And Then There Was Emily
We made it to Friday. Past Friday, even. But if my parents had stuck to the original plan to wait until Tuesday to come, they would have been too late.
We made it to Sunday. That morning, at church, I noticed the braxton-hicks contractions I’d been having for several weeks felt a little different than usual. Rather than an all-over tightening sensation in my belly, it was more of a downward-pressure sensation stretching across my belly and around into my lower back. And there were more of them. Rather than several contractions spaced out over an entire day, I was noticing a few each hour. I had very few contraction-free hours throughout the day.
Still, the contractions were very irregular and incredibly mild, so I didn’t mention them to anyone; just made a mental note to pay attention and see if they turned into anything resembling actual labor. Sunday progressed much like any other Sunday. Church, lunch with Tim’s sister and our niece, toddler naptime, etc. I had Tim take a picture of me to commemorate the latest milestone: At 38 weeks, 1 day pregnant, I was officially more pregnant than I’d been when Alexander was born.
As it turns out, my body doesn’t care to stay pregnant much longer than 38 weeks.
While we were cooking dinner that night, Tim pumped up our yoga ball. He’d been joking all weekend about making me bounce on the ball to get labor going, and he finally decided to get the ball inflated in case I felt like taking him up on his offer. Meanwhile, the contractions were getting stronger and closer together, but they were still pretty irregular. I casually mentioned to Tim that the yoga ball might not be necessary and filled him in on the current state of things. He was instantly on edge, downloading a contraction timer app to his phone (even though I told him I already had one on my phone) and asking me for updates every few minutes.
I put Alexander to bed, then dutifully sat on the yoga ball, contraction timing app in hand, while we all relaxed in the living room. I started timing contractions around 8:00, letting Tim glance at the timer every few minutes, and when my parents went to bed at 9:30, Tim told them, “Just so you know, you might be taking over toddler duty at some point tonight.” The contractions had continued to get stronger and had been consistently 10-12 minutes apart for over an hour. It might have been nothing, but at this point we were pretty sure Something was happening, and we didn’t want my parents to be caught completely off guard when we threw Alexander’s monitor in their room and dashed off to the hospital in the middle of the night.
The next few hours dragged on. We watched the finale of The Walking Dead, called my doctor’s on-call nurse to find out when we should think about making our way to the hospital (60-second contractions, 5 minutes apart for an hour), then went upstairs and waited impatiently for labor to get going. I took a bath. I paced. I bounced on the yoga ball some more. (Despite Tim’s conviction that the yoga ball would help get labor started, the contractions actually slowed down every time I sat on it.) The contractions worked their way up to 4-6 minutes apart, then dropped back to 8-9 minutes, then slowly worked their way back to 6 minutes. I remember thinking, “Is this what a slow labor is like? This is a little boring.”
Things were slow going, but the contractions were definitely getting a lot stronger. And I was exhausted, having been up since 7:00 Sunday morning when Alexander woke up. More than anything, I wanted to get to the hospital and get my epidural in place so I could take a nap.
At 1:30 Monday morning, we decided enough was enough. The contractions weren’t quite as close together as the nurse told us they should be, but they hurt like crazy. We let my parents know we were leaving, gathered up our things, and went to the hospital.
When the triage nurse told us I was only dilated to a 4, we both were pretty nervous that we’d have to walk the halls for an hour or two before we could be admitted. Luckily, the nurse checked with my doctor, who gave the green light to have us admitted. We were in.
We made our way to the labor/delivery room and met Elyse, the wonderful nurse who would see us through the rest of the night. “My shift ends at 7,” she told us, “so let’s see if we can have this baby before then, okay?”
Elyse called the anesthesiologist, and when he arrived Tim took the opportunity to run out to the car and get our bags. (Tim, as you may recall, doesn’t do so well around needles.) The anesthesiologist took forever getting my epidural in place. I kept having increasingly unbearable contractions and thinking “This is the last contraction I’ll have to feel,” but then I had another contraction and thought, “this is the last one.” This continued for several more contractions, which I really didn’t appreciate. I have no idea what took him so long, but when he finished, I was so relieved to be blissfully unaware of the contractions. Finally.
