This has taken me DAYS to write, to get just right. And I'm still not sure I have done it justice. But, here it is, my best shot at telling the story of the best day of my life...
For those of you who know me well enough, you know that my entire pregnancy was a roller coaster. We spent months in and out of the hospital, on bed rest, taking half a dozen different medications to keep me from contracting. Each time the doctor sent me to the hospital, I secretly prayed they would just say I had been through enough, and they would let me deliver. Before you jump down my throat, I DID realize, all along, that I needed to get as close to my due date as possible, for the health of my child. And I truly didn't want anything to get in the way of that. However, anyone who has ever been given a 24 hour dose of Magnesium to stop labor….TWICE….knows why I wanted it to just be over.
But this post isn't about that. Or all the down days, or the drama of it all leading up to it. No. It's about THE day. The most amazing, spectacular, life altering day of my life. The day Landon Warren Teltow showed his gorgeous, perfect face.
I had been up virtually all night with horrible back pain. It didn't matter how I laid, how I sat, how I stood, nothing made it go away. Thank goodness Jeremy was scheduled to be off the next day, because I kept him awake most of the night too. By the time daylight finally broke, he convinced me that I needed to call my doctor. I was in too much pain. So I broke down and called, knowing what she would say. Yes, I had to go in.
But, since we were so used to this drill, we took our own sweet time. Jeremy showered, I put make up on and did my hair. Got my bag all packed, because I assumed I would be spending another couple nights there while they monitored me….again. We were confident that we knew what the day was going to look like. But as I was getting close to being ready, something changed. I started feeling….different. I can't explain it. But those of you who have gone through it, you know what I mean. Just….different.
As we were about to walk out the door, Jeremy's phone rang. The reviewers were at his office. Panic set in. For him, not me. I was just over here trying to figure out what the hell was happening and why I hadn't felt this way before. As I could see him start debating whether he should go in to work or not, I called my mom and told her we were going in, I would let her know what was going on. I nearly asked her to take me, because I was sure Jeremy was going to give in and go to work. He later told me that he could see on my face that something was different, and he knew he couldn't go. So we finally get ourselves into the car, probably a good hour and a half after calling my doctor, and we headed back to St John's…our second home.
Every few minutes, I could feel something else change. Something just kept getting weirder. I started realizing that I was timing the pains in my back….about every 4 minutes. Shit. They're actually contractions. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Why hadn't I realized it before? Because they had never felt like this before. Honestly, even all those times I was in the hospital, and everyone was staring at the monitor telling me how big they were, they never hurt. They were uncomfortable, sure. But painful? Nah. Not really. And those were all in my stomach. These were my back. And they hurt. Bad. And every time they got worse. I vividly remember looking at Jeremy and saying "These are REAL contractions, he's getting ready" and him saying "Just relax. It's ok". We were only at 35 weeks and 4 days. That was still over a month early. And then the next ton of bricks hit me. They told me after 35 weeks, they wouldn't stop it. They wouldn't keep putting me through this. They had given me two rounds of steroid shots to help develop his lungs, he was measuring at a good weight, I was exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, physically.
But still. We were so used to the whole ordeal, I didn't truly believe it. No, they would do something, or it would just stop eventually and after a couple days, we'd go back home, I'd go back to laying in bed all day, and in another few days, we'd do it all again. That was the plan.
So we arrive, they get me gowned up, and in a triage room, and my boy Dave came in to see me. Who the heck is Dave, you ask? Dave is a very large man. A very large male nurse. A very large male nurse who did countless extremely uncomfortable exams on me during the pregnancy. Did I mention he was HUGE? Yeah, take a minute to let that sink in, ladies. But, Dave liked me, and I liked him, and we had seen so much of each other, we were almost happy to see one another again. We both thought it was just another visit. The norm.
