October 26, 2011


I knew I was carrying a pretty tremendous baby girl but I really had no idea just HOW tremendous. Exactly six-weeks before my Sept 1 due date, on July 22, the earth moved. It was early...like 4am, and my water broke. When I say it broke I actually mean it took me several hours to realize anything out of the ordinary was going on.

Around 7am, after a call to my doctor, I absent-mindedly packed a bag (see oodles of white tank tops and no pajamas) and Nate drove me to the hospital. The experience was nothing like I had imagined. First of all, it was July and I imagined it being August or September. I also imagined I'd be engaged in patterned breathing as Nate screeched around every corner of the five-minute drive to the hospital. I thought there would be a wheel chair and someone yelling "stat". Nope.

It went more like this. We drove to the hospital, slow and easy. We stopped at all the stop lights and casually strolled into the hospital like we were showing up for Thanksgiving dinner. It was July 22 and firework smoke still hung in the air. All sorts of doubt met us as the head-nurse said something about the baby probably sitting on my bladder and me not knowing the difference between amniotic fluid and pee. No one actually thought we were gonna have a baby that day. I hadn't even attended the last of my hypno-birthing classes.

But, my water had broken; I wasn't peeing my pants. And yet, I was NOT in labor. No consistent pain or contractions and NO dilation. After consulting with my doctor the nurse came back into the triage room and spoke the words I'll never forget. "Your doctor said you're having a baby today. Let's get you into a room and start the pitocin." In a flash that's what we did. My birthing ball sat in the corner while I tried my hardest to sink into a deep level of relaxation as the pitocin inched up the contractions.

When I was dilated to a ONE my doctor showed up. She explained that with each contraction my little one was having stress. She said it was time for Plan B. C-section. The EXACT OPPOSITE of hypno-birthing. But it took us about .1 second to agree and I was whisked into the OR.

I happen to have a rather large fibroid in my uterus. It measured 13cm that day. So along with the epidural making me numb from the waist down, I also got a rather large dose of Morphine in my IV just before the procedure began. I heard the doctor say, "here we go" as he pushed the Morphine into my line and from that moment on I was hallucinating. I mean, I didn't even realize I was having a baby anymore. I was flying high. Tripping out! The only thing that would ground me was Nate's voice as he narrated what was going on. He'd touch my cheek and say, "she's here" or, "she's tiny, she weighs 4.5 pounds", and my favorite, "she has hair". With every update I loved her more.

They brought her to me; she was wrapped up in a blanket and had on that cute little hat. And she was tiny. The smallest baby I'd ever personally seen. But my head wasn't very clear just yet. I remember her big eyes looking right at me as I touched her cheek and said, "hi baby" over and over again. That was our introduction.  Then I remember 3 things. 1) Nate said, "I'm going with the baby" (this was maybe the one thing about our birth plan that we actually got to stick with. Nate was always to go with our little one while I stayed behind). 2) A woman, I'm not sure who, leaned down and whispered in my ear, "it's a blessing your water broke today". I don't know who it was. There were probably about 15 people in the OR during our birth so it could have been anyone. 3) The reason why it was a blessing that my water broke is because I had a "true knot" in my umbilical cord. Which is why our baby was experiencing stress with each of my contractions. It's also probably why she stopped moving as much and why I was in the hospital a week before worried about it. This is how I learned of the knot.

My head was finally clear and my sweet OB leaned down to congratulate me and tell my about our daughter. And I noticed she had blood on her visor. And then the assisting doctor said something and I looked at him and saw splattered blood on his visor as well. And then I heard a nurse say, "hey, blood shot all the way over here." I think my words were, "are c-sections always so violent?" Then they explained that as they were getting the placenta the knot pulled tight and my umbilical cord burst. BURST. IT BURST right there and shot blood all over the room and all over everyone. They told me that Nate got some right in the face (as an aside, Nate LOVED the entire experience. He didn't faint or get sick. He watched everything and found it very fascinating. Which is why I love him. Because he's CRAZY).

About six hours later, after everything was patched up and I'd proven that I could walk to the bathroom and pee, they brought Clementine in to my room. She was hooked up to an IV and wasn't supposed to leave the NICU but one sweet nurse broke the rule and I finally got to meet my baby with a clear head. LITTLEST THING EVER. So sweet. So hungry. So perfect. The nurses referred to her as the Preemie that didn't realize she was a Preemie. She was tough. She didn't need oxygen. She didn't need a feeding tube. She got the billirubin light for a day and kept her IV until she reached her birth weight. Nine days later she came home with us.

So, the short version of the story is that I had a baby on July 22, 2011. She was 6 weeks early, weighed 4.5 pounds and was so tough and graceful and brave and plucky. She broke me wide open and I remember thinking, "she has the power to destroy me". But I happen to think the long version of our story holds the beauty. It wasn't what we had planned. It was scary and cold and JULY. And it was one of the best days of my life.

Clementine Imogen Conger

This face changed everything for me.

Sleeping peacefully in the nursery. 3-days old.

My bruised beauty right after birth.

Dad and Nanna's hands.

"hi baby".
Nate's first photo as a dad. 
Three months later she's 11.5 pounds and gorgeous.


CaraDee said...

I can't believe how fast you got her weight up. Great job! and Great Story! So glad you have her.

MrsEm said...

Hooray! I'm sure you'll be wonderfull parents!

Karina said...

Awesome birth story. So glad she's doing great.

Anonymous said...

Oh Tonia, she's gorgeous! Congratulations, and best wishes for your new life as a mom.