Thursday, March 28, 2013

Meeting Lincoln

It's been almost a week since we got to meet Lincoln. We've mostly been busy getting to know our little guy and showing him off to visitors. He also had his first outings - to his doctor and to the breastfeeding clinic. In the future I'll have more to post about his little personality and what he's up to. For now, pictures of the grandparents and uncles meeting Lincoln...

{Lincoln's personal paparazzi}

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lincoln Jesse Kohlman: Birth Story

I am starting to write this post on Monday morning. It might take a while. While my entire pregnancy was blissfully uneventful, a fact for which I am eternally grateful, Lincoln's birth was anything but. This is going to be a difficult story to record (I'm already tearing up with this first paragraph), but I think it will start to help me heal emotionally.

Warning: this post is not censored. It includes pretty much everything I can remember, just so you know in advance. 

At 37 weeks, Dr. Fullerton sent me in for a measurement ultrasound. I had been measuring small since about 30 weeks, so we just wanted to check on the due date. Surprisingly, Baby K was measuring in the 89th percentile. This was a concern because, let's face it, my body is not exactly built for child-bearing. These hips are narrow.

We, after a long conversation with the doctor, decided on the 13th that our induction would start the evening of the 21st. We told our parents and siblings and that was about it. We didn't want lots and lots of texts, phone calls, or facebook messages to respond to in the meantime.

While we hoped that I would go into labor on my own before Thursday came, it didn't happen. I didn't make it much past "maybe 1/2 cm and very thin" on my own. 

I had originally thought it would be nice to have time over spring break to relax before Lincoln came. But knowing the date he was going to be born made the week incredibly long. We kept ourselves occupied about the best we could. These bags may have been packed and repacked five or six times.

On Thursday, we checked in around 5 or 5:15. We met our doctor's resident, Dr. Posey (a slightly socially awkward guy), and another med student, as well as our first nurse (nurse shifts run from 7-7, so we had another soon after). They did a quick ultrasound that showed Lincoln was head down, but not facing my back - he was lying on his side, which was the same thing we had seen Wednesday afternoon in the doctor's office. I got external monitors for the baby's heart rate and my contractions. They started me on Cervidil at about 7:00 p.m. I had to lie still for two hours. At about 10 I tried to eat a little salad and fruit, knowing it would be my last meal until after birth. I took some Ambien and slept a little bit that night. Poor Brad was in a recliner next to my bed; he didn't sleep much, if at all.

Friday morning at 6:30 they removed the Cervidil. The resident checked me. I was 0-1 cm, about 50% effaced, andthe baby was at -3 station (still very high). He called my doctor and decided to insert a Foley bulb catheter to see if that would help. Since my cervix was very posterior and closed, he had a little trouble and the laborist on duty, Dr. Young, had to come in. When she checked me, I was 3 cm, 70% effaced, and -2, so she decided we could start pitocin instead of doing the catheter. This was probably around 8 a.m.

At this point, I was still undecided about having an epidural. Dr. Young promised to not come check me again until I had the block, if I decided to get one (the checks were absolutely awful). I had been contracting all night long, fairly regularly, but they were not strong enough to be doing much.

After about an hour on the pictocin, I called my mom and asked if getting an epidural meant I was weak. She assured me that it was just fine, and that if someone had offered her one, she probably would have taken it. So I asked for the epi around 9 a.m. A little while after I called for the epi, a nurse came in to turn up the pitocin. Apparently I gave her a dirty look, because she said, "You know what I'm about to do, don't you?" I begged her not to turn it up until I got the epidural. Thank goodness she agreed.

(Please note: anyone who gives birth without an epidural has my complete and total respect. I am not pro- or anti-epidural; I think it's a personal decision that everyone has to make individually. I'm glad I tried to labor without one, and who knows? Maybe with a different labor I could have or could in the future. I do know that I could not have made it through Friday without one.)

After the epidural, which Brad barely survived, I was able to relax for just a little while. The doctor came in between 10 and 10:30; I was 4 cm, 70% effaced, -2 station.

