I have had this overwhelming feeling I need to write Kozette's birth down. I have this deep sense of sacredness when I think about welcoming our precious baby into the world. After having shared this with an individual I admire and respect I have come to realize my experience is rare. It is because of this I feel I need to write it down.
Kozette's due date, October 7, 2012 was quickly approaching. After going to the doctors earlier that week I really had no expectations she would be born early or - as is a rare case - on her due date. The doctor checked my cervix and I was not dilated at all. I was 70% effaced but that didn't offer any hope. I was feeling huge and anxious to meet and hold my baby. My doctor, Dr. Wayne Young, stripped my membranes and scheduled me to be induced on Sunday, October 14th at 4pm. Even he was skeptical our little girl was going to come. In fact, his exact words were, "We're probably going to have to help this little girl get here. I don't think she's planning on going anywhere soon."
This crushed me. I was completely discouraged. A week overdue?! I thought I wasn't going to be allowed to go any further than 39 weeks because I had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes (something I kept private until now) and 39 weeks was the cut off for patients with this health issue. Because I was able to control my diabetes through diet and exercise, thank goodness, my doctor informed me he no longer considered me a high-risk pregnancy and that as long as I was able to control my blood sugar levels I would be treated as a "normal" pregnancy. This was both good news and bad. Good because I was taking my health seriously and it was showing. Bad because this meant he was going to let me go up to 41 weeks before inducing me.
Well, I had my membranes stripped and was told to go home and stay on my feet, go for walks, etc. I was exhausted. The thought of staying on my feet was miserable. My feet were finally starting to swell and it hurt if I didn't keep them elevated. But I did my best.
I woke up in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, October 6th cramping/contracting. I was up from that point on. I kept track of the contractions and they weren't close enough for me to feel I needed to wake Travis up. I just laid in bed and endured those painful suckers. By the time he woke up I was miserable. We decided we were going to go to the hospital but quickly changed our minds after I called and was told if the contractions were 3-5 minutes a part lasting 40 - 60 seconds each for one hour, I was probably not in active labor. The nurse I talked with said I was welcome to come in to be monitored, encouraged it just to be safe, but said there was a good chance I may be sent home. The thought of being sent home was more then I could handle so I told Trav we would wait it out a little bit, keeping an eye on the contraction frequency and duration. Trav was supportive of this. The last time we went in and were monitored it cost us a couple hundred dollars.
Let's just say Saturday was a very long, painful day. I spent time laying on the couch with my mom by my side writing down start and end times of each contraction. Travis had been doing this but my mom took over while he showered and got ready for the day. She stayed with me the entire afternoon/evening. I would raise my hand when a contraction would start (it was too painful to speak) and she would write down the time. I would then raise my hand again when it was ending (I couldn't speak at this point because I was trying to catch my breath). I was being teased. My contractions were 3-5 minutes a part and lasted 40-60 seconds but after 20 excruciating minutes they would start to spread out, coming and going every ten minutes, every twelve minutes, etc.
By 8:30 Saturday night I was in tears. I couldn't eat anything and hadn't really eaten or drank anything all day because the pain was too much. I just laid on the couch and cried. After my twin sister, Ashley, came and offered me comfort I decided Trav and I needed to go to the hospital. As Ashley suggested, I called the hospital first and let them know we were coming, that I had been contracting all day and needed to be monitored. They said they would be ready for me. As I packed a few odds and ends my mom came and told me she felt I was in active labor and she was relieved I was finally going to the hospital. Come to find out she had been scared I would deliver the baby at home because I refused to go to the hospital for fear I would be sent home. So what changed? After calling the hospital and letting them know we were coming they said if I wasn't in active labor and they ended up sending me home they would give me some strong (but safe) pain killers. I was all over it. Give me pain killers!!
We arrived at the hospital around 9:00 and by 10:30 were told I was in active labor. When they first checked my cervix I was at four cm. After monitoring me for 45 minutes they checked my cervix again and I was at 4.5 cm. Our nurse, Anna, called our doctor to let him know they were admitting me. Trav and I sent out texts to our family - our baby was coming!!!
