Monday, August 8, 2011

The Princess Arrives

The first 2 months of our marriage pass uneventfully and we enjoyed our first Christmas together as husband and wife and our last Christmas as just a couple. My due date for this first pregnancy is January 16th and I'm super nervous about the weather. There is a local event which occurs in our area every year in the same week, the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The weather has a reputation for being troublesome during this week and of course, it's the very same week we're expecting our little girl to make her appearance!

Six days before my due date, a Monday, I start noticing some cramping and contractions around 10 am. Prior to this, I haven't had any practice contractions or any signs of impending labor, so these definitely get my attention. With excitement, I begin to wonder if this really might be it. Of course, I'm new to the whole experience, so I try not to get too worked up because I have no idea if this is the real thing. Around noon, my husband calls to check in on me and I tell him that I think I might be in early labor. He offered to come home early from work, but I tell him I'm fine and that I'll let him know if I need him.

This is 2005 and before the days of Facebook, so I sit around the house being excited about maybe being in labor and wondering if I should start making phone calls to tell our family. In the end, I opt to wait until my husband gets home from work before doing anything to spread the news. We eat dinner and by then, my contractions are starting to get a whole lot closer together and make me much more uncomfortable.

By 7:00 or so, I'm trying to decide if it's time to call the doctor. I make the call and I'm told to head to the hospital, which is thankfully only about 10 minutes away. At this point, my contractions are causing so much pain in my back that I feel I can hardly breathe through them. Needless to say, it felt like a very long ride to the hospital anyway.

Once we arrive, I find out that I'm not dilated enough to be admitted, but I'm clearly in a lot of pain and definitely in early labor, so they let me stay for a few hours (in the shower with nice hot water for my back) and then check me again around midnight. At that point, I'm dilated to about 4 cm and so I can be admitted and (hallelujah) get my epidural! My poor husband has been working so hard to ease my back labor that he's feeling pretty tired as well.

By 2:00 am, I'm finally feeling comfortable and we attempt to turn the lights down and get some rest, but what seems like just a few minutes later, I feel my water break and I call for the nurse. She comes in and confirms that we're ready to deliver our baby girl. Because it's the middle of the night, no one from my OB office is on call, so the nurse-midwife from another practice joins us and gets everything ready. As it turns out, I was somehow already an expert in pushing and with just a few tries, our little princess, Katelyn Mae, slips into the world at 3:25 am! She weighs in at 6 lbs, 14.9 oz and was 19.75 inches long. The biggest surprise - red hair! In all the times I imagined her pretty little face, I never pictured her with red hair... I am instantly in love!

We get to spend an hour or so together and then head up to the postpartum unit. Katelyn is taken to the nursery for a bath and whatever they do in those first few hours. I am told she'll be brought back to my room by around 7:00 am. I take advantage of the break and try to get a little bit of sleep. I wake up around 8:30 am and realize my little girl hasn't returned. I make my way down to the nursery and see her in all her beauty in her bed, but notice that unlike the other babies, she's hooked up to some extra equipment. I ask the nurse what's going on and I'm told that Katelyn was having some episodes where she would stop breathing long enough to start turning blue. They were keeping her on a special monitor to keep an eye on her oxygen level. I am told not to worry and to go back to my room, that the pediatrician will come and speak with us.

So I go back to the room and tell my husband what's going on. We wait for a bit, but no doctor comes to see us, so he heads home quickly to take care of the dog and get a shower. He tells me he will return shortly. Less than an hour later, the pediatrician finally arrives and apologizes; apparently he was under the impression that someone had already spoken with us about Katelyn's condition. He explains that she is being transferred to the NICU for further care because of the problems with her breathing. I manage to keep it together long enough to call my husband and tell him that he must come back right away, but then I fall apart.

The rest of that day is just a blur to me. I remember riding the elevator down to the NICU and I remember scrubbing in with that awful pink soap they have. Standing by the side of her isolette, the doctor explains to us about her episodes of apnea and what they think may be causing them. But I don't really hear him - all I see is the IV coming out of her scalp and the oxygen tube taped to her face. My perfect little baby now looks even more fragile then she did when she was born. Tears stream down my face and I become overwhelmed with fear and wish that this never happened. Thankfully my husband is my rock and after a short time, he convinces me that everything will be okay and that we just need to stay strong for our baby.

Time passes and they rule out brain dysfunction, infection and heart problems. She is almost a week old before someone decides to test to see if acid reflux is causing her to hold her breath until she turns blue. This turns out to be exactly what is going on and it's a simple fix ~ hooray! She is put on two medications to prevent the reflux and she is monitored until she's 9 days old. She is finally released to come home with us and I'm so relieved to have her home with us, I don't care that she's on a special monitor to watch her breathing. All the days of traveling to the hospital by myself to feed her every 4 hours is finally over! We get to be parents in our home!

So we load this tiny package into her car seat, which makes her look even smaller, and off we go....

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