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Birth Story and Beyond

This blog post is probably more for me than anybody else - so I can one day reminisce on the early days of Whitley's life when I'm old and senile and just can't remember any details. Or maybe those days will be a few months from now because the mom brain has me forgetting things already.

I am not sharing the in-depth, graphic details of Whitley's entrance into the world - in part because I took an ignorance is bliss approach and did not want to know what was happening unless I needed to. BUT, if you don't want to read about my going into labor process - specifically dilation - stop here and skip ahead to where it reads "her first few weeks".

So, here we go.

Whitley's due date was January 9th. The day of the National Championship game. I joked ALL year that she would make her arrival during this game - especially if Georgia were playing, and I'd miss every minute of it. Well, due to some health issues, I needed to be induced early and we had an induction date of January 3rd. Cool. Middle of the week, nothing crazy.

At our last doctor's appoint on December 30th, we learned I was 1 cm and 60-70% effaced. I asked the doctor "will we make it to Tuesday or do you think she'll arrive on her own prior to then?" She looked at Taylor and I and said, "there's a strong chance you don't make it until Tuesday."

Not that we had a choice, but Taylor and I comfortably agreed she could come whenever. I really wanted her to arrive in January and us go into the hospital in January for deductible purposes (I mean, once you're adult, you think about these things right?)

Later that day (Friday, Dec 30th) I began having contractions about 5 minutes apart. The pain was awful. After contracting for an hour or two, we went to triage to be checked out. To my surprise, I was about 3cm. We waited an hour to see how I progressed, only to learn I didn't progress fast enough to be admitted to labor and delivery. We were given the option to go home and get some pain medication or stay another hour and see if I progressed faster. At this point, it was 1am, and we decided to go home. They gave me some morphine to get me through the night and boy was I thankful.

The next day, I had contractions all day. By early afternoon they were getting stronger, but they weren't consistent. I'd have contractions about 5-6 minutes apart, then one about 12 minutes apart. We were told the rule of thumb was 4-1-1 or 5-1-1: 4-5 min apart, lasting about a minute, for an hour. I timed these horrible pains for 4 hours and kept starting my hour countdown over because things weren't consistent. By 7pm, I couldn't take it anymore. We called the hospital and went in.

Barely able to walk, I sobbed walking into the hospital fearful that I still would only be about 4-5cm and not able to be admitted. I didn't want to be sent home again only to still not be in labor. To our surprise, I was 8cm and very close to delivering Whitley. This info is not to hype myself up, but to say I was so in my head all day - convinced I wasn't progressing - that I was writhing in pain to where I couldn't stand it anymore. My initial thought was "wait until midnight. January 1st. Don't get screwed by insurance twice by having to pay the deductible for 2022 AND 2023." (Glad I didn't wait, we would've had to birth Whitley at home. Yikes.) Shocked, we confirmed that we were being admitted to labor and delivery and ALL I could think about from there was "can I get the epidural and can I get it ASAP???"

Let me pause here for second: Not to my surprise - went got to the hospital right as the UGA vs Ohio State game was on. I just knew she'd make her debut during this game since it wasn't going to be during the Natty. I had a feeling this game would be ugly (it was) and I honestly didn't expect UGA to win. I told Taylor I wanted no knowledge of what was happening until after the fact - I didn't need anything else to stress me out. To my surprise, UGA pulled off the win, which I didn't learn until about 5am the next day. And thankfully, I missed the ugliness that the game was.

Anyways, back to pain medication. Praise Jesus for the answered prayer that I believe within 30 minutes-1 hour I had the epidural. I don't know where my strength or endurance came from (Jesus) to labor at home as long as I did or to sit still during the epidural, but man am I thankful. I'll be honest - I am a WIMP when it comes to pain + I have always been terrified to give birth or get an epidural. In my opinion, the epidural was nothing - a slight sting. And the pain of contractions mixed with the pain relief an epidural provides = worth it. No questions asked.

Our wonderful nurse helped me progress to 10 cm and the joking discussion became "what if you had the first baby of the new year here?!" By 11:30, they were ready to break my water but still really wanted to try for us to have the first baby in 2023. We waited to break my water until midnight - only to push for 3 hours, but nonetheless, miss Whitley Rae arrived at 2:58 am and was the first baby born at UT Medical. She's quite famous. You can read about it here. Taylor and I could not speak more highly of the nursing staff and doctor who helped us bring Whitley into the world - as well as the nurses and doctors in the postpartum area.

One we got to a postpartum room early January 1st, we rested as we could and learned everything we could to take care of her and us. It felt like a crash course in how to keep a baby alive and let my body heal all while you haven't slept in 24 hours. Basically like college.


The First Few Weeks

We got home on January 2nd and had about 36 hours or so to ourselves to "figure things out" and my mom arrived shortly after. I'll be honest - the first 5-6 days were blissful. Hard and exhausting - don't get me wrong - but we were able to get into a loose rhythm of when we'd feed her and how we'd put her down and it worked. She basically ate, burped, changed diapers and went back to sleep.

About a week in though, things drastically changed. Whitley started not sleeping, would scream and cry bloody murder as soon as she was laid down, and just overall seemed unhappy. We talked with her pediatrician and it was suggested she may have bad reflux or a dairy allergy.

We were instructed for me to go dairy free for about a week to see if that changed things at all and so we did. But about 2 days in, after the worst night of our lives (which for our family's sake I will spare the details as we wish those to remain private) we called our doctor back and said "what we are doing is not sustainable. Whitley won't sleep unless she is being held, and even then she won't hardly sleep."

We went back to the doctor and are in the process of determining what is going on with her. Yes - babies are fussy and we understand that, but we also know where she is at is not normal either. We are trying some hypoallergenic formula and reflux medicine and have started to see some slight improvements. We pray constantly for her to feel better, which in turn helps us feel better to take care of her.

We are still trying to figure out what is best for our family, but I know if we formula feed - despite it not being our initial desire - we ultimately have to do what is best for us and Whitley. I'm learning I cannot take care of her if I am not taken care of. And from a physical standpoint, if she does have an allergy, then we need something that will not cause her tummy issues!

We have a lot ahead of us - good days and bad - and while the last week has been one of the most life + joy sucking weeks, we are filled with hope and reminders that this season is temporary. My word for 2023 - the good and bad are all temporary. We are trying to savor these days while she is our little burrito (I say she looks like a burrito when swaddled) because these days are fleeting. We love our sweet little New Year's blessing - who turned out to be a good luck charm for the Dawgs.

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