My Birth Story

On Friday, February 1, 2008, I woke with a horrible migraine and hopped in the shower to get ready for work. I got myself and Britney ready for the day and felt very disoriented but popped a couple Tylenol and Britney and I went on our merry way to daycare. After I dropped her off, something just wasnt right and went home for the day instead of work as Britney was safely at daycare

Once home, I ended up throwing up on top of a rare case of diarrhea. What was wrong with me?! I threw my PJ’s back on and climbed into bed. I fell asleep almost immediately! It felt better to not only just sleep – but to be in the dark quiet bedroom.

I didn’t wake up until that evening when Britney climbed into my bed with a bowl of chicken noodle soup. I ate and cuddled with her a bit and went back to sleep. I didn’t wake up until the following day at 10am. I felt much better but still a bit ‘off’. I ended up taking a pregnancy test about a week and a half later. The test was positive. Complete shocker for the kids’ dad and I.

I didn’t believe it – and having 1 kidney, 2 cervix’ and 2 uterus – I went to the hospital for a blood test just to be sure. The nurse asked why I thought  I was pregnant. I told her I had a positive urine test and I didn’t believe it myself. Six years after Britney was born and I’m pregnant? What were the odds I was pregnant?! Apparently pretty good…

7 weeks 5 days

I received the results of the pregnancy test the night before the kids’ dad left for 4 months of training. While he was gone, I was classified as “high-risk” and had almost double the doctor appointments than an average pregnant woman does. After his training, we would be moving to Texas – which made me nervous to start the doctor appointments, with new doctors, all over again! I started doing research right away.

10 weeks 5 days

When we got to Texas, it took a little bit to work around the military hospital system – I wanted to be seen by a doctor off post. It seemed to be more logical as we lived almost 30 minutes away from post anyways.

Terrific Kids!

Britney and her Texas BFF Gabi

I got Britney registered for school, started to meet new friends, got the house up and running, went to my doctor appointments, and prepared for baby #2 to come. Britney was awarded with a “Terrific Kid” award within the first few weeks of school. I would be sure she’d do just fine in school!

Two days after my birthday in 2008, my nephew, Wyatt was born! My sister and I were pregnant together but living far away, we only had phone calls every once in awhile to keep us connected. Wyatt was born a healthy little boy over 9 lbs! It was so exciting. I couldn’t wait for our little guy to come.

One night we all started discussing what we were going to name the new baby. Britney was a huge High School Musical fan so she thought of “Troy” right away.

31 weeks

I didn’t think it had a ring to it. The name Brandon was mentioned – that way Britney and Brandon would start with the same letters. I didn’t like Brandon – either did Britney. I mentioned Trever – which neither liked either. Then Britney said, “I got it!! How about Ryan!?” Her dad said, “Brian?” Britney said, “No. Ryan!” He says, “Right…Brian?!” Britney said, “No, daddy…RRRRRyan.” So we had a first name to our baby boy!

Ryan was due on November 13, 2008; however, Ryan has always had different plans! His birthday would also be different than planned…

On September 29, 2008 in El Paso, Texas, I had pain on the right side of my back right under my rib cage all day. By 8pm that night, I couldn’t take it anymore and the Tylenol I had been taking every 4 hours since the time I woke up, just wasn’t cutting the pain. I went to the ER and was hooked up to monitors to make sure Ryan was ok. His heart beat was strong as ever, he was still moving as much as I remember him to be during the whole pregnancy, and all seemed ok. They asked when the last time I used the bathroom was, and I remembered last going about 430 that afternoon. By this time, it had been 5 hours.

I drank at least a half-gallon to gallon of water every day during the pregnancy, so when they hooked me up to an IV for fluids saying they thought I was dehydrated, I thought they were absolutely crazy! And I was going to prove them so too…trying to use the bathroom every 10 minutes for an hour… so I could be released – to no avail – I was admitted as the pain continued under my right rib cage.

2 days before Ryan was born

I was given some pretty strong medication (Demerall) and slept most of the night not remembering a lot of what happened during the next 24 hours.

