Monday, April 18, 2011

Estelle's Birth Story

My water broke. Early. We had just eaten at Puckett's for a Tin Pan South show and had ambled around downtown for the Art Crawl with a couple Seth knew through work who were visiting from Los Angeles. We were in the middle of driving around showing them pieces of Nashville when I realized I might need to call the midwife, and I let my husband know.
 I got "Are you joking?" 
"no, I'm not." 
"Are you kidding?"
 "Are you serious??"

Since I was only mid third-trimester (near 35 weeks) the midwife told me to go ahead and come into the hospital instead of laboring some at home. So, on our way home to pick up our stuff and pack up the boys after dropping our guests off at their hotel, we sped....a little. And a cop pulled us over. Naturally. But when he got up to the car and saw me shaking, wet and holding onto the door handle for dear life, and then my husband announced "my wife is in labor!" The policeman's eyes went wide as saucers and he let us on our way without further ado.

This picture is just after we arrived at the Vanderbilt ER and they had put me in a wheelchair. We were waiting to be taken up to our room. I wish I had gotten a picture of Seth trying to carry all of our hastily put together stuff, our pillows and my yoga/birthing ball. He looked like a pack mule. And the security guards laughed at our expense when we tried to pass the ball through the entrance security window. I guess it was pretty funny...

Since I wasn't supposed to be having the baby yet, my mom and sister were both out of town. Good thing Andrea was there:

And Seth was there:
(But he didn't sleep the whole time, I promise. Although there was some time for doing that since my whole labor lasted 36 hours!)

This was about 24 hours into it when I realized I was going to have to give in and let them put me on pitocin to speed things up. I was really against it - and still am. I wish I had held out. It caused me to have to be hooked up to the bed so I couldn't move around as much as I wanted to. And it made the contractions more painful than they had to be.

Starting to get painful:

Sitting on the ball helped, aaaand it's getting more painful:

This was the last picture taken before I needed to shut the camera off and have all persons focused on keeping me focused. I asked the midwife how much longer this would go on and she said "probably three hours more." When I heard that, I just knew I wouldn't be able to do it. What no one knew, though, was that I was already going into transition and our baby would be born in the next 20 minutes. The moral of the story is: When someone asks you how much longer their labor will be in the midst of excruciating pain, you should never give an answer with the word "hours" in it. Say something like "Not very much longer," or "It will be over before you know it."

I know I don't look very happy here, but on the inside I really am. I'm just sweaty and exhausted. I got to pull Estelle up onto me and keep her there for whole hour before they took her to the nursery. In hindsight, I had a premonition that something was wrong, but at the time I was just so happy to see her and hold her.

The next time I saw her, she looked like this:

They had already intubated her and dosed her with surfactant. She was on four liters of oxygen a minute and had an IV for antibiotics due to possible sepsis. We were told that she had Hyaline Membrane Disease and that she would stay in the Vanderbilt NICU for anywhere between 7 days to a month.

This is on the same day that she was born, right after I found out where she was:

That first night she stopped breathing four times. It was the scariest time of of my life.
But prayers went out and God was there. Every day when I woke up, I would pray that God would go before me and behind me and help me through each minute. Because that is what it took. Minute by minute.

By mid week she was doing much better. She began to breath without extra oxygen the same hour my precious grandma passed away. I have a mental picture of Grandma asking Jesus face to face to save our baby Estelle.

And then, one week later, they let us take her home.

Even though I'm still terrified that each noise means something bad is happening, I'm SO glad to have her here. And I truly know that God is in control and has a plan for her life. Estelle, my star.


Becoming Jane said...

Oh Amanda! I am so happy, relieved, elated for you and your family! Peace and love to you and your lovely very strong baby girl.

Amanda Conley said...

Thank you Jane!

thomas said...

What an incredible story! Just goes to show how precious life is. I am so happy to hear there was a happy ending. Congrats again! Susan Schroder

Megan said...


Jeanne said...

Well done mama! I love you.

Anonymous said...

I'm not Jeanne I'm Andrea :)

Amanda Conley said...

I know. You know how? You wrote "andrea." hahahaha! ;-)

Erin said...

My dear, sweet, friend: I have tears pouring down my face as I read your story of beautiful Estelle and how she came into this world and fought to come home with you guys. I am so sorry for the loss of your grandmother, but so love the picture of her beseeching Jesus to give Estelle breath. I know you are loving having her home and I pray that you will have comfort and peace with each of those little noises that give you worry. I cannot wait to see her in person, but in the mean time, please give her a big kiss for me. I love you!

Michael and Jana said...

Ahhhhh! So sweet. That last photo is breathtaking!

~sjts said...

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful event. You have such a way with words in telling of what occured. The pictures are great especially the last one...really a cop. He didn't escort you like in the movies?


Ashley said...

Amanda, just saw this and am so happy that Estelle is home and doing well. Your story brought tears to my eyes and I can't imagine how scary this was for you and your family.