It all started with a heartbeat.
That strong, simple, yet deafening sound that you hear the day you nervously walk into the ultrasound room hoping for the first glimpse at your new life. Sometimes the heartbeat doesn’t last. They flutter for a while and then slowly and unfairly fade, and those precious, limited moments are held close to the mother’s own broken heart. Other times, they grow stronger and faster and bloom into little miracles. And by God’s grace, her heartbeat was strong, and we saw Audrey Faye Roussell for the first time in grainy Technicolor on a cold January day.
Nine long months later, I sat in that same ultrasound room, having just seen our nearly eight pound baby and nervously watched my blood pressure creep higher and higher to the dismay of my OB/GYN. What could I say? It was August, in Louisiana, I was working full-time, carrying 30 extra pounds of weight – who WOULDN’T have high blood pressure!?
So off I went to bed rest, orders for a 24-hour urine collection and strict instructions to get off my feet. I was still two weeks away from my due date, had projects to finish at work and an unfinished nursery that stood in my way of “being ok” with bed rest. But to bed I went, and after returning probably the grossest thing ever to sit in my refrigerator, we waited. Waited for an answer about inducing, waited for a birthday for Audrey and waited to see what day would change our lives forever.
We didn’t have to wait long. A doctor’s phone call less than a few hours later, and more strict instructions not to continue on bed rest thru the weekend (like we thought it would be), but rather “pack your things, come in tonight, you’re having a baby tomorrow,” sent us into a bit of a tailspin. But it also gave us one of the sweetest afternoons of our marriage. We calmly talked, cleaned, planned, packed, showered, ate dinner and made our way to Woman’s Hospital to be induced. It was a surreal afternoon, and one I will always be grateful for the chance to slow dance into our birth story, rather than a hectic, harried dash.
Once at the hospital, they started the induction process, broke my water and I received the epidural not long after. I thought I was tough. I’d had contractions weeks before after a car wreck I was in, but never felt them; so I thought it might not be so bad. I was slightly, seriously wrong. Even with the epidural, I was never really pain free. I still feel like the anesthesiologist thought I was crazy, but I still felt every contraction, even if it was dull.
I started pushing around 3 am after quickly getting to 10cm and pushed for a good two hours. Nothing. The baby hadn’t budget from zero station, I was borderline preeclamptic and I had some inflammation. So after a very long night and worries about my and the baby’s health, we decided to do a c-section.
I honestly had mixed feelings about this decision, mostly for my husband. He had been so wonderful during the pregnancy, I was anxious to let him cut the cord and have a chance to officially give Audrey life through a ceremonial, yet necessary separation from me. But with a c-section, this couldn’t happen. I also worried about judgment with having a c-section. I felt as though people would always label me as “oh, a c-section,” you couldn’t do it yourself, could you?” It’s a shameful stigma, and one that I hope goes away soon. Why do we care? What matters is not how the baby was born, but only that they were.
So, after probably enough anesthesia to put a horse to sleep, off we went to the c-section where our beautiful 7 lb 15 oz Audrey Faye was born. My first thought was her cry was the most beautiful cry I had ever heard from a baby. It was just so … lovely. I know it’s strange to describe a newborn cry as lovely, but it really was. Then I thought “does she have all of her fingers and toes?” She was healthy, bright and wonderful. She had lots of hair, chubby cheeks and a room full of family waiting to love on her.
Those days and weeks after her birth are a blur, but burned into my brain and written on my heart. Audrey’s birth was so many things. It was beautiful, it was hard, it was emotional, it was unexpected, it was painful, it was stressful, it was everything. It was something I hope to relive again with future babies. It was an answered prayer and a joyful start of our new life as parents.
Stephanie Roussell is a wife, mother, and marketing and communication professional in Baton Rouge. Born and raised in Pineville, La, she met her husband Jason while attending LSU 10 years ago and stuck around Baton Rouge ever since. She has a Master’s in Strategic Communication, but her new passion is raising her daughter Audrey Faye (and finding time to eat sushi as much as possible). She loves LSU football, reading, cooking, teaching herself to sew and drinking Highland Coffee. She blogs regularly at her personal blog www.stephanieroussell.com.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Woman’s Hospital. Woman’s did not have any influence on the posts that were approved for this series.