Remember when I said I’d try to update you before Stella was born? Well, my apologies. She decided to join us a little earlier than expected! The last month has flown by at warp speed. I’m running on caffeine, baby snuggles, and an average of about five hours of interrupted sleep per night. But you know what? Life is pretty wonderful. Before I forget too much about how our first born came into the world, I thought I’d get it all down in one place.
The last week or two before Stella’s arrival, I was having a lot of discomfort. My lower back, my pelvis, and even my belly all felt tight. The best way I can describe how it felt is just pressure. Pressure everywhere. I hadn’t really had a lot of Braxton Hicks – just a few here and there. Kyle had been in the field for a few days leading up to Stella’s birth. He had just returned home on December 8th, only to have duty for 24 hours at the barracks on base. I dropped him off and spent the evening watching Call the Midwife on Netflix with Milo. Ironic, huh? Around 2:30am I woke up and felt some mild cramping – almost exactly like the feeling I would get before that time of the month. When I checked, I found that I was spotting very lightly. I never once spotted during my pregnancy, so this was a pretty good sign that labor was coming. I called Kyle and told him that I might be in labor. I still wasn’t feeling contractions that I could time, just the same uncomfortable cramping. Kyle started getting in touch with his superiors to try to find someone to take his place on duty. I called my mom and talked with her while I made the bed, finished packing my hospital bag, and got dressed.
At 4am, I had sat down to finish writing the thank you notes from our baby shower when I felt something leaking. I wasn’t sure if I peed myself or my water broke, so I waited a little while. After feeling more leakage, I called the hospital on base at about 5am. They had me lay on my side for thirty minutes, and then stand up. They told me to come in to get checked if I felt any fluid leaking at that point. Sure enough, I did. Kyle arrived home just in time to take me to the hospital.
When they hooked me up to the monitors and checked me at about 6:30am, I was three centimeters dilated, 90% effaced, and Stella was at a -2 station. I was admitted only because my water broke (typically, the naval hospital will not admit you until you are 6cm dilated). They moved me down the hall to a delivery room, where I put on my gown and had my IV placed. The corpsman that placed my IV kept called me ‘mama’. He also blew my vein in my left hand and let blood leak all over my right hand. As nice as he was, I was glad it was the end of his shift.
The nurse warned me that my contractions would probably be fairly intense because my water had already broken, meaning there was no more ‘cushion’ between the baby’s head and my cervix. I made it until 8am until I asked for the IV pain medication. I wasn’t screaming or in any unbearable amount of pain just yet; however, I knew it was only going to get worse. I was hoping some proactive pain management would help. Well, the hospital staff didn’t come back with that medication at all. Come 9am, I wasn’t interested in the IV medication anymore – I was ready for an epidural. Going in, I said I was open to unmedicated childbirth or medicated – whichever I ended up being the most comfortable with. At this point, I was all about any and all pain medication.
The anesthesiologist came in shortly after 9am and I assumed the position – that awful, curved spine, relaxed shoulders, tucked chin position all of you other epidural-loving mamas know too well. The first time he placed the needle and then attempted to place the catheter, the catheter was crooked. This meant starting all over again. By the time he had successfully placed the epidural, it had been about an hour. I was ready to start crying at that point. Having to hold still through countless contractions while he worked to get the epidural in place was probably the worst part of my childbirth experience. After he finished, he kept touching my leg and asking if I could still feel it – I could. This worried me.
They checked my progress at about 11am, only to find that I was 9cm dilated! I was barely getting numb at this point, so the nurse had me press the button to release more medication into the epidural. They had me try to rest as much as possible until about noon. This proved to be easier said than done. The epidural was working wonderfully on my right side…and hardly at all on the left. By the time they came back in to check me, I was totally numb with the exception of a small spot on the left side of my belly. They told me it was time to push at 12:15pm.
After almost exactly one hour of pushing, our first child came into the world at 1:14pm and was placed on my chest. She weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces and was 20 inches long. She was screaming, shaking, and much more slippery than I thought she would be. I remember being blown away by how much hair she had, and how alert she was. Her eyes were wide open and looking right at me. Kyle kept touching her head and saying, “she’s so beautiful, she’s perfect” and “you did it, Mama”. I don’t think I slept at all the entire first day we were in the hospital. I just couldn’t stop staring at her.
The entire day seemed to be over in the blink of an eye. The last month has gone by even faster. I just hope things slow down soon – Stella is growing and changing much to quickly for our liking!
We have never been happier, more tired, or more grateful. Thank you everyone for all the well wishes! We can’t wait for each of you to meet her!