The day before you were born, exactly a year ago, I was getting some coffee with my friends, sitting uncomfortably, and talking about how anxious I was about your arrival. Afterward, I went to Walmart to pick up a few last minute grocery items and there was a moment while walking around that I felt you drop down. I waddled around, imagining what it would be like to give birth in the ethnic foods aisle. Little did I know that we would be heading to the hospital that very night to meet you.
0036: I flopped to sleep on my other side in bed, trying to get comfortable, like I did at least 50 times a night while pregnant. I felt a gush of liquid wet my underwear and I rushed to the bathroom to check. I spotted blood in the toilet so I called the hospital to speak to a nurse. The nurse directed me to go to the hospital. By the time I went back in the bedroom, Bella had already curled up in my spot on the bed.
I woke up your father and told him, "I think my water broke. They told me to go to the hospital. I'm really sorry if this isn't it and we're wasting our time." Just a few days ago I had experienced terrible Braxton Hicks contractions and thinking that was it, only to have the contractions stop after an hour.
0102: I put on some makeup because I figured a lot of pictures were going to be taken and said goodbye to Bella. Dad put our "go bags" in the car. We were ready to go.
It was a brisk 41 degrees outside. Dad wasn't very nervous during our quiet fifteen minute car ride to the hospital. He didn't believe that I was actually in labor. I felt a contraction. My first true contraction. It was more uncomfortable than painful and very different than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had experienced before.
0120: We arrive at the emergency room. The receptionist asked us if we were visiting a patient. "Um, I think I'm in labor," I say as more of a question than a statement. I get checked in and changed into a hospital gown. We're told that they need to check to see if I am indeed leaking amniotic fluid.
The contractions are getting more painful at this point. I'm asked my pain level. I give them a five. Dad makes a comment that his arm is really sore because of a shot he received early that day. "Oh, your arm hurts? I'm in labor and your arm hurts?!"
0200: Nurse Tanya tells us that we are having a baby today.
0230: Nurse Paula tells me that my veins are terrible and struggles to hook me up to an IV. She gestured the Sign of the Cross before poking me again. It was not very reassuring.
0245: Dad steps out to make phone calls to our family members. The cell phone reception in the hospital was terrible.
0250: The midwife, Jennifer, checks my cervix. She tells us that I am 2cm dilated and 100% effaced. Jennifer manually broke my water completely and spots signs of bowel movements inside the womb. They want to induce if the contractions do not get closer.
0400: The contractions were so close together that I felt like I could not catch a break from the pain. I ask Paula about getting an epidural and if it is too early. She looks at me like I'm a huge wimp so I wait a few more minutes.
0420: I start dry heaving from the pain and shaking. They ask for my pain level at this point and I say that it's at a nine. I tell them that "I'm saving my ten" and realize that I just quoted Hazel Grace from The Fault In Our Stars. I'm ready for my epidural!
0530: Nurse Teresa takes over for Paula. Thank goodness. The anesthesiologist finally makes her way over to me. I had imagined being on my side while Dad held my hand for this part, but instead they kicked him out of the room and I sat up while a nurse braced me and the anesthesiologist gave me my epidural. I was suddenly aware of the state of my breath at this point. She stuck me three times in between contractions before she was successful.
0545: Epidurals are AWESOME. My only regret was not getting one earlier.
0614: Dad left to check on Bella and tidy up the house. He also picked up a newspaper along with some Monster drinks. A nursing student inserted my catheter. Her breath smelled of the Peanut M&Ms we had brought for the hospital staff. At this point I had lost count of how many strangers had seen my vagina.
0905: I am 7cm dilated. Teresa is surprised by how quickly I was progressing on my own. I was so amazed by my own body.
Also, the lavender air freshener I brought with us was a huge hit.
1055: 8 cm dilated. Teresa walked us through the procedures of meconium aspiration. They needed to whisk you away after birth to clear your airways. This meant that I would not be able to hold you immediately and that we may not hear you cry right away.
1205: The contractions were so strong at this point that I could feel them even through the epidural. I kept pressing that little button to up the dosage, but I had reached the max. I threw up twice. They wouldn't let me drink any water to get rid of the taste of vomit so I tried my best with ice chips.
I was completely dilated. It was time to push. I never attended any birthing classes so I really had no idea what I was supposed to do. My legs were up and open in the air with no sheets to cover me. I threw all modesty out the window, but was thankful that I had at least painted my toenails.
Because of the epidural, I had no control of my legs. At one point my left leg almost kicked the poor nursing student in the face.
At the peak of every contraction I was coached to push. Every time I did so Teresa would cheer me on and say, "You're so close! She's almost out!" Teresa was a liar.
1300: We met the doctor for the first time. I had been pushing for nearly an hour at this point. She left the room after a few more pushes.
Dad took a look even though I specifically told him to stay the heck away from below my waist. Instead of passing out like dads do on sitcoms, he cheered me on, too.
1330: The doctor came back in the room. She made an incision so that I wouldn't tear. I was exhausted at this point and wanted to be dramatic and cry that I couldn't do it anymore. Teresa told me to stop grunting while I pushed and just focus (which is totally different than what I learned at Tae Kwon Do class my senior year of high school when we were told to shout "kiyah!" to focus).
1343: They told me to stop pushing. Your head was out and they needed to suction out your airways.
1344: A final push and there you were! Dad cut your umbilical cord and they took you away to clean you off and take measurements. The doctor stitched me up after I delivered the placenta. She left quickly after and I shouted after her, "It was nice to meet you!"
As soon as I saw you I started crying. I was in awe of you and I was so proud of what my body was able to accomplish. I spent so much time fearing your birth and now it was over.
As much as I wanted to hold you, I felt a sense of relief that I had some time before you were handed over to me. I was terrified of the thought of being a mother. Although I carried you in my stomach for 38 weeks and felt you kicking me, the reality did not set in until I saw you and heard your strong lungs.
You measured 6 pounds, 9 ounces and 18.75 inches long. Besides being a bit jaundiced, you were as healthy as could be.
Dad got to hold you and touch you before I did. He put on your first diaper and you held his finger with your teeny tiny hand. Dad would become the diaper changing pro.
And then they handed you to me. You were mine.
I had only held two other babies before you--very reluctantly, I might add. Holding you did not feel natural to me, and yet in that moment I felt complete.
After ten minutes one of the nurses asked me if I was ready to start feeding you. Well, we already know how breastfeeding went for us. You can refresh your memory here. Again, I was so blown away by my body.
We stayed two more nights at the hospital. Dad and I were beyond exhausted. I had never been so tired in my entire life and yet I felt a surge of adrenaline and kept going. Whenever all three of us finally fell asleep someone would come in to do some kind of test or check our vitals. Although everyone was so kind, we just wanted to take you home.
It was rare for all three of us to be asleep, by the way. After swaddling you and setting you back down in the bassinet you would just cry and cry. Eventually, we finally asked someone to take you to the nursery so that we could get just a few minutes of rest. I felt ashamed for doing this, but it was absolutely necessary.
When we were finally allowed to take you home, things fell in place.
And that, Little Miss, is how you came into the world.