Paisley’s Birth Story

This month my baby girl turns one. And just like we did with Keaton, I wanted to write down her birth story to remember how she entered this world. That was a crazy season for our family but we are so grateful that God was beyond gracious to us at every turn during those weeks. Believe it or not, this (today!) is the first time I’m seeing the pictures here of Paisley’s birth. I thought we lost them but Aaron showed me right where they were saved today. Talk about emotional!
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Not long after that insane newborn stage ended with Keaton (you know, the one where Mommy & Daddy think they might literally not make it due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion) we knew we wanted another child. Keaton was so much fun, we just had to have another! Just under a year after he was born (summer 2014), we began trying for our second little love.

Like many couples, we were not successful in trying on our own. After a year of negative pregnancy tests, we began talking with our doctor about other options. I chose my doctor because he loves Jesus, believes life in the womb is precious and runs his practice based on his faith. And because of our faith, we knew there was only so far we would go to have another child and Dr. Brannon was on board to help us any way he could, without stepping over what we felt was reasonable. He advised us to make some dietary changes (no carbs – yuck!) and we began fertility medications (for me, it was a med similar to Clomid). We could do this medication for 6 months and then my body would need a break, according to our doctor. We would do blood draws each month of the medication, along with several appointments throughout the month to make sure the medication made me ovulate.

Around month 3, Aaron and I decided together that it was all a bit too much for us to handle and we knew at the end of the 6 months, we would take the break from the medication and then not try it again. We both had peace about that decision and had plans to adopt a child if this didn’t work.

But, God had wonderful news in store for us! Month 4 worked and we were overjoyed to learn we were expecting again on November 22, 2015. I couldn’t even wait to tell our families in a special, pinterest-worthy way. They had cried with us and begged God for a child with us, so I thought they should know the minute I did! I called them that morning in tears to share the good news.

Now, fast forward several months…

If you were around me at any point during my pregnancy with Paisley, you probably know I felt absolutely awful the entire time. The nausea lasted from about 6 weeks until the very end. I would also get dizzy and feel like I was going to pass out, throw up, or both. I’ve never felt so terrible for so long. Thank goodness Paisley and I both remained “healthy” the entire time. So healthy, that there was no “reason” anyone could find for my terrible symptoms. It was just something we had to endure.

Towards the end of the pregnancy, I felt all those terrible feelings plus continuous heartburn and was only able to sleep about an hour or two at night. So the night of June 22, 2016, it was no surprise to me that I felt awful and couldn’t sleep. I had been having contractions on and off for a few weeks prior but I could always walk and talk through them and they weren’t consistent. I easily brushed them off as Braxton Hicks Contractions.

The night of June 22 was pretty typical, with me lying in bed wide awake and then finally sitting up around midnight to try and stop the heartburn & nausea. But this time, when I sat up, I felt a gush of something. I went to the bathroom and discovered it was blood. It was enough for me to be concerned so I woke Aaron and we started timing contractions, which got a bit closer together. We were unsure about calling our doctor because Paisley wasn’t due until the end of July and we hadn’t exactly finished her room or packed our bags. This wasn’t really my plan! However, the blood worried us both quite a bit and the contractions were getting closer together and were beginning to regulate so we called our doctor’s after-hours line to check in.

Our regular doctor, Dr. Brannon, was on vacation so a new doctor, Dr. Kasturi (whom I had never met before) was the doctor on call. Dr. Brannon’s practice only has one doctor – him! So I had never had another doctor for either of my babies (or for myself) and I wasn’t crazy about a doctor I didn’t know making decisions for our little girl.  But at this point, we didn’t have a choice. Dr. Kasturi was concerned about the blood, too, so she asked us to go on to the hospital to be checked out and she would meet us there. Thank goodness I had already thought enough to discuss with my sister the possibility of something like this happening so she was already prepared to head over and stay with Keaton while we headed to the hospital in the middle of the night.

My contractions were getting more intense by the time we got to Wake Med Cary so I

struggled a bit to fill out forms while Aaron parked the car. Eventually, we were checked in and got settled into a room.

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We didn’t know it yet, but we were about to meet Miss Paisley!