I am so grateful we decided to deliver at a small hospital, Orem Community Hospital. We were treated like royalty. We stayed in the room we delivered in, no moving from floor to floor, room to room. When we unpacked our bags it was for good. The room we were in was massive. Anna gave us the best room in the Women's Center, room 116 (known as "Sweet 116" because of the gorgeous view of the mountains). It could easily hold all our visitors without people stumbling over or knocking into one another. Our nurses were assigned up to 3 babies but that was only when the nursery was full. I felt like we had the best medical attention we could have hoped for. The clinicians were constantly in our room checking on us. Before getting my epidural I was contracting like mad. They were really picking up in frequency and intensity. My entire body was shaking during each contraction and I started to let out a couple of groans as I sat and tried to breathe through it. Travis lovingly stood by my side and held my hand. Anna (our nurse) gave him some pointers on how he could help reduce my pain levels. She showed him some pressure points he could push during contractions. He did everything in his power to help me until our beloved anesthesiologist arrived.
By 11:30 I was numb and in heaven. I couldn't feel my contractions but the monitor showed I was having them like crazy. I was able to breathe and relax. Anna asked if I wanted to participate in what's called "rest and descend". I had planned to do this so when she asked I whole heartedly approved. To rest and descend is exactly what it sounds like. Since I was numb I was able to rest and relax allowing our baby to descend naturally. I would do this until I was completely dilated (10 cm) or unless there were complications. This is the time that was most sacred to me. Rather then rest Travis and I had about six hours of "rest and descend" time. We took advantage of this because we knew our lives were changing in just a few short hours. We talked about our marriage. We talked about our accomplishments, our struggles, our hopes and dreams. We talked about this little girl who would be making her appearance and how she was gong to change everything we knew to be normal. We talked about our excitement with this change. We talked about our fears - were we going to be the parents she needs and deserves? We held hands and looked at each other. We talked about and decided on our baby's name - we both felt strong impressions her name should be Kozette. We prayed together. We simply enjoyed the early hours of Sunday, October 7th together with little interruption or stress. I can honestly say we felt the spirit of our loved ones who have passed on (Grandpa, Grandmother and my sweet Mercydez) in our room with us. I know they were there.
Anna came in regularly but would knock first. I appreciated she respected Travis and my privacy like that. A small thing, really, but an important one. During one check she asked us if we had picked a name, to which we told her: Kozette. She asked about a middle name. Being that Kozette's middle name is Mercydez I couldn't just tell her the name without telling her the story. Anna took the time to listen, unrushed, to my experience with my beautiful niece, Mercydez. Had it not been for Mercydez I wouldnt have had any children. My heart was hardened toward children and I had told Travis he would either have to get used to the idea of no children or he would have to find someone else. Yes, I was that angry and turned off to it. Sad, huh? But Mercydez changed that in less then a second of meeting her for the first time. Mercydez changed my heart.
Anna respectfully asked questions, commented, and listened. I felt like I was her one and only patient. She stayed and talked with me. She let me cry. She hugged me. She cared about me, not because she was paid to but because she was a good person.
Around 4:30 my mom arrived. I had invited her in for the delivery. I had originally said the only person in the room, besides doctors and clinicians, would be Travis. But as time went on I could see how sacred this experience would be. Giving birth has been made to be something less-than spiritual by media and the world. I am so grateful my experience was the exact opposite of what the world portrays or makes people believe it is. It was so spiritually rejuvenating. I was grateful my mom was there with me. She had delivered seven of her own children. She could offer me comfort and assurance without ever saying a word because she had been there many times before.
At 6:00 my nurse checked me and said it was time. She had my mom and Travis take a look because she said our baby girls head was crowning. Sure enough, Travis and my mom were able to see the top of our baby's head. They saw her hair! At this point in time I was, again, so grateful for my epidural.
