I always knew I wanted to document Morgan’s birth story, so I did my best to keep some notes while I was in the hospital. As you’ll learn, unfortunately there was a plot twist that caused me to miss a portion of her birth day, but I’m going to try to recount as much as I can without getting too emotional (I make no promises!) and Justin has chosen to fill in where I can’t.
By the way, I am beginning to write this on Morgan’s due date, 3-26-20. Our sweet miracle girl is now 5 days old and sleeping in the pack n’ play beside me. The first few days of Morgan’s life have been unlike anything we predicted or imagined, and FINALLY having our sweet baby home with us feels like the biggest blessing.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Amanda: I didn’t sleep last night at all. My mind was racing, and the heartburn was killer. I was filled with both adrenaline and fear. We had to be at the hospital at 7:15 AM, so I got out of bed around 5:30 AM and took a shower, and put myself together a bit. I weighed myself, just to get a “final” tally. I officially gained 30.7 lbs throughout my pregnancy.
Justin: A part of me was happy that we knew the exact date and time that we would be having the baby. I had always been fearful of the “water breaking” and having to rush out of the house and either forgetting something or that Amanda would be really scared that we wouldn’t make it on time. The downside to knowing the exact time is the anticipation. I would describe it as being similar to Christmas, but with a much more nervous feeling because we both would be doing something that we had never done before. I may have gotten about 2.5 hours of sleep the night before but I certainly didn’t feel refreshed when I woke up on “Delivery” morning.
Amanda: Justin & I had an emotional moment before we left the house, knowing this was the last time that we would be a family of three (Rudy, duh!). I was so nervous, and I felt like I was going to throw up. I even brought a grocery bag with me in the car in case I did.
Amanda: We arrived at hospital 7:15 AM, and there were signs directing you to the main hospital entrance only. Upon entering, there were two tables set up with nurses in masks, who took our temperatures across our foreheads. They were super sweet and wished us good luck, as they pointed us in the direction of Triage. We checked in, and sat down in the waiting area for ten minutes or so before a nurse called us back to a room.
Justin: On the drive to the hospital I could feel myself starting to get a little anxious, but it was more of an excited feeling rather than nervous. I didn’t want Amanda to be nervous so I tried to keep my cool as best as I could and keep the mood light. When we pulled into the parking garage we were early (like we always are), so we spent about 10-15 minutes in the car to just try and relax. We knew that the second we entered those doors that everything would become real. We were aware that nurses would be taking our temperatures so it wasn’t a shock when we entered the lobby. I was slightly surprised that my temperature was only like 96.2. Either I was about to pass out or their equipment was out of calibration, neither of which made me very comfortable. Either way there was no turning back!
Amanda: My Nurse’s name was Karen, and she was probably around the same age as me. We chatted a bunch about this insane Coronavirus, and she shared that she too, recently had her first baby, a daughter, Maeve, who is 5 months old. She got me all settled in and prepped for surgery. She placed the IV in my wrist, and though uncomfortable at first, it was much better than 3 times I’ve had them before.
Justin: I remember saying to Amanda, “Not everyone can be nurses. It is more than just learning biology and medicine from a book. There is a certain bedside manner that can’t always be taught.” Our nurse Karen was exceptional in that regard. She had a calming quality about her that made us feel at home and kept our minds at ease as we headed into the biggest day of our lives. Shoutout to all of the great nurses out there; You are appreciated!
A: Dr. Clark came in and did an ultrasound to confirm Morgan was indeed still breech. We explained that we no longer felt comfortable trying a version, and opted for the straight c-section. I told her about how Dr. Kessler had scared me earlier in the week, stating that this baby is big, and that I should consider the scheduled c-section a “blessing.” She laughed, and said “No way, I’m estimating this baby is 7 1/2 lbs.” and respected our wishes.
J: The doctor came in next and wanted to do an ultrasound to see if the baby had flipped. I was pretty sure that there was no way she could have flipped and that feeling was very quickly confirmed. She gave us some instructions on what would be happening next and we continued on the process. I couldn’t help but notice how quiet the Hospital seemed. It was early but still there didn’t seem to be a whole lot going on. Kind of eerie.
A: The anesthesiologist, Alan, came in next and walked me through the procedure. I requested something to calm my nerves and something for nausea, and he assured me I’d receive both.
