My husband placed a swaddled Benjamin on my chest and helped me hold him.  As soon as I saw him, I started crying. The feeling of joy is indescribable.  I was finally a mom and was holding this perfect little mixture of me and my husband.

It hadn't been the birth I had planned for.  I never felt the pain of labor and delivery.  I never got to use the information I had learned in our childbirth classes.  Did that bother me?  Yes.  No, I'm not saying that I want to be in pain, but I did feel like I had missed out on a part of the childbirth experience.  I got over that quickly enough though as we welcomed the first new member of our little family.

Happy Birthday, Benjamin.  I love you more than words can say!


  1. Benjamin is adorable in the baby photo at the top. He's just too cute for words. I want to give him a squeeze and a kiss. Happy Birthday, Benjamin!

  2. OMG who looks so cute in his packers onsie...Loved the story, I giggle in a few parts...
    Happy Birfday Benjamin!
    FROM: Jess

  3. Wow, Cherie. I can only imagine how terrifying that was for you and your husband. As a mom that took a different "non-planned" route I can relate so much to your story. Thanks for sharing.
    From: Kristin Bailey

  4. Wow! Congrats to you, your husband, and your beautiful son! I also had a "non-planned route," so I'm all admiration. I'm glad everything turned out well in the end!