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|