Hey There With The Pretty Face…

The morning that Kevin and found out that I was pregnant, he set about making me a healthy breakfast. But first, music. The first song that he played was “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO. A line stood out to both of us and we danced in the kitchen while the eggs cooked.

Now here we were, months later, on our way to the hospital to have our baby. Calls were made to mom’s to let them know we were on our way to have a baby, their grandchild, texts were sent to a couple of friends and I hoped that my water wouldn’t completely break, or Kevin’s car would be flooded!

We arrived at University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA at about 9pm. Kevin grabbed a wheelchair in the parking garage and got me to the front door, where security was more than happy to point the way to the elevator to the 6th floor. We headed up to Labor & Delivery where a nurse was waiting for me and the sweet lady at the front desk welcomed me back! They got me to a room to do a quick check to make sure that my water was indeed breaking. When I stood up out of the wheelchair and water went everywhere, the nurse said “yep, you’re water broke! Change into a gown and we’ll take you to your room!” And with that, it was confirmed – we were having this baby soon.

Getting set up in a room where you are waiting for the single most important, most incredible, most terrifying moment of your life is strange. I still look back at that night and some things are a blur, but I remember getting set up on a big bed, getting all the monitors strapped to my belly and getting an IV started. I remember what seemed like gallons of amniotic fluid soaking the bed every few minutes and the most patient nurse in the world changing my bedding and making me comfortable and bringing me cheese and crackers and bringing Kevin Ginger Ale. I remember talking with the doctor about what might happen that night. It was decided that if I could have this baby vaginally, we would try for that, and if there were complications or labor was lasting too long, we would go back to the original plan of a c-section. We texted our mom’s and friends to let them know I was set up at the hospital and around 10:30pm things picked up speed.

I began to have contractions. The real kind. The kind that made all of those false labor contractions seems like a just really bad cramps. This is where I direct my next statement to all the ladies who have had contractions…What. The. Actual. Hell???? Holy shit. Seriously. My contractions started at and stayed at every two minutes until my daughter was born. All the years of yoga and dealing with mild panic attacks taught me to breath through things, so that helped a lot as did Kevin holding my hand, and encouraging me. But they were coming fast and furious and when the nurse asked if I wanted an epidural, I jumped at the chance! As of an earlier check I still had not begun to dilate.

The two most amazing men came into my room. The anesthesiologists. Medicine is an amazing thing, my friends. They set me up on the edge of the bed, monitors still strapped to my belly, and Kevin sitting in front of me holding my hands. The contractions were getting stronger and there was massive pressure building in my back. It was difficult for the anesthesiologists to get the needle in my back to get the epidural started between these mounting contractions, but they finally managed to get it started. As they did so, the pressure in my back gave way, there was a pop and a gush of fluid that almost took out Kevin’s silver Dr. Marten boots. There was blood in the fluid and the monitor indicated that the baby’s heart beat was slowing. The doctors got me on all fours – a spectacularly elegant position – and check my cervix. I had dilated 5 centimeters in less than 90 minutes. The doctor said that she was concerned about the baby being in distress and that we needed to do that c-section that we had talked about earlier. We needed to do it now! They threw a sheet over my partially naked, still on all fours figure. And the nurse threw a package at Kevin, told him to change and she would be right back for him. We said our ” I love you’s” and he promised to be right behind me and the team rolled me down the hall. I was scared, excited, nervous, kind of humiliated and as I rolled by another soon-to-be-mom, I said “good luck tonight” and looked into her nervous eyes “you’ll do awesome”. She said “good luck to you too!” in an unsure voice and that was the last I saw her. Sometimes I wonder how her night went. Did she have an easy delivery? Was her baby healthy? Did she have a boy or girl? Does she remember me?

In the OR they moved me from the bed to an operating table. My contractions were still coming strong, but the epidural was starting to set in. There was an urgency in the need for the epidural to take full effect and the anesthesiologists took turns poking my legs, hips, and sides to see if I was numb enough to get my c-section under way.

Kevin was in the room all of a sudden, holding my hand, kissing my forehead. It looked like this was the night we become parents! I asked him what time it was, and if I remember it was sometime after midnight. It was Sunday, November 18th. 34 Weeks, 3 Days.

I reminded Kevin of everything we had talked about over the past few weeks. If our little girl needed to be intubated to help her breath, Kevin was to go with her. If she went to the NICU, he was to go with her. Basically, if our baby was going to be away from me, Kevin was to go everywhere with her. He promised to stay with her – and keep me in the loop with everything that was going on with her.

