Man - the days have been flying by. I'm way late on posting this with you all, but that's because a sweet baby girl has been monopolizing my time and attention -- and I've been loving every second of it. But I digress -- on to Baby J's birth story!
Saturday, March 5th, I woke up thinking this weekend would be busy -- though just from all the things we had going on.
DH had his work shower Friday evening -- which lasted 'til 12:30 am (umm, yeah - not your typical 'baby shower' to say the least!), so I was already feeling tired and groggy from the lack of sleep. Saturday morning came early, as I needed to get my brunch dish ready for our march book club meeting.
It was definitely one of those days where I would have been sorely tempted to suck down an entire pot of coffee, had one been placed in front of me. ..Sadly, none was... (sigh)
That morning I did wonder, through my fogginess (as I'd been doing for weeks now), if today would be the day to meet our daughter.
At first, I thought it was going to end up being a day just like the previous 14 or so... with no changes in circumstance.
So I made it through book club without falling asleep on the others, and soon ended up back home, curled up on the couch, to try and catnap my way through the afternoon. DH had gone fishing with his father earlier, so it was just me at home with the pups, and good 'ole HGTV to lull me to sleep.
Sleep, however, seemed to elude me.
And for good reason, I guess... at about 3:45, I felt (rather than heard) a pop, and fluid came rushing out. I practically jumped up (quite a fete, at this stage) off the couch and off the rug onto our hardwood floor, where I experienced yet another big gush of fluid. Not wanting my favorite pair of maternity jeans to get soaked, I stripped those off and started moving to the batrhoom, only for more fluid to leak out... by the time I made it to the toilet, it was running down my legs -- quite a shock to me!
...Definitely no mistaking the fact that my water had just broken!
DH still wasn't home -- I'd assumed he would have been there long before that point - so I immediately called him to ask if he was on his way home. Apparently it had been raining that morning, so his plan for fishing with his dad had been replaced with attending my nephew's Robotics competition with his dad and his brother --- 45 minutes away. ...and he had NOT driven himself there.
(Umm, whoops! ...Not the best decision!)
When I told him that the reason I wanted him to be on his way home already, he immediately went into excited/panic mode, but at least that made him move quickly... he made it home in record time, by my estimate.
In the meantime, I called the OB to advise them of my status, and they encouraged me to take my time getting ready and packing up, but to be sure and get to the hospital 'relatively soon' -- at least by the time the contractions were in the 5-5-1 pattern (more than five contractions spaced five minutes apart, lasting a full minute).
I then called my mom, who had planned to drive down with my sister for the birth. The conversation was pretty hilarious, in retrospect... when I told her my water had broken, she accused me of kidding with her. In my most sarcastic voice, I told her I was...but then immediately clarified that no, I wasn't kidding, and that i would NEVER kid about that ('specially at 38 wks and 4 cm dialated already). But somehow she missed that part, and spent the next 10 minutes telling me all the reasons why it wouldn't be convenient for this weekend (it was bad weather to drive in, she was just getting over a cold, the choir was singing some special song that sunday, etc). Based on all that, I was getting confused, thinking she was changing her mind about coming -- but still tried to persuade her with the idea that driving down on a saturday meant that at least she'd be avoiding rush hour traffic in atlanta! After a few minutes, she ended the conversation with "call me when something really happens" -- at which point I exclaimed, "Mom, something DID happen - my water broke! We're headed to the hospital soon!" ...thankfully she believed me at that point, and then quickly got off the phone to go pack up and hit the road.
...truly a hilarious -- and very typical -- mom-convo for me.
DH then arrived home, and was a complete, total mess... truly the most spazzed-out, ADD that I've ever seen him. He truly didn't know what to do with himself, poor guy. His older sister and her family also stopped by at that point, and wanted to help out. For DH, that just fed his ADD a bit more though -- he would walk into a room to do something, completely forget what he'd walk in there for, and just talk to the niece and nephews instead. Having him track the time of contractions was hilarious -- and quite a fete, given his spaciness! But I knew it was all nerves.
