You know how people say, “I don’t care if the baby is a boy or girl, black, white, green or purple… as long as it’s healthy”?
Well, I had a purple baby.
This is the lengthy story of the night I went into labor at 37 weeks & 6 days with Mr. John Fox…
I remember watching the fireworks that night on the 4th of July and thinking to myself, “he’s got to be coming soon”. I also remember being bit by a mosquito during that very train of thought and becoming overwhelmingly paranoid of contracting the Zika virus- thank God those fears can at least now be put to rest. I was having contractions with every small move I made, and they were incredibly uncomfortable. They weren’t happening in a pattern yet but they were happening and I’m not kidding when I say they hurt. I kept saying to Jack this can’t be normal, who on earth has contractions so intense just from standing up, sitting down, rolling over or bending down. At 35 weeks, I had already been to the hospital twice to stop contractions that were coming every minute regularly for over two hours, and it took a combined total of 3 shots to finally get them to stay at bay. They never stopped completely, only ceased in regularity. They were still frequently occurring at an hourly rate, at minimum, for what felt like forever. It was so frustrating, at that point I had just wished for them to either go away, or to stay so I can have the baby already because it was getting really old. The activity-induced contractions were happening for over a week or two and I was ready for it to be over.
We hit a speed bump on the way home from the firework show which of course triggered another contraction, and even though it was no better or worse than all the previous ones I’ve had that week, something told me that my body is ready to give up on carrying this baby. My c-section wasn’t scheduled for another week and a half or so, but I knew instinctively that I wouldn’t make it that far. I remember wishing for my water to just break like it did with my other two pregnancies, at least this way I couldn’t be sent home from the hospital without a baby in my arms and the long days of pregnancy would finally be over and done with.
We got home around 11:30pm and the strangest feeling happened to me. You know all that talk about lightening? Wow, it is SO true. I had just assumed that my baby already dropped long ago because I had to pee every 2 seconds and I was so close to delivery, but I was dead wrong. I was laying back on the couch and all of the sudden, in the blink of an eye- I didn’t feel pregnant anymore. I could breath and I felt as light as a feather, I almost wanted to get up and do jumping jacks. Out of nowhere I was reminded of what it was like to breath again without a baby kicking my ribs and lungs every minute of the day. It literally felt as if there was no baby in my belly anymore, and at that point I had already watched enough YouTube videos and read all the What To Expect While Expecting articles to know that meant the baby is coming, and he’s coming soon.
I went to sleep knowing that I may very well be in the early stages of labor, but if that’s the case I might as well get some rest. It was exactly 4:00am when I rolled over and woke up. I don’t know what made me wake up, but the second I did, and I mean the very same second, I felt my water break. It was such a strange coincidence, if I had woken up a second later I would have soaked the bed, but since I felt it break the very instant I opened my eyes, I immediately stood up to save myself an enormous mess to clean up later. As I got up there was no doubt about it, my water had definitely broke. I was 37 weeks and 6 days and baby John was as ready as I was to come out and greet the world.
With my first, the same had happened, it was an unmistakable gush. With my second, I couldn’t even tell my water broke. I trickled the tiniest amount of fluid only once and then it stopped altogether, but since I knew it wasn’t pee I went to go get it checked at the hospital and I was right. All the nurses were shaking their heads and were certain I just wet myself… but nope, I was ruptured. They said it must’ve been a “high leak” and that the baby’s head was corking any more from coming out. All I know is I’m glad this third go around wasn’t a guessing game. It broke, and I wasn’t coming home this time without a baby. I woke Jack up, told him what happened, did a little happy dance and jiggled my way on over to the phone to call my mom.
Once again I went off my experiences with the other two and took a shower, dried my hair, the whole bit before leaving the house while taking my sweet time. Both times before I wasn’t even contracting and was perfectly calm and comfortable while headed to the hospital. This time… What a mistake that was. It was 1.5 hours later when we left the house and I was in agony in the car. The contractions were killer, I couldn’t believe they kicked in that fast. With each contraction that hit at less than a minute apart, I lost what felt like another gallon of water. I kept thinking how on earth can all that water fit in there?! I walked into the hospital and felt so bad for making a huge mess on the floor. The security guard asked me where I was headed and to hand over my drivers license for a visitor’s pass and I about gouged her eyes out. I looked down at the floor, then back up at her with both hands on my belly and said, “Where do you think I’m going?” Jack was still outside trying to park the car while I was in so much pain that another male security guard quickly grabbed a wheelchair and whisked me away, all while making me feel so at ease and comfortable about the whole situation. He was such a nice guy and reassured me that there was nothing to be worried about, broken water is fine but his only rule is no having babies in the lobby, lol.
We arrived at 6am and the doctor showed up at 7. They were prepping me for surgery, saving the ridiculous questions to determine if I was actually in labor or not because judging by my torturous contractions and all that amniotic fluid, I clearly was. When they checked me at 6am I was 3 cm dilated and I swear I must’ve been past 5 an hour later because I literally thought at that point I was going to die from the strengthening contractions. I don’t know how the human body can sustain such a thing, seriously. I wasn’t allowed to have anything for pain until they did my spinal right before surgery began, and by the time they were ready for that it was 8:00. Finally, I got the spinal and felt absolutely nothing, hallelujah. Seconds later I laid down on the operating table and the Dr was already in. I felt pushing and pulling, and at one point it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest or I was being crushed under the weight of a car, whichever you deem worse. Jack was holding my arms down on the table because I was being tugged so hard, and then finally out came that little cry.
