Well, I’m 15½ weeks postpartum… a little late to finally be writing Karis’ birth story, but this little girl keeps me on my toes!
Karis was born at 36+1 weeks gestation, basically 4 weeks early. She was due July 8th and arrived June 11th. This was not expected. On Thursday, June 9th, I was at home. I had just quit my job on June 7th and thought I would have a long 4 weeks at home preparing for baby girl’s arrival. Boy was I wrong. Anyway, I was home just relaxing, doing a few chores, and of course keeping up with my kick counts. I was used to this girl being very active (which explains her seemingly endless energy now). She normally would kick 10x in under 15 minutes, sometimes 10 kicks in as little as 3 minutes. This was the last kick session I recorded before Karis was born. She kicked that morning 10x as usual. Later that day around 3 or 4pm, I started noticing that I had barely felt her since that morning, maybe not at all. But, I thought I was worrying without reason since I tend to be paranoid. So, I texted Eli just to let him know and I asked him to pray that she’d kick me a few times, just so I’d know she was okay. I also decided to get up and eat my third brownie (yes, I said three brownies haha) for the day and drink a big cup of ice water to get her moving. I did this around 5 o’clock. I laid down and waited for the movement that I was so readily prepared for, but nothing happened. So, I texted Eli again. He called me and told me to not worry about being wrong and advised me to call our doctor even though it was now after hours. So, I finally gave in to my concerns and decided to call the hospital first. When I finally got through to someone, they had me call my doctor’s office, even though they told me the doctor would tell me to come in. I talked to the on-call operator and they told me they would have a doctor call me. We waited and waited, but finally heard from a doctor who told us we should go to the hospital.
Now, because of a previous scare that turned out to be a false alarm, we took our time getting to the hospital. We grabbed some food on the way there and brought our go bags and carseat just in case. We never thought we’d actually be using them this early. We arrived at the hospital around 7pm. I got checked in and they did fetal monitoring for awhile. We have small group on Thursday nights, so I texted our leader and let her know that we would probably just be a few hours late after the nurse came in and said we probably wouldn’t be there long. Unfortunately, thinking we were just around the corner from being released, became a theme of our stay. Every time the nurses came in, they would let us know they were going to monitor the baby just a little longer. What was supposed to be 40 minutes or so, turned into 2 hours, which turned into overnight, which then lead to being seen the next morning, June 10th, by Dr. Mills. He’s a Perinatologist, who specializes in fetal health. He took the time to explain Karis’ heart rhythms to us and what the patterns meant. Both he and our OBGYN, Dr. Wells, were amazing in being cautious about not sending us home too soon. They didn’t want to release us while not having a reason for the infrequent dips (heart decelerations) that Karis’ heart was taking. Dr. Mills ended up telling us that we could go home in 24 hours if her heart didn’t take any more dips, but he said that was unlikely since it usually took one every few hours. He also said that if she had any more, we would be kept in the hospital until 37 weeks, when we would deliver. Dr. Wells was on the same page and at this time let me know that it was likely I’d have a cesarean due to not being dilated or effaced. It would also be much better for Karis’ health.
Well, sure enough, Karis’ heart rate had a dip within the next hour or so. So, at this point we prepared to be in the hospital for a week. They told us to grab whatever we needed to stay at the hospital for about a week, so Eli went home and grabbed more of our things and then went to work for half of the day. Staying in the hospital with an IV, and monitors on sucked, but we just wanted what was best for Karis, so I tried not to complain.
The next morning, June 11th, my doctor came in and told us that Karis’ heart was not having any improvements. She said that it wasn’t in the danger zone, but just had enough dips that kept her and Dr. Mills concerned. She said we would probably not have the baby “today,” but that we would probably not make it to 37 weeks. She said the goal was to keep the baby in as long as it was safer for her inside than out. About 15-20 minutes later, Dr. Wells came back in with a winced look on her face. She had gone to speak with the Perinatologist and he was not satisfied with the patterns Karis’ heart was taking. She told us that it was not an emergency and that Karis was still okay, but that we would need to have a cesarean later that day. It was scheduled for 4 pm. Wow! We were shocked. I was still shocked that I wasn’t actually imagining the lack of movement on Thursday, which unfortunately never got better. Thursday morning was the last time I felt my baby girl kick like normal. Eli and I did our best to stay calm and let family and friends know. Eli’s Mom took off work and headed our way (a 4½ hour drive). My family got ready to head to the hospital when it got close to delivery too. Thankfully, friends (Barbi Rouse and Tara Hansen) came to visit before the surgery. It was so good for me to have distractions the entire time I waited. They prayed with us, helped me to not be so nervous, and just hung out. During the wait, I was given two steroid shots to help baby’s lungs develop more (although the shots didn’t get into her system much by the time she came). Around 3pm, they started preparing us for the procedure and what the event would look like. By 3:30pm or so, I was in the pre-operating room and was being prepped for surgery (the spinal wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought). Eli couldn’t come with me for this part, so I did my best to relax and just chat with the nurses. Pretty soon after the spinal was admitted, I couldn’t feel my legs or anything below my chest. This was the weirded feeling ever! I hated that I had to be awake for the surgery (I’m a put me out kind of girl), but I was also excited to meet baby Karis. Soon after, Eli came in, Dr. Wells came in, the rest of the nurses and other important doctors were there and they got started. Dr. Wells told me that I would feel pressure, but not pain. She was right. She told me that when they were ready to push Karis out, I would feel them pushing high in my abdomen to get her feet loose. Right when I could feel it, I looked at Eli and said, “they’re pulling her out now… I can feel it!” Immediately, they lifted out our 5 lb, 7 oz, 181/2 in baby and we heard her scream! At 4:35pm, she was here! For being 36 weeks, she had some lungs on her! Eli and I cried together as we heard her scream. We were just so happy she was alive. I immediately asked when I would get my baby put on me, but all they would say was, if she was healthy, I could have her when they were done taking a look. Soon, we were told that she was dusky (due to lack of oxygen) and would need to go to the nursery. So, I did not get to have Karis put on my chest. I watched them wheel her away as Eli went with her. It took about 30 or more minutes for them to sew me up. I was then moved to a stretcher and taken to the post-operating room where I waited for about an hour. I got to see Eli for a short time, but I wanted him with Karis.
About 3 hours after she was born, they finally brought her to our room (I did get to see her briefly after I was wheeled out of post-operating before I was taken to my room). She was finally placed on my chest and all was right in our world!
We had a few more days of ups and downs (jaundice, couldn’t latch, etc.), but we took our baby home on June 13th.
We feel so blessed that she didn’t need to go to the ICU. We are so thankful that she is healthy and that there weren’t any issues with her coming early. Her heart is healthy (the cord was around her neck, which is why she was having heart decelerations).
Karis, we love you. Thank you for filling our life with joy, spunk, giggles and smiles. We love who you are and we love who you are becoming.
Thank you to all who have celebrated with us and supported us during her birth.