In 2015 I started writing to a person that didn’t exist quite yet. I started writing notes to a person I thought would one day be my child. My first entries and even more recent ones get very sad. I try to stay honest with where I’m coming from and what exactly I went through. A lot of entries are selfish but they turn to love and I am sure they will continue to turn to love and just end up being love. I hope to one day give this journal of letters to Fin as a story told from his mother and even though it’s a lot of self realizations for myself so far in the letters it will be enjoyed. I decided to share the letter I decided to write to him about the day he was born. While this is my journal of letters to him I also wanted my gentleband to account the day. I talk often about him throughout my letters and there’s always a side of the room you don’t get to see when you’re delivering a baby.
Sorry to anyone who gets grossed out!
Finley Scott James
May 10, 2018
8 lbs 3 oz
May 19, 2018
This entry will be easier to be told through me typing instead of writing to you because there is so much information to share with you; I don’t want carpal tunnel because I hand wrote your birth story. I’m writing this to you a week and some days after you’ve been in our arms and not in my uterus. It’s weird to read the letters I wrote to you not really knowing you and now having the undeniable evidence of your existence- literally waking me up in the middle of the night with cries, weird baby poop, and leaky boobs.
I told you we found out you were breech at 36 weeks and how I spent a good week just angry at you. I had felt as if you were robbing me of opportunity. I have no problem with cesarean births or epidurals, it’s that I wouldn’t be given the chance of trying. I didn’t want a cesarean so I researched every possible thing I could do to encourage you to turn. It was a little of a dark few weeks because everyone made me angry. You being breech consumed me and because it consumed me I didn’t want to talk about it. I was so annoyed when someone would ask me if I had tried going to the chiropractor or if I was laying upside down. I WAS DOING IT ALL. I was probably way more researched than anyone suggesting something to me. Things I did to turn you- chiropractor, acupuncture, yoga, moxa sticks, inversions, taking pulsitilla, swimming, handstands in the pool, hot and cold pads, shining a light into my vagina sitting upside down, playing music to my vagina while sitting upside down nothing. was. working.
I’d also get so angry when someone would make the remark that you not turning was an insight into your personality, that you’d be stubborn or that this was my first lesson in parenthood. Those remarks weren’t helpful to me as I was already upset. At 38 weeks, I had become so discouraged and our doctor office scheduled a procedure called external cephalic version. Which basically means we’d go into labor and delivery and they’d give me an epidural and try to turn you with their hands. The epidural would be so they could be forceful. If they were successful, I could go home with you turned and go into labor naturally. However there was a chance that something would go wrong, and I’d be rushed into an emergency c-section, which I didn’t want especially at 38 weeks. The other possibility would be it wouldn’t work and I’d be sent home at 38 weeks and have a c section scheduled at 39 weeks, which would have meant two epidurals for me. I didn’t want an epidural in the first place, and I didn’t want to have to do two major things and a third major thing- have you.
So the stress of making a major life decision had come into play and it was stressful, who knew if the choices we made were ever right. I decided the night before 38 weeks to cancel the ECV and reschedule the ECV for 39 weeks and 1 day with a scheduled c-section after if the ECV didn’t work. That way I’d allow you more time inside of me, more time for you to flip on your own, more time for me to process the what could be moments. Between week 38 and week 39 I was able to mourn my losses and mentally prepare for a csection and do a little more research about recovery. I let go of my anger towards you and just allowed it to just be something that happens sometimes. I’m glad I was able to process this because I was able to let go of that anger before you were in my arms. I wouldn’t want to be holding this precious life in my arms but be pissed off at you.
I also spent that week not really thinking about what was going to happen. If I thought about it or talked about it too much, I’d make myself more anxious. I continued to go swimming, but I cancelled all other activities that involved turning you. (Your dad and I had an awesome tan if anything) I decided to spend my money in treating myself (thanks to a friend for suggesting that!) I got a manicure, pedicure, and the day before we were going in, I went to a little spa thing. I spent more time with your dad, and while I also mourned the time I knew we’d never have again, I enjoyed him for him.
