A week ago, Wilhelmina (Willa for short) Adelaide Faxlandez joined our family! She came into this world a bit early so naturally we’re unsure of everything, but at the same time we’re so excited to finally be parents. I wanted to put down some (ok a lot of) info on her entrance, just so I would have something to refer back to and to share in case it resonates with anyone else.
Last week on Tuesday I cleaned the entire house top to bottom (all of my chores, not Anthony’s though!), I even went so far as to shampoo the couches, clean the cobwebs, etc. Tuesday evening I went to my normal Hatha Yoga class. Life was good, I was exhausted but not in any pain.
Wednesday morning rolled around and Anthony and I went to tour a daycare facility (a swing and a miss), then afterwards stopped for breakfast at Taco Bell. 🚨TMI ALERT 🚨 I had a coffee, a Crunchwrap, and a nice poop while there – things were great.
Next up was my regularly scheduled OB appointment just down the street. The triage nurses took my blood pressure, weight, urine, etc. and when my doctor walked into the exam room she immediately exclaimed “Well, I was waiting for this to happen”. My blood pressure had been ever-so-slightly climbing over the last several appointments but at this point she was officially concerned, especially with the protein in my urine and my swollen feet. She asked me to go across the street to the hospital for monitoring, so we made our way there straight away.
As luck would turn out, I actually had an appointment with a head maternal infant unit nurse at the hospital to work on consent forms prior to my delivery, so when I got there I let them know it was a dual purpose visit. The nurse let me know that they were strapped for rooms at the time (side note – there was a laboring woman in the lobby for a good while as they couldn’t find her a room!), then took Anthony and I to a non-labor room for the monitoring.
After getting all hooked up, the nurse and I went over the consent/admission information, which seemed to work out well time-wise.
A few hours of monitoring later, my doctor called and the nurse gave her all my stats. They discussed things for a bit, then my doctor asked the nurse to hand her phone to me. Really only two things she said mattered: “Your monitoring and bloodwork suggest pre-eclampsia.” and “You’re not leaving the hospital without having your baby first.” UM WHAT?
I was only 36 weeks and 3 days! How long would I be staying in the hospital? She didn’t know, but said that she did not feel comfortable with me leaving to go home. So, a few hours later I was officially admitted and the nurses managed to find me a proper room. I was still allowed to stay in my “street clothes” for the night so that was nice. I sent Anthony home to get my pajamas and everything else that we would need… of course our hospital bag was only half packed since we thought we had time!
My doctor did tell me that the overnight monitoring and the morning bloodwork would help us determine our options. If my blood pressure readings were climbing and my morning bloodwork was showing signs of worsening, we might not have time to try an induction so a cesarean would be our best option. The reasoning being, an induction from 0cm dilated and 0% effaced could potentially take a *long* time – she quoted 36 hours. And if my pre-e was that bad, I might not have 36 hours to play around with.
Overnight my blood pressure readings were high but not *that* bad it seemed, so the overnight nurse suspected that my doctor would suggest starting an induction in the morning, but of course she couldn’t be certain.
8 AM rolled around and my doctor showed up bedside with the daytime nurse and the first words out of her mouth were “I’m going to recommend a cesarean”. Whoa, that came out of left field. I asked a lot of questions: how bad were my labs? I didn’t have any time at all to try for an induction? Wouldn’t she be considered a preemie? How big/strong would she be?
So, my doctor was pretty insistent in the cesarean. In hindsight I think a little too insistent but honestly, I’m not upset about the outcome. She did give me the option to try laboring, but strongly suggested against it, cautioning that I could labor for hours and hours and then end up with a cesarean anyways – which honestly sounded way worse than just going ahead with the cesarean out the gate.
So we made the decision for a 10:15 cesarean and like that we were off to the races! Anthony and I both called our parents to update them. We had planned on keeping a pretty tight lip on labor/delivery but due to the circumstances we wanted to let everyone know.
At 10:30 AM they walked me to the OR and left Anthony in my room to get dressed in booties, apron, etc (he was very excited about this). When I arrived in the OR, everyone was busy getting ready. There was lots of counting and recounting of instruments.
