Yesterday we celebrated Quinn’s 1st birthday, surrounded by so many loved ones (see my post about her party!). But in the meantime, I figured it was about time to write out her birth story. So let’s rewind the clock as I retell the crazy amazing tale that is now forever written into my very own life story.
It was nothing like I imagined it would be, but it certainly had the BEST ending.
May 20, 2016 at 3:53 P.M. Time seemed to stand still in that moment as we welcomed Quinn Hawley Gallatin into the world, weighing in at 7 lb. 3 oz. and measuring 20.5 inches with little ginger hairs. We couldn’t have been more smitten. But that’s not where the story begins, now is it?!
My actual due date was May 12. I was overly optimistic that somehow I would be in the small percentage of women whose first baby comes early. After all, many of my friends had been in this category, so why not me?! No such luck. Quinn was in no hurry to make her debut. We went into the doctor’s office on May 12 and were told I was barely a half centimeter dilated. And to be honest- I think they were just being kind. I am convinced that they saw the defeated faces of Ryan and I, so they threw that 1/2 cm in to boost team morale. At this appointment, due to my lack of progress, we were told it was time to schedule an induction date. You mean I essentially get to pick my daughter’s birthday?! So I picked Thursday, May 19, knowing that it would likely be at least a day long process and Ryan and I both happen to prefer even numbers.
We had spent the week leading up to our due date (and the week after, for that matter) checking things off of our seemingly mundane to-do list. One of my favorite things that we did was to take the time to each write Quinn a letter. I will forever be grateful that we did this and hope that one day she will be too!
We didn’t have to check into the hospital until 7pm that Thursday night, so we spent the day indulging in some of our favorite things. We slept in (because that’s what you do when you realize you probably won’t sleep for the next 18 years), went to Krispy Kreme (because that is what you eat when you know you won’t be eating for a minimum of 24 hours), swung through the bank and took a nice long walk at the park with Mr. Feeny (our crazy Labradoodle…his world was about to be rocked too!). We ate Chipotle for an early dinner because when I was face deep in ice chips a few hours later, at least I had something to daydream about. I took one of the longest, warmest showers of my life and took my time doing my hair and makeup, knowing full well that it would most likely be a long time before I had that much time to myself. We put our bags in the car and off we headed to Riverside Methodist Hospital.
What a weird feeling walking into the hospital, not in labor. We went straight to the Labor and Delivery desk (thanks to our tour, we knew just where to go!) and anxiously announced “We’re here to have a baby”… as if it wasn’t obvious with all 41 weeks of giant belly that stood before them and a husband that had temporarily been deemed Sherpa, carrying our overly-stuffed hospital bags (look for a future post about what we packed!). Due to a little scare during a third-trimester ultrasound that led to an ambulance ride and handful of tests (all ended up being fine – baby girl had just cut off blood flow, causing some temporary complications), I had already been checked into the hospital, so we were escorted right to the birthing room and skipped triage. I quickly changed into the flattering and ever-stylish hospital gown and we proceeded to wait for the doctor to begin the induction.
Over an hour later, the Foley bulb was inserted and contractions very slowly began. Let me go ahead and tell you there is just nothing pleasant or glorious about the Foley. No one told me that I would feel like I was peeing my pants for the next 8 hours (sorry in advance for TMI). I suppose it was for the best that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Due to the IV and the Foley itself, I wasn’t allowed to walk anywhere other than the bathroom in our room. By 4 am, after about 8 hours, I was finally 4cm and the Foley bulb was removed. Shortly thereafter, they broke my water. In my mind, this meant that we had to be getting close and baby girl would be making her debut not long after. If I had only known!
As labor crawled on, my thoughts spun as I contemplated an epidural. Ryan and I had discussed a “birth plan”, but for once in my life, I wasn’t married to a particular plan. I tried to be open minded. I quickly learned that the only thing certain about childbirth is the uncertainty. I had known that I wanted to labor for a while naturally and experience the pain before making the decision. After about 9 hours of labor and only about 4.5 cm of progress (4 of which was forced by the foley), I decided that there was no shame in getting an epidural. It made me no less of a Mama or a woman. I’m forever grateful to Ryan and my own Mama for being the voices of reason, encouraging me to do whatever I felt I needed.
