Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Layla's Arrival

She is here! Well, she has been here for a week which seems crazy. I feel like we were just packing up to head to the hospital.  Here is the low down.

Sunday night we headed to the hospital.  I was scheduled to start inducing at 8pm.  I was not super crazy about this.  D and I had talked a lot about it, and we had discussed a lot with my doctor. I really wanted her to come on her own, and was trying to stay positive about the induction.  (I also couldn't eat after 4pm on Sunday.  WHAT!)  We started the first round of medicine and my contractions started less than 15 minutes later.  The nurse said a lot of times your body isn't producing enough prostaglandins to get things going, and this medicine will help. Sure enough, it did!  I was excited, hoping that this would get the ball rolling.  Unfortunately, less than an hour later, Layla's heart rate kept dropping.  We had to stop the medicine, and keep an eye on her.  Fortunately, she chilled out after AND my contractions continued. It was almost midnight on Sunday, so we opted for sleep and starting Pitocin Monday morning.

I continued to have contractions all night, so when we started the Pitocin bright and early on Monday it just kicked them up.  Again, I was excited.  Everything seemed to be moving along swimmingly, and Layla seemed to be doing well. Around 9am when my doc checked me, I was not even a 2 yet.  We decided to break my water to help her move on down the road, and get ready to come on out.  Unfortunately, my water was full of meconium. It's not uncommon when babies are past their due date, but I had more in there than what was normal.  That meant she was stressed out, and not too happy.  Her heart rate, though, was doing well.  So we continued with the Pitocin, and my contractions were going strong.  I was so thankful for the wireless IV and monitors so I could make use of the shower and the tub.  They were huge helpers in getting through the contractions.  Interestingly enough, I did NOT want most of what I thought I would while the contractions were going.  I wanted almost NO noise, so no music.  And I was loud.  I thought I would be focusing on something, silently breathing, and counting.  Nope.  Not at all.  D, on the other hand, was magical.  Encouraging me, helping me, loving me.

Around noon, my doc checked again and I was at a 3.  Not tons of progress, but progress.  We kept going, and at 3pm she checked again.  I was still at a 3, and there was still a lot of meconium showing up.  I was getting discouraged and worried.  Discouraged that after contracting through the night and most of Monday I wouldn't have the energy to push when it was time.  I hadn't eaten in 24 hours, and I was exhausted.  Worried with the amount of goo that was there, and what that might mean. Meconium aspiration was turning into a big concern.  Meaning when she came out, and took her first big breath she would ingest all that bad stuff.  If it got into her lungs, it could mean a stay in the NICU and antibiotics for awhile.  I decided to go ahead and do an epidural in the hopes that if she finally started making her way out, I would be able to still push.

My doc checked again at 5pm, and I was still only at a 3.  The other bad news was that Layla wasn't going anywhere.  She hadn't dropped any further than she had been the last couple of weeks, and obviously had no plans to do so now.  My doc started discussing a C-section with us.  There was some reason that she wasn't making her way out the normal way.  (Side note - I love my doctor.  She was super supportive about my goal to give birth naturally.  She gave me tons of suggestions on classes, exercises, etc.  She knew how much I did NOT want to have a C-section.)  However, we were beyond what I wanted.  Layla was too stressed out by everything that was going on, as evidenced by all her poo showing up, and she wasn't going anywhere.  It was time to go get her.  I appreciated the long conversation my doctor had with us. How and why she had come to that conclusion,  that it wasn't something she jumped to just because, that the decision was obviously still mine, but that odds were unlikely she was going to come out any other way.  We could wait a few more hours to see if she made any progress, but after that it would be time to make a decision.  We felt it wasn't worth stressing her or me out anymore and she needed to get her as safely as possible.

