Tuesday, April 27, 2010 could be summed up in one word – epic. However, we all know I’m incapable of summing things up that easily, so I’ve prepared the longest post in the history of the world. I was going to break it up into a few segments, but decided to share our birth story in one fell swoop. I’m doing this because you’ve all been on this ride with us for years, but I’m also doing this because I want to capture that day so that I can always remember the details of the day I became a mom. The day my Paisley Joon Koskie was born.
We missed our April 26 due date, and given that our little fetus pretty much had a time-stamped conception, our doctor (Dr. W) agreed that the little monster was ready to come out. At our April 26/Week 40 appointment, we were told to arrive at the hospital, St. Joe in Wichita, at 7 a.m. the next day. I was hoping that he’d schedule us the next day, I was so ready. The next day was also Shelton’s 30th birthday, and we both so wanted them to be able to share that day. And it turns out that they would. If there had been a due date pool going, I’d have won the jackpot because I knew in my gut from the get-go that she was going to hold out for the 27th.
I wrote here about the morning of April 27. I actually managed about six hours of sleep and beat the alarm clock that morning. Bundle of nerves doesn’t quite sum up how I felt. As I sat on the sofa in the pre-dawn glow from the windows I just kept repeating to myself that today was the day I’d become a mother, today I’d get a baby, today we’d become a party of three. Shelton finally woke and we set about getting ready. The car had been packed for weeks, so all that was left were final details like laptop chargers, cell phones and our pillows (which ended up never leaving the car). I’d showered (and shaved) the night before because I had no idea when I’d get to enjoy those luxuries again. Shelton’s mom greeted us on our way out the door. As soon as the car rolled out of the driveway the tears began. The happiest of tears mind you, but they were also full of anxiety for what the day would hold. For half the ride we listened to NPR and then finally turned on some Dave Matthews Band. As we took the Harry St. exit off of 135, the tears began again. When we parked, Shelton held my hand, looked me in my tear-soaked eyes, told me how much he loved me, reminded me of how far we’d come, and that sometime that evening we’d be holding our daughter.
We gathered our luggage that resembled a couple on vacation – a pink OU diaper bag, a toiletry bag, a large suitcase on wheels, and Shelton’s backpack. I’d managed to compose myself but as soon as we broke the threshold of the hospital the warm tears started to flow down my cheeks once again. I stood at the admissions desk crying; I have to think I’m not the first. Shelton proceeded to get into an English argument with the admissions clerk regarding the proper definition of the procedure we were being admitted for – inducement or induction.
Shelton was arguing for “inducement” (definition: the act of inducing) while she was adamant that the other clerk write “induction” (definition: the act of inducing) on the form. Both were technically correct, I didn’t care if they wrote “gettin’ baby out”, I just wanted to keep things moving. It was rather amusing though, given the weight of the day, that Shelton took the time to flex his language muscle.
With a stack of paper work and patient bracelets we were sent on our way to the fourth floor – maternity. We walked through the large doors that boldly said “Labor and Delivery.” My stomach lunged into my throat. Were we really there? Had we finally come that far? It seemed so remarkably unbelievable. A nurse escorted us to room 423, where we would spend the next 15 hours and welcome our daughter into the world.
I was given a gown to change into while the nurse started turning on computers and getting the bed ready for me. Shelton set-up shop with all of our luggage, and then hung his signs on the door of the room. He was so proud of these and worked so hard on them; there were more but they didn’t all fit so he chose the most important.
I returned from the bathroom, hoisted myself up on to the bed and we got started. I have to point out that I find it incredibly frustrating that this hospital doesn’t have an EHR (electronic health records) system in place. It is seriously 2010, I have visited that maternity floor for treatment no less than three times, and each time I’ve had to complete the exact same paper, hand-written medical history (sometimes twice for the same visit). So that is what we did. Our nurses for the day, who I cannot say enough good things about, Stephanie and Amanda, began to record my medical history. I have to add that the section of questions related to domestic violence was handled very well. I was asked to silently read three questions to myself and say yes/no answers aloud; a few minutes later Shelton, always captain inappropriate, bursts out with “Oh I know what those questions were about!”. It was awkwardly funny. Then we did vitals, installed the IV, attached the monitors, and got that party started.