Dr. Kasturi came in and we talked (between contractions) about what happened and what her plan was moving forward. Her primary concern was making sure Paisley was ok, not necessarily my being in labor or not, because I was bleeding. We would find out whether I was in labor soon enough. She wanted to do an ultrasound to check on the baby and to check for any rupturing, which would be a “worse case scenario” of where the bleeding was coming from. Then she’d check my cervix (if they didn’t find anything else) to see if I was in labor. She also wanted to give me a dose or two of a med that helped grow & strengthen a baby’s lungs quickly just in case she was born that night. There were a lot of questions from us all but no one really knew if this was labor, what started the bleeding, or if baby would be coming now or not.

I was pretty aggressive in letting the nurses know that my last experience getting an IV for labor was terrible (I was stuck 13 times with Keaton!!) so they needed to just go ahead and call their best guy or gal, otherwise we’d be there all night trying to get the IV in. Thank goodness they listened and it only took 3 times for the IV to work. The ultrasound was pretty extensive – the nurse checked out every possible part of Paisley to be sure all was safe. After Dr. Kasturi and the nurse determined all looked good, they checked my cervix to see if that gave any answers. Yep! I was in labor! Three centimeters dilated! In my gut, I really already kind of knew that – I think we all did.

Dr. Kasturi was very sweet in explaining our options at this point (she was very sweet, period! I liked her!). 6 weeks before a due date is an odd time to go into labor, apparently. If it was any earlier, they’d just stop my labor and put me on bed rest. And any later, they’d go ahead and let the labor continue. But 6 weeks is a bit of a gray area, we were told. And, since Paisley was early, having her vaginally was an option again since she’d be pretty small (Dr. Brannon let us know during Keaton’s c-section that I’d likely never be able to give birth vaginally since my pelvis was much too narrow to fit a baby through, which is why Keaton got stuck during delivery). So, after much discussion, we all decided together that it was safest for both Paisley and me for the doctor to go ahead and take Paisley out via c-section. The risks seemed to be lowest with that option. Our doctor let us know that there would be a special team of doctors and nurses there ready to take Paisley to make sure she was ok as soon as they pulled her out, since she would be considered premature.

Dr. Kasturi then went to prepare the OR and Aaron & I called our families to let them know what was happening. There wasn’t any time to call them until now.

I was excited to meet our little girl so soon but nervous, too. Even though I had a c-section with Keaton, this felt very different. I was in a fog with Keaton because I’d been in labor and pushing for hours and it all happened so fast since he got stuck. So I don’t know that I was totally “there” then. But this time, I was totally aware of everything happening, which for me, was much scarier.

They took me back as Aaron waited in the hall; they put in the spinal and got me prepped. Again, all very strange this time. Aaron came in and they got to work. We had a wonderful anesthesiologist and he was so kind. Perhaps he could tell I was nervous and talked us through each step. He warned me about every sensation before it happened, which I so appreciated, especially the feeling of losing my breath as they pulled Paisley out. I don’t remember experiencing that during Keaton’s birth. Once she was out, they whisked her away to check her out. I was heartbroken that I didn’t get to love on her and I didn’t realize Aaron would go with her so all of a sudden, I was left feeling very alone and emotional. The kind anesthesiologist told me my daughter was beautiful and talked to me about his kids, his work, etc. to keep me calm while the doctor and nurses worked for what seemed like forever to stitch me up.

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Aaron waiting in the hall while they prepped me.

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Doctor and nurses getting to work!

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Cleaning up Paisley and checking her out.

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Daddy gets to cut the cord!

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This is as close to Paisley as I could get before they took her back to the Special Care Nursery to check her out. You can see in my face I was clearly emotional and upset that I couldn’t kiss and love on her yet.

Finally they were finished and I was moved back onto a bed and wheeled back into my room. Again, I was so sad that I was by myself but in all honestly, I think I needed that time to rest and be calm after our crazy night. Eventually, Aaron came to the room to tell me they had Paisley in an incubator and were monitoring her. I must have asked him and the nurses 20 times “Can I go see her now?” and the answer was always “no.” They wanted me to rest and recover first before trying to move or before I got too excited.

