Teddy’s Birth Video

After two months, it’s finally finished! Alex and I have fought sleep depravation to finish this video because we knew if we didn’t do it now, it would never be done! There was so much more that we wanted to add to Teddy’s video and the director’s cut is over 20 minutes long. We spared you readers that and made it under 11 mins. We hope you enjoy!

*Side Note: The song at the end of this video is actually the song that Teddy came into the world by. The anesthesiologist let us play my iPhone over the system in the operating room so I didn’t have to wear headphones and could experience the birth. So, as you can imagine, it’s even more special to us now.

Theodore Primo Lopez’s Arrival

Teddy, Teddy Spaghetti, Teddy Boo-Boo, Tedster, Theo, you’re here! It was a long and ruthless battle kid. You really showed me who’s boss!

Let me first start off by saying throughout this entire labor and delivery I saw God’s hand in all of it. Him being late meant that close family and friends would be able to be there for his birth and that meant the world to me.

Okay ready? Get set. Go!

It all started at 3:30 am on Sunday morning. I had attended the wedding of William and Sarah Kappen just the day before and hoola-hooped at their reception to try and get some labor started. Still nothing. My in-laws, who really missed us, had planned a trip out to see us for the night and join us for church in the morning where our entire church would be praying over our family. Whelp, change of plans! Right at 3:30 am as I was about to get out of bed (to take care of some business), my water broke — like a lot! I woke up Alex with a start and jaunted to the restroom. I was a mess so I hopped into the shower to wash off and warm my muscles. After that, Alex and I decided to do some walking and time any contractions. Sure enough, within 30 minutes I was starting to feel some heavy cramping that was coming every 3 minutes and lasting 30 seconds. I wasn’t really convinced I was in labor though because I had just been to the doctor earlier in the week and they told me I had not begun to dilate yet. After a couple of laps around our complex, we parked it on the porch and Debbie started timing contractions for me while Alex packed the car up to leave for the hospital. Suddenly, another gush! This time, it was a not so awesome brownish color. My mother in law said, “You need to go to the hospital!” So, off we went.

The entire drive my contractions were getting stronger, now at 2 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute long. That only gave me a minute between contractions to recover and they were getting more intense. We arrived at the hospital and yet, another gush! I was so embarrassed to walk into the ER soaking in my pj pants. They checked us in and got us into a room. What was really awesome though was that arriving on a Sunday morning to birth a baby, the labor and delivery area was completely empty! No one else was giving birth, so I had the attention of about 8 nurses around the clock. We called everyone and told them we were being admitted and that they may want to head down because it must be getting close… Not even 1 cm yet… you have got to be kidding me.

The contractions continued to be strong and the nurse suggested an epidural for the pain. I didn’t want one yet because I was going by dilation and if my contractions were too painful to handle at 7 centimeters I could see getting an epidural, but “too painful” contractions at 1cm? Please. I ain’t no wuss!

The contractions continued and people began to arrive. It was so nice because my mom and sister were coming out my way already for my sister’s wedding dress fitting, Debbie and Wil were already out here “just because” (a HUGE blessing), and Chris and Amber would be able to come because we were having Teddy on a Sunday! I was ready and so was everyone else. Obviously, Amy was a little excited.

So we waited. People came into my room and watched me struggle as contraction after contraction mounted in time and intensity so I must have been progressing pretty well (I thought). The doctor checked me and I was “maybe” 1.5cm.

I don’t even know how long I had been in labor but I knew I was disappointed. I was supposed to be making progress at around 1 cm an hour and I only got .5. Still, it wasn’t enough for me to ask for an epidural. One more hour and two double contractions later — I was exactly the same. The nurse told me that if I continued to labor in this much pain and this quickly, I might not have the energy to even push when the time was ready. My family encouraged me to make my own decision, but I opted for the epidural hoping to slow down the contractions and allow my cervix to catch up.

Unfortunately there was no such luck. The contractions lowered in intensity and I was able to have some momentary relief, but what we wanted was a lowering of the amount per minute. Blah. Thus started the brutal battle of petocin and the epidural to try and steady the contractions and make them more consistent. The nurse was wonderful and monitored Teddy’s heart closely to make sure it stayed within his normal 150 bpm range through the entire 25 hours of labor. Yeah, you heard me… 25 HOURS.

