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Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Penelope Ruth

I’m thrilled to announce that our newest Montessori baby is here! Penelope Ruth Kavanaugh was born January 30th at 5:45 a.m. She was a tiny 6lbs 3oz, 18 inches long. We have been settled in at home for a few days and couldn’t be more in love. I figured I would take this opportunity to share her birth story before all the details escape my mind. Her labor was both long and fast, and her delivery led to my most intense post birth experience and intervention. 

Like most of my pregnancies I started experiencing contractions early on in the third trimester. They would come frequently, get close together and stop. The false labor was annoying but I’m very used to it and mostly just live life while it happens. Well, on Friday, January 28 I was experiencing all the same fake contractions I had had for weeks. They continued into the dinner hour and throughout bedtime for the kids. I was annoyed, cranky and tired. As I got ready to go to bed (of course) the contractions suddenly intensified. 


At 9:30 p.m. I started to need to breathe through the contractions but they still weren’t super consistent. I would get a couple at 5 minutes apart then it would be 20 minutes then 3 minutes. After awhile of drifting in and out of sleep with these, I decided to get up and move around to see if they would get more consistent. I paced around the house in the quiet and the dark, bounced on my yoga ball, and walked our stairs but the more I moved the more they went away. 

So, I figured they weren’t leading to active labor and went back to bed around 1:00 a.m. I drifted in and out of sleep again but the contractions immediately began to intensify as I tried to rest. It was so weird, and the opposite of all my other labors. At 3:00 a.m. I got up again to try and move around to make the contractions consistent and move the process along. Again, as I moved, the contractions got fewer and farther between. However at around 3:30 I did have my bloody show and figured this was probably early labor. I paced around, tried sleeping on the couch, tried cleaning our basement playroom, nothing made the contractions consistent but they were getting more and more painful. 


At 5:30 a.m. I decided to shower, assuming things would kick in soon. But the shower seemed to calm the contractions completely. I crawled into bed, had a few hard contractions but was able to sleep until 7:00 a.m. when the house was alive with activity. At this point I was exhausted from sleeping 2-3 hours total all night. But there were zero contractions. None. Everything stopped with the sunrise. It was a relatively busy day for us on Saturday. Nora had an important sacrament at Church, we had groceries being delivered, and other chores. Thankfully, Morgan was able to take over mostly and I just tried to rest. I honestly thought labor had stopped altogether at that point. Later in the afternoon, I ran to my acupuncturist’s office for a session (non-sponsored shout out to Blue Ox Medicine, if you also live in the Twin Cities) to see if I might either be able to relax or get things started. 


By the time I got home, nothing had changed except I was dead tired and couldn’t even think about eating. Instead, I got into a bath at dinner time and then spent the evening in bed watching TV. I hadn’t had any contractions for more than 12 hours at this point and just was thinking I would get a good night’s sleep. I did, thankfully, end up falling asleep around 8:30 until 12:00. At midnight, I started to get woken up with very strong contractions again. But this time I was determined to ignore them and sleep. That didn’t happen, by 12:45 I had to get up to move through them (movement helps me a lot in labor.) 

Very quickly after getting out of bed I realized these contractions were coming every three to five minutes. Within 20 minutes, I was feeling shaky and nauseous. I woke Morgan up to let him know it was time to start seriously thinking about going to the hospital. So of course, at that very moment, Ted woke up and only wanted Morgan. While Morgan helped Ted, I got pretty sick and got ahold of our dear friend who came to sit with the kids overnight. 


At 1:45 a.m. we finally left for the hospital. It wasn’t the greatest ride there but I survived. Once we were there, the nurses asked me if this was “my first baby” when I said “no, fifth” I was taken seriously real quickly. Turns out I came in at 5cm dilated with the baby very low. I was GBS positive so I was able to get hooked up to an IV for antibiotics pretty quickly. At the point the back labor was horrible and I was so exhausted, having only slept a couple hours since Friday morning that I decided to go ahead with an epidural. Things went quickly from there, and by 5:20 a.m. I was ready to push. Turns out Penelope was sunny side up, just like Ted had been. But this time, she navigated it a lot easier and quicker and came into the world at 5:45 a.m. 

I wish I could say that was the end of the story but what followed was some of the scariest moments of my life. As Penelope was born and placed on my chest she made a sort of squeak cry but then nothing. When she was on my chest she was completely lifeless and grey. The nurses tried to stimulate her to get her to cry and take some big breaths but nothing. After 40-60 seconds of that they quickly clipped the cord and whisked her limp body away. 


My doctors had called a NICU team who rushed in to help. They aggressively sucked out her lungs which had apparently inhaled quite a bit of amniotic fluid and some blood. They told me after that the blood thickens the fluid just enough to make it really hard for babies to clear on their own. After a good suction, Penelope still wasn’t breathing so they used a CPAP mask and forced oxygen into her body. Morgan said it was amazing to see because she immediately turned from grey to pink. After a little bit she was finally breathing normally, although a bit grunty, on her own. 

In all the NICU team worked with her for 15 minutes. Then she was finally brought back to me. She was still really grunty and working harder than normal to breathe. She was also struggling to maintain her body temp. I did get to nurse her a bit and hold her skin to skin. Her breathing normalized over the following hour. But then they had to test her glucose levels because of the CPAP use. Turns out her glucose was bottoming out and was dangerously low. So they quickly gave her some glucose gel and then Morgan was able to feed her a small bottle of donor breastmilk. The combination of these two things was enough to stabilize her blood sugar and bring things back into normal ranges.


Because of this rocky start Penelope was monitored closely for the next 36 hours. Thankfully she was able to stay with me the entire time and all her glucose tests came back in normal ranges. We finally were able to head home and she’s been a tiny but mighty, perfectly typical little newborn. 

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Would you like to comment?

Me said...

Congratulations! She is beautiful! My sixth had some similar issues at birth.

Crystal Urban said...

So glad she's ok! My boy was born grey and not moving too and started making these grunting/whining noises when he was trying to breathe after they got him moving. They put him on a CPAP too! Now he's 18 months old and running everywhere and trying to chat up a storm! He's my first and I'll never forget those first moments.
Penelope is beautiful! I can't wait to see more of her and the kids!

Display Name said...

Omg!!! I hope she didn’t lose vital brain functioning in those 15 minutes!

Emily said...

Congratulations mama!!! So proud of you and your journey. Thank you for sharing with us, Penelope is just beautiful!

Heather N said...

Our second born (this last summer) was born with cord prolapse after being induced. I went from 2-10 cm in 20 mins and then, when they found the cord, I pushed her out in 3 mins. When they pulled her away she was also grey, and lifeless. It’s a terrifying scene for a Mama. This is our second baby who came into the world unable to breathe on their own. I am forever grateful to modern medicine for these machines (like the CPAP) that help our little ones! So glad Penelope is safe and your story has a happy ending! Welcome this amazing community sweet girl- so looking forward to following your Montessori journey! Congrats Mama <3

ilbereth said...

Congratulations! Both to you and the Dad! And actually also to the proud siblings! Lots of love, strength and patience :)