Monday, July 29, 2013

Welcome, Stella Marie!

On Monday, July 22 the full moon was shining bright. I had my 40 week appointment at 3:00 p.m. that day and when checked I was 2 cm and 80% effaced. I was 3 days overdue and my doctor told me to make another appointment for that Thursday... although she said she wouldn't be surprised if I didn't make it until then.

After my appointment, I felt super crampy which wasn't uncommon for me after cervical checks. I noticed a couple hours later that these cramps started coming in waves instead of being constant. I didn't want to get too excited because I didn't want to be let down. I know so many people who have gone to the hospital only to be sent home, and being 3 days late already had taken a toll on my mental status. I didn't think I could handle being told, "No. Not yet" so we waited. At 6:30 p.m. I decided these were indeed contractions and they were becoming more regular and more intense than your average menstrual cramps. With this, I reluctantly started timing. After two hours my contractions were lasting 1-2 minutes and coming every 4 minutes. I texted my doctor to tell her this and asked if I should stick it out at home. She replied no, to please make our way to the hospital and that she had already called them to let them know we were coming. A fleet of joy swept over me but I was still cautious to get too hopeful.

We took our time getting last minute things together and drove our dog to my dad's house. Even though the contractions were getting more intense, they were still bearable. I was still nervous that this might be false labor or that it may be too early to be heading to the hospital, but we wanted to follow the doctor's orders. After we dropped Isaac off at my dad's house, we headed towards the hospital. On our way there that evening, we were feeling anxious wondering if this was the "real thing" or if we would end up being sent home. We were admiring the beautiful full moon and laughing that all along people said that I would go into labor during the full moon, and, what are the chances? Then, George Strait's "I Saw God Today" came on the radio and we felt reassured that this was it! We felt confident that we would be meeting our baby girl by sometime tomorrow. If you are unfamiliar with this song or its lyrics, here is the very last verse:

"Got my face pushed up against the nursery glass,
She's sleeping like a rock,
My name on her wrist wearing tiny pink socks,
She's got my nose, she's got her Mama's eyes,
My brand new baby girl, she's a miracle,
I saw God today."

4 days old, photos by Katie Balla

We got to the hospital around 9:30 p.m. and we were checked in. The nurse checked me and I was at 3 cm. I told her I was at 2 cm just 6 hours ago. She assured me that we would be staying and then called my doctor to let her know to make her way over! My mom arrived at this time and Shawn ran home one last time to get a few things we didn't want to pack at first just in case we wouldn't be staying. The nurse asked me if I wanted anything for pain prior to the epidural and I said not yet, I could handle it for now (which surprised everyone - even myself!). Instead, during the time Shawn was gone, my mom and I did a few laps around the maternity unit. My contractions were starting to really hurt at this point and were coming closer together. I decided I didn't want to walk anymore and would rather lay down and rest. Shawn was back by this point and the contractions were going full force. I asked the nurse if I could have the pain medicine at this point. She decided to check me one more time just in case I had progressed more. I was at 5 cm during this check, and she said that I could absolutely get the epidural right now! Little did I know how much I would love the words that just came out of her mouth. 

My doctor arrived at the same time as the anesthesiologist and my epidural was placed around midnight with no issue. Within 10 minutes I felt sweet relief (aka nothing) and I was a happy camper once again. Both the nurse and the doctor told me that they may need to administer pitocin since sometimes the epidural can slow things down. They told me to rest (haha) and that the nurse would be in around 3:00 a.m. to check me again. Shawn, my mom, and I all rested as best we could. This was pretty difficult to do with the crazy lightening storm going on right out the window, my blood pressure being checked automatically, and, oh yeah, the excitement that this little girl was surely on her way!

Around 3:00 a.m. the nurse came in as promised and checked me again. I was at 8 1/2 cm and 90% effaced. I was so happy that the epidural did not slow things down and that I wouldn't be needing pitocin or anything else to keep labor going. Again, she told us to sleep (haha) and that she would come back around 5:30 a.m. to check me again. 

4 days old, photo by Katie Balla

I honestly thought that this would be the longest night of my life, however I can truly say that the night went quickly. Maybe I got more sleep than I thought I did. But either way, around 5:00 a.m. I had to page my nurse because I was feeling pressure. She came in and checked me and told me I was complete! We talked briefly about first time labor and she told me that many people push for 1-2 hours with their first baby. This scared me but I was ready. We were all ready! 

