Her fairy tale…
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 was a busy day. Busy getting the nursery set just right. Busy checking in with the obstetrician to find out her progress. Busy packing the hospital bags. Busy choosing the perfect outfit to bring her home in.
Busy preparing for parenthood. Our last day as just the two of us.
That night went on for what seemed like forever. By the time I was satisfied with all that I wanted finished before leaving for the hospital, we only had about 3 hours to sleep and even in that little amount of time, I must have woken up a dozen times checking the clock. This time the inability to sleep wasn’t due to the discomforts of tripling in circumference, but rather the overwhelming excitement of what was to come in just a few short hours. Everyone always said to be sure and sleep well the night before to be well rested for labor, that and it would be the last chance to sleep well for the next 18 years. But how can you be expected to sleep at all the night before one of the biggest days of your life?
4:30AM Wednesday, September 22nd came and we were out the door by 5AM. I woke up a little crampy that morning but thought it was probably just nerves. After a quick meeting with my father and step-mother at the front doors of the hospital, we checked in to Room 218. Room 218: where our lives were about to change forever. The nurse walked in, “Here’s the gown. Get this on and we’ll get started.” And so we started. The wait I mean. Other than getting hooked up to everything, nothing else had started. Those cramps I was experiencing after waking up were actually contractions but I had not started progressing any. We waited and waited.
I expected to be nervous as that day neared. But I wasn’t. I thought for sure I would at least be nervous the day of. But I wasn’t. I’m not really sure why the nerves never came along. It’s not like I had ever done this before. Maybe it was because I had delivered a baby before (not mine of course). Or perhaps it was because I worked professionally with my obstetrician before she was my own. Whatever it was, I am so very grateful for the sense of calm that day held.
Family came and went throughout the day. Creed waited patiently, or at least tried to be patient. We made slow progress. I tried to stay tough, but eventually gave in to the epidural at 4 cm. Why waste good drugs when someone somewhere worked so hard to make them a possibility? Paranoid to leave in case he were to miss something, Creed finally decided to get some air (and dinner) with his dad around 6:00PM. Sure enough, the nurse came in to check me while he was gone and we were suddenly ready for action. I went from about 4 cm to 7 cm in an hour after waiting all day for the first 3 cm. When Creed returned around 6:45PM to the news that we were having a baby in the next little while, I think reality set in…as well as extreme excitement and maybe a little anxiety.
Within minutes, the room was cleared, other than our photographer Jessi. Bed pieces were thrown around, hooked and unhooked, much like Batman’s Batmobile transforms. Nurses hustled and bustled, slightly chaotic as it was smack in the middle of shift change. All the while, Creed stood nearby cracking jokes and the two of us laughed all the way through labor. I pushed 3 times before our doctor arrived. Reese was ready. The staff was not so we stopped. Our doctor ran in and with only two more pushes, we had a baby. WE HAD A BABY!
Piece of cake. Piece of miracle. Piece of family.
Reese Rylie Williams, born at 7:16PM Wednesday, September 22, 2010.
Hands clapped. Cameras flashed. A tiny voice screamed. Tears of joy rushed. Smiles beamed.
The next minute or two was a blur. It all happened so fast. Reese cuddled for a moment and then the nurses took her to do their thing, including Creed in every part. She weighed in at 7 pounds 2 ounces and measured 19 1/4 inches long. Creed helped clean her off and we were able to cuddle some more as a family, all 3 of us. As I was put back together, Creed took her back to the sink where the nurses let him help bathe her, dress her, swaddle her, and then she was brought back to nurse for the first time.
It was the first of many times to come that I would feel clueless as a mother. Once the details were worked out, it was a memory I’ll never forget. The instant bond was incredible. Unimaginable.
The parade of family marched in about an hour later and oohs and aahs could be heard through the halls. Proud grandparents, great-grandparents, cousins, and aunts.
A few hours later, it was back to just the 3 of us. We would take on our first challenge: our first night. With little sleep and lots of teamwork, we survived. We spent many hours staring at each other in awe and watching Reese together. I think our marriage grew a million times stronger that night.
The next day, Thursday, September 23rd, we continued to celebrate as it was Creed’s 30th birthday. The second night was an incredible challenge as Reese had realized she wasn’t in the womb by that point and we had the added exhaustion of the previous day. But we made it.
So thankful for a near perfect delivery and so very, very grateful for a healthy baby girl.
Friday, September 24th Creed and I brought Reese home. Our new fairy tale began as a family of three.
His fairy tale…
It all started with a surprise.
