parks james | a birth story | olive june

parks james | a birth story

parks james
this little boy has stolen our hearts in more ways than i can express. it's a surreal and very special thing to finally have the little person you were growing for nine months in your hands- to finally see who this little being is.

as you may remember, i went in with a 'non-birth plan.' i told myself to stay open-minded at whatever came along... because there truly is no way to know.  there were about three hours that were very challenging and traumatic... so i debated on writing this birth story. however, i decided to try and find healing from this challenging experience. it's a very long post because it was a long process but i wanted to share it with a community of people who were there for me in more ways than i ever could have imagined throughout this entire journey of #sweetbabymonaco.

before the birth: 
the evening before i felt different and told my husband around 9pm that i was going to go take a shower. his response was obviously, "now?!" but something told me that things might begin soon. i woke up at 5am on my due date, thursday, january 14 with intense contractions. i jumped out of bed and started to pace our upstairs hallway. they kept happening so i timed them and discovered that they were almost exactly one minute each every five minutes. i am about 95% sure that i was having them throughout the night because i would slightly wake up and would tell myself that these cramps were way more intense than normal. so i woke up my husband and told him ... the joy on his face was indescribable. he was so, so excited as he packed his bag. despite my pain, it was so touching and something i will never forget. he was a kid on christmas morning who just received the gift of his dreams. {for me- teddy ruxpin, the original nintendo, and my american girl doll, molly, come to mind!} it was adorable. the contractions were powerful but i used my yoga breathing and pictured myself on a serene beach, where the water is calm but flowing. i pictured myself looking out into the crisp ocean waves while seaweed twisted around my feet and my hair swayed.

we called the doctor and they told us that because i could breath through the contractions, it wasn't time to go to the hospital yet. i curled up in a ball on the couch and managed each contraction the best i could. the not knowing 'when' to go was confusing but i listened and just tried to breath through each one. i watched the today show and mr. monaco made me a piece of toast and an orange {the first of many 'rookie mom mistakes': this would be my only meal for the next 30+ hours... because of the contractions, i didn't feel like eating and didn't eat lunch- i would not have solids again until 4pm on the 15th} as i was lying on the couch in pain, i will never forget the sound of adele starting to play... my husband gave me a record player {something i have always wanted to own} for christmas and he set it up in the kitchen to play in the background for me. it was so incredibly sweet. we called the doctor again around 9am and they told me to just come in for my 40 week appointment at noon, which was already scheduled. so i continued to labor with contractions five minutes apart until the appointment and headed to the doctor {which was one of the last things i felt like doing!} i arrived and was sent back. the nurse began the usual routine and then i mentioned that i had been contracting for seven hours every five minutes and her response was 'oh... we need to check you asap!!' the doctor came in and said, 'going into labor on your due date!! you should've played the lottery last night!" {the night before was when the mega tickets were claimed} she checked me and told me that i was 5cm dilated and said, "you need to go over to the hospital!!" she is one of my favorite doctors at the practice and i will never forget her reaction! she hugged me and said, "congratulations! you are going to have a baby today!!!" lots of emotions came over me. i was so excited- yet the unknown was so scary. however, the permanent smile on my husband's face made it seem like everything was going to be just fine. so we drove over to the hospital next door.
{for my 40 week post that i never got to post!}

the labor: 
{photos of the birth/hospital are pretty dark and grainy but i don't mind; i will always cherish them}