Our doctor’s office told us to call labor and delivery at 5 am to check to see if our 7am appointment was still on schedule. I assume because some other women could have come in in labor and preoccupied time slotted for scheduled events. We called at 5 and apparently labor and delivery doesn’t communicate well with our doctor’s office because they wanted us there at 5 to allow 2 hours to prep for a c section in case that was in the cards for the day. I was annoyed and didn’t at all feel bad for saying I wasn’t going to leave my house until I took a shower. They were fine and told us not feel rushed. I texted our doula. Oh ya, we got a doula around the same time I was unsure if you were still breech. I wanted a doula to mostly be there for us during labor- suggesting different positions to take and to give Jared a break if I was killing him with rubbing my back or something.
We left around 6:15 and packed our car expecting your arrival. The nice thing about expecting your arrival is we also totally cleaned our house and had everything (outside of you turning) in order. At first it wasn’t scary since we had gone to the ER a couple of times while pregnant. It wasn’t glorious or beautiful filling out paperwork and getting stabbed by needles. It was boring and mundane; I had still had done a fairly good job numbing myself to the situation at hand. I think there was a few times a few tears had streamed down my face in fear, but once our doula arrived around 7 I was more relaxed because it was a distraction to talk to her. While we were scheduled for 7 our doctor didn’t really arrive until 8:15.
When things got real for me was when I met Natalie, the lady who was going to give me an epidural. I spent a good majority of the time telling her I didn’t like her and then I’d say things like, “most women would be excited to see Natalie, most women would be excited to see Natalie.” You know, to make myself feel better for her sticking something into my spine. The time came for the doula to leave and your dad to sit in front of me and hold my hands for the epidural. I remember hyperventilating a little bit and being scared of the pain but more what was about to come. I do remember the numbing shot they give you wasn’t as bad as I had thought. I squeezed your dad’s hands out of fear and to focus. Epidural happened quickly and the ECV was starting with a few nurses in the room and two doctors standing over me.
When I get nervous, I tend to talk a lot and make observations that appear to be jokes but really they’re just my way of processing. They laid my bed down flat, covered my stomach with gel, and started to try to turn you. One doctor would push your bottom and the other would push your head. They’d stop every once in awhile to check your heart rate and your position. There were a few times you’d move slightly but would go right back to putting your head under my rib cage. This whole procedure, I was feeling an incredible amount of pressure, and I could tell if I didn’t have an epidural I would have been in tears. Just watching the doctors forearms and their intense concentration was crazy. They told us you didn’t care at all what they were doing, and at one point you were just drinking the amniotic fluid like nothing was happening. They tried to move you clockwise and counterclockwise. After about 30 minutes (I think) is when they finally said that “we gave it a go,” which now meant you were officially coming on the 10th, and it wasn’t that much longer until it was happening.
Not just happening, but I was about to have surgery and one of my fears is that they’d slice me open and then the zombie apocalypse was going to go down and I’d be sitting there unable to move and sliced open. Your dad said if that were to happen then it’d probably be the safest place since we were in a hospital. I said the opposite, because we were in the hospital- full of sick people. I met the labor and delivery operating nurse who didn’t seem to care about our birth plan that we had made in the event of a scheduled c section which mostly included you coming to me as soon as possible, not being taken away to another room. This nurse was a little older so I could tell she was not about that immediate skin to skin. They also had originally said our doula couldn’t come with us into the operating room, but they allowed it since I was kind of a crying mess, which looking back, I’m so thankful that they did.
I spent a few moments crying out of fear of a surgery, a fear of what my life was going to look like after the next few hours, my husband becoming a father, a fear of meeting you and seeing you face to face, a fear that I would not love you. I feel like we spent a good amount of time right before being taken into the OR making sure that if I never loved you, your dad would love you. I promised to care for you but my concern was that at least one of us would love you. I remember them taking me out and there I was watching the lights on the ceiling in the hall above my head as we rolled under each of them. It was just like all the hospital shows which in turn made me ask outloud if the nurses went home to watch tv about their jobs, surprisingly they said yes, who knew? I remember them asking me about my pink nails and wondering why I got that if I was having a boy and then proceeded to tell them how flustered I was choosing my nail color a few days before. I remember a nurse coming over to me telling me she remembered me from a month earlier when we did an ER visit. I told her I didn’t remember her and she then said, “Ya I remember because you ate Five Guys burger and fries.” I then said, “Do you know how embarrassing that sounds for me?” I remember finally telling Natalie I liked her since I was getting sliced open.