So good ol' Dave hooks me up to all the monitors, assures me that I AM contracting, and does the exam. Tells me I'm at a 3. Well crap, that's a whole centimeter more than I was just 2 days ago. Says he'll sit and watch me for about an hour, and check again. If I haven't progressed any, I'll go home. If I have, plan on staying. Right before he left our room, I remember him turning around and saying, "Remember kid, we aren't going to stop it any more. This could be this boys birthday". Yeah, ok Dave. We both know what's going to happen here, and it doesn't include a baby coming out of me. Not today. So Jeremy and I settled in, him on his phone with his office, me on Facebook. I honestly have no idea when my mom got there. I want to say it was sometime at this point, before we got sent to our room, but honestly, the next three hours went so fast, and have become such a blur, I really have no idea.
After our hour of waiting, Dave came back and checked again, while assuring me that I had been contracting the entire time. Yes, I knew that. Remember, Dave, I'm the one with the uterus. Well, sure shit, I was at 4. That did it. I was being admitted. Ok, still. This didn't alarm us. We knew it was coming. I was even past the point of getting upset about it. It was just….routine. Whatever.
So I get wheeled down to my room, settled in, meet my nurse, do all the usual chit chatting. "Do you know what it is?" "What are you going to name him?" "I hear you've been here a lot". Yadda yadda yadda. I remember my mom calling my Dad to tell him I was there again, and had been admitted. I remember Jeremy on his phone, freaking out over what was happening at his office, not so much about what was happening in Birthing Suite 26. Now before you curse him for being insensitive, or an asshole, keep in mind that we still thought this was just the same old thing all over again. I wasn't too concerned over what was happening either. Aside from the fact that it still hurt like hell, and I was still feeling….weird. It was probably somewhere in here that I asked for my first hit of Zofran, because, again, if you know me at all, you know that puke is my worst fear. And no matter what I was there for, I refused to throw up. And any little wave of nausea was reason enough for me to ask them to pump that into my IV.
Here's where it all gets fuzzy. I have no idea what time this portion of the story went down. Absolutely no clue. I just know that I was hanging out, without a care in the world, aside from the ridiculous stabbing pain that kept coming out of nowhere, watching TV with my mom and husband. My nurse came in, I was assuming just to ask how I was doing, and that was it. She dropped the bomb. "Ok, I talked to Dr. White, and he is committing you to deliver today. So let's break your water!". Whoa….what?? Hold on a second. I think a small "yelp" escaped from my mom, Jeremy's face was just a whole lot of "What the hell are you talking about?" and I was….I have no idea. I think I laughed. She had to be kidding. This was a sick joke. I remember my mom calling my Dad again, and telling him this was it, I was having the baby. I remember the nurse saying she was going to get another nurse, and they were going to come in and break the water, and I remember looking at Jeremy and telling him I wasn't ready. Which….again….what? After all of this? I wasn't ready? Come on, Kelly! But no. I wasn't. I was not prepared. Not prepared to be a mommy (and really, I think just not prepared to share him with everyone else. Up until this point, it was just him and I. In our own little world. Once he was out, he was everybody's. I wasn't quite sure I was ready to let go of him yet), and sure as hell not prepared for the next several hours.
But regardless, in came the nurses, and the huge ass "crochet hook", and it was time. Now here's where it gets a little funny. First of all, I was determined, for the entire 35 weeks and 4 days, that when my water broke, I wouldn't know it. I would dismiss it, and I wouldn't know it happened. HA….HA….HA!!!!! Join me in my laughing, mommies. Oh no, there was no mistaking what happened when it happened. Also keep in mind, I had high levels of fluid for about the last month and a half of the pregnancy. Old faithful doesn't really even begin to describe it. But that's a detail nobody wants to really hear about. Besides, if you're a mama, you know what I'm talking about, no need to get ridiculous. And here's the other funny part. Before they broke it, my dear, sweet nurse, asked me if she should call up for my epidural, so that they would be here within reasonable time after they broke my water. Pssssh. No, silly. I don't want that yet. Look at how amazing I've been handling this pain. I'm a pro! I'll let you know when I need it, but it's not now. Besides, it'll slow this down, and I want a baby by 4pm. HA….HA….HA!!!!!