we arrived at the hospital at about 1pm and again, the people at the desk were so friendly and excited for us. they wheeled me up to our labor and delivery room. i took in everything around me... i will never forget the sage green walls with orange accents, a large window overlooking a charlotte street near the first home i lived in when i moved here, nurses laughing and talking outside the room, and the beeping noises starting to come from the machines they were hooking me up to. i loved my first nurse; i instantly trusted her. she was more assertive than i am and it gave me a sense of peace. she kept telling me that i would be ok and i could tell that she was very experienced. although her presence felt strong, it also felt very gentle at the same time. while she was hooking me up, i felt a warm, slow gush and was pretty sure my water was breaking. she thought that it might be from my cervix check/gel from the doctor's office but sure enough my water broke at about 1:30pm. they saw a small amount of meconium so the peds team would be present when the baby was born to check/access him properly. this news scared me more than delivering the baby. the contractions for the next hour would pick up in intensity but were still manageable. at 2:30pm the anesthesiologist/team came in and put in my epidural. i was open-minded to both a natural/water birth and an epidural; however, when our baby was measuring around 8lbs 15oz before christmas, i pretty much decided on pain meds. again, i was just taking in everything as it came. although it was uncomfortable to position myself in the proper position because of my big belly/pressure on my bladder, the process wasn't too bad and i did not feel much pain. within thirty minutes, i was pain-free and was ready to get some rest to hopefully help with pushing later. however, it was very difficult to completely rest with so many unknown things going through my head. first and foremost, i wanted my family to arrive safely in north carolina from ohio. i have always known that i wanted my mom and sister in the delivery room with my husband and i {if possible} but with them living so far away, i told myself that this dream may not happen... however, i prayed that it would and am thankful for their efforts to arrive and be there for me. my in-laws live in charlotte and were there with us all day and were very supportive. we put on the movie, aloha, which i had been wanting to watch for a long time. however, it was hard to focus. i honestly can't tell you one thing about the movie! {except that emma stone is in it!} 

at about 5:30pm, the doctor and nurse came in and told me that i had developed an infection from my water breaking. they could tell by the way both my heart rate and the baby's had gone up. the ped team was already on call to be present but this was another concern that would be assessed at birth. i was given an antibiotic and pitocion to speed up the process because they want you to deliver within 18 hours of your water breaking. the hours of 3pm-10pm were pretty uneventful and i was feeling pretty good. i even enjoyed a few cups of jello- which tasted way better than jello ever should. 

at 9:15pm, my mom, dad, and brother arrived safely and i was ecstatic. the moment i saw my mom and felt her hand hold mine, i felt like i could conquer anything. sometimes you still need your mom more than anyone else- even at 32. 
a little after 10pm, i started to feel some uncomfortable pain throughout my right side, especially in my hips, while i was in certain positions. they had been using a peanut ball to position me throughout the day {because i was numb and could not get up to walk/move} it was uncomfortable but nothing like what was to come... 

the nurse, mollie, who i would bond with throughout this long process came in at about 11pm and told me that i was 9.5cm and the new plan was to start pushing at midnight. baby boy would be born on january 15, 2016! at this point, i was just praying that my sister would arrive with her husband on time and safely. the pain would come and go down my right side and the nurses would re-position me. i am so glad that i did not know about the pain that was to come because sometimes it's better not to know.

my sister arrived at about 12:25am after only a few minutes of pushing!!! yay! i had tears of joy. she is my best friend, my rock, and has a special way of lifting me up. my mom brings me calmness and security and my sister brings me confidence and strength. we have always been so close and there is nothing i don't feel comfortable saying or doing around them. i was now ready.
little did i know that the most excruciating pain would soon come over me. the pain was now throughout my entire right side and would only increase as the pushing continued. i honestly did not know that humans could experience this type of pain. for seven weeks, i have relived this part of the birth over and over- the one part that left me feeling helpless and frightened and disconnected. however, i think i have come to terms with what happened during those early morning hours and it has changed my relationship with the birth completely. there are so many things i could say about this part of the experience but i am going to be pretty brief... the pain was HORRIBLE. that word doesn't even do it justice. it hurt one hundred times worse than the nine hours of contractions i had experienced. i feel like the word 'horrible' is like putting a tutu and sweet pea scented glitter on what i truly experienced.

i remember how patient the nurse was as we continued to push for almost three hours. the sound of the avett brothers' pandora station would stream the entire time in the background as i tried to breath through the pain. i used lavender essential oils to try and keep me calm; however, the pain just kept getting worse. i was so tired and had only had a piece of toast, an orange, and two cups of jello. however, somehow i found the strength to keep pushing. i felt intense pain the entire time- with no relief. however, it would intensify during contractions... i told them when the contractions were starting. the pain down my right side felt like lightening bolts. i would look over and see my mom and sister pacing with tears in their eyes. the pain i felt {with an epidural} isn't normal but our baby was 'sunny-side up' meaning his nose was facing the sky instead of my spine. the chances of delivering this way vaginally aren't usually successful. at one point, the doctor tried to turn him. the pain during this was something i will truly never forget, although i really wish i could. this was around 2am and afterwards she told us that he had a full head of hair and that he had unfortunately flipped back over. she told me to push for another hour and that we would re-evaluate then. i remember thinking, 'how will i ever be able to do this for another hour?!!!'  the pain just grew worse and worse. piercing pain streaming through my right side- with a center point of pain in my hips. we tried a rope, a bar, different positions while every ounce of energy i had in me pushed. i tried to push my very hardest every single time. my husband, mom, and sister cheering me along every step of the way. i would look up at the moon and would pray for God to give me comfort and grace. i knew that the holy spirit was with me and i just prayed for relief and for everything to be ok- and soon.

