My due date had once again come and gone. All throughout Declan’s pregnancy my due date had fluctuated somewhere around 4th of July weekend. Somehow in my head I had decided that this baby wanted to come on the 4th of July, and have a parade and fireworks in his honor every year. Baby Kodanko, however, had other plans. So as the holiday weekend came and went without any baby activity, I got a little discouraged.
On Monday, my girlfriend offered to take Javi and Keilana for the night so that I could have a relaxing evening and night. I hesitated briefly, only because I get very anxious around the time I deliver and I wanted my kids close by. In the end though, the practicality of getting some rest and potentially a good night’s sleep won out over any anxiety I might have. So I drove the kids to Erin’s and headed back home to chill with Lover. We enjoyed a quiet evening and went to bed early.
Around 1am, I woke up from a sound sleep with an absolutely crippling contraction. It was so intense (and unexpected!) that when it finished I just lay there shaking for a minute, trying to collect myself. I layed in bed for the next hour or so, wide awake, and contractions came with some regularity. They weren’t anywhere near as painful as that first one though, so I was able to relax a bit and let Lover sleep. After about an hour and a half, the contractions were still regular and severe enough that I couldn’t sleep through them.
With this pregnancy I had tested positive for group B strep for the first time, and my midwife was very insistent that I be at the hospital as early in the process as possible so they would have time to administer the rounds of necessary antibiotics. So around 2:30am I woke Lover up and told him we needed to head into the hospital.
Driving through the sleepy streets of Denver was a fun experience. My hospital was about 20 minutes away, and the car ride was decently comfortable. We had to enter through the emergency entrance since everything else was closed. Lover offered to drop me off, but I emphatically declined. We walked into a quiet ER and the nurse kindly asked us what we needed. “Um, we need to have a baby?” They instructed us to follow the green line marked on the floor which would take us to the labor and delivery floor.
So we began our journey through the belly of the sleepy hospital. After what seemed like the longest walk ever, we arrived at the elevator, only to discover that this particular elevator was out of service! We backtracked until we found one that was in service, and finally made our way up to the fifth floor.
Once there, the nurses asked me why I was there. I will never understand why, when faced with an enormously pregnant woman in a hospital setting, people ask what the purpose of your visit it. I don’t know, maybe to HAVE A BABY??!?! *exhale*
Anyways, they took me into a room, hooked me up to those annoying monitor thingies, and left me there for a while. I tried to sleep for a bit while they tracked down a doctor to come check me. They probably had to wake her up, which was a bummer for her. She finally came in, checked me and then they got a hold of my midwife (also waking her up). Because I wasn’t far along and was still easing through the contractions,they gave me the choice to either go home, or spend an hour walking the halls to try to get things to advance more. I chose to walk. In retrospect, I wish I had gone home and gone back to bed! But I remembered how awful the car ride had been once I was further along in labor, and I dreaded dealing with that again. So we stayed. I was also still nervous about the antibiotics, so I wanted to be there to have them administered as soon as possible.
So we spent an hour walking big loops around the fifth floor. Most of the floor was quiet and dimly lit, and we held hands and talked a little bit and timed the contractions. Whenever I was able to walk throughout the contraction it intensified quite a bit, and the next one would be quite a bit stronger. But if I stopped to rest during the contractions then they stayed quite manageable. We walked those halls until I was sick of seeing them, making loops through the waiting room where oddly the Simpsons were playing on one of the TVs. At this point I was really uncomfortable, so I laid down on the floor and did some stretches to the annoying sounds of the Simpsons. Finally our hour was up, so we headed back to the room and settled back into bed. I gave the nurses the chocolate chip cookies I had baked the week before. In retrospect, they didn’t seem overjoyed to get them, and I really needed them later! But we’ll get to that.
They put those dumb monitors back on me (can you tell my actual feelings about the monitors?) and checked the baby. Everything was fine, but other than those regular, only slightly uncomfortable contractions, nothing had changed. So I tried to rest for a bit, and the next hour or so passed quietly. The hospital had wifi, so we streamed an Andrea Bocelli channel on Pandora and Luke got a little more sleep.
When they came in again to check on me, I asked about the antibiotics. They assured me they were on it, and not to worry about it. The contractions had started to get a bit painful and I was too tired to walk anymore, so the nurse suggested I just get in the shower and let the warm water relax me a bit. This helped quite a bit, but I remember just feeling so numb from exhaustion at that point. I was already out of pain coping mechanisms. I started to get really afraid of the pain I knew was coming, and I just didn’t feel up to the task mentally of dealing with it.
Throughout this whole labor I just felt an impatient anticipation. I wanted to just get through the annoying labor stuff, and get my baby! I didn’t want to wait around for hours, I didn’t want to have to work to keep things moving, I just wanted my healthy baby, in my arms, right then. Unfortunately for me, that’s just not how labor works! Babies won’t be rushed.
