Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Three months ago today: A birth story, of sorts.
Three months ago today I had no idea what being a mother really meant.
Three months ago today I was waddling around in circles on a hospital's second floor, wondering if my daughter was ever going to come meet us.
Three months ago today I was just realizing how lucky I was to have a man who walked beside me, holding my hand and trying desperately not to yawn - just because I asked him to.
Three months ago today I was about to find out just how beautiful life could really be.
On February 17, Levi and I went to the hospital to meet our newest niece. Little Elanor. After holding her tight and wondering if it would be another week - Or even two! - before we got to meet our own sweet girl, we headed down to the cafeteria with the task of rounding up some frozen yogurt for the family. We didn't realize that in this particular hospital, the cafeteria, for unknown reasons, was at least a mile long walk from the maternity ward. As we were walking, the tiny human in my stomach kept pushing her tiny behind out towards my belly button and things would get really uncomfortable for a minute - at least that's what I thought was happening. "It just gets so tight when she does that!" I laughed to Levi, leaning against a wall along the way. "And you're positive they're not contractions?" he asked with a patient, but doubtful look on his face. I laughed it off. Oh no, I thought, I'll just know when it's a contraction.
We found the ice cream and headed back up. She was tightening it up every several feet in there at this point. It was tiring, and a little uncomfortable, but no big deal. I kept walking and talking and just wishing I hadn't worn my boots with the "just an inch" heel.
Once we finished at the hospital, we realized we were out by a frozen yogurt place I grew up next to. We both love it and went on one of our first dates there, so we always swing by when we're in the area. "That's a good idea," I told Levi. "I'm sure she'll stop pushing on me so hard once I sit down."
Down the way is a sub shop I like and the yogurt had been just a little too much sweet for me. We headed over. We ate lunch, and Levi started timing her "pushes" just to be safe. "Seven minutes," he told me. "Why don't we just stop by the midwives on the way home? They can check you. You never know, if they are contractions, they've been pretty consistent." I was so hesitant. I was sure these were NOT contractions. The midwife would probably tell me I regressed from my last check and I really didn't want to be let down. I relented anyway. It was awfully uncomfortable.
When we walked in the doctors office, the nurse came over to check us in. "You guys will probably laugh at me, but he thinks I might be having contractions. Can we get checked, just in case?" They did laugh at me, but they took us back anyway. One of our favorite midwives, Melissa walked in after I had stripped my lower half. "Gettin' close, huh??" she asked excitedly. I had to talk it down again, I was so embarrassed to be one of those "first timers" who gets overly anxious and tries to turn the smallest cramp into labor and gets sent home fifty times. "I'm sure you'll laugh at us. Levi just wanted to be safe..." She justified our feelings as any good midwife would do and said, "Let's lay you back." Baby girl did it again. The midwife put her hand on my stomach to help me down and she looked up at me with wide eyes. "Ooh! You're having one right now, aren't ya?!" I looked back at her with even wider eyes, "Wait, so that IS a contraction? You can tell??"
I was shocked. If that was a contraction, I had been having them extremely consistently, and for quite some time now.
Sure enough - I was at a good, soft 5 centimeters. "Go home, bounce on your ball for an hour or two and when those 'tightening sensations' get just a little closer together, go ahead and head to the hospital!" the midwife told us. Again, I was shocked. What had just happened? What was about to happen? How is this already happening??
My favorite midwife, Ramona was on call that night so we had every reason in the world to keep things progressing so I did just as I was told. I kept walking. I bounced. I rolled. I did everything in my power to keep baby girl lowering. After a couple hours of keeping track of my times, Levi averaged them out to be about 5 minutes apart. It was time.
It was about 7:30 that night that we packed up the car and headed out. To have a baby. I was stunned. Blind sided. Still didn't believe it. When it's your first, you just kind of never think about it actually happening, and then it does and you've studied labor for weeks, and still have no idea what to expect. The hospital is close, so we got there in less than ten minutes. At this point, the tightening feelings were getting stronger, and more uncomfortable, but as long as I stood up and leaned against a wall, they were very very bearable. It still just felt like baby girl was curling her body up in my abdomen, then she'd stop.
Levi checked us in and they sent a nurse down with a wheelchair to bring us up to triage. "Do you mind if I walk?" I asked, "They're pretty uncomfortable when I'm sitting down." She half smiled at me with an eyebrow raised and nodded. We started walking. "So when are you due?" She asked, and Levi explained we weren't actually due for about a week and a half, but that we thought she was coming tonight. The nurse laughed condescendingly. "No, you'll be closer to your due date. If you were in labor, you'd want to sit down."
It reaffirmed my doubting mind and my spirits dropped a bit. Then we made it to triage and got checked - still a five. Ramona was already there though and didn't want to send us home. They told us to walk the halls for an hour, and they'd check us again.
We did just that, and sure enough - we made it to a six! They got our room ready and checked us in. My mind was playing games with me at that point. Only an hour to get to a six? No problem. If the rest of the centimeters follow this pattern, we'll be done in no time. At this point the contractions were fairly strong, but I was still handling them fine. I leaned against the wall every time one came on just for comfort, but I could've walked through them. All in all, I was feeling totally ready.
