Introducing Case James Culotta
If you're friends with me on Facebook, you may have seen my post a few months ago that detailed my sweet son's birth story. If you read that, this may be redundant for you, but I still want to share this here since I took a break from blogging during my pregnancy and the first few month's of Case's life.
Case was not my first pregnancy. My first pregnancy came two months prior—on Mother's Day 2016. It was the absolute greatest joy I ever experienced. Learning you are pregnant with your first child on Mother's Day? It couldn't have been more perfect. I knew so many things can go wrong in the first trimester, but that did not stop us from celebrating with brunch at our favorite spot in San Francisco (The Tipsy Pig), and a bouquet of beautiful flowers.
But then, I miscarried the next day.
I do not want to go into too much detail on that moment in my life here, but it was the absolute lowest point of my life, and still is to this day. I was at work, and I needed to leave immediately, because obviously. Thankfully my boss was super understanding and I was able to go home and call my doctor to talk through what was going on. I tried and I tried to convince myself that everything was okay. I decided to take a pregnancy test the next morning to check, and I scheduled a doctor's appointment, and both confirmed what I knew deep in my heart to be true: I lost that baby.
I wasn't very far along, but that loss felt heavy to me. I cried, and I cried, and I cried, burrowed underneath sheets and tissues. I felt so lost, confused, heartbroken, and discouraged. In just 24 hours, I already made so many plans for that baby, and just like that, the baby's future was stripped from me. I leaned into the Lord as much as I could, but I still felt incredibly hollow.
And then, two months later, I got another positive test. Let me tell you, I probably took about 20 tests that first week. I was only approximately four weeks along, and my doctor doesn't see her patients until 10 weeks, so the wait was agonizing. I knew I could go in for a test, but I decided to wait until my 10-week appointment and trust that God's plans were bigger than my own. So, I waited.
Photo by L. Bishop Photography
And now, here I am, a little more than one year later, with my perfect, healthy, happy baby boy. And let me tell you, he truly is all of those things (mom bias is strong).
Photo by Emily Prizer Photography
Case James Culotta was born on Thursday, March 2 (Happy Texas Independence Day, yall!) at 7 p.m. on the dot, weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces, and 20 inches long. Loooong and lean, just like someone we know (his dad). The name Case was inspired by a football player (Case Keenum), and James is my dad's name (and grandfather's).
I had a pretty smooth pregnancy, minus some nausea during weeks 7-8 and major swelling weeks 35-39 (my sweet, sweet sophomore students were not shy in reminding me that my ankles and feet were the size of China). We were going to induce on Tuesday, March 7, so I could have Case on Wednesday, March 8 (one day before my due date), because my doctor was on-call that day. Case had his own plans, though.
I stopped working on Friday, Feb. 24 because I just couldn't teach all day anymore. I looked forward to relaxing at home until March 7 and finalizing some grades for my long-term substitute before I really went off the work grid (but honestly, I didn't go off the work grid). However, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, we went to the doctor for my 38-week appointment, and my blood pressure was through the roof (I wonder why...).
My doctor sent me to the hospital right away to get monitored for four hours. They watched my blood pressure and contractions, and by the end of the four hours, they told me I could go home and be on bed rest the next day, then come back that night to be induced, as my doctor was on-call the following day. I sang allllll the hallelujahs, because it seemed for a moment they were going to have me stay that night and induce me then, and we were just not prepared for that (Pippa didn't have ANY lights on at the house or food!).
I won't go into specifics of my 22 hours of labor (yes, you read that right), but what I will say is that I was so wonderfully cared for at Presby in Dallas. All of my nurses were compassionate, and everyone explained the process thoroughly, all while keeping me calm. There are a few things I want to call out from my labor experience:
Your spouse is not allowed to stay in the room when you get the epidural, at least at my hospital. Apparently, spouses have passed out watching their loved ones getting poked in the spine by the massive epidural needle. Talk about stealing a soon-to-be mom's thunder, am I right?
I pushed for three hours. Three. Hours. I was determined to deliver Case in that room, and my doctor was determined, as well, but it just wasn't happening. I always knew there was a chance I'd have a c-section, but there, in that room, I truly felt that's where he would enter the world. Wasn't the case (ha!), though.
Toward the end of those three hours, my doctor noticed Case's heart rate plummeted with every push. She decided to call it then and there: we needed to have a c-section.
Logan wasn't able to accompany me to the OR; he had to meet us there. This was extremely difficult for me. I was sent into an out-of-control spiral of emotions, and I couldn't even have my husband by my side during the room transition. He met us 20ish minutes later, but I was already shaking beyond control at that point.
When you have a c-section, you don't get to be the first person to hold your baby. It took me a long time to get over this, because I always wanted him immediately placed on my chest, no clean up or anything. Let's just say I wasn't in the proper "hold a baby" state, so Logan was the first to hold Case. After they stitched up my incision, cleaned up, and moved me back onto my hospital bed from the operating table, I was finally able to hold my precious baby boy.
One of the reasons Case wouldn't budge during labor was because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice. That still breaks my heart.
Finally, ice chips are a laboring mom's best friend.
After four nights in the hospital, we were finally able to take Case home! He has been the brightest light in our lives, and he makes each passing day better than the last. As I near the end of my [extended] maternity leave, I can't help but feel grateful for the five-and-a-half months of leave I had with my sweet firstborn. I know I will be a blubbering mess when I drop him off at daycare on my first day back (AND my husband will be in England that week!), but I know that will just make my time with him that much sweeter.
Photos by Emily Prizer Photography
P.S. Teachers, I know you can't always plan for this, but have your children in March. It's life-changing.
To celebrate my sweet son and sharing more about him with you all, I am hosting a giveaway on Instagram! Here are the deets:
Winner receives a $50 gift card to Carter's (And you KNOW they always have sales. You can get a lot with $50!) and a copy of my favorite motherhood-focused book, The Magic of Motherhood (Check it out! It's amazing!).
Giveaway opens on Aug. 1 on Instagram, so check there for its opening.
To enter: follow me, like the photo mentioned as the giveaway post, and tag two mom friends who might be interested.
That's it! Giveaway will close Monday, Aug. 7 at noon CST, and I will announce the winner later that day.
To those of you who are struggling with infertility and/or who have experienced pregnancy loss, all I can say is that I am so, so sorry, and if you'd like, I'd love to pray for you. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My heart is with you.