Basically…..I was a really huge idiot at that moment. It took me, quite honestly, about 10 minutes after the geyser had broken to know just how stupid I was. The pain went from horrible to unbearable. This kid seriously had it out for me. So I gave the signal, I needed it, and I needed it NOW. But of course, Kelly, since it hadn't been ordered yet, you're going to have to wait. Lovely. No idea how long I waited. No damn clue. I just know that it was agonizing, I thought I was going to vomit, and Jeremy truly believed that saying "just breathe" over and over and over and over, was helping me.
FINALLY, the miracle man showed up, my mom and Jeremy left the room, and it was time. This would be quick, right? No. I couldn't curl my back in the right way because I felt like my back was about to blow up. I couldn't tuck my head down, because when I did, I was sure I was going to puke. I couldn't "stop shaking" because um….I was just told I was having a baby TODAY…about 45 minutes ago. I'm kind of in shock here. I don't really remember a lot about the process, honestly. I just remember hanging on my poor nurse like my life depended on it, praying that I wouldn't throw up, and still trying to understand how it was possible that I was having this baby. Today.
And then the waiting game began. I was a big floppy mess, couldn't move, but pain free. But, I really, really hated the whole epidural thing. I HATED not having control over my legs. I remember laying there thinking I would outsmart this thing. If I stared at my leg long enough, and had enough willpower, I WOULD make it move. But no. Couldn't get it. I had to have someone help shift me every time I got uncomfortable. Hated it. Yes, I was happy to be pain free, but paralyzed? Not cool.
I vaguely remember my in laws coming it at some point during this time, vaguely remember texting my best friend and telling her it was happening, and her telling me she was coming, she would leave work and be there. I think I remember calling my cousin, and her saying she was on her way. But I think during the whole time, I was in a daze. Part of me was trying to contemplate what was happening. Another part of me was scared out of her mind. And another part of me had never been happier. I was finally going to meet him. Today. I was going to hold him and kiss him and love him like nobody else could ever love him. And I was going to do it today. May 19th, 2011. I was going to meet my SON. The son I created. The son I grew inside of me. The son that I would lay in bed and crack up at at 3:30 in the morning because he was moving like crazy. The son who would get hiccups at least twice a day. The son who used to flip like mad every time I ate a tangerine. My SON. My son. Today. And it was going to be perfect and magical and peaceful. HA….HA…..HA!!!!!!
I think it was close to 6 (no, I KNOW it was close to 6, because I remember my mom telling me that maybe he would be born at 6:19, which was his due date….HA!!!!), and my parents were in the room, my cousin, Jeremy, my in laws….all just hanging out, playing the waiting game. When suddenly it happened. Something felt different. Not like I had been feeling. I remember Sarah asking me if I was ok, and me saying that something felt weird. My pelvis felt heavy. "OH MY GOD! You have to push!!!!!". No, no, no. Not yet. It just feels different. "GET THE NURSE! SHE HAS TO PUSH!!" Calm down, damn it. I don't have to…oh….maybe? Why am I doubting her? She has four kids. All came out of her. All came out the same tunnel. I think she knows what she's talking about. Nurse came in, family walked out, and sure enough, "Kelly….you're at a 10….it's time". Ok…again….WHAT? The in laws came back in, told me good luck, I would be fine. Sarah, who I trusted implicitly (as my cousin and basically my big sister, mother of FOUR, why wouldn't I?) told me "It'll all be over in 20 minutes! Push hard, and it will go so fast! I can't wait to meet him!". HA….HA….HA!!!!!
Now, our original plan was for only Jeremy and my mom to be in the room with me. But at the last minute, as everyone else was leaving, my dad, my daddy, my hero, came over to the side of my bed and said, "Can I stay? I'll stand in the corner, I just want to be here". Those of you who don't know me well enough, and don't get it, are now saying "WHAT? NO! Gross! Leave, Dad!" But to you, I say, shut up. You don't get it. This man had rubbed my back countless times as I puked growing up. This man had been by my side through every boo boo, illness, scary time. This man had just lost his father, exactly one day short of a month ago, and hadn't been "himself" ever since. So, no, I didn't give it any thought. Of course you can stay, Daddy. If this is what makes it all better for you, then yes. Stay. Little did I know just how much I would be needing my Daddy in the coming hours. Yes, that's right….I said HOURS.
