In Kelly’s Words – I’m a Mom!

IMG_4198I’m a mom!

It has been 2 weeks since Dylan Mary Davisson came into this world and it has just been great! Zeke and I feel incredibly blessed to have a healthy baby and it has been both fun and stressful figuring out how to take care of her as well as ourselves.

For those of you that have been following my pregnancy blogs, you know I blogged at:

But for this blog, I’ll back up a bit. At 20 and 33 weeks, I had minor complications with the pregnancy. Nothing too serious, but after the 33-week hiccup, they decided to keep me in the hospital for observation until delivery. They also decided I should be induced at 37 weeks on April 22nd because at that point the baby would be considered full term and any risk to the baby’s development was minor enough compared to the risk of another complication.

For those that read my previous blogs, you probably recognize Rafe...
For those that read my previous blogs, you probably recognize Rafe…

So after a 37 week pregnancy and more than 3 weeks in the hospital, I was schedule to start the induction at 9:30a on Friday, April 22. I’ll spare the logistics, but first because there were no open beds on the labor and delivery floor, and then because of some issues getting an IV (this has been an issue for me in the past so we knew it may be a challenge), it was late at night and overnight Friday that the process finally got going (hurry up and wait, just like ski racing!).

The induction finally got started at 10:00p with a medicine (Pitocin) given through an IV that starts contractions. It ended up being good timing because Zeke and I were able to sleep most of the night (despite the blood pressure cuff on my arm automatically going off every 15 minutes). What makes delivery with a spinal cord injury tricky—namely my lack of sensation below my level of injury—also made contractions relatively painless!

Around 12:30a I got an epidural. A lot of people have asked why I needed an epidural (a pain blocker) since I can’t feel below my sternum. Basically, the anesthesiologists wanted to prevent something called Autonomic Dysreflexia. AD occurs in people with spinal cord injuries when they have a noxious stimulus below their level of injury. Because signals of pain/discomfort/etc don’t reach the brain, they can cause an increase in blood pressure. This could happen, for example, when someone with a spinal cord injury puts something hot (like a hot pan) on your lower body and doesn’t realize it, or something like labor, which is painful to the body even though those pain signals aren’t reaching the brain. The epidural is intended to take away the risk of Autonomic Dysreflexia.

Back to the story: I had been 4cm dilated for about 2 weeks—also part of the reason they had kept me in the hospital. By 2:30a I was 5cm and at 6:15a I was 6cm. At 8:00a I was 7cm and they broke my water – all part of the induction process. From there things went pretty quickly. I started to “feel” contractions more. They weren’t painful but I had an odd sensation (impossible to explain as much as I tried to for Zeke) of getting a headache, which would coincide exactly when a contraction started. Up until that point, I could only tell a contraction was starting when it appeared on the monitor that I was constantly connected to. But the headache would come and go with the contractions on the monitor. Around 9:45a my nurse was concerned about the headaches so decided to call the doctor in to check how I was progressing. She came in, lifted the sheet to do the check and could see the baby’s head! A shock to everyone!

Don't worry, Lexi and Dylan have been getting along well
Don’t worry, Lexi and Dylan have been getting along well

It was amazing how within minutes the room was filled with doctors and nurses—2 residents, 1 attending OB, 2 nurses, and a couple other people that I’m not even sure who they were. The plan had been to use a vacuum assist to help get the baby out because I couldn’t “push”, but because she was already almost there they didn’t need to use this. They got me all set up and 3 contractions later she was out! I “pushed” with each contraction but it’s not clear if this really did anything. It was amazing how quickly everything progressed. I’m glad my nurse had the instinct to check on things sooner than they were otherwise planning!

Dylan was perfectly healthy as soon as she came out. She opened her eyes and was incredibly alert within a few minutes of being born. 5lb 12oz and 19.5 inches long. She scored a 9 out of 10 on the APGAR scale (google it!). We stayed in the hospital for 2 more days—the normal amount of time after an uncomplicated delivery.

I could not have been happier to get home! In fact, the hormones got the best of me and I broke down crying (in a good way) as soon as Zeke and I walked in the door with Dylan. It was an amazing feeling to walk in the door of our house and feel the comfort of being home after almost 4 weeks in the hospital.

It has certainly been a learning process since being home and figuring out how to take care of our baby. The biggest challenge has been breastfeeding and getting weight on Dylan, which is normal for a baby that is 3 weeks early. She has been very sleepy (which is nice in a lot of ways) but also means she doesn’t nurse as well and we have to wake her up to feed every 2-3 hours.

IMG_4442For the first week she continued to lose weight – which is expected for newborns to an extent – and our doctor and lactation consultant (an expert on new babies and breast feeding) eventually told us that we needed to supplement my nursing with a bottle of pumped breast milk. This means that the entire process of feeding including nursing, giving the bottle, and pumping takes about an hour!

Zeke and I are tired like most new parents. I try to take naps during the day but that doesn’t always happen. We feel very lucky that she doesn’t cry a lot (yet!) and when she does she generally is pretty easy to sooth and calm down. We are sure this will change eventually….

We feel so blessed that Dylan has been healthy and that I have been doing well since her delivery. As those of you that read my blogs know, in a lot of ways we and our medical team did not know what to expect. As we settle into home, it’s on to the next challenge, “Adaptive Parenting”!