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kumquat's style

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introducing: rhynna mae (a.k.a. kumquat)

rhynna mae
(a.k.a. kumquat)

The Boy & I have officially been parents for two full weeks - and so far, we haven't broken her (knock on wood) or scarred her for life (probably inevitable). Our beautiful baby girl was born Wednesday, May 28th at 2:30pm at St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. At birth, she weighed 6 lbs 9.8 ounces and measured 21" long; as of this morning, she's up to 6 lbs 15.5 ounces, and she's crazy tough (she got tons of exercise kicking the crap out of me throughout the pregnancy). Despite our early concerns regarding preterm labor, we ended up going four days past our due date, and although we had a relatively healthy pregnancy, a last minute development led to an emergency c-section.

the epic tale of kumquat's birth

About 5:30 Monday morning (the 26th), I woke in the most excruciating pain I've ever felt in my life. My contractions were coming every three minutes, and I was convinced I was going to have this baby right there in bed. So, being the rational human being I was at 40 weeks preggo, I decided to get up and go to McDonald's for breakfast (without waking The Boy).

Fortunately, by the time I got back, my contractions had completely dissipated and it became evident I wasn't going to be popping out a baby that day (much to The Boy's frustration); at the OB appointment the following day, we talked about inducing. She examined my lady parts (yet another un-glam pregnancy detail that gets left out) and declared me to be 3cm dilated and sent us on our way, saying she was pretty sure she'd be seeing us later.

I immediately began cramping and bleeding, so we got all of our stuff together - and waited. And waited. Went to bed. Woke up - again at 5:30 in the AM - with pretty intense contractions that grew closer together with each one. The doc told us not to even think about going in until they'd been steadily 7 minutes apart for at least two hours, so I figured I had some time. When going back to sleep proved to be impossible, I got up, took a shower, hung out in the bath... and then realized that the contractions were coming significantly faster and were becoming much more painful. I had planned to let Brent sleep until I was done with my hair (gotta look good for the camera, right?), but as I was digging through the laundry basket at the end of the bed, another contraction hit and I realized I wasn't going to make it much further (this was about 7ish).

I grabbed Brent's ankle and shook him awake - scaring the crap out of him, apparently - and told him it was time to go. He hopped right up and immediately began making fun of me for insisting on putting on my (waterproof) eyeliner before we could leave.

As we got in the car to head down, I called the doctor's after-hours number and asked them to get in touch with her; I started having a contraction while talking to the nice lady on the other end of the line, and the sympathy in her voice made it clear that my pain was painfully obvious.

We hit the road to make the 20 minute trek down to the hospital (St. Mark's Hospital on 3900 South in SLC), and by the time we got there, my contractions were steadily coming at four minutes apart - and since they lasted 2+ minutes each, I felt like one gigantic ball of pain as I hobbled through the main doors to ask where Labor & Delivery was (we never made it down for the tour...). The gal at the front desk was super helpful and immediately grabbed me a wheelchair before speeding us over to the appropriate wing.

This next part was the worst (thus far) - it was basically 120 questions in the brief moments between contractions as they got us checked in, and of course I couldn't have any pain meds until all the paperwork was done (I had briefly entertained the idea of going natural, but in that moment I realized it was not physically possible for me, and I offer mad props to women who can). Fortunately, Brent was on top of it and managed to answer most of the questions and do the majority of the paperwork while I was curled up in a ball on the hospital bed, trying not to scream while I contracted and the nurse checked my lady parts to see how far I was dilated (5cm around 8am).

In addition to wading through the check in process, we had to wait for them to clean a room - by the time that was finally done, my contractions were right on top of each other. Getting the epidural was pretty scary; basically they inserted a giant needle into my spine and told me not to move (or risk damaging my nerves) as my body was wracked by a contraction and the most excruciating pain I'd ever experienced. Brent held my hands and I cried into a pillow as the anesthesiologist worked his magic, though, and within minutes I was feeling immensely better. Of course, as soon as the meds kicked in and I regained the ability to think at least somewhat coherently, my first instinct was to grab my phone and check Facebook, even though the doc was still talking to me (a completely subconscious impulse that I'm pretty sure irritated the crap out of the doctor).

By this point I had lost all sense of time, so I'm not really sure how long we had been at the hospital when the drugs finally kicked in, but my mom and sister had arrived by this point, and as Brent will attest - the tension lightened as I lost feeling in the lower half of my body. If I remember right, I was dilated to 7cm and the hospital's OB came in to break my water, at Dr. Singer's request, somewhere between 11 and noon. In less than an hour, I was up to 9cm and we started pushing the moment Dr. Singer (our OB) got there, somewhere around 1 - initially, she didn't even have time to change into scrubs (I remember loving her outfit too).

This is where things got really scary - on our first push, Kumquat's heart rate dropped to below 40 BPM, and stayed there for the longest four minutes of my life. I didn't quite realize what was going on at first, and Brent was purposely vague as he questioned the doctor, trying to keep me from panicking... but when Dr. Singer ordered a room be prepped for an emergency cesarean section, the slowed fetal heart rate monitor suddenly seemed to be the loudest thing in the room.

