• Kelsey Petersen

Lila’s Birth Story

I never imagined that I would be giving birth while the world was on fire. I got my positive pregnancy test on February 3, 2020 and well—you know the rest. I can’t tell you how many comments I heard about 2020 being just the worst year ever—but we had a bright spot in October to look forward to! The birth of our third daughter!

A slow quarantine somehow made for a quick pregnancy. I held onto hope that Covid was going to magically disappear (we all held onto that same hope—right?) But no. And yet, through all of the toilet paper hysteria, civil unrest, earthquakes, hurricanes, unstoppable forest fires and the social media political wars—I made it to the last month of my pregnancy.


I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, busy chasing around two active kids, or just the fact that it was my third pregnancy. But man! The last month hurt me like never before. Any time I went from sitting to standing my hips screamed in protest. (lol. Ok that was a dramatic way of putting it—can you imagine if they literally screamed ?!) My feet and hands swelled up, my heartburn wouldn’t quit, night time dragged on and on with little to no sleep. To be honest, I was glad when my doctor started talking about keeping an eye on the size of this baby and inducing a week early. I was so sure that she was going to follow in Scarlett's gigantic baby footsteps and come out weighing over nine pounds.


I was pretty bummed when I was hardly dilated at 39 weeks. All the curb-walking, spicy food, and yoga ball bouncing did nothing for me! My doctor was such a pal to set my induction date for just a couple of days before my due date. He had me scheduled to come in Thursday evening, October 8th to get this show on the road! Natalie came over in the morning and helped me set up the pac n' play and organize the last few things while our kids played. I went to one last doctor appointment, and maybe it's in my head, but I swear those couples in the waiting room that were probably there for their first appointment eyes practically popped out of their heads when they saw the size of me. Ha, probably scared that they were looking at their gigantic-bellied futures! I practically skipped out of there with an ere of, "SO LONG, SUCKAS! MAMA OUT!" Except I know I didn't look like I was skipping because Ellie had told me that I was starting to "waddle walk."


I got the girl's bags all packed up for my parent's and when Michael got home we started loading up the car with our embarrassing amount of pillows and luggage when the hospital called to tell us that they didn't have a room available for us and that we were on "standby." Now, I was only a *tiny* bit disappointed because I had no clue what standby meant. Like...should I expect a call tomorrow or??? I started worrying that I wouldn't get a call until the following Monday or gosh, who knows when! I wanted to cry. We did the Charley Brown sad walk to the car and drove to my parent's with the hopes that we'd get a call early the next morning. It was nice eating my last meal of Costa Vida and chatting with my mom. We tucked our big girl's in bed for the last time as a family of four--and yes, that got me feeling all of the things. I was only a little thrilled when the hospital called and told me to come in at 11:30 PM. BABY TIME!


We got to the hospital right on time, got screened with all the Covid questions (I had also been tested a few days before to make sure I was in the clear) and made our way to our room. They gave me a pill that was supposed to soften my cervix with the hopes that it would be enough to get the ball rolling. Just as I suspected, Michael fell asleep easy-peasy and I settled in to a restless sleep with lots of waking up and lots of weird dreams. I was relieved and happy when the sun came up and Michael woke up and found I was closer to being 3cm than I was to being 2 cm. The doctor came by and said I wasn't quite ready for him to break my water yet, but would shortly. I was introduced to my new nurse, Jessica who seemed extra attentive and knowledgeable about different positions to relieve back pain (as my contractions were starting to bother my back a bit and memories of back-labor from Ellie's birth were haunting me!). I told Michael to go get breakfast ( that's another thing we learned from past experience. Feed the husband before things really get moving or he might miss his chance). My contractions were only slightly bugging me, and they would take seven minute breaks and then come back to back in threes. My nurse checked me again and declared me a solid 3cm and shortly after the doctor came back (Michael was still in the cafeteria eating breakfast.) and said he was ready to break my water. Even when you know it's coming, there's nothing quite like that gush of broken waters, am I right? My doctor said we could start the pitocin soon, but Jessica was cautious because she said she noticed a very slight dip in the heartbeat with each contraction. My contractions were starting to really bother me so I texted Michael to hurry his buns back because I was in need of some TLC. Jessica and Michael helped me to move into a position that would help baby's head move down and it also helped a lot so that contractions were no longer in my back! I was also in full swing labor and wouldn't have to use pitocin! This was great news as I found that the contractions were not unbearable like in my past experience with pitocin contractions. I was however, feeling super ready for the epidural. They put the order in and I waited while straddling the peanut ball to help move things along.


It was my third time to have an epidural but definitely my worst experience with getting one. I was contracting and the anesthesiologist (who really was a gem) was having a hard time finding space between my spine. I was hunched over as far as I could go but it wasn't giving him enough room still. I started crying because I'm cool like that, and later Michael told me it looked pretty awful, seeing the anesthesiologist move the super long needle around trying to find enough room. But! He got it in and not a moment too soon, truly. Because shortly after the epidural, everything got crazy.


Jessica (the nurse) said she would check my dilation before she put the catheter in. Right as she was checking me, Dr. Rost came in and asked me how I was feeling now that I had the epidural. It was just starting to kick in so I was feeling pretty good. The last super clear memory I have from that moment is Jessica telling me that I was at a five and then a look of concern clouding her face and her saying, "Dr. Rost. I believe I feel the cord."


