How did 4 months go by so fast? These past several months have been incredible, beautiful and exhausting. I already start to get emotional looking at newborn photos of our baby as she is just growing too fast! I’m writing a lot of details about her birth story as this was one of the best days of my life and I don’t want to forget any of it. I’m including some details that may gross some people out, so feel free to do some skimming.
Let’s go back to the beginning…
On February 15th I noticed around 10:00 a.m. that I might be experiencing contractions. I did have a bit of “bloody show” which led me to believe that perhaps this was it, maybe I really was feeling contractions and could be going into labor. I talked on the phone all throughout the morning and afternoon with my sister (who had just given birth 11 weeks prior) and my mom and excitedly checked in a few times with Joe since he was working. I already had a 39 week appointment scheduled for that afternoon at 3:45, so I thought I’d get some more answers then. Funny enough, I kept going back and forth in my mind, “Should I put the food in the crock pot for dinner or no? What if I am going into labor and it would all go to waste?” (I didn’t put it in.) I spent the afternoon organizing the baby’s things, cleaning all over the house, packing up etc.
Fortunately, Joe got home early and was able to drive me to that appointment because on the way there, I experienced the strongest contraction yet. I saw one of the doctors in my practice who checked me and said I was 4 cm dilated and 95% effaced, and that I can go to the hospital whenever my contractions became more regular or really intense. Well, I think that check certainly helped move things along! I was on the phone with Katie as we got home and when I walked into the house, I couldn’t talk anymore as I was having a really strong contraction. I think that’s what they always tell you, once you can’t talk through them, you’re ready to go. Well I continued to get things ready around the house as I had been earlier that day as well, with contractions coming about every two minutes (I used an app on my phone). Joe showered, vacuumed out the car and got the car seat all ready. As he was vacuuming I said, “We need to go.” I might have gotten a little cranky throughout the contractions-Joe tried to ask me a question and I replied, “Do not talk to me!”
Throughout that whole day, and as I labored at the hospital, I did not want to sit down during contractions, I just wanted to walk and squat. That is why the car rides were not fun or when I first checked in at the hospital and they had me in a bed until they gave me the mobile heart rate monitor. While I was at home I would either walk, get on my knees, or squat during contractions.
Here I am before we left, during a contraction…
Not during a contraction…
Twenty weeks before, same shirt …
We checked into Delnor at about 6:00 p.m. Like I said, when they had me lay down and a nurse came into check me, I could not wait to get up and move again. Laying down and sitting during contractions was not how my body wanted to labor. Fortunately that only lasted about twenty minutes. I found out I was about 5 cm dilated and then I paced all throughout my room and gently bounced a few times on the yoga ball. I started to get lower back pain so Joe would put deep pressure with his fists on my lower back while I leaned over the bed to counter pressure the pain. Not surprisingly, he was an amazing coach.
After a few hours, and now incredibly intense, long and close together contractions, I was ready to think about an epidural. I paced and quietly sang to Jesus “You are my strength when I am weak…” Which was so very true. My “birth plan” was that I was going to try and move as much as I could throughout labor (fortunately that was exactly what my body wanted to do), and that I would labor as long as I could without an epidural. I also wanted the baby to be placed on my chest and to breastfeed as soon as I could. I had an amazing nurse, Anne, who asked me what my thoughts were as soon as she met me and I told her I wanted to go as long as I could and she was so ready to support me in that, asked if I was an athlete, and encouraged me to think how I would cycling uphill. So once I wanted an epidural, I was a little concerned. I asked her if it would slow things down and she told me not at the rate I was progressing. Apparently the other nurses saw my contractions on the monitor and couldn’t believe they were that strong without pitocin, which made me feel pretty strong and encouraged.
She had to get an IV of fluids in me before the anesthesiologist could give me the epidural. That wasn’t going in right as my arm bubbled up a little bit and my poor husband who hates needles looked as white as a ghost! Fortunately they got it all taken care of when IV therapy come in (Joe didn’t pass out). Before the anesthesiologist arrived, the nurse told me that doctor needed to check me and see how I had progressed. I knew getting checked would make things even more painful and I did NOT want to get back in that bed, so I asked if she could check me after the epidural, which fortunately she said was fine.
There are a lot of doctors in my practice and I had seen almost all of them. They are all nice and everything, but one doctor Katie and I loved, and she had just delivered my niece in December. I prayed Dr. Mills would be the doctor on call, and God graciously answered that request! I was beyond excited and relieved.
