Every day as I gaze into her little eyes and laugh at her silly faces, I wonder how my life was ever complete before her. Brace yourself. This post is a long one.
Our sweet baby girl, aka Baby Table, has arrived! We are so thankful for a smooth pregnancy and delivery. Here’s how it all unfolded:
I never had a birth plan. For someone who likes to plan everything in advance, it may seem strange, but as much as we like to think we can control our bodies, we can’t. I figured my body was going to do exactly what it wanted and no carefully written birth plan would change that. My OB is amazing and I trusted her to make the best decisions for me and baby.
Also I didn’t want to be disappointed if things didn’t go according to plan. So I left things very open. Basically, my plan was to show up at the hospital when it was time and have a baby. All the details would be worked out as we went.
By 38 weeks, I felt like I’d prepared everything I could. We had the car seat and the bassinet. The nursery was done. The clothes and blankets were washed and put away, and the stroller was put together. I’d packed my hospital bag. I’d organized the pantry and made meals for our freezer. And baby girl was getting so big that I was having trouble sleeping and moving around. So the waiting game began.
My OB checked my cervix every week starting at 37 weeks for dilation. Each time, it was closed. And I still hadn’t felt a single contraction. Not even the practice ones. I was starting to get anxious, willing her to come by walking a couple of miles every day, and eating dates, pineapple, and eggplant, even though I knew they were all old wives tales and baby would come whenever she was good and ready.
She was ready the Thursday morning that I was supposed to go in for my 39 week appointment.
I woke up to one single contraction around midnight, then another around 2 am. When I started feeling them about every 10 minutes around 3, I knew I’d never go back to sleep, and thought I’d better pay attention to timing.
I got out of bed, grabbed a notepad and pen, and sat down at my computer to get a little work done (I needed the distraction). It wasn’t long before my contractions were coming every 5 minutes on the dot. I woke up Mr. Table around 4:45 and told him to grab a shower and start getting ready, it was baby time. We were out the door and on the way to the hospital by 6, car seat and hospital go-bag in tow.
That’s when the first bad contraction was. By the time we got checked in and put into the triage room, they were coming strong and hard, though they had slowed down quite a bit. The first doctor who saw me checked my cervix and said I was only dilated 1 cm and that I might get sent home to wait since my water hadn’t broken. I prayed that wouldn’t happen and waited to see what they would say. The next doctor came in almost an hour later. He said he doubted I was in labor since my contractions were so far apart. My uterus begged to differ. When he saw me go through another contraction, he realized I was obviously in real pain, so he checked my cervix again. I was at a 3. So we finally got taken to a labor and delivery room around 9 am.
By then there was no doubt I would be getting the epidural, asap.
I waited another excruciating hour while the IV was hooked up and the anesthesiologist prepared everything. When I finally received the epidural, I was immediately relieved. Holy shit. How do people give birth without that thing?
After about an hour or so of blissfully painless waiting, I started to feel contractions again, especially in my back. They were coming every couple of minutes, so I asked my nurse (who was an angel, by the way) if that was supposed to be happening and if anyone was going to check how far along I was anytime soon. She said I could probably pump up the pain medication, but she’d check my cervix anyway. I was dilated 9 cm. Apparently when you can feel contractions through the epidural, things are moving along pretty darn fast.
My OB arrived about 15 minutes later, saying she’d be around, she just had a meeting at 3 in the hospital (it was about 12:30 at this point). She left the room without checking anything. She returned about 15 minutes later, saying she couldn’t stand the suspense and she wanted to see where I was at. She checked my cervix, and I was at a 10. Oh my god, I was about to give birth!
The room was prepped and ready for delivery in no time. I tried to give myself a little pep talk in my head, gearing up for what I was sure would be a long and painful process.
When it was time to start pushing, the nurse and doctor walked me through it. On the first push, the doctor told my husband to come around to where she was. Baby girl’s head was visible.
