I kind of can’t believe I haven’t written down Kellan’s birth story until now. Given that it’s been 5 months, I’m 100% certain that I no longer recall all of the details, but I finally feel like I have a minute to sit down and write it so here we go …
I think I’ll start my story on February 2, 2019. It was a Saturday, and my siblings threw me a “sprinkle” to celebrate the imminent arrival of baby #2. We had chosen not to find out what sort of genitals the baby had. They had a “Baby Bookie” going at the party – of all respondents, exactly 1 person guessed that it would be a girl – my sister’s roommate who I have met all of 2 times (including that day). Anyway, she won. The party was lovely. This is the last picture I have of Kellan on the inside/our last photo as a family of 3.
That night, I started having contractions, but they were fairly irregular. They were painful enough that they kept me up, and I timed them at every 5 minutes, lasting about a minute for a half hour or so, but then they slowed down and I was able to get some sleep. These on/off contractions kept up for a few days. I assumed they were Braxton Hicks, but I would definitely not call them painless. They were mildly-moderately uncomfortable. That Wednesday, 2/6, I had an ultrasound scheduled, and that Friday, 2/8, I had a non-stress test scheduled. Kellan was due on 2/17.
On Tuesday 2/5, I went to work as normal, had a normal day (with contractions on and off, but very irregular and never picking up steam), and then picked up Riley from daycare as normal. In retrospect, multiple colleagues told me that I looked uncomfortable and encouraged me to consider not coming in the following day (I had a ton to do though so I laughed them off). I am a Buy Nothing junkie (do y’all have Buy Nothing groups where you live? Sort of a free-cycle type situation that is neighborhood-based), and I had arranged to pick up some Freemie cups from someone’s porch that evening after daycare pick up (was looking forward to trying them out with my new Spectra once the baby was here. For whatever it’s worth, I have not yet taken them out of the box). I parked outside the house, left the car on with Riley in it, and started to jog up to the porch to grab the bag that had been left out for me. Now, this was evening time (say 5:30ish) in February in Boston, so it was pitch black out. My toe snagged on an uneven part of sidewalk and I had no hope of catching myself (what with the 10 pounds of baby hanging off my front). I went down pretty hard and fast. I caught myself with my hands and knees and then just kept going. I ended up flat on my stomach with my knees, palms, and face all scraped up. Of course, I immediately went into panic mode about the baby. I hadn’t landed directly on my belly with the full force of the fall, but I certainly ended up sprawled out prone on the sidewalk with my weight on my belly. I honestly didn’t have much time to panic though because Riley was in the car and Em wasn’t home from work yet. I know you’re wondering – I did grab the bag off the porch before going back to the car.
At this point, I was 38 weeks 2 days pregnant, so was certainly at term (albeit early term) should baby decide to show up post-fall. I immediately called Emily and apparently very calmly told her that I fell and that I was going to call the doctor but just wanted to let her know. Quick aside – 2/5 was the day of the Patriots Super Bowl parade in Boston, so Em’s commuter train was super delayed and everything travel-wise from downtown (where she works) was unpredictable. She’s usually home at 6:00 on the dot. This night, she didn’t get home until 6:30ish. Anyway, I called my OB and they told me that they wanted me to go to Labor and Delivery to be monitored for at least 4 hours, and that it was protocol to do so after any fall at that stage of pregnancy. At this point I now think that I was having a full blown panic attack, but I had to keep it together because Riley was sitting there waiting for me to get her evening routine going. Em and I called our good friend Brittany to come stay with Riley until we could get home from the monitoring. I was feeling very short of breath and I kept trying to sit still and wait to feel the baby move, needing that reassurance, but the baby wasn’t doing any somersaults and I was too keyed up to be able to feel the small movements. Of course, that just made me more anxious. I decided that I didn’t want to wait the additional 20 minutes for our friend to arrive, so I drove myself to the hospital alone as soon as Em got home, and we planned for her to drive herself there as soon as Britt came and she got Riley and Britt settled with a plan.
