We had a rough start with Scarlett. Not ‘start’ as most people would think, for our family, Scarlett’s beginning was months before she came into this world and took her first breath.

Scarlett is our third child, our third pregnancy and our third experience with being high risk. Scarlett is also our last pregnancy/child.  Even though my pregnancy with Scarlett was far from ‘perfect’ and was not a normal pregnancy by any means – it was the closest I have ever been to being a normal pregnant woman. The pregnancy didn’t feel like that the entire time though.

The first 20 weeks were pretty smooth. We have Phoenix to distract us from worrying and keep us from asking ‘what if…’ We found out around 16 weeks that Scarlett was a girl and we settled on a name just a few weeks later – Scarlett Evangeline.  It was bittersweet to have a girl on the way. I cried tears of joy knowing that Scarlett was, in a way, like our second chance. I also cried for fear that history would repeat itself.

At 24 weeks we had our bi-monthly ultrasound. It was discovered that my placenta was a grade 2/3. The placenta is what keeps the baby growing and healthy – mine was basically aged to appear as if I was already close to being term. Our high risk OB told us that we needed to bring a packed bag to every appointment from then on because, with my placenta apparently aging rapidly, it could die or stop working at any minute and I would have no choice but to deliver. Hearing this was very scary, also knowing that there was nothing we could do but wait. I never packed that bag though, I thought that if I actually brought a packed bag it would jinx me and I’d have to stay.

Around the same time I got put on modified bedrest for a moderate blood pressure. It wasn’t high and, in all honesty, if this had been my first pregnancy, there would have been no cause for concern at all. But, since we lost Janell, and since it might have had to do with complications from pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure, we couldn’t take any risks.

As the weeks went on my belly grew. Every ultrasound was an adventure. We went to look at my placenta, check amniotic fluid levels and to keep an eye on Scarlett’s growth. We knew that, if the placenta started to fail, my fluid levels would decrease and Scarlett’s growth would slow dramatically. For the next six weeks or so, everything stayed the same. The placenta didn’t look any better or worse. My fluid was great. And Scarlett continued to grow just like she should.

I was around 30 weeks at this time and my blood pressure had continued to rise so I was put on a stricter bedrest. I am no stranger to bedrest and, by the time I had Scarlett, I had spent roughly 9 months over three pregnancies resting on my side. Ethan and I honestly felt that being aware of my blood pressure and being strict about bedrest whenever it was too high, could change the outcome of our pregnancy for the better. We felt that, had we known, things might have been different with Janell. Our high risk OB explained that, in a labile hypertensive pregnancy, the vesicles in the placenta aren’t working properly – every time I stood my blood pressure would increase and when I would do something like, taking a hot shower, my blood pressure would drop. These ups and downs are extremely hard on the placenta and can affect the baby as well. The goal was to stop these ups and downs so I had to stay lying as much as possible. The danger was that, every time my blood pressure would go up, there was a risk that it would stay up and continue to rise. This is what we feel happened with Janell, we just had no idea.

We kept things under control and, around 34 weeks, the ultrasound showed something that I would consider just short of a miracle – the placenta looked healthy. Our doctor said that he had never seen that before. The bad areas of the placenta had stopped growing and the good areas grew and grew and took over. The placenta looked like it should have at 34 weeks, if not better. Not only that but Scarlett was still growing perfectly on her own growth curve. So, you know what happened?  I was released from my high risk OB. My pregnancy was going so well that the doctor decided that I no longer had to see him. It was incredible.

I got to do things that I had never had the chance to do before and it felt great. I washed and folded baby clothes. We set up her bed next to ours. I went to Babies ‘R’ Us and bought baby stuff. I had never gotten to do these things before. Janell died before we had the chance and with Phoenix I was on hospital bedrest so Ethan and my mom did it all. Besides worrying about my blood pressure, I felt normal!

We were scheduled for a c-section on September 18th; I would have been 36 weeks and 2 days – the same exact gestation Phoenix was when he was born. When you are planning to deliver early and it is not an emergency, most doctors will want to do an amniocentesis to check lung maturity so that is what we had to do. The week before our scheduled c-section we had our amnio. Everyone was pretty sure that Scarlett’s lungs would be mature and I would be able to deliver earlier than the 18th. We all thought that because stressed caused by high blood pressure and placental dysfunction generally speeds up lung maturity, plus she’s a girl and girls tend to develop faster than boys. We had had a lung maturity amnio with Phoenix at the same gestation and it came back transition, on its way to mature, so we figured, worse-case-scenario, her lungs would be in transition. Unfortunately, we were all wrong.  Scarlett’s lungs were immature at 35½ weeks and we were so disappointed. Not only were we not delivering before the 18th, we weren’t going to be able to deliver on that day either. We had a repeat amnio eight days later and she was in transition. She still wasn’t mature but at least she was getting there and my OB was willing to re-schedule us for Tuesday, September 25th (37 weeks 2 days).