Then things started to take a little bit of a turn. Baby's heart rate started to decel (drop when I had a contraction). Linda, my day nurse, and Dr. Posey immediately put an oxygen mask on me, turned off the pitocin, and changed my position. Then they explained to us what was going on, showing the heart rate and contractions on the monitor. My immediate thought was that I was going to have a c-section. It was scary to have the doctor and nurse look at the monitor and immediately get to work on me. At this point, there was no talk of anything other than monitoring what was happening with me and the baby. Dr. Posey talked to Dr. Fullerton, my OB, as soon as things calmed down a little. It was reassuring to hear his side of their conversation from the bed and have him relay to us that she wanted to just monitor and be updated frequently. 

I may be making this sound less frightening than it really was. There is no way to really describe what it feels like to be so utterly out of control of your baby's well-being, especially when you are so close to meeting him. I have no idea what was going through Brad's mind at this point, but he was amazingly stable through all of this. 

I stayed on oxygen for about an hour, dozing off. They periodically changed my position to see if it would help. Lincoln's heart rate would stabilize for a while, then do some accelerations (which are good), then start to decel again. The oxygen made me kind of loopy, so I didn't really know what was going on except when Dr. Posey or Dr. Young came in to check on me.

By 11:00, the good news was that my labor was continuing to progress without the pitocin. It wasn't a lot of progress, but I was 5 cm, 90% effaced, and -1 station, all good things. Around noon, I started to feel more pain, especially in my right hip and my back. The anesthesiologist had warned me that there was not much they could do about hip and back pain, since those are more closely related to baby's position than anything. I worked on breathing through the contractions, but it was getting harder and harder. I also started to feel the contraction pain in my abdomen again, so they increased my epidural a bit.

At about 1:00, Dr. Young came in to check me again. She put in an internal monitor instead of the external to check on the strength on my contractions.

Things continued like this - oxygen on and off, changing positions, monitoring the baby - until about 2:30 p.m. I was in a lot of pain at this point. (I told my mom later that I was rating my pain a 7 because I felt like I was going to scream and cry. She kindly explained to me that crying pain is more like a 10.) Brad and Linda tried to help me breathe through each contraction, while waiting to see if the anesthesiologist could do much for me.

Dr. Young came in to check me again around 2:30-2:45. I was the same. At this point, she tried to move the baby so he would be facing my back, instead of lying on his side. He wouldn't budge. She talked to me about how she had been monitoring his heart rate in her office and was honest about her concerns. She told me that she just wasn't sure that he would be able to make it out, no matter how well my labor progressed, how he moved, or what my body did to accommodate him. She told me that she was going to call Dr. Fullerton to come in and was recommending that we do a c-section, though it wasn't necessary to rush me back to the OR immediately.

I think this was when Brad and I both broke down. With the induction, the labor had already not been what we wanted. Just facing major surgery was more than I felt I could handle. He called my mom and his mom to let them know what was going on. I think talking to them calmed him down just a bit. As we waited for Dr. Fullerton, he put on his scrubs and the anesthesiologist came in to put on a full block. Linda was wonderful at helping us calm down. She was so reassuring, as were Dr. Young and even Dr. Posey (he had been taking care of another patient for the past couple hours, so he had just come back in to the picture).

When my doctor walked into the room around 3:00, I started to cry again. I am so grateful that we randomly chose her for my OB. She was amazing throughout the whole pregnancy, but especially at this critical and emotional juncture. Immediately, Dr. Fullerton began to reassure me that this was just what we had to do to get the baby here safely - and keep me safe. She even explained to me how one c-section does not automatically lead to a c-section for every pregnancy. Somehow, she said what I needed to hear. I don't know what part of her reassurances calmed me down, but something did.

She filled out paperwork next to my bed, talking to me the whole time, as my lower body completely numbed. Then I was wheeled back to the operating room. It took a little while to get things set up, but once the sheet was hung above my chest, the c-section started immediately. I was surprised at how much I could feel. I knew that I would feel pressure, but I didn't know that I would feel some pain. It was bearable with the anesthesia, but it's kind of frightening to feel so much pressure and tugging and pain while not knowing exactly what's happening. I was also shaking uncontrollably because of the hormones, which didn't help the feeling of helplessness and lack of control.

