Lillian’s Birth Story

Lillian was born on July 15th and is the most loveable little human ever. She was in the breech position all along and when it came time for her to make an appearance we had some decisions to make. Kristy and I chose to attempt an ECV, which is an external maneuver to rotate the baby out of the breech position and thus allow for a vaginal delivery. This procedure was scheduled for 8:00am on July 15th, with a cesarean scheduled for immediately afterward in case the rotation was unsuccessful.

We learned about the breech position on a Monday afternoon and by Tuesday morning had the ECV scheduled for the following day. The doctors and midwives estimated our chance of a successful rotation at roughly 20%, so we spent the rest of the day Tuesday preparing for a cesarean and predicting if the ECV would work by checking in with our gut feelings. We also spent quite a bit of time packing for the potential hospital stay.

On Wednesday we woke up to our alarms at 4:30am and made it out the door by 5:30. While driving to the hospital I noticed that the sky was covered with a layer of clouds that abruptly cleared in the direction we were driving (towards the hospital). I interpreted this as a sign that we had some work ahead of us before everything would clear and Lilly would be born. I also saw a deer on the way to the hospital which was incredibly calming. Kristy and I also found some significance in the baby chipmunks and squirrels we had first seen feeding on our deck the evening before.

When we arrived at the hospital at 6:00am, both our moms and Aunt Terry were in the waiting room. We said hello, told them we would keep them posted, and then checked in with the nursing station. Our first nurse was April and she explained what would happen over the next two hours. There was some confusion as to if Kristy would be getting an epidural. When our midwife described the procedure at our last appointment she explained that anesthesia would not be used. Somewhere along the way the doctors and midwives had decided that it made sense to use an epidural, and this hadn’t been communicated back to us. April paged the doctor so he could share his plans for the procedure and so that we could meet him before the procedure began.

Our initial impression of Dr. Valice was not great. I was confident that he would do a good job in the OR and just didn’t care much for the way he ‘handled’ our questions and concerns. At that point we needed some gentle hand holding more than anything else.

Around 7:30am the nurses changed shifts and Chris took over for April. About this time they moved us down to a labor and delivery room to finish the preparations. I took a moment to duck out and tell the moms that we would be starting the ECV procedure soon.

Once we were in the L&D room things started to get a little chaotic. The anesthesiologists’ assistant showed up and seemed to think we were getting an epidural and inducing labor. Chris wasn’t 100% sure we were even getting an epidural because it wasn’t standard practice at Beaumont for an ECV and there was no order from the doctor. Just before we reached our wits end, one of our midwives, Danette Lee, came in and immediately set everything straight and did an awesome job of calming us back down.

Our anesthesiologist’s name was Craig and he seemed very in tune and started the epidural with the proficiency of someone who had already performed 100 epidurals that morning. After the epidural was working they gave Kristy a drug to make her uterus relax. One side effect of the drug was that it made her very jittery to the point that her teeth chattered. At this point I focused entirely on Kristy, held her hand, and looked in her eyes so that she would stay as calm as possible.

Dr. Valice came in about when Kristy got the drug to relax her uterus. He took a quick look with the ultrasound and it was clear from his demeanor that there wasn’t a great chance of success with the procedure. He explained that there wasn’t much fluid and the baby had descended into the pelvis. And so we proceeded with diminished hopes. A second doctor came in to assist with the procedure and didn’t seem to have any idea how he could help. I thought about telling him that he needed to push the baby up out of the pelvis while Dr. Valice works to rotate the head down. Thankfully, Dr. Valice explained how the procedure is performed to the other doctor before I opened my big mouth.

Once the procedure started the manipulations were aggressive and I concentrated on helping Kristy stay calm. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Dr. Valice grab the baby’s head and try to rotate it clockwise towards Kristy’s pelvis. On his second attempt he was successful in moving the baby’s head a few inches. After making no progress on the third attempt he threw in the towel and in a very make lemons out of lemonade way told us the rotation wasn’t going to work out and baby was going to have a birthday.

That was an emotional moment for both of us. We were very disappointed not to have a vaginal delivery and at the same time excited that we would meet our daughter in just a few minutes. With a cesarean being major surgery, we were also a little scared.

The nurses had to make a couple preparations for the cesarean and I needed to change into scrubs. One of the nurses said there was enough time for our moms to poke their heads in before the operation so I went to retrieve them from the waiting area before changing into scrubs. After showing the moms into our L&D room I ducked into the bathroom to change into scrubs. After I finished our midwife explained that Kristy would be taken into the OR first and once the sterile field was setup she would bring me into the OR. I asked if there was any chance I could take a small camera into the OR and she said it was fine to take our big SLR. A couple minutes later it was time and I followed Kristy as they wheeled her down the hall and then waived a goodbye as she went through the OR doors.

