My maternity leave will be over in just a few short weeks, and reality is starting to sink in. I’ve always planned on heading back to work after 12 weeks, but I’m starting to get emotional about not being able to hold my little angel all day every day. I’ve cherished every second I’ve spent at home with her and will forever be grateful for this time.
Caring for a newborn has been tough at times. REALLY tough, but I’ve learned a lot as a new parent. As I sit back and reflect on my time at home with Brooklyn, I wanted to share her birth story. She took her sweet time entering the world. It was a real doozy. Two days to be exact, but we’ll get back to that in a few…
WATCH: Not a big reader? If you want to just watch the video, scroll on down to the bottom, or click here. However, you’ll miss out on the good part about McDonald’s.
On March 25th, Patrick and I went to a routine appointment with a perinatal consultant. Brooklyn was considered “high risk” because of something called marginal umbilical cord insertion, which is when the umbilical cord attaches at the end of the placenta vs. the center. The main concern was low birth weight but they were never worried because she was always measuring at a normal rate. Still, we had to continue seeing the specialist throughout my pregnancy.
Everything was looking great, and they even said she was measuring at around 7 pounds [lol] at our March 25th checkup. Then, when the doctor came in he quickly told us he needed to contact my OB due to low fluid. The doctor said at 37 weeks pregnant, you want fluid levels to be between 15-20 and she was at a 6, with 5 being considered dangerously low.
“Let’s have a baby,” my OB said. “Send them to the hospital.”
Patrick and I both nearly pooped our pants. We knew she could come at any minute being a few weeks from my due date, but it was still the last thing we had expected to hear. Thankfully, I had already packed our hospital bag.
We got home, Pat ran to Chick-fil-A, and I hopped in the shower. [Needed clean hair before meeting my baby girl! I also attempted to shave and that was a joke.]
We ate our Chick-fil-A, loaded up the car, then headed to Northside Hospital. I wish I would have known that my Chick-fil-A spicy chicken sandwich would be my last true meal for the next few days…
Shortly after getting settled into our room, the nurse checked to see if I was dilated. I was not, so they started me on Cervidil which is a hormone used to help dilate the cervix.
The next morning, Tuesday, we learned there was hardly any progress being made so they began Pitocin which is another hormone used to start contractions and induce labor. My contractions were mild and mostly painless throughout the day Tuesday and when my doctor checked my cervix around 6 p.m., not much had changed. I was only about 2.5 centimeters dilated.
At that point, my doctor decided to give me a break from Pitocin because you can’t eat anything when it’s being given. She wanted me to enjoy dinner, take it easy, and then start it back up. [I was pretty hangry at that point.] That’s when Patrick ran to the McDonald’s inside the hospital and grabbed me some nuggets and fries.
While he was getting food, my doctor decided to change the plan slightly and wanted to try implanting a cervix ripening balloon, or a Cook Catheter. [Google that… woof.] I managed to eat a few nuggets before she put it in. Then, I was greeted by the most severe pain I’ve ever experienced. I’m not kidding. Sharp, stabbing, excruciating pain.
The actual process of putting the ripening balloon in wasn’t terrible, but it was still bad. It was the horrendous pain and contractions that immediately followed once the balloon was blown up. [Seriously, google “cervix ripening balloon.”]
I was crying hysterically, holding on to my hospital bed for dear life as the contractions continued to pick up. I tried bending over, being on my side, and walking around the room, but the pain didn’t subside. It got so intense that I sprinted to the bathroom with Patrick because I was attached to an IV, and then projectile vomited the McDonald’s all over the walls. It was everywhere. EVERYWHERE. [My poor nurses.]
They gave me a shot of morphine in my tushy but it did nothing. At that point, 24 hours after arriving, I was begging for a c-section. That’s when they decided to go ahead and give me an epidural, even though I wasn’t very far along in the dilation process.
Best. Decision. EVER! I don’t really remember actually getting the epidural because my contractions were so painful that I blacked out but at one point I asked the man putting it in when he was going to do it and it was already in. Then, about 20 minutes later, I was as happy as a clam. Epidural wasted. Loving life. [How people do natural births is beyond me. Super humans. I am not one of them.]