I was supposed to be progressing at 1 cm per hour so everyone in the waiting room took a pool on when he would be here (5/19). Not so quickly afterward we learned he wouldn’t be arriving on the 19th. So, we took ANOTHER pool and everyone lost… again.

Finally, I hit the 21 hour mark from when my water broke.  The nurse checked me and I was at 9cm. My doctor came in an hour later and told me I was still at 9 cm, but the lip of my cervix would not dilate and the baby’s head would not come down into the canal. He asked me if I wanted to continue the labor and my first thought was… Wait? You can end it? I didn’t realize he meant via c-section. Haha. I really wanted to continue laboring and felt I was so close to the end, I knew I could do it. So I said, yes I do. He said okay, I’m going to come back in an hour and check you. He did and I was STILL 9cm! It had been 4 hours with no progress.

Side Bar: Back labor is absolutely horrible. I would take uterus contractions ANY DAY over back labor. Now knowing what I put my poor mother through, I love you Mom and I am SO SORRY. It literally feels like your back is being ripped from your spine. I felt like the exorcist — and that was with an epidural (which was clearly wearing off).

Anyway, the doctor looked and me and said, “Okay I want you to push. Just once for me.” I did and he immediately said, “Okay he’s pushing back instead of coming down, I think we need to do a c-section. You should be holding your baby in just over 30 minutes.” Then he started talking and telling me about the procedure. He said I could have two people in the room with me. I, still trying to comprehend this new course, looked at my Mom and said, “My mom and Alex.” I was just a wreck. I immediately started weeping. I didn’t feel like I had failed or anything; I had just endured 25 hours of on and off painful labor and progressed as far as I could. But I knew this meant major surgery, and surgery that for most people I knew had been in an emergency situation. I searched the room for knowing eyes and my mother-in-law came to my side. She was calm and reassuring.

I asked her, “Does it hurt?”
“No, it doesn’t hurt.”
“Is it scary?”
“No, it isn’t scary.”

Just what I needed. Just simple assurance. I breathed as the drugs started taking effect. Amy came in and tried her best to make me laugh, smiling at me through tears I knew were for me — knowing how tired I was and how badly I wanted to do this. I just looked at her and said, “I’m so scared.”

And she said, “You’ll be great. You get to hold him in 30 mins.”

I just started to sob. I get to hold him in 30 mins. My baby!

My family gathered around me and my father in law prayed over me and the procedure. The nurse, Tracy got Mom and Alex their “outfits” and twisted up my hair while the anesthesiologist capped me. I laughed at the hilarious “ghostbusters” outfits my mom and Alex had to wear and Amy snapped this picture.

Tracy told me she’d be in the room for the delivery and talked over a few things with the anesthesiologist. She was so great and it was reassuring to know both she and he would be there. They geared up and wheeled me over to the operating room. I saw Robert and Hannah (my awesome OBGYN duo) prepping in the hall, and I was so glad to know they would be doing this together!

I was wheeled to the room and transferred to the bed. The NICU team arrived as the others prepped the room. My mom and Alex came in. The anesthesiologist came over to my head and asked if I had any music I would like to play during the procedure. Alex handed him his phone and put on my worship mix that had gotten me through the first 4 painful hours of my labor. The song “10,000 reasons” came on and a great peace covered me. With that they began the procedure. Alex stayed by my side looking at my face and periodically filming. Then it came time for them to pull Teddy out. I felt a release of pressure and some movement and Alex say, “He’s here. He’s here.”

The NICU grabbed him and Alex went over to cut the cord. I caught a glimpse of him and kept saying over and over, “my baby, my baby, my baby.” My mom followed Alex with the camera, sweetly documenting everything. The ladies from the NICU were so overwhelmed by his size that they jokingly called him “Bruiser.” Haha, if only they knew the number he did on my ribs from the inside! They weighed him and everyone laughed… “9lbs and 9oz!” Holy cow!

They washed him and joked about how he would need lots of baths — he was covered in his own poop (sorry Teddy). All the nurses fell in love with him cooing and telling me how beautiful he was. Finally, they brought him to me and placed him on my chest. He was perfect, all swaddled there and making faces at me. He looked just like his Daddy, who came over and kissed us both. We did it. We made and delivered a baby. It was so amazing.