The night before our c-section, Ethan and I did all the last minute stuff we could think of – finishing the laundry, packing the hospital bags, and generally making sure everything was ready. I slept surprisingly well that night; Ethan didn’t get as much sleep as me though. We woke up pretty early to pack the car and Ethan ate some breakfast with Phoenix (I had to fast from midnight on). My mom came over to watch Phoenix and off we went.

When we got to the hospital I was hooked up to a non-stress test to monitor the baby and to make sure I wasn’t having any contractions. We were told our nurse, Kristen, would be in any minute. When I heard this I was thrilled – Kristen was the nurse who delivered both Janell and Phoenix! What are the odds that we’d have her for all three of our deliveries? She was happy to see us as well.

We were really lucky because both our families got to be there for Scarlett’s birth. My brother, David, and his girlfriend, Joanna, were the first ones to arrive before the c-section. Ethan’s mom came a bit later, and then my parents showed up with Phoenix. It was nice to have them all there, even before the c-section, because it was a really fun and exciting time. We were all laughing and taking picture. I really feel like Scarlett’s pre-surgery time was a lot less scary than the time before Phoenix’s c-section.

Nurse Kristen had already started my IV and started pumping me full of fluids. Then my OB walked it. You would have thought he was a celebrity for how excited we all acted to see him. I think he was probably just as excited as we were though! Then it was time… in just minutes we were going to be meeting our Scarlett.

At 12:10PM they took us down the hall to the OR and the first thing that was done was starting my spinal block. This was my second c-section so I totally knew what to expect but the spinal block was the thing I was the most nervous about. Not because I was afraid that something would go wrong or that it was going to hurt a ton (because it really doesn’t) but there is something about a needle going into my spine that I really don’t like. It’s a creepy feeling that I don’t wish to ever experience again. 

I started going numb immediately. It starts with that pins and needles feeling that you get when your foot falls asleep, but this is all over from about the waist down. The doctors and nurses do some prep work while they wait for the spinal to take full effect. They did things like put my catheter in, attach electrodes to my chest, and set up everything they’d need for baby. In the last minutes they put a big blue sheet up in front of my face and started to clean me off with iodine.

Many people have asked me what it feels like to have a c-section and there is really no way to explain it because you are so totally and completely numb that the lack of feeling it not something you can describe. Ethan watched the entire surgery. I was so surprised and proud of Ethan for doing that. Not only did he watch but he took video too. He handled the surgery much better than Phoenix’s c-section. We had no idea what to expect with Phoenix but this time we totally knew what we were doing.

As we were getting close to the time where Scarlett would enter the world, I started feeling more numb. I remember saying that I didn’t remember being that numb when I had my previous c-section. It felt like I couldn’t take a full breath – like the very bottoms of my lungs were numb. I was told it was totally normal though so I just tried to focus on breathing and that Scarlett would be there soon.

Just minutes later, at 12:41PM, Scarlett was born. She started crying almost immediately. Just like with Phoenix, hearing her cry sent a wave of emotion over me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and, had I been able to feel my body, I probably would have jumped for joy. Dr. Minehan showed her to me over the blue sheet. Her eyes were open and she was coated in a thick layer of vernix. (Vernix is a cheesy, white substance that covers a baby's skin at birth. Without the vernix, the baby would have very wrinkled skin from constant exposure to the watery amniotic fluid.) But, the first thing I noticed was how little hair she had in comparison to Phoenix and Janell. My blind happiness was short lived though as I began to lose focus and feel sick. This is the major reason I am so thankful for Ethan taking that video.

Scarlett was taken to the corner of the room to be cleaned up and Ethan (and the video camera) went with her. My breathing was becoming labored and I felt like I could only get air into the top section of my lungs. I couldn’t see what was happening with Scarlett so I kept trying to ask Ethan questions thinking that, if I could get my mind off of how uncomfortable the numbness was becoming, that I would start feeling better. That didn’t exactly work though and I started to feel sick. It felt like I had to throw-up but, I was so numb, I couldn’t. The anesthesiologist put a little tray by my face but I could hardly gag. I was breathing really loud and I think that’s when the anesthesiologist realized that this wasn’t normal numbness. He asked me to squeeze his fingers as hard as I could but, by this time, my hands were so numb, I couldn’t even make a tight fist – let alone squeeze his hand. My blood pressure began to drop and he started to pump me full of various medications, he also told my OB that they might want to speed things along.