Everything seemed to be moving at a fair click. Shelton and I were both in great moods, joking with one another and the nurses and kind of reveling in the magic that the day held. I kept feeling a little guilty for Shelton that this was how he was celebrating his 30th birthday, but then again, can you think of a better way? His mom and I had planned to take him for sushi that afternoon, but he ended up sharing Wendy’s with his mom in the parking lot. Fair trade for a cute new baby I guess!
As we closed in on 8:30 a.m. the residents made their way into the room for my first of several exams of the day. We established that I was still hanging out at the 2.5cm mark that I had been for WEEKS! With a phone call to Dr. W we were given the OK to start the petocin and thus start the inducement… induction!
This is when I posted my first tweet on Twitter, 8:36 a.m. “Started the petocin”. I chronicled the entire day on my personal Twitter account so that close family and friends could keep up with the events. By the end of the day we were blown away to hear from so many people commenting that they were basically glued to their feeds as I live tweeted the birth. I thought it was great when my grandmother, who was unable to hang out at the hospital, was able to follow every detail of the day.
Next the anesthesiologist’s nurse met with us to do another medical history and walk us through the epidural. At that point I was still undecided, with my plan being to ride it out as long as I possibly could and make a decision when we hit that point of no return. Deep down I didn’t want to take it; I wanted to experience this birth for all its good, bad or worse, given that it’s entirely likely this is the only time we are doing this. But I’m also not so naive and caught up in my emotions that turning down pain relief was out of the question. She was very respectful of this choice, and we appreciated the depth at which she walked us through the pros, cons, procedure, effects and more. Jodi was positively one of our favorite people that day.
I seemed to react fairly quickly to the petocin, as the rather mild contractions I’d been feeling for weeks were suddenly surging through my body and labeled anything but mild. They were about 7 minutes apart, and hurt like hell but then quickly passed and I was back to chit-chatting with Shelton, playing Scrabble with friends on my iPhone and following my Twitter feed. You know, perfectly normal things to do while laboring.
Around 9:15 a.m., our nurses came back in to check on the status of things. I saw her push some buttons on my IV/petocin machine and then with a very concerned look on her face make a call. It was literally seconds later than an army of residents and nurses filled our room. I glanced back at the monitor and saw that the baby’s heart had dropped to the 50s (when 130-150 was her norm), and I freaked out. Shelton was even more out of the loop than I was. He stood by my head while I was given an oxygen mask and told to breathe. I could barely do that, I couldn’t speak, and hot tears streamed down my face. What was happening to my baby? The sound in the room, while loud with all the talking going on by our medical team, was so muddy and I couldn’t really hear what anyone was saying. The on-staff OB was in my face with a huge smile trying to calm me and explain what was happening; all I could make out was that they were placing a fetal monitor. Suddenly I felt a rush of warmth between my legs and told that they’d just broken my water; this made me cry even harder. And then, it was done. Everyone stepped back and her heart rate was back up.
We continued to have these heart decelerations throughout the day, and each one made us more uneasy than the previous. That first one it was thought that the baby was reacting to the petocin, so they shut it down for an hour. Then it was decided that she was compressing her cord, because each time she’d drop they’d roll me to one side or the other and her heart would spring right back. I really never panicked, most certainly concerned, but our medical team never panicked so I figured it was safe to follow their lead. Shelton did send screenshots of our heart monitor to his labor & delivery nurse aunt in Portland and she confirmed that we had no reason to panic.
By mid-morning our family was starting to fill the room. It was a double-edged sword having them there – we were so grateful to have so much family in town who were able to be a part in this; on the other hand, I felt like I was on display all day with a half-circle of chairs perched at the end of my bed. For the most part, I was able to tune-out every conversation and every word that was being spoken. I went in to myself, and concentrated on what I needed to do to get through that day. Shelton’s voice was the only one I could hear, the only one I wanted to hear. With each contraction he’d resume his position at the end of the bed, giving me something to push my feet in to with his hands. He rubbed my feet and my back and brushed my hair with his hands and repeatedly told me what a great job I was doing.
Once things had settled a bit our nurse returned and asked me to fill out their birth plan. This is not something we had done ahead of time because our birth plan was quite simple, in fact, it was hanging on the front door of our room. One of the signs Shelton made said:
1) Keep mom healthy, happy and alive
2) Get baby out healthy and alive, happy is a bonus
I was handed the same worksheet I’d seen three times before and felt just as overwhelmed and confused by the amount of questions. We’d spoken with our doctor and determined that our plan was to let them do their job and whatever was necessary to deliver our baby healthy and safely. I threw the sheet at Shelton and said “give this back to her or you fill it out”, because I just couldn’t deal with it. I tweeted: “I don’t want to fill out your stupid birth plan. Get baby out alive, that my plan. I dt care if u make eye contact or if I hv piture water.”