a little before 3am, the doctor came back in. i knew by the look on her face what was to come next. she gently told me that although i had tried so hard, we needed to proceed with a c-section. i felt so defeated. i tried so, so hard and just felt like a failure. however, it was best for baby and for me. all i cared about at that point was baby boy's health... and being numb. but most importantly, for the health of our son. as she told us the scary possibilities of a c-section, tears began to roll down my face. i was scared. but yet excited, too. but very scared. she left and a large group of people immediately started to come in to prep me... including an anesthesiologist who asked how long i had been in this type of pain. i can still feel his presence over me as he re-adjusted the meds above me. when i told him midnight, he seemed very perplexed and said, 'what?! no one called me... i could have done something about this.'  i don't even know what to think about this so i just try not to. it was over and i was going to meet my baby.
the delivery:
i was wheeled into the operating room feeling slightly less pain. within a few minutes, the pain had vanished. all was good now. the operating room while busy was not chaotic. everyone let me know what was going on and what to expect next. i was treated with love and respect the entire time and even felt comfortable enough to laugh at a few jokes. one of the nurses was so, so wonderful. she stood over me the entire time and was someone i will also never forget. i loved her energetic spirit and reassuring words/presence. while they were prepping me she said, "wait, where's your camera?!?!" i obviously had no idea. my husband's iphone had the 'cannot take photo' screen so she ran back to our original room and found mine. i am forever grateful for this. before we knew it the drape was up and it was time. although the pressure felt like an elephant was on my abdomen, the pain was nothing like i had experienced prior. absolutely nothing. i was scared yet calm and so ready. i was going to meet my baby boy. i had a smile that would not leave my face. i know this because it began to hurt. within a few moments- he was here. a precious son. i cried and i cried. a mix of relief, emotion, joy, and triumph overcame me. i remember a lot of shaking and my lips trembling. they rushed him over to the ped team as they began to access him. they warned me prior to the surgery that they did not want him to cry right away/they weren't going to stimulate him in case he had meconium in his mouth. they told me that he had black hair and was a big boy! mr. monaco said, 'he's so cute!!'  i asked if he was ok and they answered, 'yes.' all of the fear i had left in my body instantly vanished. they brought him over to me all bundled up-
i had never seen anything more beautiful in my life.
giving up your body to be broken for another being so they can have life. i certainly have a whole new level of gratitude to God for his own sacrifice for me... 
22 inches long 
the special nurse over me whispered,"3:55! he was born at 3:55am!"

the extras:
- we were able to do skin to skin {per my request- this was so important to me} for a few minutes in the recovery room before parks went to the nicu for his iv {from the infection} and to get measured/bathed. i barely had the energy to wrap my arms around my baby and i couldn't get any words to form. i just knew that this was it... it was all worth it. he looked up at me and i just hushed and i listened to him. i will never forget the smell of his skin and the way he stopped crying the moment he was placed on my chest
- the recovery room was so peaceful and my heart was so happy. i rested there with an overflowing love in my heart as the nurse typed next to me. i will never forget the quietness.
- later that morning our families would come to meet parks james- special moments i will never forget. i could tell it was 'love at first sight' for all of them as well...
- we stayed in the hospital for four nights and were blessed to be taken care of by so many wonderful nurses and doctors
- the love we received on social media/messages was overwhelming and so unforgettable. especially about the love people had regarding his name and his adorable face {i know i am bias and i told the nurses this regarding his cuteness and charm... but they said, 'we aren't bias and he's cute!!' awe. they would even take him out for a few moments each day to pass around and hold while they did their paperwork!}
- not being able to take care of him without restrictions was so hard- i wanted to get up and pick him up, change his diaper, sway with him when he was upset but i couldn't. i often felt helpless. however, the nurses and mr. monaco were so wonderful. my husband never left the small room {even though i told him he could} his love for me was even stronger than it usually is- also something i will never forget.
- the second day/night was beyond painful and difficult but i am grateful that i will now know what to expect in the future and know that i probably won't be as nervous. {although i know that the recovery is hard- i will be prepared}
- on sunday morning it snowed outside our window {very rare in charlotte} as parks slept on my chest
- that evening, my family brought me my favorite sushi roll and truffle fries from my favorite spot in charlotte, soul. we poured glasses of champagne and did a 'cheers' together for parks. it is so like them to pack up some of my favorite things and bring them along. cute cups, noda beer, cheesecake from whole foods, and thoughtful gifts they picked out that day for the baby. my best friend growing up, renee, was also there with us. she landed from tokyo the night before and traveled almost two hours each way to visit - with her typical care package in hand. it meant the world to me. that night we also celebrated parks' uncle alex's birthday {january 20} with a cake and singing!
- i was terrified to go home... the stairs, a bed that doesn't move up and down, no nurses to take care of me. however, i should not have been... my mom and husband did the job so much better.
i prayed throughout my entire pregnancy for his birth to be joyful. and although it wasn't what i expected, when i look back at his birth, i will remember it as including the very best moment of my life so far. my dream of becoming a mother had come true... and one look at his sweet face made everything i had experienced so worth it. unconditional love now filled my soul. 