Driving myself to the hospital in the state I was in was probably not my brightest idea, but my sole focus at that point was getting there as quickly as possible to make sure the baby was okay. The hospital is about a 17 minute drive from our home. As soon as I got in the car I started shaking and shivering uncontrollably. It was an unseasonably warm day – I had had the air conditioning on in my car just an hour earlier on my way home from work. I think it was about 60 degrees out (in February in Boston!). Despite this, I was FREEZING all of a sudden, and had to crank up the heat and turn my seat warmer on high. Even with all of that, I was shivering uncontrollably. I’m pretty sure I was experiencing some mild shock symptoms. I called my mom to tell her what was going on and how I was feeling and she so kindly and calmly suggested that perhaps I should pull over and call an ambulance instead. I think my response was, “no it’s fine, I’m only 14 minutes away.” Anyway, I did eventually make it to the hospital. The nurse on the phone had told me to park by the ER and go in that way, and that there would be valet parking available. None of that was true/a good idea. It turned out that the valet parking had stopped at 6pm (it was about 7pm by this point), so I had to park in the ER garage and walk in. When I got in there, despite being clearly all the way pregnant, bleeding from my face, and shaking, no one seemed keen to help me find labor and delivery. I eventually got someone to give me directions … to walk to a whole other building! It was not close to the ER at all.
So I finally got to L&D and got all checked in … only to sit waiting alone in a waiting room outside triage for 20 minutes. By the time they finally came to take me back and monitor me, Emily had arrived from home. I could have just waited and had her drive me. Oh well. My anxiety finally started to subside when they got the baby hooked up to the monitors and we could see that (s)he was doing okay. My blood pressure was high though, and the baby’s heart rate was high (probably in response to my anxiety and high blood pressure). We had a really lovely nurse in triage who was so calming and reassuring. Anyway, the monitors showed that the baby’s heart rate, while high, was trending downward. My contractions, on the other hand, were not. See, as soon as I fell those on/off, irregular contractions that I had been having were on again, and hadn’t slowed down since. The monitors showed me having contractions every 1-2 minutes. The on-call OB came by (thankfully I knew her, though it was not my doctor) and reassured me that the contractions were likely my uterus responding to the trauma. The plan was to get some IV fluids in me, let me calm down, and see how things trended (all the while monitoring the baby of course). She explained that, after a fall like I had, they really just want to watch over time to make sure that baby stays stable and doesn’t show any signs that the placenta may have started to detach, which is apparently a concern with any trauma while pregnant. Everyone expected that the contractions would slow down after some fluids and rest. In addition, they ordered an ultrasound while I was there to double check the placenta and the baby and also to get a size estimate (just because I had been scheduled for the following morning for a sizing ultrasound). She said that they would monitor for 4 hours but may consider keeping me overnight. One kind of funny aside is that when I packed a quick duffel for the hospital (this dummy hadn’t packed her real hospital bag yet), I only packed Girl Scout cookies, my toiletries, and work clothes for the following day. I wore comfy clothes so at least I had that going for me.
Anyway, long story short, those contractions never did slow down. They were staying steady at every 1-2 minutes at about the 2 hour mark, when they were finally able to take me down to ultrasound. The ultrasound guy was a total weirdo (I guess that should be expected for someone who works the night shift as an ultrasound tech? But he kept telling kind of weird jokes, including joking about telling us the baby’s sex which was odd and a little annoying), but seemed thorough. He didn’t see any issues with the placenta or any obvious issues with the baby. He did estimate size at 9lbs 8oz (he turned out to be amazingly accurate), and noted that I had mild polyhydraminos, which is probably why it was so hard to find/get the baby’s heart rate on the monitor. They didn’t really give me an explanation for the excess fluid, though I had passed my glucose test by only 1 point and there was some speculation that I may have developed gestational diabetes later in the pregnancy (which would account for the polyhydraminos as well as the baby’s larger size).
One thing to note about the ultrasound and the plan as it progressed from here – I had been scheduled for an ultrasound the very next morning to look at baby’s size. My first was a c-section due to size (she was 10lbs 4oz, I am glad I had a c-section, we are both healthy because of it). This baby was measuring big starting around 32 weeks. I had a sizing ultrasound then (I can’t recall if it was at 32 or 34 weeks? Probably 34), and baby was already measuring pretty big at that point but they didn’t want to make the c-section recommendation yet. So basically the team’s thought was that I would likely do a c-section for size, but the ultrasound the following morning was going to confirm that/be the impetus for scheduling a date, etc.