As she had her arm up my vagina performing chest compressions on my attempting-to-be-born child, I was equal parts the most disconcerted, disturbed and truly terrified I've ever been in my life.

Her heart rate finally came back up, so we pushed forward in our quest for a normal birth, but it would drop again nearly every time we pushed. Little Kumquat had turned the wrong way on her trip down the birth canal (she was face up instead of face down) and wasn't making much progress. Finally, after an hour of alternating between pushing and terror and being flipped in a wide array of positions and directions in an attempt to re-position our little one, we talked it over with Dr. Singer and decided a cesarean section was our best option.

They rushed me into this bright white OR that made me think of an alien abduction and began counting out instruments as Brent pulled on scrubs so he could join us. Everything is sort of a blur past this point - I'd imagine a result of the combination of drugs, anxiety and fear - but certain things and moments stand out. I remember that when he got there and they started cutting me open, he commented on how calm I seemed (he was freaking out), but the truth is, I was just focusing really hard on my breathing. This may sound a bit melodramatic, but given the situation and the sense of surrealism I had surrounding the entire pregnancy, I was convinced something awful was going to happen... but all I could do at this point was breathe and trust Dr. Singer.

After a few moments of tense silence, broken only by the doctor's occasional instructions or request for an instrument, I heard little Rhynnie-bean's first cries - and that's when I lost it. I started crying and hyperventilating, to the point where the anesthesiologist had to calm me down while Brent went to meet our little girl. I remember her cries stopped for a brief moment, and I started to panic again - Brent had to reassure me that she was alright.

They sewed me back up while the nurses measured, weighed and checked Kumquat over - I think the surgery took about an hour (but again, my sense of time was pretty skewed). They cauterized the incisions with a tool that makes the same noise as a heart rate monitor flatlining, and when they powered it up the first time, Brent started to panic, thinking my heart had stopped. Poor guy - his girls really put him through hell that afternoon.

When they finished, they gave me more meds - I don't really know what, but I started trembling violently as they wheeled me into the recovery room, and I suddenly realized I'd been clenching my jaw so hard that it felt like it might shatter, in addition to intense pain in my collar bone (referred pain as a result of the doctors pushing my diaphragm out of the way to get to Kumquat). I couldn't even hold my baby; my mom laid her across my chest and introduced us. Despite all the terror and fear earlier, I think this may have been the lowest point for me - all of that, and I was in such a messed up state that I couldn't hold my child.

After a few minutes of agony, I finally passed out and slept for about 45 minutes. When I came to, the bottom half of my body was still numb and the pain in the top half was manageable. The meds were in full swing and most of the next few hours are pretty foggy, but I was finally able to hold my little Kumquat - and she is tiny. Tall and skinny, with a head full of beautiful dark hair and dark blue-gray eyes (mine changed color as a kid, but started off blue) and gigantic feet & hands to match mom's, but most everything else matches dad. While most of her features are pretty identifiable as her dad's (admittedly, somewhat disappointing - not that he isn't cute, but it'd be nice to see more of myself in her), I think she got the best of both of us and is the precious, adorable, beautiful center of my life.

After a couple hours recovering in the delivery room, they wheeled us upstairs to a tiny (but private) suite, where Rhynnie-bean and I resided for the duration of our stay. Because we had to have a cesarean, we had to stay a third day - which turned into a fourth when baby girl turned yellow and began showing signs of jaundice. Fortunately, it cleared up and we were discharged to come home on Sunday, June 1st (and anyone who follows my Facebook or Instagram can attest to how anxious I was to get home!).

Since then, both my OB and Rhyn's pediatrician have commented on how this situation is the perfect example of why doctors hate home births - an otherwise healthy pregnancy that could have gone horribly awry had we not been so close to medical intervention. I have to agree, since Rhyn and I probably wouldn't be here had we not had such quick access to modern day medical talent. I am eternally grateful to the doctors, nurses and other staff at St. Mark's Hospital who so deftly tended to our needs, both during delivery and in the days of recovery that followed.

The last two weeks feel as though they've melted into one extremely long, unending day, broken only by brief naps - but the most wonderful day of my life, one that I don't want to end. It's true that your life changes completely after a baby (how could it not?), and maybe this is my parental honeymoon period, but I don't resent that change (not yet anyway). Despite the sleep deprivation, the constant worry and anxiety, I have this amazing little creature that's half me and half the man I love (the best of both of us, really), and she's healthy and beautiful and tough as nails, and I couldn't be happier (or luckier) than I feel in this moment. There is certainly no glamour in being a parent - it's full of all the poop and pee and puke that you hear about, and I can't lie and say I haven't been frustrated or cranky at all over the last two weeks, but I can honestly say that none of it's been directed at her, or even a result of her. She is 6 pounds 15.5 ounces of perfection - and the coolest, cutest Barbie doll I will ever have.

Life here is good, my friends. So, so good.

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