” A baby fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty” – Anonymous
It has been a long journey, but the day finally arrived! We welcomed our daughter into the world this week, but the days leading up to her debut were far from easy.
The week before
Our due date for Ella’s arrival was February 16. The closer we got to that day, the harder it got for my wife. We had learned while trying to do a 3D ultrasound that our baby was very low. At a subsequent OB/GYN visit, our doctor also seemed surprised that she was as low as she was.
We also learned that she was “sunny side up”, which means the baby’s skull is against the back of the pelvis and the face points up toward the abdomen. What this meant for Sam was – a whole lot of pain. Because of the position of the skull, it cause an abundance of back pain. Back labor is terrible, because with every contraction there is pressure on the spinal cord. By Thursday, Sam was having sporadic contractions, and we knew we were getting close. We kept track of them with a handy dandy “contraction counter” app.
We had our 38 week appointment with our OB/GYN. Sam was having contractions off and on and the doc had to check and see if she was dilated. She was dilated 2-3 centimeters and she was 80% effaced. He basically said that the baby could come at any time. He hooked her up to some equipment to see if there were contractions. He said there were and they were about 6 minutes apart. After some discussion, he planned an induction for Sunday night at 11pm. He then told us “You’ll have the baby before then” based on what he was seeing. Contractions and back pain kept Sam up most of the night.
Early Saturday morning, the contractions were between 5-7 minutes apart and Sam was having a lot of pain. We were told if the water broke, to head right to the hospital. Some people say the water breaking consists of a large pop and a gush of water. Some say it can be a trickle, which is what we were seeing. We decided to go to Labor/Delivery. While there, the contractions were only 6 minutes apart and she remained dilated 2-3 centimeters and 80% effaced. We were told that you have to be at least 6 centimeters before they keep you. I guess this is the new thing – labor at home. I think we were sent home around 2 or 3 that afternoon.
The remainder of Saturday we were home, anticipating going back to the hospital. The pain grew worse and there were times that Sam was in terrible pain throughout the night.
No matter what happened, we knew that we had an induction scheduled for Sunday night. We had a snow storm system that was going through the state that was going to dump 4-6 inches on the ground. I had been saying that she’d probably come during a snow storm, so I thought for sure it was happening Sunday night.
The labor Sam was experiencing also indicated that we’d probably be heading to the hospital. The back pain was so intense that she was in tears. I felt helpless, and it really bothered me to see her in so much pain. The only thing I was happy about was knowing that we were going to be heading into the hospital that night.
We both had gotten very little sleep and decided that we were going to attempt to try to grab a few winks. We received a call from the hospital early in the afternoon saying that they had to cancel the induction due to them being “full”. We were again told that if her water broke to come in and they would find a way to accommodate us. They also told Sam to call about 10 am the following day to reschedule the induction.
I was immediately pissed off. How could they just cancel this?! I was furious. I wanted to call the doctor, but Sam said not to. I was angry because I had already called my boss and told her that we were going to have the baby by Monday and to start my time off, The more I thought about it the angrier I got.
The labor became more intense as the night went on. One of the suggestions we received in our birthing class for back labor was to hold your partner face to face and sway – like you were slow dancing. I did this more than a few times. Each time, Sam stood, there was a trickle of fluid running down her leg. I wondered if that was the water breaking, neither of us was sure. At 2am, Sam had had enough. She said we needed to go to the hospital, but then suggested we wait one more hour.
I am sure by this point, we knew we were heading to the hospital. Sam decided to take a shower because the hot water really helped. At 3:30, I finally called the Labor/Delivery department and asked about the trickle. They said it was probably not her water breaking, but if I felt like we were truly in labor to come in. I really felt like her water broke, despite the amount of it we were seeing, and quite frankly, was sick of seeing my wife in so much pain. So we were in the car and driving by 4am, Monday morning.
