I was fourth on the June 9th induction list, but didn’t get called until Saturday afternoon to come in…sort of a relief, but wow there was so much anxiety leading up to that phone call. I was so excited to meet this sweet boy, but so incredibly scared of the whole labor thing. When we got to the hospital, my two nurses got me settled and we got this thing started. Jesus answered my prayers and sent me two angels in the form of my nurses; day shift AND night shift. They were the biggest blessings and as I write this I have tears in my eyes because of how truly incredible they were to me. Labor & delivery was one of the best, most comfortable experiences of my life…not at all what I expected.
I was induced around 1630 on Saturday and felt comfortable for longer than I anticipated. I wanted to eat snacks the whole time, so I shoveled in fishy crackers, cereal bars, and whatever else I could dig out of our hospital bag as fast as I could. I was quickly put on a ‘clear liquid only’ diet AKA Jello, ice chips, and that’s about it, but some really sweet nurse snuck me in some applesauce (for real, lucky me!) Gauge laid on the couch next to me, napped, and watched “Joe Dirt” twice… now he’s embarrassed by that (and I’m embarrassed for him). I went in with the intention of not being brave and most certainly wanting some form of pain relief. My nurse warned me that if I wanted an epidural, it would take about twenty minutes from start to finish. I laid there in pain until I couldn’t any more, knowing that it was only going to get worse. Charlie, the anesthesiologist came in with his epidural equipment and HALLELUJAH, that wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be either — I actually felt nothing and it was glorious. A few more hours went by and I started to feel more pain, but this time it was all in my lower back. Bless my sweet nurse Katy who knew how much pain I was in and massaged my back in the most perfect way to make me as comfortable as possible, while Gauge stood by my side and let me squeeze the life out of his hand. At this point, I didn’t know that getting more medication through the epidural was an option, so I didn’t bother asking. About 20 minutes later Charlie comes waltzing back in, apologizing, and offers me more medicine. PRAISE!!! I rested as best I could, but I was shaking — and when I say shaking I mean the bed was moving and I was SHAKING. After the fact I remember being told that was normal, but I honestly don’t remember why that happens. I just know I pretty much shook the entire 17 hours. As soon as I could finally relax myself, my nurse would come running in to reposition me and give me oxygen because Kai’s heart rate was dropping with my contractions. The rest of the night flew by (the entire process went by so dang fast I still can’t believe it). Now it was time for shift change, so I hugged my night nurse goodbye and my nurse from my first few hours on Saturday was back! I could feel that it was getting to be time to push, so I told my nurse and she agreed with me, but the doctor wasn’t coming in to check. THIRTY MINUTES LATER here comes the doctor and sure enough, it’s time… its BEEN time. I pushed for a little over an hour and at 0941 on Sunday morning our sweet Kai William was born.
Kai was born bigger than we thought and seemingly healthy at 7lbs. 14oz. and 20.5 inches long. We stayed in the delivery room for a few hours until we were moved to the mother/baby unit. Once we got settled in our new room, I was nursing Kai and unwrapped his swaddle a bit only to notice that it looked like he was having chest retractions. I called for a nurse to come in and check him and I could tell by the look on her face that something wasn’t right. She wheeled him out of the room in his little bassinet and I sent Gauge out right behind them. I was stuck in bed, still in pain and too exhausted for words, never having felt more helpless or scared in my life. Gauge walked back into our room and told me they were still assessing him, but they were going to have to take him to the NICU because he wasn’t breathing well. I laid in bed and sobbed because I couldn’t believe that my baby, who was healthy just a few hours earlier, was now being taken to a special unit because he wasn’t okay!?!???? Of all the fearful thoughts that crossed my mind before he was born, him being admitted to the NICU and not being able to come home with us right away was not one of them. A little while later my new nurse finally wheeled me down to the NICU and Gauge took me to Kai’s bedside. Doctors and nurses flooded his room and the hallway outside and as hard as I tried, I could not hold back my tears. In all honesty, I could hardly look at my sweet boy because he was hooked up to so many machines and it literally shattered my heart. I couldn’t help him. I couldn’t feed him. I couldn’t hold him. He laid alone, helpless and sick. This mama heart was in pieces. I sat next to him and continued to cry as doctors were coming in and out trying to explain what was going on and what they were doing to help. In those moments I couldn’t even begin to understand…
He was hooked up to a CPAP machine for 24 hours and was prescribed IV antibiotics for 7 days — the doctors believed he had some form of pneumonia. During his first five days, he was off and on nasal oxygen, but was certainly doing better by mid-week. What a long week it was living in the hospital, but I learned so much and my heart has forever been changed. I never imagined being a NICU parent, but I am fortunate for the new perspective. My heart broke for the parents I saw walking in and out of the unit, visiting for an hour or two a day, and not even being able to hold their babies. I couldn’t hold my baby for one day and that was too much for me.