Meanwhile, Scarlett was being cleaned-up in the corner by our nurse, Kristen, and an RN from the NICU.  Ethan was pulling double duty – taking video and taking photos. Scarlett was sticking to all the hospital blankets as the nurses tried to clean her up because she had such a thick coating of vernix - or baby frosting as Kristen called it. Scarlett did amazingly well. Her apgar scores were eight after one minute and nine after five minutes. She needed no oxygen at all. Plus, she looked perfect – ten fingers and ten toes.

She was then swaddled by the nurses in a couple receiving blankets and had a hat put on her and she was handed off to Ethan. He brought her over to me. I was starting to feel slightly better but was dizzy and extremely numb. I wasn’t “all there” and Ethan had to tell me to give Scarlett a kiss. I was pretty scared and wanted the c-section to be over. Both Ethan and the anesthesiologist did a good job of keeping me calm and trying to keep my mind off of how uncomfortable I was and focused on Scarlett.

We were told to expect the c-section to take about an hour and a half (30 minutes to deliver Scarlett and then an hour to do all the closing and clean up – plus I was getting my tubes tied as well). Thankfully, things didn’t take nearly as long as they told us; Dr. Minehan went very quickly at the end. The only way I was going to start feeling better was if the spinal was removed but they couldn’t remove it until the c-section was over. Everything post-delivery took less than a half an hour and I was so glad.

Normally, after a c-section, they transfer mom back to her normal bed and she gets to hold baby as they are wheeled back to their room – that is how it happened with Phoenix. With Scarlett, my blood pressure was too low and I didn’t have very good control of my arms so I wasn’t allowed to hold Scarlett. It was really sad but I can understand why they said no, it just wasn’t safe for her.

At Valley General, every time a baby is born, the beginning of Brahms’ Lullaby is played through-out the whole hospital and, just before 1PM, the lullaby played for Scarlett. Our family was in the hospital café getting a bite to eat, so when they heard the lullaby, they figured they’d have at least 30 minutes (if not longer) before we’d be back in our room. Kristen and the anesthesiologist brought us back to our room at 1:10PM though; the whole procedure had taken less than an hour. The only person waiting in our room was my dad. It was okay though because I was totally out of it. I was told that I had to stay lying flat until my blood pressure returned to normal; the anesthesiologist stayed in our room for a bit to make sure I was okay. He told us what had happened was that my spinal block had taken too high. Apparently that happened to my mom too and she needed oxygen. I was so glad when I started to feel better – Phoenix’s c-section was nothing like that.

Normally, when you have a c-section, they start the spinal and add morphine to it so, when the numbness starts to wear off, you already have a pain killer in your system. When we had Phoenix we discovered I was allergic to morphine so this time no pain medicine was given during the c-section. The plan was that I was going to be placed on a pump when we got back to our room and then I could self administer my own pain meds. Apparently, there was some sort of mix-up in the pharmacy though and my pain meds did not make it to me for an hour and a half after we got back to our room.

The first hour wasn’t awful, I was still pretty numb. That post-c-section time is pretty fuzzy to me so I have tried to piece it together as best I could from photos that Joanna (my brother’s girlfriend) and Zoe (my sister-in-law) have taken. I had to stay laying down for quite a while and, once my blood pressure was stable enough that I could sit up, my pain was starting to get to me so I really couldn’t sit up like I wanted to. I got to hold Scarlett during this time but it was hard for me. I wanted to bond with her and breastfeed but I was starting to really hurt. I actually had to hold her during this time as both of our body temperatures were on the low side (around 97 degrees) so we were placed skin to skin under about a dozen warmed blankets. This not only helped warm us up but it helped us bond too.

During this time my brother-in-law, Travis, and his wife, Zoë, came. I started crying as soon as I heard Zoë’s voice. See, Zoë is my best friend – I’ve never felt as close to any woman like I do with Zoë. I guess the best way I can describe it is that it’s like we have a bond on a deeper level – I feel like we understand each other. But, we’ve only known each other for a couple years. She wasn’t there for Janell’s birth, I had never met her yet actually. And she was there the day Phoenix was born, but it was later that evening. And, there is something about having a girl after losing Janell. I just really wanted Zoë there so, when she came, I started crying right away. If I hadn’t been in so much pain I would have loved to give her a huge hug. I’m so glad she got to be there. So, anyways, while we waited for the meds to arrive, the nurses did all the normal newborn stuff which was nice because it helped me to not focus on my pain during all of this Ethan’s dad came. It was great to have him there too because he had been on a business trip and he showed up just in time to see all the newborn stuff.