I think it's mandatory for all nurses to tell you on your first few pushes that you're "doing great!". But I also think they're full of shit. And I started realizing about an hour into pushing just how full of shit she was. No, nursey, if I was truly "doing great", he would be here by now. But all you have been saying to me for the last hour is that you can see the top of his head. The TOP!? What about the middle? I mean come on, I'm an hour in.
By hour TWO, I was cursing Sarah. That witch (which I can say with total confidence that she knows that I still love her more than life, I was just hormonal and tired and trying to get a kid out of me) told me this would be over in 20 minutes, and it's two hours later, and the wench at the end of my bed is still telling me she can only see the TOP of his head. But hey, I'm "doing great!". No. No I'm not. By this time, my mom had worn out of energy from holding one leg, and could see my will was starting to run dry, and tagged my dad in. That's right kids, my dad was now holding my leg. Jeremy on one leg, my dad on the other. Hey, by hour two, does any one REALLY have any modesty left? I've been rigged up here, like this, for 120 minutes now. I don't care if you want the bum on the street to come in, if he can help this be over, call him up.
I remember my dad trying so hard to tell me I was fine. Rubbing my head. I remember Jeremy continually saying "breathe….breathe….breathe…..". I also remember wanting to rip Jeremy's face off. STOP TELLING ME TO BREATHE!!! I CANNOT BREATHE, OK!? And I remember telling my dad to COUNT FASTER! Seriously….when your daughter is trying to push a HUMAN out of her, counting to ten is NOT supposed to take a full ten seconds. A full ten seconds is what kills women. No, I can handle a solid 7. But after that, I'm done. I remember telling the nurse I couldn't do it. Telling her she had to do something. I was running out of steam. She kept telling me I had to do it. There was no reason for them to take me for a c-section. He was in position, his heart rate was good, I just needed to push. Yeah, ok. Sure.
Around the three hour mark, I remember the doctor coming and standing at the end of the bed, watching me attempt to get this done. Just standing there. Just staring. All cool and calm and collected like this was nothing. Which, ok fine, he does this everyday, but I don't! And I….am….DYING! I saw him start to unwrap all the tools on the little table at the foot of the bed, and I figured, YES! IT'S TIME! We're getting close! He must be able to FINALLY see the middle of his head! But no. Then I saw him unwrap the forceps. In my right state of mind, I probably would have panicked. I probably would have told him there was no way in hell he was using those on my perfect baby. I'll do this. It might take me 4 years, but I'll do it. But no, after 3 hours of pushing, a pelvis that felt like it was about to SHATTER INTO A MILLION PEICES, those forceps were the light at the end of the tunnel. But….just as quickly as I watched him unwrap them, I saw him set them back down on the table. NOW COME ON!!!!
I know I asked him if there was anything he could do. I know he told me no. I know I hated him, because I knew he was lying. I may be an exhausted, disheveled, bitch of a mess, but I saw what you just did, what you just took out. Now help me!!!! Please!!! It was around this time when I again assured everyone that I couldn't do this, and suddenly I heard my mother in law say, "Yes you can, Kelly. You don't have a choice." Wait…what? When did you get here? Who else is in here? Thankfully, no, nobody else. She had come in to find out what the heck was going on. She had been sitting in a waiting room with my cousin who couldn't understand why 20 minutes had come and passed about 42 times and there still wasn't a baby, with my best friend who had no idea what was going on, with my father in law, my aunt and uncle. They wouldn't let anybody else in, so she took matters into her own hands. Did I mention that she's a nurse? And very determined? And doesn't easily take no for an answer? So yes, now she had joined the mass chaos.