The contractions had steadily increased in intensity. I wasn’t yet ready to take the epidural, in fact, I was growing more convinced that I wouldn’t. They were painful, but nothing I couldn’t think and breathe my way through. And that’s exactly what I did. When I was offered the painkiller Nubain though, I quickly accepted. Nothing wrong with taking the edge off a bit, especially if it were available.
I so wanted to celebrate Shelton’s birthday, even if in a small way. So someone brought a package of SpongeBob SquarePants party hats (the only ones they could find) and we all wore won while the nurses took a picture.
Around lunch time, the baby’s heart had continued to drop several times, never less than 70, but always concerning. The nurse advised that if it continued, we could very well find ourselves in a c-section, and for that I’d need to have an epidural or I’d be put under and Shelton wouldn’t be allowed to be there. It was an incredibly tough decision, but one I felt was necessary because there was no way in hell either of us were going to miss the birth of our daughter, and I wasn’t going to put us in a situation that would jeopardize her health. So I told the nurse I’d take the epidural. My God how I cried. I bawled. I felt like I’d let myself down.
The anesthesiologist was captain cool to the max – super fake baked, super white teeth and all of his supplies wheeled in in a red Craftsman toolbox. I’ll also add, super nice guy. Damn I cried. The entire procedure took 30 or 40 minutes and was without a doubt the most painful, brutal and maybe a touch traumatizing part of the entire day. That’s when I went in to my dark place. I was absolutely scared to death. There were so many instructions and voices that the entire room sounded like I was underwater – the sound was muddied and muffled. I laid there crying with the oxygen mask on while Shelton held my hand. I think he could see me fading and literally screamed “Brandi! Look at my eyes!”. A couple of those and I locked on his eyes and he says I didn’t blink once for ten minutes. I just stared at him, crying and hoping that it would end soon. When they finally inserted into the lower part of my spine, I was warned I’d likely feel some sort of shock down one of my legs. And did I ever, I felt like my left leg had been electrocuted and I jumped! I immediately started crying more apologized profusely because I felt like I’d messed up the entire thing. Shelton reassured me that everything was fine and perfect, but confessed later he was lying through his teeth! But all was well, and within a few minutes the lower half of my body felt like dead weight. I couldn’t move my legs at all, I was repositioned in the bed and I tried to calm down.
I was incredibly comfortable, and the only reason I knew I was contracting was because the monitor told me so. It was very bittersweet, I was relaxed and comfortable and if worse came to worse we wouldn’t miss our baby’s birth. However, I was no longer feeling my labor, and I wanted to feel every twinge. Is what it is I guess.
We invited the family back in for about an hour and then asked everyone to leave again so that I could try to take a nap and get some rest before the big show. At this time I was dilated to a four. Shelton turned off the lights in the room, closed the blinds and I rolled over and dozed off. Probably not more than about 45 minutes, but it was so needed and felt so good. The room was cool, quiet, dark and for a moment there wasn’t any chaos. This can absolutely be called the calm before the storm. The morning had been relatively routine, but by the time I woke up from that nap, someone pressed the accelerator and we didn’t slow down until the baby arrived.
I woke up around 3 and baby’s heart rate dropped again. These later drops didn’t require an entire medical team, we’d simply adjust my position and she’d be fine. At 3:20 I was examined and I’d dilated to five, we were slowly but surely progressing.
I was starving, absolutely famished, had been all day. Someone brought me ANOTHER cup full of ice and I said I was pretending they were chicken strips from The Pumphouse.
An hour later, at 4:15, I was examined again and I was at a six. I was examined again 45 minutes later, at 5:00, and I had hit nine. See, I woke up from that nap and things just took off. I laughed when they said I was nine because I didn’t think it was possible to change three centimeters in 45 minutes, but apparently it was. The team started prepping the room for delivery, wheeling in carts and supplies, laying out paperwork and other details. I got another dose of the lidocaine from anesthesia because I was starting to feel a lot of pressure and some cramping with the contractions.