After getting checked in, we gave up walking for bouncing on the birthing ball. I rolled in a circle on it while leaning on the bed. Levi brought our stuff up, then he took a catnap, and I got discouraged. Two hours later the contractions were no stronger. In fact half the time when the nurse came in and asked me when my last one was, I couldn't tell her. Unless I was on the monitor - which was rare, per my request - I really couldn't tell when they started and stopped. Occasionally there would be a strong one, but usually I couldn't tell the difference between baby girl moving around, and an actual contraction. It got embarrassing and I honestly started wondering whether or not I was wasting everyone's time. Three hours in, I asked Ramona to check me again, I was sure I had regressed somehow. Then...
An eight! I was at an eight! I was thrilled. This was still going to happen. I texted my friends and family, "At an eight! Probably pushing in about an hour. :)"
That hour passed.
Nothing was happening. Sure, they were a little stronger. I hopped in the shower and had Levi spray hot water on my back, I hopped in the birth pool and did some squats. We walked the halls. Over and over and over again we walked those damn halls! Levi took another catnap. We ate. We walked again. The nurses laughed at me, "You know labor is supposed to hurt, right?" Six hours later, we were still at an eight, only now it was much a more more exhausted eight. I hadn't slept in 24 hours and those ten minute naps did little for Levi. So far we had let everything progress on its own, and we desperately wanted to keep that going, but we were so tired. Ramona came back in, "You know, just a little tiny nick on your bag of water and you'll be there. I guarantee it. Think about it, and let me know what you decide."
I didn't have to think long. While we wanted our little Peanut to come whenever she was ready, we also knew she was probably as tired as we were, and I wanted some strength left to push with. We decided to do it. And Ramona was right. She broke my water at about 7:30am. Things got very real very fast after that. The water came rushing out, and the contractions came on strong and fast. It was obvious that that had been the only thing holding our sweet girl back. Ramona stood me up and positioned me with my elbows on the bed and I tried desperately hard to rock through the oncoming contractions. I think I made it through three before I collapsed on the bed for the rest of the time. THIS was what I thought I was waiting for. Something so intense I couldn't walk, talk or even think through them. Every time one came on it felt as though every bone in my body was stretching and bending and trying its hardest to brake. The urge was there within the hour. I needed to push - or at least I wanted to push. I wanted to push so badly. Ramona got situated at the end of the bed and tried to convince me it wasn't quite time. At some point someone had thrown my hospital gown to the side - bless them. Levi was on my left. Holding me when I needed him to and getting out of the way so I could properly thrash through each contraction. My nurse was on my right, reminding me to breathe and rooting me on. Ramona kept telling me we were close. We were close we were close we were close we were pushing. Wait what? All the sudden I was pushing. I don't remember how or when we got to that point but Levi had one knee, my nurse had the other and I was all folded up trying with all the power I could muster to get that girls little head out of my body. And then peace...for less than a minute. Then the intensity would come on again, "No, no no no no no, I can't do it!" I remember screaming, multiple times. "You are doing it," Ramona would tell me and Levi would kiss my head and tell me how great I was doing and that he could see her head, we were close! Less peace, more intensity. "Just a couple more pushes??" I moaned desperately to ramona. "I don't know about a couple, but you're close..." I could've punched her. More pushing. More pushing. Then I saw it. Mid-push, being as folded up as I was, I looked down and there was the top of a tiny head coming out of me. Funny, what I noticed first was the dark hair. I had always picture her blonde. "Why does she have dark hair?" I breathed as the shortest moment of peace yet passed. Levi laughed, I think, I don't remember because all the sudden Ramona was saying, "Daddy, it's time!" and I was pushing again and then an amazing feeling of release, and I felt her little body slip out. Daddy caught her like a pro, and laid her on my chest. It's amazing, how fast motherhood takes hold. I remember my first thought after she made her entrance being how grateful I was that the first thing she felt in this world was her father's big strong hands enveloping her tiny scared body.
In my head, the next moments replay on mute. I just stared at her on my chest, and there was nothing else in the world except me and her and her Daddy, lying next to me, the only person in the world at that moment feeling exactly what I was feeling. This perfect little human was ours. It felt like the world was spinning on without us while we just soaked up this one, perfect moment. Not matter what your belief system, there is something utterly fantastic, about new life.
She was only upset for a minute - Levi had been humming to her in my tummy since we found out she was in there, and he did the second she came out. It calmed her so fast, in fact that the nurses had to ask him to stop so our baby girl could get some more of the gunk out of her throat and mouth. I was in awe. My body was so tired, and sure I was freezing, but I couldn't think of anything but how beautiful this little angel was.
Adalei Louren Roberts. Six pounds of absolute wonder. Making her entrance at 8:46 in the morning on February 18. Our everything.
She laid on my chest for an hour, eventually figuring out how to suck and being comforted by the warmth my body offered her. Daddy laid next to us and put his hand on her back.
I would live that moment over and over and over again if I could. I've never been so content. So at peace. I would have never have moved if I didn't eventually have to. With Levi next to me, and Adalei on my chest, it was more than just falling in love.
For the first time in my life, I felt whole.
These three months have been the greatest roller coaster of my life. At some point I'll write about the post-partum highs and lows, but for right now, just know that this is an experience I wouldn't trade for the world.
That was the first day of my life. One that I will never, ever forget.