SCARLETT MICHELLE: A BIRTH STORY
The day after Ellie’s first birthday party, a Sunday, I was standing in the bathroom at my in-law’s house when I got my positive pregnancy test. In typical Kelsey fashion I was testing days early and the line was ever-so-faint, but I knew it was enough. My first thought was “Helloooo, little boy!” I had texted Michael a few days earlier and told him that I had a feeling a little boy would be joining our family very soon. I was so sure that I was extra in-tune with my motherly instincts. Ha. Shows how much I know.
Michael and I had my regular OB prescribe the same cocktail and dosage that got us our little Ellie girl back in January of last year. To our delight and surprise, we got pregnant on our very first try in February! I was so excited to have a little November baby. Sadly, I ended up miscarrying in April. That month we also moved from Idaho to Colorado and life got little hectic as Michael was hunting for his first-ever big boy job. I remembered we still had a dosage left of our fertility meds about a month after we moved and we thought, “What the hay, let’s try it.” It was weird taking it on my own without checking in with a doctor, but I had a pretty good feeling that it would work. Luckily for me, it did! I walked out of the bathroom and into the bedroom where Michael was sitting on the bed. I plopped down next to him and said, “I am pretty sure I just got a positive pregnancy test.”
I showed Michael that practically invisible line and he said, “Well, we’ll just see won’t we?” By mid-afternoon the very next day my stomach formed into the perfectly round belly that most women get around 20 weeks. Yep. I was pregnant.
When I was about 12 weeks along Michael got a job in Texas and we moved from Denver to DFW. I found out that my little boy vibes were super wrong when I was around 13 weeks through DNA blood work. I was thrilled we were having another girl! We spent the summer settling into our new place and debating baby names while I sprayed my legs with OFF constantly and lived in fear that every mosquito bite I had meant I had Zika virus.
This pregnancy started off pretty similar to my pregnancy with Ellie. I threw up a little less but felt nauseated a little more. Instead of having awesome pregnancy hair, I experienced a ton of weird hair loss during the first trimester. Other than that, it was very familiar. Showing super soon, exhaustion, frequent potty trips, you know how it goes. It felt like smooth sailing through the second trimester and I just enjoyed my ever-growing bump and all of the comments I got when I went in public. (Pregnant gals are a dime a dozen in Rexburg but man! Texans love a pregnant woman! Couldn’t walk into a store without at least one person asking me when I was due.) The third trimester got tough, as third trimesters do.
The heartburn was through the roof. The night time trips to the bathroom were picking up in frequency. The achy hips woke me up every hour, and I would have to heave my big belly to the opposite side of the bed and then half the time a craving for orange juice or lemonade or some other citrus would leave me salivating. And the little baby that was growing inside me stopped feeling little. She felt huge. I could feel her way down low and yet her feet were way up high. I knew she was bigger than Ellie. I knew it. It got so bad that if I didn’t cross my legs and side shuffle over to the bathroom when it was time to go then I wasn’t gonna make it. It was a very glamorous time of my life.
My mom had total knee replacement surgery on February first and would be a little out of commission, so it was the plan that Candice (Michael’s sister, but practically my sister because we are so obsessed with each other.) would come in town the night of the 15th to stay with us and help out. My doctor had asked me if I wanted to be induced a few times, but I had really wanted to go in to labor on my own. I just thought it would be a cool experience and plus, it makes for a better story! However, at my 39 week appointment when I was still only dilated to a 2 with nothing but a ton of painless Braxton hicks contractions, I knew it was time to set up an induction. Just in case. I mean, Candice would only be here for four days and I didn’t want to miss that window! My doctor told me that at my next appointment (February 15th, four days past my due date) if I was dilated to a 3 I could come in on the 16th, but if I was still at a 2 he would have me come in to get things started on Thursday night. I knew in my soul that I would still be pregnant by then. For some reason, people kept assuming I would go early. Like, is there a correlation between being huge and going early? I don’t believe so. In fact, (and I have several witnesses to this.) I knew from early on I would deliver on February 16th. I wanted to be wrong when I was so uncomfortable and ready to deliver… but deep down, I just knew.
