This post has been 23 days in the making, so it's quite detailed and lengthy. But it's also the one and only time I'll ever be able to write and post about it. A few things to know throughout the post: when I talk about "Amy"...she is one of my dearest and life-long friends. She's also a Labor & Delivery nurse and also a photographer on the side. Hence all the photos in this post. When I talk about "Dr. Gernt" or "Paige", she is our OB and also a close family friend. Today, October 26 was our scheduled c-section day..only God and our girls had a different plan in mind. To get a good feel of how quick this all happened:
12:20pm - the check out time on our SAM's reciept
12:45pm - the time noted as our Labor & Delivery enter time
2:21pm - the time noted as our OR enter time
2:47pm - Amelia Gentry Stafford was born
2;49pm - Mae Parker Stafford was born
Now, on to their story...
Sunday, October 2nd started as a normal Sunday. Wake up, get ready, quick breakfast, off to church...
You couldn't have paid me enough money that morning to believe that we'd have our girls just hours later. Who am I kidding, you couldn't have paid me enough money two hours before they were born to believe that. Several people asked us at church how they were doing and how much longer we had...it was the same answer to each, "I'm feeling good...we're scheduled for a c-section on October 26th.."
Normally on Sundays, we have lunch at Stephen's grandparents' house, but on this Sunday for some reason we weren't having lunch there. On the rare occasion when that happens, we'll typically go out to lunch with some of my family, but we had decided not to do that either. We had a few errands we needed to run and we decided to just take care of those after church. We headed to SAM's, got what we needed there...plus some cold items from the grocery section, which we typically don't do but who can resist Panera Bread soup, am I right?! Then we headed to the bank to leave a deposit in the box. Since I had the deposit slip filled out, Stephen pulled in the drive thru from the wrong direction to let me drop it in. When I leaned out the car window, I noticed a sharp pain, but nothing drastic. I did mention it by saying, "OUCH...that stretch just hurt." And on our way we went.
THEN, we were headed to make a return at Kohls. We had been joking about some of the stuff we had just bought and were commenting on what a pretty day it was and I said, "This is just a really GOOD Sunday." Little did I know how good of Sunday it would end up being.
About three minutes from our bank stop I noticed something going on "down there". I first told Stephen, let's just go home and let me lay down. Less than thirty seconds later I had changed my tune and was telling him "GET ME TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!" I knew something had happened, but I was dumb enough to think it's probably nothing and certainly probably not my water breaking. In fact, we approached the hospital I told Stephen, "You know if this IS my water breaking, she's going to put me on bedrest." Dumb. I was so dumb.
My first intention was to walk into the hospital on my own, I mean it can't be that serious right? Stephen pulled up to the door, I put one foot out of the car and fluid was gushing out of me. I told him to go get me someone and I grabbed my phone to call Dr. Gernt. Stephen lucked up and ran into a nurse from OB passing in the hallway, they grabbed a wheelchair and came out to me. She rounded the back of the car and said, "OH MY!" as soon as she saw me.
She ran me and the wheelchair to Labor & Delivery, immediately 4 other nurses and assistants were rushing around getting a room set up for me, hooking me up to various monitors, calling different people, slipping and sliding all over the room from the fluid EVERYWHERE. All the while, I'm STILL NOT recognizing that these girls are coming now. I told Stephen to call my sister or brother in law since I knew they'd be a lunch with my parents and have their phones near them. Stephen was frantically calling our parents. I'm laying there thinking, ugh..I'm going to be on bedrest for 3 weeks now. Great.
My L&D nurse, Megan asked "When's the last time you ate?" I looked at Stephen and the clock and said, "I don't know...7:30 or 8 this morning?" As soon as I said this, she and the others in the room were all saying "Oh that's good...perfect!" AT THAT MOMENT, it hit me. I'm having these babies - she wouldn't be asking if they weren't thinking surgery today. So I calmly asked, "So....you're thinking I'll have these girls? What kind of time frame are you thinking?" She looked down at me and said, "Um....within an hour? Maybe 2?" The monitors were showing a steady stream of contractions, which I wasn't feeling. She examined me and I was dilated to 1 cm and 90% effaced.
My mind started racing. The girls would be so early. I haven't packed our bags. What if they have to be sent to Vanderbilt? Stephen's mom is in Chicago. Dr. Gernt....she's not on call. Amy...I've got to call Amy to come for pictures. It's October 2nd. OCTOBER 2...I'm scheduled for a c-section on October 26...this is so early. We've not even unboxed one of the carseats yet. We have cold groceries in the car for crying out loud!
I remember shaking uncontrollably (which I would end up doing until about 3 hours post-op) and asking several times if that was normal. They all assured me it was just from the adrenaline and sudden hormone change from my water breaking. The next hour was a total blur. Everyone (nurses included) was trying to get in touch with Amy by any phone numbers we all had. My sister had tried calling Dr. Gernt also, but knew she was over an hour away. She called Paige's husband and he immediately tried getting in touch with her also. The pediatrician on call, Dr. Nghito, came in to talk to us and we immediately felt at ease with him and knew he'd be great with for our girls arrival. The anesthesiologist on call came in and explained his role, answered whatever questions I came up with. The OB doctor on call came in and talked to us about how the surgery would go. After her visit, everything was a go. By that time, I was hearing there was quite the crowd that had quickly assembled in their Sunday best in the waiting area, but no luck in finding Amy. Paige was informed and called us. I don't know whose cell phone it was but it got passed between myself, Stephen and my sister. She hated that she wasn't in town but said she knew I'd do great and would check in as soon as she got back later that afternoon / early evening. Just talking with her eased my mind and I was ready to go.