After the shower I rested for a while longer and then things started to move along. They started my first course of antibiotics, and it was nearly morning, so my midwife was headed in. I was immensely relieved to hear this, selfishly, all night I had just wanted her to come in and be there for me. So once Mary actually walked in the door, I felt so much more relaxed. She did her own examination, and asked how I was feeling. I was still managing the contractions okay, but I was just so stinking tired.
I wish I could remember the next batch of time, but it’s all just a blur. I think that’s when my contractions intensified, but it’s all pretty much a blank. I used all my coping mechanisms from the previous births, but I just felt exhausted and beat down. So when Mary came in to talk to me about pain management, I chose the epidural. It wasn’t really what I wanted, but I wasn’t brave enough to face the rest of the labor without drugs. So they put in the request for the epidural, and that was that.
With my previous two labors I was totally comfortable with my decision to get an epidural. But with this birth I wasn’t 100% sure about it, and that definitely affected me. This anesthesiologist had me sit in a position that was incredibly uncomfortable, and I just remember being overwhelmingly afraid throughout the entire process. When I sat up when they were finally done, I looked at the clock, and the hands on the clock spun round and round like I was in a fun house. It was the weirdest thing. The epidural took effect though and the pain of the contractions eased, so I was able to relax a bit. I was worried about it affecting the pace of my labor though, since things had been so weird up to that point. My contractions had never settled into a regular rhythm, and I was concerned that the epidural would further upset that. And in fact, after about half an hour, the contractions started tapering off and things started coming to a halt.
My nurse had a great suggestion though. Since I couldn’t get up and move around to get things moving again, she brought in a huge yellow foam peanut. I laid on my side and held the peanut between my knees. This adjusted my position enough that the baby kept moving and things kept progressing. We switched sides after a while and things kept moving along well.
Finally it was time to push. Apparently my boy children prefer to be sunny side up. This was annoying because my midwife had checked him at my last appointment and he was in the perfect position. I had actually told her before she examined me, here’s his head, here’s his butt, he’s in the perfect position! And somewhere in those next couple of days he decided to be a Spiderman baby instead. If you know how babies are supposed to be born, then you know that turning upside down makes it incredibly difficult (and painful!) to get them out. So that was fun. We had to try several different positions and none of them were without pain. I remember thinking that if I just wasn’t so exhausted, I would have the strength to get that baby out! But eventually we found the right position, I found some hidden reserve of strength and we got that little babe out.
I was immediately gripped with this overwhelming desire to hold my little baby. They checked him over quickly and wiped him down a little bit, and I had to restrain myself from just leaning down and grabbing him. I wanted to see him and hold him and kiss him! They finally (maybe 2 min later) put him up on my chest, and I just remember this flood of relief and happiness. It; the pregnancy, the delivery, all of it, was finally over, and he was here!
Declan Oliver Kodanko was born at 1:35PM. He weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and measured 20.5 inches. Our smallest baby! He was an incredibly calm and chill newborn. He was super happy to just snuggle with us and go right to sleep, waking occasionally for a quick snack.
As soon as I had finished delivery and everything was copacetic, I was STARVING. Like, ravenously hungry. I wanted to eat an entire Thanksgiving dinner. The hospital I delivered at had different departments for labor & delivery, and the recovery afterwards. So I asked the nurse how long it would be until I was transferred and could order a meal. She assured me that it would “not be long.” She was a dirty liar. She also told me I could help myself to the snacks in the fridge. These, however, were labor approved snacks, which meant crackers and Jell-O. That was not going to cut it. It was right around this time that I was seriously regretting giving away those cookies!
Finally, FINALLY, they transferred me to my permanent room. I quickly perused the meal menu, but I also noticed a takeout menu for Jimmy Johns. I decided this would be the perfect time to test out their promise of “quick delivery” and placed an order for a big sandwich. They were literally there 7 minutes later. It was awesome. I devoured the sandwich and then ordered a full meal from the hospital kitchen.
We spent the afternoon dozing and cuddling Declan. We had an awesome nurse named Denae that did her very best to make sure we were undisturbed so we could rest. Once her shift ended though, it was open season. It seemed like there was someone in the room every half hour. The pediatrician, the social security person, a masseuse, a photographer, people offering snacks… we discovered later, after our awesome nurse had returned, that there is a sign you can put on your door to prevent this free for all. We made note in case we ever needed that information for the future.
That next morning we called Erin and asked her to bring the kids down. They came a little later, with big eyes and big smiles, so excited to meet their little brother. They were a little shy, but were happy to hold him and talk to him, and also to get to see Mommy. After the kids left we started pushing to get released. It’s impossible to rest in a hospital, and we were ready to be home. The hospital was very against this, but finally relented with the condition that we would visit the pediatrician the next day to check Declan’s jaundice. And so we were out!
Our first week at home was quiet and relaxing for the most part. Of course having a newborn is always impossible, but it felt like Declan had just always been a part of the family. The big kids adjusted well and loved their new little Be’Decwan.
A little over a year later, we couldn’t imagine life without our silly, funny, easy going little Declan man. We are so happy to have him in our family!