I never understood the appeal of sharing birth stories until I became a first time mom and suddenly it was a rite of passage of sorts to share all the details with other moms. When sharing my experience, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to skew the story to emphasize my strength and courage, or if I would earn more points if I played up the drama and had all listening ears horrified by the end. Truthfully, I still don't know which one is more impressive. If you find out, you can let me know.
It all started at about 1 am Friday morning. I was having a hard time sleeping and I realized that I was having what felt like Braxton Hicks contractions, but at pretty regular intervals. When I started timing them, sure enough, they were regular and getting closer together. I didn't feel any pain aside from the discomfort from the tightening, but I was sure that we would have a baby that day which of course did not help me fall back to sleep. I remember tossing, turning, and timing contractions until about 3 am, when I finally fell asleep.
I woke up at 5 am and began timing my contractions again. This time the contractions were a little more painful (like a mild menstrual cramp) and began lasting longer and coming closer together. Now I completely gave up on sleep and took a shower and began packing the last few things into my hospital bag. I woke Joseph up around 6 am and told him to get ready because we were going to have a baby!
Lucky for us, my mother-in-law was visiting from Idaho and so we were not scrambling to get the kids up and off to a sitter before we left for the hospital. Our kids are habitually early risers and so we were able to kiss them and tell them we were on our way to the hospital. J was especially tickled when we told him that today would be the baby's birthday.
We left home about 6:30 am and headed to the hospital. I was relieved when we made it there before the morning traffic, but I was also nervous because I had stopped timing my contractions and now that we were in the parking lot, I was sure they had stopped all together. Curse my pride, but I knew I would be so embarrassed walking into the hospital thinking I was in labor with my third baby, only to have them send me home. So, my patient and loving husband walked laps with me for about 45 minutes around the hospital and surrounding blocks until I was sure something was happening.
In the elevator ride up to Labor and Delivery, I continued to be so nervous that they would send me home. We made it upstairs, checked in, and they gave me a robe and a sectioned off portion of a triage room. The nurse continued asking me questions and I could tell she didn't think I was in labor. She hooked me up to the monitors and then said she would return in 20 minutes to check me for dilation.
When she came back to check me, we were all surprised when she told me that I was dilated to 8 cm and it was time for them to find me a room. She admitted she didn't think I could be that far along based on how I was acting, but I was just celebrating the fact that I wasn't crazy and we would be having a baby soon. After that the nurses were very quick about hooking up my IV, finding me a room, and calling the anesthesiologist.
In my delivery room, the anesthesiologist came and went and we were told that it was a busy day in Labor and Delivery and our doctor would be in as soon as possible. By 9:30 am we were settled in the room, happy with an epidural, and patiently waiting. We passed the time by trying to agree on a baby name and trying to find something worthwhile to watch on TV. We failed miserably at both.
She immediately called for the anesthesiologist and the doctor, but she told me to be prepared to have the baby without either of their help. She put on gloves and said that she would deliver the baby if necessary. At that point, I was in a lot of pain from the contractions on my left side and it took my complete concentration to breathe through the contractions while trying not to push. The anesthesiologist made it and adjusted my epidural, while the doctor ran in and got ready.
Thankfully, soon I was much more comfortable and the doctor gave me permission to push. After pushing for about 30 minutes, our dark haired little baby girl came into the world! The doctor and nurses were surprised and said, "That is a big baby!" to which I couldn't believe because my other two babies were right around 7 lbs. Sure enough, after taking guesses our baby girl was weighed and she was 8 lbs 6 oz, 21 inches long.
Because I delivered at a Baby Friendly hospital, she was weighed and then given right back to me for skin to skin, before she had even been wiped off much. They let me have what they call a "golden hour" where they left me alone with the baby to snuggle, kiss, and begin breastfeeding. It was heaven to hold her close and check out all her little rolls.
Later that afternoon, Joseph brought the kids and Grandma to come and meet Addie. And just like that, my hospital room filled with children and I realized that I was the mother of three.
Read Ellie's birth story here.