Knox's Big Day
I wasn’t sure if I was going to be one of those people who shared our birth story, but in the past two weeks since the arrival of our sweet son, Knox Harrison Neumayr, as each day has passed, the clarity of Knox’s big day gets a little foggier! I decided to write our story down so that I won’t ever forget the magical time surrounding his first day and the time before and after.
On June 15, we had our last doctor’s appointment before Knox’s due date, June 26. It confirmed once again what we’d been told for the past 10 weeks - Knox was breech. We were to come back in on his due date for one final ultrasound, and the following day if he had turned, I would be induced, and if he had not, I would be scheduled for a C section.
The next day, the hospital called and told me to report to the hospital at 3:30 PM on June 27 unless something changed. I was anxious about the delivery. I was afraid of the epidural, worried about the burden on Luke during my recovery, and scared of having my first major surgery. I dedicated myself to praying for the fears to be taken away. As the days approached, I became less scared, and more excited to meet Knox than ever before.
On Thursday, June 22, my mom suggested we go have an early dinner at a local restaurant where Thursday is ‘steak night,’ so away we went. We ran into some friends who asked us when the big day was. “Tuesday,” I told them.
That night, we laid in bed and planned out our last days before the big day. Over the weekend, we were going to pack our own hospital bag (Knox’s had been ready for weeks) and clean out the car.
At 2:47 a.m. early Friday morning, I woke up just as I had like clockwork for the past two months for one of my 3+ nightly trips to the restroom. As I walked back to the bed, I knelt down to pet a sleepy Hudson bulldog who was laying on the ground by my side of the bed. I went to get back in bed, and all of a sudden, my water broke.
Now the funny thing is, I’d been living in fear about my water breaking. The week prior at church, my sister was telling a group of friends that she wanted to come up and throw a bottle of water under me and say, “Catherine! Your water just broke,” and everyone got a big kick out of it. The consensus of the church ladies was that water breaking is something that is mostly in the movies. In the entire group of women there wasn’t a single person whose water had actually broke.
Yet, in my own movie moment, I got to say, “Luke, my water just broke!” Chaos ensued as I stood in the shower trying to direct Luke what to throw in the suitcase he had open on the floor in front of me.
By 3:09 a.m., I was sitting in the car waiting when the door opened and Luke appeared, loaded to the max with all of our stuff. He had Knox’s baby bag, the nursing pillow, 2 pillows for us, a rolling suitcase with our clothes, 2 shirts on hangers, and the camera bag. He hopped in the car and we held hands for just a moment and said, “We get to meet our son today!”
Although my water had broke, I wasn’t in any pain or feeling any contractions. As far as my googling got me, we didn’t need to floor it to the hospital. It’s normally a 40 minute drive, but the dad-to-be turned on his flashers and got us there in 21 minutes.
I called on our way and was told to go to the emergency room entrance. Of course, they told me I had been given the wrong information and that we needed to go to the other entrance. Luke dropped me off, and I rode the elevator up to the third floor and explained that my water had broke, my baby was breech and I was scheduled for a C section but my doctor was on vacation. The ladies at the desk showed us to a room, handed me a gown, told me to put it on, and said, “We’ll get you taken care of.”
The gown was our first epic failure. We struggled by ourselves with the rubik's cube of a garment before having to get a nurse to come mentor us. By 4:00 a.m. I was laying in a hospital bed listening and watching Knox’s heartbeat on a monitor that sat beside the bed.
A doctor came in and did an ultrasound and - would you believe it? Knox wasn’t breech anymore! Both happiness and anxiety came over me; I wouldn’t have to have surgery, but now, a new delivery method that I wasn’t expecting was in front of me. Luke texted our family the good news and everyone was excited. The doctors started an IV to speed things along but told me that with a first baby, it could be awhile before Knox was born.
The next several hours went by both fast and slow. We took a selfie together and watched the sun come up in our room. Luke took a shower. About 8 a.m., the nurse explained to me the timing of the epidural, which would be my decision to make. I learned that it would be about 45 minutes from the time I asked for the epidural until they do it, so I should always be thinking of my pain not as it was at that moment, but as it would be in an hour.
To be honest, I wasn’t at all prepared for how quickly my pain went from, “Oh, so that’s what a contraction feels like,” to “Oh, this is awful.” About 11:00 a.m., I asked for the epidural. It was a painful hour long wait, but Luke was the best partner ever. He had the essential oils diffusing, a icy rag that he would dab on my face just to distract me, and he would hold my hand for each contraction. When the doctor finally arrived, all I could think was, “Thank goodness, relief is in sight.”
They told Luke to take a walk. I was nervous to be alone, but the nurse was incredibly supportive. I tried to recite Psalm 23 over and over again in my head, but would lose my train of thought and have to start over. It took 45 minutes and I felt lots of pokes. Finally, the doctor said he was finished and I should be getting relief soon. As I laid back down, I didn’t feel any different. “Keep waiting,” they said, “Sometimes it can take 30 minutes.”