who will you be parks?
your dad and i talk about how we can't wait to see who you become. you have a really selfless dad, who will teach you how to be a gentleman. he is a man of truth and he will teach you all of the good in the world. and me, well let's just say that i am absolutely in love with you and just can't put you down. you are snuggled up next to me as i write this story. we are so ready to experience this one life with you... 
we received so many prayers and generous support
and are forever grateful. 
read about the first week with parks here
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  1. I love these stories! Also, they let you eat during labor?? Lucky!

    1. thank you! and i couldn't eat... so i was starving. just a cup of jello for 30+ hours. yikes

  2. I could read every birth story out there! This is lovely, and I'm so glad you decided to write it out! You have a handsome boy and an exceptional family! So much love for you and Parks! xo

  3. So many tears over here. Even though you had some traumatic times throughout your labor and delivery, I promise you, you'll come to forget them before it's time for the next baby. I had a traumatic postpartum experience in the hospital when I hemorrhaged, and it haunted me for a while, but here I am about to have another baby in a couple of months! Of course, I am starting to worry about it happening again, but at least now I have experience on my side to guide me through it all. Your sweet boy is so precious and such a wonderful gift! xoxo

    1. awe, thank you!! it means so much and i am praying for you all!! your comment is so sweet and i can't wait for baby girl - xo

  4. This gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes! So so so beautiful! We are in the stage of being excited to welcome a baby, but we don't own a home yet, and I still feel like we need to wait a while and just be married. But I love reading about pregnancies and births and babies, the good parts and the hard parts. Thank you for sharing.

    1. awe, thank you so much!! you are the sweetest

  5. this is absolutely lovely....what a gorgeous story and beautiful photos!
    Thanks for sharing :)
    Jess | xox

    1. thank you so much! your kinds words mean so much

  6. I always love reading birth stories- this is beautiful!! Beautiful baby, beautiful mama, and congratulations!

    1. thank you so much! it really means a lot to me <3

  7. This was beautiful! I'm so so happy for you two!

    1. thank you so much! hope you're having a great week

  8. I love birth stories!!!! What a lovely post; your photos are beautiful!

    1. thank you so much, ashley!! hope you have a great day and thank you for stopping in

  9. I remember that "I'm going to be a daddy" perma-smile from my own husband. That was one of my favorite parts of the labor experience. Congratulations! Such a beautiful story.

    1. it was just the sweetest smile ever. thank you so much!! :)

  10. He truly is such a beautiful boy! And he's lucky to have such a strong and amazing momma like you! Reading your birth story gave me Deja was a lot like mine!! But I too survived and now I can't wait for #2 to get here too! Xoxo

    1. hi love- thank you so much! we will have to chat in more detail sometime and i can't even wait for baby dean!! :) love you- xo

  11. Good job, girl!! Way to go. I gave birth just over a month ago and that pain is SO unexpected!!! I'm so impressed with how you handled everything! I started freaking out after pushing 3 hours and wanted to give they put me on oxygen lol. That was my rookie mom move. Parks is beautiful, and I wish you all the best!