Once a room in postpartum was open (hours later), they moved us there to recover. My nurse there was so amazing and was SO on top of my pain and I really felt like I was being heard when I talked to her. I told her (well, more like pleaded with her) that I wanted to see my baby and she was the first person who said “Let’s do it!” By this time, the spinal was wearing off so I was in a lot of pain and was barely able to move. That sweet nurse grabbed a few other nurses to help her, and together they lifted me off of the bed and into a wheelchair. That process was beyond painful but I was so grateful that she was willing to help me do whatever it took to see my little girl. She wheeled me to the special care nursery to see Paisley for the first time and she waited outside until I was finished. Paisley was in an incubator with wires and tubes all around her and I just sat and cried, looking at her. It never dawned on me that she would be like that. I knew she was premature but I was a premature baby and my sister was a premature baby. In my mind, being born early wasn’t scary – it was kind of normal. So I really hadn’t been fearful of Paisley being born early and wasn’t that concerned about her not being ok. Until I saw her.

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Paisley in the Special Care Nursery on the day she was born.

She was tiny and bright pink, had a feeding tube in her mouth, wires all around her, and the tiniest little diaper on her bottom that I’d ever seen! But she was absolutely beautiful!
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The first time I held Paisley

The next week was a blur of pain management, pumping milk for Paisley, then taking milk to the nursery to feed her every 3 hours, and talking to doctors. Paisley was really doing very well for being early, but couldn’t quite get the hang of eating and she had jaundice a bit as well. She would do great one day, then take a few steps back.

After we had been there a week, there was a huge surge of births (the nurses said it was exactly 9 months after a big storm, ha!) and my room was needed. Through tears, I had to pack up and go home, leaving Paisley in the Special Care Nursery to learn to feed on her own. It was so frustrating to have to walk out of that hospital without my baby but I knew she was in wonderful hands.

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Double pumping, feeding Paisley, and teaching Keaton all at the same time during one of our visits to the hospital to see Paisley. Phew!

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Mommy & Daddy giving Paisley her first bath!

For the next two weeks, I would pump every three hours, then try to make most, if not all, of her daytime feedings, every 3 hours at the hospital, bringing the milk I just pumped with me to feed Paisley. Wake Med Cary is only about 15 minutes from our house, making this possible. The nurses talked as though I came a lot, but I didn’t want to miss any part of my girl being awake and I wanted to be a part of her healing. It felt strange to me to miss any feeding of my newborn baby. It was the craziest roller coaster ride to watch her eat well and then 3 hours later, refuse to eat, pushing her release back a day or two. Her feeding tube was put in and taken out about 4 times during her stay as they tried to figure out how to help her eat. I wanted her home so badly and teared up most every time I had to leave her but she was in wonderful hands with the sweetest nurses and doctors who we came to love. The nurses loved that we brought cute clothes to put Paisley in and they would often dress her in a new outfit for me to see when I arrived and they even nicknamed her “Princess Pea” (from Super Why). Friends and family would trade off taking me to the feedings since I was still recovering from surgery, and they helped with Keaton while I was at the hospital, as well, in addition to bringing us meals. I will forever be grateful for those who stepped in to help us in so many ways during those weeks, especially my parents (Gigi & RayRay).
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Finally headed home at three weeks old!

Paisley was able to come home exactly three weeks after she was born. I’ve never been so grateful! However, looking back on it now, I am also grateful for those three weeks to recover from surgery without a newborn by my side. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but I was able to heal and adjust gradually, which really was a blessing. Paisley was also already on a great schedule and actually “napped” between feedings thanks to being in the hospital nursery. Keaton didn’t do that as a newborn so I very much enjoyed a baby who actually slept some!
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Paisley a week after coming home!

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Since then, Paisley has been nothing less than a rock star! She has caught up in almost every developmental area (except speech), before her first birthday. She now eats anything and everything, follows her brother around like a little puppy, and is the most content and happy child I’ve ever met. Paisley has been such an “easy” baby, rarely crying and always going along with whatever our family is doing, even if it means she misses a nap or gets a bottle late. Doesn’t bother her a bit. I tell people that I earned her demeanor with my terrible pregnancy! She is such a joyful addition to our family and we are so grateful we got an extra six weeks with her in our lives.

God has an amazing plan for your life, Paisley Hollins, and I am honored that I get to witness it all. We love you more than we can express and we are so glad you are ours! Happy Birthday Princess Pea!

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