Sunday, March 11, 2018

Lilla Vann's Birth Story

It's hard to believe that it has taken 7 months for me to sit down and actually write out Lilla's birth story.  I have tried a few separate times to compose her birth story here, but the words just wouldn't come. It was hard revisiting that night, I couldn't articulate my feelings and I don't think I was quite ready to share them yet.

You see, when I had my two boys, everything with labor/delivery went pretty darn near close to absolutely perfect and sharing their birth stories was something I couldn't wait to do. A celebration of words,  I could reminisce and revel in how magical their entrances to the world were (as they were, hands down, some of the most special days of my life).

So, of course, as I prepared for the birth of my final baby, a little girl!, I expected nothing else but pure and utter magic- just like the two times before. I had it all worked out in my mind... I knew exactly what it was going to be like... it was going to be sparkly and magical, and I couldn't wait to experience it all over again. 

Little did I know just how different it would be...

This is Lilla Vann's birth story:

On the morning of August 10th, 2017, I had my 36 week ultrasound. Even though my body was feeling kind of funny, nothing was out of the ordinary and we left that appointment expecting to go at least another week or two (as I did with both my boys). They said I had a lot of fluid and the baby had a big head, but there was nothing to worry about.  

Later that day at about 4pm, Lex and I decide to run errands. We hop in the car and we're driving up busy thoroughfare, going 50mph, when all of the sudden GUSH! 

“Ummmmm! My water just broke! Oh my gossssssshhhhhh!” 

And it is literally no joke. 



Lots of it, and fast! 

Lex asks what "water breaking" even means, while I pull over into a parking lot and am looking for a blanket... a towel... anything! But there was nothing in the car and I’m wearing a summer dress so I hop out of the car and yell, 

“Lex! Do me the biggest favor... take off your shirt!” 

His eyes get big... “HUH?!” He takes off his shirt and throws it to me. I use it to wipe the seat. I have no idea why I thought this would help? It’s totally drenched and the water is still a comin'!

“Uhhh... Lex! Take off your pants!” 

“WHAT?!” He yelled back with even bigger eyes and a laugh. 

He strips down and chucks me his pants. So there we were, standing in a public parking lot right outside of a children's daycare- Lex naked, all but his red plaid boxers and tennis shoes, while I’m still losing water and frantically using his pants to wipe the seat. It didn't take long for me to decide that this whole idea is pointless, so we hop back in the car and drive home as fast as we can (a memory he and I will laugh about forever! And let me add... those WeatherTech floor protectors are legit! I installed them in my car a month or so prior and they really CAN hold “big gulp” amounts of liquid as portrayed in the infomercials).

So we get home, clean out the car, call my mom and wait for her to come over to watch the kids. It's absolutely crazy and hectic and we're all laughing and running around trying to get everything ready. Seth throws a mound of towels on his seat, we chuck our bags in the car, kiss the kids good bye and off to the hospital we go! 

Except about 5 minutes into the drive Seth says,

"Uhhhh. I'm starving. It's going to be a long night and I haven't eaten anything today. Wanna grab some food?"

Guys. He pulls into TACO BELL and we go through the DRIVE THRU while I'm in labor! No kidding. It was seriously hilarious and so stupid all at the same time ;)

As we're driving to the hospital and Seth is eating his dollar menu Dorito Burritos, I tell him to be prepared just in case our little one needs some help with breathing after she's born. I'm not sure why I even felt the impression to say that (it's not like she was THAT premature) but I did- and I kind of believe I was being "prepared" for what was about to unfold.

We got to the hospital at 7pm and my midwife (Tiffany, who we had seen earlier that day at our appointment) was surprised to see me being wheeled through the door. But! 36 weeks wasn't too early, so we weren't overly concerned- just anxious and excited and ready to meet our daughter. 

Triage checked me out and I was dilated to a 2 at that point so we decided to walk the halls and hope for some progress.

The hospital was totally full that night so walked and walked some more- a few hours even. Seth had me giggling to the point that I was buckled over, almost peeing in my gown. Just as the contractions started coming on stronger, a room finally a room opened up and I told the nurse that THE most important thing was that I get an epidural well in advanced because when Julian was born, I didn't get an epidural until 30 minutes before he was born (because the anesthesiologist had an emergency c-section to attend to). 

By 10pm I was dilated to a 6.5 and contractions were coming FAST and I was MORE than ready for the epidural. I told the nurse it was time.

"Oh, Jacy! I am SO sorry! He literally just ran into the OR for an emergency c-section, which means it'll be at least an HOUR and 15 minutes until he can be in here."


For real??!?!?!?! AGAIN!?!?!?!?! You have got to be kidding me?

I think I began to cry at that point. 

So there I was on my hands and knees, cat-cowing it on the hospital bed for an hour: trembling in pain, crying, moaning and groaning with ZERO shame, hollering things like, "I did NOT prepare for natural childbirth! Where is he? No more! Please no more!"

They check me again and this time, I'm dilated to 8.5 and I am legitimately FREAKING OUT that I won't get the epidural in time.

But at 11pm the anesthesiologist FINALLY walks in! 

He is happy, he is fast, he is going to save me :) 

I think I called him a "badass" at one point for making it, quite literally, right in the nick of time! So he gets the shot in at 11:10pm and I am finally laying on my back in the bed and that's when I notice no one is really around me anymore... they're all focused on Seth... WHY? Because he's sitting down in a chair across the room, his head drooping down, trying not to pass out. He says he's squeamish seeing me in so much pain and apparently the idea of a huge needle going deep into my back made him woozy. 

