Here is the story of our little girl's arrival. Better late than never- pardon the choppy writing, I did a lot of this with a newborn in my arms. Typing one-handed is never ideal!
In my previous posts, I already updated that I had developed pregnancy induced hypertension. I was not experiencing pre-eclampsia nor eclampsia, but my doctor was concerned that if I stayed pregnant too much longer or was too active, I could easily develop these much more serious complications. I went in to the doctor and was put on bedrest for a week. When I went for my 39 week appointment, my doctor checked my blood pressure and made the decision to induce me. Since I have some other super minor medical issues having to do with my heart, I really wanted my doctor to deliver her. She set the induction up for Tuesday night. I would receive something called Cervidil on Tuesday night to "ripen my cervix" (gross) and then I would start pitocin up in the morning on Wednesday. My doctor said that I would deliver on Wednesday and she'd be on call so I would be sure to have her deliver me.
Abe and I got everything ready and headed to the hospital on Tuesday night at 7:00. I was admitted and given Cervidil at 8:50pm. That was NOT FUN. Quite painful for something that wasn't supposed to do much other than get me ready for Pitocin. I had been praying that the Cervidil would send me into labor and I wouldn't need Pitocin. I had heard horror stories about how intense the contractions can be with Pitocin and was scared. I was having contractions but not feeling them very strongly. The nurse, Mary, who was AWESOME and took such good care of me on her shift told me that it would for sure not happen that night but that we could call Abe back in if he went home. She noticed that some of the contractions were getting a bit painful and offered me a sleeping medication called Vistrol (I have not idea if I'm spelling that right). It's an antihistamine like Benadryl and just makes you tired. So, after discussing this with Abe, we decided that he should go home and sleep in our bed so he was well rested for the following day. We also decided that I would take the sleeping med and hopefully get some sleep for all the hard work coming my way the next day.
I took the Vistrol at 11:30pm and my contractions were getting more painful. They had not checked me in awhile and offered me some morphine to help with the pain while I waited to be far enough along to get an epidural if I chose. My new nurse, Cindy, said that if I was having break through pain by 12:30am or 1:00am, pain that was not allowing me to sleep, that I could get morphine and that would help. I barely made it to 12:30 before I asked for the morphine. I got the morphine at about 12:50 and waited for some sort of relief.
Much to my surprise, my water broke at 1:05am. Immediately, I asked if I should call my husband. Cindy said "no, let's check and see where you are and we'll go from there." She checked me, my contractions were getting really really painful, and I was at a 4. She removed the Cervidil. I was having terrible back labor and asked her when I could get the epidural. She said when I was at a 4 or a 5 would be an ideal time. I said, "Okay, I'd like the epidural now and can you tell the anesthesiologist to run?" She laughed and said she'd get things going as quickly as she could. She hustled to get my IV in and then Dr. Shiner would come in and do the epidural (I know that's not how he spells his last name but that's how it's pronounced). All the nurses said he was the best and I was so lucky to have him do my epidural. He came rolling in and I shouted, yes shouted, "Hallelujah!" I'm sure he gets that all the time. He quickly got the epidural in and I felt so much better. Since I was having bad back labor, Cindy put my leg up on a table to try to get Gemma to turn. By this point, I was at a 6- it was about 2:40 in the morning. Still I didn't call Abe- we still didn't think things would move that quickly. Then, at 4:00am, Cindy checked me again, after having me roll over and prop my other leg up to get Gemma to keep turning. I was at a 9+ and she said to call Abe. Thus far, I had been laboring all alone- or with Cindy. So, I called him. This was our conversation.
I had to call him twice, he didn't answer the first time.
"Hello?" Super sleepy voice.
"Hi honey, you need to come to the hospital now." Super sleepy voice.
"Oh, okay. I'll hop in the shower and be there in a little bit."
"No, no, no, no, no... I'm at a 9+ and I'm going to start pushing when I'm at a 10. You need to get here NOW. No shower."
