Levi's Birth Day!
The next few hours were a crazy mixture of emotions. Of course I couldn't wait to call Brett. He answered the phone and I said, "You ready to be a daddy!?" He was elated. Then we called our families and just a few close friends. As much as I've enjoyed sharing so much of this pregnancy with the world, for some reason that day I just wanted to savor it all to myself. Maybe it was because it was going to be my last day pregnant. Maybe because I was nervous it wouldn't work out. Regardless, I spent the day relaxing and doing some last minute packing, day dreaming about the fact that in about 24 hours, I'd be holding my son for the first time.
By 5:30, I had changed into my gown and I began the cervadil. Within no time, the nurses came in and said how impressed they were by how many contractions I'd been having (they went from 7 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart in about a half hour time span) and asked if I was comfortable. I laughed and told them how I was
barely even feeling them and how I'd had these same contractions for the last month. They seemed surprised and said that they'd wait to check me again then until morning. I reassured them I was totally fine and didn't need anything for pain. Brett and I were able to order (yet another) dinner and we spent the night watching the Pacers/Heat play. Well, Brett watched the game. I dozed off a few times and had fun texting some friends and calling my mom every five minutes. She stopped in just for a few minutes...it was so great having her there to reassure me that I was in good hands and that the baby would be here in no time!
10:00pm came and went, and the nurse came in to check on me. I told her I started feeling stronger contractions that were keeping me from going to sleep. Originally I planned on declining the sleeping pill I knew I'd be offered because I usually don't respond well to medication like that. However, I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I was not going to get any rest without it. She got me medicine, and I was completely out in about 20 minutes.
Around 3:00am I woke up to my water breaking. I expected a big gush of fluid, but instead it was like I just became more and more damp. I woke up Brett and asked him to page the nurse. By the time she got there, I had started to walk towards the bathroom and was leaving ginormous pools of water on the floor behind me. I turned the lights on in the bathroom and noticed the fluid wasn't clear. My heart sank as I knew it was meconium. I knew all about the risks associated with this, and had prayed fervently in the previous weeks that our baby's cord would stay away from his neck and that my water would remain clear. I wiped tears from my eyes and said to myself, "My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." And boom, I was filled with God's peace. The nurse changed my sheets and I laid back down. Within no time, contractions were coming on full force. To my surprise, the nurse told me I could get the epidural whenever I wanted now, even though I was still only 1cm dilated. My plan all along was to accept the epidural offer the moment they make it, because I wanted to avoid as much pain as possible. I gladly accepted...and am so glad I did, because it took another 2 hours for the anesthesiologist to make it to our room.
Those two hours weren't terrible, but they were definitely painful and I could tell they were only getting worse. By 5:30am, I was 1 1/2cm dilated. They started my IV, then I was finally able to get my epidural. I hadn't thought much about the process of getting the epidural beforehand. I had heard from some it was painful and others it wasn't bad. All I knew is that it couldn't be any worse than the pain I'd experience without it, so I knew I had to bite the bullet and just get it over with. And overall, it really wasn't too bad. It's nerve wracking knowing they're putting something in your spine and you can't move, but they walked me through it so well and worked with my contractions so that I didn't have to fight the pain of the epidural and a contraction at the same time. Brett was a good sport...he couldn't stand close to me as he doesn't handle needles well. But he sat on the other side of the room encouraging me and telling me how great I was doing. Within no time, the procedure was done and I was back in bed. I might be delusional now, but I don't recall feeling another strong contraction after that point. And I was numb, yes, but I could still feel my toes...it wasn't a "dead weight" kind of feeling like I was expecting. Rather pleasant, really :)
Around 9:00, our nurse came in and explained to us the risks associated with meconium. She told us there would be 3 NICU nurses in our room at the time of delivery. The doctor would immediately cut the cord and give our baby to the nurses so that they could assess him. If he was ok, they would just clean him up then give him to me. If he had in fact inhaled any meconium, he would go straight to the NICU. Brett would go with him and I would join them later. She asked me if I had any questions. I took a deep breath. I had to be honest. I told her how thankful I was that she took the time to explain this to us, but that we weren't really too worried. I told her all about how I had so many friends with sick babies. I told her one of my friends just delivered a beautiful baby boy that she never got to take home. I cried as I told her how humbled I was that God would allow us to have a baby, and that if a baby born with meconium in his lungs was the cross He was asking us to carry, we would do it with a heart full of thankfulness. The point was that God would receive the glory. The point was that we would keep all things in perspective. The point was discovering if I really, truly believed that the same God that was comforting my friends in the midst of their loss would be the same God that would keep His hand on my child. He was good, all the time...Does that make sense?
My nurse came in at 10:00 am. (I loved her, by the way. All my nurses were wonderful, but Hannah was exceptional) She assured Brett and I that our baby was doing well, so they began a small increment of pitocin. She came back in several times in the next 2 hours because the monitor confirmed that our baby's heart rate wasn't handling the pitocin very well. They said that his monitor should show a line that goes up and down steadily. Instead, it was steady, but not going up and down a whole lot. It wasn't "dangerous," but they wanted to keep a close eye on him to make sure we weren't putting too much stress on his body. I prayed that he would stay safe and that God would allow me to deliver naturally instead of via c section, but I also suddenly became more than ok with a c section if that's what it took for my son to be safe. Our families joined us during this time and we all just laughed and told stories and they shared in our excitement. At 10:00 I was about 4cm. By 11:00 I was 7cm. I couldn't believe how quickly I was progressing...