The nurse told me to lie down, try to get in another nap because it would be my last chance to rest before delivery. She walked out of the room and Shelton sat on my bed and we talked about something, I don’t remember what, but it was fairly important/significant. Suddenly I interrupted him and said “I’m going to vomit.” He got me a bowl and I was sick, the nurses and the anesthesiologist rushed back in. I told the nurse I was feeling a lot of pressure. Just ten minutes after the last examine, she checked me again and said I was complete, I’d reached ten. I started crying and sent out my last tweet: “I’m a ten. Talk to you when I’m a mom. (tears)”.
At that point my head was spinning so hard and so fast I couldn’t grasp what was happening. I’d gone from six to a ten in an hour and had no time at all to come to grips with what was about to happen. Then, her heart dropped again. Only this time, position changes weren’t helping. They got Dr. W on the line, called in the delivery team, stopped my petocin and immediately dove in to convert the bed for delivery. There were people rushing everywhere, instructions being tossed out, conversations with our doctor (who was about 20 minutes away), and then the completely spontaneous instruction for me to push on three. WHAT?! I was panicking, absolutely panicking.
Since position changes weren’t helping her heart, they didn’t want to wait for our doctor and felt they needed to start delivering pronto. I heard three, thrust myself up off the bed and started pushing. I was pushing. That “moment” you’ve heard about so many times and seen in countless movies, I was doing it, through tears, but I was doing it. Suddenly, everyone yelled STOP! That one push was enough to shift the baby so that her heart spiked back to the 130s and everyone said we’d be able to wait for Dr. W. I was so relieved, I so wanted it to be him to coach us through this process and deliver our baby. They then realized that the baby’s head had turned face-up, so we also wanted to wait for Dr. W to arrive so that he could rotate her face-down and make for a much easier delivery.
Most of the team left the room, save for our nurses, our anesthesiologist nurse and a couple residents. I was in the stirrups with my lady parts more on display than I thought possible. Then one of the nurses walked over and covered me up, and I was a little relieved. At this point I was convulsing. Head to toe my body was shaking harder than it ever had before and there was nothing I could do to stop it, I felt like I was having a seizure (if that’s what a seizure feels like). The nurses reassured Shelton that it was totally normal, just a side effect of the massive adrenaline rush I’d just had. I shook like this throughout the delivery.
A few minutes before 6:00 p.m. Dr. W walked in the room and I felt my heart drop. This was it, no turning back, with Dr. W here it was officially go-time. I started crying and laid there saying “no no no no”. Shelton walked over to stroke my hair and promised me that in an hour I’d have a baby. It took Dr. W only a few seconds to get prepped. He walked over, flipped the baby, and said it was time to start pushing. OH. MY. GOD! We waited for the first contraction and at exactly 6:00 p.m. I started pushing. We did three sets of 10 for each contraction, with Shelton and our nurse taking turns counting off. I could hear the excitement in Shelton’s voice, as each number one through ten sounded like they were being called out by a varsity cheerleader. Between pushes I would throw myself back on the bed, grab my oxygen mask and literally fall asleep. I was conscious of what was going on in the room, but completely closed my eyes and rested between pushes.
Then, Dr. W would ask if I could feel the next contraction coming on, I’d confirm, and Shelton would use his hands to push my back off the bed, I’d grab the handle bars to allow me to curl myself around my slowly descending belly, and nurses held my legs. At some point the pushes turned in to four sets of 10. Shelton says he was having a hard time “multi-tasking” between holding my back, counting, holding my leg (because our nurse had to take a bathroom break at some point!).
At one point the anesthesiologist nurse asked if she could ask our family to leave the hallway. Apparently they’d all gathered outside our room with ears pressed to the door. So much for the privacy we’d requested! I pulled my mask aside and said “Get rid of them!”.
Dr. W used mineral oil to massage “the area” and make delivery easier. Apparently with the baby’s head half out he was also using it as a styling product to give our baby a mohawk!
Shelton and I had been adamant about not seeing the actual birth. I was able to maintain this, and glad that I did, and I don’t regret not seeing her being born. Shelton didn’t have a choice, everything was there for the world to see, but I think he’s glad that he was able to witness it, and said it wasn’t anywhere near as gory as we’d both dreamed in our heads. As the baby continued to crown and we made more progress, Shelton’s voice grew even more enthusiastic, to the point that he was jumping up and down next to my bed.