Another nurse, working alongside Karen came in and gave Justin his jumpsuit for the OR, and wrapped my hair in a hairnet. Then, just as I was thinking they were going to wheel my bed back into the OR, the new nurse explained that no, I had to walk. I found that so weird. Alas, here I was, walking back to OR #5 in my slippers, feeling like my knees were going to buckle beneath me. They stopped Justin at a chair just outside the OR where he should suit up and wait for me to be prepped. We kissed, and I started crying. Here we go.
J: After Dr. Clark had left, we spoke with the anesthesiologist and then there was a second nurse who came into the room to help us get everything together to move to the Operating Room (OR). The second nurse didn’t have the same demeanor as the first, and she seemed to want to contradict everything that she said. There was a weird dynamic to their relationship but that wasn’t my business. “Just get us to the next room please,” I thought to myself. We walked back to the OR and when we reached it I was informed I would need to wait outside. This was probably the hardest part for me. I knew that everything was going to be fine but I didn’t want to leave Amanda. We had been through so much together leading up to this point, and I just didn’t want her to have to go through anything alone. I was sad to think about how scared she may be and I just hoped they got her medicated quickly so that she could be as relaxed as possible. I gave her a kiss and watched her fearfully walk through the doors to the OR. My heart was hurting for her but this was supposed to be a happy moment and I was determined to make sure of that.
A: As soon as I entered the room, I noticed the temperature. It was extremely cold and I started shaking uncontrollably, literally immediately – half from cold and half from nerves. They helped me sit up on the operating table. Anesthesiologist Alan was already there, and gave me “something to take the edge off” and 3 anti-nausea medicines through my IV, and also performed the spinal block. I honestly can’t remember which came first. Once the spinal block was in, I began to feel its effects immediately and they carefully laid me back on the table. Karen inserted a catheter, then cleaned my belly with a solution, and everyone had to pause and “watch” for 3 minutes as it dried. Dr. Clark complemented my “beautiful linea” and thanked me for being thin because it “makes her job easier.” Justin came in during these three minutes, and simultaneously they introduced me to the resident who would be assisting Dr. Clark today during surgery. Justin said, “uhhh look at her name tag!” Her first name was Morgan. I knew this was a sign from our angels that everything would be okay!
J: I quickly threw on my scrubs and took a seat in a singular chair in the empty hallway. It was a very similar feeling to sitting outside the principal’s office. My nerves were building and I was ready to get this show on the road! A woman approached from the right and began to put on some gloves and a mask when her phone rang, “This is Morgan,” she answered. I couldn’t help but smile because I knew this was a sign that everything was going to be just fine. I couldn’t wait to tell Amanda! Morgan then asked if I was ready to do this, and I hopped out of the chair and headed through the doors. Let’s have a baby!
A: Justin took a seat at my head to my left, and Anesthesiologist Alan was behind me. I was shaking so bad still, which I knew was a normal side effect to the epidural. Justin held my hand and before we knew it the curtain was up and the cutting began. He asked me what I thought the baby would look like, and made silly small talk to try to keep my mind occupied. I knew my shaking had to be scaring him, too. After a few minutes went by, and I felt some slight tugging, someone said, “Dad, get your camera ready!”
There she was – being pulled out of me, hiney first. Justin immediately burst into tears, and naturally so did I. “Well what does she look like?!” I said after a minute or two. He said, “she’s beautiful! And she has dark hair!” Our sweet baby girl started wailing right away and it was without a doubt, the sweetest cry I have ever heard. She was so loud, and the staff laughed about how vocal she was. (It’s common for c-section babies NOT to cry right away, so I was trying to be prepared in case she didn’t, but we were so grateful that she did!)
J: Walking into the O.R. was pretty surreal. You see surgeries all of the time on TV but being in the room just makes everything so real. As I sat down near Amanda’s head she was violently shaking and I immediately thought something was wrong. It turns out that it was just a side effect of the epidural but it still threw me for a loop. I quickly started to chat with Amanda to try and help put her mind at ease. I can’t quite remember what the topics were, but I said anything to get her mind off of the current scenario.
