FJM: Part 3- She's Here
On the Morning of Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, we heard the sounds of our parents cooking breakfast, making coffee, trying to stay quiet as to not wake us. What they didn’t realize is that we had been up for hours. Every hour since 5am, we were calling the hospital to see if they could get me in yet or if it was a good time to try to come in early before our 11am scheduled induction. At about 8, I decided to emerge from the bedroom, but the second I sat down on the couch, the tears started. I just couldn’t believe it was 12 hours after I thought this whole nightmare was going to start to play itself out, but we still had not yet begun the process of meeting our baby girl. I remember talking with Katy Ursta via text and just telling her how scared I was and she encouraged me to find some time alone to pray. She though God might tell me why I had to wait, but I needed some alone time. I locked myself in our bathroom and in the shower, I asked God “Why? Why am I still waiting?” & just as quickly as I asked, I felt the answer… The staff. I needed the right staff. That answer was good enough for me and I trusted that I was going to have the best care because I was patient.
The rest of the morning is pretty much a blur. We went to the hospital, Dave & I in one car and our parents in another. We valeted and made our way back up to the labor & delivery department to try again.
As we were walking into triage, I saw David, the father from the night before. He was on the phone, so I just smiled at him, but I was curious to know if they had their son overnight? How was everything? How was his dad? Thinking of this family going through so much kept my mind occupied elsewhere. Once again, when I was bout to break down, this family’s story kept me centered.
This time, we didn’t even wait a minute after entering triage. They sat me down, got me checked in, and within minutes, Katie, our nurse, came out to walk us back to our room. She had long blonde hair and a sweet, soft, voice. The walk down the hallway to our room seemed like I was walking the green mile. I was shaking, I was holding back tears, and the second she closed the door to our room, I completely melted down. Katie reassured me that this was a good sign. I needed myself to feel how I was feeling & she promised me that this would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do. I asked her if she could give me some sort of anxiety medicine to help numb the emotions & she sweetly asked, “I can, but I would like to try to calm you down myself first, if that is okay?”
She did. Within an hour, I was more calm. More present. She took my vitals. She inserted my IV. She took a lot of blood that would be sent for lots of genetic screens and lab work before my induction process could even begin. But, the whole time, she talked to me. She talked to me about my sweet baby girl, my pregnancy journey, how I was feeling. She called Francesca by her name. She asked me about my faith and continued to encourage me and empower me to pray. She brought me books about birthing a still born, what to expect now and in the future. Each time she would come back into the room, she would ask me if I had read my books yet or scold me and tell me to read if she saw me trying to distract myself with my phone or the TV. She kept reminding me how important this time was to mentally prepare and stay calm. How much my baby girl needed me to stay calm so she could meet us. At one point, she even came in the room to tell me she just “found” this poem laying around and thought I might like it.
Soon after Katie began checking my vitals and the blood work process, a midwife named Nate (yes, male, I really wanted to call him a mid husband) came to introduce himself along with his student. He sat down in a chair beside my bed and asked me to tell him about my pregnancy thus far. I told him about Dave moving to FL first, how my whole first trimester he missed, how excited we were because we had tried for 2 years. I kept looking over at my husband and he just kept nodding his head, encouraging me to tell our story. I told him how everything was perfect the whole time and just two days prior, it all changed. Nate decided to do an ultrasound to see how Frankie was positioned so we would sort of know what we were dealing with & I remember just staring at his face. How badly I just wanted him to say, “WE’VE MADE A MISTAKE, SHE’S GOOD! YOU CAN WAKE UP FROM THIS NIGHTMARE NOW!” He didn't ever say those words.
Nate listened and talked me through the induction process & explained since this was going to be the first time I birthed a child, it would most likely take a whole 2 days for Francesca to be born. Nate had really sweet eyes that were a really bright blue/green color. If you have ever seen or read the book Heaven is for Real, his eyes were how the little boy describes the eyes of Jesus. This thought got me through, as well. He had kind eyes and I knew he cared.
