Monday, October 12, 2009

The Experience of a Lifetime

I have been so terribly remiss in my blogging. Not that I have nothing to write about, but my life has been such a whirlwind, my emotions all over the board, that it's been impossible to focus on a subject. I have settled for snippets posted on facebook. Little bits here and there to relieve the pressure cooker of my mind and soul.

Recently I experienced the most wonderful event of my life, and it deserves to be posted and acknowledged on it's own. This event was the birth of my first grandchild.

I will never forget how stunned I was when my daughter announced she was pregnant. It was unplanned, an "accident" if you will - although I believe true accidents of pregnancy are extremely rare. There was no question that she was going to proceed to motherhood, and I committed to supporting my daughter in this new phase of her life.

Over the next eight months, I watched her grow - I shared her fears and concerns, answered her questions as best I could, and attended some doctor appointments and birthing classes with her. I was there when the ultrasound definitively showed that she was having a son.

On September 24th about five weeks before her due date, we spent the evening with my dear friend Holly, a professional photographer, who took her pregnancy intimacy photos. To say the pictures were stunning is an understatement. Kayte is by all accounts a lovely young woman, but to see her in this way, and the absolute beauty of her eight months pregnant body, with the accompanying glow (yes, they really DO glow!) was amazing! I would share pictures here, but it isn't my place, and some will be posted soon on her photographer's website:

The next morning Kayte called me - she was having severe heartburn and cramping, but didn't feel it was labor - besides, she had almost five weeks to go, right? She wanted me to bring her some soup, I told her I would do so, but she was to be packed for me to take her to the hospital for a checkup. She already was dilated to over a centimeter, and I wasn't taking any chances. We arrived at St. Luke's and she was hooked up to monitors. The monitors showed the baby's heartbeat was fine, there were some contractions, but she wasn't dilating, so she was given IV fluids. Shortly thereafter she began vomiting. Still no dilation, only heartburn and all over cramping, so the doctor decided he wanted her kept overnight for observation. God bless her doctor, he told her honestly that he had no idea why she was feeling the way she was, so he preferred to keep her in a safe place. She was given their entire repertoire of anti-nausea and heartburn medications, even a numbing agent for her stomach - finally the nausea and heartburn were under control and she could rest.

During the evening and night there were three incidents where the baby's heartrate dropped and the only way to get it back up was to put Kayte on her hands and knees with an oxygen mask. I was blown away at the response of the St. Luke's nurses! Within 15 seconds of a heartrate drop, three nurses would be rushing through the door to respond to the emergency! Each time it happened, they called her doctor to keep him informed.

The next morning the doctor advised her he wanted an amniocentesis and if the baby's lungs were developed he wanted to induce labor. Either way, he said, chances of her going home without having given birth were very slim. At 10:30 AM on September 26th she had amniotic fluid drawn and at 11:30 AM the results showed the lungs were developed. I contacted the baby's father to let him know what was going on and he arrived shortly thereafter.

The baby's father... the most difficult part of the equation. He screwed up. He couldn't decide if he wanted to be "with" her, but wanted to be part of the baby's life. I chalked some up to immaturity, but even more to weakness of character. I knew Kayte's burning desire for an intact family, so I supported her as best I could. I knew that soon, very soon, would be the time for a frank discussion between him and me, but at this time, he needed to be there, and in her heart, she wanted him there.

11:50 AM, Dr. Weyrich arrived to break Kayte's water and start her labor. He told us he would be going home once her labor started, and would be signing off duty at 6 pm that night to spend the evening with his wife. If the baby was born before then, he'd be back to deliver, if not, the resident obstetrician would, but either way, she was in good hands. He also advised her that if the baby's heartrate did one more prolonged drop, she would be undergoing an emergency C-Section.

After about three hours of heavy, Pitocin assisted contractions, Kayte decided she was ready for an epidural. Throughout her labor she hadn't screamed, hadn't yelled, had remained relatively calm, and at her last cervical check was at 3 1/2 centimeters, so the nurse didn't see the necessity of checking to be sure it wasn't too late for the epidural. Typically they don't give one after 6 cm dilation because it can slow down labor, but none of us thought she was even remotely close to that. So she got her epidural. After it was in place, she was checked and to all our surprise, EIGHT CENTIMETERS!!! We were all stunned! She had blown through over four centimeters of dilation with relative calm! She even commented that she was afraid she was getting her epidural too early and being wimpy!

Half an hour later she commented she felt some pressure in her bottom, Becky, her nurse checked her again and it was time to push already! Baby's heartrate, so far, so good - one or two minor drops, but for no more than a few seconds. So, daddy at one leg, me at the other, and we were ready to go. The plan was to push with the nurse's guidance until the baby's head was showing, then call the doctor to come for the end. So she pushed, and I counted, and we encouraged, and she pushed harder... and after about half an hour it was time to call Dr. Weyrich. He arrived at about 5:20, and...

At 5:38 PM, weighing a respectable 5 lb 7 oz and at 18 1/2 inches long, Kyler Lee Trilby entered the world! Daddy cut the cord to make him his own, separate person.

He was immediately whisked to the waiting table for the neonatal team to work on him. They pounded, they suctioned, they stuck little tubes down his nose... he mewled, he grunted, and finally... he cried.

After about 20 minutes of working on him, they finally put little Kyler in his mommy's arms.
Well done, mommy...

I'm not sure who felt more emotional. Kayte for the experience she went through, or me, watching my beautiful daughter take this final step to true motherhood.

I shared the physical part of the experience, but the emotional experience was so much more intense.

Over the past eight months I watched my daughter go through nearly every emotional and physical experience a woman can go through. At times I felt helpless because I couldn't make her world right, but most of all I felt pride. Kayte was taking a difficult, emotionally charged time in her life, and handling it with grace and strength. Her focus stayed on doing all she could to ensure her son the healthiest start in life she could give him, regardless of where her life was going.

Seeing her push my grandson into the world was yes, the experience of a lifetime. I cried, I laughed, I felt so much joy I thought my heart would literally burst from it. I fell instantly in love...

Being the grandmother is so different from being the mother. Your heart hurts seeing your child in pain, you remember everything you went through, you want to lie there and take the pain away from her. Most of all, there is pride. Pride in your daughter's strength, pride in her womanhood. No longer is she just my child, she is now a woman in her own right, and my equal.

And daddy? Well, he fell in love too, with the little boy who looks just like him. He was supportive and caring during Kayte's hospital stay, but the story didn't end there. That frank discussion? It happened. I talked to that young man more harshly and strongly than I have ever talked to anyone in my life. Honestly, he showed his true character during that discussion - he listened, he absorbed, and he shared. He demonstrated that he is committing to his family. Am I convinced it will all work out? Well, it could... it might... and if it doesn't, I don't think it will be for lack of trying. Whatever happens, good or bad, my job is to support, not to judge. I will love and support them as long as they are together. They know I will always be upfront and honest, but will not make life difficult on them by holding grudges, being judgmental, or causing conflict. No one is perfect, all make mistakes, and the true test of character is how you move on and learn from those mistakes.

I am blessed to be a part of this lovely family and a supporter on their journey.

And that, my friends... is the experience of a lifetime.

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