The rest is truly a blur. I think I remember someone saying "Oh geez….he's face up" (UMMMMMM WHY DIDN'T YOU REALIZE THAT THREE AND A HALF HOURS AGO!!?!?), and then things kicked into high gear. I remember wondering why I was in SO much pain, even with the epidural? I remember the doctor telling me if I had been pushing this way the whole time, he would have been here by now (You…..shut it. I hate you). I have no idea when he finally picked up the forceps. No idea when he put them on Landon's perfect little head. No idea how long it took him to pull him out. I just know that one minute I was dying, and the next minute, I was truly alive.
I think I heard my mom scream before I even realized it was over. He was here. 9:21PM. He was on my chest. He was screaming. Screaming! That meant the steroids worked and his little lungs were working! Oddly, even in my horrible mental state, that was my first thought. He's ok. He's screaming. I remember grabbing him, trying to take it all in. Trying to really SEE him. I heard people crying around me, I heard cheering, I heard the doctor telling Jeremy where to cut the cord. But none of it was registering. It was just Landon and me. Right there. On my chest. Happy. Healthy. Screaming. Crying. Perfect. It doesn't matter how long I sit here and try to put it into words. I can't. There's no way. Every mama knows. And if you aren't a mama, just wait. It will be the single best moment of your whole life. And you will have no idea what else is going on. And you will never have words for it. Just a feeling. A feeling that can NEVER be described.
All too quickly, they took him, and started doing what they needed to do. I was a real mess, so the doctor and I had our own little adventure while everyone else doted on Landon. I sort of remember one of the nurses telling me they were going to take him down to the special care nursery. He was having a little trouble breathing, and they wanted to keep an eye on it. For some reason, I was ok with that. We were expecting that he probably wouldn't get to stay with me. He was a month early. BUT. He was screaming. And that made me feel better. I think I started to panic, because no matter how prepared you are for it, it's still scary as hell and heartbreaking when they tell you they are going to take your baby away from you. You won't be holding him again tonight. You won't be kissing his little fingers, and staring at his little nose. But I was assured he was fine, and as they started to take him, I heard someone tell them to let me say goodbye. You couldn't possibly be considering just TAKING him, without letting me get another look, another kiss, right? Whoever that was remains on my list to this day. Jeremy asked me if I wanted him to stay, but I told him no, he needed to go with Landon. I couldn't stand the thought of him not being with me, I certainly didn't want him to be entirely alone. Yes, I realize the nurses are there. But no, they are not the same.
A few minutes later, someone came in and told me that they had taken him to the NICU, he needed more than what they could do for him in special care. That's when real heartbreak sets in. No, he needs me. He needs his mommy. That's what he needs. Let me go see him. Let me snuggle him. He'll be fine. He just needs me. Him and I know what to do together. We got this far, didn't we? Let me. But no, that's not allowed when you're still paralyzed and STILL being sewn up. Too much information? Sorry. You read this far, you should have known the horror of it all was coming at some point.
Slowly, the room cleared out, my other visitors were allowed in, and my Diet Coke was delivered. The Diet Coke that I had been DYING for for 9 months. It was my father in laws only job that day. To make sure I had it when I was no longer pregnant. And he pulled through. Like a champ. I finally got to see Megan. After she sat in the waiting room for 4 hours waiting for her Godson to be born, but at the end, all she got to see was me. Worn out, disgusting, me. No baby. Because he wasn't there. He was down in a cold room with nurses who didn't know him, hooked up to wires and monitors. Jeremy was able to see him, so was his mom and my mom. But not me. Pure heartache. Finally, everyone gave me their congratulations, their kisses, and said goodnight. But as exhausted as I was, I didn't want to do anything but see my baby. Which probably could have happened, if what happened next didn't happen.