It felt like I was in the room for an hour but in reality it was about ten minutes. The anticipation was equal to Christmas as a child and I was ready to get this show on the road. At that moment the doctor told me to get my camera ready and I quickly fumbled through my scrubs to try and get my phone out. As I stood up with my camera I saw our sweet baby being pulled into this world and heard the most wonderful baby screaming that I have ever heard in my life. There is nothing that compares to this feeling. Joy, relief, love, all bundled into one moment that I will never forget. Completely in awe, I hear Amanda ask, “what does she look like?” I could barely get any words past my tears, and just said, “she is beautiful!” I could feel my heart growing in that moment as it added room for our sweet little girl.
A: Nurse Karen whisked Morgan over to the warmer while they wiped her off a little and took her vitals. They said she was very “cheesy,” meaning she was covered in vernix, a white cheese-like substance that protects the baby’s skin during pregnancy. Justin went over to meet her and take photos. I heard him introduce himself, “Hi Morgan I’m your Daddy!” as I continued to sob in pure joy. They weighed her and shouted over to me that she was 7 lbs. 6.6 oz. (pretty good guess, Dr. Clark!). The first thing I saw when I looked over at her were her vernix-covered legs, straight up in the air, practically over her head – a common feat for a breech baby. She was definitely folded up in there!
J: After the cord was cut we moved on to get the baby measured and weighed. She was covered in a white goo that the doctors described as cheesy! I must not have read the baby books because I didn’t know this was a thing, but it wasn’t a bad thing so it was fine by me! It also gave me a nickname for her if I need it, my little “Cheesy” girl.
A: Dr. Clark checked my uterus for any abnormalities (that’s usually why babies are breech) but nope, it’s normal! That means that should we decide to have another baby, that one won’t necessarily be breech. While they stitched me up, and once Morgan was all swaddled, Justin brought her over to meet me and I gazed into her beautiful eyes. She was so beautiful. FINALLY, I thought. I cried so hard as she held my hand. She recognized my voice immediately.
J: We moved from the measurement table over to the warmer so that the nurse could get her footprints and record her measurements. Morgan’s legs were flailing all over the place and Amanda could see them poking over the edge of the table. We got the baby all wrapped up and the nurse asked if I would like to take the baby over to her mother. By far the best moment was handing off our little girl to her mother. Amanda held her in her arms and said “my baby.” The tears were flowing pretty well at this point!
Morgan Jean Peterson
Born 3-21-20 at 10:37 AM
7 lbs. 6.6 oz
We moved to recovery with Nurse Karen, with the baby laying on my chest. She let me do skin-to-skin for an hour with Morgan and we practiced breastfeeding. Mostly, I was just in awe of this beautiful baby in my arms. I was still numb but overall feeling well.
Toward the end of our two hours in recovery, I remember starting to feel very warm and telling Karen that I was hot. She said we were about to go out in the cold hallway to move us up to the Mom & Baby Unit, and placed two more warm blankets on me and Morgan. Something didn’t feel right, but I chalked it up as a hot flash due to my fluctuating hormones.
When we reached our room in the Mom & Baby Unit, Room 1368, two nurses were there waiting for us: one for baby and one for me. The baby nurse took Morgan from my arms and I sat up a little for them to move me into another bed. I immediately felt nauseated and had to pause. Karen quickly give me an alcohol wipe to sniff and they handed me a little bucket in case I got sick. We waited a couple minutes, and I composed myself. The baby nurse took Morgan down the hall to the nursery to weigh her again and take her length measurement. Justin got to go with.
This is where things get blurry. At some point I began vomiting, over and over, green liquid. I was sweating profusely, from seemingly every pore in my body. I was shaking again, just as I had in the OR. Justin came back in the room with the baby, and saw me getting sick over and over. I remember seeing his face, just puzzled at what was suddenly happening. This sickness continued for hours and I felt like it kept getting worse as time went on. My new nurse, Michelle, felt terrible and kept running out to get me different anti-nausea medicines to try. Nothing was helping. If I ate ice, I got sick. If I drank water (which I was most excited about bc I was SO parched), I got sick. My eyes fluttered, and I couldn’t focus my vision on anything. My phone was blowing up with text messages and my eyes couldn’t focus to read them. My stomach was being squeezed every time I vomited. I was terrified I was going to open my stitches. My whole body shook, so Justin kept insisting that I must be cold and wanted to cover me with blankets but I would snap back at him, NO WAY. I was sweating bullets. My blood pressure started to rise around this point too, and now the nurse was really worried. Justin stepped up like I knew he would and took 100% care of Morgan during this time. I was terrified, and emotional. What is happening to me? What’s wrong with my body? Why can’t I hold my baby?
