It was Sunday night at 9:30pm when I entered the hospital with my big 10 day late belly.
Our friend Brett dropped T & I off at the hospital while my mom decided to stay home for the night to get some sleep, and would come as soon as the pitocin began.
The drive felt surreal. I ate a banana and some crackers. I watched as our home passed before my eyes into the darkness, and I knew it was going to always be different. That we were always going to be different. And there was no turning back. I felt so nervous and yet also super ready. 42 weeks is a long time to be pregnant.
We laughed as we waited in triage, and I remember thinking I was so glad to be married to Taylor. He is just the greatest in situations like these. We were totally self conscious of how much we packed & made fun of ourselves, then before we knew it we were going up to Labor & Delivery.
Our induction was a little unique, since I was so late & still showing no signs of labor. A crib induction is where they need to manually open up your cervix & they do this by inserting a balloon up through your cervix, and then they pump it with saline, let it sit there for 6 hours, and watch what your body does. If it doesn't dilate after 6 hours, they wait another 6 hours.
The balloon hurts like crap. I'll just be real blunt. For this whole post you can expect that actually. Hurts.like.crap. It's uncomfortable, and the cramping is terrible. And it's immediate. They were able to give me some pain meds during this time, but nothing that really took the pain away.
Fast forward 12 hours.
Fast forward through lots of crying on my part.
Fast forward through me having intense chills & shakes the entire time.
Fast forward through my mom & T taking turns rubbing my legs & telling me to hang in there.
Fast forward to a couple nurse changes & lots of ice chips.
Finally at around noon on Monday they took that cursed little balloon out.
I was only 3 centimeters dilated.
That was something- but for all that work- I was a little pissed.
I apparently got dubbed on the floor as "Cervix of Steel."
My cervix is insane.
And I cannot believe I'm talking about it on the public internet.
At this point my sweet beloved doctor had checked on me multiple times & she was simply amazing. Each time she came in I felt a wave of relief wash over me. Like- "I'm not forgotten. They won't leave me like this forever!" The nurses were all amazing too. Each of them was so supportive & was there for us if we needed anything. Emily was our favorite though. Wherever she is- You rock Emily.
My mom & Erin were at the hospital at this point along with T, & I tried to sleep through the contractions that were starting. They issued the pitocin a little before the balloon was taken out & contractions were slowly coming. I had packed cards to play with, our ipod player with a playlist all ready, and lots of books & magazines. I am here to tell you I wanted NONE of those things. All I wanted was my baby. That's it. And food. And a ginormous glass of water. And to be done with the wires & the waiting. And I thought I'd do my makeup so I could get in some of these pics & that was kinda the last thing in the world I cared about.
At around 4:30pm on Monday my doctor came back in and decided it was time to break my water even though my cervix was still pretty high.
Grossest thing ever.
Who wants to lay in a hospital bed, in warm water that just came gushing out of you?
I didn't think so.
Probably my least favorite part.
And at this point no one understood.
I immediately was disgusted to the point of tears & everyone was like, "It doesn't hurt?!" And I was like, "I'm gonna be sick."
So not only was I known on the floor as Cervix of Steel, but apparently everyone & their mother also knew me as the one with "SO much amniotic fluid."
An olympic swimming pool for my girl.
My doc couldn't believe how much I had.
A few minutes after she broke my water & a couple more minutes after I almost threw up because I was so grossed out, the pain began. I mean. I had experienced pain already- but nothing like the pain I felt then. My whole body began to shake even stronger & I remember just laying on my side holding onto the bed and Taylor as tightly as I could. I have NEVER experienced pain like that. I went through probably 20 minutes of contractions & begged for the epidural. Begged. I thought I would make it to 7 centimeters. Ha. Ha. Hahahahaha. I tried breathing & doing all the crap the books told me to do. Yea. Forget it. Pain is pain. And holy cow.
Praise the good Lord because that epidural lady came in faster than anything & got that sucker in me. Went totally smoothly & I felt better almost immediately. I couldn't believe it didn't hurt. I had been so afraid for months for no reason.
Then it was just more waiting. And trying to sleep. And trying to not think about food. And pushing.
Mom, T & Erin rubbed my legs & got me more ice chips & cool wet rags for my head. Somewhere in the middle of the night on Monday I developed a fever of 100.3 & was one point away from having to get antibiotics. We prayed. My fever went down. I cried a lot. All the while Eliana did awesome. Never showed any signs of stress. Good job, baby.
My doctor stayed with me the whole time (not literally) but she never left, even when her shift was done. She was gonna see us through, and I cannot tell you how much relief that brought to me. She also refused to give me a c-section (which at the time I was kinda getting annoyed about!). She was determined that I was going to give birth vaginally, and while she was there. Love her.
At 6am on Tuesday she came back in to check me & found that I was finally at a 10. F.i.n.a.l.l,y.
