Mike and I finally welcomed our brand new baby girl, Kylie, into the world on March 7, 2017 after 43 looooong hours of labor… and she was SO worth the wait!
I’ve been trying to write this post and get back to updating the blog since her birth, but honestly… between sleep deprivation, mastering the art (and overcoming the challenges) of exclusively breastfeeding, learning how to be the best mama I can be, selling our house in San Diego and moving to Denver, and constantly holding my little munchkin in arms (more details on my life as a brand new parent in my post on her first three months of life)… I haven’t had a spare moment to myself to brush my teeth most of the time, let alone free hands to type a blog post! As a matter of fact, she’s napping in my arms right now as I’m typing this one-handed! :P*
So after nine months of anticipation, uncertainty, and excitement, how did the big day (well, days, actually) finally go down? Here’s my brief account of the details.
At 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant, I was awoken at 4:30 AM by what felt like a short wave of really intense period cramping. After waiting out a few more of these over the course of the two hours until Mike finally woke up and got ready for work, I rolled over in bed and told him what I was feeling and that I thought maybe this was “it”. I could tell something was different this time, because unlike the Braxton-Hicks contractions I’d been having since 20 weeks, these actually hurt. I told him to go to work anyway and that I’d text him to come home if things progressed.
Over the course of the next few hours, things began picking up in intensity. I KNEW that our baby girl was on her way, so I kept timing my contractions on a phone app I’d downloaded, waiting to see the golden “3 to 5 minutes apart” that we had learned about in birthing class.
I sat on the couch, watching TV in an attempt to distract myself and will away the hours. I even called my mom in Florida at one point for a change of pace, while the contractions were still manageable. Around noon, my contractions started growing closer together. 5 minutes apart, 7 minutes apart, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 9 minutes, 15 minutes, 5 minutes again… they were all over the map, but they were definitely becoming more painful by the minute, some even lasting for two straight minutes!
When I finally had a solid 4 to 8 minute time frame going for an hour, and I was in so much pain that I thought maaaaaybe the hospital might admit me, I gave them a phone call. No such luck. They didn’t care that some of them were only 3 minutes apart… they wouldn’t take me until I was consistently at 3 to 5 minutes for at least an hour. So I continued to writhe in pain on my couch, willing the contractions to come faster.
Mike came home from work in the evening, and things were still the same, but the pain was becoming suuuper intense. As I paced the house grabbing onto any available piece of furniture and groaning in pain, he expressed his concern that things didn’t seem “normal” and asked if maybe we should head to the hospital. I assured him through gritted teeth as I bent over a chair to make it through another long contraction that it most definitely (and unfortunately) was normal, and that they wouldn’t admit me yet and I didn’t want to be sent home.
He reluctantly went to bed at my insistence, but asked me to get him up if I needed him. I wanted him well-rested for the drive to the hospital and ensuing long hours that I knew were ahead of us. So I sat on the couch with episodes of The Voice playing in the background to try (in vain) to distract myself from the immense pain of my contractions.
Some time around midnight, I finally started seeing the magical numbers I’d been hoping for on my contraction timer app. I waited a half hour to confirm it wasn’t a fluke, and then got my husband up to go to the hospital.
When we arrived, they admitted us almost immediately, as I was already 4 cm dilated. Huzzah (and OWWW)! I asked for and received my epidural fairly quickly. It was pure magic. The relief was almost instant.
Hours later the next morning, when my water still hadn’t broken on its own and I hadn’t progressed much beyond 6 or 7 cm, the midwife broke my water to try to speed things along. No such luck. So they hooked me up to a pitocin drip. What seemed like an eternity later, the nurse checked me again and informed me it was finally time to start pushing! Yay!
I got in a few minutes of some good pushes when the baby’s heartbeat slipped off the monitor, and suddenly a whole team of people came rushing into the room telling my nurse to stop having me push. They got the baby’s heartbeat stabilized on the monitor again, and then the midwife checked me. 9 1/2 cm… NOT ready to push yet. I was irritated with the other nurse for making such a big, incorrect judgment call, because now I started experiencing intense back labor. I could feel it through my epidural, and it wasn’t letting up. Because of the pitocin, I had virtually no “break” between my contractions now. And I was only allowed to lay on my side, lest the baby’s heartbeat become abnormal again. The pain finally pushed me to tears.
They had to call in the anesthesiologist to give me not one, not two, but THREE extra doses of the epidural anesthetic through my pick line (the last one also containing lidocaine) before I finally felt relief from the back labor.
Around 9 pm, the midwife checked me yet again and informed me that it was finally time to push, for real this time. With my husband and the nurse on either side to coach me, we pushed for a little bit and made great progress. I got to watch in the mirror… it was SO amazing and motivational! The nurse was supposed to go on a lunch break at some point, but things were moving so fast she decided to just stay (thankfully, I really liked her).
At 9:55 pm, I was allowed to reach down and pull my little princess out the rest of the way and onto my chest as she entered the world. She was wet and slimy, but I didn’t care… I was so happy, I started bawling my eyeballs out. I remember asking why she wasn’t crying yet, while the nurses spent a few seconds rubbing her roughly with some towels and assuring me “she will”.
When she still didn’t start crying after a few more moments, my happiness quickly gave way to terror as they practically ripped her from my arms, cut the cord before my husband had a chance, and whisked her off to the panda warmer in the corner of the room where I couldn’t see her. A team of NICU folks came rushing into the room to tend to her. This was my absolute worst fear. I begged my confused husband through sobs to “go with her” because I didn’t want her to be alone, and I wanted to know what was happening. I was stuck on the bed, incapacitated by my uselessly numb epidural legs and the inevitable need to still deliver the placenta.
The next few minutes are a blur in my memory. The midwife was trying to console me and explain what was going on as the NICU team worked to get my little girl crying. I recall hearing some of them saying over and over, “Come on now, give me a cry, come on now!” I couldn’t focus on anything the nurse was telling me. Something about meconium “stunning” babies for a few minutes sometimes, something about the umbilical cord being wrapped around a wrist or some other limb… I have no idea.
But after a full 4 or 5 minutes, when I finally heard that first little cry… my eyes exploded with a fresh onslaught of tears as I was washed over with relief. Our baby girl was okay. And she was here.
After they felt confident that her vitals were stable, they brought her back to me for skin-to-skin bonding time. I remember being amazed at how soft, small, and fragile she felt in my arms. She wasn’t crying anymore, just quietly taking in her surroundings and studying our faces. We were instantly in love as we gazed into her alert, little eyes.
After some time, when everyone left and it was just myself, Mike, and Kylie in the room, I nervously tried breastfeeding her for the first time. I was awed about how she instinctively knew what to do as she latched on. It was pure mommy bliss!
A little while later, the nurse came back in to transfer us to a postpartum room. Mike held her for some skin-to-skin time as the nurse helped me get my footing to move to a wheelchair. Kylie tried to latch on to Mike, too, which was hilarious because he is VERY ticklish and was not expecting it.
As we were moved to our new room, I proudly held our little bundle in my arms. I stared at her and stroked her soft little face. Every few moments, I planted a gentle kiss on her cheek, her forehead, her little lips, on her tiny fingers wrapped around mine… I could not get over how quickly I’d fallen in love with this new little being. And she was all mine!
There are not adequate words in any language to describe the depth of a mother’s love. But I do know that it has only continued to grow stronger each and every day.