I had decided to get myself ready and take a shower -- but one challenge was that I kept leaking amniotic fluid. --as in, leaked through four pads worth of fluid. --That came as a big surprise to me, since I thought that when your water broke, it broke and that was it. ...Not quite the case ya'll! But my SIL assured me that I should be 'done' leaking fluid... and I naively listened to her.
So we finally finished getting ready, fully packed, and headed out to the hospital about 6:45 -- a full three hours after my water broke. From 5 pm on, I had noticed that the contractions had increased in strength, and seemed to be coming at a steady 4.5 to 5.5 minutes.
We arrived at Northside Hospital at 7, and spent the first 15 or so minutes completing all the last-minute admission paperwork. At that point, I had made it through the drive there and the paperwork without any additional gushes... but as soon as the nurse called our name to show us back to our L&D room, woosh! --- another big gush of fluid surprised me and left me completely soaked. The admissions attendant just laughed, said it happens all the time, and had the nurse wheel me back to the room in a wheelchair, wrapped up in a towel. Not a big deal -- but wow, that took me by surprise!
Florence, our L&D nurse, checked me out, and told us that I was at 5 cm dialated, 90% effaced, and at a -1 (apparently the baby moves in the birth canal from a -2 position through to zero, positive 1 and finally to positive 2 when she's ready to crown). So at that point (about 8:15 pm), I was given the option of either walking around for 45 minutes to see if I progressed more, or going ahead with an epidural & pitocin (and thus being bed-bound). I chose to walk, so they gave me leave to walk 'til about 9 pm.
Now at that point, I had advised the nurse of two things:
1 - I wanted to avoid both pitocin and an epesiotomy at all costs.
2 - I wanted to prolong an epidural as long as I could... I wasn't opposed to it, but I wanted to see if I could go without it.
Sadly, my own OB, Dr. N, was not on call that day -- so I had the choice of going with either Dr. E (the on-call OB) or the midwife, Amanda. I had never met either, so I was a little ambivalent. Florence, however, sang high praise for Amanda, and recommended using her, if I wasn't against midwives. I am not -- so I took her advice and asked for Amanda to work with me.
So we walked around the hospital, interspersed with visits with all my inlaws that were milling about the waiting area. We made it back to our L&D room for our 'check-in' time at 9, and were told that we'd missed a visit from Dr. E whom we'd decided NOT to use -- and it's a good thing we did! Turns out, he had gone ahead and ordered pitocin for me -- without even having examined me or spoken to me first about it. ...That definitely didn't sit well with me, so it just reconfirmed our decision to go with the midwife.
The midwife stopped by soon after, and she was great -- very frank, very funny, all personality! (but in a good way) She reassured me that she'd be there 'til Monday, so we could take all the time we needed. She was also very open and receptive to my desire to avoid pitocin/epidural -- although she did ask me why I was resistant to epidurals... I didn't have a good answer to that, other than the fact that I felt it would be better for the baby to avoid the drugs -- but she countered that with the question, 'Would you have your wisdom teeth pulled without drugs? Or what about your appendix removed? ...So why wouldn't you use them now, if it offered some relief?' ...To which I could say nothing but 'Good point'.
They checked me again, and this time I was at 6 cm, 100% dialated, and at the zero position... so baby J was working her way down the birth canal! Again, we were given the option of walking or being confined to the bed... again, I chose to walk. By this point, it was close to 10 pm before they gave us leave to go again.
We headed back out to the waiting area to update the family, and just as we were walking past the elevators, the doors opened, and my mom and sister stood waiting to step out. The timing was so perfect, all I could think to say was 'Welcome to the hospital!' while they exclaimed in surprise at finding me still up and about.
Mom and sis then joined us on our walk around the hospital... and at that point, the contractions were QUITE strong... by the end of the walk, they were strong enough to take my breath away, and it became impossible to stand still, or carry on a conversation during one.
We made our way back to the room by 10:30ish, and I was starting to feel really nauseated and sweaty... in retrospect, I was probably transitioning, but didn't realize it at the time.
