"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brandon's Birth Story and More

Starting from the very beginning...
It was near the end of June of 2009, and Cody and I were getting ready for a night out - a pool party with some of his coworkers and then a big summer bash at the house of one of his best friends. We knew there was a possibility I could be pregnant so Cody wanted me to take a pregnancy test before we went out... just so it wouldn't be on my mind. Even though we knew it was possible I was pregnant... I really didn't think I could be since we had literally just decided a couple weeks earlier that we were ready to give it a shot for baby #2. Took the pregnancy test - it came back negative - that was that... Until six days later. I started to really think I was pregnant and that maybe we had taken the test too soon the first time. So during my lunch break I went to Wallgreens, grabbed another test, went back to work and took the test in the bathroom stall all by myself :) I called Cody to ask if I should wait until that night when we were both home, but he told me to just take it. I remember sitting there in the stall with my back to the test waiting the long three minutes -- forcing myself not to look until the three minutes were up! When I saw the beautiful two pink lines, I had to try really hard not to scream -- I didn't want to actually scream out loud because that might have sounded funny to people walking by outside of the bathroom ;) I immediately called Cody... who DIDN'T answer his phone the first time!! So I called him back right away again. It was really good news and a bright spot in a week thad had been very difficult because it also was the week that Coach Ed Thomas was shot and killed.

So... that night we called the family over to our house for supper. After work I picked up pink and blue streamers and decorated the door to the third bedroom of our house -- that was empty at the time. I then put a big sign saying "March, 2010" on the door underneath the streamers because I had calculated that to be my due date. And that's how the grandparents were told... walking by the then-empty bedroom and seeing the pink and blue streamers with baby's due date posted to the door ;)

If I hadn't taken the pregnancy test that day, I wouldn't have had to at all because just a few days later the symptoms kicked in. And they were awful. I had morning sickness with Jaden but never to the point of not being able to think about food - not being able to function. With Brandon, from week five to about week eight/nine I felt awful. The only thing that I could even think about eating - for some strange reason - was spaghetti-o's. Not very nutrious but at that time all I was concerned about was getting some kind of food in my belly. For two weekends in a row I didn't leave the recliner. Cody took care of Jaden and I sat there barely moving. Cody would try and make me food every once in a while - mostly toast - but by the third week of that, I called my doctor. I said - "I can't look at food, I can't think about food, I can't eat food, I can't talk about food, I can't smell food. At all." She thought it best to give me some anti-nausea medicine that was approved for pregnancy but warned me that the major side effect would be extreme fatigue. She wasn't kidding. I was to take three pills a day -- and they seriously worked. My stomach felt so much better, and I was actually able to eat again. But I couldn't stay awake at work. So after a week of that, I stopped taking them - and luckily my nausea didn't come back.

I remember the first time I felt little Brandon kick. I was standing up at work in one of the labs where the practitioners work, and I felt the flutter. If it hadn't been my second pregnancy, I might not have thought anything of it -- but since I'd been through all of this before, I knew instantly what it was. And once he started moving... he never stopped. Never. It's so funny that his personality in my tummy is exactly what his personality is out of my tummy. From the minute he was born, he was a mover. He rolled over early, and once he learned to roll over, he was never happy just lying on his back. Once he learned how to kick Mommy in the ribs, he never stopped kicking me in the ribs :) He doesn't like to lay still for diaper changes, and in my tummy he didn't like to sit still to let me just breathe a little. I carried Jaden high, and I carried Brandon high. Even before I got big, I had trouble breathing because he was pressed into my lungs right away. And after not having much back pain with Jaden at all, I had serious back pain with Brandon. Sitting at my desk every day became a major major struggle. No matter what I did - I could not get comfortable. And -- just like with Jaden, I got very big with Brandon. I remember Jaden coming up to me at one point and telling me I had a big ball in my tummy. Cody called me his little bowling pin. Gotta love the men in my life ;) I remember when we found out Brandon was a boy. The ultrasound tech was getting ready to tell us, but Cody and I both knew before she even said anything. It was that obvious when the picture came up on the monitor. ;)

