We met her on a Wednesday evening, after 23 and a half hours in the hospital and months (years!) of anticipation. It was the most amazing day of our lives and, seven weeks later, I sometimes still have to pinch myself to believe we don’t have to give her back.
Stella was born two days past her due date and, so I can remember, here’s how it happened. (Fair warning: this is long!)
I didn’t do the whole “birth plan” thing but I did have an idea of how I hoped it would happen: go into labor (a couple of weeks early would be ideal as that worked best with our schedule), spend a large part of early labor at home, go to the hospital and voila! meet baby. Although I wasn’t totally set on it, I had hoped to deliver without drugs and I wanted to avoid induction and definitely do anything possible to stay away from a C-section. “The best laid plans” and all…
The day after Stella’s due date we went in for my 40 week checkup. Michael came with me as I knew they were going to do an ultrasound and we would also be making a plan for what to do if yet another week passed and Stella still hadn’t arrived. You of course can’t truly tell until things get started, but my body was had shown no signs of imminent labor and I knew my doctor wouldn’t let me go more than one week overdue. I really wanted her to come on her own so, even though Dr. Allen was willing, I wasn’t going to induce until I had to at the one week over mark.
We started our late afternoon appointment with an ultrasound. Things looked a little off–her size had not gone up as anticipated, and my amniotic fluid was lower than expected. Also Stella’s heartbeat had dropped to around 110 (120-160 is normal), which was not a scary level but again lower than usual. I didn’t think too much of this, though, until we got in to speak with Dr. Allen. She cut straight to the chase: she wanted to send us to the hospital for a medical induction. This was not what I had imagined her saying at this point but Dr. Allen was clear that, although everything was fine at the moment, she did not want to wait another week. She felt my body was no longer doing a great job at supporting the baby and, since I had already passed my due date, the best thing was to get Stella out! This wasn’t how I had pictured the day going but when there was any question of your baby’s health, all plans go out the window. (Including dinner: Michael had to call and cancel with the two couples who were on their way to our house for a pizza dinner that night!)
We went home, showered and ate, and got to the hospital just before 9 that evening, where they started me on cervidil, a drug to help prepare your body for labor. We got a couple of hours of sleep that night and the next morning around 8.30 my doctor came in and broke my water. Shortly after, they started a pitocin drip (the drug that actually induces labor).
Once we found out that my labor would be induced I basically gave up any thoughts of going natural as I knew that induced labor contractions are even stronger than natural ones, but I still tried to hang in there until my body reached a certain point at which the chance of a C-section would decrease. While pregnant I did lots of reading–probably too much!–and I knew that interventions (from induction to epidurals) in the process of natural labor increase your odds for a C-section. The baby’s safety and health is the most important, but that was an outcome I really wanted to avoid if possible. However, after about 5 hours of labor, things weren’t moving along, I was in a lot of pain, and my body was shaking violently in between contractions and not allowing me a chance to recover, so we decided it was time for an epidural. The anesthesiologist arrived an hour later and ohmygoodness, that epidural was amazing. In 10 minutes I went from labor that felt pointless since it wasn’t getting us anywhere to total relaxation and watching Wimbledon!
I truly believe this was the right call for us as my body finally started to do its thing. I think I was too tense and stressed about the whole process and, for me, the epidural allowed my body to relax and work. At this point I also had my mom come and visit, which helped calm me down and reassure me. Michael was amazing but my mom had done this (four times!) so her presence and experience was a huge blessing. After a few hours things stalled again but our amazing (!!!) nurse moved my legs around and put my body in a position which was known to help move things along. My body started shaking uncontrollably again during and between contractions, my doctor was worrying about my progress, and a hot spot (where the epidural wasn’t effective) had developed. They re-upped my epidural and, just as they finished, noticed on the monitor that “something” was happening. In a matter of 30 minutes, things progressed very rapidly and it was time to deliver!
Thirty minutes later, little Miss Stella B made her grand entrance. It was the most miraculous thing I have ever been a part of. There are no words for the feeling of meeting your child, this person you’ve carried and loved and prayed for and gone through so much to get here.
I am also so thankful for the hospital where we delivered. It is what is called a “baby-friendly” hospital and after Stella’s birth they immediately placed her on my chest and I had an hour of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with her. This has been shown to have all sorts of positive effects for the baby, for instance regulating their body temperature, and it was one of the sweetest hours of my life.
We are so unbelievably thankful for this gift we have been given. She is the sweetest blessing and we experience God’s goodness in her every smile, coo, cough, and even cry.