Fortunately for me, I was dilated to a 3 at my appointment on the 15th. I could sleep in my own bed that night! The doctor gave me instructions to be at the hospital at 6 am the next morning. That day I did some last minute cleaning and packed Ellie’s overnight bag. I was really tired and missed my usual nap when Ellie was napping. I asked Michael to skip the gym and come right home after work so that I could take a nap. He took Ellie on a bike ride while I tried to sleep a bit. Finally I got out of bed and we decided to order a pizza because I was not about to cook a meal. Ellie hadn’t napped well that day, so she got an early bed time. We tucked her in together, and I got a little weepy saying goodnight to her, knowing I wouldn’t be there when she woke up in the morning. Michael turned on Batman and we ate some Domino’s together. I had him turn off the movie and we did one last clean up. Around 10:30 Michael left to go get Candice from the airport. I really should have slept but I wanted to see her! They didn’t get in until after 11:30. Michael gave me a sweet priesthood blessing and then after midnight we finally collapsed in to bed. It was the best night of sleep I had got in a long time! My heartburn miraculously didn’t bother me and I only got up to use the restroom ONCE. This felt like a tender mercy. A last little gift from my pregnancy. As if it were saying, “You’re gonna need this, cuz consecutive sleep ain’t gonna happen in a loooong time.” I mean, it was still not even five hours, ha, but that was more sleep than I’d gotten in months!
I woke right up to my alarm at 4:55 the next morning. I took extra care on my hair and makeup…because….perks of being induced, right? My doctor told me not to eat or drink anything after midnight, but I ate two measly Eggo waffles with only butter on them. I felt like a little rebel but I justified the heck out of it. I mean, if I had gone into spontaneous labor I would have eaten before going in. So why not? Michael took a bit longer to wake up, and when he did he jumped in the shower. I was ancy to get going. I didn’t want to be late to my own induction! He was finally ready to go. We gave Candice some last minute instructions and Michael grabbed a yogurt and a string cheese and we headed out the door to have a baby! I was hungry before we even got to the hospital and was wishing I had eaten a big hearty bowl of oatmeal or something with a little substance.
We found a parking spot very close to the labor and delivery entrance and found our way up to the second floor. I was expecting the checking in part to take a long time, because when I went to get induced with Ellie it took forever! However once we got to the nurses station I handed over my license and insurance card and then they pulled us right back to the delivery room. The nurse told us, “You get the suite!” It was the biggest delivery room I had ever seen! It just kept going and going. I quickly changed into the hospital gown and got hooked up to the antibiotic and pitocin, all before 7 am. I was introduced to my nurse, Melissa, and a little surprised I only had one nurse. (When I was induced with Ellie it was like, shadow day, or something and I swear I had six nurses!) Michael curled right up on the plasticy pull out chair and was fast asleep. I was fine with that, because Michael ( love that man) is pretty useless when he is sleep deprived. I tell him all the time that he is a sleep hog. I loved hearing the thump-thump thump-thump of my little lady’s heartbeat, and I too tried to fall asleep. This pregnancy I have found that nothing puts me to sleep quicker than watching Netflix, so I bugged Michael awake so he could set the laptop up next to me and I continued an episode of Call the Midwife that I’d been watching. The volume was turned all the way up and some poor woman on the show was in agonizing labor. I decided it wasn’t the best thing to watch right then and closed the lap top and tried to catch some sleep without it. When it was clear that a nap wasn’t gonna happen, I gave up and watched some of my family’s Marco Polos. My brother Matt mentioned something about eating homemade pancakes and then my last craving of pregnancy struck me hard. I NEEDED a pancake THAT instant! It was good motivation to push that baby out of me. I would be in carb cake heaven as soon as I delivered.
Candice showed up to the delivery room around 10 am after passing Ellie off to my brother Matt, and my mom came chauffeured by my littlest brother, Andrew via wheel chair shortly after. The room was so big that it didn’t feel like a crowd at all! Michael obviously woke up at the arrival of our guest. Eventually Nat was even able to come for a while with baby Miles. I loved having company. It made for a very fun atmosphere. We were just all joking and chatting and it made the time go by so much faster.