Monday (Technically, that last paragraph was where Monday started)
The hospital is about 30 minutes from us. A 30 minute drive for a woman in labor is not the most comfortable thing in the world. We were lucky that the snow had stopped, and despite some snow on the roads, we made it to the hospital in good time. We arrived at 5 am. The first thing I noticed was the fact that I was able to get a front spot in the Labor/Delivery parking lot. This never happens – especially when they are “full”!
When we walked in, there was nobody in the waiting area. When we pushed the call button, we were immediately brought back. As we sat giving the woman at the desk our info, I noticed that all of the triage/holding rooms were open and empty and there were members of the staff just sitting and talking. I also noticed that they had Sam’s paperwork already printed and ready for us. I mentioned it and they told us “We knew you were going to be here” (probably from my phone call).
Normally when you check in, they put you in one of those triage/holding rooms and hook the mom-to-be up to a monitor that measures contractions and listens to the baby’s heartbeat. We skipped that step entirely and were shown directly to our birthing room. We were in our room by 5:15 am. I couldn’t believe how fast this was all coming together.
I don’t remember if Sam asked about it, or if our nurse just let the information out, but we found out that because of the weather, many of the staff called in. That was the reason they had to cancel and reschedule the induction. Honestly, just tell me that. Why make up a story about being “full”? I don’t get it.
So through all of this, Sam is continuing to have this terrible back pain. Sam had told me during our birthing classes that she wanted to do the delivery with no medications. She told me that she did not want an epidural for pain. After hours of insane pain, she told me on the way to the hospital that she wanted to do the epidural. The epidural was in place by 5:45 am.
They won’t let anyone stay in the room while they place the epidural, so I was encouraged to go downstairs and have a cup of coffee. Sam and I hadn’t gotten any real good sleep since Thursday, so coffee sounded perfect! When I arrived back to the room, Sam was a different person. Those epidurals are pretty amazing. I watched that monitor thingy and could see these contractions, and Sam and I were just chatting away like nothing was going on!
This was Sam’s first baby, so we kept being told that labor is always longer on a first baby. They checked Sam again, and told us that she was dilated to 4 centimeters (10 is the magic number you need to get to). Our doc popped his head in on his way to a C-section and he told us we may be at 4 for a while. He said moms tend to “be stuck” at 4 for quite awhile. “It’s all downhill after you hit 6,” he said. He also told us that the baby had probably broke the water at the top of the sack with her foot, and that because she was so low, her head acted like a stopper, only allowing a little bit of fluid to trickle out.
They had started her on potocin, which is a medication that helps induce labor. The next time they checked her to see how dilated she was we were told that she was 100% effaced and she’d be pushing soon. That went a whole lot faster than either of us realized. Sam said she could tell the contractions were stronger and more frequent. She could feel pressure, but no pain. Another check from the nurses and we were told we were going to start pushing. It was about 2:10 pm. It was “go time”.
Approaching the Finish Line
As if on cue, all of a sudden my stomach started to churn, I began to sweat, and I pulled up a chair next to Sam. I thought “I am totally going to pass out. I swore I wasn’t going to pass out!” Luckily, this feeling passed quickly and by the second push, I was feeling better. We hadn’t really eaten anything for hours, so I am guessing that’s what was going on.
There were two nurses who had been working with us. One was a seasoned vet and the other was shadowing her and training. When it came time to push, the nurse could see the contraction start on that monitor and would tell Sam to take a deep breath and push through the contraction. She was to push for 10 seconds and the nurse counted those off in a steady tempo “1..2..3..4..5…..”
A few minutes in, she turned to the trainee nurse and said for her to keep count. This poor gal was obviously not in band/choir in school because she had no sense of rhythm at all! The contraction would start and she’d start counting “1..2…….3…….4.5.6………7…8…….9………….. and …….10.” There was never any real tempo to it. It was almost like she was thinking as she was counting. “1..2…(I wonder if I locked the front door)…..3…..(I may need to stop at Wendy’s for breakfast now that they are serving it there. I like eggs. Whoops – count!) 4.5.6…….(with my overtime, I should be able to afford to buy concert tickets) …. 7…8….It was crazy! There was more than one time that Sam just exhaled after this gal said 8, knowing full well it was more like 15!