As heartbreaking as it was to stay in the hospital and watch our baby hooked up to so many machines and essentially miss out on the first week of his life, I am grateful. As I walked up and down the NICU hallways more times than I can count, I saw so many teeny-tiny babies who were so, so sick and no one was able to tell their parents when they were going to be able to go home or if they were even going to make it home. These babies laid in their rooms all alone because even when their parents did visit, they weren’t able to be held. Our baby wasn’t like the others. He was big and strong (one of the nurses actually nicknamed him “BIG TUNA”, which cracks me up) and we were fortunate enough to know when he was going to come home. That first week took a huge toll on all of us, but we are home now, living our best life and we can’t believe how fast the time has gone — little mister is already almost 4 weeks old!
We were blessed with the best nurses we could have ever imagined (again). They became part of our little family and as happy as we were to go home, there were tears as we said goodbye to this place we briefly called home and to these people who became family.
My mom wasn’t supposed to fly in to visit until the end of June, but by the grace of God, she was able to fly in the day after Kai was born. We planned this because Gauge was still going to be at school and unable to come home every night. We didn’t know we’d be living in the hospital for a full week, but Jesus obviously knew what was going to happen and knew that I would not have been able to handle it alone, so he sent my mom on a plane ten days early to be exactly what I needed in all of those moments.
Thank you mum, from the bottom of my heart for all that you are. Thank you for keeping me calm, speaking truth, and laughing with me through all of the nonsense. Thank you for braving the scary boarding room, stealing all of the towels and blankets, and for eating way too many Subway sandwiches with me (never again, I promise). And most importantly, thank you for taking such good care of the three of us and for loving Kai as much as you do. What a true blessing you are.
FIRST FATHER’S DAY
We celebrated Father’s Day the weekend before Gauge left for school because we didn’t know where we’d be on the real day and I wanted it to be special. If I would’ve guessed though, his first Father’s Day would not have been spent in a tiny NICU room where we took turns sleeping in a “recliner” and an office chair.
Bless Gauge’s heart — the week of our hospital stay was also his most intense week of school, he was battling an upper respiratory infection, and like me, he was sleep deprived. He pushed through, passed every single test and field training exercise, called and visited us when he could, and graduated with the honor of being Platoon SGT at his graduation ceremony. His dedication to his career and his family are admirable and my gosh, I am one proud wife. I was in tears on the night Kai was born, knowing that he only had a few hours left before he had to go back to school — I couldn’t imagine having a brand new baby and having to say goodbye a few hours later. I was heartbroken for him because I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to do that, but if anyone had the strength to, it was this guy. He was strong for me when there was no way I could be, he held me, he let me cry and cry and cry, and he took care of everything.
I remember looking at him with so much joy in my heart, in the midst of temporary heartbreak, and in that moment I realized I had fallen so much more in love with him than I ever thought possible. He is the best guy and these words don’t do justice what he’s done, how he handled all of this, and watching him & Kai together melts my heart into puddles every time. They are TWINS and I am so in love.
So babe, if you’re reading this — thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. I love you the most. XO, H