After a lot of consideration, I decided I was too uncomfortable to work up until my due date, and I started my maternity leave a week before I was due. It was weird being home from work without having a baby to care for, but I am really glad I took that week off to cook, clean, and spoil myself a little bit. It was a nice bit of relaxation, and I savored it!
I was due on Sunday, March 23, and by Friday I was starting to get pretty antsy as I waited for the baby to make its appearance. My parents came into town on Friday night, after closing on their new house in Saint Louis (YAY!!). Once they were here I felt REALLY ready to get the show on the road, but Friday and Saturday I didn't have much going on besides some irregular contractions scattered throughout the day. By Sunday I was feeling a little grumpy, and just kind of blah overall. Mentally blah, physically blah, the whole 9 yards. I was just so ready to meet our little baby, but I was also pretty sure my due date was going to pass without anything happening. We went to Franks & Dawgs for lunch, and scored some amazing fabric at the Crate and Barrel outlet across the street, then we headed home to just hang out for a while.
Sunday night my parents went to meet their friends for dinner, and Joe and I were relaxing around the house. I felt the need to do something to keep me busy, so we decided to bake some cookies. We didn't get far, though, because a few minutes later my water broke! Luckily, I was just standing on the tile in the kitchen, so it wasn't too messy! That was around 7:00 pm, and we went ahead and called the doctor's office to get directions for what to do next. The doctor on call said we didn't need to rush to the hospital, but that my water breaking meant there would be risk of infection if the baby didn't come within 24 hours. We took a little time to shower and finish packing our hospital bags, and within an hour my contractions had gotten much more intense, and it was time to head in to the hospital.
|I probably gave Joe a look like this when he asked how I felt about giving labor!|
(Ok, this is posed. It wasn't that bad... I swear!)
We arrived at OB Triage at about 9:00 pm. The nurse who was with us for the first part of the night was really great, and worked to keep me somewhat comfortable and sane as we waited for a room down in the Labor and Delivery wing. I was already at 4 cm and 90% effaced when we arrived, so everyone was hopeful that it would be a somewhat quick process. Baby was in a good position and had a strong heartbeat, so we tried to just relax a little as we waited. The contractions were feeling pretty intense at that point, though, and I had already pretty much dismissed my original plan to try to avoid an epidural. If we have another child and I want a natural birth, remind me to take a class on how to actual handle the pains of labor... I was NOT prepared for that!
Around 11:00 that night we got transferred downstairs to Labor and Delivery. Pretty quickly they got me the epidural, which was amazing. I was a little more numb on my left side, but overall I couldn't feel the pain of the contractions anymore. Thank God! At that point we were told to try and relax, which is easier said than done. There were monitors beeping and the occasional alarm going off, and plenty of people in and out of the room. The night was a bit of a blur. There was a point when they wanted to give me pitocin to try to speed up the process. I was a bit wary, but ended up concenting. Turns out our little baby didn't like that idea much, and one dose of the lowest amount was met with a lower heart rate from her. So pitocin was out, and we were going to need to patiently await my body getting itself ready.
|Joe was an amazing support throughout the night.|
There was also a point in the night when the baby's heart rate dropped for a few minutes, drawing concern from the doctors. I stayed really calm during this episode, but they had me turning side to side for a few minutes to see if it would help, and I was moments away from an emergency c-section at one point. There were about six nurses and doctors in the room at that point, and I had to just trust that they would do whatever they needed to do to take care of me and the baby. Thankfully, the baby's heart rate went back to normal, and we were all able to calm down a little bit. The night nurse's shift went until 7:00 am, and throughout the night we kept agreeing that the baby would make its appearance before her shift was over.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. The baby was a bit too comfortable, and when the doctors and nurses did their shift change at 7 am, we checked and saw that I was still not completely dilated. I was close, but they wanted to wait a little longer before trying to have me push. The next couple hours felt very long. The doctor's shifts overlapped, and they did their switch off around 9 am. At that point the new doctor came in (one from the practice that I really like... score!), and did another check. I was stalled at that last bit of dilating, and she said to again wait a little longer. By 10:00 she came back and ended up doing the last bit of stretching manually. Thank God for that lovely Epidural! I didn't feel a thing! And then, it was time for the real effort to begin... I needed to take any energy left in me and channel it into pushing that baby out.
|Attempting to wait patiently.|
|If you know me at all, you know I love to eat. |
So the whole idea of not eating during labor was pretty sucky in my opinion.
This popsicle was the only thing I ate for about 17 or 18 hours, and it was delightful.
It was officially one of the hardest things I've ever done. I pushed for two long hours, feeling tired, hungry, and less hopeful as that time went on. They kept telling me I was making good progress, yet it felt like I was never going to get to stop pushing and meet the baby! My contractions were kind of far apart, so there was down time in between. I remember chatting with the doctor, med student, and nurse about all kind of things... sports, summer in Chicago, neighborhoods around the city, and living in St Louis or Colorado. As the time went on, I started to lose hope, and was almost hoping they'd use the vacuum or some other intervention. I just really didn't think I could get this baby out of me! But their encouragement was really helpful, and I kept telling myself that I was strong and made to do this. Finally, about two hours after I started pushing, our little baby girl entered the world at 11:53 am on Monday, March 24, 2014.
Joe got to have a look and then tell me the sex of the baby, and I will never forget the emotion in his voice when he said, "It's a girl!" He was so surprised (I was too), and it was the most love-filled moment of our marriage up to this point. We were both in awe of how perfect she was, and just really couldn't believe that she was here! I did some skin to skin with Elise right away, and Joe cut the umbilical cord. Thus began the greatest adventure we've undertaken together...
|This picture captures how tired I felt by the time Elise was born!|
|He's a natural!|