Because of how much pain I was in after my water broke with Ellie, my doctor and I decided that we wouldn’t break water until after I had the epidural. My contractions were still pretty mild around 11:00 am. but starting to get the tiniest bit uncomfortable. The nurse told me I could get the epidural whenever, so I told her to send him in. Everyone except Michael was sent out of the room while the anesthesiologist came in. This was the biggest difference in my labors. I was 100 times more nervous for that needle with this labor because I wasn’t in excruciating pain. I was a little bit freaking out inside, actually. With Ellie, I couldn’t get that needle in me fast enough! Pain is a great motivator that way. The nurse stood in front of me and told me funny things her five-year-old son says to distract me. The anesthesiologist talked about how it was supposed to rain all week. I sat as still as I could and prayed I wouldn’t be paralyzed from a botched catheter. Thankfully it went well and my family was sent back in. It didn’t take long for my legs to become completely useless, and then, close to noon, the nurse came and checked me again. I was at a 5. Not bad, but I was hoping to have dilated a bit more than that. The doctor came in right behind her and broke my water right at noon also. I felt nothing but he said the water was clear, which was good. My family watched the contractions go off the charts after my water was broken, but I felt nothing. Not even pressure. This had me worrying about how pushing would go. Around 1:00 pm, however, I started feeling the contractions. It wasn’t back labor this time, but it still just didn’t feel great. They started to get more and more intense so we called the nurse in to check me around 1:15, even though I knew it wasn’t the “pushing” kind of discomfort. I was at a 6. Oh geez. Not even close! Melissa said that the baby was positioned pretty high up when I first came in and was moving down quickly, which was probably why I could feel it. She had me push the button to administer more drugs and told me that if I could still feel it we would get the anesthesiologist back in to fix my dosage. Melissa said, “I’m going to help you out, I’m going to get the peanut ball.” She seemed super confident that the peanut ball would dilate me quickly. I was a bit more skeptical. I was surprised when she came back in with what looked like a huge inflatable punching bag. In my head a peanut ball was the size of a football and fit between your knees. It took Melissa and Michael getting me on my left side and positioning my numb legs in straddle position over this ball. The contractions kept coming in waves, and man, I can’t imagine what they would have felt like if I hadn’t had the epidural because I was in PAIN. I started to moan and groan and Michael held my hand and Candice played with my hair. About fifteen minutes later the doctor came in and asked me how I was doing.
“I’m feeling these.” I told him. He said he wanted to check me and then we could get my dosage fixed. I told him I was just checked and I was at a six. He insisted on checking again… I was at a 9. A 6 to a 9 in only fifteen minutes! “No wonder you’re feeling it.” He said, that baby came a long ways down just now.”
He said he would come back in 45 minutes but that he would send the anesthesiologist in. I said since I was already at a nine that I would maybe hold off, but he said, “I would. I mean, why not?” I got my dosage fixed a few minutes later, and I was very glad I did. Candice and Michael were starving, (which like, I was too but whatever)and eventually decided to go foraging through the hospital for vending machines. As soon as they left the doctor and Melissa came back in at 2:15. “Where did your husband go?” the doctor asked while he checked me. “Oh, he’s looking for food.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what you can do for me. When that husband gets back, you can push this baby out because you are complete.”
I texted Candice’s phone while the nurse and doctor set the room up and they came rushing back before they had eaten anything. It was still quite a few minutes before it was pushing time because they were setting the room up. The doctor asked me how long it took to push Ellie out and I said about half an hour. He told me he thought it would take a bit longer this time, as this was a big baby. I asked if I could have a mirror and they gladly pulled one in for me. No one is sure what time it was that I started pushing, but it was at least ten minutes after being told I was complete (So perhaps, 2:25?). I voiced my concern that I was afraid I wouldn’t push very well from being so numb, but Melissa told me she would help me and I would do great. It’s always such a surreal moment when those stirrups come out (I say always like I’ve done it more than twice.) and I was so excited and happy that I started crying. The nurse had Michael on my right side, holding my right leg and my mom was able to stand up next to my head on the right side. Candice stood on the left with her camera. The nurse told me that I would push with the next contraction. I had my hands under my thighs to help bare down. She counted me off and I gave a good long push. I loved having the mirror from the get go this time, and right away I could see baby girl’s head.
Everyone told me what a good job I did. Melissa said she was going to get the doctor. This confused me that she was already going to get him. Ellie’s head was crowning for most of my pushing time so I didn’t think seeing the top of her head was enough reason to call him in just yet, but what do I know? I gave another good push once the doctor was in and my little girl’s head came completely out! The doctor unwrapped the chord from around her neck and told me that the shoulders would be the hard part. I gave another good push and one shoulder was out, and another good one for the other shoulder. At 2:33 PM a beautiful and perfect baby girl was completely out of me! I was crying as the doctor suctioned her and waited anxiously for her to cry. It was the sweetest sound to me when she finally did! They gave her to me quickly and I was so shocked at how soft and warm she was. She stopped crying when she was on my chest. I hugged her and cried and the doctor and nurse talked about what a big healthy girl she was. She didn’t look big to me! She looked tiny! I couldn’t get enough skin to skin time with her! I fell instantly in love with this girl. There was no fear and there was no uncertainty. When they took her off my chest to weigh her (9lbs 1oz!) she started crying, but as soon as she came back to my chest she settled right down each time. I couldn’t help but feel like she knew I was her mommy, and that she loved me too.
Oh, Scarlett Michelle Petersen, we are so glad you’re here, and we are so glad you’re ours!