For the first time, my husband and I spent Christmas alone. We live almost 3 hours from our families, and with a due date of January 5th, we didn't want to take a chance that I would go into labor on the road, or 3 hours away from the hospital and doctors we were comfortable with. I was convinced she was going to be late, but I still didn't want to risk it. So Christmas day was quiet, just the two of us, but I will forever look back on this Christmas as one of my favorites because we spent the day enjoying one another, enjoying one of our last days together before we became a family of three.
On Sunday, my family came down to visit us and we went out to brunch. I was feeling some pressure that morning but just assumed it had to do with being 38 1/2 weeks pregnant. We were expecting a snow storm (20 inches!) so the family left by around 4pm. My dad was scheduled to have back surgery Monday morning, so they were staying at a hotel near the hospital he would be in, about an hour away from our apartment. That evening I had a few contractions, but nothing in a regular pattern or for a consistent period of time. Not feeling very well, I went to bed early, anxious for my scheduled doctor's appointment in the morning.
I started having consistent contractions about 2am Monday morning. I got up and went in the other room and timed them for about an hour before waking up my hubby. At that point they were 4-6 minutes apart and about 40 seconds long. We both decided that I should try to get some sleep, but by 4:30am I got up and started timing them again. They were 2-4 minutes apart and 50-60 seconds long between 4:30am and 6:30am when I finally fell back to sleep.
I was supposed to have a doctor's appointment at 9:30am but the office was closed and it was canceled because of the snow storm. About 1pm the contractions were still coming consistently so we called and they had us go to the hospital to be checked. I was only 2 cm dilated at that point but they kept me at the hospital because of the storm.
We walked our own little path into the hallways of the maternity ward trying to get things moving and bounced on the birth ball. My contractions were still coming consistently, but not getting stronger or closer together.
That night the nurses and my husband talked me into taking Nubain to help me sleep because I hadn't slept much the night before. This is the only part of the birth that I regret. I didn't want it and I should have stuck up for myself, but I was exhausted. In my exhaustion, I thought it couldn't hurt to get some sleep because I had a lot of work ahead of me. Instead of helping me sleep, all it did was make my mind feel very alert and awake, but my body feel drugged. It did nothing for the discomfort of the contractions and I didn't actually fall asleep until it wore off. The exact opposite of what they were trying to achieve.
At 5am Tuesday morning, December 28th, I had been having good strong contractions for about an hour so they checked me and I was 4cm. At 9am the doctor checked me again and I was 5-6cm. We walked a lot more, but my contractions had slipped back to 5-6 minutes apart and were less intense. At 1:30pm when the doctor checked me I was still 6 cm.
At this point, the doctor suggested either starting some Pitocin or breaking my water to make my contractions more productive. Trying to have as natural a labor as possible, I opted for having my water broken. I figured it could happen naturally on it's own, so it wouldn't be as drastic as the Pitocin.
After that, everything went downhill quickly. The contractions got so intense, so fast, I felt very out of control of my body. I couldn't relax. I couldn't breathe through them. I believe I can be quoted as saying, "Breathing is bullshit!" I kept feeling like I had to push and couldn't control my body. It felt like I was convulsing, doubling over with every contraction.
The nurse said that if I wanted the epidural I would need to get it now. Still wanting to have a natural birth, she walked away, giving my husband and I a minute to talk about it. I was hesitant, but then another contraction came and I was begging my mom to go get the nurse and get me the epidural.
Because I felt like I had to push, the doctor checked me again and I was 8cm at 1:45pm, just 15 minutes after he broke my water. I was begging for the epidural at that point and was so afraid that there wasn't enough time left. The anesthesiologist was there before I knew it, explaining things that I wasn't listening to as fast as he could. He got it in so fast that I could have kissed the man. I had been so afraid of the needle and the process of getting the epidural, but I honestly don't remember feeling anything but instant relief. It wasn't even close to as bad as I was expecting it to be.
It was now 2pm and the doctor suggested I sit up for half an hour to get her moving down. At 2:30pm I started pushing. The epidural was nothing like I expected, and though I didn't feel pain, I felt all the pressure and even had some movement in my legs. I couldn't feel myself pushing as much as I would have liked, but the nurse and doctor said I was pushing perfectly. The problem was, she just wouldn't come out. After 2 1/2 hours of pushing, I started to get scared that I would need a c-section. Instead, I ended up with an episiotomy and a 2nd degree tear and the doctor had to use the vacuum, but she finally came out at 5:30pm after 3 hours of pushing!
They put her right on my belly and I had her skin to skin for the first 15 minutes before they cleaned her or anything. Looking down at her, I couldn't believe that she was finally here. We tried to get her to nurse right away, which with the skin to skin time, I think has made a world of difference. She's been latching on great and nursing like a champ!
While she was on my belly, my husband and I were able to look at her and decided that her name would be Audrey Ann-Marie. They took her to clean her up and weigh her, and then brought her back to me all wrapped up. She weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 20 inches long. My mom and grandparents were there and were able to meet her just an hour or so after she was born, and my sister and brother-in-law came from the hospital where they were with my dad, to see her that night.
The epidural took a lot longer to wear off in my right leg than my left, and I had some swelling around my eyes from pushing so hard for so long, but overall I didn't have much discomfort at all after she was born.
If I had made an ideal birth plan, Audrey's birth would have been nothing like it. I was so happy that I went into it with ideals but an open mind. My husband was the most amazing coach and was so supportive of me and any decision I made. He really kept me going when I thought I couldn't push any more, and I really don't think I could have done it without him. And of course, she's here now, healthy and cute as can be, so that's all that really matters in my mind.
Your Daddy and I wanted you and loved you before you were even conceived. Your birth wasn't perfect, but nothing in this world is. And as in life, nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but it does happen just as it is meant to. You are our little miracle, the answer to all of our prayers. We love you so much sweetheart and can't wait to experience the world through your eyes.