olivia's birth story

The university where I work was closed for Thanksgiving break and, honestly, I was convinced that I would not be returning to work on Monday. So, on that Tuesday before break, as we all were leaving the office, I said goodbye to my coworkers as if I would not be returning and they wished me luck.

The next day, the day before Thanksgiving, I went in for my 39 week appointment. When the doctor told me I wasn't dilated at all and that she was still pretty far "up there" I felt so defeated.

I know, I know. I wasn't even at 40 weeks yet. But I had been convinced I was going to go early. Everyone around me was telling me I was going to go early. And so, in my mind, I was going to go early. Actually, Rich and I had even decided it was going to be that Sunday. Yes, we were convinced that we would be going into the hospital on a late Sunday night. We are crazy.

So, I did what any sad pregnant person would do on a rainy Wednesday after bad news: I told Rich to take me to the lunch buffet at Pizza Hut and I drowned my sorrows in mediocre pizza and the salad bar. (We will have to talk about my November pregnancy cravings later but it involved me paying $6 for the Pizza Hut buffet pretty frequently. I hadn't been to one since I was probably nine or ten years old.)

So I went through Thanksgiving break and returned to work on Monday. And I was pretty grumpy about it too - ask my coworkers. I told my boss that I would work through Friday if the baby didn't arrive but after that I didn't think I could comfortably sit in my chair anymore.

On Wednesday, I had to leave work a little early for my 40 week appointment. After lunch, I felt a little bit weird and then around two o'clock, I started feeling a little bit crampy. So, before I left, I went to my manager and asked her if she had any questions for me before I left because I had a feeling I wouldn't be coming into work the next day.

However, when we went to my appointment, I still was not dilated. I could have hit my doctor. So, I had Rich take me to a nice Italian dinner and drowned my sorrows in more carbs. It was nice to go on a "date" in the middle of the week and little did we know that it would be the last date we would go on before we were parents.

Around midnight Wednesday night, I started cramping a decent amount and barely slept. I told my boss that I was going to wait a few hours that morning and, if the cramping got better, I would come into work that afternoon. The cramping proceeded to get worst so I ended up staying home.

That afternoon, I had some weird fluid coming out and I had heard that, sometimes when your water broke, it wasn't a big rush of fluid so I went into my doctors office around three o'clock to see what was going on. I still wasn't dilated at all but they told me that the cramping was actually contractions. I had plans to deliver naturally and had been prepping with Hypnobabies for the past two months so I thought, with the way the contractions were feeling, laboring was not going to be that bad.

However, starting at around six o'clock that evening, the contractions hit hard. I was in a lot of pain and our dog, Peyton, was very upset so we called Rich's dad to come over and pick her up so she could stay with them until after we got home from the hospital.  The contractions were about six minutes apart all through the night. (You are supposed to be four to five minutes apart before you head into the hospital.) I didn't sleep for the second night in a row and Rich didn't sleep that much either.

After about fifteen hours after the hard contractions started, they stalled on Friday morning and were all of a sudden thirteen minutes apart. I could have started crying. Maybe I did start crying? I can't remember. I just remember being in a lot of pain. I realized at this point that I probably should have started my Hypnobabies techniques the day before when I was just cramping so I turned on some of the CDs but her voice just annoyed me at that point so we nixed that plan.

After a few more hours of contractions, they were close together again but still not close enough to go to the hospital. I realized around this point that I was making these insane sounds. I never screamed but I sounded like a goat. If you want to hear, contact Rich. He apparently recorded me. I haven't wanted to listen to it.

Mid-day I remember telling Rich that laboring was just taking too long - I wanted drugs. I was almost delirious begging him for drugs. All of my fears of needles went out the window. He reminded me that we had to get to the hospital before we could get the epidural.

Early, in the afternoon, we realized that we probably should eat something since it could be my last meal for awhile. I really couldn't stomach anything. (Rich had made me eggs and rice for dinner the night before and for breakfast as well.) I told Rich to get stuff for a peanut butter and banana sandwich. He went out as quickly as possible and then made me my sandwich and sat down on the bed next to me to help me eat it. I told him to wait and that another contraction was coming. And I remember the next thing very clearly.

Oh thank god was all I could get out. My water had just broke. The hospital had to admit me now.

I got up and went to the shower trying not to drip everywhere. Rich ran around excitedly, stripping the bed since it was, well, wet and got all of our things packed into the car.