The things I do remember:

  • Wanting to go home.
  • The pain was gone.
  • My daughter and the kids’ dad visiting – me telling them a story and not making any sense what-so-ever. I remember starting the story, then getting frustrated because I didn’t remember where I was going with the story.
  • The nurses getting snippy with me because I screamed at them as they already had a cath in – trying it 5 times (because they “wanted to make sure they were getting my bladder”) was NOT necessary!
  • The nurses getting irritated every time they checked my cath bag to find it STILL empty.
  • Taking my rings off of my fingers and my socks off of my feet after they replaced the empty bag of fluid for the IV with a full one for the 3rd time – otherwise who knows if I would have had feet or fingers left!
  • I had LOTS of blood taken – and with the fluid they kept pumping me with, it got harder and harder for them to find a good vein. I have small rolling veins as it is – finding one was like finding a very small needle in a very big haystack…and I had the bruises to prove it!
  • Talking to my mom.  She was working on getting a flight down to Texas from Wisconsin whenever I needed/wanted!
  • The doctor had no idea what was going on – why the bag wasn’t filling up with fluid as they had already pumped me with 7 bags (a total of 9!)!

FINALLY, almost 24 hours later, they had called a kidney doctor for me!

Only having 1 kidney, there should have been more done by the doctors to begin with and EARLIER – in my opinion!

They completed an ultrasound to look at my kidney – they saw that my kidney had fluid in it, but my bladder was still empty. They were afraid Ryan was sitting on my ureter and decided to take me down for an emergency c-section. The doctor said within 20 minutes up to 2 hours, I should fill the cath bag with some sort of fluid (hopefully 9 bags full!!!) they had been pumping me with for the last 24 hours. I made one last call to my parents to let them know what was going on and then was wheeled to the OR.

When I got into the OR, I was moved from my bed to the table. I spoke briefly with the anesthesiologist who gave me an epidural. There were multiple nurses and a few doctors in the room too. Seemed like a lot of medical personnel in the room compared to what I ever thought would be in an OR for a c-section. Everyone was running around preparing for the arrival of Ryan. A few nurses were preparing everything they needed for Ryan. A few by my bedside to make sure the doctor had everything he needed for the c-section and others watching me to make sure I was ok. There was a sheet acting as a curtain so I couldn’t see what was going on with my belly. I was a bit bummed with this because I wanted to see Ryan when he first came out!!

When it was time, the doctor made sure I couldn’t feel anything in my lower stomach area. He started to explain everything he was doing as he did things and as they happened. “I’m going to make the incision in your bikini line area as we discussed…” (etc.) I felt tugging and pulling, then all of a sudden there was a relief of pressure of the fight the doctor was having with my insides. Ryan was born at 9:43pm on September 30, 2008 at 17 inches long and 4 lb…mama’s boy was born!

As the doctor sewed me up – I tried to get a peek through all of the medical professionals to see my baby. Then the pediatrician from the NICU brought Ryan over to me. My new bundle of joy was wrapped in a few blankets, topped with a cute new born hat stripped with blue and pink. His lips were slightly blue which concerned me! The doctor told me to give him a couple kisses and they were going to take him to the NICU to stabilize him. I kissed him a few times and just wanted to hold and talk to him. The doctor had me kiss him a few more times and then he was on his speedy way to the NICU…

Thinking back on the night he was born, I don’t remember Ryan crying. I don’t remember him making a sound. However, I do remember being in shock. When you’re in shock, do you not hear what you normally would? I remember hearing the doctors and nurses all around me being in a panic. I remember hearing the staples from the doctor putting my stomach back together. I remember the anesthesiologist making sure I still couldn’t feel anything. I remember a nurse looking at the cath bag to see if it was full yet.

But I don’t remember hearing Ryan cry.

From the OR, I went to recovery. I was checked on by nurses and another anesthesiologist who talked to me about placing a central line in my neck in case they needed to either take blood or give me any other medication that wouldn’t be able to enter in the other IV they had started. I just wanted to see my baby boy.