When we got back upstairs to L&D after the ultrasound, it was time for a shift change and we had to say goodbye to the super kind nurse that we had been working with (I wish I could remember her name!). In addition, the doctor had decided at that point that they wanted to monitor me overnight, so they moved me from the triage room recliner into a room with a bed (still in triage, so I don’t think I was officially admitted to L&D at this point?). Our new nurse was well intentioned but mostly just strange and a little abrupt in her demeanor. The OB came in and I had my first experience being “checked.” Riley was a scheduled c-section, so I had never had the pleasure. Jesus that shit is painful! I remember her saying “you’re going to want to crawl up the bed. Just hang in there and it’ll be over soon.” So accurate. Anyway, I was apparently dilated about 2cm at that point, still with contractions every 1-2 minutes. At this point I would definitely classify them as painful. Anyway, after the OB left the nurse tried to hook me back up to the monitors for fetal heart rate and contractions. I am not even exaggerating when I say that she spent the next 45 minutes attempting to find the baby’s heart beat with the damn monitor. She could not get it at all! Luckily at this point I was feeling the baby move consistently, so I wasn’t worried at all, just annoyed. While she was doing this, Em and I were having a conversation about whether Em should go home or not. At this point it was about 11pm. The OB had said she wanted to come back and check me again in about 2 hours. (She explained to us that she was attempting to ascertain whether I was actually in labor. That labor = contractions + cervical change, so she needed to see if my cervix was changing over time or whether I was just having contractions because of the trauma). Em wanted to go home to sleep (fair enough – no one can sleep in those stupid hospital chairs). In the end, we decided that she would wait with me until after the 1am cervix check, and that if there was no change she would go home. All of this became moot though, because around 12:10am my water broke. While the nurse was still moving the monitor around trying to get me hooked up. We heard a big “boom” on the monitor and she goes “did you hear that? The baby just kicked!” and I said “uhhhh I think my water just broke. Or maybe I peed?” and then within about 10 seconds it was very clear that it was definitely not pee.
Once my water broke, everything moved really quickly. The OB came back, surgical nurses rushed in, and we started prepping for a c-section right away. Given that I was likely headed for a scheduled section due to size AND the fact that I was there due to a trauma and we were watching for placenta issues, a c-section was the plan and everyone (me included) was on board. Anyway, the contractions had been getting more and more painful, and after my water broke they were DEFINITELY painful and happening like every 2 minutes, so I was ready for that spinal to happen. Once all of the consents were signed and the OBs and anesthesiologist had been in, it was time to go. I remember walking down the hall and apologizing for my water leaking with every step! The spinal was kind of no big deal, especially since I knew what to expect from my first c-section. I am not sure if the anesthesia cocktail was different or if I maybe just reacted to it slightly differently this time, but my face was EXTREMELY itchy right away (so during the procedure), whereas with Riley I was a little itchy then but then got progressively itchier over the course of a few hours and it didn’t go away for probably a day and a half. I had also vomited after my c-section with Riley, so they gave me a little scopolamine patch behind my ear to try to combat the nausea. I kept rubbing and scratching my face, including, apparently, the patch behind my ear. This becomes notable later.
The surgery itself was very similar to my c-section with Riley. I did notice that I could feel a bit more this time around (I was really worried that the anesthesia was wearing off and that I would be in a lot of pain very quickly, but that didn’t happen). Even though my water had broken in a gush (and then kept trickling with mini gushes), they said that there was enough fluid in there to gush out at them as they were cutting. Kellan came out and cried right away, and Em and I were both shocked to find out that she had a vulva rather than a penis (not that it matters at all).
Kellan came into the world at 9lbs 8oz and 20.5 inches at 38 weeks 3 days. Kellan ended up having some “transitional breathing” issues that had her O2 sats a LITTLE low. Unfortunately, that meant she was off to the special care nursery for monitoring for a little while. Her first blood sugar reading was low as well. I think she was there for 12-16 hours? I wasn’t able to go up to see her until a few hours after she was born. We got to meet each other for a bit but they took her up before I was in the recovery room. They didn’t have to do any intervention up there – just monitoring, and her breathing and sugars improved quickly.
While I was waiting to be reunited with my baby, the doctors noticed that one of my pupils was much larger than the other (actually, I noticed and asked about it). They were initially worried about a brain/neuro issue of some type and called for a neuro consult, though it was quickly determined that I did it to myself by basically rubbing scopolamine into my eye (which is known to cause pupil dilation). If the damn morphine didn’t make me so itchy I wouldn’t have done it! (Part of the neuro concern was the fact that I had fallen. Nope – just clumsy!)
In terms of recovery, I had a little more pain at the incision site this time. They used staples this time and I did not love it. With Riley I had been stitched up and it didn’t bother me at all.
My mom flew in as soon as I texted that my water had broken. She canceled other travel plans which was really nice and I felt a little guilty about. On Kellan’s second day of life, my mom brought Riley to the hospital to meet her sister. My heart felt so full and right having them together for the first time.
Kellan’s birth was basically a series of unexpected and surprising events, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It suits her.
*note: I wrote most of this in 2019 and just found it in my drafts 2 years later. I wanted to publish it for posterity!*