First Scarlett was weighed. My guess was that she was going to be 6lbs 5oz (about half a pound more than Phoenix) and Ethan’s guess was that she was going to be 6lbs 2oz. Well, Ethan was right on! Scarlett was 6lbs 2.3oz – just 4oz more that Phoenix. It was so crazy to see that six on the scale. With all the trouble we had during pregnancy, we had originally thought she would be born two weeks prior and weren’t even sure she’d be 5lbs. Most people comment on how small she is and my response is that she’s the biggest baby I’ve ever had!

Next they measured her. We didn’t guess on this one because Phoenix was so short (17.25”) that we thought Scarlett would be short too.  She actually wasn’t short though - 18½ inches. After this they took some blood and did the anti-biotic ointment in the eyes. By this time I was in a great deal of pain. When asked, “On a scale from one to ten, one being no pain, where is your pain level?” I said it was a nine.

Now, I’m not a wimp. I can handle a great deal of pain but, about an hour after the c-section, my numbness had totally worn off. I could move my legs like normal and everything. I had just had a major surgery and I had not had any pain meds – not even a simple Tylenol. I was hurting – bad. I wanted the nurse to do more with Scarlett. I wanted something to be going on to keep my mind off of the pain. She said she couldn’t give Scarlett a bath until I breastfed her though – something about not wanting to wash my smell off her. I couldn’t breastfeed until I had some pain meds though – there is no way I could have held her at that point. It hurt to breathe and I was talking in whispers.

Finally, an hour and a half after we came back to our room, my pain meds arrived. It brought me relief almost immediately. My pain wasn’t ‘under control’ for another hour or so but I was able to breastfeed finally.

I had been looking forward to breastfeeding for months. It’d tell Ethan that it was one of the things I couldn’t wait to do. I had only weaned Phoenix (at 17 months) because I got pregnant again, and I missed breastfeeding so much. As excited as I was to breastfeed, I was very nervous too. Phoenix had problems nursing. In the first 24 hours, when he’d try to nurse, he’d stop breathing and turn white, or even blue. He couldn’t figure out how to latch and suck so I had to pump for weeks and it was so stressful I nearly gave up nursing several times. Because he couldn’t nurse, he dropped nearly a pound after birth and because fairly jaundice. The whole experience made me feel like a bad mom in those weeks – like it’s my job as a woman to nurse my son and I wasn’t able to do that. All of a sudden, at three weeks, he got it and started nursing like a pro. I was and still am so grateful that I never gave up.

So, as I cradled Scarlett in my arms and brought her to my breast, I had all these thoughts running thoughts my head. Within minutes she had latched on and was sucking away. It felt so good and we were all so relieved. She didn’t suck very long but I could already tell she was going to nurse just fine.

After Scarlett was given some time to breastfeed the nurse gave her a bath - she really needed it because of all the vernix. She really didn’t cry that much either. She looked so much better after all the white baby frosting was washed off her and I have to believe that she felt a lot better as well. Our family decided this was a good time to leave for a while and it was perfect because I was now starting to feel a lot better and I really wanted to spend time with just Ethan and Scarlett. Our family said good-bye and gave Scarlett a few last cuddles and headed out.

When my nurse next came to check on me I asked when the lactation consultant would be visiting us and, as if I contacted her telepathically, she walked in about two minutes later. She was the same LC we had with Phoenix and she remembered us, she even remembered Phoenix’s name without having to be reminded. She helped Scarlett and me a bit and, by the end of that feeding (only our second nursing session remember) she had a great latch and was nursing perfectly.

I finally got to really look at her. While she was nursing, I noticed how long her fingers are, her nail beds as well. She has the hands and fingers that I have always wanted. Everyone who notices her hands comments on how she’s going to be artistic, or a piano player. I also looked at her hair. Phoenix and Janell had tons of extremely dark brown hair and it was really wavy – almost kinky actually. Scarlett’s has much less hair than her brother and sister, plus, it’s much lighter in color and its stick straight. Ethan and I both think that she’ll have dirty blonde hair like me when she’s older. Something else I noticed is her ears; they are folded down at the top. It must have been her positioning in the womb because now (at two week old) one has already popped out and looks totally normal.

