Neeson Foley, I am your mama, and this is your birth story.
I’ve started writing it a million different times and in a million different ways. How do I find the right words to describe such a magical day? It won’t be until you have a child of your own that you truly understand how your birth day was the absolute best day of my life. It’ll be years until you can read these words and honestly grasp the swarm of emotions that came over your daddy and me the minute the doctor laid you on my chest and you took your very first cry. You won’t really understand for a long time, but that’s OK. The story of your birth is the most important thing I’ve ever written, and you, my sweet boy, are the most special and incredible thing I’ve ever done.
You were born on a Wednesday afternoon, right at lunch time. The beginning of your story started the Friday before that, though. Your daddy and I went to what we thought would be our very last appointment with my doctor. We suspected he would ask us what we thought about setting an induction date, but when he asked how we felt about Monday, I couldn’t believe it. Monday! That felt so soon. I would be 40 weeks and one day at that point. You were more than cooked enough inside my belly, and we were beyond excited to meet you, so we agreed. It was set! We would go to the hospital Monday, April 20 at 5 a.m. to get started.
I spent that weekend battling the feeling that I was rushing you—that maybe you weren’t quite ready yet. I knew that your daddy and I were ready, but it was far more important to me that you be ready, and one short day past your due date just felt a little too soon. I felt so silly choosing to wait to meet you, but I felt an incredible peace about it once the decision was finally made. It was important to me that we give you just a couple more days to come on your own. We decided to cancel that induction date and found ourselves back at our doctor’s office on Tuesday afternoon. I was already 3 cm and 100 percent effaced (which you’ll learn all about someday when you’re having a baby of your own), so the doctor felt certain you’d come on your own soon.
We chose to set a new induction date for the next day, Wednesday, April 22—just in case. We so badly wanted to meet you, and this time, the decision was easy. We were ready, and we knew you were, too.
Later that Tuesday afternoon, around 3:30 p.m., we decided to take a short walk around the neighborhood. We walked slowly, hand in hand, smelling the lilacs and enjoying the sunshine. That was when I finally felt my first contraction! I was so excited! Something told me that it was finally time and that you were on your way. We walked for a bit longer and then came home to shower, eat and relax. The contractions continued into the night, and by 10 p.m., I knew I needed to start timing them. They started out around four minutes apart, but were lasting well under a minute.
Your sweet daddy rubbed my back with each contraction. Before we knew it, it was 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and we were driving to the hospital. In hindsight, your daddy and I decided it was pretty cool that we and you ended up choosing the same day for your birthday. April 22nd. Earth Day. An ordinary Wednesday. Right in the middle of the week, when the world around us would continue on its normal way, we were about to have our lives changed forever.
When we got to the hospital, I was checked and had progressed to 4 cm. We were immediately admitted! Yippee! We got moved into our very own birthing suite and settled in for what was sure to be a sleepless night. Your daddy was so excited because we could see the mountains from our window! A baby and mountains?! He was in heaven.
We met the wonderful labor and delivery nurses who would be with us the entire way, and they got me all hooked up to the IV to keep me hydrated and the monitor to keep an eye on your little heart. Because I had gone into labor on my own, they only had to have me on the monitor for 20 out of every 60 minutes, so we spent lots of time roaming the halls.
Your daddy stayed awake with me the whole night, taking pictures and video and letting me squeeze his hand really hard with each intensifying contraction. We wondered aloud whether you’d have hair and if you’d look like a Neeson. We talked about how it was so surreal that we would finally be meeting you soon, and we prayed for your safety and health. Your daddy later told me that he spent a lot of time praying for my safety and health, too. He stayed so strong for us during those early morning hours. He knew that as long as he stayed calm and strong, I could do the same, which was the best way to keep you happy and safe until it was time to be born.
The hours between 2 to 7:30 a.m. flew by. Before we knew it, my doctor was there! Boy, was he thrilled to hear that I had gone into labor all on my own! I was checked again and was equally as excited to learn I had progressed to 6 cm! The nurses warned me that once the doctor broke my water the contractions would get much harder. They weren’t kidding! I decided that I’d gone long enough and asked for the epidural. The anesthesiologist was there by 8 a.m., and I was feeling no pain by 8:30!
My nurses suggested we try to take a quick nap—by that time neither of us had slept in nearly 24 hours, so we welcomed the idea. By the time we both wound down enough to sleep, it felt like we were immediately waking back up again! Everything began moving very quickly from that point, and by the time 11:40 a.m. rolled around, we were ready to start pushing!
The nurses wanted me to push through a few contractions with them coaching me; they needed to make sure you could handle it OK, as well as see how effectively I was able to get you moving. I remember asking them how long this part usually took, and they told me that, as a first time mom, they usually see 1.5-2 hours as the average pushing time. I was so determined to meet you much faster than that, so I answered them with a “psh, that’s definitely not happening!” Was I sure right! Much to their surprise, it only took pushing through one entire contraction, and they could already see your little head! Your daddy wasn’t too sure he wanted to look, but as soon as the nurse said “I see hair!” he couldn’t stop himself.
One of the most vivid things I remember about this part of the process was your daddy coming back up by my head, with tears in is eyes and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. I asked him if you had lots of hair and all he could do was nod and say “I can’t really talk about it yet or else I’ll cry, and then you’ll cry.”
The emotions we felt, knowing you were so close to being in our arms, were incredibly overwhelming. It was really happening. Finally! You started to get a little stressed, and with each push your heart rate dropped slightly. They had me breathe with an oxygen mask in between contractions, and you and I worked together to get you back to a happy, healthy place. The nurses assured me that everything was OK, and we trusted them with our whole hearts.
You were coming so fast that after only a handful of contractions and just over 10 minutes of active pushing, the nurse called the doctor and told him to head in our direction. He had promised us he was only seven minutes away, so we all joked about timing him. You were coming fast, and seven minutes felt like an eternity to wait!
When that time had passed and the doctor still wasn’t there, the nurse called him again and told him that he’d better hurry because you were on your way! I think about 15 minutes total ended up passing while we waited for the doctor. When he arrived we were so excited, knowing we were just minutes (if not less!) away from meeting you!
I pushed twice once the doctor got there, and out you came! It was 12:07 p.m. exactly. I couldn’t stop laughing and crying as you were laid on my chest, and daddy cut the cord that connected you and I for those first 9 months. We had been told that you had a bowel movement in utero, so there were a couple extra NICU nurses on hand, just to be safe. You were a little purple when you came out and took a few extra moments to cry, but after a quick evaluation we were told that you were perfectly fine. You were all ours, and you were healthy and perfect.
We spent that first hour cuddling and getting to know each other. You were so alert! Your big blue eyes stared into mine so intently, and I’ve no doubt that you knew exactly who I was: your mama.
We couldn’t stop staring at you. We couldn’t believe you were finally here. The incredible depth of love that your daddy and I felt for you the instant we first laid our eyes on you is something there are no words for. It is something we pray you always feel and never doubt. Our love for you is bigger than anything else in this world, and it’s more beautiful than anything we ever imagined. All 7 pounds, 6 ounces and 19 inches of you completely stole our hearts and changed our lives forever.
April 22nd. Your birthday. It wasn’t just an ordinary Wednesday—but not for us. It was the very best day of my life. Happy Birthday, my sweet Neeson Foley. You made me a mom. You have changed me for good, forever.
Read more about Shanna’s adventures as a new mom at thisidylliclife.com.
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!