The midwife wasn't around, but nurse Florence was there, and shocked us both by telling us that they were going to hold off checking me 'til the midwife was available -- and she had been called in to assist in a c-section, and also had a few other laboring women to check on as well. So it would possibly be several hours before we saw her, or got checked again.
Given our lack of sleep the night before, and the strength of the contractions at the time, DH started voicing his concern that I would be too worn out to push, if we had to wait 'til the wee hours of the morning... and I frankly was starting to share that concern. We just didn't have any way to know how long or short the wait would be.... so we chose to go ahead and order the epidural (which sometimes can take a half-hour or so for the anesthesiologist to come up).
Thankfully the administration of the epidural was fairly easy, and within 10 minutes of the shot, I was comfortable again. I could still feel the pressure of the contractions when they came, but no pain. They did end up giving me a little pitocin after the epidural was given, and seemingly within a 15-20 minute time-frame, my contractions were coming every 2 to 2.5 minutes.
By that time, it was nearing midnight, and DH went out to tell all the family that it could be several hours, and that they should go home or to the hotel if they wanted to get a few hours of sleep... essentially, that it could be awhile before anything happened.
Seemingly moments after he walked out the door, the midwife walked in, wanting to just 'check in' with me on her way to assist in a c-section. She asked if I was feeling any pain from my contractions since having the epidural. I told her there was no pain, but that I could still feel a great deal of pressure.
At the word 'pressure,' her eyebrows rose up, and she asked me where I was feeling it --in the front or back?
From my perspective, front and back were all one at this point, so I told her both --- which brought her immediately over to the bed. She said she thought she'd just check me real quick, just to see 'where things stood' before she went to the c-section. She proceeded to re-examine me. About that time, DH walked back into the room, just in time to hear her say "No wonder you're feeling pressure -- you're ready to push!"
DH practically jumped, he was so startled by her statement, and immediately replied by saying "but I just told all our family that it would still be hours before anything happened!" When the midwife told him that he should correct them - -that in fact, we could have a baby in the next hour -- he quickly ran back out to advise them of the update. And so he went.
By 12:30, we were all set and ready to start pushing. With every contraction that came on, I was to curl up, holding the back of my thighs for support, and tuck in my chin, focusing on holding the push for 3 10-second intervals.
It was fascinating... DH was on my left, holding my leg and coaching me through each contraction, and would tell me what he could see of her, and how much progress was made with each push. From the outset, he could see her head full of hair - so he was totally hooked into watching what he'd earlier sworn he wouldn't be able to stomach!
Every exclamation from his lips, the look of awe on his face, was all the motivation I needed with my pushing. I was just so very anxious and excited to meet my baby girl.
After five rounds of pushing, at 1:01 am on Sunday, March 6th, I felt a release of weight and pressure as she slid from my body, and Claire Elyse made her entrance into the world, to the sound of her daddy's exclamations of "Oh my God! She's here!," and her mama's laughter at the look of pure joyfulness on her husband's face... My baby girl came into the world to the sound of laughter and joy -- an clear answer to my prayers that God allow us a calm, joyful and peaceful birth.
God also be praised, she was perfectly healthy, and made her presence known immediately, showing off a fine set of lungs with her sweet baby cries. We spent the first hour with her, before all the family fell upon us and she was passed around like a football.
These first five weeks with my sweet Claire have passed so very quickly -- a veritable hazy blur of feedings and changings and nappings... but oh, it is so very sweet. I look at her, upon her tiny, precious, beautiful little face, and feel so very humbled and grateful that God has blessed us with such a gift... that I get to love and care for this child for the rest of my days. Truly, words fail to express the joy and awe I still feel when I look at her - or when I look at DH holding her. We still can't believe she's ours, that she's here - and will be, for the rest of our lives (please God).
A few pictures of the day:
DH and I (with our sweet puppy girl Lila) before leaving for the hospital -- even Lila looks excited to meet the new addition to the family!
DH and I with Claire Elyse, right after her birth - our first family photo!
Our sweet baby girl - our gift from God
And one last one... taken by a friend of ours when Claire was 5 days old... more to come later!