By 11:30, my nurse announced that I was 9 1/2 cm dilated! WHAT!? Wow, it was almost go time. She went in the hall to tell our families that I was going to be pushing soon, so they all headed for the waiting room. I had Brett run out and grab my mom and dad first. They came back to our room and I just cried and asked that they would pray with us. We prayed for God to receive glory that afternoon. We prayed that Baby Fox would be perfectly healthy. We prayed that our nurses and doctors would be showered with wisdom and discernment, and that I would remain strong and healthy during delivery. And just like that, the room emptied, and in no time, it was being prepped for delivery.
At 11:45 the nurse had me push a few times through a contraction, but discovered I was still only 9 1/2 cm dilated. By this time, my epidural began to wear on lower right hand side of back. I can't even begin to describe the pain I felt from that one side alone. My nurse explained that the pain and tension from the worn epidural was keeping me from dilating to 10 cm, so she had the anesthesiologist puts meds in IV for me to relieve the pressure in that area for me.
12:45 GAME TIME! My legs went up in the stirrups and my warrior of a husband stood bravely beside me and counted to ten during each push. Every time he got to "10," he would shower me with compliments like, "You're doing so great, babe!" or "You're almost there! He's coming!" (I wasn't "almost there" during most of the time spent pushing, but that little white lie kept me going!!) It's crazy how time really does pass quickly during the pushing phase. For one, you only push a few times during contractions. When the contraction is over, you kind of just chill out and wait for the next one. During these times, we had quick, random conversations. The one I remember most vividly was when I was pushing for a few more seconds, and once Brett said, "Ten" I gasped for air and yelled, "It smells like Chinese food!!" I thought I was delirious or that I was hallucinating or something. However, it turns out it really did smell like Chinese food. Our nurse said that sometimes the vent in that room can carry in scents from the room next door, and they must have ordered Chinese for lunch. Gave us a good laugh before the next contraction came to be.
Pushing up until this point was relatively easy. Don't get me wrong, I was exhausted and honestly wondered if I'd be able to actually do it. But I didn't feel like I was going to die until around 1:55. I was pushing so hard and couldn't believe he hadn't shot across the room yet. I wasn't sure how much longer I could do this. Just at this time, however, my nurse called my doctor and told him it was time to come deliver our baby. The NICU nurses were paged and in no time at all were standing next to his bassinet. I think the reason they wait so long to bring the doctor in is because that rush alone gives the mama the second wind she needs to complete the task! Now, don't get me wrong...I still had ZERO confidence left in me that I could do this. But it was as if I suddenly had a team around me waiting in expectation, and I didn't want to let anyone down. Between Brett still showering me with compliments, my nurse continuing to instruct me on how to push, and the frenzy of people surrounding me completely prepared to meet our little guy, I was empowered. There were several times in between pushes I would say, "I can't do this, I can't do this!" My nurse would quickly respond, "You have to do this!" And before she could even complete her sentence, I would say, "Ok I'll do this!" I was easily convinced, I guess!
Just a few minutes before our baby arrived, my doctor very calmly said, "Ok now Kayla, what we're going to do is a little episiotomy, so I'm..." And I quickly interuppted, "DON'T TELL ME
WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO! JUST DO IT QUICK, DON'T TALK ABOUT IT!" He laughed and shook his head in understanding. And at 2:05pm, I felt my baby's body being delivered. HE WAS HERE! Our Doctor cut the cord and quickly handed him to the NICU nurses. They worked on him to be sure he was clear of meconium. Thankfully there was only a little found in his stomach, and they were able to suction him in the room then hand him to me a few minutes later. Now, there was a wide variety of thoughts going through my head during all of this. First, understand that while I was pushing, my eyes were closed completely. So when the baby was delivered, although I felt it all, I never actually saw it happen. Our doctor announced, "He's here!" and I remember lying back and saying, "Is he ok?" They told me yes right away, and I remember thinking, "Oh good. I need to sleep." My eyes remained closed for a little while after that. Then, once they finally got him crying, I looked over toward the bassinet and saw this perfectly clean little baby flailing his arms and legs as they were putting his hat and diaper on him. I think because I never saw the transition of seeing him leave my body, all..."sticky," if you will, to him being placed in the bassinet then being cleaned off, I had a hard time believing he
actually came from me. I remember asking, "Is that one mine?" as if there were a hundred other babies in the room, too. Anyway, Brett had grabbed our camera and started taking pictures of him. While they were still getting him cleaned up, I remember asking Brett to show me a picture so I could see him close up. Within a minute, the nurses brought him over to me. And there are no words I can say to adequately explain how I felt. Happy. Humbled. Amazed. Disbelief. Shock. Gratefulness. Wonder. Joyful. Blessed. Love. Sweet love. I sat there and just repeated over and over again, "Oh thank you, Jesus. God you're so good. Thank you so much, Lord!"
We took our time enjoying being a family of three for the first time. I was able to nurse him and we just snuggled him and hugged and kissed each other a million times over. I already loved Brett in a brand new way. He got me through the most difficult, painful thing I've ever gone through. He stood by my side and encouraged me so much, not just in the last couple of hours, but in the past couple of years. And now, now he gave me the greatest gift ever. He gave me the gift of motherhood. He gave me the gift of a child. I felt so blessed to have such an awesome Daddy for my first born son. By 3:30pm, our family filled the room and loved on the little guy. I'll never forget the look on my mom's face as she was the first to come in. She peeked her head inside and I looked up from staring at Levi. Tears filled both her eyes and mine and I just said, "I'm a mom! I did it!" What a sweet moment for us.
The most beautiful day in all my life had just begun. Family was loving on Levi and congratulating Brett and I on our new baby. It was completely blissful and so unreal. Until around 4:00pm. Things slowly started taking a turn for the worst as the most excruciating headache began...