Then came a “time out” to ask me my name and what I was there for, to which I replied “to have a baby”, apparently the right answer at the time was “to have a spinal” as the anesthesiologist was just about to get started. I crunched over my belly and they began to scrub my back with numbing solution. Once that was done they pricked me just a little and honestly it just felt like a tiny bug bite. A few seconds later my legs started to feel weird and tingly, then soon they had me laying on my back and I couldn’t feel anything below my chest.
A nurse strapped my arms down then the anesthesiologist unstrapped them as she said she trusted I wouldn’t try to “help” my doctor with the surgery. Then I started to feel someone feeling around on my vagina? I put 2-and-2 together later and realized that was when my catheter was inserted!
My doctor arrived a few minutes later and tested a few spots on my abdomen to make sure I was fully numb, then they brought Anthony in.
They gave him a chair to sit on near my face and he held my hand and stroked my hair. The surgery was already under way, that’s how quick things moved. I felt a little pressure here and there when my doctor leaned on me for certain things and some tugging at times, but that was about it.
About 5 minutes after Anthony arrived, we heard our little girl cry for the first time and I of course started bawling. Around this time my doctor announced that she had a knot in her cord (apparently happens in 1/100 births) and she also had the cord wrapped around her head/shoulder)! So I guess it’s a good thing I did choose to have the cesarean? Not sure if that would have mattered but it seems like it might have made laboring and delivering vaginally more challenging or risky.
Anyways, this is when they had Anthony take a look over the curtain and snap a few photos of our girl as she was making her way into this world. I’ll spare you those photos as they’re a bit graphic. Then they cut her cord and sent her to the baby team on the other side of the room.
We could hear them call out numbers but only later made sense of it: 5 pounds & 2 ounces and 18.9” long. A few minutes later as my doctor was sewing me up, the baby’s doctor came over and let me know that she was having some mild respiratory issues so she wouldn’t be coming right back to the room with us, but not to be worried.
After cleaning her up, they brought her over to us so we could get some cuddles in for a bit. They had Anthony hold her right next to my face and that moment was pure bliss. Shortly after they took her away to the NICU.
By this point I had started shaking uncontrollably, well at least the top half of my body was. My teeth were chattering, it was such a weird feeling. I’m still not sure if it was an adrenaline rush, the spinal, or just the overall excitement but that felt weird.
My doctor got me all stapled back together and even managed to take away a huge ugly mole I had right in line with the incision (we discussed this prior to the cesarean). A nurse quickly showed me the mole and let me know they were sending it off to pathology. Leave it to my doctor to leave my bikini area better than she found it! HAH I’d asked a dermatologist to remove it before but they didn’t seem to think I should bother, at least now it’s gone!
After this, the OR team transferred me back to my bed and then rolled me back to my room. I rested for a bit then the NICU called my room to give us an update on our girl. Her respiratory issues had cleared up almost immediately – she was just breathing a little fast but that subsided quickly. As they were about to bring her to us they discovered her blood glucose levels were a bit low so they asked my permission to provide her with some donor milk or formula. I opted for the donor milk which is provided for free by our hospital (how awesome is that?!). I’d say about an hour or so later they brought her to our room and we got to hold her for the first time.
I did some skin to skin of course and that was amazing. Then Anthony got to hold her for a bit as well and fed her a bottle of donor milk. She was quite content 🙂
Things after this point are a bit of a blur to be honest. It was a mix of trying to get her to latch/nurse for a bit, dealing with these inflatable booties on my legs to keep me from getting a blood clot, pain meds all over the place, blood pressure checks every 15 minutes, bloodwork, IV fluids, you name it.
By a few hours post-surgery I could feel my lower half again but wasn’t in pain due to the IV meds (Toradol). I stayed in bed the whole rest of the day and night. So anytime that our girl was in our room, Anthony was in charge of changing diapers, swaddling her, carrying her to me, etc. He did great, I wasn’t expecting for him to have to be thrown into this role so fast but he handled it like a champ. Honestly his swaddling skills were better than mine for a while there because of it!
During this time I wasn’t producing much milk of course, since I had just had surgery. So we continued to supplement with donor milk provided by the hospital. The nurses encouraged me to put the baby to breast but of course due to her gestational age, she wasn’t really going to be able to latch and suck effectively. So she would get a tiny tiny bit of colostrum from me.