I remember the room was filled with an all female staff except for one male doctor who was only in for a second. I remember asking if my vagina was hanging out even though I knew vaginas didn’t hang out, but I just couldn’t feel it. I remember my husband walking in and telling them not to start until I got confirmation from him that I was in fact very numb. I could feel them pulling on me to test my numbness which you can feel the pressure but you can’t feel the pain. You dad confirmed that I was in fact numb. Then all of a sudden it was happening; I asked for there not to be a play by play. I don’t really remember these details but I remember them saying you were out and that you were peeing everywhere. I remember your dad was able to go with you, and our doula was able to move in to his spot. I didn’t want you to ever be alone, and I didn’t ever want to be alone. That was why I was so thankful they allowed our doula in.
Tara moved to Jared’s spot and assured me everything was fine, (I think?) I just know that it was a comfort to have someone familiar reassure. I think at this point I asked her if it was okay that I not see you. I was still so scared to see your face. Your dad came back over with you and you were all wrapped up, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to see what you looked like. I asked if you had all your parts, still such a concern for me. Moms always talk about the moment they laid eyes on their baby or when they hear their first cry nothing mattered. It just wasn’t that way for me. It was just outright fear to meet the person closest to you for so long face to face. Again, I don’t remember all of these details because I was so focused on whatever else was happening, I definitely was way overstimulated with no room to process any emotions or hormones coming my way.
Once we were back in our room with less people surrounding us, I was finally ready to hold you and start nursing. My other concern was that I wouldn’t have the perfect window of time to catch that opportune moment to breastfeed. Which didn’t matter to you, because you basically came out of the womb cluster feeding. It may have taken me a couple of hours to like you, and it may have taken me a week to be okay with loving you. Your whole life I’ll be fearful of the outcomes that are out of my control, but what I’m learning (through the help of your father of course) is that this is where trusting the Lord comes in. Not one of my strong suites, but through you I will have to get much better at it. You are your own person, with your own body that will get scraped and bruised, with your own personality, and your own calling from God on your life. What is so scary is also so beautiful, and I hope that through my reactions to you you’ll learn that those big, daunting life decisions in your own life make you realize that even if it’s never something you want to decide, or if the outcome is a literal bloody mess, you find the beauty in it.
-Officially your mom forever
In this letter is my recounting of your birth, as expressed to you. By the time you read this, I’m sure you will learn that I can tend to be a rather succinct person in terms of my writing, so please don’t feel like a brief letter is any reflection of how important this day (or really, process) was in shaping me into the man who is your father. It additionally is no reflection of your immeasurable value to me. I hope you one day also get to experience this joy with a person you love.
I mentioned before that this was a process – and it is. The point of the process I’d like to zero in on first is the third trimester of your mother’s pregnancy with you. So far, being pregnant wasn’t so bad for your mother. She experienced minimal hormonal changes, you were developing very healthily, etc. We’d often hear stories of people who were sick their whole pregnancy or who experienced physical or emotional hardships; we felt super lucky! Then, enter the third trimester. In this time, your mother ended up having a much less tolerant stomach – which for our family you know is a practically a death sentence. She was actually hospitalized twice over food related health problems, but no real harm done. The really big problem she had was itching. Constant itching of legs, arms, belly, etc. The first suspect was cholestasis – a sort of light liver failure. Fortunately, testing proved that was not the case. Instead, the diagnosis was PUPPP. In general the cause is unknown and there’s no real cure for it other than having the baby. We suspected it had something to do with how you were positioned in there – maybe putting pressure on mom’s liver or something.
Either way, the end was full of discomfort and difficulty. On top of the rest of this, you were presenting breech – butt down. This meant that the chance of a normal deliverability was pretty much out the window unless you turned. Of course, your mother wasn’t giving up without a fight. She began trying everything she could find. There were exercises for around the house, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and even handstand in the pool. We tried everything to get you to turn around, but we just couldn’t get you to budge. So all of this leads up to the day of – the day we scheduled to have the doctors turn you around with a procedure called an ECV. The night before, I think the reality of the idea that we could be meeting you the next stay set in. I remember your mother and I just holding each other that night, her weeping because she was scared, and while I was scared, I also recognized that this moment was one of the last moments we would have with just the two of us, so I chose to cherish it as such.