Our team of doctors and nurses was finally ready, as was I. The baby was staying stable, but it was time to get her out into the world. Kevin held my hand, kissed my forehead and kept reassuring me, as much as himself, that everything was going to be ok. The anesthesiologists took turns making sure I was ok and the doctor got started. The only way I can describe having surgery while awake, but numb, is a little like being probed. Were there two hands in there or 12? After a few minutes of cutting and tugging and pulling and Kevin peeking over the drape a time or two, the doctor said the drape could be dropped…it was time to meet my daughter.

And then, all of a sudden, there she was.

From the pictures, I saw that she was covered in all the regular things that newborns are covered in, but the moment I saw her face, I heard the words of the ELO song Kevin played the morning we found out we were going to have a baby. All I could see was my beautiful little girl. My Luna Bell Everleigh. We had picked her name the day we found out I was pregnant, even before we knew she was a girl. She was destined to be born at night. A new moon for our world to orbit. Our little girl was finally here.

She was beautiful, but so incredibly pissed off. She was trying to get that first breath of fresh operating room air, but her little lungs would not expand enough for that to happen. The doctors rubbed her sternum to see if they could get her to breath, and she thought that kicking her little feet and waving her fists would help, but nothing was working. I was scared, and tried to encourage her, hoping that my reassuring mommy voice would help her. But after a few second of trying to get her to breath, they said they were taking her next door to be intubated. I told Kevin to go with them, as he was standing up to do just that. He kissed me. Told me he wouldn’t leave her side and that he would call or text me or come back to my room as soon as there was any news to give.

As difficult as it was to watch them take my tiny little girl away from me, knowing that Kevin was with her comforted me. He wouldn’t let anything happen to her, and he would let me know what was going on as soon as he could.

As the doctors stitched me up, tears ran down my cheeks. Tears from being so tired. From being pure emotions – fear, happiness, love. Tears because I couldn’t hold my newly born daughter in my arms. Tears because our families weren’t there to share in welcoming this new little human to the world. Mostly tears because my little girl needed help. A lot of help. I willed every god and every good thing in the universe to help Luna Bell. Please help her make it through this night. Please help her be able to breath. Please just keep her alive so that I could see her beautiful face one more time. Adrenalin started to course through my veins. Tiredness was replaced by strength, pain was replaced by a little euphoria that all the weight was off of my belly now, and my little girl had been born and well, lets be honest, the epidural was still hanging on pretty good and that was making me very happy! I waited for Kevin to call or text me from the NICU and soon I heard from him. Luna Bell was doing ok, but had been intubated, chest tubes placed to drain the fluid off of her lungs, and she was on medication to keep her calm and the doctors and nurses were taking good care of her. My nurse told me that she had heard from the NICU and as soon as Luna Bell was stable I would be able to go down and visit her.

Kevin came back up to see me and see how I was doing and soon it was time to go visit our little girl. I was still a little numb from the epidural, but I got into the wheel chair and the nurse rolled me down to the NICU.

As they took me into my daughters small room, all I heard was the hum of the ventilator and the beeps of the monitors and all I could see were tubes and wires and bags and the incubator. Somewhere in there was my daughter. They rolled me closer to the incubator, and there she was. Small, skinny but kind of puffy from the fluid she was retaining, but beautiful. Kevin went to the other side and we both put our hands into the incubator and put our fingers near her hands and she grabbed into them tightly. She was really here. She had made it into the world and she was fighting and trying to be strong. As I looked at Kevin and we then looked at our daughter, my heart filled. It filled with love for this little girl, for the family we had created, and hope that she was going to be ok. Maybe not right away, but soon. And then we would get to hold her, and take her home. It wouldn’t be long before we took her home, right? I hoped for the future as I gazed at my perfect little girl, and whispered the words that came into my mind the moment I saw her earlier that night, “Hey there with the pretty face, welcome to the human race.”

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2 Comments

  1. Shelly, I haven’t been on FB for some time, and was delighted to learn you became a mother! I clicked on something and ended up here 🙂 I wanted to take a moment to tell you that I love what you have shared, and I am so very happy for you! My youngest son was a NICU baby and that experience changed my life. Reading of your experience stirred up those memories for me. What an exciting and beautiful journey you are on. All of it. Sending love to you and your family!
    Bonnie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Bonnie, thank you for the sweet note! Becoming a mom this late in life was the best surprise I could have ever asked for, and (spoiler alert!) while the NICU experience is the single most difficult thing I’ve gone through, it was worth every minute to have my little girl here and home and growing. I hope your youngest is now strong and healthy and growing like crazy, and that your family is happy and full of love! Love you!

    Like

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