And the surprises kept coming.
Our little man came roaring into the world on a lovely Saturday afternoon, sticking to his own schedule as he had through my entire third trimester.
The little mister tried to give me the surprise of my lifetime, and his daddy too, since he was in Afghanistan when he sent me into preterm labor and he tried to make his debut at 34 weeks. Looking back, I’ll admit. I must have been in denial because I was sure I was having contractions but I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it and didn’t fully believe what was happening. I had had a few contraction-type pains that I was sure were just Braxton-Hicks earlier in the week and ended up leaving the OB placed on modified bed rest. I had to take off work and have our nanny come stay many more hours than planned. I still had lots of finishing touches to add before I was “ready” and this was not conducive to doing these odd jobs.
I tried to come up with every excuse in the book late Sunday, December 2nd, as to why I may be having these worsening wrap-around pains in my belly that surely were not contractions, but eventually I ended up at the hospital that night having contractions, just four days after I was placed on bed rest. I wanted to be sure I arrived there early enough that I could drive myself since I would have to leave our nanny at home with our other sleeping baby. I called a friend to come ride that wild roller coaster with me and she was there in no time hanging on to the edge of her seat right next to me. A quick triage visit turned into emergent labs and monitoring and medications and then, next thing I know I was being loaded in the back of an ambulance and shipped to a high-risk hospital. This was definitely not written in my book of fairy tales. I truly couldn’t believe it was all happening. What happened to the perfect pregnancy we had been going through up to this point? And the last pregnancy that went just as I had planned, to the hour, the entire way through?
After a wild, and very scary 36 hours, the physicians were able to stop the labor, and in true Prince Charming fashion, Creed made it home from Afghanistan, walked into my hospital room, and crawled into my hospital bed just in time to take me home. Still pregnant. And so thankful.
I was kept on bed rest and had even more doctor’s visits arranged and made it to 36 weeks and 2 days. I had continued to progress and they decided since I was so close to being full term, they could take me off of bed rest. Best feeling ever! Why is it that when you need to be relaxing the most and have a doctor’s order to do so, it is the least relaxing time in your life? I was so anxious to get off of bed rest. When the news broke with the warning that I probably wouldn’t make it through the weekend into the New Year still pregnant, my grandmother and I ran a few errands, picking up some last minute necessities. My in-laws were in town to celebrate a late Christmas the next day and we made plans to go to a basketball game that next evening. Little did we know, we wouldn’t be making it to either.
Creed and I headed to the hospital Friday night, December 28th and I was admitted for rehydration and was told initially I would be released in time to celebrate another Christmas and cheer on the Vols at the basketball game. When the next morning rolled around, we learned that day was just meant to be our day. Again, I was so in denial of the entire situation, I never did pack a bag for myself and I didn’t get to have my last good shower and take my time getting ready, you know, the essentials for getting ready to deliver a baby. I was sure I would be back home the next day.
It was go time and with go time came an overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty, a much different experience from our first delivery. I knew all about “wimpy white boy syndrome” and our little one was the perfect candidate. He was coming early, too early, and I was very anxious about what that could potentially mean.
Preston Reid was born Saturday, December 29th, 2012 at 3:23PM. 5 pounds 15 ounces. 19 1/2 inches long.
He came out screaming. I promise you, there is no sweeter, more comforting, more reassuring sound than the sound of your child’s working lungs belting out those first high-pitched screeches, especially when they come from premature lungs, full of air. His apgar scores were high at 9 and 8 and I thought we had finally made it to the end of the crazy roller coaster ride.
But unfortunately, we had not. The next 48 hours were touch and go with more and more respiratory issues building up and finally our poor little guy had fought long enough. The night they shipped him to the NICU was one of the hardest. All of the unknowns that were ahead were beyond overwhelming.
It was hard. Extremely hard. Have you ever had to leave the hospital without your baby? It’s something I never even considered happening and a feeling I hope I never experience again. But it certainly could have been much worse. We were made well aware of that watching the micro-preemies struggle day in and day out around us. Our little guy took a turn down the wrong path that first night requiring even more help breathing but after that first night, he progressed with leaps and bounds and was ready to go after about 5 days. Our little trooper was gaining weight like a champ, breathing so well, and eating like a pro.
On day 7, January 5th, 2013 they waved the green flag and we raced out of that place as fast as we could. We were taking our tiny guy home for the first time. Happy and healthy.
We were in such a hurry as he had a very important little person anxiously awaiting his arrival that we missed oh so dearly.
And so we became a family of four.