This quote is my infertility anthem. Getting pregnant, carrying a baby to term, and birthing a healthy baby are all a blessing as a woman and a mom. For so many women bringing a life into this world is just a dream, so let’s not forget to honor their strength in trying to make their dream a reality.
Often people think that infertility treatments just involve a few drugs and appointments and bang you have a baby…if only.
This is what infertility looks like thousands of dollars in medications, constant monitoring and testing, needles, shots, and ultrasounds. Infertility is physically and mentally challenging.
So rather than telling someone what they should do to have a child, ask how you can help instead.
So often those who are going through infertility treatments have done the research. They have seen doctors, tried the old wives tales to get pregnant and everything in between. What they really need is a someone to say I am sorry you have to go through this, how can I help you?
One in eight couples experience infertility. That means that most likely you know at least one couple that is struggling to live the “American dream” of a great job, a house and kids. Often society assumes something is wrong with these couples for them to have not conceived.
Then you add in the added financial burden of infertility treatments for most couples and it gets even harder to reach that American dream, as some may have to sell their house, sacrifice vacations and extras just to have the money to even try.
All of this pressure and guilt on a couple can cause a lot of stress and strain on a loving relationship.
I am incredibly grateful that our love grew stronger along our infertility journey as so many grow apart and some do not even last.
So before you go casting judgment on a childless couple, please be sure to be mindful of the pain they may be experiencing together.
In October 2012, my wife and I walked into a fertility office filled with hope and desire of becoming parents. We had picked a sperm donor and were ready for the next steps to meet our little one. Little did we know that four years later we would still be sitting in that same room at the fertility office trying to make our dreams of a family come true.
Our experience is not uncommon. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more common for couples of all ages, racial backgrounds and orientations. So many of us suffer on this journey in silence as fertility has become the “f” word that people do not want to talk about as it makes them uncomfortable.
This week is a week that means a lot to me, National Infertility Awareness Week. It is a reminder that we need to talk about the “f” word so that those who struggle do not feel alone. So I encourage you to “flip the script” and join the conversation.
On our due date, I woke up at 3am feeling “funny.” I have always been one to feel my cramps come on before my cycle and to feel the head rush of hormones that would generally accompany the pending cycle. This was what I felt at 3am. I thought to myself today IS the day.
Our little guy is going to make his appearance in the world in perfect timing. I was so overjoyed and spent sometime talking to him quietly. I tried to go back to sleep but felt so many nerves and then felt like I was hungry.
I woke up and ate a granola bar. As I laid there I began to feel cramping and him moving about. Heather woke up and asked if I was ok and I told her I think today is the day, but we are not there yet. She told me she loved me and was excited to hear the good news. We both then laid there with our little man under our hands and went back to sleep.
Our due date progressed but my contractions did not. His scheduled day had come and gone and he was still not here. I was disappointed as I knew that most likely at this point he would not be here for the holiday and that we would most likely be induced.
Throughout my pregnancy we had heard he was measuring on time or ahead of schedule so I had never really mentally prepared for having to be induced. With the exercise, diet and acupuncture I was convinced that he would arrive on time and without assistance.
Well Christmas came and went and we were still pregnant. We got confirmation that we were to arrive at the hospital Tuesday night, Dec 26th at 8pm for our induction.
We got up that morning and had a plan to make sure I ate well and that we rested as we knew it was going to most likely be a long night. We went and had a big breakfast at Cracker Barrel to start the day. Then we went and ran last minute errands at the grocery store and Target before heading back home. Once home, we had a lunch of Christmas Eve leftovers and tried to relax for a little bit on the sofa. We called my best friend and had Christmas with her and her kids on the phone since we were not able to connect with them the day before.
I was super anxious and did not know what to think about the induction and how it would take place. I decided I needed to stay busy because there was no way I was going to be able to lay down for a nap. I packed the diaper bag; got the stroller ready; and made diaper changing and breastfeeding stations for downstairs, our bedroom and the loft. It felt somewhat better to know that we would be a little more organized when did come home with him.
