Sunday, April 24, 2016

Willa's Birth Story - Part 2

Part 1 is here.

I nearly fell out of the bed. I’m not sure why I was shocked since I had labored in the night and we had voluntarily driven ourselves to the hospital. But when I wasn’t further dilated and they tried to stop my labor I just wrote the whole thing off. 

The ultrasound had showed that our baby was really sleepy and wasn’t moving around as much as she should’ve been. They had spoken with my doctor and he wanted her to go ahead and come that day. 

They got us settled into a nice little delivery room. My nurse was named Hanna and she was excellent. She was kind, a good listener, attentive, patient, gentle and smart. I remember seeing the baby station and bassinet and it was so wild knowing that all of it was for my baby. And she would use it today! 

I got my epidural early on. I was really nervous about it because I had started to pass out after my last one and had to have oxygen. Nurse Hanna stood in front of me and let me hold onto her. She told me to breathe and talked to me to help me stay calm. The anesthesiologist was a woman and she was wonderful. It was the least painful one of my three. A few minutes later I was still doing great but then the room started getting dark and I felt like I was going to black out. The doctor and nurse shifted my body to one side and kept it from happening. I’m not sure why my body does that. I was totally fine after that. 

Curtis, my mom, Melissa and Crista were with us at the hospital during my labor. It was a happy and fun atmosphere in the room. We talked about the Lord’s goodness a lot. Curtis played my favorite worship songs on his phone. I hadn't slept the night before so the epidural made me very loopy. If someone spoke to me, it took me about 5 seconds to respond. The doctor came in to see me and broke my water at some point. He thought I would have the baby around 6 or 7 that evening. I thought it would be earlier based on my past labors. Around 3 I told Mom and Lis and Curtis to go get some lunch. They had been awake for hours and hadn’t eaten. Crista stayed with me and we watched my contraction monitor for fun. All of a sudden I felt pressure and Crista said, “Whoa! That was a really big one!” I was so thankful for my epidural. Nurse Hanna, who had been monitoring me from her station, burst in a couple seconds later and asked how I was feeling. Crista left and the nurse checked me. I was a 10! Crista texted Curtis, who was in the middle of the sky bridge that connects the hospital to a shopping mall, and told him to get his butt back to the room. Mom and Melissa had just ordered a nice lunch at Churrasco’s nearby and had to come right back. Oops!  

It wasn’t long before my room was emptied of the people I knew and filled mostly with people I’d never met until that day. Curtis, of course, was by my side. He counted and I pushed and at 4:44 PM, that sweet Willa Rose Jones was born. As with her sister, the cord was wrapped around her neck. She cried a little but when they laid her on my chest she got very still and seemed to fall asleep. That moment is supposed to be really sweet and bonding and everything, but it scared me to death. I thought something was really wrong with her because she wasn’t moving around.  The nurses eventually got a little nervous too and took her to the baby station. They did what they do and the baby was fine. (Remember how they’d said she was “sleepy” in the womb?)  My doctor and all the nurses sang Happy Birthday to Willa while they were working on her. They wiped her off and put her in a blanket for me. Curtis and I marveled at this priceless treasure we had just been given. 

About an hour later, my mom and Melissa came in. Then Crista and her son Noah came in. It was a joy to introduce everyone to our new daughter. Later in the evening, my dad brought my grandmother and Jackson and Annabeth. My mom says that she’s never seen a happier little family than the first time the five of us got to be together in the hospital room. There are many things I can’t recall, but I remember Annabeth arriving in some leggings and a t-shirt. Apparently my dad didn’t know that she was supposed to have a skirt on over it. Ha! I think my first postpartum meal was a burrito from Freebird’s. 

We hated to say goodbye to our sweet Nurse Hanna when her shift ended. I wanted to keep her. Before she left, she told us that on her way to work she always prays for whomever she will meet that day. Willa’s birth had already been covered in prayer before we met her. How precious is that? 

Our night nurse was Pat and she gave Willa her very first bath in the sink in our room. I’m kind of old school and I was looking forward to her getting a thorough cleaning. Nurse Pat was really funny and kept me giggling through the night. She helped me get out of bed those first few times, which is a traumatic part of the whole process. You really want great people with you for the first 24 hours. 

Curt’s Mom and Dad spent the entire day driving from Missouri and they made it late that night. We got to see them for a little while before they checked into the hotel connected to the hospital. The Lord has been so kind to us with the births of each of our children. Despite distances and crazy travel schedules, all three of our kids got to meet their four grandparents on the day they were born. I’m so grateful. That day we also saw Corey, Cassi and Dustin, and Crista’s husband Brian. 

The baby and I had a hard time falling asleep. Gone are the days when you could send your newborn to the nursery at night. Hospital policy is now to keep the baby and mama together at all times, unless the baby is having a test done. There are mostly pros to that, but one con is that it’s against the rules to sleep while the baby is in your hospital bed. There aren’t that many ways to comfort a crying baby in the middle of the night when you’ve just given birth. I couldn’t get up yet without great effort, nor could I even lift her out of the bassinet from my bed. So I finally cradled her around my stomach on the Boppy (in the very spot where she used to kick me at night) and we both snoozed a little bit. It was as close to the womb as she could get. The baby on the other side of the wall from us cried all night long and I felt so bad for the mama. 

