I am a God-loving, husband-adoring, mybabyboys-hugging, mind-reeling, photo-taking, life-documenting, yummyfood-cooking, garden-planting, country-living girl. Writing about life, with boys, in the sticks...
this is life... with boys... in the country...

Kaden's Birth

Tuesday, Dec. 22nd
The beginning... I felt nauseous throughout the night, woke up with diarrhea and battled nausea and what I thought was a fever, all day.

Wednesday, Dec 23rd

I woke early with diarrhea and vomiting and asked Matt when he got up for work, to call his mom to come get Gage and Cooper… I knew it would be a bad day for me. I wasn't able to eat or drink all day, so the diarrhea and throwing up left me very dehydrated. I called Dr. Rowley’s office to see what to do for Kaden and to see if I should still come in for my 4:15 appointment to be re-checked. The receptionist told me we should cancel the appointment and that Kaden wouldn't be affected by my flu. They called me back at about 5 pm and told me to fill an anti-nausea prescription, take it and kaopectate so that I could get re-hydrated. I informed the receptionist that I had been having irregular, but pretty frequent, contractions and she and the nurse agreed it didn’t sound like labor but to come in if they got regular and painful.

I’d already called my mom and broke the news that we wouldn’t be coming North for Christmas, anticipating that Matt and the boys would probably pick up my bug, as well. This would be the 2nd Christmas in 3 years that we were all sick with the flu.  Myrna called and offered to have the boys overnight  and we reluctantly took them up on it. Amazing how the Lord works.  The contractions continued throughout the evening as I lay on the couch watching tv, but they lacked intensity so I ignored my thoughts about timing them. Hind-sight is 20/20.  I should have timed them.

Thursday, Dec 24th – Christmas Eve.

I woke around 1am to a strong contraction. I couldn’t fall back to sleep so I drank a bunch of water, since I felt totally better from the flu, and laid on my side and timed the contractions. 5 minutes apart, sometimes down to 3 minutes apart. I kept thinking it had to be dehydration. At 2:30am the pain had increased and the length would vary but I thought, “If this goes on until 3am, I’ll call Labor and Delivery.” They did continue, with the intensity continuing to increase, so I called and after the nurse ‘heard’ a contraction she told me to come in, after stating the obvious, “You don’t want to have a baby at 34 weeks.” Duh.

I’d woken Matt when I got the phonebook, so he was starting to get ready. All I grabbed was my coat and purse because I had no doubt that they’d be stopping my labor. We left at about 3:30am and were checked in at Sliverton at about 4am. They put me in the triage room because there was literally NO ROOM. Fitting for Christmas Eve. The nurse checked me and I was 3-4 cm dilated. They put me on IV fluids for an hour and called Dr. Rowley in. At 5am, he started me on Magnesium Sulfate through IV, and I thought it was working because the contractions’ intensity decreased, though the frequency stayed at 3 minutes apart. Dr. Rowley checked me at 6am and I was 6-7 and completely effaced. He said “I don’t think this is going to work. You’re going to have your baby today.” And, I cried.

We then quickly went from trying to slow and stop labor to encouraging it. They stopped the magnesium sulfate, considered transferring me to Salem or Portland because they don’t have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silverton, but decided they didn’t have time. Since I’d still been having diarrhea that morning I was pretty stressed about having a ‘problem’ so I asked for some more kaopectate. They gave me some pill that was “even better” and I think that saved me from a very embarrassing experience! They started antibiotics in case I had GBS (they hadn’t done the test yet, as it is typically done at 36 weeks) and Matt called my mom at 6:30 to tell her Kaden was coming. I didn’t know it at the time, but she packed up and hopped in the car right then (despite their nights’ plans of hosting 40 people at their house for the Balko family Christmas Eve). I asked if he would call his mom but he said he would at 7.

The nurses kept talking about trying to get us into an actual delivery room and I remember between contractions telling them I didn’t mind delivering in that room but needed a better one for our stay because Matt needed a bed for his sore back. Dr. Rowley told me that now would be the time to get an epidural if I wanted one. I didn't want one, but wondered about other options, because while I was managing the contractions fine, one at a time and talking in between, I was thinking of the pain of pushing. After he described the other options, I decided against because I didn’t want to put anything else into Kaden’s underdeveloped system. So, pain meds were out of the question despite my vivid memories of pushing Cooper out. Plus, I figured that Kaden would be quite a bit smaller than Cooper and the pushing would likely not be as painful, which Dr. Rowley agreed with. Pretty logical thinking, considering my current state...

The contractions got stronger and closer, some right on top of each other, until I was feeling lots of pressure by about 6:45. Dr. Rowley checked and confirmed I was 9 and he wanted to break my water. I got a bit freaked because I anticipated the skyrocket of pain to come. I didn’t even feel the bag break and had to ask if it was done. He said, “Yes, with nice clear fluid.” I waited about 10 seconds and said “I have to push!” Dr. Rowley, a bit frantically, told me to wait and told the nurse to get him a blue blanket. She didn’t know where they were but found one just in time because I wasn’t waiting. I never heard ‘okay, you’re at 10, go ahead and push.’ I just did because I had to. My urge was to squeeze my knees together, so Dr. Rowley and Matt had to help give Kaden some room to exit. My legs tingled like crazy. I just gave one long push, as hard as I could muster and out came his head. I felt relief and a moment of calm, then Dr. said to push again and out squeezed Kaden. I just remember hearing Matt laughing and crying with relief and saying stuff like “He’s here!” and “You did it!” Kaden got put onto my chest and I felt how tiny his little rear was in my hand. I could tell that his breathing was labored because he made a sound like a kitten mewing with every exhale. Dr. Rowley held up Kaden’s umbilical cord and showed us what an active little guy we had... there was a good sized knot in his cord. I was allowed to hold Kaden through the placenta delivery and the pain of checking for clots, then the nurse took my boy from my arms, and wisked him into the nursery for observation.

