Somehow, my baby, my very FIRST baby, is turning 3 this week. Like I do each year, I reminisce on the day she was born by re-reading her birth story. I wrote this story just a few days after she was born, about 3 years ago…
It all started around 10 p.m. on Tuesday night. We eagerly ventured to the hospital to meet our 10 o’clock appointment to get the induction process started. You see, our doctor had originally scheduled us to come at 6, but called to postpone because the hospital was laden with multiple deliveries. After patiently waiting for a few more hours, it was finally time. We checked in at Labor & Delivery, and were quickly escorted to our room – the room that would soon become a threshold of pain and beauty. Phil settled in while I changed into the gown they gave me. The nurse came to check my vitals and soon after, I was given my dose of Cervadil. At this point, I was excited and ready for the task that was ahead of me. I also was ready to get a decent night of sleep.
To my surprise and the nurse’s delight, my contractions began. They were strong from the beginning, and already coming every three to four minutes. No way was I going to get any sleep, the contractions were far too painful already. To pass the time, we watched a movie and several episodes of Seinfeld. Before I knew it, it was early in the morning, and time to begin the Devil’s Drug, a.k.a. Petocin. As the nurse wheeled the cart into my room, I began to feel my body tense up, knowing it was really going to kick in as soon as the drip started into my IV. But again, I was excited. We had been waiting for months for this moment. I knew that later that day I would finally be able to meet my sweet girl.
Around 8 a.m., my doctor came in to greet me and see where things were headed. The Cervadil had done its job and I was beginning to dilate. She broke my bag of waters, which followed by a surprising gush of sound, exactly like a water balloon that had been popped. All surprised by its intensity, the doctor said that things were sure to get increasingly more painful quite soon, but also reminded me that this meant we were closer to meeting our baby. She wasn’t kidding. Before I knew it, the contractions were coming so fast and so hard that I couldn’t even get a sentence out. I focused on my breathing and tried several positions to ease the pain. In the meantime, I had a few visitors stop by. My family came in to see how I was doing and wish me luck. As I rocked and rolled on a birthing ball, my mother read her journal to me from the day that I was born. It was a great experience to hear about my entry into the world, right as I was laboring and getting ready to meet my own baby girl.
Around 11 a.m., I hit a bad point. I had been having painful contractions for over 12 hours and was only dilated 4 centimeters. I had never hurt so bad in my life. I questioned my ability to do it, for I knew I still had a long way to go and that the pain would only intensify. After several conversations with Phil, I decided that the only way I could manage the pain and make it to the grand finale was to get an epidural. At that moment, I really questioned my pride. I went into labor planning and hoping to do it all natural without drugs, and here I was asking for some relief. My nurse and doctor answered all of my questions (for the millionth time) and that was all I needed to make my decision. My nurse went to order the anesthesia, and came back with sobering news that I was in a congo line for the medication, and that after the doctor had visited four other patients, he would come and start on me. For two hours, I continued. I was tingly all over, sweating, and was doing everything I could to make it through each contraction. Phil was behind me the entire time, breathing into my ear to help me focus and massaging my back through each one. The nurse checked me again and let me know that Addie had moved and was in a funny position. I was having back labor, and back labor only. Instead of the contractions hitting my abdomen, they were all in my lower back. After my bag of waters broke, Addie’s head managed to shift and turn, so with each contraction she was pounding down on the back of my pelvis and spine.
Around 1 or 1:30 p.m., the anesthesiologist finally came in. It was time! He explained to me the long process of getting an epidural, but assured me that some relief was soon on its way. The hardest thing during this time was that Phil could no longer massage me. I had to sit on the edge of the bed, very still while the doctor worked his magic. At this point, the contractions were coming every two minutes and lasted about 90 seconds each. The only way I made it was by breathing and squeezing Phil’s hands in front of me. He later told me I was breaking his hands. :) Finally, the epidural was in. The pain was still intense, but I knew relief was coming. I had to lie back and wait.
It took about 30 minutes for the anesthesia to work its magic. I could very much still feel each contraction, but the pain was tolerable and I was grateful. I could finally get some rest. I could talk coherently. My confidence for the grand finale of delivery was back. At this point, I was dilated between a 4 and a 5, and the nurse predicted about 5 more hours or so of labor before we’d meet our sweetie pie. As I had not had any sleep whatsoever, I took the opportunity to rest a bit. I slept about 20 minutes or so before the nurse came back to check. I told her I felt more pressure so she wanted to see if I had made any progress.
To everyone’s surprise, I was dilated between an 8 and 9, and just about fully effaced. I was thrilled. I knew at this point we didn’t have too much longer to go. At this time, I asked the nurse how long pushing usually lasts for the average first-time mom. She said at least an hour, sometimes up to 3 hours! Around 3 o’clock, my brother and his family arrived at the hospital. Since I was feeling better, I asked them to come say hi. They came in to visit for just a few minutes. Based on what the nurse had told me, I told them it would be a couple more hours.
After my brother and his wife left the room, I really began to feel pressure. It was like a pounding at the back of my pelvis. My body was certainly fighting off the urge to push. When I told the nurse this, she checked me again. She was amazed. She joyfully told me I was fully dilated and fully effaced. The baby’s head was right inside, and she told me that our girl had a full head of hair. I lit up at this news and asked, “What’s next?” She told me it was time to push. She was going to page my doctor and get a few things in the room and we’d begin right away.
Phil and I were so excited at this point. I felt fully alive, fully energetic, and more than ready to finish the marathon that is childbirth! Now, if you know me at all, you know that there are a few things that really pump me up. Beyonce is one of those things. So while the nurse and doctor were getting ready, Phil got out our DVD of Beyonce’s concert and put it on the TV. (No joke!) I knew that if I had her incredible performance in front of my eyes, I could perform well myself.
The doctor came in to check me, and said, “Wow! We really are going to have a baby now. I better get my gloves.” Phil and I looked at each other and I could tell in his eyes we were ready to do this thing. The nurses got into position, as did I. It was time. With each contraction, I pushed three times. The doctor was so excited as well, and exclaimed I was doing a great job. To everyone’s surprise, it took just a few minutes to get the job done. I went through only 4 or 5 sets of pushing. I felt every bit of it, including Addie’s head. I looked down and was overjoyed to see her little face and her full head of hair. One more big push and she was there, at 4:18 in the afternoon.
They immediately placed her on my chest. I grabbed her and and held her. I can’t even begin to explain how wonderful it was to finally see her and hold her and know that she was mine. Phil and I were both tearing up, in complete amazement of what we had just done. As I held Addie, I stuck my little finger out. She grabbed on tight and looked up at me and just stared into my eyes. It was the best moment in my entire life, so wonderful that I am really struggling to find words to fully depict our experience.
We got to hold our girl for several more minutes, before it was time for her to be cleaned and checked out. One thing I loved about our hospital is that they never took Adair out of the room. They did all of her measurements, shots, etc. in our room, which allowed us to experience all of her first moments. While Addie was being cleaned, Phil went out to the waiting room to announce her arrival. Of course, our family and friends rejoiced at his announcement and were more than thrilled to finally learn her name after we had kept it a secret for so long.
When Phil returned, we were able to find out Addie’s height and weight. She was 7 pounds, 12 ounces and 20 inches long. She had beautiful, big blue eyes and a full head of dark brown hair. She looked like a perfect mixture of her mom and dad. She was sweet and perfect and immediately filled our hearts.