John Fox Hannan came at 8:15am, and I couldn’t wait to see him. It took a couple minutes before a nurse came around the drape empty handed and gave me a cautionary warning before bringing him over. She told me that there’s nothing to be worried about, his body is pink and his lips are pink which means he’s breathing just fine, but he suffered from some bruising during the delivery. She said not to judge his circulation by the way his face appears and once again reassured me that he is in fact a healthy baby with 10 fingers, 10 toes and a very apparent set of strong lungs. She then asked if I was ready to see him and of course I said yes, but I couldn’t help trembling with concern about meeting my son for the very first time.
My first thought was… “He’s so small.” He weighed 6.3lbs.
My second, and most prominent thought was… “Oh my God, he’s blue.”
They put him on my chest and I just kept asking, “Is this normal? Is this normal? Have you seen this before? Is this normal?”
Everyone explained to me that sometimes the baby hits the pelvic bone really hard while trying to descend and since he was in a posterior position and I had zero water left, there was nothing to cushion the blows each time I had a contraction. His entire head was purple, and his chin and eyes were a deep, dark blue. I felt terrible for the baby, and I didn’t know how I was going to explain to my family that this was “normal”. They took Jack and the baby away to go get cleaned and swaddled while my surgery was still in progress, I was supposed to get a tubal ligation but 45 minutes on the operating table later, I heard the doctor say she couldn’t do it.
They brought me back to recovery and explained I had too much scar tissue from my previous c section to successfully tie my tubes without serious risk and asked me right off the bat what I plan to do about birth control. I was told I couldn’t go through another c-section again because it would be extremely dangerous. The doctor explained it was a very difficult surgery, and warned me a second time not to get pregnant anymore. Scary news, but then Jack came in with the baby and my attention was diverted to yet another scary realization.
I had a purple baby. I was still angry inside and wanted further explanation even though the whole staff already explained it to me more than once. I couldn’t believe how being in labor for only 4 hours could cause this much damage to a baby when it is a natural process in which both the mother and child are meant for and equipped to do. The very first thing I did was start nursing him. It was the best feeling in the world and the one thing I was looking forward to doing the whole 9 months prior. I love all the motherly feelings and bonding nursing gives you, it’s such a gift to new moms to be able to do so. The contractions it causes are no fun, but at least you know you’re shrinking back to your normal size while biting your tongue through the pain.
I looked down at my little Fox and couldn’t even tell what he looked like yet; his face was dark and puffy, his chin was black it was so bruised, and his eyes were swollen shut on top of being black and blue. It looked like he just escaped the fight club. I was so, so sad. I can’t imagine the pain a full grown adult feels when they’re injured like this, so can you imagine a newborn baby? My poor son, he must have been terrified and hurting so bad as he made his grand entrance into this world. And in addition to that, I was still in surgery for almost an hour after he was born so he didn’t even get to be with me right afterwards to feel comforted. We lost that entire first hour of his life together, when skin-to-skin is so important.
An hour passed, and to my amazement his face had started to change right before my eyes. He went from an entire purple face to being bruised in just the chin, cheekbone & eye area. Another few hours passed and it was just his chin and eyes. The next morning, although still very swollen, the bruising was strictly around his eyes and the bridge of his nose. By day 3, it was just on his eyelids and the inner corner of his eyes. It was the most rapid transformation I’d ever seen.
It was a miracle, or so I thought. They explained to me that babies are so immensely resilient and can handle a lot more than we think, but I still think he had an angel on his side helping him heal a lot faster than he might’ve otherwise. I’ve never seen bruises go away that fast, especially since they usually get worse before they get better. It was the most incredible thing to watch his face change almost hourly, and by day 2 those tiny little black eyes had grown on me so much so that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I thought they were adorable. What a little tough guy.
Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of a long, drawn out recovery for the both of us. Since jaundice is fairly common in newborns and bilirubin is a direct result of dying red blood cells, his bruises along with a minor tongue tie which made it difficult for him to feed efficiently made his levels spike higher than the norm. And what started out as a speedy recovery for me quickly morphed into the worst case scenario due to infection and an open incision that never healed shut once my staples were removed, but I’ll save those two stories for another time.
As I sit here and write this birth story exactly two weeks from the day Johnny was born, I realize just how much we’ve been through in the past 14 days. It’s certainly been a whirlwind of emotions and anxiety, but it never really hit me until now that things are finally beginning to settle down. For the most part, that is. I’m looking forward to sharing more of the journey my little boy and I have been on so far, but for right now I think I’m going to go catch some Z’s while my little Fox is sleeping.
Before I go, I really want to thank every single one of you who left such kind and beautiful comments on my Instagram, as well as everyone who called and sent messages to me privately. I also want to send a special thank you to the amazing staff at Martin Memorial hospital, you surely left a mark on our hearts. I’ve been so consumed with this new precious baby and all the things that’ve been happening that I never got the chance to reply and express my gratitude to all of you. I hope you all know how genuinely grateful I am, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Until next time- which won’t be long!