They had me sit on a chair about 20 feet down the hall from the OR while they setup the sterile field. During our childbirth classes in Virginia we were told that I could be with Kristy the whole time in the event of a cesarean, so I didn’t understand why I couldn’t enter the OR with Kristy. Since our midwife said she would get me in ten to fifteen minutes I didn’t press the issue. After what seemed like too long I started getting impatient, stood up, and starting pacing. Luckily our midwife retrieved me before I got too agitated from waiting.

Once in the OR there was a feeling of calm. There were four people gathered around Kristy’s abdomen (2 docs and 2 assistants) who were working in a very focused and relaxed manner. I knew right away everything was going fine because this team was talking about some intramural basketball game. There was an anesthesiologist and his assistant by Kristy’s head and a pediatrician and her assistant off to the side.

Our midwife led me through the sterile field and had me sit down on a stool by the most important person in the room – Kristy. I asked how she was doing and Kristy said there was lots of pressure and pain in the back of her head. I immediately looked to the anesthesiologist who said without missing a beat that her blood pressure had gone high and they had already given her something to bring it back down and the pressure should be subsiding now. Kristy replied that the pain was now subsiding. This focused and on-the-ball exchange gave me the feeling that Kristy was in good hands.

What happened next seemed like the longest part of the whole day. I had to wait several minutes to meet our daughter. The expectation was that it would take ten to fifteen minutes for our daughter to be delivered, and it may not have been any longer. I was really excited and didn’t want to wait.

One of Kristy’s friends who had a cesarean mentioned regretting not seeing her baby delivered. We had time to think about it before hand and had requested to see the delivery. When the time came, the anesthesiologist assistant (Magda) held up a mirror. There wasn’t much we could see with everyone working around Kristy, and then in the blink of an eye our daughter appeared. It couldn’t have taken more then another five or ten seconds for the umbilical cord to be cut and then we were blessed with her first cry. When the nurse asked for her name, in a chocked up voice I said Lillian Grace Gray.

An Apple for the Teacher

Teaching was a perfect way to prepare for parenthood.  The two years I spent at Charlottesville High School taught me many things that have helped me over the past 11 weeks.  I learned patience and how to be an efficient multi-tasker.  With 125 students with different needs, personalities, and levels of ability, you have to be patient.  You also have to be able to write on the board while keeping an eye on students, teaching verb conjugations, signaling an individual student to pay attention, and waiting for a fire drill to be called while someone’s cell phone is ringing.  What a great way to prepare for a newborn!

I also learned how to break up a fight, but hopefully I won’t have to use that skill any time soon (at least until we have another child!).

Morning Smiles

Morning Smiles

Anyone with a baby knows that there is nothing like the smiles you get first thing in the morning.  Here’s a photo I took last week when Lilly first woke up.  It is not unusual for her to skip her morning meal because she is so busy smiling!!!

Note:  Yes, this photo is upside down.  Working on that.  🙂

You know you’re a new mom if…

You find yourself rocking back and forth while waiting in line at the grocery store (without the baby).

You are suddenly excited about poop and pee.

Your husband is no longer aroused by the sight of your boobs.

A two minute shower is cause for celebration.

A camera and video camera are always within reach.

Your baby is far more entertaining than the television.

At the shopping mall you realize you have poop on your shirt.

The hair dryer is used to soothe your baby, not to dry your hair.

Under-eye concealer becomes your favorite beauty product.

You use the word ‘poopy’ repeatedly with with doctors.

Singing is no longer confined to the shower.

You fall in love every day.

Lilly at One Month

Lillian at One Month

Lilly at One Month

Weight:  8 pounds 9 oz
Length:  21.5 inches
Head:  36.8cm

Lillian Turns One Month Old

Check our our little girl’s one month birthday video.

First Two Weeks

Some photos from Lilly’s first two weeks at home.

Lillian’s First Tummy Time

We just had to get a video of Lillian’s first tummy time. She has put on about one and a half pounds since brining her home and we can really see the difference.

Hang tight,more photos and video are in the making.

Meeting Great Grandma Anne

Great Grandma Anne

Great Grandma Anne

Here is a photo of Lilly’s first visit with Great Grandma Anne.  Grandma was so excited to meet her and kept saying how beautiful she was.  It was a nice visit!

Heading Home

We just had to take a couple photos on our way out of the hospital.

Leaving the Hospital

Leaving the Hospital

Lilly's first car ride

Lilly's first car ride