For two plus weeks before my due date (August 30), I had been having contractions on and off. On the night of the 26th they got so intense that we were sure it was time! We ended up going to bed hoping we would wake up with unbearable contractions or that my water had broken, but everything died down. It was pretty disappointing to constantly be tricked by all these contractions, it made things seem like I would never go into labor which is silly because this baby had to come out some time! On my due date I came down with a cold and was so thankful I hadn't gone into labor yet and actually prayed baby would hold off for a few more days so I could get over that nasty cold.
Well, she did. At 7am on Monday, September 2 (aka, Labor Day!) I woke up and felt those familiar contractions. This time we didn't want to get our hopes up, so we didn't track them like before and just carried on with our day. By mid-morning I realized the contractions were pretty close together and I thought we should probably track them. Turns out they were 3-5 minutes apart, at least one minute long each and they lasted for a few hours. Since that met the criteria our doctor had given us on when to head in to the hospital, we decided to go in and see what was going on. Sadly, I was still only 1cm dilated and my water had not broken so they sent us home and told us to come back in when my water breaks or the contractions were unbearable. Fun.
We live very close to the hospital so we were back at home within a few minutes and we decided it's probably best to eat a good lunch. Not even an hour after we got back, the contractions became very intense and were only a minute apart. I had been texting my mom and sister-in-law Brooke and when she told me that she was pushing with her daughter at one minute apart, I started to think maybe we should go back! We decided to wait a bit still because I could bear through the contractions with my Hypnobirthing breathing and relaxation techniques. I also noticed I had a lot more...um, fluid and thought maybe my water had broken? We so badly didn't want to be "those" first time parents who keep going back to the hospital only to get sent home. Shortly after the contractions got completely unbearable and I knew we had to go back. I thought, there was no way they could send me back with these kind of contractions and that I MUST be dilated to at least a 4 by now!
I could barely sit in the car (of course with a wad of towels under me) and when we got to the hospital, they made us wait in the front area while I groaned through contractions and people looked at me. Couldn't believe they made us check back in with registration (we pre-registered and had already been there a few hours earlier!). We finally got back in and were slightly embarrassed to see the same nurses, but I could hear them saying things about how it was clear I had progressed. Um, yes, I could barely walk! I was shocked to hear that I was still only 1cm dilated and just prayed that it was my water that had broken. I kept telling Mike that there was no way I could go home and I would demand that they keep me. By then, the contractions were 30 seconds apart with small contractions in between. It felt like what I imagined transition being like or how everyone described what it was like to be on Pitocin. I couldn't understand how my body was contracting like that but only 1cm dilated. I knew I had to relax to dilate and tried to, but it felt like I had no break in between contractions to even catch my breath.
The nurse finally came back and confirmed that my water had broken and that I would be admitted because of that. Thank goodness! They immediately stuck me with an IV of fluids, attached monitors, strapped on more wrist bands and asked me a million questions. I was slightly disappointed that I felt so tied down and could barely get through my contractions in a natural way. They wheeled me to the labor and delivery room and we were introduced to our nurse. She was so sweet and talked us through everything. During my contractions, I needed Mike there, holding me and helping me through them that he didn't even have time to let our family know that we were in active labor. This was not how I imagined a natural labor to be, I couldn't even imagine getting up to get on the ball or be in the shower. I had no breaks to even breathe or talk!