It got closer to dinner time and we decided we would eat the mussels and fries since we did not eat them on Christmas Eve. My wife prepared them and they were great. We were both full of anxiety and not sure about what would happen next but tried to enjoy our last meal as just us.
We gathered all of our things and headed to the hospital.
They checked us in to our labor and delivery room and gave me my official hospital gown. It was go time.
The nurse went through all my vitals and questions regarding the pregnancy. She said that the doctor would assess where we were and what would be our induction plan. She reminded us that this could go quickly or not, and that sometimes inductions take up to three days. Three days?!? What the world!?
We were hoping that since it had been a week since I was checked and experienced a good amount of contractions over the weekend that I would be closer to 3-4 cm dilated. The doctor that came in was of course one of the three doctors we did not meet before our due date at the practice. She checked my cervix and said it was soft but we were still only at 2 cm. Ugh are you kidding me?!? She said they wanted to start my induction with a balloon to open my cervix more. They asked if I wanted pain medications and I told them not at this time as I wanted to try to progress with labor as long as I could naturally. Anesthesiology came by the room to discuss pain med options so that I was aware of them as things progressed.
They inserted the balloon about 10:30pm. The goal of the balloon was to get my body to dilate to at least 4cm and then they could see if I would continue to progress on my own or if we would need to try other methods. Doctor came back around 2am to check on my progress. The balloon was working but still not ready to come out yet. She told me to keep tugging on it as I felt contractions to get them working on opening me up. Around 5am I felt like the balloon could come out. I called the nurse and she was able to pull it out…woohoo we had gotten to 4cm.
The Doctor came back by before shift change and said that the next step would most likely be for them to break my water but that she would let the next Doctor on shift make that call. Of course, our luck the Doctor was the one we had seen previously that told us she could not reach my cervix.
She came in around 10am and checked my dilation. We were still at 4cm, she wanted to go ahead and break my water. She advised me that often things progress pretty quickly once your water is broke and the contractions can get pretty painful so if I wanted an epidural, I should get one now. Being that I had been contracting all night and didn’t really sleep, I was pretty tired at that point. We still had a long way to go to get to 10cm and there was no telling how long I would have to push, so I gave in and got the epidural.
Anesthesiology came in and placed my epidural. Heather kept asking me if it was painful because she could see the needle. It was actually more painful for me to be hunched over as Peanut’s feet were in my ribs.
Doctor came back in around 11am and broke my water. She was amazed by how full my sac was as the water just kept flowing. She was like “no wonder this baby doesn’t want to come out, it is too cozy for him.” They slowly began the Pitocin and waited for my contractions to do the work of dilating me further.
All of our family was now even more anxious since we had been in the hospital for over 12 hours and wanted to come see us and know how I was progressing. We had already told family that we did not want anyone in labor and delivery but Heather and I. Well at 1:30, one of Heather’s sisters decides she is going to bring lunch to Heather as a way to get herself in the room. I was livid! I let Heather eat and take a short nap while she was there and then I made it very clear that I wanted her out of the room. I had enough pressure on myself to get this baby out that I did not need her sitting there looking at me, or hovering over the monitor every 5 minutes to see if I was having a contraction. Heather talked to the nurse and they came up with a plan to relocate her to the waiting room. Shortly after that more of Heather’s family showed up and they were all sitting around in the waiting room come dinner time.
The doctor came back around dinner to check my progress and we were still at 4cm. Ugh here I am confined to this bed with the epidural and still not progressing. This was my worst nightmare. The hours continue to drag on and my contractions intensified with each Pitocin increase. It got to be later in the night and Heather’s family was still in the waiting room. The doctor came in around 9pm and checked and I was at 5cm. I told Heather to go tell her family to head home, it was clear at this point that he was not going to be born on the 27th. They were reluctant to leave but we assured them that if something changed, we would call them but it was best that they go home and get some rest.