We spent the next few hours resting. Tim got a little bit of sleep, but I was too excited to sleep, knowing that I’d get to meet my daughter in a few hours, so I just rested as much as I could. At some point, my doctor came in and broke my water, and the nurse advised me to rest and let my body labor down on its own as much as possible.
Shortly before 6:00, the nurse came in to check my progress, and determined it was probably time to start pushing. “Let’s do a practice push and see how you do, then I’ll go get the doctor,” she said. About half-way through my first practice push, my nurse said, with quite a bit of urgency in her voice, “Stop pushing! Whatever you do, don’t push any more!” I could feel that the baby was crowning, and the nurse rushed to get the doctor in the room before she had to catch the baby herself.
The doctor showed up, I pushed 3 times, and then Emily was on my chest, tiny and adorable and perfect. I held her and wept tears of joy with Tim, and we both marveled at our beautiful little girl.
Emily Judith was born at 6:02 AM on March 31, 2014. 6 pounds, 8 ounces, 20 inches long. We’ve talked about naming a daughter Emily since before we were married, so deciding on her name was easy. Her middle name, Judith, is my mom’s first name, which also was an easy decision. My mom is one of my best friends, and there’s no one I’d rather honor with my daughter’s middle name.
She hardly cried at all when she was born, and she’s continued to be a super mellow baby in the whole week she’s been with us. She figured out nursing almost immediately, and has been eating like a champ ever since. She has a ton of hair and the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. She’s such a little sweetheart.
It was such a different labor from last time. Even though at first I thought I preferred the quickness of Alexander’s birth, in the end I was thankful for the more laid-back pace this time around. It was nice to get a few hours’ rest before she was born, and the whole process felt a lot easier overall.
The rest of our time in the hospital was uneventful. I broke the no-cosleeping rule Monday night and let Emily sleep on my chest, startling awake every 5 minutes to make sure a nurse wasn’t coming in to yell at me. I’d gotten maybe an hour of sleep in the past 36 hours, co-sleeping was the only way Emily was going to let me get any more sleep, and I was desperate. I got a good 2 hours of sleep (in 5-minute increments) that way, and I felt so refreshed afterward.
My parents brought Alexander to the hospital when Emily was a few hours old, and as soon as he came in the room and saw her he exclaimed, “My baby sister!” He’s a very proud big brother, always wanting to hold Emily and give her kisses and help change her diaper. Every time he holds her on his lap, he grins and says, “I think her likes me.” The first day she was home, he took one look at her feet and announced “Her has tiny feet! But I have big feet.” And sometimes he just giggles and says, “Emily, what’re you doing?” in a tone of voice that implies she’s just the silliest thing he’s ever seen.
He’s given her a guided tour of the playroom, showing off all his favorite toys: “Look, Baby Sister! I have a digger! And it digs in the dirt, then puts dirt in the dump truck. Look, Baby Sister! I have a dinosaur! And it says rooooaaarrr!” He was completely unconcerned with the fact that Emily slept through the entire tour.
Alexander was pretty confused the first time he saw Emily nursing. He got a very concerned look on his face and asked me, “Why is she eating you?” Tim and I explained that Emily drinks special milk from Mommy, and then we had to quickly clarify that he drinks Big Boy Milk when he was on the verge of asking to try some of Emily’s milk. That satisfied him, though, and he hasn’t asked about it again.
Emily will be a week old tomorrow, and life’s pretty great. She’s letting us sleep for 2-3 hours at a time, she’s super laid back and hardly ever fusses, and she continues to eat like a pro. Alexander’s adjusting pretty well, though he definitely has his moments when you can tell this isn’t the easiest transition for him. Overall, though, he’s completely smitten with his Baby Sister, and watching him with her makes me overcome with joy.
We’re a family of four now, and we couldn’t be happier.