"Hurry, honey... I already have my epidural and everything."
Abe got to the hospital at about 4:50am and Cindy had me "labor down". She said that I was at a 10 and since it was important for me to have my doctor deliver me, due to my hypertension and heart condition I should just let the contractions bring the baby down naturally without pushing.
I did that for about a half hour and started pushing at around 5:30. Apparently, I was a good pusher because she thought I'd push for about an hour and then Dr. Syal would be there to deliver Gemma. The on-call ob changed at 6:30 or 7:00am. So, I pushed and pushed and she moved down well.. too well. At about 7:00, Dr. Syal still wasn't there and I could feel that I HAD to push. The nurses called the ob residents and two young fresh faced residents came strolling in. One knew my brother from college and they proceeded to just chat with me. I was so tired that I thought I was going to pass out. I did between contractions- just feel asleep. The resident held Gemma inside me until Dr. Syal got there and the nurses just kept telling me to breathe through the contractions. I kept apologizing, and saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm trying so hard not to push.. I'm so sorry." 30 minutes later, Dr. Syal came rushing in, threw her purse and coat on the floor and jumped into her scrubs. She asked if I'd like a mirror, to which I responded in no uncertain terms "NO!!" She told me I'd need a bit of an episiotomy and did that and two pushes later, Gemma was born. Dr. Syal let the resident deliver her and the nurses handed her right to me.
She was screaming, all mushed up- I'm sure from being held in a tight spot for at least a half hour, and all puffy. I expected this cosmic, all-consuming love to hit me right away but it didn't. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience- she was a stranger, and mine and totally helpless and I couldn't connect right away. I was expecting Abe and I to burst in to tears simultaneously and neither one of us did. I cry every time a baby is born on tv, what was going on?!
We spent a few minutes just holding her and then I let them weigh her. Everyone thought I'd have an 8 or 8.5lb baby and she was way too small for that. I knew that she wasn't that big- sure enough, 7lbs 4oz and 19" long. Her head was 13.5" and she was perfect. She had these long thin fingers and long thing feet. Her little nose was mushed and bent and she had this beautiful little red mouth. Abe gave her a bath when my mom and dad got there. I tried to have my mom take pictures but she couldn't figure out my camera so I asked her to give it to me. There I was, taking pictures from my hospital bed of my husband bathing our daughter about an hour and a half after I had given birth. The nurses just laughed at me.
After that, we didn't have any visitors that day except my sister and brother-in-law who were going out of town the next day. I was so tired I thought I was going to die. I hadn't slept the night before we went to the hospital and thought I'd get a good night's sleep on the Cervidil (Wrong.) so I had been up for over 48 hours. I was delirious. The next couple of days passed in a blur. Abe stayed overnight with me the first night and then went home the next night. Gemma never really nursed. She would latch, unlatch, cry, arch, gag, and then do it all again. I met with every lactation specialist in the hospital and none of us could get her nursing. The other posts have more info about what happened after that.
We went home on October 8th and I was still feeling like she was a stranger- I knew that I loved her but it was still a very foreign concept to me. I couldn't believe I was a mom. I was still waiting for that magical moment of connection with her.
The next morning, I got up with her to change her and as I placed her on her changing table, it happened. I was absolutely flooded. Overcome. Invaded by the sweet presence of my little girl. I looked at her, tears pouring down my cheeks and fell in love. There it was. That cosmic, unexplainable, magical, divine, all-consuming connection between mama and daughter just hit me. I looked at her and said, "Hey my beautiful girl, do you know how much your mama loves you? So much, precious Gemma, there are no words- I love you, I love you, I love you."
I'm so thankful that my labor and delivery was quick and smooth. That's what I had prayed for. I prayed for a fast and uncomplicated labor and delivery, an easy recovery and a healthy baby and mama. God has been so faithful. Her health is an ever-changing condition but right now she's healthy. We are doing everything in our power to keep people away from her and protect her little lungs. What a gift she is!