Throughout the night, they continued to increase the Pitocin until we got to 6 milliunits and then they noticed they were having a hard time monitoring my contractions and Peanut’s heartrate. So around 10pm they put in an internal contraction monitor and put me in an upright position as they found that when they tried to turn me on my side that they would loose track of Peanut’s heartbeat.
I sat in this upright position all night as they lowered and raised my Pitocin levels. I was so tired, my butt was numb from being in the same position and having constant pressure and I was so ready to meet our son. At 4am, the Dr came in to check my cervix again. We were still at 5cm.
She looked at both of us and was like ladies unfortunately I think we have hit a wall. They had allowed my body to labor for over 24 hours, my water had been broke for more than 12 hours, and my body had not progressed past 5cm and he was still in a -2 position (which meant his head was not in the front of my pelvis). All I could do was start crying, I was so exhausted, I had tried so hard and we still had to have a c-section. The doctor said that she hated to go this route especially with first time moms but we had given it time and options and now they needed to be safe and get him out. Logically I understood this but I was quite disappointed that I was not able to do it naturally.
They said they would prepare for the c-section. They took me back and anesthesiology came in to check my epidural before the surgery. After checking, we came to found out that my epidural was not working on my left side and that at this point they would need to put in a spinal tap to correct it. I knew that with them taking the time to do this, Heather was growing anxious as she waited back in the delivery room for them to come and get her. I was so exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open. The anesthesiologist was like it is ok you can take a catnap as we get ready.
They finally brought Heather back and they had already started cutting me open. I could feel the pressure of the tugging but I was so tired at that point that I Just was ready to meet our little man. The doctor finally got him and they pulled back the curtain for us to see him. The doctor said “Are you ready to meet your toddler? He is so big!” They showed him to us and he was such a big boy. They put him on the scale and found out he weighed 9lbs and 5oz. The doctor was like “Wow, he is a little sumo wrestler. It is a good thing we did do a c-section because he would have probably not fit through your birth canal.” He was finally here…our perfect little boy.. Hawk Daxton Satterfield born one week late on December 28th at 7:04am.
They cleaned him up and Heather got to hold his hand. She was immediately in love. They laid him on my chest but he was so big and heavy that I couldn’t really do skin to skin with him while they had me on the operating table.
They finished closing me up and took us to the recovery room for two hours. It was perfect, only Heather, Hawk and I were allowed in the room. So it allowed us time to do skin to skin, him to breastfeed the first time, bond with him and just be a family before all of our family came in to see him.
So even though our birth plan went out the window, it turned all out for the best in the end, our miracle is here and we are a family.
So Christmas Eve turned out to be a great day. I was so worried that Heather would be sad and depressed because her family would be getting together that afternoon and we would not be going.
We got up that morning and she was surprisedly in a very good mood. She had made plans to spend the day in the kitchen cooking and baking, two of her favorite things to do. For breakfast she made homemade cinnamon rolls; for lunch we had appetizers to watch football: cheese ball, sausage balls and dips. We had planned on having mussels and fries for dinner and start our own tradition of seafood on Christmas Eve, but we were so full from the lunch appetizers that we ended up not having dinner.
We watched Christmas movies and football all day, slow danced together and listened to Christmas music. Before going to bed, we sat in front of the Christmas tree together and opened our gifts being that we would have company all day on Christmas Day. We went to bed happy to spend another Christmas together as a couple.
The day turned out to be great for Heather, but I felt guilty all day that she was missing out on her traditional family get together. In addition, I was super uncomfortable and kept having contractions all day. Part of me was wishing and hoping all day that I would go into labor on Christmas Eve and we would get our true Christmas miracle.
Santa and Christmas morning came and we were still pregnant. I had to accept the fact that our families were coming over for Christmas and the biggest gift would not be under the tree. Heather tried to reassure me that she was good, but I could see the hurt in her eyes of not seeing her family on Christmas morning.
She FaceTime her family as they were making Christmas breakfast to say Merry Christmas and confirmed lunchtime with them. I tried to lighten the mood by baking Christmas cookies for us to eat. However while I was baking, she looked at old pictures of her, her mom and dad at Christmas when she was a kid and I could tell she was upset. I felt awful, I wanted to comfort her, to distract her with our son, but he was still snuggled inside of me with no real signs of exiting.