Justin: We went to recovery after the O.R. for about an hour or so before getting moved to our room. I could not stop taking pictures of Morgan and her mommy. I wanted to be sure to capture this moment forever. Once the hour had passed the nurse came back with another guy and it was time to roll the bed to our room. When we arrived at our room they moved Amanda to her new bed and she immediately felt nauseous and I was a little worried because she had obviously just come out of a major surgery. It took about 7 to 8 hours of vomiting and trying to hold down water before she was finally able to hold down some food for dinner.
While mommy was working to feel better I had the privilege of handling the first couple of feedings and diaper changes. They warn you about the first diapers but I was not prepared for this thing. It looked like a chocolate sheet cake about an inch think and I probably used about 4 wipes on this single diaper change. I also got to feed the baby her first couple of bottles and the nurses gave me tips along the way. It is an amazing feeling to be responsible for another human and it is also very frightening. It didn’t take very long before I was comfortable holding her and giving her the bottles.
A: Finally, after 6+ hours, the nurses called Dr. Clark and decided on a “last effort” anti-nausea medicine, Phenergan. They administered the medicine through my IV, and I slept for about 30 minutes afterward. When I woke up, I felt worlds better. Still not 100%, but definitely better! Around 7, Justin ordered us room service and I ate a grilled cheese and fries – my first food of the day! The nurse explained that I had a reaction to the epidural/spinal block which caused the extreme nausea.
I regained some strength with dinner and finally felt stable enough to hold Morgan. I pretty much didn’t put her down the rest of the night, spamming my family with photos in our group chat. Around 10:30 PM, once Morgan was 12 hours old, a nurse came in to give her her first sponge bath.
With the day we had, it honestly felt like a blessing that we couldn’t have any visitors, because I wouldn’t have been up to them. I was so sick for about 6 hours following delivery. I was unable to hold Morgan, I would have been devastated to see other people holding her instead (besides her daddy, obviously), and furthermore, I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to see me in that state. It was bad enough that I was getting violently sick in front of Justin and the nurse a million times!
We decided to send the baby to the nursery around midnight. Justin needed a break, and I was still unable to walk, so I couldn’t get up to care for her if I needed to. I felt guilty, but I knew it was necessary.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
I woke up at 5:00 am on Sunday. I felt 10x better after some sleep, and I was no longer loopy. I asked my night nurse, Tiffaney (yes that’s how it’s spelled) to bring Morgan back into our room. I missed her and wanted more snuggles. She wanted us to feed her and said I’d have to walk and sit in a chair after she removed my catheter. Later that morning, Dr. Parobeck came by and checked on me. She said my incision looked great, but was leaving the dressing on for a little while longer.
I struggled with breastfeeding. Justin had been giving her bottles of formula while I was out of it the day before and unable to breastfeed. We kept trying to get her to latch but the reality was, there was no milk coming out and barely any colostrum, so Morgan kept getting discouraged and giving up on the breast to take the bottle. Lactation came in and talked to us, and encouraged me to keep pumping and feeding her the little bits of colostrum that I was producing with my finger, or with a syringe.
I truly have to applaud Justin. He was so awesome those whole two days. Up until this point, he had changed every diaper so far and fed her every bottle while I attempted to pump. He helped me get in and out of bed when I had to pee. He fetched me drinks and snacks. He was exhausted, but he didn’t let it show. He simply mentioned that he wanted to break out of here tomorrow if we could.
At 4:00 PM, another nurse took the dressing off of my incision and cleaned it. She said it looks great, and used her hands to portray how big it was. It was bigger than I expected it to be. She encouraged us to walk to halls (slowly, while pushing Morgan in the mobile crib) because sometimes that will encourage the doctors to discharge patients sooner. She also gave me a binder to wear around my belly for support which helped.