Thankfully, Dr. Fullerton, the nurses, and the anesthesiologists were amazingly calm and in control. I had absolutely no doubt that I was in the best possible care at every moment. Brad sat next to my head and held my hand.

I was very unsure of how Brad would do with the surgery. He's not exactly one who deals with medical procedures very well. The doctors and nurses asked questions to keep our minds off what was happening - what was his name, who did we think he would like like, and so on. I'm so grateful that they were able to distract us enough for us to stay calm. Brad even joked that if the baby didn't have red hair Dr. Fullerton needed to put him back in.

At 4:11, when the doctor told him to stand up so he could see his son being born, he did without hesitating. I also got to lift my head and see Lincoln for just a few seconds before they whisked him away to be cleaned and weighed. Brad followed closely behind to start taking pictures.

After what was probably 5 minutes (but seemed like an eternity), I asked Brad to bring the camera back over to me so I could see some pictures while they finished the delivery and sewed me up. Then he got to bring Lincoln over to see me.

I think that every parent knows that meeting your child for the first time is an absolutely indescribable experience. I am so grateful to the doctors and nurses who were able to help us make that happen in the safest way possible, even though it was not the situation I imagined or wanted.

Linda, our labor and delivery nurse. I wish I had gotten pictures with our post-delivery nurses, Audrey and Esther. They were awesome, too. We were getting ready to leave yesterday. Esther came to go through the paperwork with us and apologized for taking a while to get to our discharge, saying, "This weekend has been wild. I have crazy people, stinky people, and normal people. I got the stinky people to shower, but the crazy people are no better, and the normal people are leaving. I don't want you to leave!"

Dr. Fullerton

And that is how Lincoln was born, at least what I remember. I know the whole experience could have been much worse, but I also know it could have been better. I know we did everything we could to deliver Lincoln without surgery, but this is ultimately what happened. I am thankful for the amazing doctors and nurses and the support of our families. I've asked Brad to write down his version of the day, so look for that in a couple of days.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 22, 2013

On March 22, 2007, Brad Kohlman officially asked me to marry him. Six years later (almost to the hour), we welcomed Lincoln Jesse into our family.

8 lb., 7 oz.
20 inches
4:11 p.m. (by unplanned c-section) 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Big 4-0

Well, here we are. 40 weeks. Still waiting.

We are so ready to meet this little one.

It's going to be tough to keep ourselves occupied this week while we wait. So far we've done yard work, installed a new garage keypad, cleaned up the garage, bought a new microwave (although Lowe's gave us the wrong one, so it's sitting in the dining room waiting for them to bring us the right one next week), gone for a long walk, done more laundry than necessary, vacuumed the clean house, watched lots of Law & Order SVU... 

We go back to the doctor tomorrow, so we'll see what the plan is after that.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Two days out...

Just in case you want to ask, the answer can be found if you click here.

I just thought this was funny, so I had to share.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

a prayer

I first learned these words as a sophomore in high school, the first time I started a basketball game.

It had always been a mystery to me, what the five starters did as they huddled on the free throw line after their names were announced. So, during my first game to join, I listened intently as we stood in a circle and draped our arms over each others' shoulders.
Lord, please clear our heads of all distractions and our hearts of burdens we may bear, so we will perform at our very best, knowing you'll always be there. 
I learned these words well. So well that now, even over 11 years later, I don't pause when calling them to mind.

This became my "competition" prayer. For the next two and a half years, before every basketball game, every cross country race, every track meet, these words filled my head. Even after high school, when I competed at Bethel, the words did something to calm my nerves before each race. I wasn't completely anxiety-free; the prayer was always just enough to take the edge off.
And somewhere along the line, the term "perform" in the prayer became one used loosely. Before moving into the mods with a new group of people, before starting a particularly difficult class, before oral exams for BIFL, before job interviews, before licensing exams, before my first day of teaching, these words were a comfort.
Still, it had been a while since I relied on this concise recitation to calm me. This morning, though, I needed the calm. Life, the waiting game that it is for us these days, has been stressful.