Two pushes later, and my baby girl was born at 1:34 pm. Seeing her emerge was like nothing I’d felt before. It was so overwhelming and miraculous, but something was wrong.
She wasn’t crying. We all held our breath, waiting for a scream, and it never came. Her little eyes were looking at me, but she wasn’t gasping for breath. She wasn’t breathing at all. Mr. Table went pale and almost fainted (he hadn’t eaten yet that day), while baby was placed on my chest momentarily. That was the last minute of calm we had before the chaos began.
The nurse took baby girl and suctioned her mouth, trying to clear any mucous to get her to breathe. NICU was called and about 8 doctors and nurses came rushing in, taking baby girl and giving her oxygen. All while I was being stitched up, knowing nothing at all about what was going on. Nobody was telling us anything. We were terrified.
Once baby was stabilized, my OB asked if I could hold my sweet baby to my chest, hoping some skin to skin would help her. I got to hold her all of 5 minutes before the NICU team decided she was not breathing well enough on her own, and took her away to the nursery upstairs. I was devastated and scared. I’d been waiting 9 months for the golden hour with my brand new baby, to snuggle with her and breastfeed her for the first time, yet she was gone and we had no idea where she was or how long she’d be gone.
The doctor finished getting me stitched and everything cleaned up, then all that was left was for us to wait patiently (once again) for any news about our baby girl. It seemed to never come. Our only saving grace at that point was one of the NICU nurses who I happened to go to high school with, who came back to our room to update us. She told us that baby girl was on oxygen in the nursery, and she’d be monitored for 4-6 hours. And if she didn’t do well, she’d be taken to the NICU. That was all she knew at that point. But she kindly offered to ask if my husband was allowed up to the nursery to at least see where she was.
While we sat anxiously in our room and waited for my legs to work again so I could be transferred to our postpartum room, my OB (bless her) came back in and told us that baby was doing well and not to worry (HA!), that she would be fine and hopefully we’d get to see her soon. While it made us feel better that the doctor we trusted was reassuring us that everything would be fine, we still had no answers and were growing impatient and even more worried.
We finally were transferred to my postpartum room. After a briefing with my nurse for the afternoon, we were finally able to go in the nursery and see our precious baby girl, where I would be able to try to feed her for the first time (finally!). The nurse wheeled me in, and I finally got to hold my little baby girl! She looked so tiny and delicate, hooked up to monitoring cords with an oxygen tube in her nose. She was fussy, understandably, after being starved for hours while she was poked and tangled up in cords. But she was perfect.
The first feeding was hard. She cried and thrashed around, having a hard time latching. We were both exhausted and frustrated, but eventually she latched and was able to breastfeed for the first time. We sat with baby for about two hours before we were taken back to our room, still without baby or any real answers.
We waited what seemed like an eternity, and finally the nursery nurse came in with good news. Baby was breathing well, 100% oxygen saturation on room air, so she’d be able to come in the room with us. But since they still wanted to monitor her, she’d be sleeping in the nursery that night. Luckily, they brought her in to eat when she was hungry so I could feed her, twice that night. Since she did well overnight, she was allowed to room in with us on day 2. Finally, I felt like I could relax just a little (or as much as a brand new mom can while in the hospital after giving birth).
Baby girl did very well on day 2, so we were released to go home on day 3. Thankfully my parents and sister were here to help! The first couple of days at home we were just so tired we couldn’t even function. My mom stayed for about a week to help us adjust, and I don’t know how we would have made it through the first week without her.
We are still trying to figure out sleeping and eating schedules, what the different cries mean, and how to be the best parents we can. But one thing is for sure. We love that little girl so much.
I never thought I’d have more room in my heart for so much love, but there it is. Even through the exhaustion and frustration, my heart is so full, and I am just in awe of how perfect she is. Every day as I gaze into her little eyes and laugh at her silly faces, I wonder how my life was ever complete before her.
Photos by Honeybee Photography.