The effect of the block began to sink further into my brain and they took him as they stitched me up. The doctor sweetly came to me and said, “Natalee, I’m so sorry. If I had a crystal ball and could have seen inside you I would have been able to tell you right away that you aren’t going to be able to have this baby vaginally. The cord was wrapped around his body, keeping him inside.”

I said, and still mean it, “Honestly Robert. If I had to do it all over again, I would.”

The drugs took effect and I don’t really remember a lot afterward. Except how excited everyone was and that he was beautiful. They all got to see him wheeled into the nursery and have his first (well second) bath. Lots of love all around.

They brought him to me again and he was even more handsome than I remembered. Dark swirly hair. Grey eyes. Brown skin. Surprisingly, I think he kinda looks like me. He is 9lbs 9oz and 21.5 inches of pure joy. And he has dimples to boot!

Over the next few days in the hospital we had tons of visitors and family came frequently to coo at Teddy. I struggled to reconcile my mind as the narcotics took effect. I decided after say one that would stick with Motrin. It was hard, but I wanted my body to heal quickly. As soon as my catheter was out, I was up walking. Alex and all the nurses were so encouraged and impressed. I just wanted to get out of there!

I did enjoy the round-the-clock care the hospital provided but I hated how they would wake us up to check vitals and give medication.

Even though this birth didn’t end up the way I had hoped, I know God orchestrated it all. If anything it helped further my resolve that God works in all births and every life is a gift from him no matter how they come into the world.

I am so thankful for your prayers and encouragement through this process. The recovery has been hard but we are so glad to be home now with our “little” guy.

Now, back to kissing and squeezing my new guy.

Leelo and Ander +1

A Birth Story | Camden Reed

I had the amazing privilege to be witness to my best friend, Amy’s birth of her second child and first boy, Camden Reed Cotsenmoyer. He didn’t have a name though until after he was born since his Mom and Dad hadn’t been able to decide on one. They did, however, have it narrowed down to about 3 names.

First, let me say that I had mixed feelings about being there for the delivery. Knowing that I have to deliver my baby in just 10 weeks gave me paused because I didn’t want to be freaked out, but I prayed a lot about it and knew that I really wanted to be there for Amy — and I’m so glad I was.

Now, for the story.

It started on Tuesday the 26th around 12:30. Amy called me and said that her midwife had stripped her membranes (again — yikes!) and she had some constant cramping since then. I decided to grab the 2:30 train to La Sierra which is right across from Kaiser. Lets just say I was so anxious that I wasn’t going to be there in time that I got a little “sick” on the train. Then, my train was delayed in Buena Park due to a gas leak on an overpass we have to travel under. My Mom almost hopped in her car to come get me, but we started moving shortly after that. Mom met me at the station, dropped me off at the hospital and took Boone with her — right as Am and Trav were pulling in! (Thanks Mom!!) We went to L&D, checked in and waited. Amy kept saying she knew they were going to send her home and sure enough — she hadn’t progressed at all since her appointment that morning. Boo.

We decided to do everything we could to make the baby come out. We ate spicy Mexican food and walked around the mall twice. No dice. And I could tell Amy was getting a little restless and just wanted to go home. We made her do a few squats in the parking lot and then went home. After Tenley and I went to bed, Amy started laboring for the next two hours. I was asleep on and off but woke up at 12:15 when Robin arrived. Trav said we were going back to the hospital and leaving in 15 mins. I started timing Amy’s contractions and they were 3 mins apart and 1.5 minutes long! Oh boy. Then she started barfing. Yikes! We needed to go! As soon as Amy finished barfing in every sink in the house we were off. She consistently contracted all the way there.

When we arrived at the hospital Amy was worried she had waited too long and wouldn’t have the chance for an epidural if she needed. They decided to admit her, checked her and she was 6-7 cm! Yahoo! An hour later (about 3:15) they checked her again and she was a 7-8. And boy, was she ever ready for an epidural! It was so intense seeing her in that much pain and not being able to help her. Trav was such a trooper! She completely relied on him for comfort and he was right there when she needed with ice chips and a hand to squeeze the crap out of.