It got closer to lunchtime and we had not heard from her family. She finally called them and found out that they had fallen asleep and were running late. Heather felt like they had forgotten about her on Christmas since no one had called or reached out. I assured her that they had not forgot about her and sent her sister a message to make sure they were coming for lunch. They reassured me that they had not forgotten about Heather and that as her sisters they were coming to surprise her.
They showed up for lunch and it brought tears and joy to Heather to have them here with her. We had a nice lunch, opened presents and hung out.
Shortly after they were leaving, my family showed up for dinner. They also were all hoping that they would be seeing our little man or visiting us at the hospital, but that was not how things played out. It was nice to have my middle sister and her son for the Christmas festivities this year. We had dinner, opened presents and hung out. It was a nice evening even though I wasn’t able to give them the gift they wanted.
After all of our family left, we waited for the phone call for our induction time the next day. One way or another our little man would be born soon.
We are officially 40 weeks and 2 days. We have passed our little miracle’s due date and I am filled with sadness, fear and guilt.
I have tried really hard to be nothing but positive throughout this pregnancy, especially considering that we never thought we would make it this far. I am incredibly thankful that we have this miracle coming to be with us soon and that I have been able to provide him with all of his needs these pass few months. He is healthy and apparently very comfortable snuggling with me inside.
However I am sad. After all that we did go through to get pregnant I was really hoping that pregnancy, delivery and postpartum would be easy. That I would perform these things perfectly. That my body would be successful and not need any medical intervention. Yet here we are pass our due date and looking on the horizon of an induction next week. Just when I thought I had beat infertility it has come back to haunt me.
I am fearful that with an induction, our labor will be slow and not progress. Both of my sisters had to be induced and ended up with c-sections in the end. I am afraid that the induction will cause him or I to experience distress and have to proceed to a c-section. I know that plenty of women have c-sections and that it is often necessary but I really want to bring our son into the world as naturally as possible without drugs and vaginally. If this does not occur, I will feel like I have failed at not only making a baby but having a baby.
I feel guilty. Throughout this pregnancy we have always prepared for him to be here before the Christmas holiday. Generally every year for Christmas Eve we would go to Heather’s family house for dinner, presents and fellowship. Then we would spend the night at her mom’s house and wake up for Santa and breakfast on Christmas morning with her parents and sisters. Heather has done this every year of her life…this is her tradition. This year with Peanut’s due date so close to the holiday, we had discussed with her family we would probably not be there since Peanut would only be a few days old and if he was not here we would not want to be an hour from the hospital. Her mom (whom she was worried about being upset the most) completely understood and said that she didn’t expect to see us because my health and the baby’s was what was most important. She said not to worry and that regardless of him being here or not she would see us on Christmas Day at our house or the hospital. Heather’s sisters on the other hand did not initially understand that either way, him here or not, we would not be at Christmas Eve. After a lot of conversations this week, when it look like he would not make his due date, they finally got it.
In addition to us not being able to spend the holiday with Heather’s family as we normally do, my family will be coming to town. They are super excited and want to meet Peanut. Even my middle sister, who usually goes to Atlanta with her husband is coming to Christmas this year. With my parents and I not having the best relationship, Christmas is generally the only holiday that they come to visit.
I feel so guilty. I feel like because my body has not began labor and brought Peanut into the world that I am ruining Christmas for everyone. I know that this is the only gift they all want and I am disappointing them.
Heather keeps reassuring me that she is ok with him not being here and looking forward to us spending our first holiday together just the two of us, but I feel awful. I have not cried much during this pregnancy but over the past four days, I can’t stop crying.
I know I just need to focus on that we will finally meet our miracle next week regardless of what happens with the holiday or the delivery but I am having a really hard time.
I am still hoping and praying that he will come in the next 48 hours and we will all truly get our Christmas miracle.