Nate asked me how I felt about certain procedures that could tell us more potentially about why Francesca didn’t make it. He explained if we didn’t see something visible upon her delivery, we may never know why she didn’t make it to term if I didn’t agree to some testing beforehand. I agreed that they could do all the blood work in the world on me, they could have the placenta and chord, but they couldn’t touch my baby. I declined an autopsy on her and an amniocentesis on me because I couldn’t wrap my mind around yet another huge needle for yet another “What if”, especially since they told me there are other ways to possibly get the same information, it just might not be as accurate. There were so many “maybe’s” being thrown around & all I could really focus on was the task at hand. Get my baby girl out. I think it is so important at this point to state that before I made any decisions, I know Nate could see the mass confusion and fear on my face. He made it a point to always allow me to discuss anything I was unsure about with Dave and a chaplain at length. The amount of spiritual empowerment that this staff gave me is really remarkable looking back & I will forever be grateful for how far they went to make sure I was comfortable with every decision made the whole time.
At 1pm, my first round of induction medicine was administered and we started the waiting game. I was told that a side effect of the medicine was cramping and contractions, but I felt nothing for the first about 5 hours. We spent this time reading the materials Katie gave us, Dave watched football, and I think he ran to fill up my water cup about 65 times in that first 5 hours.
At one point, when Katie was in the room, I thanked her for taking such good care of me. I wanted her to know that this was the worst situation I had ever been in and probably would ever experience in my life, but that all things considered, she was making me very at ease and comfortable. She responded by saying, “I hate to even say this, but we do this everyday”. I wanted to talk more about that exactly, so I told her I had been wanting to ask how often this happens, but I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to know the answer. She told me that they only are typically given one case like ours every three months. She said she used to break down and cry, she still does, but she sees how much hope and strength she can give families, so she focuses on that. She knew her time was coming for one soon, so she wasn’t surprised to see me on her schedule that day. I responded by saying “I’m glad we got you. While I never want anyone to have to go through this, I’m glad we got you.” She smiled sweetly at me, thanked me, and continued on to whatever she was doing in silence, but then spoke up again. She said, “Even though I see a lot of these situations, I want you to know that you will make it. You have the best situation possible. You have a husband that loves you and your baby so much & you have faith. I know we’ll see you again one day and the situation will be different”.
Once again, I had that twinkle that this pain wouldn’t be forever. Frankie might be a big sister angel someday & what really gave me hope was that…. Frankie already knows her brothers or sisters if they’re out there. She’s already holding them and keeping them safe, we just might not have been able to meet them yet. While we don't at all know what the future has in store for us as far as children go, it is pretty amazing to know that if it is in the cards for us, they already are together.
Once I received my first dose of medicine, our families came in to say hello. They stayed for about an hour, but since we were told this process would take up to two days and most likely on the longer side for us, I encouraged them to go home and we would call them in the morning (so we thought).
Around 6pm, Nate and his student and Katie came in to check to see where we were at as far as progress goes. At that point, I was only 1cm, so they gave me my second dose of medicine and said they would be doing a shift change at 7pm, so they’d stop in and say goodbye and introduce me to my next nurse & midwife, who was actually Liz, so I was relieved to know it would be someone I knew and had been through the worst of this already with us, as well. However, by 6:30, I was making Dave go find Nate because the pain I was experiencing was getting rather intense & I wanted to talk about pain medication options ASAP. He came in and told me I was contracting (let’s not forget I am CLUELESS to all things childbirth) and explained my options. I thought I could try to start out with IV pain relievers, so we went that route first, but that didn’t last very long. I think everyone did a shift change, but due to the medication & pain, I was a little out of it when that all happened. By 8pm, I was in so much pain, Liz came in and recommended the epidural. “There’s no need for all this physical pain, Taylor. You’re going through enough emotionally”. I agreed and THANK GOD I did, because the next few hours would lead to us meeting our baby girl and if we would have waited, I would have had to endure even more pain than necessary.