Anna said she was going to go call the doctor, Dr. Judd (he was on call that night/morning) and would be back to prepare me for delivery. As she left the room I looked at Travis and my mom and told them I needed them to reassure me things would be okay. I had some pretty serious anxiety about delivery because one of the professors at UVU had passed away in May (just a few months before) because of complications during the delivery of her third child. This shook me to my soul. Someone so close to my world, the world of Adrienne, passed away because of complications during delivery. This woman was healthy. She showed no signs of complications and then within three days of delivering her sweet baby girl she passed away.
After saying a prayer together and talking I felt at peace. Things were going to be okay. Our baby was going to be okay. I was going to be okay. I laid my head back, closed my eyes, and focused on breathing in and out.
By the time the doctor and his staff arrived, just a few minutes later, I was prepped and ready to go. He was Anna's OB/GYN and she swore by him. She said he was fantastic at what he did. This gave me peace of mind as well because I had never met him before then. Dr. Judd was incredible. He made me feel comfortable within seconds. He was kind and confident. He had great bed-side manners, which means a lot to me. He told Trav and I we had the best nurse working with us (Anna) - the best nurse in the hospital. I believed him and still do. Both Trav and I LOVE Anna.
After pushing three or four times Dr. Judd looked at me and said, "You've got to give me more then that or else she'll never come." I was blown away! I felt like I was pushing with every ounce of energy and strength I had! But since I was numb I had no way of confirming that...except Dr. Judd. So, I pushed and then had to take a breather (I've decided I'm a sissy). I had everyone laughing in there because I honestly had to "take a break" between each push. Good grief...
My mom timed and I only pushed for 7 minutes, I believe. Kozette arrived at 6:17am. Her cry was the most beautiful music I have ever heard. After she was cleaned up - never leaving the room - she was handed to her daddy. I wanted Travis to hold her. I wanted him to feel a part of it all. I have heard the husband usually feels at a loss - helpless - in their ability to help. For this reason I wanted him to be first with his daughter. That was important to me. After he held her, as brief as it was, she was handed to me for some nursing and skin-to-skin time.
We kept Kozette with us in the room day and night. I was encouraged by many caring people to use the nursery so I could sleep but my thought process was this:
1. I wanted my baby with me. I've waited nine months to hold her - I'm keeping her with me.
2. I heard it was an adjustment sleeping in the same room as your baby because you hear all the sounds he/she makes so you don't sleep very well. I felt it was better to start adjusting to her sounds with clinicians down the hall (in case something went wrong and I panicked) then to deal with the adjusting at home.
3. I was determined to nurse and was told in the breast feeding class we took that the first two weeks are vital to milk supply. I wanted my baby close so every time she could possibly be hungry I could put to my breast and offer her food (demand and supply, supply and demand).
Many people came to visit. I asked everyone to text me before coming so I could make sure I wasn't in the bath, nursing Kozette, or being checked by my doctor/nurses. This was a brilliant idea suggested by Ashely. I made little goody bags for visitors with some candy, tissues, hand santizer, ear plugs, and a little toy. I thought this was a gentle approach to reminding those who came they needed to wash their hands and be healthy. Call me lame but I thought it was fun to hand them out. It was way better then repeatedly asking, "Did you wash your hands?" because as soon as they saw the sanitizer they were reminded - if they hadn't already done so.
I can honestly say our experience was incredibly sacred. It was more then I could have hoped for. The next two days were wonderful. We had kind nurses taking care of us. These nurses went above and beyond in their care. They stayed and talked with us, they advised us, I honestly feel like they loved us. It was hard for me to pack our bags. I didn't want to leave. I felt like I needed a vacation before being admitted and as I was discharged I felt like I had been given my vacation. I felt renewed, energized, and spiritually fed.
I am so grateful for our experience. I am so grateful we have our sweet Kozette with us. She is a beautiful addition to our family. Our little family of two is now a little family of three.