Meanwhile I'm instantly shaking like crazy from the epidural and I feel an intense painful pressure. They do a quick check and within just those few minutes, I'm fully dilated. 

It's go time! 

Seth gets up, looking a little peaked, and comes to my side. The midwives suit up in a flash and my heart begins to race! This is the moment I've been dreaming about for 9 months. I'm excited and scared and I say, "SETH! We are going to have 3 kids!? Can we handle THREE kids?" The feeling in the room was one of anticipation and happiness... but then everything changed. The mood, the dynamic, all of it.

After just a few pushes, I hear loud beeping (baby's heart decelerations) and my nurse grabs the oxygen, puts it on my face and says boldly, "Jacy, you have got to push this baby out. Like NOW! Push. Her. Out. Come on, Jacy, push her out! You've got to do it NOW!"

(My eyes have filled with tears as I write this. It was so scary.)

I didn't know what was happening... but I could sense that it wasn't good. The room was full of people and it seemed more and more people were running in as each moment passed. I was trying so hard to bring her into the world and I was so scared.

After only about 10 minutes of pushing, at 11:27pm my little Lilla Vann was born. 

They put her on my chest for only a split second and when I went to touch her, I heard "Hold on, mom" and  just like that, they cut her cord before we even knew it and rushed her across the room.

After that it is all a really big blur. Neither Seth or I can really remember what happened next. 

Seth made sure I was okay after childbirth and went over to where Lilla was- surrounded by nurses and the doctor. I remember as I was delivering the afterbirth stuff, I wasn't hearing her cry and kept asking if Lilla was okay. My midwives kept me calm and told me that everything would be okay. I'm so grateful for their care and calm demeanor during that time.

After what felt like forever (probably only 10 minutes or so), the nurses swaddled our precious tiny human, placed her in my arms and handed a breathing treatment to keep over her mouth. As Seth and I studied her little features, the doctor sat at the edge of my bed and tried to explain everything that was happening with Lilla's lungs, but I didn't hear a single word she said. Not one. I acted like I did, but I didn't. All I could see was her perfect face- I could see so much of my great-grandmother Lillian in her. 

(Meanwhile, as all of this was happening, my angel of a nurse grabbed Seth's phone right as they handed her to me and started capturing photos that I will cherish forever. When everything doesn't go as planned, and it's scary, the LAST thing you're thinking about are photos.)

We were able to spend 5 minutes with Lilla before she was rushed to the nursery and about 10 minutes or so after that, everyone in the room was gone. It was silent. Just me and Seth. Looking at one another, both pretty shaken by what had just happened. It was so surreal. Such a whirlwind. The nurse told us to try and rest and that she'd be back in a few hours to take us to see her. We tried, but let's get real.... neither of us had any luck. All we could think about was Lilla.

At 3am it was time to see our baby girl again and we were warned that she'd have all sorts of things on her face and not to be alarmed. Of course I bawled my eyes out when I saw her... because I couldn't even see her under all the stuff... and I was so worried about her.

Here we talked to the doctor for another 40 minutes, going over everything that was happening and her treatment plan. We were trying to be strong and "happy" but we were both scared out of our minds. We were told that Lilla wasn't responding to the medicine as well as they had hoped and there was a high likelihood that she'd need to be transported to another hospital- but they wanted to give it a few hours to be sure.

At 6am, we went back into the nursery after more treatments and this time, I was very taken back by how my sweet baby looked. I was hoping we'd see improvements but instead, I found her almost unrecognizable and it was so heartbreaking to see her this way. She looked so uncomfortable, like everything hurt, and it made it that much more frightening.

And this is when I realized that we didn't have one single picture of her perfect, flawless face shortly after birth (without the tubes, without the needles, without the side effects from the medicine, without the facial swelling, without the trauma. And it would be 32 long days before we'd see her without any tubes.) 

I cried for a long while here, too. Seth stayed calm and steady the entire time. (He is my hero and taught me SO much about what true courage and resiliency is- especially in hard times.)

A few hours later, the doctors had concluded that Lilla needed to be transported to a more equipped NICU where she would intubated for premature lungs. I watched with tears streaming down my cheeks as the paramedics wheeled her incubator into the elevator, where they'd load her up in the ambulance and drive her an hour away to St. Jo's hospital. I specifically remember one of the nurses giving me a big hug and telling me I was brave and strong and that they'd take good care of her. I found so much comfort in her empathy in that moment.

And that was it. What felt like an abrupt and unexpected ending to her birth story, and the beginning of one of the hardest experiences of my life. 

32 days in the NICU. 

Premature lungs. 

Congenital Hypothyroidism. 

Minor heart issues. 


"Failure to thrive." 

Genetic testing. 

It was all so foreign and I have so much more to write and share about the lessons I learned during that time... but for now, I wanted to document her birth story so I never forget it. 

August 10th, 2017 was a night I will never ever forget. A night I hold so very close to my heart, but also a night I reflect back on with tempered fondness. Because while it was so beautiful and miraculous, is was so very scary and so uncertain. I still experience some PTSD when I think about it, or look at the pictures for too long. Even driving by the hospital can trigger feelings of anxiousness sometimes. But my little Lilla is MORE than I ever could've ever imagined. She has proven to me over and over and over again that nothing will stop her.

It doesn't matter what happened the night she was born... it doesn't matter what pictures I did or didn't get.... it doesn't matter if it wasn't everything I envisioned it to be or thought it should be or hoped it would be... It doesn't matter if I didn't get the magical "golden hour" where she lay on my chest right after birth... none of that matters... because in the end...


And she is the most precious and healing prize... and every single day I get with her is a gift.

August 10, 2017
5lbs 7oz
18 inches long

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