So, we were off to the OR.  It was a little scary for a number of reasons.  A big one was that someone from the NICU had to be in with us to check her out after she showed up to make sure everything was ok. After our chat with my doc, it was about 5:15pm.  By 5:30 I was in the OR, ready to go.  Holy weird experience, Batman!  It's odd to understand what is happening to you, but not see it.  To feel everything like pressure and pulling, but to feel no pain.  The next thing I know they are telling us she is on her way out!  LONG SILENCE.  They were trying to make sure she didn't cry or breathe in too much so they could clean her airways first.  I am sure it was only 30 seconds or so, but it seemed like FOREVER.  Not only was she covered in meconium grossness, but the cord was wrapped around her neck three times.  My doc had said once you do a C-section like this, it becomes really obvious why it was necessary.  It seems like a dumb statement, but she wasn't going to anywhere wrapped up the way she was. The good news was that they were able to remove the cord, and get her cleaned off with no problems!

She was born at 5:54pm, 7 lbs 1oz and 19 inches long (so much smaller than we thought!). She was PERFECT!  D was right there with her. The German was so excited when they gave her weight and length in metric measurements.  He knew exactly what that meant!  She was screaming and yelling, and Papa D was capturing every moment on camera.  I was stitched up, and in recovery by 6:15 (It is CRAZY how fast it all was).  D went with her to the nursery, and was able to get her first bath on video. :)  I got her a few minutes later, and we got to hang out.  She was HUNGRY.  I was, too, after all that hard work.  Luckily, she was allowed to eat.  She got it right away, thank goodness!  We were able to head back to our room around 8:30pm and introduce her to my parents and oldest brother.  They knew she had been born, but D and I wanted to be together to share her name.  Layla had been at the top of our list for awhile.  (We did take our list with us, though, just in case she didn't look like a Layla!) Kathleen is my mom's name. Erika is D's mom's middle name.  Much crying by all.  Well, except Layla.  She was tired.

Did it all go down how I had hoped and planned it would?  Nope.  I still think it's funny that I thought everything would go as planned.  None of it really matters.  I feel like I got to experience labor which is what I wanted.  No part of me feels like I missed out on anything by getting an epidural or having a C-section.  The end goal was for her to get here safely.  And she did.  The end.

I have to give HUGE KUDOS to everyone at Shawnee Mission Medical Center.  D and I loved it there.  Every nurse, anesthesiologist, nurse's aid, doctor, whoever was amazing.  The nurses respected my choice to try to go natural and did their best to help me, they explained every situation, gave us whatever we asked for (including D), and worked hard to make sure our birth experience was great.  We were there for four nights so we ended up with a lot of nurses working with us, and every single one of them was wonderful.  I will be writing a letter or email or something to tell them so.  We were so impressed, and thankful that's where we got to deliver.

And of course...to my fabulous husband.  While I may have been the one giving birth, this was a total team effort.  I couldn't ask for a better teammate.  He was everywhere all at once, making sure I had everything I wanted/needed, encouraging, loving, and helping anyway he could.  And he is the best papa.  Layla loves her some Papa D.

And...here she is!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Love Of A Father

Yesterday's memorial service for Matt was pretty much overwhelming.  Overwhelmingly full of love.  I have no idea how many people fit in the sanctuary of Heartland Community Church, but if I were to guess I would bet there was about a thousand people there.  If I am way off, ok.  It sure seemed like there were a thousand people there.  I knew that so many people were connected to the Nagel's in one way or another, but it was astonishing to watch that community show up in full force.  And I know there were a lot of people who couldn't be there.  It was oddly peaceful to be in a crowd that size, mostly because it felt like a giant family.  People who had been loving and supporting the Nagel's for so long, most of whom I did not know, and yet sitting with them all seemed normal.  Like a weird, giant group hug.

It was such a perfect service...so very much what I have in my head of Matt.  (Side note:  I did NOT know Matt well.  I know Molly.  I know their story. I know their little one.  And I knew Matt through all of that.  So if this seems oddly peripheral, so be it.)  Anyway, it was joyful.  That might sound strange to some of you. But it was a celebration.  Matt really was 'that guy.'  He was happy, the REAL kind of happy.  He loved God, he loved his wife, and his daughter(s).  He loved the kids he worked with at the Hope Center.  And I am not sure there wasn't a time when I didn't see him with a huge smile on his face that was sincere.  Deeply sincere.  While I certainly don't think he was perfect or some kind of saint, he obviously loved his life and lived it to the fullest. The service reflected nothing but that happy, smiling guy.

