"beautiful. miraculous. amazing. monumental. terrific. joyful. inspirational. awe inspiring. life stopping. momentous. lastly, wonderfully wondrous." Laura Riley, my sister-in-law, in her Facebook description of Whitley. I didn't think I could give any better intro into the birth story of Whitley.
The original plan was for Stephanie to be induced at 8pm on Monday, August 13th. The plan was to check her into the hospital, give her something to encourage her cervix to get prepared, and begin Pitocin the next morning when her OB/GYN began her on-call shift.
As will be the constant theme of Whitley - she never has gone with what was expected. If you aren't aware of her back story, you can go this post. So, she chose to come on her own - alerting Stephanie of proof of that beginning at 9am on Monday with increasingly active contractions. By around 3:30pm, Stephanie felt like heading to the hospital would be a wise decision, even if she was turned around to go home. Sure enough, as she changed into the gown for the triage nurse, her water broke (very convenient timing), which insured she would not be leaving the hospital without Whitley!
Travis kept us appraised with quick texts, so were able to make it to the hospital by around 5. We joined these gals, Stephanie's sister Amanda, and Travis' sister Kristen, to become the "Faithful Four" (my coined phrase for us) that were part of the original birth plan to be in the room for Whitley's birth.
Stephanie was in quite a bit of pain, but we tried to keep her encouraged. Eventually, when the nurse came back in to check on her, we were invited to leave for dinner so that she could get some rest. We had some good bonding time with John as part of the gang too at the very upscale cafeteria. (The hospital is brand new and so beautiful and comfortable.) Mandy picked up her mom who also joined the ladies in the room.
When we returned, Steph had been given an Epidural and was much, much more happy. Giddy, in fact after the pain she had been in. Things seemed to be humming along as she was dilating at a steady rate. We were all feeling really good about things at that point.
However, for whatever reason, Steph's body struggled with holding onto to the numbing effects of the Epidural. With each new one that was given to her, the effects lasted for a less amount of time....an hour, then 30 minutes, then 20 minutes, then maybe 10. Around midnight, Stephanie had to be checked again and we were excused. Travis tried to let us know in the kindest way possible, that Steph's pain threshold was such that she needed to not have an audience - and it would just be her and Trav for the rest of the duration. While it was hugely disappointing, honoring Steph's comfort was the least we could do in an attempt to support them through this.
As it turned out, that statement from Travis became a moot point. Even if Steph had desired to keep us in the room, we would have been ordered to leave the room by the doctor/nurses due to the emergency scenario unfolding.
By around 2am, we took vigil on the other side of the door leading into Steph's room. We heard her dramatic cries of pain and used them as cues to pray through her "push contractions" as the minutes lapsed. By 3am, there was a team of about 6 hospital staff in her room. Not a good sign.
At 3:12, the sound effects on the other side of the door changed. We heard what we thought was a baby cry. Then nothing. Then a "Congratulations". But, no more baby noises - and still so much evidence of pain on Steph's behalf....which didn't fit any point of reference Michele, myself, or Mandy had in terms of what would be the case if she had actually delivered Whitley. We looked over to the charge desk nurse and she confirmed, "the baby was born". That was it. We were scared.
What was really going on would be told to us in detail by Travis after the fact. Stephanie's contractions and ability to push were greatly affected by having the effects of the Epidural in place, but knowing it lasted for less and less time, the doc felt like with the final administration of a new Epidural, the Pitocin had to be turned up to full intensity so she could increase the contractions and get Whitley out as fast as possible. It was working, until the Epidural wore off, and at that point, it was excruciating for Stephanie. She was struggling with the ability to use the contractions to make effective pushes. Stephanie literally had Whitley's head crowned to the forehead, and then she'd slip back into the birth canal. It was horrible. Finally, with one push, a rush of merconium "waste" came through and everything in the room switched to the utmost of urgency as the doctor recognized Whitley would not make it if she didn't come out IMMEDIATELY. In as few details as I can use, the next contraction literally had the doctor ensure that happening by him reaching in with both hands to pull all of Whitley out. This explains why Steph's cries of pain continued.
The baby resuscitation team took over with Whitley from there. Travis was quickly given the option to snap a picture. As you can see, this is not a comforting sight. Whitley was still as a doll and this picture has her looking less blue than the other one he took from his phone. They pumped, inserted, intubated, and moved very, very fast. Before he knew it, Travis was ordered to stay as close as possible to Whitley as they raced her down to NICU.
Once there, they put on more wires and this CPAP device to force the merconium out of her lungs and nasal passages. She literally started coming to life through this process. She's holding Travis' finger in this picture.
As Whitley whisked by us in her glass rolling bassinet - we got a glimpse of her with an oxygen mask over top of her face. She looked much pinker than that original picture, but we all knew things were dire.
As you all now already know the conclusion of the story, it is with great praise I can report that Whitley made a dramatic recovery in the NICU. What was originally suggested to be a 7 day stay in there, turned into only 12 hours. At the end of those twelve hours, this was what our "miracle child" looked like. Unbelievable, huh?
While that was Whitley's view post-delivery, it's important to address what was going on back in Stephanie's room. What Stephanie was unable to accomplish in terms of terms of progressive pushing, she gave in physical sacrifice to get Whitley out. She was bleeding profusely as a result and the doctor had to put a stop to it. In order for that to happen, she had to get her placenta out, and that was not happening on its own. Again, the doctor had to intervene in what you can only consider the most painful way to make sure, part by part, everything was removed. This was why, after Whitley was whisked away, Stephanie continued to cry out in torturous agony for at least 30 more minutes. As soon as Whitley was removed, the doctor made an order for pain killer to be added to her IV, so by the end of that 30 minutes, we finally heard a note of laughter. Soon after, we were invited in, and got to witness, alongside Stephanie, the video account on her doctor's iphone of Whitley's health and vitality that had just been taken in the NICU. It could have been a commercial for technology with as poignant as it was. Travis soon joined us and gave more assurances to Whitley's perfection. Not long after, it was pointed out that Whitley was hungry and Steph was whisked away to finally join (and meet) her daughter.
It was at that point that we all left. I came home, slept for an hour, took Brayden to football camp and got two more one hour naps before getting the text to come back....which we were all waiting for all day long. It was timed well as John got to join us after work.
Here's the pics of that visit - all so full of rejoicing.
The hands of all five of the kids....oh the extended-family siblings she'll have looking out for her!!!
Yes, tears in the eyes....I was holding back dribbling snot all over her.
Look at that FAMILY OF THREE. Perfect in every way - just as God has had in mind all along. REJOICE!!!!