The anesthesiologist arrived and got to work. Apparently my epidural space is really tight so he had a hard time getting it in (but he never seemed concerned or had me concerned). I had never had one before so I had no expectation of how long it would take, but it was really intense sitting on the bed during the contractions, so I would just move my feet back and forth as they hung off the bed, close my eyes, and squeeze Joe’s hand. The doctor was so kind and explained things to me so nicely. When he was done Dr. Mills came in to check me around 10:00 p.m. and that was when she told me I was 8 cm dilated. She broke my water and the next nurse, Katie, took over. She was hilarious and so sweet and encouraging. I couldn’t believe how blessed I was to have the team that I had.
I was feeling so much better and basically told the anesthesiologist that he was my new best friend. My mom, Katie, Malayna and Joe’s dad came in to visit with us (Joe’s mom was in Dallas as his sister had just given birth the week before!). Look at sweet little Malayna sleeping on my mom’s chest! Now it finally felt good to lay down and rest a bit.
At this point I don’t think I had eaten for about 9 or so hours (I know, I should’ve eaten before going to the hospital, it just wasn’t on my mind, so the last time I ate was lunch). As I laid there I would feel the pain of the contraction, a wave of nausea from a hungry tummy, a little break and I would start to get sleepy before it happened all over again. An epidural does not take all the pain away, but it takes a lot of it–I would say contractions during an epidural are like really bad cramps. The nurse would come in and check me, telling me the baby’s head was really far down that I was at a ten and said once I felt pressure, I could start pushing. Well, I never felt the pressure, I just would feel the pain of the contractions. So she lowered the bottom part of the bed and just let me labor down naturally until I felt the need to push. Well at midnight she came in and checked me again and said she was going to come back in at 12:30 and I would start pushing. I never did end up experiencing that pressure, but she came back in at 12:25 and it was go time!
Pushing was actually my favorite part (remember I had an epidural!) I didn’t feel the pain of the contraction or nausea during pushing, so it was just some moments of using this deep strength, pulling my upper body up like a crunch, holding my breath, pushing hard and then breathing again. My nurse said to think of it like in Pilates, that once I was done pushing I wouldn’t let the baby come back in but to hold it there. Apparently I understood her reference because she was like “Yes! Just like that!” She got out this bar that went above my bed and wrapped a sheet around it, which I would pull with all my upper body strength as I pushed and Joe and the nurse each held one of my legs. After a few times, she said, “Ok stop, I’m calling Dr. Mills.” Dr. Mills came in and another nurse for the baby and I continued like before. My doctor told me that if she made one little snip, I wouldn’t have a bunch of tears. I told her to do whatever she thought was best, I completely trusted her (and thankfully, I ended up healing very well). Joe was SO encouraging and I was so excited as he told me he could see the baby’s head! It made me push even harder. I pushed off and on for about 25 minutes.
At 12:57 a.m. our sweet Cecelia Ann arrived and her screaming little self was placed on my chest, just as I had hoped. And she was perfect.
She weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces, 21 inches long, and got 9/10 on both Apgar tests. Her middle name has been passed down on my mom’s side for five generations now. Cecelia means “Of the Spirit” and Ann means “One of Grace.”
After lots of skin to skin time and Joe and I oohing and ahhing over her, the nurse helped Cecelia get started with breastfeeding and she actually latched on like a champ.
After our family met her in the wee hours of the night, I was wheeled off to our postpartum room and Cecelia was taken to the nursery to get cleaned up. I was so hot and full of adrenaline and it took me awhile to fall asleep but I eventually dozed. A bit later our baby girl was brought back in to us. The following days were filled with family and friends loving on our girl and sharing in our joy. My heart was so full and I couldn’t believe how blessed we were.
It would be nice to say that that is how it all went from there, but let’s be real. That’s not life and that is ok. I experienced baby blues for a few days there, breastfeeding troubles, and our perfect little angel of a baby went on to have colic for a couple months. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade any of it and we’ve gotten through all those struggles. God has given me the best, most encouraging husband, precious healthy baby, and supportive family I could ever dream of and He is indeed my strength when I am weak. I had an incredible labor, some big bumps in the road postpartum, but He has gently taught me once again how to rely on Him. I will be sharing more about the past few months soon—Cecelia’s up from her nap!