The anesthesiologist came in and I booked it out of there so she could get her meds. Whitney, Robin and I came in 45 mins later and Amy was doing much better. The midwife came in to check her and she was at 10 and ready to push! Holy cow!! We all scuffled about and someone went to get Trav. Amy pushed a few good times but nothing happened. They decided to wait a bit until the baby dropped some more.

A few more visitors came in and few more times she tried to push him down. Finally at 5:00 it was time for the real stuff! With Trav on one side, the L&D nurse on the other and Teresa cheering her on, Amy pushed and pushed! The midwife opted for an episiotomy and helped massage the baby down further. They decided to move Amy to her side and have her push and he finally moved down. Back onto her back, a few more pushes and he came barreling out at 5:13 am! He weighed exactly the same as his sister, 7lbs and 6oz and was 19.5 in long. It was amazing. They put him on Amy for a while and then grabbed him for some checking.

So many amazing people were there to assist with checking the baby’s heart beat, which had been and issue for the past two weeks, clean him up and stamp his feet. He barely cried — already so well behaved! He was very content under the heat lamps and holding Daddy’s hand until he got to feed from Mommy.

One problem though! The poor kid still didn’t have a name!! Amy had said she would know once she had seen him what his name would be so Trav went over to her and she whispered it to him. She got teary-eyed and couldn’t say it so she said, “Nevermind its a surprise!” Then she finally said, “Camden Reed.” Yay!!! Finally a name for this little guy!

They gave Camden to his Mommy and he latched right away. The L&D nurse was so helpful since Camden had started making a clicking noise and she helped correct Amy on the latch and both Mommy and baby did great.

Trav and I went into the waiting room to announce the name and everyone was so happy — probably even more happy that he had a name than that he was born!

We all took turns congratulating Mommy and Daddy and holding little Camden Reed. Then we left to take naps and let the new family get acquainted.

Later, once they had moved to the postpartum wing, Tenley got to meet her baby brother! She was so excited. She brought him a toy puppy and a drawing of hearts. She immediately wanted to hold him and kept saying, “Don’t cry baby brother…” In a sweet voice whenever he would fuss. I about balled my eyes out it was so sweet.

After all that, I am more ready than ever for my own little baby to come! I know every labor is different but Amy’s labor could not have gone any better. She felt completely listened to and no one pressured her to do anything. Her body knew exactly what to do and her team knew exactly what to tell her and how to respond to her body. I was amazed! So, for the millionth time… Can it be May already?!

Thank you Amy and Trav for letting me be a part of this experience! And thank you little Camden Reed who is asleep in my arms right now while I type this blogpost on my phone. Sweet dreams little bubba.

“Writhing Your Birth Pain”

I read this little bit of advice from Baby Center: “Writing Your Birth Plan” as “Writhing Your Birth Pain”. What is my subconscious up to these days?! Truth be told, I thought it was kind of hilarious at first. Especially since I’ve done pretty much everything to avoid even thinking about the actually labor process. I posted this picture on Facebook and it started an on set of birthing advice from hypnobirthing to c-sections. I absolutely appreciate and value every single opinion and love that so many women are passionate about the birthing process.

You want to know what my ideal birthing process would be, right this very minute?? A non-existent one. Yup, if I’m being completely honest — the idea of pushing a watermelon out of my body does not sound in the least bit appealing, joyful, enjoyable, or exciting. I’m just putting it out there. I am terrified and I think that’s why I’ve completely avoided the subject all together. P.S. Thanks a lot Eve. That girl is going to get so many slaps in the face in heaven.

Part of me truly feels the less options I have, the better. I just need to listen to my doctor/doula and everything will be fine. They are professionals, right? Then another part of me thinks, women have been doing this for years and multiple times so 1) how hard can it be? and 2) my body clearly will know what it’s doing, right? Finally, the type-A person in me wants to spend the next three months really searching all my options and decide on a birth plan that I think would be the best for me.

So, be honest with me people, how many of you totally freaked out with your first/second/third/millionth? What did you do to calm the anxiety and how did you get started on your process of looking into birth plans? Was your birth plan followed? Did it give you peace-of-mind or racing-of-the-heart?

Looking forward to all your answers,
Leelo and the giant squash baby slowly growing bigger and bigger inside of her.