Monday, March 23, 2020
Justin and I agreed that he would sleep through Morgan’s 1:00 AM feeding, and instead I’d seek help from our favorite night nurse, Tiffaney. I fed her with the bottle after she wouldn’t take my breast. Tiffaney said she doesn’t look to be tongue tied (this girl can stick her tongue ALL the way out!), perhaps just tired. I tried bottle feeding and poor Morgan was so tired that she didn’t eat much.
Around 3:30 AM she was fussing and just as suspected, she was hungry again! A different nurse, Trish came to check on us and she agreed we are doing everything right as far as positioning and latch, but baby is just not wanting to work so hard for it. She’s still learning! Justin fed her the bottle and she ate nearly the entire 2 oz – the most ever! When he burped her she began rooting in his chest, which I took as a good sign. Meanwhile, I was pumping and collected some colostrum so at the end of the bottle we put her back to my breast and syringed the colostrum onto my nipple to encourage her.
The next morning at 7:00 AM, Tiffaney went home and I was given another nurse. This one was world’s different than the others I’d had. She was quick to say that I had maxed out my dosage of pain medicines, and then did not return for hours. Which was not good, because I was in so much pain! Finally she came back around 11 AM, and offered me a heat pack which only stayed warm for 30 minutes or so. I was dying to break out of the hospital and get home to take a shower, lounge “comfortably” on my own couch, and administer my own pain medicine as I needed it.
Someone from Audiology came in and checked Morgan’s hearing. She passed both ears with flying colors! Almost immediately after, the hospital pediatrician stopped in as well to check out Morgan again. She reiterated what she told us the day before when I was out of it, because I truly did not remember her visit. She stated that Morgan’s legs were in the correct position within the pelvis and she seemed to already be making good progress with stretching them out. She recommended that we get an ultrasound in 4-6 weeks at Cincinnati Children’s just to be sure – something she recommends for all breech presentation babies as a precaution.
Dr. Lemasters stopped in a little later, but mostly just made small talk with us. She did not even look at my incision, which I was surprised by, and stated that because I was a C-section, I would not go home until tomorrow. We were disappointed. I FaceTimed with my family to bring my spirits back up, and distract myself from the pain for a bit.
By the time I got off the phone, I was crying in pain, and ready to wring the neck of my nurse. She was supposed to be checking on me every hour and she had not been doing that. Just as I was expressing my concern to Justin, she came in and offered me another heat pack. I desperately asked her to check with Dr. Lemasters to see if we could go home since the baby had been discharged. I knew it was a long shot, but I wanted to ask anyway.
To our surprise, the next time she came back she had good news. She tore the “It’s a Girl” banner from our door, handed it to Justin, and said “this means you get to go home!” What changed Dr. Lemasters’ mind? I don’t know, and surely I didn’t want to ask any questions. We quickly fed the baby again and packed up all our belongings. When we were ready, we called the nurse and had her arrange for transportation.
The transportation department arrived at our door about 10 minutes after our call, equipped with a cart to carry our belongings out, and a wheelchair for me and the baby. When we got downstairs, Justin pulled the car around and she wheeled Morgan and I outside. My very anxious husband took his time putting Morgan in the carseat, checking and re-checking again to make sure she was buckled in correctly. I very slowly climbed in the car and sat in the middle of the back seat next to the baby, and I was sobbing before we even pulled out of the hospital. I couldn’t believe it. All our dreams had come true. This time, we were leaving the hospital with a beautiful, healthy baby. In that moment, I knew that every ounce of pain and heartbreak we felt for the past 2+ years was all worth it.
I was overcome with emotion –and probably hormones. Justin reached back and held my hand, and I held the baby’s. Our little family. I recalled the very first moment she was laid on my chest. All of the disbelief I felt during my pregnancy with Morgan and the guard I kept up for the past nine months had come crashing down as I held our daughter for the first time. In fact, Justin has a live photo of me at this very moment, in which I simply say “my baby.” I soaked up every inch of her cheesy-covered skin and sobbed as I looked into her almond-shaped eyes that match mine. I stroked her wet, dark hair and kissed her perfect little face. I cried and cried and cried all the way home.
A huge part of me is so aware that Morgan wouldn’t be here if the three babies we lost had been born. Finally, God granted us our miracle, and she’s the very miracle I’ve dreamed about and longed for with every piece of my heart.