A few people spoke, but the most amazing was Matt's dad. I have only met his parents once, briefly, at a fundraiser a friend and I did for Matt and Molly a couple of years ago.  Having not spent time with his dad, I was unsure what to expect from his speaking at his son's memorial service.  I can't imagine being in that position, and I was preparing for a heart wrenching outpouring of love.  I wasn't wrong.  It was a heart wrenching outpouring of love, but not the kind that one would expect.  His confidence in his son was solid.  SOLID.  Confidence in who he was, what he believed, and that he is now in heaven.  It wasn't a tooting of his own parenting horn as he readily admitted there were mistakes that had been made.  It was just an assurance that he had done his best, without regrets.  He had spent time with his sons, getting to know them for the people they were and were going to become, and respecting them for how they loved their own families.  He taught them that being a Christian isn't about a giant book of rules that dictates life.  It's about loving God with all your heart...so much so that you WANT to be better for Him.  His words weren't without tears or sadness.  The loss of someone so young is just too hard to understand.  As I wait for Gretel's arrival, it's unfathomable already that a parent would ever have to bury a child.  I also wasn't expecting him to address the question of 'why.'  That's a HUGE undertaking, and one that seems unanswerable.  To some degree, it is unanswerable.  Everyone says 'What kind of God would ALLOW this to happen?'  Well, it's a fallen world, folks.  If it were perfect, that question would be fair.  However, it's not.  And Mr. Nagel referenced a passage from Deuteronomy. I am paraphrasing here, but the essence is God will take care of the hidden things, and the things that are revealed are our business.  At first, I pretty much hated that.  Hidden things don't bring Molly's husband back.  Hidden things don't allow me to be in control.  But if I am going to believe in one part of the Bible, I have to believe in all of it.  I can't pick and choose the things I like, and leave the rest behind.  And really...God owes us nothing.  So who says we get to know everything?  Just because I am selfish, and I think I should doesn't mean that's how it will work.  It's what that whole faith thing is based on.

Back to Mr. Nagel...throughout his entire time speaking, he was peaceful.  He loved his son, he knew who Matt was, and the life he lived.  He wanted to share these things to help everyone who would listen.  While I certainly don't think that he was speaking those things directly to D and me, it sure felt like it.  As we wait for Gretel's arrival, we have constant conversations of who she will be.  An athlete? (If D has his way, of course.) An academic?  A band geek? Introvert, extrovert, the list goes on. In the end, we always know that whatever she is, we will love her.  And if she wants to do ballet, we will be the parents at the dance recitals doing the Arsenio with air horns.  Because that's how you support...with noise.  We will most certainly screw up, and make mistakes, and hopefully not scar her permanently, but I hope we can parent without regrets.  It was a moment for me, as I sat there with D's hand on Gretel.  He is so excited to be a daddy, and he is going to be amazing at it.  We listened to Matt's dad talk about his son, and how he was proud to be his father.  We were reminded that even in the midst of this chaos, the Father has His hand in all of it.

It was a bit surreal sitting there, it was so perfectly 'Nagel' that it was hard to understand that Matt wasn't sitting with Molly and Harper.  It was such an exact reflection of his life, it seemed impossible that he wasn't there with them and the rest of us.  It was, by no means, a time of closure.  It was a time of grieving for our friend who was lost, and his family who had lost him.  This tragedy will tear at their hearts for a long time.  It wasn't really a time of healing.  It was too soon, too fresh.  But it was freaking peaceful.  There is no other way to say it.  It was a joyful celebration of Matt, and a tearful goodbye as he is gone too soon.  And sitting in the midst of a huge group of people, coming together as one community to support this precious family was overwhelming.  I can only hope that Molly, Harper, and the rest of their family could feel it too.  Thousands are standing with them.  God is standing with them too, even though it might seem like He isn't.  I am still amazed at Molly.  She is somehow still pressing forward.  I pray that when she finally sits, and the devastation hits full force, she finds rest, that she finds a God and a community that love her, that she finds that Matt is still with her.