I am guessing we got to the labor and delivery unit around 3:30 in the afternoon. They checked my vitals and then admitted me. I also informed them that the amniotic fluid after my water broke looked and smelled weird so they tested me and told me that there was meconium in the fluid (meaning Olivia pooped) and that they would need to make sure someone from the NICU and Respiratory Therapy was there to check her right after she was born so they would need to delay skin-to-skin. I was a little disappointed with this but I obviously wanted her to be checked to make sure she was alright.

I was lucky that my water broke. When I got to the hospital, I was only dilated two centimeters so I would have been in labor for a lot longer. I informed the nurse that I wanted an epidural and they also gave me pitocin since my water had broken. I am terrified of getting my blood drawn so the worst part for me was getting the IV. I wanted the epidural so badly at this point that the needle for that didn't bother me. I just wanted relief.

I remember that I fell asleep at some point which was great since I hadn't slept in two nights. And the nurses came in and checked on me every so often. I do remember waking up a little bit before midnight and watching the clock tick past. Her birthday was not going to be December 5th - my grandmother was hoping they would share birthdays.

Around 2:30 in the morning, I started feeling a little strange. When the nurse came in around three o'clock I told her that I may be able to push a bit. She called the doctor and she said we would "practice" pushing. And we continued doing that.

Since I couldn't feel much with the epidural, she would tell me when to push. I would push for ten seconds, breath, push for ten more, breath, and then push for ten more. And then we would wait for the next contraction.

When you see pushing on television or in the movies, it is chaotic and there is usually screaming. This was so different. It was incredibly silent, calm, and very surreal. It was just Rich holding one leg, the nurse holding the other, and a focus to meet this little one. It only felt like I pushed for ten minutes.

Almost an hour later, the doctor came in. The doctor and Rich started yelling really excitedly to keep pushing and with a few final pushes, she was out. It was 4:16 on Saturday morning.

They showed her to me really quickly but she went over to other staff to check on her because of the meconium. While they were working on her, I kept looking over. I honestly thought I would be crying but I couldn't stop smiling. She was so beautiful!

When they were finished with her, they gave her to me and I put her against my chest. It was the best feeling in the world. My heart felt like it was bursting out of my chest. She was doing this funny thing with her tongue and I thought she was hungry so I asked if I could feed her (as if I wasn't her mother) and the nurse told me that I could, of course.

After we were in Labor and Delivery for another hour, they moved us to the Mother Baby unit. We spent the next few days just cuddling and staring at her. I really was amazed how natural it felt to hold her in my arms.

On Sunday, later in the day, they told us that she had jaundice and that we needed to make sure we fed her every two hours to flush it out. So we fed her and made sure we got up through the night a lot to feed her as well.

On Monday, her levels were still to high so they wanted to wait until mid-day to see if they had gone down so they could discharge her. They were supposed to come at noon to take her blood again. The techs were late so by the time we found out that she needed to go under the Biliruben light in the NICU, it was late afternoon. She would have to be under there for at least eight hours.

I went with her when they took her to the NICU. They put monitors all over her and while she wasn't enjoying it, she was doing pretty well. But when they put the shield over her eyes because of the light, she started shrieking and crying. I hadn't cried the entire time we had been in the hospital, not even when she was born, but that broke my heart. I felt tears swelling up behind my eyes and my chest was tightening. My first instinct was to rip all the monitors off of her, grab her and run, but I knew that she needed to be there. 

I had to go back to my room and leave her to pump in case we had to leave her there over night. I had to be discharged that day so I was really hoping we could bring her home. I went back every two hours to feed her while she was there. I had to feed her with a Bilirubin "blanket" attached to her which is basically just a flat light.

A little after 11:00 that night, we found out that her levels were low enough so we could take her home. We would just need to bring a Bilirubin blanket home with us to use for the next few days. We bundled her up a little before midnight to bring her home. She didn't like putting clothes on or being in her carseat but now she hates to have her clothes off and car rides are one of her favorite things.

Even just five weeks later, those few days are a bit of a blur. And I learned a lot of what being a parent was going to be like - not just how to feed a baby or how to change a diaper. It was my first lesson that although I may make plans and have certain expectations of how things will be, they may not turn out exactly that way. For someone who is a planner, this is a little hard to take sometimes but I am getting used to it. Besides, in the end, I brought home a healthy little girl. And that really is all that matters.