So I'm just now getting around to writing down the details of Emma Grace's big arrival. It's been on my to-do list, which hasn't gotten shorter over the past week. But that's ok, because the most important "to-do" for us right now is to love on our precious new baby.
This post is going to be long - I'll warn you in advance - because not only am I writing this down for the few people who might care enough to read it through, but also for my own keepsake. I don't want to forget any precious details. So here's the story...
As many of you know, Emma was scheduled to arrive on Monday, March 22nd. I had a scheduled induction for Thursday, March 25th in the event she was being stubborn. Turns out, that wasn't necessary as Emma decided to come two days early on Saturday, March 20th.
I woke up around 1am and wasn't feeling quite right - very crampy. I hadn't had many contractions through the pregnancy so I wasn't sure if this was the "real" thing or not. I woke up again around 2am, still feeling the same uncomfortable feeling. I finally decided to wake hubby around 3:30am telling him, "honey, I feel very uncomfortable." Well, that brought him to full alert.
The pain started getting worse and he kept asking me whether it was time to call the doctor yet. I got the feeling that this was indeed the "real" thing, so I got up and showered and started making sure we had everything in order around the house (knowing that our moms would be coming up and staying at our house while we were at the hospital, I couldn't stand the thought of a mess upon their arrival). I even did a load of laundry!
Finally, hubby convinced me around 6:30am that we needed to call the doctor given that the contractions were 5 minutes apart. She said to meet her at the hospital - thankfully, since it was Saturday morning, we didn't have to deal with the horrendous Washington, D.C. traffic.
Now, I have to say, I knew contractions were painful, but I really wasn't expecting to cry during almost everyone of them. By the time we got to the hospital, the contractions were about 3 minutes apart and I was a wreck. I couldn't stop crying at the registration desk and felt and looked like a total mess.
They took me back to a "decision" unit where they decide whether this is the "real" thing and whether to admit you. I was only 2+ cms, but the nurse could tell that this was serious and, when she talked to the doctor, told her I was 3cm so she wouldn't send me home.
It was a very busy day in labor and delivery and it took a while to get a room, like checking into a fancy hotel. We finally got a room around 9am and, thanks be to God, I had an epidural by about 9:30am. I was scared all along about the epidural, but it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. And, of course, when you get an epidural, you also win the prize of a catheter - again, not as bad as I was expecting.
So, hubby and I hung out in labor and delivery and I was feeling good from the epidural. I was hesitant to push the button to increase the dose as the nurse suggested, but I did do it a few times when I started getting uncomfortable. I just don't know how anyone can do this au naturel! By the way, the epidural gave me the chills and shakes. I think because my legs were so numb, I ended up feeling cold and shaking all the way through the delivery.
Ok, back to the story...by about noon, I had progressed to 4cm and the doctor decided to give me pitocin and to break my water. Our moms finally arrived around 1pm (they had a 4 hours drive...and I think my mom went about 80mph the whole time).
When the doctor came back about 2 1/2 hours later (around 2:30pm) to check me, I was 10cm and ready to go! That's when panic set in. I didn't think I was ready for the task ahead and the tears came pouring back. But, of course, they really don't give you much of an option. When it's time to push, it's time to push.
One thing that was nice and not what I was expecting was how private that whole process was. I pictured a room full of nurses and doctors, but for most of the pushing, it was just our one nurse and my hubby. She could tell as soon as I started pushing that it was not going to be long. Hubby did such a fantastic job encouraging me throughout the process, cheering me on, and counting to 10 over and over.
Finally, the nurse got the doctor to come in and after probably 2 sets of pushes (each set having 3 pushes) Baby Emma emerged after 30-45 minutes total of pushing. Hubby, who originally thought he couldn't watch any of the process, ended up watching most of it. And I'll never forget him saying "oh my gosh, she's out." When they put her up on my chest, I was in total shock. Hubby had to tell me to hold her because I was completely frozen.
And then I started laughing and, according to my hubby, yelling pretty loudly in astonishment. I just couldn't believe that this beautiful, perfect thing on my chest was my baby, the baby I've waited for and prayed for, not just for nine months but for years. It was unbelievable.
Emma didn't cry right away - she had a lot of fluid in her lungs - so the nurse took her off to the side and worked on her for awhile. Hubby immediately went over to watch and all I could keep asking is whether she was ok. Finally, while they stitched me up (yep, a fun little tear) they gave her to hubby to hold - probably one of the most precious pictures I'll ever have in my mind. Just totally unbelievable.
Emma's a tiny little thing. All along the doctors had projected that she was small, but near the end of the pregnancy, when it was evident that she was growing properly, they thought that maybe they had overreacted about her size. Well, she did end up being a small little thing - 6lb, 4oz and 19" long. And she is so skinny...her little arms and legs are super long and super skinny. It's a joke trying to get her to fit into newborn clothes but she is too long for preemie clothes. Oh well, she'll grown into them and will get to wear the newborn clothes for longer.
Back to the story...Our moms finally got to meet little Emma about an hour later. Hubby and I stayed in the hospital for two nights and then headed home, back to the real world, on Monday, March 22nd, my original due date.
Emma had her first pediatrician appointment on Wednesday, March 24th and had dropped to 5lb, 12oz. The doctor said she didn't like to see the drop, though it's expected, and actually recommended that I add an ounce of formula after each feeding. She asked to have Emma come back in two days to see how she was doing. I was very hesitant to do the formula given all I've heard about nipple confusion and since we were just starting to figure out breastfeeding. I'm awfully glad I did hold out because when she returned to the doctor 2 days later, she was up to 5lb, 15oz, which the doctor said was terrific. Usually they only see 1oz a day and she had grown 3ozs over 2 days. Good girl!
We are still figuring out breastfeeding. For awhile she was doing really well and latching on well, but in the last day or so she has gotten more stubborn with latching (perhaps, once the milk comes in, babies also have to make adjustments?). To make matters even more difficult, she loves to flail her long arms around which makes the latch even more difficult. But I am committed to breastfeeding and know that we'll both figure it out soon enough.
To the few of you who have made it to the bottom of this post, I'll reward with you with a picture or two. Emma is the joy and light of our life and despite the minimal sleep and little frustrations, I can't stop praising God for blessing us with this perfect, beautiful little miracle. My heart hurts sometimes when I look at her from loving her so much and I am already wishing that she wouldn't grow up.