Birth Story: Klay Alan

Little Klay was born on March 9, 2018 at 8 P.M. in a whirl of activity. He measured 20 ¼ inches and weighed 8lbs 4oz (a little bigger than Kaleb and Kniya, but smaller than Kam). Our names were still a bit up in the air during his birth. We weren’t sure if the middle name would be Azikiel or Alan. But, as soon as we heard him cry, we knew we wanted to name him Klay Alan.

Younger members in a big family often feel a need to seek attention because they are competing with the older (and more established) members of the family. They need an identity that is wholly separate from their older siblings. Klay did not stray from that trend. He came into the world with as much chaos as possible to claim an unforgettable place.

Another Stalled Labor

My due date was March 3rd with Klay. Of course, my kids have a habit of feeling comfortable and my body doesn’t see any reason to push them out. Every pregnancy has ended in the frustrating choice to induce. Frustrating because I’m insanely pregnant and ready for the baby to be out. Also, inducing means you are hooked up to monitors and given medications that aren’t ideal. Cervidil helps make sure your cervix is soft enough for full dilation, but it makes you very sensitive at the same time, so cervix checks hurt a lot. Pitocin forces the body to contract, which is uncomfortable and can put extra strain on the baby.

Kniya was induced 2 weeks late, Kaleb was induced a week early (because his due date was right before Christmas) and Kam was induced a week late. With this pregnancy, I was actually pretty comfortable myself. Working out consistently with this pregnancy has made a really big difference for me.

My doctor was willing to go a week over with Klay, but he wanted to monitor the baby, so he ordered extra ultrasounds. Monday (March 5th) everything looked great. But by Thursday (March 8th), my fluids were measuring very low and he didn’t feel comfortable letting me wait for spontaneous labor.

Induced Slow and Steady

So, Friday morning we headed into the hospital to start the process of being induced. I was really hoping it wouldn’t take much to send me into labor, but after about 10 hours I wasn’t very much more dilated and my contractions weren’t even regular. The nurse kept turning up the Pitocin every hour or so. Finally, hard contraction started and I went ahead and got an epidural. In the past, the epidural actually helped me relax and moved things along. I assumed I would probably move into transition quickly.

Instead, labor didn’t change a lot. The doctor came in to check up on my progress. Within minutes of him leaving to check on another patient, the baby’s heart rate dropped and the monitors were struggling to pick up his vitals. This happened with Kam too and the nurses always start moving the monitors and having me change positions. With Kam, his heartrate was dropping because the cord was around his neck. With this one, the doctor checked and announced he felt a prolapsed cord.

A prolapsed cord happens when the umbilical cord slips down between the baby’s head and cervix. Because of the pressure of contractions, the cord is pinched and the important nutrients (and air) are stopped from reaching the baby. It means surgery. And not just surgery, but emergency surgery they try to keep within 5 minutes.

Chaos and Emergency

I’ve never seen so many medical people move so fast. As soon as the doctor felt the prolapsed cord, he pushed Klay up to try and get pressure off the cord. A nurse took his place and actually rode right on the bed with me as they wheeled me into the operating room. I was very grateful to have a working epidural at that point.

Normally, they have to put a patient under when an emergency C-section is needed so fast. In my case, the skilled anesthesiologist was able to get me completely numbed faster than they could put me under. People rushed around grabbing instruments, scrubbing in and going to grab what they needed for surgery.

I Felt Total Calm

It was surreal to have so many people that focused on my case. It was even more surreal to realize that my personal outcome came second to the life of the baby. Of course I wanted it that way, but it’s a very strange feeling to know that what was best for baby might not be best for me. It was also hard to keep all of the “what if’s” at bay.

At the same time, a very strange feeling of complete calm came over me. In the back of my mind, I knew feeling panicked or freaked out would only make it harder for the doctors to do what they needed to. It seems easy and obvious now, but in the moment it is easy to go with natural feelings of fear. The nurses later told me they couldn’t believe how calm I was. I honestly think a large part of the calm was being able to completely trust God and know that my doctor was a skilled professional.

I somehow just knew that the baby was fine. Clearly the doctors were concerned, but something told me it was all going to be okay. I’ve never had such a surreal experience and can only describe a feeling of calmness that came from outside of myself. It was amazing.

The C-Section I Never Wanted

The tugging during a C-section is something I never expected. I couldn’t feel any pain, but when they pulled Klay out, it felt like they were tugging and pulling on my torso for a very long time. With the surgery cloth in front of me, I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t even see Klay when they took him out or cut his umbilical cord. Soon after all the tugging, I heard him cry. The doctor told me later that he was blue with very low oxygen levels, but had no trouble perking up.

Knick came into the OR with scrubs on shortly after Klay started crying. He checked on me first, but I told him to go check on Klay. It was harder than I thought to not be able to hold him or nurse him right away.

In fact, even after they cleaned Klay up, Knick could only hold him next to my face so we could be a kind of cheek-to-cheek. Normally I think closing up the incision only takes a few minutes after the baby is out. But in my case, the doctor wasn’t able to get a quick green light from the other physician.

They did x-rays after my C-section to make sure nothing was left in my abdomen and a doctor in radiology had to also agree that he saw nothing suspicious on the x-rays. But something must’ve been going on in radiology, because it took an hour for them to get the confirmation. Yes, it really took that long.

My doctor was beyond frustrated because they were keeping a patient, two doctors (my OB and the anesthesiologist) and two nurses sitting around waiting. It also meant an increase of infection risk with an open wound.

An Unexpected Time of Bonding

It was a weird time of bonding with the medical pros. I was super loopy at that point from the medications. I wasn’t sure if I should talk or sleep, but I stayed awake. We talked about everything from adoption to hobbies. Between her calls down to radiology, I kept asking a nurse to tell Knick I was okay. I knew he would be nervous about why it was taking so long and antsy to get Klay fed.

Finally, finally, I was done and out in the recovery area. I was able to hold Klay and nurse him for the first time. Poor Knick had been left standing with a newborn and no way to feed him for over an hour. If you know Knick at all, you know that he thinks feeding a baby is the answer to just about anything and he isn’t super comfortable with newborns.

Klay and Knick had a chance to bond, though, and it’s funny how much Klay likes to be calmed down by Knick when he just wants to be held. He doesn’t like being held by me as much as he loves his daddy. He even likes to be held the exact same way (horizontal, in the crook of Knick’s left arm and somewhat facing the chest), which is very different than the way the other kids liked to be held at that age.

A Mini Vacay

After recovery, we moved to our postpartum room. I was so high from the pain meds (Percocet), that I couldn’t stop talking and didn’t sleep all night. I thought I was just amped up from adrenalin, but it was really the medication that had me so buzzed. The nurse suggested we change the dose to a Percocet 5 instead of 10 and that helped a lot. The nurses couldn’t believe my pain levels — I really stayed in very low levels of 1 and 2 (on a scale of 10). I took the recommended meds to stay ahead of the pain, but they said my tolerance for pain is very high, which I have heard many times before.

The hospital was on special visitation regulations because of flu season. They were only allowing two adult visitors and no one under 13. It was hard to not have the older kids come visit, but Kniya took it really well.

I always enjoy the stay in the hospital. They do all of the laundry and make all of the food. It’s a great opportunity to bond with the baby and take a break. When we were discharged three days later, I was more than ready to see the kids. At the same time, I was a little sad to end my quiet time with sweet little Klay.

He is so chill. He spends a lot of time awake and just observant. So far, he hasn’t actually had a lot of interest in food, though he does eat regularly. We think he looks the most like Kniya.

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