And, like always, my nerves didn't disappear completely. The words were just enough to help me slow down, breathe, relax just a little. I know that life will never be completely free of anxiety, especially with my personality. But I'm glad I remembered, right at the time I needed them, these words of assurance.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Once upon a time, I used to post about things that were not baby-related. Times sure do change...

It's been a while since we did much home improvement (minus the nursery preparations, of course), so it was about time we had a minor mishap.

On Saturday I got home from lunch with a friend. Brad came around into the garage from the front door and told me I'd have to go around... the doorknob was broken. It turns out that the spring in the latch (if that makes sense) broke earlier when Brad went out to get the mail, which meant that, even though the doorknob would turn, the door would not open. It was as if it were locked, since the latch wouldn't come out of the door frame. We had to take off the doorknob, then pry the latch out of the door frame piece by piece. I'm sure we looked pretty comical with our screwdrivers and pliers, one of us on each side of the door. 

Eventually we got the whole thing out, made a quick trip to the store, and Brad installed this much-more-attractive-than-the-old-gold-knob thing. Thankfully, new doorknobs (at least this basic variety) are not expensive. It's so shiny and new and kind of makes me want to install new doorknobs everywhere. Kind of. It also makes me really want to paint the door... you can almost see how bad it is.

 Yes, this is the excitement we live with on a daily basis.

I made an apple pie tonight, just because I felt like eating some. That's the nice thing about long, hot, summer days in mom's kitchen... we end up with great stuff like apple pie filling (or jam or corn or applesauce) ready to go on random March Thursdays. I should post the recipe, but I used up all my energy baking the pie.

And, just in case anyone is wondering (hi, Grandma!), Baby K is doing just fine, as of our 38-week appointment yesterday. He's all snuggled in, and my body is not really making progress toward labor... but that's okay for another week or two. At the ultrasound we had last week, he was measuring in the 89th percentile, so I am hoping that he doesn't decide to wait too long to make his appearance!

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I feel like I haven't been to the doctor in a really, really long time. Both my 36 and my 37 week appointments were snowed out, so by the time I see her on Wednesday it will have been over a month, right at the time I was supposed to start weekly appointments.

I hesitate to tell anyone how I really feel, because everyone is convinced that any symptom I list is a sign of labor. And, even though I've never experienced it before, I'm pretty sure that I'm not in labor or even on the verge of being in labor. This whole pregnancy I've had a feeling that we're in it for the full 40 weeks plus more (but I could always be wrong), which is absolutely not a problem for me. Most of the time I tell people I'm fine, just tired.

In reality, and because I don't have to nod and smile when I read blog comments, I've woken up with some pretty bad back aches over the last week or so. My stomach has been bruised for several months and feels sore a lot of the time - kind of like there's something in there kicking me. Hmm.... ;) When I walk in the mornings, I sometimes have one or two Braxton Hicks. Other than that, I'm just big. Compared to what I read about typical pregnancy symptoms and what others tell me, I think I have it pretty good with this short list.

37 weeks, 3 days... I'm starting to loathe these "progress pictures," but I know I'll be glad we took them to look back on someday.

My mom finished Baby K's quilt a week or so ago. I love how it turned out! The embroidered animals are from curtains my Grandma Lu made for my uncle's nursery way back when. My mom carefully cut them out (minus the creepy dancing dogs)and pieced this awesome quilt. The other fabrics match the crib skirt and curtains we made.
I'm thinking this will be the backdrop for monthly growth pictures. I really hope I can remember to take them!

As far as we can figure, we're getting to be pretty well set on what we need and really want to have ready for this little one's arrival. I'm sure there will be things that we wish we'd thought of, but I'm also sure that we'll have many visitors and helpers willing to run out for what we need. The bags are packed, so now it's just a waiting game - one I'll gladly play for a few more weeks!