Saturday, March 5, 2011

Natalie's Story

Warning: This is extremely LONG! I had planned to post Natalie’s story in parts, but once I got started, there was no stopping.

February 20th seems like a long time ago. It was a Sunday, and I was anxious. I knew that we'd be checking into the hospital that evening for our induction. Our girl was being stubborn, and decided to hang out in me a little longer than she was supposed to! I was thankful for my niece's birthday party on Sunday afternoon, because it gave me a distraction from my worry and excitement.

We checked in at the hospital at 8pm. I was thankful to get a friendly and talkative nurse. She put me at ease right away as we chatted away. She gave me cervidil and told me to try to get some sleep....yeah right! I fell asleep around 11, but was awake by midnight. That one hour of sleep was definitely not going to get me through the next 24 hours, but I don't know how you sleep when you know you are going to have a baby the next day!

Around 3am, I started to have contractions. Right away, they were very close together (3 minutes apart), but not very strong. I was only 1cm dilated when I checked in, so I was anxious to see what kind of progress I was making by the time morning came. Around 7, the nurse and doctor came to check on me. I was only 2cm, but tried not to be disappointed as they started the pitocin. My mom and sisters arrived as well, as I wanted to have them there with me. I've been present as both of my sisters have had their babies, and wanted them to be able to share that experience with me as well.

The contractions started to get stronger, but I tried to breathe through them and move around as much as possible. I knew that I would be getting an epidural, so I wanted to be up and around before I was stuck in the bed. My doctor broke my water sometime between 9 and 10 in the morning. I continued to make progress of about 1cm per hour, which my nurse assured me was quite normal. She guessed that I'd have my baby girl here by mid-afternoon.

I was in a fair amount of pain, so I got my epidural around lunchtime, I think. It was a relief to be pain-free, and I was looking forward to getting some rest since I hadn't slept the night before. I was nervous about the epidural at first, but Mark was wonderful about helping me to stay calm. He held my hands and breathed with me as I went through the process....and the warmth and numbness spread down through my legs quickly.

I decided to try to nap a little, so we turned down the lights, and my mom and sisters left to take a break and get some lunch. I slept for a little while, but was awakened to some pain in my left pelvis and back. I talked to my nurse about it, and she decided to call the anesthesiologist to come in and re-dose my epidural. Of course, that didn't happen immediately because she was in a surgery, but she came as quickly as she could. By then, I was feeling every contraction on my left side - front and back. She gave me more medicine and we waited, but the pain only intensified instead of subsiding. I was close to 7cm by now, and the pain of the contractions were consuming. Mark stayed right by my side, reminding me to breathe, helping me through each contraction. They decided that the best bet would be to remove the current epidural and give me a new one. I was worried, but needed the pain relief.

We went through the epidural process again. It was late afternoon, and I was disappointed that I hadn't made more progress. I was getting so anxious to meet Natalie, and couldn't stand the thought of waiting through the evening and night to see her face. After the second epidural, my blood pressure dropped. I don't really remember this, but Mark says that I got very white, my eyes started to flutter and roll back, and I was not responsive to him any longer. They quickly gave me oxygen and medicine to bring my pressure back up. My mom and sisters were scared, and I remember seeing their tear-streaked faces looking over me.

Unfortunately, 3 hours later, the epidural began to wear off again. This time on the right side. I started to feel some pain, and the nurse assured me that it was probably just pressure from the baby moving down. I knew, however, that the same pain from before was going to come back, and I began to cry. Mark wiped away the tears and assured me the best that he could, but I had an intense fear about what was coming. I didn't know what would happen, but I knew the rest of this delivery was not going to go according to plan. Mark had the nurse call the anesthesiologist in again. By now I was 9cm dilated, but there was as part of my cervix that wouldn't completely go away. This time, the pain of the contractions came quickly and was unbearable. Again, I don't remember much about this time. I was trying to breathe through the contractions the best that I could, but felt like I was in a fog. I seemed to be unaware of anything around me, except Mark's voice, and the voice of the night nurse who had taken over. She was amazing. She rubbed my back, as I was having the most pain from the contractions there. She coached me through each contraction, which were coming about every minute. More anesthesiologists came to assess my pain, and they were unsure about what to do to help. Another complication - I had developed a uterine infection, and was now running a fever as well. My pulse was racing, and they were having trouble getting my heartrate down. I was shaking with chills from the fever and the pain of the contractions.

My doctor came in next. She checked me -- 9.5cm, but still my cervix was not completely gone. She started talking about a c-section, and I began to cry. Mark needed a break....I knew that he was having a difficult time seeing me in so much pain. I watched him walk away in tears, and my mom took over. She held my hand and assured me that the c-section would be fine. It would be pain-free, and that I would quickly get to meet my baby girl.