This was the first natural child birth for me (both boys were born by C-section). I had heard all of the horror stories from friends who said they pushed for like 36 hours or a week or something before their baby was born. “The first one is always the hardest” people told us. Well, either our baby was in a hurry to meet us, or Sam is a super hero (I think both may be correct), because Sam pushed for just under 45 minutes and Ella was born!
(Some birth details here – for those readers with weak stomachs) One of the things my friends and I were asking about was what color hair she might have. Sam’s hair is light, mine was dark, and she has some red-heads on her side of the family. So as I started to get a glimpse of the baby’s head, I tried to figure it out, but really couldn’t. I remember as she was pushing thinking “Wow, this baby has a tiny head. She is going to be small.” Those thoughts vanished immediately as her entire head appeared. Once that happened, she slid right out. It was the grossest and most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed! I glanced at my phone and noted the time – 2:57pm.
Her tiny cry brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. The doctor called me over to cut the cord (something I had done with my youngest son, Dimitri). I remember the cord being extremely hard to cut with my son, so I was totally ready to fight this cord. The doc had clamped it and showed me where to cut, and it cut like butter. It actually threw me for a loop. They cleaned stuff off the baby and handed her to Sam so that they could share some skin to skin time. As I sat next to Sam, watching her look at our baby, my heart overflowed with happiness!
Having those moments to ourselves meant so much. Sure, the doctors and nurses were all still in the room. They were cleaning stuff, stitching, and doing some other things, but I couldn’t tell you what they were. In that moment, there were six other people hustling around in the room with us, but in that moment, it was just the three of us. It was Happiness, Awe, and Wonder beyond measure!!
After about 20 minutes, they took Ella to be weighed, measured, and to give her a general examination. At this time they put her feet in ink and stamp them on a card for you. In my previous post, I posted a picture of a pink T-shirt with “Labor Coach 2020” and baby footprints on it. That is the shirt I wore during the delivery, with one specific purpose in mind – I wanted her footprints on my shirt.
What a keepsake!
Ella’s first visitor was Aunt Emily, who brought her a a cute stuffed elephant. Nana came over after that and got to hold her granddaughter. That evening, I received a text message from my friend Margaret. It was a picture of the hospital lobby. I responded and asked “Are you here?!” She said she was and that she brought food. When I walked to the lobby, she had food for an army (which was kind of intentional)! She and her husband Walt brought Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan for Sam and I (with salads and breadsticks) from Olive Garden. She also had three big things of soup, huge salads, breadsticks, and more for the staff. Those nurses were surprised when I told them that the food was for them! They were more than grateful.
Ella had two other special and important visitors on her first day – her brothers. I sent them a picture when she was born and told them they could come up after school. Dante’ was able to get the car and bring his brother to the hospital with him. I met them in the lobby because they weren’t sure where to go. When Dante’ saw me he yelled “Dad!” and ran to me. He and Dimitri were so excited to see their sister. On the way back to the room, they both asked if Sam was ok. Both boys had a chance to hold her.
I had to chuckle when she started to cry while Dimitri was holding her. I laughed because I remember that feeling! I was probably about his age, maybe older, when my Uncle Tom and Aunt Jane’s twins were born. I remember holding Sara and she started crying. I panicked! I didn’t know what to do! I know he had to be feeling exactly what I did, so I grabbed her from him. They stayed about an hour, but had to head home because it was a school night. Both have texted throughout the past couple days asking if she was ok and for updates. I am so excited to see how their relationship will grow!
Nod to the winner
On my Facebook page, I asked for guesses as to when the baby would be born. There were almost 200 guesses! Folks who guessed had to pick the date and give a weight in case of a tie. Congratulations to Christine Anderson who went to high school with me. She not only picked 2-10, but she was only off by an ounce! She guessed 7 pounds 8 ounces. She lives out of state, so I gotta find a way to buy her a coffee!