Like I said before, in the middle of this whole mess, there has been hope.  It's Good Friday which is more than ironic.  Yet, this weekend is the apex of Christianity.  Today is the dark day.  The day when it seemed all was lost.  We are left in disbelief and heartbreak at the loss of our Savior.  But hope is just around the corner.  We are not to live in darkness, but in light.  And the Light has not left us forever.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nothing to say

Nothing to say is an odd title for a blog since the whole purpose of a blog is to say something.  However, the 'nothing' part is so true.  The loss for words that would make any kind of impact is overwhelming.  I have spent the last 24 hours trying to imagine where Molly is.  To try to understand the hell she is going through, and how best to help her.  Sadly, there is nothing to do.  Nothing to fix.  Nothing to say that will make it all better.

D came home yesterday for the afternoon, and I could barely let him leave my sight. We didn't do anything except cry, and hug, and pray for our friends.  Reminding each other of the swiftness of life, and the need to appreciate each minute we have.  I quickly stopped trying to understand 'why' as that is just a futile process.  God's plan exists whether I know what it is or not.  I might hate it, think it's stupid, and question all that I believe.  Quite frankly, this is complete bullshit.  To ask one person, one family to endure this journey is unimaginable to me.  This seems like a sucker punch from nowhere, as if they hadn't already been knocked down enough.

It's hard not to go to the horrible dark side of this thing.  As much as I would like to be a nasty pessimist, I can't.  There has been hope here.  The amount of response to this tragedy is astounding.  As I scrolled through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I couldn't go but even every other post without seeing a post about Matt.  People who knew and loved him, and those who had never met him but had heard his story.  People who will never know each other, but somehow are connected through this.  And I am extremely grateful to my community of people...family, friends, church, random acquaintances...people who know, love and support me, and barely know Matt, Molly and Harper.  The texts, emails, phone calls, responses to posts, etc have been unending.  And this has nothing to do with me.  But know that all of that love is going straight to the Nagel's. Thousands of people are standing with them, and I know that has to be felt.  

While I certainly don't speak for Molly, Harper or the rest of their family, I will for myself.  Thank you for your caring hearts and words.  I know they have to be heard over the resounding silence that is being felt right now.  Please, please keep it up.  These coming days, weeks, months, etc. are going to be devastatingly challenging to say the least.  Your love and support will go so far.

I pretty much hate all things cliche (this happened for a reason, blah blah) but I do love music. This has just been what I have needed the last couple of days.  Listen or don't.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Nagel's

This is not about me or Gretel.  She isn't here yet.

This is about my friends Matt, Molly and Harper Nagel. Over the past 3 years they have been through some horrendous shit.  Sorry, there just isn't a better word.  Last year it all culminated with losing their adoption battle for their daughter, and having to give her up after loving her for two and a half years.

Yesterday, Matt suffered a massive stroke at the age of 35.  His condition isn't great.  More info can be found at his Caring Bridge link below.  Please, please pray for them.  In whatever capacity that might be.  It's hard to understand 'why' this morning, I got to wake up next to my husband, and feel him pat our unborn daughter and enjoy our quiet time this morning.  But Molly hasn't slept.  I doubt she has eaten much or left her husbands side while he lays in the hospital or spent time with Harper during all of this.  I spent time this morning trying to understand.  In the end, I can't.  And I can't question where is God in all of this.  He is there, with Matt, with Molly, with Harper, with the doctors and nurses, and everyone who will be around them in the coming days, weeks and months.  If I was supposed to understand it, I would.  I don't, and so I will just have faith that somewhere in there God is present.  I don't know how, after all of this, Molly is still breathing but she is.  God love her...