The final month of the pregnancy was long. At 36 weeks when they expect the baby to be in the head-down position, Brandon decided he wanted to be a stinker. :) I remember my 36 week appointment, the doctor seemed a little concerned and had us go into the ultrasound room for an unscheduled peak at Baby. She then told us he was not head down, and that it would be dangerous to my placenta for her to try and turn him. She hoped he would turn on his own and that if he hadn't by the following week, we would schedule a c-section. A week later - he was head down, and we were prepared for what was supposed to be a normal delivery. Just like with Jaden I had almost zero contractions leading up to my due date. So the week before d-day my doctor decided to schedule me to be induced. This was after seeing on the ultrasound what she believed was going to be a baby of at least nine pounds. Her fear was that if we waited for it to happen naturally, he would be too big for me to get him out of me naturally. I was fine and excited with being induced. I was just ready to meet our little guy! Who at the time... was still without a name. ;)

*This picture was the morning we left for the hospital!*
I remember leaving our house the morning of Brandon's birth and saying goodbye to Jaden. I started crying... realizing it would be my very last moments with Jaden - just one-on-one - me and him - before there was another little person in our lives. We got to the hospital around 7:00 a.m., and they hooked me up to monitors, etc. I was not having any contractions and they wanted to wait for the doctor to get there before they started the medicine that would induce labor... so we hung out in the hospital room for almost two hours without any action at all. A little before 9:00 a.m. Dr. Moussa came in to check me. We were pleased to hear that I was 3 cm dilated. No - that's not a lot - but considering the week before I wasn't really dilated at all... 3 cm sounded okay to me. She then went to break my water, and that's when things got crazy. After breaking my water, she couldn't feel baby's head - but felt what she thought to be his shoulder. So they did an ultrasound and then told me that he had turned sideways again. She spent just a quick minute or two contemplating trying to physically turn him with her hand... but Brandon's heart rate went up really high really quickly so she determined almost immediately that it would be safer for me and for Brandon to do the c-section right away. At that point my water had been broken, and I was starting to experience very intense back contractions. My back labor was right in the spot that my back had hurt throughout the entire pregnancy. And they were much more intense than anything I had felt with Jaden. I remember a lot of nurses and doctors coming in and out of my room prepping me for surgery, and I was pretty frightened. I do not handle blood well - I am very squeemish - and the thought of being awake for my own surgery scared me quite a bit. They wheeled me into the surgery room, and made Cody wait outside while they tried to get the epidural into me. This didn't go well. I had to sit on the edge of the table hunched over with my back and neck rounded - during intense back labor - and after sticking me the first time, he wasn't able to get the needle in right. I actually was able to start feeling the needle going into my spin. After me saying a very quick, "Ouch!!" -- the doctor pulled the needle out and said he would have to start over. Great. (Why they wouldn't let Cody be with me at this point, I still don't understand!) Once he finally got the needle and the medicine in, I felt instant relief and they laid me down on the table. They were putting the curtain up over me so I wouldn't see anything, and at this point I said, "Where's my husband??" I don't know why this was such a funny question to them - maybe it was the way I said it or the tone in my voice -- but the nurses all laughed and one of them said, "Well, that's a very good question. Don't worry - we're getting him for you." Cody came in at that point and sat down by my head. I remember the anesthesiologist saying to me, "Nicole, you need to breathe. The baby needs you to keep breathing." Out of nerves, I must have been holding my breath without realizing it! So he put little tubes in my nose to assist with my breathing. Then... Dr. Moussa said to me, "Nicole, I'm going to pinch your tummy very very hard. Let me know if feel anything." I remember thinking -- "you're going to PINCH me and that is how you're going to test whether or not I'll feel you slicing me open??!" (I really really was not happy to be on a surgical table). ;) But I told her I couldn't feel it and next think I heard was, "okay... scalpel please!" And that was it. There I was lying awake - breathing tubes in my nose - tummy being cut open - medical students staring at me - with a nurse walking around with my personal camera taking pictures of everything. Not exactly the peaceful birth process you dream about. ;)

