Previously, I wrote about my journey to motherhood and how the timing was everything. Well, let me tell you how much truth that holds for Te Kanawa’s birth. In the days previous to our son’s arrival, Ara and I had been working on moving out of our apartment and cleaning it. We cleaned that place literally top to bottom and side to side. The following morning, Ara headed off to Georgia for rugby, and I headed to Southern California with my Grandma for our big move for my husband’s summer internship. The plan was for me to go a week early so that I could sort out our insurance, find a midwife, and tour the birthing center that I had found. I was a big planner when it came to being pregnant and I still had 5 and a half weeks to go until my due date. That morning I woke up with very very slight cramps, but I wrote them off as “weird” Braxton hicks. Throughout the drive I continued to feel the same. We even stopped at some outlets and did some walking around because I thought it was helping me feel better (HA). We made awesome time getting to my Aunt’s, mostly because I got in tune with my inner Californian and drove, as my husband has titled it, with “controlled chaos”. We reached out to a few people that night who suggested that I rest, and drink lots of water. The following morning, the slight pains were still there, and I began to notice that they were kind of consistent. My Aunt and Grandma finally talked me into going to the hospital to get checked. I agreed, but only AFTER I watched Ara’s rugby game. I jokingly told one of my friends that the intense game was going to put me into labor (epiphany??).
When we arrived at the Orange Coast Memorial ER at 2pm, I was brought into an exam room where a nurse asked me to change into the typical hospital gown. I was so sure that it would be a quick check that I left most of my clothes on, including my shoes. She hooked me up to all kinds of equipment and proceeded with checking me out. I anxiously asked, “So, am I having contractions or are they just Braxton hicks?” That’s when she gave us all the shock of our lives saying, ”Oh honey, those are real contractions and you’re dilated to 3 cm already.” After that they admitted me and I gave Ara the most stressful call of my life. I kept him updated and he helped keep me calm, even though he was on the other side of the country waiting in the terminal to go back to Utah to close up our apartment before joining me in California. We had gone to all these hypnobirthing classes, practiced a lot of different techniques that would help me, and written out a birthing “wishlist”, and now he wouldn’t even be with me. The nurse proceeded to try a few different things to try to stop or at least slow down the contractions. After a few hours of intense hydration (with many rushed pee breaks), and some stronger contractions, she checked again and I was at 7-8 cm dilated. Between my Grandma, Aunt and myself, we were all just in extreme shock. The nurse informed us that baby would be coming that night and it would be soon. I called Ara again and told him that he needed to change his flight and get to me ASAP because things were progressing quickly (I had a slight breakdown as well). He reassured me once again, and did everything that he could to get to me. Meanwhile, I was getting my hands and feet rubbed by my Grandma, and my Aunt kept me cool with a wet washcloth. All of a sudden a Dr. walked in and introduced himself, “Hi Mrs. Elkington, I’m Dr.–, I’m your anesthesiologist and I understand that we’re going to be doing a c-section today?” I think we all said in unison, “Uhhhh, no we’re not”. He got a good yelling at from my nurse about going into the wrong room and scaring her patient!
Finally the delivery Dr. came in, introduced herself, and let me know that it was time to either have the epidural or to proceed to the next step, which was breaking my water. Originally I wanted to be in a bath, or on a birthing ball, or at least standing up and trying different birthing positions. I figured that despite all of these crazy turn of events, I could at least be in control of one thing that I wanted, so I chose not to have the epidural. After she broke my water, the contractions became extremely intense. I hummed and breathed through each one of them as I continued to think about how much I wanted and NEEDED Ara to be there with me. But each time I had that thought, I would have another one that would remind me that I needed to do everything I could to make sure that my baby was safe and healthy. After a little bit, my body took over and it was time to push. It’s amazing how much better it felt to push than to feel those intense contractions! (Previous to this exact moment, I was very shy about my Aunt and Grandma seeing anything, but by then I couldn’t have cared less who was where and seeing what.) When the nurses told me they could see his head, I got a huge surge of energy and that next push is what did it. Soon after that he was laying on my chest crying out, and I was instantly changed forever. He was fresh from Heaven and he was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. Our perfect little Te Kanawa Rex Elkington was born at 11:14pm, was 19 and a half inches long and weighed an impressive 6lbs and 1oz. Sadly because he was a preemie, they had to take him to the NICU to check and monitor him for a week. This gave me time to call Ara who had just landed at LAX and was waiting to be picked up by my cousins. I will always remember this phone call, it was such a joyous moment as I exclaimed, “He’s here!!” When he arrived at the hospital, together we both looked at our brand new son in amazement and we still look at him with that same amazement every single day.
Absolutely nothing worked out as we had planned it, but Te Kanawa’s birth was at the exact right time and everything worked out somehow. My motherly instincts kept pushing me to prepare. I continuously wanted to make purchases and get the necessities even though my due date was far away. Over and over again, people told me to just wait until I got to California because I had plenty of time to get things I would need. When we got to California, I already had almost everything we would need at home. The fact that he arrived so early meant that Ara was able to be home with us both for two full weeks before his job started, whereas before, he would’ve gotten only a week off from work. We were able to bond as a family and be together the entire time once he came home from the NICU. Also, because we were in between insurances due to the move, the entire birth and his week stay in the NICU (which alone was over$17,000) was taken care of with Medi-Cal. We had not prepared financially for such a situation and it was a huge blessing! Had he been closer to his due date, we would not have been able to be on this insurance. Te Kanawa’s stay in the NICU was extremely hard, and I missed him every second we were away, but it served a purpose as it allowed us to organize and prepare our room for him to come home to. Another thing that worked out in our favor Ara says, is that his rugby team was split up between two separate flights and that he was on the later flight which he was originally not thrilled with…but looking back it made it possible for him to switch to a direct flight to LA right then and there, and at a minimal cost. Finally, my Grandma usually likes to split the drive to CA between two days, but I really pushed for us to just get the drive over with which happened to work out perfectly. I can’t imagine having been in St. George or just outside of Las Vegas and having to go through everything I did. I am so grateful that Te Kanawa chose the timing that he did and that the Lord’s hand was in every part of his birth and the path that led to it. The Lord knew that I needed to safely be in California, and surrounded by family and friends that love me. It didn’t go how we had imagined it would, it wasn’t even close, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.”
-Gordon B. Hinckley
P.S. Please comment below and tell me an experience you’ve had with things working out in the end despite your worries, I’d love to hear some of your stories!