Day two included a bath, hearing test, and blood work. Visitors included Papa (Sam’s dad), cousin Matt, Uncle Jeff, and Aunt Stephanie. With her bath done, we decided to get her dressed and take a few pictures. Sam is a Pinterest junkie. She saw something on their that spawned an idea for a picture. Prior to our trip to the hospital, I stopped at the store and picked up what we needed. I absolutely love this picture.
Speaking of pictures, both boys had pictures done at the hospital when they were born. They had yet to come and do them, so I asked about it. I was told that their photographer had quit and they had a new one starting at the end of the month. Well, this doesn’t help us! That’s when you improvise – I think this will be our birth announcement picture:
I had already started taking things out to the car and had the “going home” outfit (purchased by my co-workers) ready. It was then that we were told that the bilirubin levels were high and they wanted to keep us one more night. While we were anxious to get her home, we also knew we needed to stay to see if they were better the next day.
That evening was a rough one for both Sam and I. Neither one of us had really slept much. Sam was up and down all night breastfeeding. The baby was quite fussy that first night. At one point, I tried to sleep for a bit. ANY dad who has had to sleep on that awful, rock-hard, “couchy” thing can tell you how uncomfortable it is! I got a few minutes here and there, but nothing really worth anything.
After one particular wake up, I looked up to see my wife holding the baby. I watched her, and reflected on the past few days. This woman was simply amazing. She endured intense pain, emotional mood swings, and pushed out this little miracle all in a span of 72 hours! I also reflected on the 9 months prior. I remembered her telling me we were having a baby, our baby shower, the many nights where I put my hand on her belly to feel this miracle kick me, picking her name, our doctor’s appointments, building the baby’s room, and many other moments that brought happy tears. How do I even begin to explain how much I love this woman?! Well, I found a quote from Tina Brown, but am altering it a bit to make it fit:
“Having a baby is like falling in love again with your (wife) and child”
I thought I loved her before! I thought I fell more and more in love with her each day! My love for both of them has increased a hundred times infinity!
We were anxious to go home. They did take some more blood to check the bilirubin levels and we waited. We also did another hearing test, because one of the ears did not pass the day before. While we waited, we held our baby and watched her cute facial expressions. All through the pregnancy, every time we did an ultrasound, her hand was by her face. It was no surprise that she continued to do this after she was born. I think she is trying to suck her thumb here…
The blood work came back, and the bilirubin level was still a bit high. He told us we could go home, but we needed to see our pediatrician first thing the following day to check the levels again. I called and made the appointment and loaded up the car. We were all happy to be heading home.
Ella’s first stop at home, was her room. Sam made sure she got to see it.
Sam and I continued to sleep poorly (Sam more than me, because she was breastfeeding throughout the night). We had to be up early to get to the pediatrician on Thursday. Because of my insurance, her doctor is 45 minutes away. The roads were awful thanks to snow, but we made it down on time. The doc did her examination and we went to the lab to have blood taken yet again.
We drove all the way home and as we pulled in the driveway, the doc called Sam. The levels came back twice as high as the should be, so she suggested we go to the ER. She’d need light therapy to bring those levels down. This time we had to take her an hour away because now she is on my insurance. We waited about 7 hours in the ER waiting for a room to open. While we waited, we watched as three nurses poked out little girl for blood unsuccessfully. That is one of those hard parent moments, let me tell you!
Happy to say that the numbers continue to fall, and hopefully we will be able to leave soon. Dig those rock star shades!
If all continues to progress in our favor, we can go home. Today, after a feeding, she opened her eyes and just stared into mine. Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes today!!
As I look at my sweet princess, I wonder. What will those eyes see in her lifetime? What will those ears hear in her lifetime? What experiences will she have? How will she do in school? What will she grow up to be? Will she be right or left handed? Who will she act more like – mommy or me? SO many unanswered questions! Excitement lies ahead! I can’t wait!
I love you, Ella, and will always be here to hold your hand!
“I loved you from the very start. You stole my breath, embraced my heart. Our life together has just begun. You are a part of me, my little one.”
My princess’s story began 2-10-20 with “Once upon a time…..”