Kaden Max, weighing in at 5 pounds, 15 ounces and 19 inches long, was put right under an oxygen hood and waited for evaluation from the pediatrician. I knew this was standard for a preterm baby so I didn’t feel odd about it. In and out nurses and Matt went, and I just laid there by myself marveling at the events. I kept wondering when they’d bring Kaden in to me. The pediatrician finally came in a few hours later and said Kaden was still laboring but they’d expect within a few more hours for that to turn around. “He’s a good sized boy,” he said. “He’ll be just fine.” So, Matt and I acted as if we just had a baby! Excited, relaxing, ordering breakfast, visiting. I really had NO idea what we were in for. Around 10am, the pediatrician came back in and told us they were going to transfer Kaden to OHSU because he had Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RSD) because his lungs were underdeveloped. My insides jolted and I felt like vomit was inevitable. He said the PANDA team was coming to get him and I would be released shortly. Released?  I just gave birth... I went into the nursery and spent time with Kaden and then was told that Dr. Rowley cleared me to be released. I was shocked when I looked at him... tubes, bandages, a fogged up plastic thing covering his face... they had to 'package' his tummy in order to keep the unbilical cord moist, in case they needed it for an IV.  I felt so totally detatched from the situation that I began floating through the motions. I changed back into my clothes and my mom got their about half-an-hour later and I continued to remained calm. We were told that it takes about 2-3 days for RDS to clear so that’s the time frame we were going with. That he’d be at OHSU for 2-3 days. Not bad. My belly was checked one last time around 11 and I was released 7 hours after I got there and 4 hours after giving birth.

My mom and I watched in the nursery as the PANDA team prepared Kaden for transport. They were able to get an IV in his foot, put a CPAP into his nose to hold the canals open for oxygen to enter, hooked him up to all sorts of monitors, let me kiss my boy and then loaded him into this monstrosity of an incubator on top of a stretcher. Nurses talked gently to me about what was going on but I barely heard a word.  I nodded and said 'okay' a lot, but couldn't wrap my head around anything that was happening.   
During this time, Matt had been loading the car so when the team was ready off we went, following the ambulance to Portland. I made phone calls a long the way, becoming more positive as the 2-3 day time frame kept going through my head.

Once we got to OHSU we rode with another couple up to the 12th floor.  During the ride, the man looked at me and said, "Merry Christmas! Oh, you look like you'll be getting your gift this summer sometime..." (implying that I looked newly pregnant). "Actually", I said, "I just had my baby this morning." "Wow, what are you doing out walking around..." His wife nudged him, wordlessly saying 'be quiet.' She could obviously read our faces. Because new parents, traveling to the NICU without their baby in their arms is never a good sign.  We found our way to the NICU and were ushered through the process of checking in and scrubbing in, and taken to Kaden’s new pod. I think it was then that I realized the severity and intensity of the situation. 

To get to his pod we had to pass by 15 or so itty bitty babies receiving varying degrees of intervention. Kaden was being checked and analyzed by about 8 people when we got there. Linda, Kaden’s first nurse, got me set up to start pumping and when I returned from that we saw they’d already done new X-rays and saw his lungs were already getting clearer from the X-ray they’d done at Silverton. But in conversation with the doctor, she informed us that his stay would be more like 2-3 weeks, NOT days. She apologized that anyone would have given us the wrong impression. "Yes, his RDS would clear up in that amount of time, but then he has to learn to eat," she said. Evidently, babies don’t gain the instinct to suck and swallow until 35-36 weeks gestation, inutero. This was a huge blow to us and we immediately realized just how far out of our comfort zone we were and had no idea what to expect of this process.

Once things settled with all the doctors/nurses/technicians, Matt and I sat with Kaden for a while before accepting that there was nothing we could do for him at that time. Numb from exhaustion, shock, illness, labor, and adrenaline we hugged, pulling strength from each other. We stared at Kaden in his temporary home not knowing how to do any of this. The pull between this new life and those we had at home was emotionally draining, and we knew that this was just the beginning.  Matt and I missed Gage and Cooper terribly, as we hadn’t seen them for 2 days, so we left our bitty bean of a baby and went home.

Kaden ended up spending 18 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at OHSU. In the first week he recovered from the Respritory Distress and was treated for jaundice. His longest challenge ended up being learning to eat. Our experience with the hospial stay could be another terribly long entry, and maybe someday it will be.  But for now I'll just mention a notable thought... we got through it. Many of the babies in the NICU don'tWe feel incredibly fortunate that while it was so hard, we knew Kaden's issue was just to grow and eat.  And knowing that, combined with the help of my mom, family and friends, we got through it.  So many people said to me, "I could never do what you're doing"...  yes, you could. You could if you had to.  The Lord carried us through and even though thinking back on our time away from Kaden brings me to tears, I am ... WE are... stronger because of the experience.