Home for the holidays: The birth of Zander

By Published On: December 19th, 2016Tags: ,

Written to my love, Alexander “Zander” Calvary Zuperku, who was born on Friday, November 21, 2014.

The day started out pretty normal, I woke with contractions, which was nothing serious because I had been having contractions since the last week of October. I was even put on bedrest for a week in early November because of the intensity, but in the end the doctors let me go back to work.

Work was typical except that I had an important session with Michelle Gass (the CCO of Kohl’s) that I didn’t want to miss. I ended up being the only person eating the chocolates (go figure, the pregnant woman eats all the chocolates) in her beautiful executive office and also informed her that you were due to arrive Christmas Day. After that big meeting I left for my weekly NST test at the doctor’s office.


As I was hooked up to the monitor, the nurse noticed I was having bad contractions every four minutes. I clued her in on how that was typical and I wasn’t worried because it always subsides after an hour. She still wanted to check to see if I was dilated, then she would feel better sending me home.

After she checked my cervix she told me I was dilated 1 centimeter, and I asked her if she thought I could be dilated a centimeter for a week or so because I’ve had friends who were dilated for a couple of weeks before their water broke. She said it was a possibility, but they would still send me to triage, which at this point I didn’t want to do. To be honest, I went to triage two weeks before, and I knew some big bills were coming—yikes. Before I went down to triage the doctor gave me a quick ultrasound and confirmed that you were still breached.

At this point I thought it wise to call your daddy and give him an update. When your daddy arrived at the hospital, the doctor came back in and wanted to check to see if anything had changed with my cervix. As she checked, she told us in a confident tone that I was now dilated 2 centimeters and that the best plan of action would have us meeting you within the hour via C-section to avoid my water breaking and birthing you breached!


My heart immediately went out to you as the situation became real, you were going to arrive five weeks early. I had been trying to calm myself the whole time, telling myself these contractions were nothing. As I thought of you I started to cry uncontrollably. My mind went from you being born within the hour, to your health, to thoughts of a C-section, to the fact that your daddy and I weren’t ready for you (we missed the labor and delivery class because I was on bedrest that week) and ultimately wanting so much to actually hold you when you were born and to know you were healthy. The doctor held me as I sobbed uncontrollably saying that you were going to be fine and that it would be better to get you out than to leave you in any longer—risking a vaginal birth and the danger of you still being breached.

My one request for the doctor and the nurse was that they try and let me hold you if you were healthy enough. They informed your daddy and me that if we heard you cry that typically meant babies were healthy and things would be starting out good for you.

As they went to prepare the room for the C-section, your daddy and I prayed for you, your health and your future. I kissed your daddy with a couple of tears running down my cheek and hugged him ever so tightly before being wheeled into the operating room. He would join later after they had everything in the room prepped.


I remember sitting on the operating table and whispering to myself that this memory would be a moment in time soon and that it would pass as they stuck me with three huge needles in my back sedating the lower half of me. I couldn’t stop shaking; it was a mixture of pure chills and anxious emotions. The nurse was so kind and told me everything would be fine, but that didn’t stop my chills. They even asked if I wanted music during the procedure. My mind couldn’t think of any particular music, so I answered, “Something calming.”

After they put up the sheet separating my eyes from the actual procedure, they started asking me if I could feel this and if I could feel that. I could definitely feel things, but it was faint. Finally, your daddy walked in the room and sat beside me. Holding my hand and smiling at me, he told me he loved me.

And then they started … I couldn’t tell you how long the whole procedure lasted. All I do remember is being able to feel tons of prodding on all sorts of innards that never had so much pain in my life. Then I started to feel a ton of pain and your daddy and I heard all sorts of weird sounds from the other side of the sheet. The nurse asked me if I wanted to go completely under because of the pain I was feeling, but I didn’t. I wanted to hear your first cry; I wanted to see you as soon as I could. With that answer there was about one more minute of horrible pain and then … WE HEARD YOU CRY! It was the most beautiful sound in the entire world. And of course it was followed with comments from the doctor and the nurses saying that you were beautiful and that you had hair.

The next thing I knew, your daddy was away from my side and cutting your umbilical cord. After a couple minutes went by, we met for the first time.  I was in love more than words can describe. You looked exactly like the nickname we gave you, “Gummy bear.” You were all snug like a bug in a rug in your swaddling blanket, and your fingers were in your mouth like your ultrasounds often showed. From that moment, I have never felt so much responsibility in my life, but I was also never more thankful for the amazing gift of you that God gave your daddy and me. You truly were made for a purpose and designed by the Master’s hand.


There is of course more to this story, as you were then handed to the good hands in the NICU department. I then had the most unrestful night of my life. I battled unending nausea, the worst numbness in my legs that made it feel like I was in a straight jacket and the most intense and horrible pain that came from the incision (but you were worth every moment and every pain—I would do it again in a heartbeat if that meant I would get you). I didn’t sleep a wink until I could see you again the next day, when I finally held you in my arms for more than a minute.

And as you’re still in the NICU as I write this, I will try to be patient and wait for you to gain your strength and to eat on your own, so you can come home. The song “Home for the Holidays” has more meaning this year.

Your daddy and I love you more than words can express and we can’t wait for all of us to be under one roof.

With unconditional love,
Your Mama

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 birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!

By Cat Zuperku