So it was time to push.
At this point I could totally feel my legs- despite the fact that I had pushed that blessed little epidural button a hundred times. I was able to feel contractions when they were coming- though they weren't as painful as before the epidural- and I was able to actually push standing up a few times- although that was a lot harder work then laying down pushing- so I labored mostly laying down.
I pushed for 2 and half hours.
Those hours I cannot even remember feeling anything but total exhaustion.
They feel like 2 minutes on one hand, and like 2 days on the other hand.
Hardest work ever.
If I had know it was going to be that hard I definitely would've worked out some more.
Or something like that.
Probably the hardest part was just knowing she was so close. I wanted to be done more than I can even express- and with each set of 3 pushes I felt so discouraged when she'd slip back up there. I feel like it was an hour of them talking about her hair, and seeing a little bit of her, only to have her disappear again. Totally maddening.
Everyone was so sweet with cheering me on & telling me to keep pushing hard. Taylor didn't leave my side once & he was such a champ. I cannot even imagine what the view was like (no thank you to the mirror!). My mom & best friend were such a support system for me too- and it was so good having them there- knowing they had both done this 3 times each. I only had one moment when I thought, "There are a lot of freaking people in this room." It was my 3 peeps, plus my doctor, and then 3 other nurses. Lots of people. But I got over it & it was ok. Although I didn't quite get over Emily not being there. She was like, the best nurse ever. And I actually am not even 100% sure her name was Emily. Awesome.
Then, finally, I could tell she was almost there.
Most intense burning I've ever felt in my life,
and the most pressure I've ever felt,
and then finally she was out.
It was the most amazing feeling ever to see her face finally. I cried uncontrollably. I don't remember what I said, or much else, other than that I was so relieved. God has gotten us through it. Phil 4:13 played on repeat in my mind those last 2 hours & I know I couldn't have made it without knowing He was with us through it all.
They gave her to me immediately & she whimpered a little bit, and then finally let out some bigger cries. She was perfect. So, so, so perfect.
I could not believe how big she was. Months before we had actually gone out and bought preemie clothes for her because we guessed she'd be small like T & I. She literally has been in 3 month clothes since she got home from the hospital! She passed all her little tests & she never had to leave our sight. They gave her right back to me & we cuddled into total blissdom. Seriously. I think cuddling with your baby on your chest just might be better than any other feeling on earth. Almost. I am just saying.
Such an awesome dad. Couldn't have done it without him!
After I got all taken care of we were moved up to our postpartum room.
Our good friend Jenny who we met at church almost 6 years ago is a postpartum nurse at our hospital & reserved for us the SWEETEST room ever. I mean- we walked in and just laughed. It was GORGEOUS. We kept joking that we felt like celebrities. We had an insane view of Lake Michigan & the city & it was 3 times bigger than the other rooms. She made sure I had an awesome nurse before her shift, and then she actually was our nurse while she was working! So, so, special. I cannot even describe how much it meant to have her with me in those early hours of being a mommy. God is so good.
So from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon we chilled out in our pent house suite at the hospital & tried to learn as much as we could about our little babe. We watched a lot of the Olympics & took one thousand pictures. And fell madly in love with Eliana.
I had heard LOTS of negative things from people, books & magazines about giving birth this way. You know- with meds & doctors & the whole "typical" way. I seriously considered doulas & water births & midwives for 9 months before she got here & read all kinds of books & birth stories. Ultimately- this is what we decided on & for us, it was perfect. Our doctor wasn't absent like I had heard from people that she would be. Our nurses weren't lame. The meds had no bad side effects. My baby got all the routine things they offer & is flourishing. I wasn't forced into a c-section because my doctor wanted to go golfing. No conspiracies & no troubles. Just a lot of support & good care.
I know this isn't always the case- and believe me- up until the moment that epidural was in my body I was nervous about the potential risks- but thankfully the Lord was gracious & we had a terrific birth experience. I seriously cannot imagine giving birth at any other hospital now or with any other doctor. I have no idea what it's like with a different doctor- but ours was terrific. So if you're reading this & have heard all those things I heard too- just be encouraged that there are good doctors out there at big city hospitals. You're not destitute if you decide to not go with a birthing center! And I will give you the name of my doctor. :)
I literally am amazed by people that do this whole thing naturally. Power to them. For real!
Pregnancy amnesia hasn't exactly set in yet- I'm still healing from El's delivery!- but if the Lord is gracious & allows us- I'm sure we'll try this crazy thing again one day. But hopefully not for a good long while. I mean. Good grief! Hard work. Such.hard.work.
I still cannot believe she's here! So thankful, so happy, so blessed. She was worth every second of sickness I experienced in pregnancy, and every little bit of pain I felt in labor. She was worth all the waiting, and all the prayers. She has totally stolen our hearts forever.