Lily Grace: A Birth Story
I remember getting the phone call. I was at work and stepped outside once my phone started to ring. I was hit with the hot oven air on a mid-June summer day in Redding. “We have your C-Section scheduled!” they proclaimed. “It will be Sunday, July 8, 2018 at 8am. Dr. Kang would like to have the best Anesthesiologist in all of Redding, and the 8th is a day that both doctors will be on-call and available. Your Pre-Op appointment will be on the 6th and they will give you all the details you need to know.”
I remember getting off the phone on an adrenaline high with the reality that this whole thing was real. We were having a baby and she was coming on July 8th - unless she had plans of her own. Jeremy and I soaked up every last moment together that we could. We got her room all set up. My dad modified her crib and changing table so it was accessible for us to use. We did all of her laundry, installed her car seat, and I purchased all of the things that my friends, who had babies before me, said were the must have items. On Saturday, July 7th, we went on our very last date at the local coffee shop to get some breakfast. We ran into friends and told everyone we knew, “We’re having a baby tomorrow!” We thought maybe if we said it enough, the reality of becoming parents would start to sink in. I thought the benefit of having a scheduled C-section would be that we’d get a full night’s sleep the night before and we would go into parenting fully rested. HA, that was a joke. Our minds were racing, we were packing all the last-minute essentials for the hospital and making sure the details were solidified for those watching our puppy. I think we finally crawled into bed around 1am and a few hours later, at 5:45am - we were on our way to the hospital.
I thought we’d have to wait a little bit, like every other appointment I had, but they started prepping me as soon as I walked through the doors. I changed into a super flattering gown that went 2 feet past my ankles and put all of my belongings into a hospital baggy. They put in an IV, hooked me up to a bunch of monitors, and I remember a lot of nurses and staff coming in and out of the room to check on things and get everything ready for our 8am ‘go time.’ We invited our friend and mentor Carrie, to come to the hospital since she was the first person we had told we were pregnant and she had been one of our strongest supports throughout our entire pregnancy journey. I remember getting visits from her as well as Lynn, Jeremy’s mom, who also surprised us at the hospital. We prayed before they took us back and I soaked up all the reaffirming hand squeezes in order to calm my jittery nerves.
At 8am, they took the brakes off my bed and wheeled me down the hall into the operating room. They made Jeremy wait outside and get suited up into a blue body suit, mask, and hair net. I was told that he would be joining me once they had the epidural in place. Getting the epidural wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The worst parts were trying to lean over as far as possible and staying still with a baby digging into my ribs and lungs. There was also a weird jolt of electricity that went through my legs at one point, which I was told was normal but completely weirded me out. Around 8:45am, both Jeremy and my doctor joined us in the operating room. Dr. Kang made everyone take a moment of silence and prayed over our delivery, Jeremy had “God of Miracles” by Chris Quilala playing on his iPhone, and I laid there anxiously as they cut me open.
Getting Lily out was tougher and more uncomfortable than I had imagined it would be. I felt like I had a lot of shortness of breath, as well as different uncomfortable and tight sensations in my ribs and chest. Every time I would ask in a higher pitched voice, “Is this normal?” My anesthesiologist would say, “Remember Megan, that’s the sensation we talked about. You’re ok.” At 8:56am, Lily Grace Schimmel made her entrance into the world weighing in at 6lb 4.4oz and 17.5” long. They lowered the curtain but I could only see the top of her head, before they brought her over to the side to take all of her vitals and do all the newborn testing things. The whole time she was with the nurses, I just kept asking Jeremy, “Is she little? Is she little?” And Jeremy would tell me, “Yes, she’s little.” It felt like an eternity but when they were all done with what they needed to do, the nurses brought over my perfectly wrapped bundle of a baby. I asked Jeremy if she was a “Lily” and he nodded with a huge smile, and said she was!
The nurses put Lily in the bassinet while the doctors sewed me back together. Jeremy went over to go meet his daughter, take some photos, and watch in awe as she grabbed his finger with her tiny, perfect hands. To be honest, the rest is a little foggy to me. After Jeremy went over to Lily, I don’t actually remember much, but I do remember them telling me that my blood pressure kept dropping and was really low. Along the wall to my right, there was what looked like a hanging shoe or jewelry organizer for a closet, with clear plastic caddies. As they were transferring me to the hospital bed from the operating table, I remember multiple nurses counting out loud, the red, dirty rags in each caddy, making sure they were all out of my body and nothing got left behind… “15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 – yep, they’re all there.” From the operating room, I believe they took us back to the initial room where they prepped me for surgery. I think that’s also where they took out my epidural, if they hadn’t already in the O.R. - I couldn’t feel from my waist down, so I honestly have no clue when that came out.
When I was in the recovery room, Lily got her first bath, and Jeremy got to introduce her to his mom and Carrie. I remember wanting to hold her, but the nurses wouldn’t let me since my blood pressure was still really low and they were a bit concerned about getting it back up to normal. Around 11am we were moved from recovery down to our postpartum room. Jeremy pushed Lily in her little bassinet and my hospital bed was rolled down the hallway, until we reached the doors to the postpartum wing where the nurses stopped to let me ring the baby button. The hospital has a button that each mom gets to push as they head to their postpartum room and it plays a song throughout the entire hospital, signaling that a baby was just born.
We arrived to our room and once again I was transferred from one bed to another. By now my epidural had completely worn off and my pain wasn’t under control yet. After they transferred me, a few of the nurses had to massage my belly/uterus and it was probably one of the most excruciating things I’ve ever experienced (besides having my legs straightened in high school). I remember sobbing and begging them to stop. I also kept asking everyone to turn down the AC since I was sweating bullets. Thank you, hormones. At various points throughout the day, lactation consultants would come to work with me and Lily and Lily would show no interest at all in nursing. I would take naps, we’d try again, family and friends would visit. I remember at some point Jeremy’s mom leaving and as she left, telling one of the nurses that Lily looked like she was retracting… the nurse said she would check on it, but I don’t remember that ever happening.
Around 6pm, Jeremy went home to go feed our puppy, Luna, and let her outside once more for the night. While he was gone one of the nurses brought Lily to me, so we could attempt nursing again. As I unswaddled her and put her on my chest, the nurse noticed that she was looking very pale, so took her from me to take her temperature. Her temperature was pretty low so she called one of the NICU nurses to check Lily out. The NICU nurse measured her oxygen levels which were only at 80%, so the nurse wrapped Lily in a blanket, and told me she was going to take her to the NICU to put her under a warmer for a couple of hours. They just wanted to raise her temperature a little bit and give her some extra oxygen.
Jeremy came back from our house and went to see Lily in the NICU, at that point they decided to keep her overnight since her oxygen levels kept dipping into the 70s & 80s. I don’t remember her getting admitted even though I was told around midnight, when I was half asleep. I thought she was only going to be in the NICU for a few hours initially. Little did I know this was the start of a 3-week long journey in the NICU, and I wouldn’t get to hold her again for another week.
Lily’s NICU Story … To Be Continued…