I cannot believe Ellie has been in our lives for nearly a month. She made her arrival in an unexpected way (and 10 days early!) - and we spent our first four days in the hospital, but even with that, it seems like time has flown by. I’m sure it’s a combination of deliriousness from lack of sleep, total confusion about how to be a parent, and sheer nervousness (is she pooping enough? why hasn’t her umbilical cord fallen off? is she hungry again? am I spoiling her/setting her up for sleep issues later?)
My labor started around 3:30am on 6/23. I had plans to go to the beach that morning (since it was the first day of my maternity leave), and for the first few hours I was in denial that it was “real labor” - although my contractions were becoming increasingly stronger. I woke Jeff up around 5am (after I downloaded an app to track/measure my contractions) and told him to go to work for at least a few hours, to clean up any open projects he was working on and to let his boss and team know that he might be out of the office for awhile. At this point, I just wanted to stay at home as long as possible, to avoid the embarrassment of being sent home from the hospital for not being ready to give birth.
Jeff came home around 9:30 (after being at work for less than an hour), since he couldn’t concentrate. I called my doctor’s office and they advised me to head to the hospital, since my contractions were lasting about :45 seconds and occurring every 5 minutes. I took a shower (stopping every few moments to hunch over in pain and track my contractions), blow dried my hair, and we headed to the hospital around noon.
At this point, I tried to eat a granola bar, since I heard horror stories about people being super hungry during labor, but not being able to eat anything other than clear liquids, but food did not agree with me. At all.
We got to the hospital, Jeff dropped me off at the front door while he parked the car, and we headed upstairs to the labor and delivery floor. At this point, my contractions were so strong that I couldn’t even push the buttons on the elevator. I just held up three fingers to a man in the elevator hoping he’d push the buttons for me.
At the admittance desk, I was lucky enough to see one of the women in my running group. Just seeing a friendly face made the experience a bit less surreal and uncomfortable. They admitted me to triage, I put on the hospital-issued gown and Jeff and I settled into our triage room. I was still breathing through my contractions and while they were painful, there were moments of reprieve between them. The triage doctor came in, checked me and said I was 5cm, and that I was going to be admitted (at which point I felt a big rush of relief - phew! I was in actual labor and wasn’t going to be sent home!)
The next few hours were spent in triage, waiting for labor to progress, waiting for a delivery room to open, and waiting for my OB to arrive. Finally, when I was 8cm dilated (and after vomiting from the pain), I couldn’t take the contractions any longer and requested an epidural. It was about 3:30pm at this time, and of course, the anesthesiologists were all occupied with c-section deliveries, so I needed to wait.
I was moved into a delivery room and around 4:45, I got my epidural. This came after much side eye being given to my nurse, much squeezing of my husband’s hand, and a few choice words. But, the epidural only seemed to work on one side. I could still feel strong pain on my left side, so after some waiting and complaining, the anesthesiologist upped the dosage (or something), and my legs went numb.
I was 9cm dialated, so my OB broke my water, and I was so exhausted and finally felt relief from the contractions that I didn’t even mind the gushing from between my legs. After only a few minutes my OB told me to push - and I did. Three times. Baby started to crown, but then the monitor started going crazy. Her heart rate was dropping with every push. My doctor and team of nurses tried to get me to change positions (getting on all fours is nearly impossible when your legs are numb), and they tried to roll me from side to side hoping to get baby’s heart rate up. At this point, my heart rate was dropping too, and I heard the nurse pick up the phone and call for the “entourage” at which time no less than 15 doctors, nurses, and hospital staff rushed in, told me that I needed to have an emergency c-section, and frantically wheeled me into the OR, pushing Jeff out of the way with the gurney.
I got to the OR at 5:26pm and Ellie Lynn was born at 5:29pm. Her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice and each time I pushed, it would tighten around her neck. As I was in the recovery room, my OB, and at least six nurses came in to tell me how awesome I did with labor. I worked through my contractions, my pushes were good, and that with my next baby, I should certainly not need another c-section. (Keep in mind, this is 30 minutes after I just delivered my baby. I was in no mood to talk about a hypothetical baby #2.)
Although this was not what I planned for (I skipped all the chapters about c-sections when reading books about birth!), I’m glad that baby ended up being born safe, sound, and perfectly healthy. Recovery has been fine - but it’s been slow. Ellie was born Monday night and we weren’t discharged from the hospital until Thursday afternoon.
Since then, our days have been measured in dirty diapers and minutes of feedings. Jeff and I have been taking shifts watching her and sleeping, but starting today, I’m on my own. I know I’m extremely lucky that he was off from work for four weeks (yay for comp/vacation/sick time), but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m nervous to be responsible for baby all day.
She’s actually been a pretty low-key baby. She eats like a champ (although this makes me feel like I’m always on call, since we’re breastfeeding on demand), and though she can be a bit fussy at times, I’ve only seen her cry once. Ellie has her dad’s blonde locks and her momma’s dark eyes and has made us feel love we never thought possible.
TL; DR: Ellie was born on 6/23 (10 days early). came into the world feverishly and like a diva, and she’s a pretty awesome baby. She makes my heart melt, makes me want to be a better person, and makes me slightly nervous - but we’re figuring this parenting thing out together. Every day is an adventure, every day she seems to get bigger, smarter, and more awesome, and every day I feel so lucky that she was born happy and healthy and I get to be her mom.