It was around midnight, Jeremy and I were having a conversation with the nurse, and I sat up in bed to grab my trusty Diet Coke. And I felt like I was about to fall off the earth. I don't know how else to describe it. It was an awful, awful feeling. Just not right. The nurse laid me back down and asked if it was any better laying down. It wasn't. And that's about the last I remember. Fully any way. I remember hearing the nurse get on the phone and say I was "symptomatic", and there was "a lot of blood". I remember the doctor coming back in and saying "Get me an OR". I remember them telling me they were taking me down to the operating room, but I had no idea what for. I remember crying and holding the nurses hand as they wheeled me down. I remember thinking I was dying. That I had just given birth to this beautiful, perfect little boy, and he was going to be without a mother. Which had been my worst nightmare for the last few months. That something would happen. I would bleed too much. They wouldn't be able to stop it.
Long story short, at 1:20 AM, I was in an operating room, hemorrhaging. I remember nothing between crying with the nurse and waking up back in my room, holding Jeremy's hand. When I started to wake up, they were telling me that they were giving me blood. I was ok, but I needed a transfusion, I had lost too much. What?? No. I just had a baby. And he was screaming. And I got my Diet Coke. Everything is perfect. But it wasn't.
And it wasn't until the following AFTERNOON that I finally got to hold my baby. I couldn't get out of bed in the morning when they tried. I was too weak. I couldn't get to the wheelchair. And I was beyond frustrated. All I needed was to see my baby. And my body wasn't letting me. I wanted to scream. Finally, that afternoon, I was able to get just enough energy to get to the chair, but that was about it. I was too scared to hold him when we finally got down to the NICU because I thought I would drop him. I just sat and stared. At this amazing, small creature that I had made. Sure, he had wires, and tubes, but he was perfect. So I just stared. And let him be perfect.
The nurses were amazing. They assured me I was strong enough to hold him. Assured me that he would give me the strength I needed to hold him. And they were right. It was pure heaven when I finally got him in my arms. Everything else disappeared again. I had no concept of pain, or dizziness, or fear. Just of this little man, holding my finger. This little CHAMP who, even at a month early, only needed oxygen for a couple HOURS, and then was onto breathing room air. He was getting fed through a feeding tube, which was probably the hardest part of all the wires and tubes. But he was getting food. And that was good.
He spent 5 days in the NICU before we were able to take him home. But we never left him. My doctor was wonderful, and kept me in the hospital for an extra two days, so I could be there with him. When she finally discharged me, they let us stay as "boarders", which meant we got to stay in our room, just without nurse care. So we spent those days going back and forth from our room to the NICU, every two hours to feed him, to hold him, to change him. To just be with him. Our last night in the hospital, we stayed in a room IN the NICU, and he stayed with us. He was still hooked up to monitors, so if anything happened, the nurses knew to come get him. But nothing did. It was perfect. It was such a small room, but it was the three of us, spending the night together. And it was perfect. It was the start of our journey, and while, sure, it would have been more comfortable at home, I wouldn't change a thing about it. It's all part of our story. Our perfect story.
Landon Warren Teltow
May 19, 2011
5 lbs, 14 oz, 18.75 inches
Finally holding him, and finally feeling that grip on my finger. It was like he had been waiting for me to get there.
Finally eating from a bottle!
The most beautiful sight in the world. We went down to feed him, and all the wires and tubes that were there just two hours ago, were entirely gone. He was completely free.
They finally let us dress him around day 3. This was a newborn outfit, and it was HUGE on him.
He had a lot of milestones he had to hit before they could consider sending him home. One of them was the carseat test. He had to breathe on his own, sitting upright in the carseat, for one hour. He passed with flying colors. And he was adorable doing it.
Finally going HOME!!!!! On an incredibly rainy, cold day. We had to take a different route home because the freeway had flooded and was closed down. We could have freaked out, thinking it was a bad omen, but we knew better. This cutie was going HOME with US. Life was perfect.
Getting settled in at home!
And that's that. Landon, today you are a beautiful, healthy, energetic, happy, loving, absolutely amazing 17 month old boy. Nobody that we tell our story to believes us. There is no way you could have been a month early. Been hooked up to those wires. Been in the NICU. But you were. And you beat all the odds, and you came out on top. You are the center of our universe, Landon Warren. You have shown us what life is all about. You're everything. We love you to the moon and back....times ten.