At 5:30 a.m. my nurse had me do a couple "practice pushes" to see what we had to work with. After the second round of pushes, she told me to stop because she saw the baby's head already. She paged my doctor who came in, got ready, was chatting us all up, and was generally in an all-around good mood. I pushed a total of 4 times with my doctor and our sweet Stella Marie was born at 5:53 a.m. on July 23, 2013.

We were undecided with names up until this point, which was fine with us since we always have said we wanted to meet our baby before we decided 100%. After Stella was handed to her daddy, she locked eyes with him and was instantly calm. She stared at him and he stared at her. The nurse said she had never seen a baby do this in her 20 years of nursing. It was such a special moment. Stella was then handed to me and remained so bright-eyed and calm. This moment was so indicative of my entire pregnancy, labor and delivery. I looked at Shawn and asked him what he thought her name was. I told him I think she is a Stella. Our little star. Our bright-eyed girl. And he agreed. 

These past 6 days have been a whirlwind. They have been the longest yet shortest days of my life. What's that saying, the minutes go slow but the years go fast? Something like that? Yeah. I am living it now. I GET IT now. And I am so enjoying my new title as Mama to our sweet Stella Bear. 

4 days old, photo by Katie Balla

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Giving Up

Throughout my entire pregnancy I have been saying I would work until baby shows up, even if I was overdue. People would roll their eyes when I told them this and I would tell them it would give me more time with my baby at home so it would be worth it. Now, I can truly say I underestimated the power these last couple weeks can have over a lady and her sanity. After nearly breaking down crying several times and almost biting a couple heads off, I decided it would be best for everyone (baby, coworkers, and myself) if tomorrow - my due date - was my last work day. I need a clean break. I don't think I could mentally enter next week at a comfortable or peaceful place.

Part of me feels like I gave up. I didn't reach my goal. I'm a quitter. But then I remind myself that making it to 40 weeks and working until my due date is reaching a goal. This little girl just has slightly different plans than I do. That doesn't mean I failed. From what I've heard, motherhood ain't easy. And it's all about giving yourself grace. And having patience. To say I just received a crash course in these lessons this last week would be an understatement. And I know once this little one decides to show, I will learn exponentially more than I could ever have thought.

Baby B, we can't wait to meet you. We can't wait to see your face and give you a name. Please don't make us wait too much longer!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dear Baby Girl

Dear Baby Girl,

Your due date is one week away and I can hardly believe how fast these past 39 weeks have gone. From the moment we started praying for you to the moment we found out we would be parents all the way to the moment we found out we would be adding a sweet daughter to our family and now today, one week away from your expected arrival. These moments have flown by and I have cherished each and every one of them so much. My heart can hardly stand waiting another moment for you, but I know this is all in the plan. It's all in the making and modeling of me becoming your mama. It's not about your daddy or me anymore, it's all about you, sweet girl. And I know this last week (or weeks) you will make that quite apparent. It's your schedule and God's timing and I know it will be perfect.

I imagine what you will look like and dream about your future hopes and dreams. From about half way through my pregnancy with you, you have made yourself well-known as you bounce around and throw parties in my belly. I believe you will have your daddy's energy and that the two of you will give me a run for my money. I can tell you will be a daddy's girl already as you always put on a show when daddy is around and puts his hands on my belly. And in return, he is so smitten by you already. I have no doubts you will completely have him (and me) wrapped around your little finger.

I pray and wish that you take only the best characteristics that your daddy and I exude. I hope you have his motivation and determination. I hope you never let someone tell you that you cannot do something, and that when someone does tell you this, you only let it fuel your fire instead of dim your spirits. I hope you have my compassion and always fight for what you believe in, even if your opinion is not the most popular. I hope you are able to speak your mind as I do, but have the charm and grace that your daddy does once you deliver your message. I hope you work hard and play hard. I hope you have a love for others yet know your independence. And I hope you always remember what is most important in this life and that your family will always be there for you, loving you and supporting you every step of the way, just as your grandparents have done for us.

Baby Girl, your daddy and I cannot wait to meet you. I know you will be the perfect addition to our little family and the light of our lives. Until your birthday, we will pray and dream of your safe and healthy arrival. And I know once you are here, you will blow our hopes and dreams for you out of the water.

Love Always,