Once the epidural took effect, I was able to rest. From about 9 to 10:30, I was finally relaxed and able to hold a conversation with Dave and decided I was going to try to get some sleep as soon as my next round of induction medication happened. Around 10:30, when it was time for them to check how dilated I was, Liz said words that flipped the whole room upside down. I was a full 10cm dilated and Francesca was coming. It was never going to be necessary for me to dilate that far in the first place, so everyone seemed shocked & started moving about the room rather quickly and getting everything ready.
Dave called our parents. He told them she would most likely be here within the hour, so they could head to the hospital when they were ready.
I was calm. There was so much peace within me about what was about to happen. I was going to get to see her, I wasn’t scared, we had a plan in place. I was finally going to get to see her face, call her by her name, and hold my baby girl.
At 10:52, with Dave holding my hand, our sweet Francesca Joy was born sleeping. 2.1lbs, 15 inches long. They wrapped her in a blanket and handed her to me to hold. For a whole hour, we held her we studied her features. Her head full of black hair, her little nose that was just like mine, luckily she didn’t get her Dad’s ;) Her feet and toes, her hands and fingers, she was absolutely perfect and she is ours. I can’t explain the peace that overcame us. There were tears, but not tears of sadness or anger, they were tears of pride. We have a daughter and she was too beautiful for this world. We are parents to an angel.
Jessica and Liz were stayed so calm. They talked with us quietly, they talked about how beautiful Frankie is, they giggled at her head of hair and promised to try to get a lock of it for her memory box. They looked at her lovingly, they studied her, and they called her beautiful. Since this experience a week ago, I have read other blogs and other experiences of other Mom's. I can't say that they all are as anguish free as ours. A lot of them speak of the pain and the noise and the anguish they felt. I don't know why ours was different, I was expecting it to feel that way for us, too... but, it was quiet. We were calm. The room was full of love.
During that time, shortly after, Liz asked Dave to come look at something. It was the chord. What happened to our baby girl is called a “chord accident”. There was a clear knot, twisted over and over again that cut off her ability to get oxygen and nutrients from the placenta. As she explained this to us, I asked if I would have come in when I first felt uneasy or if there was anything that could have stopped this from happening or warned us? She said no. Nothing could have shown them this & none of it was our fault. While I know this and I replay this over and over, I’m sure I will always wrestle with it. But, we prayed for a visible answer and we were given one, so I am grateful.
Jessica, our new nurse, took Frankie to dress her and clean her up & take pictures, footprints, and create her memory box for us and I told Dave to go get our parents for them to come see her. They came in and they visited and sleep was starting to set in, so they said they would come back in the morning when we were ready.
As Dave walked them out of the room, it was the first time I was left alone with our angel. I was exhausted & emotions of panic started to set in. I was trying to come up with a plan to escape with Frankie… maybe out the window?
But, yet again, God showed up.
A dear friend to me & Emily's childhood friend, Katie Isaac has been like family to me for the past 2 years. When we found out we were moving to FL, we were so happy we would be close to the Isaac's for support, but we never realized how much support was actually in store. Katie talked me through some early pregnancy stress and overwhelm like every first time Mom experiences and helped me find USF Women's Health as a perfect fit for my care.
As quickly as those thoughts entered my mind, I heard a commotion in the hallway and quickly recognized the voice of Jonathan Isaac & yelled from my bed "IS KATIE IN LABOR?!"
She was. Their baby was on the way & I felt an overwhelming sense of excitement and joy & asked my nurses to keep me up to date on her as much as they could. I couldn't wait to hear about their new child and I was so excited she was just a few doors down from me.
A baby was on the way & Frankie’s soul was present, I could feel it. I prayed for a safe delivery for Katie & Jon, I kissed our sweet angels fingers, and with her laying in her bassinet beside me, I was able to sleep for a little while. The peace never left us that night and I am forever grateful.
We would have a few hours with her alone, but soon, Jessica would come wake us up to move us to the postpartum floor……