Tatum Leilani Madrid: Birth Story

Friday, April 16, 2021

Our final piece. 

I don't even know where to begin. Tatum is healthy + earthside. An entire sentence I'd never fully known If I'd ever be able to say. The last nine months of our lives have been a rollercoaster of unknowns and sudden change... I'm just thankful to the man above that through it all, we were still afforded the most beautiful, miraculous, survivor babe here on earth. She truly is a living miracle and she's ours. 

April 5th, 2021, I went into St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, NY for a scheduled induction. I'd been here before (in fact, all three of my previous pregnancies were inductions) and I knew the routine. Covid-19 protocols surely switched up what was once a familiar process. Masks, rapid Covid tests, and no visitors. You'd think that I would have felt sad or alone... but really, I felt such peace. It was quiet, I was left alone with my thoughts for the night (for the most part) and I tried to settle my nerves because I knew the next day, my family would be changed indefinitely. I met the nurse that was to care for me through the night (Erica, you were nothing short of a rockstar nurse), I got the foley bulb to help with dilation, and I tried to watch No Strings Attached until I dozed off.  The night went by fast but not before getting the IVs in my arms. I'd never been told I had trash veins before... but I have some trash veins. I told Mike from the IV team that what I lack in veins I make up for in personality. That got a good laugh. Truly though, I've never had so many nurses look for a vein and come up unsuccessful (I still have the bruises to show for that). 

One nurse, Jennifer, before she even stuck me, she said, "Okay, can I just tell you how beautiful you are?" Unexpected compliment but it made me smile. She was warm, she was kind, and even though she couldn't stick the vein, I enjoyed meeting her. I talked to the nurses personally and opened up about things I haven't talked about since we'd been in New York. Shockingly enough, it was sort of healing before this major event was to occur. 

I woke up the next morning excited for the Pitocin train (but really who is excited about Pitocin?) and I was met with disappointment and a nurse I didn't really click with. Covid-19 had placed staff restrictions in this area of the hospital and I had to wait four hours to receive the induction medication I needed to deliver our daughter. I woke up at 6, Justin arrived shortly after 7 (he spent the night with the kids the night before), and by 10 we were still waiting with zero answers in sight. I was frustrated. Why did they even have me come in Monday night just to have this short-staffed issue brought up later? I cried. Warm tears running down my face... everything I had felt the last few months just came crashing down. I cried inconsolably + I cried until really I couldn't cry much more. I think I needed that. A couple doctors and nurses came in to talk to me shortly after and even with my total meltdown, I remained kind and understanding. I really didn't feel like being kind and to be honest, I didn't feel like being understanding either. I just wanted them to get things moving rather than having me play the waiting game. Then my cousrse shifted. Not too long after 11am, there was a change in the nurse assigned to me. 

I can only chalk that up as to say it was truly divine intervention in the universe. Jackie walked into my room and she changed not only the course of speed with induction but she changed the energy in the room. We connected. She had me on Pitocin a little after 12pm and by 1pm I was getting an epidural. Yes, I chose to not feel all the man-made pain this time around. I chose peace of mind over battling labor pains that weren't my own. I chose to bring Tatum into the world with a mom that put her mental health first and respected the wrecking ball that had claimed so much of her body last summer. I chose peace. And peace is exactly what I received. Emily B -- the anesthesiologist that gave me my epidural.... I told Justin if she was on Yelp I'd leave her a 10-star review. I felt zero pain after getting it. I slept for a few hours on and off. I talked to Justin, I listened to music, he hung up Tatum's happy birthday banner, we took pictures with the camera + tripod (first pregnancy without a birth photographer) and we talked to Jackie a bit about our personal lives and hers.

She may have sold me on New York City more than I thought could be possible. She affirmed so many things I've felt about being in New York in general, and she was a no games, get to it, tend to your needs type of labor and delivery nurse.. she was truly something special. Justin appreciated her too.  We all sat and talked several times while watching my contractions light up the screen -- I couldn't even feel them. Less than an hour later, Jackie checked my cervix for dilation... she got me at 9cm dilated. She found Dr. Varghese, (a doctor I had literally met once but felt so much of home during his prenatal visit) and he checked me again. COMPLETION! 10 cm dilated and I honestly didn't feel much of anything up until the point of pushing and pressure. This was a fast transition. Before I knew it the bright lights were on, Justin was placing my basically numb legs into the stirrups and I was being instructed to take deep breaths, hold + push. It took all of one big push (and two wimpy ones) for Tatum to arrive earthside... and guess who got to lift her baby up on her chest just a second after she came out of the birth canal? THIS. MAMA. It was my first time catching one of my babies and nothing really compares to that moment. I have never felt more proud, liberated, safe, familiar, and in love simultaneously in my 30 years of life.

I froze in the process. I couldn't let myself wail out in tears, I couldn't just smile, I couldn't process. Instinctively, my eyes began to burn from the tears trying to fall and I let my baby lay on my chest and just lived in that moment for what felt like this abundant amount of time. That moment will be forever engrained in who I am. Nothing else was there but her and me. They allowed the umbilical cord to finish pulsating before Justin cut the cord. The placenta came naturally after, such a familiar and forever "wow" moment of giving birth. And there we lay. I watched my husband strip off his shirt for skin to skin just a few minutes later and that is when I saw our tater tot rooting for the first time. She was looking for mama's milk. I began to nurse her and much like every single one of her siblings, she was a natural. Perfect latch, and so eager to nurse. This entire experience, it felt like home again. I'd been here before, so comfortable and familiar. This is my element, my all-knowing. But this time, I knew I was savoring moments I would never have again. This time I knew this would be the last time. Finality is often hard for me. I hate goodbyes but man do I love hellos. The reoccurring theme in Tatum's birth story was the feeling of home. I've longed for home for months... and it was a perfect addition to the perfect closing of birthing my fourth and final baby.

The baby I didn't know I'd have. The baby that wasn't always "for sure" viable. The baby who endured trauma in the first few weeks of conception. The baby whose mom battled pulmonary embolisms, blood thinners, driving 3,000 miles across the country, and supreme sadness just weeks before. That baby, she's here. She's strong, she's beautiful, and she's ours. 

7 pounds 15.2 ounces. 19.5 inches long -- and we get to savor this baby goodness for the rest of our days.

We get to love you, Tatum. I couldn't have asked for a better miracle this year. 

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