On Tuesday, I went to my doctor's appointment with Luke, and we learned that I was dangerously close to going into labor at any second. I was 7 cm dilated, and I was a ticking time bomb. I was told not to go to school on Wednesday, and that I would be induced on Thursday morning. Induction was never something that we even talked about as a possibility. I thought that was only for people who were way over due, not two weeks early! All I could think about was all of the things that we needed to get done in 2 days, and I was so excited that I couldn't sleep. The pregnancy aches and pains were taking their toll, and I was ready to be "unpregnant."
I spent Wednesday relaxing and getting all my bags ready. I did laundry. I cleaned. I did some last minute baby shopping. I enjoyed my day and counted down the minutes until I could go to bed. Luke and I enjoyed a dinner at Olive Garden, and we spent some quality time together, talking about how our lives were surely going to change.
I didn't sleep more than a couple hours on Wednesday night. When I woke Luke up, it was like I was 6 years old, waking my parents up on Christmas morning saying, "Santa came! Santa came!" We got ready, ate breakfast, loaded the car, and headed to the hospital to check in by 7:30. They took us to our room, and we immediately began prepping for the big day ahead. The labor nurses were so sweet and took great care of us. I was hooked up to the monitors to monitor the contractions and Noelle's heartbeat, which was pounding away loud and clear.
By 8:30, my doctor came and she broke my water. All I can say is thank GOODNESS my water didn't break while at school or somewhere else. Kinda gross. They noticed that there was meconium in it (meconium = baby's first bowel movement), so Dr. Ertel said that the NICU nurses would need to be present at the delivery to make sure the baby would be breathing OK. There are risks involved when the baby has had a bowel movement in utero, mainly if the baby aspirates it while taking his/her first breath.
After my water was broken, they started me on pitocin (pitocin = evil). This made me start contracting immediately, and I was no longer comfortable. I was in pain very quickly, and I started to worry about how bad it was going to get before it was over.
The contractions got a lot stronger and about 2 min. apart. I tried doing some things we learned in childbirth class, like sitting on the balance ball, or standing, or having Luke massage my back, but I was in so much pain that I couldn't remember anything what I learned. I didn't want to breathe. I didn't want to be strong. In fact, I remember wanting to rip my stomach off and throw it across the room. The time had come for the epidural.
The few minutes it took for Barb, the epidural goddess, to make it to my room seemed like an hour. Finally she arrived, and she did her miracle. It took about 4-5 contractions for her to finish getting the epidural in, but soon after, I was feeling pretty good. I thought if I got an epidural I wouldn't be able to feel my legs or move them. Not true. I could feel them and move them, kind of like how you feel when your leg falls asleep. However, I couldn't feel the contractions. Wonderful!
This part of the labor process was great. We watched a movie. I took a little nap. Life was good. About 3 hours into the process, Dr. Ertel came back to check me, and sure enough, she said was time to push! By noon, we were starting the pushing process, and I thought that we would have our baby in an hour or two...
Well, maybe in two or three hours....
Or....maybe in about 3 1/2 hours?
Yes, that's more like it. I pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed until I thought my head was going to fly off. I was OK at first, but then my epidural started to wear off a little, and I was in a great deal of pain. I just wanted to see my baby, so I was highly motivated to push hard and keep going. I did NOT want a c-section, and I was so thankful that my doctor never mentioned one. She and the nurses just kept telling me that I could do this.
So...I did it. When she finally came out, I was a sobbing mess. It was such a great physical relief to have her out, and the emotional component to giving a birth was overwhelming. They handed her to the NICU nurses right away because she ended up crying before they could suck the yucky stuff out, so she did aspirate some meconium which was not good. I could hear her crying, and I kept asking Luke #1, what "it" was....I didn't remember the doctor saying, "It's a girl!" and #2, is she OK?
I could tell by the looks on the NICU nurses' faces that they were concerned. I could see that Noelle's color wasn't really that great. I knew that Luke wasn't allowed to cut the cord because they had to hand her over to the nurses so soon. I also knew that she hadn't been placed on my chest and I hadn't even gotten a chance to look at her before they were talking about taking her to the NICU for 4 hours.
I got really emotional and said, "I just wanted to hold her..." and my doctor asked if I could. They let me hold her for a few minutes, and I was just in shock that she was here! They took her away without us knowing how big she was or if she was truly OK.
Luke left to tell our family the news, and I just tried to relax and take in the fact that I just gave another human life. I also was SO excited that we had a little girl, and I just wanted to see her up close again.
Luke went to the NICU to see her, and it became clear that though she was doing fine, they wanted to watch her for a lot longer than originally anticipated. We had a waiting room full of visitors, but our little girl would not be allowed to be in the room with us until much later.
I finally got to go and see her about 2 hours after she was born. I was worried that I was missing out on that critical bonding time that they always talk about. I was sad that I wasn't the one to feed her first. I was jealous that Luke got to see and hold her (really hold her) before me, but as soon as I laid eyes on her, all I could think about was that I was her mother!
Luke took "tours" of people to the NICU several times to show off our beautiful baby girl. Each time we went, we were hopeful that they would let us take her with us, but they wanted to wait for more observation. It was finally about 11 p.m. when they allowed her to come to our room. Thank goodness!
We were so out-of-body-tired, but we had work to do! Little Noelle needed a bath, and she needed to eat, and we had lots of tests and checks and things to get done. We didn't sleep much that night, that is for sure, but we got to have our precious girl with us all night, so life was good.
Noelle's birth wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be in my head. I didn't think I would be induced. I didn't think she would come 12 days early (on her grandfather Eric's birthday, no less). I didn't think that she would swallow meconium or spend any time in the NICU. None of the websites, books, or classes could prepare me for the flood of emotions I was going to feel. But....we made it, and I feel like the strongest girl alive right now.
Noelle Elizabeth is such a blessing, and the weight of the responsibility of taking care of her is so heavy....but I believe in God now more than ever, and I know that He will get us through.
Yep....here come the tears.