An hour later I was completely un-numb except a small area on my left thigh. After another 45 minute wait for the doctor, we were going to attempt the epidural again. By this time, things were tense. I was in a lot of pain and had started to say things to Luke like, “If this doesn’t work, I don’t know if I can do this.” This time, only 6 minutes later, the new epidural was in and I immediately stopped feeling the pain. The sweet doctor held my hand and apologized for the epidural gone wrong. He kindly said that he prayed I had a pain-free rest of delivery. I was overcome with thankfulness and emotion, and with tears in my eyes I told him how much I appreciated him coming back and trying again, and may God bless him.
I was a new woman! Things were looking up. They told me that the plan was for me to rotate from side to side every thirty minutes to move things along. I happily watched the monitor and heard Knox’s little heartbeat cheering me along.
It wasn’t too long after that the nurse came in with an oxygen mask and asked me to put it on. This was alarming, but she said that it was mainly for the baby and that his heart rate had been dropping after each contraction and that this should help him. She also told me they wanted me to move and see if that pepped him up again, which it did.
The hospital plays a lullabye through the loud speakers anytime a baby is born, and I heard two songs play. Because other babies were being born, we were on our own for a while. I saw Knox’s heart beat slow down, but I turned to the other side, and just as it did the last time, it went right back up.
A few minutes later, a nurse we’d only seen twice came in carrying a bunch of stuff, and said, “Hey there! How about you having to have a C section now?” Luke and I looked at each other and I said, “I think you have the wrong room, everything is going good here.” Our main nurse came in shortly thereafter, showing me a bunch of lines on the baby chart while the other nurse started strapping compression boots on my legs and messing with my IV. Knox wasn’t tolerating the contractions well, and at this point, I’d been in labor for over 12 hours and had not progressed as much as they wanted. They told us that the doctor had ordered a C section, and in about an hour and a half, we’d meet our son.
They tossed Luke a ‘dad kit’ of a hospital gown, cap, and booties. He texted our family telling them the update. He came back and held my hand, standing beside me while we waited for them to come get me.
The next couple of minutes I was overcome with anxiety and nerves. My mom tried to FaceTime me, and I remember saying with a quivering voice that I couldn’t talk to anyone. I felt like it was ten thousand degrees in the room and I think I was at the beginning stages of having some kind of panic attack.
I was most scared of being in the delivery room by myself. I kept seeing flashbacks to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I’m not even sure actually exists where they whisk the father away with the newborn baby while the mother lays there and declines in health on the operating table.
For the next minutes before they came and got me, Luke kept wiping the icy rag on my face. It smelled like lavender essential oil and I told myself that would calm me down too. I asked if he was nervous, to which he said “No, it’s going to be great!,” but his eyes told on him. I knew he was scared, but I appreciated the white lie.
Soon, they came and told me it was time. I knew that if we tried to say any type of goodbye, I’d only get more anxious and upset. As they wheeled me out, I looked over at my husband, standing in his scrubs by the window. With a lump in my throat, I waved and he smiled and said, “See you soon!”
From that point, I closed my eyes and tried to focus on being happy to meet Knox. If anyone saw me, they thought I had lost my mind, because I had my eyes closed and a cheesy closed mouth smile on my face. I remember how great the cool breeze felt as they wheeled me through the hospital hallways to the operating room.
Soon I must’ve been prepped for surgery, because they asked me to state my first and last name, my date of birth, and agree to the procedure. Then I heard them say, “Go get Dad!”
In just a few moments, I was glad to see Luke sitting on my left side by my head. He asked me how I was, and I said I was glad he was there, and excited to meet Knox. After the fact, he told me that he had asked the nurse who was walked him to the operating room if everything was going OK. She hesitated and stammered around saying, “Ummm” and then he snapped saying “Ummm what?!” She said she hadn’t been in there so she didn’t know. I loved hearing about him being worried about me.
It seemed like an eternity until they said, “Stand up, Dad!” and we heard Knox’s cries. I laughed as tears rolled down my face and said, “That’s the best sound ever!” Someone said out loud, “time of birth, 5:09 P.M.” I immediately regretted not having our photographer in the room at that moment to photograph our reactions, so I tried my best to memorize the moment myself. They carried him over to the table and I got to see him for the first time.
This sounds crazy, but in the days prior to his birth, we had discussed how ready we were to see his face. I told Luke that I felt like I already knew his face and what it looked like. Sure enough, when I saw him, I thought to myself, “Yep, that’s him.”
I was alone again for another ten minutes or so as they finished up the surgery. Luke was in the room holding Knox when I arrived. He came and showed him to me, and then there were lots of tests and checkups in the Panda warmer to my left.
We had a waiting room of family who were very anxious to come meet Knox and see us. Some had been hanging around the hospital area since that morning. Although I didn’t even think of it at the time, they had probably been worried about me too. Luke texted them and said they could come and soon, the room was full of my favorite people.
After about an hour of visiting, it was time for everyone to leave and soon, we had our first moments with just the three of us. For 11 years, it had been just the two of us, and now, there were three.
Welcome to the family, Knox Harrison Neumayr. Born Friday, June 23, 2017 at 5:09 PM, weighing 8 pounds and 1 ounce, measuring 22 inches long.