By the next day I was up and walking around my hospital room, first I took a short walk (with the nurse’s assistance) to a chair in my room, then a few hours later I made my way to the bathroom. The nurse helped me clean up a bit, using a peri bottle to wash up and all of that.
Throughout Friday I continued to work on putting the baby to breast and feeding donor milk. Not until Saturday did I get to meet with a Lactation Consultant who got me pumping right away. I learned later that I REALLY should have been pumping within 6 hours of surgery… and unfortunately not doing so may have impacted my milk supply 😦
Friday afternoon a hospital photographer (Bella Baby) dropped by and snapped these amazing photos of our girl. We’re so happy with how they came out!
It hardly looks like we’re in a hospital, she did a great job with staging and making sure our girl was comfortable too. We were especially impressed that the digital photos were ready for us to download less than 12 hours later, and they were reasonably priced as well.
Saturday was a pretty eventful day! First, they wanted to car seat test our daughter to make sure that her respiratory rate and heart rate remained alright for the 1.5 hours she spent in our car seat – she passed!
In addition to that, the hospital’s pediatrician had noticed since Thursday that she had some birth marks on her back. They seemed a little suspicious so an ultrasound was done on her back but everything came back great!
On Saturday they also removed my catheter and once I peed a few times they removed my IV as well. Without a catheter, that means I was welcome to walk the halls!
So we took our first walk together as a family of three. It wasn’t very fast-paced, but we had a nice time walking in a loop around the Maternal Infant Unit.
Sunday rolled around, the day we expected to go home! However, first thing in the morning they let us know that she had jaundice. Her levels weren’t terrible, but this did mean that she would need to stay an extra day at the hospital for treatment. They brought an LED phototherapy light to our room and showed us how to use it – there’s a special kind of swaddle you can use that holds her in place under the light, pretty neat!
Any time we weren’t feeding her, she needed to be under the light and swaddled so she would stay in place. It wasn’t so bad, except that the face mask kept moving and exposing her eyes to the light, so after struggling with this mask for a while, we asked the baby nurses for a new mask which stayed in place much better. PS: The blue light causes migraines if you check up on your baby too often… ask how we know.
By the end of the day I was actually technically discharged as my staples were removed, but the hospital allowed me to keep my room so that I could remain at the hospital with our girl. I asked Anthony to transition to sleeping at home though, that way he could get a really good night’s sleep in our bed and start to bring all of our stuff home.
Since I was discharged, that meant the nurses no longer checked in on me or provided me with pain medications (I was just taking ibuprofen at this point anyways) but honestly it was nice to be left alone aside from the baby nurses. If you’ve ever spent any amount of time in the hospital, you’ll know that nurses seemingly have a way of knowing any time you are trying to sleep or use the restroom in peace… because that’s exactly when they show up for something!
In the first few hours of Monday morning, the baby nurses ran bloodwork on our daughter and soon after they determined her bilirubin levels were improved well enough to be discharged! The nurse let us know that the hospital pediatrician would be by soon to go ever everything and answer any questions and that he did! We went over the ultrasound results one more time to get some clarity, discussed jaundice, and then we were cleared for discharge.
About an hour or two later our baby nurse came by to go over discharge paperwork and get us on our way. When the time came, she helped us buckle our girl into her car seat and walked us to our car. Anthony had put the top down on the car to make it easier to click the car seat into place (we’ve discovered this is not necessary but nevertheless it was easier for the first time haha).
It was soooooo nice to finally be outdoors again for the first time in 6 days, even if it was hot as hell. She slept the whole way home and even once we arrived home she continued napping right into her bassinet, then into daddy’s arms.
Soon she got to meet Snuffy, her older cat sister. Snuffy’s just about 13 years old and absolutely loves other animals, so we figured she would love her new baby sister – and we were right.
We also let each of the dogs come upstairs one-by-one to sniff around but not come into contact with their new sister. They mostly handled it ok – Splotchy was excited but in a good way, Theodore was completely uninterested/unaware of what was going on, Miguel lashed out on Anthony but just because he was worked up, and Mackey had some anxiety but nothing new there. Since then we’ve had them in the room all together several times and things have gone much better (we are waiting a very long time before we take her out of the bassinet while they’re in the room).
We managed to make it through our first night. Not going to lie, it was stressful! We hadn’t figured out a great schedule yet and hormones were high that’s for sure. But Tuesday afternoon arrived and we found ourselves at our first outing – a pediatrician appointment.