The cord. The freaking cord. Even back when I was first pregnant with Ellie I have *always* been so afraid of cords getting knotted or wrapped around a neck or a number of other issues that can happen with a cord. Both Ellie and Scarlett were born with the cords wrapped around their cute little heads. After baby's are born we take a thousand precautions to keep them from suffocating or choking and yet, they spend nine months in utero with a flipping rope! A rope that sustains them and is literally divine by design but it still freaks me out. And yet, oddly enough, when the nurse told my doctor this, I was cool as a cucumber. "Oh, my other two also had the cords around their necks when they were born." Jessica asked Dr. Rost (Who, by the way has got to be the most chill person on the entire Earth.) to check it out himself. He seemed so unconcerned as he put his glove on so I was very reassured that everything was on the up and up. This, however, is where everything gets kind of blurry for me. I can't remember exactly what was said that made me realize that something was off, but I remember crying as I realized how tense the room became. I looked into Michael's eyes (the only thing showing on his otherwise masked-face) and wanted some reassurance, he squeezed my hand but looked so worried himself.


I guess Jessica had pushed the call button and when the charge nurse asked what we needed, Jessica said, "We need some help in here."Very quickly after that, the room was flooded with people. I was being unhooked and my bed started to roll in a matter of a few quick minutes. The doctor reached up inside my cervix and my head was clouded with extreme panic and confusion. I later found out that they did try to explain what was happening, but at the time I was completely unsure what was happening or where I was going. I heard Dr. Rost say, "No worries, we are just going to get this baby out of here sooner rather than later." Cool as ice. His tone definitely didn't match the hustle and bustle and tension that surrounded me. You'd think that I would have fully grasped that I was having a c-section in that moment, but I was still a little confused. They started rolling my bed out of the room (My doctor still had his hand inside the cervix region) and of course, Michael started following when they said, "We need Dad to stay behind for a minute." I was devastated and didn't want to be separated from Michael. We exchanged "I love you"s and off I went to the operating room. I was sobbing and praying out loud that my baby would be ok. I kept asking if she was alright and people kept saying, "She's ok. She's ok." I was wheeled into the operating room and I remember seeing bright lights being flicked on overhead as a group of people lifted me onto an operating table. The anesthesiologist stood directly behind my head and told me he was going to add some more medicine to my line and that I might fall asleep. I was worried for two reasons; that my legs were still tingling with feeling because I hadn't received the epidural that long ago and that they would have to knock me out and I would miss the birth of my baby. I asked if she was still alright and everyone was so busy rapidly preparing that no one heard me to answer. I heard Dr. Rost say he needed a knife which, you know, freaked me out. I started feeling a lot of tugging and pulling in my abdomen and the anesthesiologist said "I see her." I started asking, "Where is Michael? I need Michael!" and a nurse said, "Can we send Dad in?" Dr. Rost said, "Yes, send dad in!" like he was surprised he wasn't in yet. I heard some people asking me if I could hear her crying, which I couldn't, over the sound of my own crying. I quieted down and heard the most high-pitched and adorable little cry. I resented the blue sheet in front of my face that stopped me from seeing her. I was elated when Michael came in and came straight over to me, which I remember thinking was very sweet as the baby was born. He touched my face and asked me if I was okay. I told him I just didn't know what happened. That's when he explained to me that the cord was prolapsed, which means the cord was coming out before the baby, and that the baby's head was cutting off circulation from the cord. That's when I learned that her heartbeat had dropped to 40 BPM (it had been hovering around 167 BMP prior to this) during one of my contractions when the doctor was checking me.


You can see where her heartbeat drops with the blue line. The purple line below shows my contractions.

This explained why he was keeping his hand in my cervix, to keep her head from cutting off circulation from the cord. Michael asked me if I wanted him to stay with me or to go see the baby, and I sent him to see her. I heard them call out her weight, "7lbs 13 oz!" and was so happy to hear that sweet little cry. It felt like forever before Michael came back holding her. He always teased me each pregnancy that he wanted to hold the baby first, and this time, he got to! I was just happy she was in one of our arms. It felt like forever before I got to do skin on skin with her. I was just happy she was on me! Shocked, a little confused, and maybe starting to shake a bit, but so so happy that she was safe on her mama. Later, Jessica told me that from the time they realized the cord was prolapsed to the time she was earth-side was ten minutes. I got into the operating room two minutes before she was out of me. How amazing is that? Everything went so quickly that afterwards, they had to do an x-ray on me to make sure no instruments were left behind, as they had no time to take the precautionary measure of counting them like they usually do.


Life is just full of unexpected moments, isn't it? Who could have guessed what 2020 would bring us. But truly, it's the people we love that get is through the hard stuff. I came out of this with so much love and appreciation for my life partner and best, best friend. I can't say how grateful I am that Michael's is the hand I get to hold through all of life's best and scariest moments. I love him and the three beautiful girls we've brought into this world. I am so grateful for modern medicine and the amazing medical staff at Baylor Scott and White in Grapevine. What a blessing that my nurse was so attentive, my doctor was doing his rounds before popping back over to his office to see his patients there, and the epidural had just been put in. I definitely see Heavenly Father's hand in the delivery. And truly, all is well that ends well. <3















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