After I woke up from dosing off and on, I looked through 5 pictures that were taken of Ryan. It didn’t look good; not what anyone expects to see after they have had a child. Ryan was all hooked up to monitors and there were tubes and hoses every where. He was on a machine to help him breathe. He had a feeding tube placed through his nose so he could get some type of nutrients. I noticed how big the diaper had looked on him.Ryan - hours old

Nothing can prepare you on how to react or feel about your newborn baby needing help to breathe. People tell you what you want to hear so they don’t scare you! The good of childbirth is all any mom can hope for. And it seemed we were being faced with the worst of all cases.

 The next time I saw a nurse, she checked the cath bag – to find it empty still. And even many many hours later – it was still dry! I asked if I could go see my son. She didn’t think it was going to be possible until they figured out what was going on with me…

Finally, I was taken to the ICU where I was monitored all night. I made a few phone calls to the NICU to check on my baby boy. They really didn’t tell me much over the phone other than he was doing well and to get better myself. I made a few phone calls to my family back in Wisconsin to let them know I was ok and we had a baby boy. I talked to my dad and told him we were naming Ryan after him – using his first name as Ryan’s middle name. I only remember seeing my dad cry once – and for the first time, I was hearing him sniffle and cry over the phone. He was so happy and sounded like such a proud grandpa! My mom told me she was going to head down and be there within the next 24-48 hours. I could not have been happier with this news. I wanted nothing but for her to be there when Ryan was born…her trip down to Texas started sooner than expected.

Somewhere from the time Ryan was born to the following morning, another ultrasound was done and the kidney doctor had come in and told me I’d be going into an emergency surgery so they could get in and see for themselves what was going on.

At this point, almost 8 hours after Ryan was born, my body still hadn’t output any fluids…but I still had an IV. The kidney doc started talking about dialysis and a tube that would be surgically placed on my right side with a bag on the outside of my body… so that the fluid in my kidney could drain SOMEWHERE since it wasn’t going the way it should have been. The bag would need to be changed every couple hours and it could be there for months, years…possibly the rest of my life.

They decided if I still hadn’t filled a cath bag by the morning hours, I would go back to the OR and they would surgically see what was going on. I so badly wanted to fill a few cath bags and get out of the ICU so I could go see my baby, make sure he was ok, and take him home where we both belonged. But by the morning hours…the cath bag was still empty. I had received approximately 9 bags of fluid but I hadn’t output any for almost 40 hours!!

I have one of those kidney’s…

When I called my parents before surgery, my mom told me she was going to be in  Texas by that afternoon and would stay for as long as I needed. She told me she had sent out email upon email to family and friends to pray that my body lets go of the fluid, continues to stay strong, and I have a fast recovery so I can see and hold Ryan. She helped ease my mind that everything was going to be ok. It helped to know so many people were helping to support and pray for my small family and me from afar. And to have her support by my side was going to be even more meaningful and appreciated!

I went into surgery about 8am and the doctors found I had a kidney stone. The stone was so big it was blocking any and all fluid to go from my kidney to my ureter. They removed the big stone and placed a stent in my ureter which would help any other smaller particles of the big one or smaller stones pass easier. Finally, the cath bag was filling and I was on the road to recovery!!! They kept me in ICU for the day to make sure I would recover as needed. After waking from one of my cat naps that afternoon, my mom was sitting in the chair next to me! Other than the normal pain anyone would have after having a c-section and surgery, things were definitely looking up.

My mom stayed with me until the nurses moved me from the ICU to a room on the same floor Ryan was on that evening. Within an hour of being on the new floor, one of my nurses took my mom and I in a wheelchair to the NICU. Ryan Meets GrandmaWe needed to do the best to wash my hands/wrists around the tape and IV, put a cap on, a robe, and a mask. We were greeted by a few NICU nurses who wheeled me over to where Ryan was and lowered the incubator he was in. I don’t remember what I was expecting, but what I saw was one thing I know I wasn’t expecting. I was in shock.

My baby boy was in an incubator wearing a diaper that looked way too big for him. He had stickers and cords attached to his chest and what looked like a really big hose (only because he was so tiny) with a smaller tube going into his mouth and down his throat.  He looked comfortable sleeping, which I was also shocked to see with all of the noise the machines around him were making. Ryan’s nurse told me I could stay as long as I wanted to. She told me I’m welcome to visit anytime I wanted to. I couldn’t figure out if she thought I wanted to know about everything else because I looked like I was in shock or what…so I started asking questions.