The next morning my mom came to the hospital and continued the tradition of drying my hair for me. It’s so awesome that she does that. We had lots of new visitors, including the Parkers, the Moseleys, Alicia, Laura, Cassi and Sadie, the Altics, and Christine. 

Our third day in the hospital was very strange. While it was still dark, a nurse came in with a special bassinet with lights on it. Willa’s bilirubin was high. (Being born a bit early caused her system to operate slowly and this was one of the effects.) She had to lay under the lights the whole day. We were really upset that we couldn’t hold her. But if she didn’t spend enough time in there, she might not be discharged with us later that day. We prayed hard that that wouldn’t happen. Ralph and Jane Borde came to see us, which was really fun because their baby was going to be born in that same hospital two months later. They helped take our minds off the jaundice drama.

Willa Rose passed her blood test that evening and we got to take her home. We picked up a pizza and salads on the way home and then started our life as a family of five together. 

Even though we were really happy, that first week was extremely stressful. I ended up wishing Willa had been born a couple weeks later and avoided the jaundice drama. We were discharged on a Wednesday and had to be at our pediatrician’s office every morning - bright and early - for the next three days for a bilirubin check. On Saturday morning I had to take her to an after hours clinic in order to do that. I had to show up before it opened to make sure they got us in before all the sick kids showed up. At that appointment I found out that Willa had to go back to the hospital for more phototherapy. There was no way to get us the equipment required to treat her at home since it was the weekend. I was in a bit of shock. I was incredibly exhausted, my body was still in pain, and my emotions were wacky. By God’s grace alone I was able to deal with that news without having a meltdown. 

Willa and I checked into Texas Children’s Hospital in Katy later that morning. She had to be under the lights as much as possible, so I pumped milk for her so her time outside the glowing bassinet would be minimal. I also pumped so that we could be sure she was drinking enough to flush the jaundice away. She was not a good nurser and we didn’t really have time for her to get good at it. It was hard, again, not to be able to hold my baby as much as I wanted. She got very restless and was constantly ripping off her little eye mask and flipping her body around. 

The nurses and doctors at this hospital were incredible, although I hope I never have a reason to go back there again. It’s a very sobering place. When I felt overwhelmed, I remembered that any one of the parents in that building would trade places with me. I think jaundice is probably the most minor thing you can be admitted for. We had a male nurse and I would've adored that if I’d been there with Jackson, but it was a little weird for me since I was in a postpartum state and pumping non-stop. I just had to get over it. He was very professional and wonderful with Willa. (I’m super thankful for male nurses, by the way. Curtis had one during his hospital stay six years ago and he was tremendous.)

The next morning my baby girl was discharged and we picked up celebratory donuts and kolaches on the way home. It was like a little party around our breakfast table. Willa had finally kicked the jaundice! We had a couple more bili checks that week (her poor heels!) and then our lives finally calmed down. I got to sit on my couch and snuggle my newborn in my pajamas for hours on end, just as I had imagined. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Willa's Birth Story - Part 1

I can't believe I waited six months to write about Willa's birth. I tried to do it when she was a newborn, but my brain was so mushy I could hardly put a whole sentence together. This took me the whole day to write and is probably not much better than what I would've come up with on three hours sleep. It's overly detailed but I will thank myself for that in a few years. Here is part 1 of Willa Rose's birth story. 

The Friday before Willa’s birth, Curtis and I had to go shopping for a new washer and dryer. Our 11-year-old set had finally kicked the bucket. We had lunch at Salata and I ate all the ice I could get. I had developed an insatiable craving for ice in my third trimester (low iron causes this) and theirs was the perfect shape and softness. My craving was so fierce, I had actually lost a couple of pounds because I was preferring ice to food. 

We walked next door to the Sears appliance store where the salesman showed us a simple washer/dryer set that would be big enough for a family of five. It arrived the next day. We had been tempted to see a movie instead and go appliance shopping later, but I’m glad we decided to be adults that day and take care of business. I came to see the whole thing as God’s providence. 

On Saturday I was supposed to be part of the A21 Walk For Freedom downtown. I was pretty run down from a cold and was having a ton of Braxton Hicks contractions. At my OB appointment the Thursday before, my doctor said I was starting to dilate and while he thought I’d make it another week, it could be soon. Worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace with the other walkers and with my doctor’s words ringing in my head, I decided to spend the day close to home. If this was my last Saturday before baby, I had a lot to do!