The epidural, though nerve-racking and seemingly impossible to sit still for during strong, active contractions, instantly brought relief. However, the nurse had failed to mention where/ how to press the button to administer more medication as needed, so when it wore off I just assumed that this was normal. Thankfully, at shift change, one of the nurses realized that I was in far more pain than was typical for an epidural, and the problem was solved. Or so we thought.
As it turns out, Quinn had been head down, but was transverse, meaning her head was not in the optimum placement for delivery, nor was she down far enough. The nurses had me try just about every position imaginable in hopes of getting Quinn to move. After about an hour or so, the nurse came in and said that I was about 8 cm. At this point, I was excited, feeling like we were getting closer, until it became evident that Quinn’s head had not moved. It then took my Mom, Ryan and one of the nurses to flip me to my hands and knees (all the while not being able to feel below my waist). I spent over an hour on all fours until I could no longer feel my arms…and then spent about 20 minutes more in the same position. I was remeasured at this point by a different nurse and I kid you not, she said that I was only 7.5 cm. WHAT?! You mean to tell me I am LESS dilated after that last hour and a half?! To this day, I have never heard of such a thing.
Discouraged, nurses began to chatter and Ryan and I began to worry. We had a feeling the word c-section had been tossed around outside of the room and were ready to know what was going on. At this point, it had been about 20 hours, I was no longer progressing. Quinn’s head was still not positioned well, and the risks were only going to increase since it had been quite a while since my water was broken.
Within a matter of 5 minutes, we went from wondering whether a c-section was a possibility to being told that the doctor on call was available and we had a 5 minute window. The doctor came in to do the spinal (turns out having chosen an epidural made this process quicker and easier, thankfully) and said to “say goodbye” to my family. Gosh, talk about anxiety and wave of emotion! While I said goodbye to my family, Ryan quickly packed up all of our belongings that we had scattered across the room over the past 20 hours and off we went to the operating room (OR). Well, one of us, anyway.
While they prepped me for delivery, Ryan had to wait outside in the hallway, unable to see or hear what was going on. My mind raced. We had prepared for everything. Except for this; we hadn’t prepared for this. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally let Ryan into the OR. I will never forget how cold and lonely those moments felt. It sounds silly, but your mind can’t help but think of all of the “what-ifs”. I couldn’t stop shaking, causing the nurses to have to strap my arms down. Meanwhile, doctors and nurses carried on as if it were just another day, because for them, it was. One nurse even took a phone call for the doctor while she was operating on me. I mean, you just can’t make this stuff up!
Finally, at 3:53pm, Quinn took her first breath on the outside. There are no words to describe how amazing it was to hear her tiny little cry. The first words that the doctor spoke (other than to talk on her phone, of course): “she has red hair!”
She was immediately taken by doctors and nurses to ensure she was okay. Up to this point, the anesthesiologist had been by my side the entire procedure. Once Quinn was born, he was part of the team checking on her. It was during this time that I began throwing up and choking. Never have I felt so much emotion and fear all within a matter of minutes. I was so relieved that Quinn was okay, but remember fearing that something was wrong with me. Thankfully Ryan was super attentive and notified the doctor and they jumped to action, quickly taking control and stabilizing me.
They cleaned Quinn up, stitched me up and then finally, after 10 minutes, I heard Ryan say the words I had waited for, “Are you ready to see your daughter?!” At this point, tears rolled down my cheeks. I did it. We did it! We were now a family of three.
As they prepared to wheel me out of the OR, the doctor asked, “Do you want to hold your daughter?” Never did I think my response to that question would be, “Do you think that is a good idea?!” I felt so sedated, weak and nauseous that I was so fearful of dropping her or perhaps of not appreciating the moment. When they set her gently into my arms, it all clicked. She was here. After all this time, Quinn Hawley was here. (Her middle name is my Mom’s maiden name, pronounced “Holly”)
I realized in those 22 hours that I am stronger than I ever realized. I think I will always get somewhat anxious and emotional when talking about Quinn’s birth story. It wasn’t at all how I imagined it and it was by far the scariest thing I have ever done, but I wouldn’t change it. This is Quinn’s story and it’s a huge part of our journey. I am thankful that this “ending” is really just the beginning.