The goal of the cervix ripening balloon is to fall out on its own, and then you’re supposed to be about 4-5 cm. dilated. Of course that didn’t happen for me overnight, so my nurse pulled it out the next morning – Wednesday, March 27th. Finally, some progress! By the time my doctor came by to check on me when she arrived into work, I was 5 cm., and that’s when she broke my water.
The baby’s heart rate started to drop, so my doctor decided to pump more fluids back into me and everything immediately stabilized. It was smooth sailing from there. Sort of.
At lunch time, around 1:30/2 p.m., my doctor came by again to check my progress. That’s when we hit the magic number… 10! Patrick and I looked at each other thinking, “Oh shit. It’s go time.” However, we were wrong. My doctor then said, “Okay great, now let’s wait a few more hours before you start pushing… labor down.” [Da f***? You want me to wait even longer?!]
What’s a few more hours at that point? I was ready to get the show on the road, but trusted in my doctor fully. If you’re not familiar with the phrase “labor down,” it basically means to just let the baby keep moving down on his/her own to hopefully decrease the amount of time you’ll actually be pushing.
As I “labored down,” the contractions picked back up. I was in a good bit of pain, and they had to re-boost my epidural several times. [Not sure if that’s the correct medical term but they kept giving me more epidural juice.] After about an hour and a half, I felt so much pressure down under and felt like the baby was literally going to fall out of my lady bits. So, it was go time, but for real this time.
Getting into the pushing position was a little difficult because I was so numb from the epidural. My legs felt like cement blocks, which Patrick and the nurse had to lift up and put into place. Pushing wasn’t bad thanks to the epidural. I felt pressure but didn’t feel major pain, which is just wild when you think about it. I also asked for a mirror so I could watch which I think helped keep me more motivated to push stronger, especially once the baby was crowning. I pushed through about 7-10 different contractions for only about 30-40 minutes total… and then my world forever changed at 5:14 p.m. on 3-27-19.
I’ll never forget seeing my daughter for the first time. After that final push, tears instantly starting streaming down my face and I looked up at Patrick and he was in the same boat, full on waterworks. We were both in awe of this beautiful tiny human who we created. As special as it was giving birth to her, it was as equally special looking into Patrick’s eyes and sharing that moment together.
My first thought after seeing her: “She’s so small! There’s no way I gave birth to such a little thing!”
Patrick cut the cord and then they placed her on my chest for something called “the golden hour.” It’s one full hour of skin to skin treatment immediately following the birth. I was in heaven. It was the best 60 minutes. I really could have gone for two golden hours. Hell, maybe three.
Then it was time to clean her up and figure out just how tiny she actually was. Six pounds exactly and 19 inches long.
The whole process was so surreal and I kept wondering how we got so lucky, feeling blessed beyond measure for our healthy baby girl.
As for her name, we didn’t know it as soon as she was born. We were torn between two names and ultimately it came down to a total stranger helping with our decision. One of the NICU nurses asked us what her name was and we told her we couldn’t decide. Then, we told her Brooklyn was an option. She said, “Oh! Well, my name is Brooke, so I like that.” I felt like it was a sign, so we went with it.
Brooklyn Lee Burk.
Patrick and I always liked the name Brooklyn, but the name does have some extra meaning to it. I didn’t realize this until after the fact, but my grandmother and great aunt were both born in Brooklyn, New York. My dad told me that about a month after she was born.
She’s also a third generation Lee. My mom is Janet Lee, I’m Katherine Lee, and now we have a Brooklyn Lee.
My sweet Brooklyn Lee Burk. It took her a while to get here, but she made it and got here safely. I’m still in awe of the entire experience and have a whole new respect for any woman who brings a baby into this world. Whether that journey is through pushing or a cesarean, the gift of life is truly the most magical miracle.
So, there you have it. Brooklyn’s birth story. It was pretty much complication free with no major hiccups – it was just a very long labor. However, I’d do it all over again and wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe eating those chicken McNuggets. I still regret that.
*Special thanks to the wonderful staff at Northside Hospital in both labor & delivery and mother/baby. Everyone was so kind, attentive, patient, supportive and downright awesome. It was the most incredible experience. Also, thank you to one of my best friends, Jessie. She works in mother/baby and picked up a shift to be there while we were in the hospital. Jess, it was so special having you there. I’ll never forget being wheeled out and sent home by one of my favorite people. I love you.*