And then, that moment. After an hour of pushing, nine months of pregnancy, two months of fertility treatments and six years of trying, hoping and waiting, our little girl was born at 7:05 p.m. on April 27, 2010, a birthday we are thrilled she shares with her daddy! I’m sobbing just recalling it. I was completely exhausted, and I looked down to see the doctor holding this teeny tiny wiggling little body with a head covered in dark curly hair. Shelton was right, if I’d just push for an hour I’d have a baby. I just kept saying “oh my god!” over and over again while I cried looking at her; and Shelton stood next to me with his head buried in mine and cried. The doctor then asked Shelton if he wanted to cut the cord, and with slight hesitation, he grabbed the scissors. In that moment he ended my pregnancy, but he also officially welcomed her into this world. Shelton laughs that he was amazed the cord wasn’t purple and that it looked like calamari. (He let me know later than when she’d delivered they had to remove the cord from around her neck, but she was fine.) They immediately thrust her onto my chest, wrapped in a blanket, and through tear-soaked eyes I held her tiny little hand and said “hello baby” as they wiped her clean. I don’t remember hearing her cry, if she was, but I do remember her great big bright eyes staring intently at me. I wanted to put that moment in a bottle; it was genuinely the single best moment of my life. I was a mother, I had a daughter, and we were a family. In my head I could hear the Dave Matthews Band song “Baby Blue” playing, specifically the line “The first time I saw you was like a punch right through my chest.”
With more work still to be done, they whisked her away to the warmer so they could take her Apgar (9 / 8 / 8), measurements, finish cleaning and more. Meanwhile, I had to deliver my placenta. Shelton was lost and I kept telling him to go be with the baby and take pictures!! He was reluctant, and even insistent in standing by my side but I finally convinced him to go to the baby. Delivering the placenta was painful, as the nurses and doctor were pushing on my abdomen to massage it out; my abdomen was not blocked so I could feel every push and it hurt!
After that, everyone started the clean-up process and I watched from my bed as our daughter, who we named Paisley Joon Koskie, weighed in at 7 pounds 7 ounces and measured 18″ long with a 12″ head. They bundled her up, and brought her to me, and Shelton and I sat together on my bed and marveled at this tiny little person we’d worked so hard to create together. She was ours! The sky outside was a brilliant blue, no clouds, and beneath it the greenest trees, a beautiful view from our room. I asked a very anxious Shelton to go let our family know she had arrived, but to please return without them. I wanted the three of us to enjoy the moment without any interference. So he did, he came back and we sat together, took our first family photo, and Shelton told me that I’d never been more beautiful than I was right then, and that he’d never loved me more. The feeling was absolutely mutual. I looked at him and said “thank you for her.”
With her big bright eyes wide awake, we welcomed our family in to meet her about 15 minutes later and they each took turns holding her. My brother was the hero of the day, offering to go across the street to Wendy’s and bring back some food for me. I ordered a double with fries and a coke and I sucked them down like a ravenous animal. And then I threw it up. But I didn’t care. It tasted so good and it felt amazing to have something, anything in my stomach.
Our family didn’t stay long, recognizing that we’d had a long, exhausting day and that we wanted to spend some time with our daughter. Paisley was then given a bath and then we decided to give breastfeeding a try. Our first attempt lasted seven minutes, and we both did a pretty decent job for not having any experience. It’s on-the-job training that we’ve both become pretty good at doing.
Two hours after her arrival we were taken down to our postpartum room where we would stay for the next two days. At 10:30 p.m. our family doctor, Dr. H, arrived to check her out and gave her a clean bill of health (prayers answered!). And then we settled in for our first of many long nights together.
That day went by so fast, and yet, I feel like pieces of it moved so slowly that I was able to capture them in my memory perfectly.
It must be said that my husband blew me away that day. I didn’t expect any less than what he offered by way of love, support, motivation and encouragement, but what he delivered far exceeded my expectations. There is no doubt that I wouldn’t have done as well that day if it weren’t for him. There is not a single other soul I would have wanted to share that day with, and having our daughter has reaffirmed for me why it is that I love him, why we have an incredible marriage, and why I love calling him my best friend.
We are proof that you should never give up, should always hold out hope, and should always believe that your dreams will come true. We never let our infertility stand in our way of creating the family that we wanted. Paisley is spectacular and this entire experience has far exceeded my wildest expectations of what becoming a parent could be. She’s perfect, she’s beautiful, she’s healthy and she’s ours. As long as I live I will not forget that day.