An hour later they checked me again and I thought, I had to be more dilated, but I was only 2cm by then. They told me it typically takes an hour per cm to dilate so that meant I had at least 8 more hours to go. I couldn't even imagine going through that for that long and we seriously started to think about an epidural. After about three hours of natural labor in the hospital, I decided a low dose epidural was the best option. In our situation, it would help me relax, dilate and rest enough so I could actually have energy to feed and take care of our baby. In the moment, it was the best option we had and I don't regret getting it. I tried the natural labor and my body just wasn't letting me get through it physically or mentally. It was a challenge to come to the decision to get the epidural and I was extremely nervous for it because of all the horror stories people like to tell you, but the anesthesiologist was excellent and made me feel completely comfortable. Honestly, the worst part is the fear of the needle and the numbing needle. I didn't feel a single thing other than that! The epidural was great too, it was fairly even on both sides and I could still move my lower half and feel my toes. The biggest difference was the warm fuzzy feeling in my legs, but that was ok considering how cold it was in the room. I couldn't have been happier. :)
An hour after the epidural I dilated to a 3/4, an hour after that I was at a 5 and then they left us in the room for three hours to rest. Rest, ha! I wish I could have but no one tells you how much you shake during labor! I laid on my sides with the peanut ball and rotated because of the epidural. Once we didn't rotate soon enough because I actually did fall asleep and woke up to the same intense contractions. Once they turned me, they disappeared, it was amazing!
After that three hour rest (I have no idea what time it was at this point), our nurse, Christa (who was 8 months pregnant herself and absolutely amazing), came in to check me. I had been feeling some pressure so I was hoping for at least a 7...but I was at a 9.5 and she said it was time to get ready. It felt so surreal that it was finally time and my body finally dilated enough to get this baby out! They turned on the warmer for baby and brought in a tray of tools, that made it feel so real and gave me a feeling of panic/excitement/anxiety. Our nurse left us for another hour to let the baby make her way down and let me tell you that was a long hour! I was glad I could feel the pressure and urge to push, but so glad I wasn't in excruciating pain. Nurse Christa came back and said she had called the on-call doctor to slowly make her way in (my doctor was on vacation...of course, just like in the movies, agh!). Notice how our nurse said the doctor would slowly make her way in. She assured us that first time moms take at least an hour of "pre-pushing" before the doctor comes in. I had no idea that I would be pushing with just Mike and the nurse there. Pushing was hard. I was still congested from my cold so that made it even worse and I could only get two pushes in per contraction. We did that for about 15 minutes and Christa said "Ok, we really need to stop now." I could see a look in her eyes that she was a little worried and as she moved her hand away, I felt a huge urge to push, almost uncontrollable. She asked someone to call Dr. Brass and see how far she was and Christa basically held our baby in as we waited. We sat like that for about 25 minutes when finally Dr. Brass walked in. She introduced herself, put on her gloves and asked me to push. I gave one last push that really didn't feel like a full push and out came our baby. One stinkin' push with the doctor, 25 minutes of torturous waiting for that one push!
Emma Joyce was born at 5:15am on September 3. She weighed 6 lb 15 oz and was 20.5 in long.
After she came out they placed her on me. We both just looked at her in awe, she looked back at us and we were filled with tears. It's a moment I don't know how to describe but the feeling of that moment will always be with us. We couldn't believe how beautiful all her details were and how much she looked like both of us. She was so calm when she came out and hardly cried.
We did skin to skin for a few minutes and then we shared a moment that will always be so special to me, she fed for the first time. It was amazing how she knew exactly what to do, I'm pretty sure I cried with joy the entire time.
We were given a golden hour as a new family before they cleaned us up and got us to our recovery room. During that time (I think? Everything was a blur as far as timing), Mike gave me a beautiful letter E necklace as my new mom/"push present". It was the sweetest thing to know he planned ahead and thought of me!
Throughout the day family came to visit. There's nothing like seeing your new baby with her extended family and to see the joy and happiness from everyone.
Emma and I were both healthy so we were allowed to go home the next day. We were fortunate enough to have my parents at the hospital to help us get home and at home that night to make us dinner and get us settled.
My mom cleaned up our house, washed our sheets and towels and bright over food. She also stayed with us for three days and two nights, it was the best gift we could have ever received! Mike and I still talk about how we don't know how we would have survived without her (morning birth equals no sleep for days!).
The past month has been incredible and so full of every possible emotion. We're finally starting to feel like we are getting into some kind of routine and are able to get out of the house and get things done. Our world is forever changed and we're constantly talking about all the amazing moments we've had and that are still to come. Emma is so sweet and we love her so much, we love learning more about her every day!