If you compare all our children, side-by-side, you’d notice how similar they all look at birth – same dark blue-grey eyes, same nose that looks like daddy’s and same full lips like mine. But, while Phoenix had a square shaped head, Scarlett’s is oval and she looks much more feminine than Phoenix. Almost everyone that has previously seen Janell (whether in real life or through a picture) thinks that Scarlett looks a lot like her but that could simply be because they are both girls. Although, one night, Ethan was holding Scarlett and he turned to me and told me how much he thinks Scarlett looks like Janell. That’s always nice to hear – Scarlett is not here to replace Janell or anything but it’s nice to see a bit of of Janell in Scarlett because I know she’s with all of us everyday anyways. But, Scarlett definitely has her own look and, maybe I’m biased, but, our babies are beautiful – even at birth when most newborns are swollen and puffy.

By this time, Scarlett and I were doing so good that there was no reason for frequent nurse checks. Scarlett and I co-slept and nursed and Ethan did all the diaper changes. Our family came back later that night to visit again and we got to say good-night to Phoenix.

Right away Phoenix was very interested in Scarlett. But, he was very confused. Phoenix loved to kiss and hug my belly. When asked who was in mommy’s belly he’d say, “Baby.” And then you could ask him what the baby’s name was and he’d tell you (though it sounded like Cah-et). Now that I was no longer pregnant, he didn’t get it. He knew Scarlett was a baby but he had no idea that she was Scarlett. He’s only two though and I really think he did a good job catching on.

My IV was taken out that night but the nurse and I decided that I wasn’t ready to get up and walk that night. Normally, they get you up and walk about 12 hours after the c-section but, at that time it would be nearly 1AM – I was tired and my pain wasn’t actually under control until 4PM and, with my IV out, I had just started oral pain meds – it just wasn’t a good time to get up and walk quite yet.

Early the next morning I was actually feeling great. I didn’t get a ton of sleep but that was okay, Scarlett and I cuddled all night and let Ethan get as much sleep as possible. When the nurse came in I was totally ready to get up and walk. She took my catheter out and helped me to my feet. I walked to the bathroom and cleaned myself up. It felt night to be on my feet, although I was pretty sore, it was nice to be able to walk.

On Wednesday we had a few visitors and Phoenix came to spend time with us for a couple hours. We felt so comfortable with Scarlett. With Phoenix, not only were we new parents but he had some complications so we were under quite a bit more stress with him. I may be jinxing myself, but Scarlett has been so much easier.

Wednesday was a full moon, and just like people always say, there were tons of people having babies. By Thursday morning they were moving moms to pediatrics to recover because all the rooms were full of woman in labor. The nurses were discharging everyone they could. We weren’t supposed to be going home until Friday but, because they needed our room and Scarlett and I were doing just fine, we got to go home a day early.

Scarlett had her hearing screen (which she passed with flying colors). And we had her first photos done. They all turned out really nice. I got my staples removed and it was totally painless. Because Dr Minehan had to close me up so quickly, the left side of my incision puckered. We had no idea but there was actually a staple underneath another staple. The nurse thought it would hurt a lot to take out those two staples but it didn’t at all. Unfortunately, the pucker has left an ugly scar. It looks like a big flesh colored mole. I hate it but no one is ever going to see it. C-section incisions are super low.

My mom was busy on Thursday so Phoenix was at the hospital with us the whole day. It was pretty stressful to have to go through discharge with just Ethan and me (who couldn’t lift anything more than Scarlett) and a two year old and a newborn. When we were discharged with Phoenix we had both my parents there to help. This time, Ethan had to make several trips to the car by himself to take stuff out there. Phoenix and Scarlett stayed with me. It was an exciting day but we made it through and it was nice to be home all together.

Scarlett is now 16 days old, she had only dropped about six to eight ounces initially and, she was back to birth weight by 10 days old. Also, she’s already almost 20 inches! She is so long and skinny.  Depending on the brand, her preemie rompers are too short but, her newborn rompers are so big that two Scarlett’s could fit in them. Currently she is wearing preemie onesies and pants which work for her long and skinny body. MiniWear (Babies R Us brand clothes) is preemie size fits her perfect at this time.

It’s been just wonderful having Scarlett here. It’s kind of an odd feeling knowing that our family is complete now. With Phoenix, though it wasn’t our first thought or anything, we knew that we’d be having another child someday. But with Scarlett, she’s our last. I’m glad because I feel good about where we are in life. Scarlett really is a gift. We are so lucky to have all of our children.

This is pretty long, it goes through most of our pregnancy and it’s very detailed about what happened for her birth.