On Thursday, May 10, we woke up at 5:00 AM to call in to the hospital to ensure they had room for us to come in. This was a common practice for scheduled things since the room may not have been reserved properly, or the women who were in labor may have taken up all the rooms. Nevertheless, it turns out we were actually expected to be there at 5:00, not just call in. Your mom got up quickly and hopped in the shower while I packed the last of the things into our hospital bag and made coffee. We had a brioche roll that I baked as a hamburger bun, and I ate that – mom wasn’t allowed to have anything, not even water. With my coffee in hand and the car packed up, we drove up there. I don’t think we really said much of anything, if anything at all on the way there.
When we arrived, we were taken to a room almost instantly. Your mom got situated in the hospital gown, and we continued to prepare for the ECV. Most of it was just her getting hooked up to monitors and IV fluids, etc. Before they gave her any anesthesia, we decided to have an ultrasound just to be sure the ECV was still necessary. And surely enough – that was the case. So then the anesthesiologist came in to get your mom prepped. I think we had a lot of emotions leading up to this moment, but this is where it got very scary for her. An epidural, if it were ever administered incorrectly, could be pretty harmful. So I sat in front of her while she sat on the edge of the bed so they could work on her back. Ultimately we made it through, though she was still scared of the implications of what was upcoming. After getting a catheter and more iv fluids, she was ready for the ECV.
If you have never seen this procedure before, it is probably one of the more crazy things you could witness. Two doctors stood above your mom and pushed down on her stomach – so hard that the outline of your body was visible. It definitely wasn’t scary to behold, but it was incredible that her body and your body could both handle that kind of thing. They checked periodically to make sure you weren’t getting stressed. Not only were you not getting stressed, but you really seemed to not care at all about what they were doing. After trying to go counter clockwise and clockwise, it was decided you were just too comfortable or stubborn to turn. So we proceeded to prepare for a c-section.
It was at this time that your mother began to be overwhelmed with fear. They were going to cut her open and she was going to have a baby. Her baby. I know a lot of this writing seems like I’m emotionally disconnected, but honestly, I wasn’t sure what to feel most of the day. It was very surreal. I knew I was excited to meet you, but I wasn’t scared about the c section or its risks to both you and your mom. I just kind of felt at peace about it, and I felt my primary concern was in keeping your mom as calm as possible and being there for her.
Eventually after some crying and some panicking, your mom got a little worn out and had a few moments of serenity. They began to wheel her back and I and our doula followed. I remember standing in the hallway while they did the final prep and your mom was making the nurses crack up – she had a tendency to talk a lot when she was nervous. Eventually, we were invited in. Upon seeing me, your mom’s emotions all rushed back to her and she started panicking a little. I have to tell you, as of writing this letter, I’ve never been so upset as when I saw how she was feeling in these moments. It still tears me up a little. Either way, I was able to comfort her by cradling her face with my hands, so I did that for the whole procedure. After what seemed like seconds, we heard you crying. I don’t think your mom was able to even register what was happening. One of the nurses snapped a couple of photos of you on our phones and I peeked over the drape that was blocking the view. I saw your tiny little body, and the emotions that I was filled with are indescribable. While your mom was sure I’d cry, I most certainly did not.
After pulling you out, they had to take you to a separate spot to check your vital signs and weigh you, etc. I followed you while the doula stayed with your mom to keep her company. After a few moments, I was holding you in my arms. I walked back over to where your mom was, though she wasn’t really ready to meet you yet. She was honestly scared of you! Regardless, I had a seat next to her to show you to her when she was ready. She started asking me stuff like “Is he really ours? They didn’t switch him?” and “Does he have all of his parts?” I assured her that you were our very healthy, very normal son. Eventually they had me walk with you back to the room we were to stay in for the remainder of our hospital time, and shortly your mom followed. After a few moments, they placed you on your mom’s chest, and you were able to eat. The rest of the evening consisted of me moving around a lot, since your mom was bedridden and couldn’t change you or get you up to feed you.
And that’s how it happened!
Every ultrasound we received of him, this is the position his hand was in. After he got his hand out from the swaddle Jared said he immediately put it in this spot.It didn’t take me too long to warm up to Fin after we were in our room.The first photo of the three of us.
Jared and Fin’s first diaper. This is also the first time we experienced the joys of changing a boy diaper.The day after, after some of his swelling went down. We have done our due diligence to put the squish back into those cheeks.I can walk!
Right after we got home from the hospital.
One week old!