I agreed to the c-section, but by now the pain had completely taken over my whole body. I don't remember much....people flooding the room, snippets of conversation between the doctors and nurses, and Mark's constant grip on my hand. They wheeled me down the hall quickly, and I remember hearing the voices of my mom and sisters wishing me luck, although I don't remember seeing them. They took me so quickly that I didn't get to kiss Mark before they directed him to a waiting room while they prepped me. He would get to come in once I was all ready. I looked over my shoulder at him and he blew me a kiss.

In no time, we were in the OR. There were clouds painting on the ceiling, but I was seeing spots. My doctor and two nurses were holding me down on the table so that the anesthesiologist could give me the spinal block. It was taking a long time. I was crying and asking my doctor, "When will he be done? When will the pain go away?" They stuck me 3, 4, 5 times trying to find a good place in my spine for the block. However, I had had so much epidural medicine that they were having a hard time. My legs were getting numb on the right side, but I was still feeling intense contractions. They laid me on my back and said we'd wait 15 minutes for the medicine to kick in.

Mark came in after that. Everything was hazy, except for the pain I was still feeling. They went to make the first incision, and I didn't feel it on the left, but I did on the right. I grimaced in pain. Within a minute, the doctor said "We have to put you to sleep." Mark was rushed out of the room, and they put the mask on my face. That is the last thing I remember.

Mark was allowed to come back in the room once the baby was out. He videotaped her getting cleaned up, weighed, measured, etc. I was so glad that he was there to see her and talk to her. Since that day, I have felt consuming guilt about not seeing my baby's first moments in this world. I was not awake to see her first breath, or hear her first cry. She didn't hear my voice to wish her a happy birthday and to tell her that I loved her. I am eternally grateful for the videos. We bought the video camera two days before we checked into the hospital. Without it, I would have not been able to see any of these precious moments that I had to miss. Mark took video of her first bath in the nursery, and my sister took video of my in recovery afterwards holding Natalie. Even though I was awake, this was also a blur. All I remember thinking is that I was so tired, and I wanted desperately to wake up and be more alert. However, I'll never forget seeing her beautiful face for the first time. She latched on immediately to breastfeed, and I kept thanking God over and over again that she was healthy. She was perfect. I looked at every inch of her...her little nose and ears, her sweet little mouth and soft fuzzy hair, her long fingers and toes. I was taken over by this immense love that I hadn't ever felt before.

I vaguely remember them taking us to our room – I know it was late…after midnight. I don’t remember feeding her again during the night, but I’m sure I did. As the days went on, I came out of my fog and started to enjoy my sweet baby girl. Her bloodwork came back that she had an infection, too, which meant a 7-day round of antibiotics in the NICU. Luckily, they just took her down for her medicine twice a day, and the rest of the time she was in our room with us. It was a LONG week, and I have never been more happy to be home! We had great care in the hospital, but I just wanted to get my baby home and start enjoying our new life together.

Natalie is a great baby – she sleeps all the time and is a great eater. She has been gaining weight like crazy and is already 3 ounces above her birthweight. She has a sweet and calm little personality….I am hoping she doesn’t try to pull the switch on me anytime soon! Her daddy and I are enjoying her each and every day…and I am trying to get used to the sleep deprivation. 

My birth experience did not go as planned. I knew that childbirth was an unpredictable thing, and I never thought that I could have planned it out. But I still had expectations about how I thought it would go…how I wanted it to go. I am grieving that and beginning to accept the fact that I cannot change our birth story. Although it was traumatic and scary for all of us, it brought us the most perfect gift I’ve ever received. I thank God every single day for my beautiful and healthy daughter, and know that His plan was much bigger than mine.


  1. No matter how the blessing of children come into our lives, they are the grandest gift God will ever give us. Expectations are always what bring us guilt, because they never live up to what we originally planned. So, rid yourself of the guilt and bask in the sweetness of your little girl. It doesn't make a difference how she got here, she is yours and you are blessed.


  2. Wow, what a story, Jenny. So glad you and Natalie are okay and are safe and sound at home. If anyone could make it through all that, it was you! I would have been put in the mental ward for good. lol No kidding.

    I can't wait to meet your beautiful girl and see her precious nursery!!! PLEASE let me know if you need anything and you say the word and I'll be over to visit/bring you anything.

    Talk with you soon and give her a hug for me!


  3. I have goosebumps, happy that you are home with your little girl. Prayers and grace to you in this newborn time. Your daughter is just beautiful!

  4. So glad both mom and baby are healthy and doing well. Your story is beautiful, even if it's different than what you had planned. Happy to hear baby Natalie is such a good baby - and so beautiful! A good breastfeeder and sleeper is a HUGE blessing. Can't wait to hear more about your precious family.