Priority number one was to have a pedicure. I value having nice toes to look at when all dignity is shed during the birthing process. Annabeth and I went to my favorite nail salon and had our toes done. She was very ticklish during her foot scrub and it made me laugh. My heart was tender to my girl because she was about to move from being the baby of the family for six years to being a big sister. She was so excited but I knew it would be an adjustment for her. Having this girl time together made me feel more peaceful. After our pedis, we went next door and had Chinese food. Once our nails were dry enough, we ventured to Target to get last minute items like baby shampoo and newborn diapers. It was surreal to buy those things because they’re sort of the last stuff you get before baby comes. Meanwhile, Curtis was at home cleaning out the garage. He was totally nesting. The kids and I hung out at home that night while he prepared his sermon for the next morning.  

During my third trimester, Sundays were pretty hard on my body. Getting myself ready in a hurry, driving to church, walking around, standing during worship, and wrangling the kids sent my Braxton Hicks contractions into overdrive. One Sunday at about 34 weeks, I thought I was going into labor on the way home from church. After drinking a bunch of water and taking a long bath, my contractions chilled out. After that, I resolved to sit down during worship and only come for one of our two services. It seemed silly to already be at that point when I was more than a month out from my due date, but the truth is, this was my third pregnancy and I was six years older than the last time I’d had a baby.

That final Sunday we were at our Cypress campus. I remember struggling with what to wear - now nine months pregnant - and settling on a billowy and comfy black cotton dress. I was trying not to be vain about things but it’s definitely hard not to be self-conscious at the end of pregnancy. Everyone asked me how much longer I had. I figured I couldn’t possibly last more than two weeks, but hopefully less! We normally go out to lunch after church but that day I told my husband I just needed to go straight home and get in my bed. Stick a fork in me, I was done. 

In the late afternoon we drove out to my parents’ house in the country. They had a big quilt spread out on the grass with some pillows. Mom had a conference that weekend and she had spent the afternoon out there reading and resting. I laid my tired, sore, contracting body down on the blanket and looked up at the green trees and the blue sky. Memaw had brought a big jar of oatmeal raisin cookies and they tasted so good. Even though my body felt terrible and I was weary of being large and weak, the afternoon was nothing less than dreamy. It was beautiful and peaceful and everyone was taking care of me. Mom had to help me get up when it was time to go inside for dinner. We had fajitas but I couldn’t eat very much because my stomach didn’t feel very good. 

By this time I thought labor could be pretty soon, or I deeply wished it would be. I couldn’t imagine carrying on much longer in that state. I told my mom and grandmother it could be the next day. Mom said she would not turn her ringer off during the night, just in case. 

We went home and got the kids in bed. I took my nightly warm bath to calm down the contractions that I had every evening. Curtis and I settled down on the couch to watch TV. I started logging my contractions on an app just to see. For some reason Curtis started having an allergic reaction and his whole body was itching. He took two Benadryls and then went to bed. Meanwhile, I continued to have a lot of contractions. Eventually I got in bed, but I was having too many to be able to sleep. Another bath didn’t stall them. They didn’t hurt yet but they squeezed my abdomen pretty hard. My stomach was upset, too. I prayed to God that if this wasn’t the real thing, He would make it stop and let me fall asleep. I mean, my husband was passed out on Benadryl so this was not ideal timing! Somehow I did fall asleep for an hour or so. I woke up to some cramps that did not feel good. My contractions came quicker now and I decided it was time. 

I packed my bag and then woke Curtis up. I told him I had been up all night and it was time to go to the hospital. He jumped out of bed and shook off the Benadryl. It was about 4 AM. I texted my mom so she would know that it was game time. I texted our sweet babysitter and her mom, who live a couple streets over, but they didn’t wake up. Then I texted my best friend Crista and asked if we could drop the kids off at her house. She fed them breakfast, got them dressed and off to school before joining us at the hospital.

Curtis and I headed out on our 25 minute journey to the hospital. By now it was 5 AM and, thankfully, slightly too early for rush hour. I hoped my contractions weren’t subsiding but I thought they were a little bit. By the time we parked I was losing confidence. We checked in on the third floor and sat in the waiting room for a few minutes. No one else was there but eventually some other couples showed up for their scheduled c-sections and inductions. They took us into a triage room and hooked me up to all the things. To my dismay, I was not any more dilated than I had been at my doctor’s appointment a few days before. I couldn’t believe it. 

It was now that a tiny factor began to influence the course of our week. 

According to my calculations, I was 37 weeks to the day. But according to my doctor’s records, I was two days shy of that. At the beginning of my pregnancy I did not try to argue with them about my due date, but in the end I wished I had. Since they believed I was only 36 weeks, the hospital wanted to stop my labor. The nurse gave me an IV bag to hydrate me, but it didn’t stop my contractions. Then they ordered a very long and unpleasant ultrasound session. I was wheeled down into a room where they poked and prodded my belly until I wanted to cry. Curtis and I felt stupid for coming to the hospital. In my very pregnant and emotional state, I felt like I was just being used to help one technician train the other. They wouldn’t tell me what was going on the whole time and I started to get scared. Now I know this was protocol but in the moment it was unnerving. 

They wheeled me back to the triage room and put me back in the bed. I started apologizing to the nurses for wasting their time. They were gracious and did not seem bothered by me. A little while later a nurse came in and said, “You’re going to have a baby today.”