I asked every question I thought of, as it would sound coming from a 5 year old. “What are the cords and stickers on his chest for?” “Why doesn’t he have any clothes on?” “Isn’t he cold?” “How long will he be in the incubator?” “What is the thing going into his mouth and why does he need it?” “When can I hold him?” “What’s that noise?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Can I touch him?”

Once I had all of my questions out of the way, I was able to open up one of the little holes in the side of the incubator to touch Ryan and talk to him. The nurse and my mom left me alone to be with my baby boy. He was so tiny!

As I quietly spoke to him about how happy I was to finally meet him, how proud I was of him with how strong he is, how happy Britney will be to finally meet him, and so many other first thoughts when meeting your newborn child… I couldn’t help but freak out in my head. An action hero moment played out where I’d open what soon was known as “Ryan’s box”, pull off all of the cords, take the tube out of his mouth to which he would breathe on his own – and cry but smile while looking right at me, and we’d be on our merry way home.

But that was far from what the next 6 1/2 weeks had in store for us.

…to be continued…



  1. Anita

    Baaaah! Where can I find the rest of the story!!

  2. Amanda

    You are such a strong and amazing woman, Cousin! Can’t wait to hear more about his story! Love you!

  3. Danielle Carroll

    Sitting here with tears in my eyes waiting for the rest of the story… brought back a lot of memories

    • D – Soooo many memories as I go through the pictures and try to remember details. That’s why I’m trying to get this together NOW when he’s still “just 3”. 🙂 I’ve been meaning to for so long, so it’s about that time. Hope you all are doing well!!

  4. Grandma

    So many memories and what a scary time in our lives when we almost lost both of you. Anything that could happen happened…. I remember flying out ASAP, quiting my job to be there for however long I needed to be. Taking Britney to school with her blond hair and blue eyes in beautiful El Paso. It was a great school and she did so well there! Then coming to the hospital to be with you and Ryan………I’m looking forward to the rest of the story too.
    Will you include Maria’s picture? 🙂 Oh so many memories…….We’ve come a long way baby!!!

    • It wouldn’t be the full story without Grandma Maria. 🙂 Of COURSE Maria will be involved.

  5. WOW Robin… what a strong woman you are. To hear the very beginning of Ryan’s story gives me goosebumps. I cannot imagine a kidney stone that large… oh the pain. Looking forward to the next chapter!

  6. Terri Throm

    My Dear Goddaughter!! I had to build up my courage to read this and now am so glad I did. You are the most amazing woman I have ever had the honor to know (aside from my own darling daughter). Cheers to you and your lovely family. Can’t wait for more entries. Thanks for sharing your story. Love, Aunt Terri

  7. Very strong woman you are! Ryan and Britney are adorable!!! I look forward to reading it all. hugs!

  8. Auntie Kate

    Amazing Robin…. truly amazing. Ryan is a miracle in everyway. You two were brought together by some greater power, and how lucky are we to be a small part of it…

    Love you

  9. Jessica

    This brought tears to my eyes, for you and for me as well. Shawn was 35 weeks along when they took him via c-section and because of complicatinos with me. his lungs were under developed, he was in the cube, as i call it, for a week. by the time i was allowed to hold him for the first time he was 8 days old. we were blessed enough to come home after 2 1/2 weeks, that was hard enough, i could not imagine 6 1/2. i know the feeling, i have experianced it along with the tears and the fault, i blamed myself even though now i realize that it was not. i thank god for him everyday. its truly amazing what those little bodies can do and how incredibally strong they are even though they fit in the palm of your hand at the time.

    many blessing to you and your little family

    • Hi Jessica!
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I went through a LOT of emotions and will get that written and posted one day. It’s hard to think about those feelings again, because they were so deep and life changing.
      Give your Shawn a big hug and kiss from all of us. He is one of God’s blessings and is lucky to have an amazing mom like you!
      Blessings! – Robin

  10. Candee

    Hi Robin,
    I knew the first time I met you that you were a strong woman. Reading this just proves more of what I thought.

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