I have had the wonderful opportunity to babysit my little niece, Berkley, for the past month.
I have her three days each week.
There was definitely an adjustment period for the both of us:
I didn't know what I was doing
how to read her
how to best respond to her.
And she didn't know who the heck I was
what I was doing with her
or how she could communicate best with me.
I can honestly say I think we've now figured each other out for the most part.
(Thank goodness her beautiful mommy shares helpful tips!!)
There are still some bumps in the road but overall we're getting pretty good at working together.
It has been fun getting to know this little person.
She is such a joy to have.
I bundle her up and take her on morning walks each day
(she usually takes a good long nap while we're out)
We both take naps at the same time.
And after she's had her meal I usually put her in the swing while I eat.
(which she seems to love)
I've been able to read books to her.
Sing songs to her.
Play with her.
Get to know her.
This has been especially rewarding because my brother
- her daddy -
was just offered and accepted his dream job as a life flight helicopter pilot IN NEW MEXICO.
We are so, so happy for them!
Beyond thrilled, to be honest.
They are so deserving of this opportunity!!
And with this blessed opportunity comes the realization:
This adorable little family may be moving down to New Mexico in the next few months.
Which means I won't get to spend as much time with this little peanut.
So, I count my blessings.
I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with her recently.
I have been fortunate enough to really get to know her -
not just as my niece but as a sweet individual.
I have been fortunate enough to create a friendship with her.
I have been fortunate enough to be in a position where I could offer help to my brother and sister-in-law.
I have simply been fortunate.
I guess what I'm trying to say is:
overall, I've had the wonderful blessing to just enjoy being an Aunt
to a sweet little girl named Berkley.
Multiple charlie-horses/leg cramps each night: CHECK
Nausea every time I eat or drink anything: CHECK
-No space in my tummy. In fact I think my tummy no longer exists. It's been squished outta me.
Headaches caused by crazy-intense hormones: CHECK
Contracting throughout the night: CHECK
-Typical at this point in the pregnancy. Don't get too excited. Last time my doctor checked I wasn't dilated at all. Not one bit.
Waking up each morning just as tired as I was when I laid down for bed: DOUBLE CHECK
Baby moving like mad: CHECK
-I told my family if my skin were any thinner she'd kick right through it. I'm not joking either. Sometimes my stomach feels like it's going to explode because there's no where left to go! And I still have 4 weeks before hitting the much awaited 40 week mark.
Getting up to pee multiple times during the night: CHECK
-My brother's room is right next to the bathroom and they sleep with their bedroom door open. I have given them fair warning that if they see a floating light in the middle of the night it's me with a flashlight making my way to the bathroom. Chances are I'm not fully clothed either. That's right. I'm in my undies usually with my stomach hanging out. I feel like my clothes are so disgustingly tight I can't sleep with more than a thin top on. And I sleep in men's boxer-briefs I bought a few weeks ago because my "stuff" doesn't fit comfortably anymore. So, my dear brothers, you can choose to open your eyes and be scarred for life or you can chose to close your door. Either way, when I'm making my way to the bathroom at 2:30am I don't give a crap who sees what. My focus is the toilet and that's it. ...Thankfully they've been closing their door.
Hemorrhoids: ummmm...we won't go there. ;)
-But I hear it's all a part of this fun party we call pregnancy. Yipee!
Am I being too realistic right now? Then stop reading this post. Seriously. Sometimes things are hard and it's important to recognize them as being such.
Sorry. I guess I'm getting good at calling a spade a spade.
In all honesty, we have been blessed with a good, healthy pregnancy thus far and for that we're both incredibly grateful. Thankfully our little girl is healthy and doing super well. And I know when we meet this precious little lady we'll forget all the above stuff and feel it was worth every bit of "hard".
But I'm not going to lie. I want to find those women who feel absolutely beautiful and love being pregnant so I can kick them in the face.
Pregnancy is a miracle. It really is. But damn it's hard.