Good news – she gained weight since yesterday at discharge! The doctor said she looked great and assured us that we’re doing a great job. Only issue was that when they weighed her they tossed her wet diaper and only then did we realized that we forgot to pack diapers in the diaper bag. The pediatrician of course had diapers on hand, but no preemie diapers, she’s so small that even size newborn diapers look enormous:
We left the pediatrician and picked up lunch for ourselves, all-in-all a successful outing even despite the diaper mishap. We changed her back into a preemie diaper once we got home so everything worked out in the end.
On Wednesday morning we met with a lactation consultant (covered by insurance, thanks Affordable Care Act!) as my milk production wasn’t where I wanted it to be. She gives us a loooooooot of information, and honestly I was completely overwhelmed and emotional about it all (yay hormones!). But, we learned some things, made a few adjustments that we saw fit, and I’m happy to report that I’m now producing more milk than we know what to do with.
Due to her size and gestational age (37 weeks and change at this point), she doesn’t really have the ability to nurse effectively, though we try each day. So pumping 8x a day (every 3 hours for 30 minutes) and feeding her the expressed milk via a bottle is our system for now. I use a Spectra S2 pump, a bra specifically for pumping, and episodes of Queer Eye for entertainment.
Thursday rolled around and that meant our girl is a week old!
By Thursday we had really started to hit our stride. Although feedings are every 3 hours, she mostly sleeps between feeds – so we have plenty of time to nap, hang out with the pets, watch some TV, relax, and keep up with chores around the house.
Thursday night/Friday morning at midnight the new Taylor Swift album Lover came out, so to celebrate we dressed her up in a “You Need To Calm Down” onesie. She’s obviously a “Swiftie”…
Friday afternoon we had our second pediatrician appointment, this time with our preferred pediatrician (she was unavailable on Tuesday for our first appointment). She was very thorough with her assessment, answered a million questions from us, and gave us referrals for the lactation consultant (for insurance purposes) and a pediatric dermatologist (for the birth marks we noticed – just to keep an eye on things).
When we undressed her at the pedestrian to weigh her (now she’s only .8oz away from reaching her birth weight, yay), apparently her cord stump had just fallen off! So now we’re free to bathe her in a few days, and we don’t have to worry about the diaper covering her cord stump.
Since Thursday night we noticed that she had some congestion, nothing terrible but she was definitely stuffy and uncomfortable. The pediatrician suggested we get some saline nose drops but that this was pretty normal. We’ll just have to give it some time to run it’s course.
When we got home from the pediatrician, my Aunt Terri dropped by to meet the new addition to the family and we had a photoshoot!
I can’t wait to see how all of the photos came out. There are even a few with Anthony and I included. In some of the poses she looked like such a little angel, she slept through it all (yay for a milk coma haha).
Today we’ve just been taking it easy, doing some chores around the house in-between feedings, keeping up on saline drops for her nose, and of course I’ve been working on finishing this whole saga to share. Tonight we’re going to bring her bassinet downstairs to try out watching TV in the living room. Up until now she’s remained upstairs aside from her trips to the outside world.
Aside from the day-to-day we have somewhat figured out now… we’re looking forward to visits from our closest family and friends starting soon! Anthony’s parents will be flying up for a short visit next week. Then in October my mom and sister will be coming to visit (at separate times). After that we have more friends coming later in the year and beginning of next year. Eventually we’ll be taking her traveling as well, but not until much later once she’s been vaccinated.
It’s still so crazy to us that she came so early and that we’re already parents. We weren’t prepared (really, who is even in the most perfect circumstances?) but things have worked out just fine in the end. Of course the nursery still needs a bit of work so we’ll wait to share photos of that until it’s officially “done”. But rest assured, there’s already plenty of home automation and a SONOS speaker in there just like the rest of the house.
We wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that has shown their support and wished us well over the week – we so appreciate it and are overwhelmed by everyone’s love. Especially those who have sent us gifts and cards.
If you want to enjoy more pictures and videos of Willa as she grows, be sure to follow me on social media (Facebook or Instagram), and keep an eye on my “stories”. I’ll of course post here with some of the big milestones, but smaller updates are better suited for social 🙂