On top of everything going on, Brandon's birth day was the day that the verdict was supposed to be decided on for the young man that killed Coach Thomas. Cody and I had discussed it and had told our family that no matter what the decision was -- we didn't want to be told anything and we didn't want it to be talked about -- until after Brandon was born. Because of Cody's personal relationship with both Coach T and with the person who shot him -- we just didn't want to be dealing with those emotions on that day. Well... we didn't think to warn our anesthesiologist not to talk about it. While I'm lying there having a baby, he was sitting by my bed on his blackberry. When the verdict was announced, he saw it on his phone and blurted it out right in the middle of the c-section. I immediately and as loudly as I could in the condition and position I was in said something to the effect of -- "This is a personal issue for our family. Cody is close with the victim and the accuser." I never said, "don't talk about it" -- but from the tone in my voice, I think the entire group of doctors and nurses got the hint because everyone immediately shut up on the topic!

Little Brandon decided to be a stinker even during the surgery. Even with the c-section, Dr. Moussa struggled to pull him out of my tummy! We found out after he was born and while I was recovering that it was a really good thing she decided to do the c-section because if I had tried to push -- it could have been very dangerous for both of us. It turns out, Brandon had turned himself even more sideways in the few minutes between the ultrasound and when I got into the operating room. That little boy just didn't want to stop moving! I think he was just super excited to meet his mommy. ;) I remember hearing his first cry at 10:29 a.m., and I remember the nurses and doctor saying - "that is a big baby!" This is what we were expecting - a big baby. Especially since I had been so uncomfortable throughout the pregnancy. When they told me he was only 7 lbs. 11.3 oz., I laughed. He was smaller than Jaden! And much smaller than what Dr. Moussa was expecting him to be. It turns out that they estimate birth weight by head size in the womb... and his head had measured really big in my womb. Well -- his body was and remains in the 25th percentile for size but his head was and remains in the 75th percentile. So -- he's just going to be super smart with a really nice sized brain. ;)

After he was finally out of my tummy, I remember thinking that it took FOREVER for her to stitch me up so that I could hold my little guy. After going back and forth and not being able to agree on names throughout my entire pregnancy, we had it narrowed down to two names by the day he was born - Jordan - and Brandon. We decided that were going to name him after we saw him. Cody held him by my head, and the nurse asked for his name. I really thought up until seeing him that I was going to pick Jordan. As soon as I saw him - I blurted out - "Brandon." (This is the one Cody was really pulling for). It's true what they say -- once you see them -- you just know. :) And I knew he was a Brandon! His full name is Brandon Louis -- (Louis is my dad's middle name).

And that is how our little sweet guy was brought into this crazy world. From the moment we arrived at the hospital - to the moment he was born - was three hours and 29 minutes. A much shorter delivery day than Jaden's was -- but a much much more intense few hours, too!

And we love him dearly. He couldn't be cuter, he couldn't be sweeter, and he completes our little family perfectly. He is growing up before our eyes -- he tries to walk and the only reason he doesn't walk farther than he does is because he gets himself so excited that he collapses after a few steps. He points at everything now. He loves having us carry him around while he points at whatever he wants to see and touch. He is nowhere near the eater that Jaden was, and he's much pickier. He challenges me at every meal. But he loves bananas. Loves them. And he loves little fruit and cereal bars. He tried milk for the first time last night. He loves climbing steps and standing on his step stool looking out our front window. He points to things outside until I tell him what they are. He adores his big brother. He wants to be near him all of the time. He LOVES baths. Even when he's sick or teething -- he finds complete joy and happiness in the water. He tries to dunk his head under water all of the time. His interests are so different than Jaden's were at this point. He actually tries to play with toys instead of just balls. Jaden was a mommy's boy. Brandon is definitely a daddy's boy. He loves me and there are times where he wants me and no one else. But when Cody comes home at the end of the day, and Brandon hears the door open and Cody's big foot steps -- he immediately stops whatever he's doing, and crawls as fast as he can to Cody's feet. He greets Cody with big hugs and cuddles, and it melts my heart to watch it. When he's finished with this round of teething, he will have 13 teeth already. He says "ma ma" -- but only when he really really wants something. And he says "uh oh."  

Brandon -- we love you so very much!!! Happy first birthday!!!