They wheeled me off to the OR leaving Stephen behind to get "suited up". The anesthesiologist (Aaron) started my spinal right away, got me laid back and within minutes I couldn't feel anything from the chest down. They pulled the curtain up at my neck and I kept making small talk with Aaron trying to distract myself from the disbelief of what was so quickly happening and all of a sudden all that could so quickly go wrong. They brought Stephen in and all of a sudden I heard Amy's voice. She had been found and made it. Right before they started I heard someone say, "Dr. Gernt's here!" She gowned up enough to come in the room, but obviously wouldn't be doing the surgery. She came and sat by my head with Stephen and Aaron. She said "Well, I got here in about 40 minutes...didn't go exactly the speed limit but I just had to be here for this with you all." She talked us through what was going on step by step with light hearted chit chat in between. Once the girls were born and taken to the Nursery, Stephen went with the girls and she stayed with me. She's the absolute best, and I cannot ever repay her for her presence and investment in us.
Amelia was born first at 2:47pm, the quick glimpse they gave me of her as they took her over to her warmer...I lost it. For the first time since I had been there, I lost it. This was real. Both girls were crying, the excitement in the room was shared by everyone, and I was a sobbing joyful mess. These babies were real and were here. I'm a mom. It was unreal. Mae Parker followed two minutes later at 2:49pm. (I should say she followed reluctantly. Turns out it was Amelia's water that had broken. Mae Parker's had not so they had to break her water once they got to her and I heard them saying she was fighting them back. She was NOT ready to be born that day and kicked back at them as they were breaking her water. Oh Mae.) I didn't get a glimpse of Mae Parker because her warmer was in front of me instead of behind me. I was hearing enough to know that she was needing a bit more attention. I was hearing that they both "looked good" "had good color" "were good size for 34 weeks"...I was praying with every fiber in my being that they were both ok. They briefly brought each girl over to my face before leaving the room with them. The girls, Stephen and Amy went to the Nursery and Paige stayed behind with me. She asked someone to find out their weights for me - a few minutes later the Nursery called the OR and we heard the nurse on the phone say that Amelia was 4 pounds 3 ounces and Mae Parker was an even 5 pounds. As the doctor finished with "putting me back together" Dr. Gernt asked me if I wanted her to go out to the waiting room to let everyone know and what all I wanted her to tell and not tell them.
From what I hear, it was quite the celebration when she rounded the corner and saw mine and Stephen's family. She let them all know the birth times and weights and briefly their condition. She and the nurses were under my instruction to not let anyone see them before I was able to. I was taken back to the Labor & Delivery room for a brief time. I was alone in that room for about 5 minutes before my mom came in. I just laid there thinking, "Did this REALLY just happen?....It's all over. 8 months carrying these babies inside me and they're all of sudden not in there any more?"
My mom, dad and sister all took turns coming back and sitting with me when they found out I was alone. I rattled off random things and their locations to my sister to go get at our house since we hadn't packed our bags yet. Stephen came back to our room once. I wanted him to stay with the girls. He assured me they were going to be ok and were of course beautiful. The pride in his eyes and voice...I just melted and knew these girls were going to have THE BEST daddy. He was smitten instantly and was suddenly a different person...in the best way that I never imagined.
Once I was moved to a post-partum room, I was determined to go see my girls. But there was one small problem....I still couldn't feel anything from my chest down. Apparently I had gotten the "good stuff" because it was 3-4 hours before I got feeling back. As soon as I was able to wiggle my toes, some strings got pulled to get me into the nursery. Three nurses maneuvered me from the bed to a wheelchair, then whisked me to the Nursery on what felt like a covert operation to get me to my daughters.
Seeing and touching the girls for the first time, I'll be honest...a part of me didn't feel like they were ours, and I knew it was the quickness of the situation and the unpreparedness for it all. I was being given information from Stephen, the girls' nurses and Dr. Nghito about their conditions. While I was hearing every word they said, I wasn't listening. All I kept thinking about was that these babies are ours...they're really here...they're going to be ok...we're going to get through this...thank you Lord.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with family members taking turns coming back to see me and Stephen taking a few one by one into the nursery to see the girls. I wanted so bad to do two things: hold my girls and stand on my own two feet. Told ya that anesthesia was some good stuff that day. Stephen's mom and grandma were on their way back from Chicago. They were originally not supposed to come home until the next day, but hit the road running as soon as they found out what all was going on. They made the 10+ hour drive in about 8 hours. Once they got back into town late that night, they came straight to the hospital and stayed briefly with us and were able to see the girls in the nursery.
After they left, Stephen and I made one more trip back to the nursery to see our little girls then we spent the next few hours just talking and recapping our whirlwind day. The girls would be kept in tehr Nursery for the foreseeable future and would not be coming to my room. It broke my heart and wasn't at all what I anticipated but I knew they needed to be in the nursery to receive the care they required. We tried to sleep but we were just too high up on cloud nine. Reality was setting in, the shock was wearing off, we were parents! Our girls were early, would need extra attention, but were going to be ok. We couldn't believe how good our Sunday had turned out!
Coming up, I'll be sharing about the girls' time in the hospital, their long awaited homecoming, a little about each of them and how they're doing now, their nursery, and our first days home as a family of 4!