Thursday, September 27, 2012

Emma's Birth Story

Written out during a series of late night feedings. :)

It all started Tuesday, September 18th, in the afternoon. Up until that day, each day became increasingly more difficult. I was exhausted from little sleep at night and a crazy, non-stop schedule at work. My intention had always been to work right up to my due date. And I was beginning to rethink that decision. My entire pregnancy had been a great experience. I had not dealt with any of the typical pregnancy issues many women suffer. But those last couple of weeks I felt more than made up for the typical pregnancy woes I'd missed out on.

Tuesday was particularly rough. All day long I was looking forward to meeting my best friend's newborn son, Grayson, after work and then turning in very, very early. Ha!

It was 1 o'clock. I was explaining the warm-up to my 7th period class, and I felt it. My first thought was, "No way...." Students and teachers alike had joked for weeks about my water breaking in the middle of class. And every time I told them I thought that was highly unlikely.

I got my students started, looked out in the hallway, and saw Gala (a fellow English teacher)- who happened to have conference that period. I asked her to watch my class and headed straight for the bathroom. After assessing the situation, I knew something was different, but it did not seem to be enough fluid to be my water breaking. I walked back to my room, where Gala was anxiously waiting at the door. She asked what was wrong. I said, "I think my water broke." Her eyes got very, very wide and she immediately rushed me out of there, offering to stay and watch my students. Control freak that I am, I tried to give them last minute directions so that they could maybe finish the assignment. But they knew something was up and were a bit distracted.

I first called Kyle so he could get things ready. And then I did what any daughter would do when going though a new situation: I called my mom. Here's the thing: I wasn't having any contractions. Not really. And I also found it weird that it wasn't a large burst of water like everyone describes. Mom reassured me that this was very similar to how I entered the world, so I went with it.

We got to the hospital and were taken to triage. I signed what felt like a million forms and answered a million questions. Then and only then did they look to see what was up with me. While I was as a 3 (up from my 1.5 cm from my last doc visit less than a week before), my water was still intact. The nurse said she thought it was just a lot of watery discharge. I was, of course, disappointed. Not to mention a little embarrassed. At that point, several people were under the impression that I was in labor. Now I was facing going back to work, still exhausted and still doing exhausting work, while also dealing with all the questions from coworkers and students about what happened.

Kyle and I sat in the waiting room for about twenty minutes and talked. We decided the best thing to do would be to go ahead and start maternity leave. I would officially be on it the following Monday anyway, since in my district you have to give a start date for your leave. So what was another three days? I went to then (finally) meet Barb's sweet baby boy who I'd been dying to meet, went up to the school to get things set up for my sub, and went home. Kyle and I ate pizza, watched a movie (In Time- not a good movie) and went to sleep around 9:30.

I woke up at 11 o'clock feeling like I had to go to the bathroom. This was nothing out of the ordinary at all; I was accustomed to several bathroom breaks throughout the night. But something felt different- a pain that would not disappear after a trip. I went back to sleep and after a few minutes woke up to that pain again. I got up and it dawned on me that this pain was cramp-like, wrapping around to my back, and would gradually increase to a peak before lessening.

Even though every part of me was sure this meant labor contractions, I was still nervous about another false alarm. I walked around for a while until the pain got pretty difficult to ignore. That's when I woke Kyle up and we started timing.

At 3:00am the contractions were about five minutes apart and we headed towards the hospital. We called my folks so they could high-tail it from San Antonio. (By the way, they made the trip in about 4 1/2 hours with two stops!) We checked in to triage (again), the nurse said I was at a 4, and we were then escorted to labor room ten. And even though I was mid-contraction when I saw the room number, I had to laugh. Room ten was the exact room Barbara had just delivered Grayson in less than 24 hours earlier.

My goal had always been to go as long as possible, if not all the way, without an epidural. Once we got settled into the room and the nurse checked a second time, I was at a five. Yep, from a 4 to a 5 in about an hour. I hung on until I was close to a seven and asked for the epidural. At that point, I was going into motherhood with two restless nights down and countless more to come. I told myself that having a less exhausting delivery would ultimately be the best.

Around 7:00, Kyle's parents arrived and talked to us for a little while. Emily arrived too and volunteered to head to our house and take care of Teddy really quickly. (Thank you Emily!) Even though I was no longer in pain, I was beginning to feel nervous and a bit overwhelmed. Thoughts like, "holy crap I'm going to be a mom" ran though my head. No, this wasn't news to me. But it felt more real with each minute. My nurse, Jennifer, was amazing. She seemed to know this was what I felt and started talking to me about her own feelings when she was close to delivering her first. All the while I kept a steady eye on the clock and my phone. The closer it got to "go time," the more I wanted my mom. Yes, I desperately wanted my mom. Not afraid to admit it. :)

I was about twenty-five minutes from pushing when my folks arrived. They came back to see us quickly, reassured me, said a prayer, and left to wait out the delivery in the waiting room.

It was about the that time that our birth photographer, Keri Duckett, arrived. Let me just say, if you are considering a birth photographer, DO IT! I can say it's the best investment we've made in photos, and I've only seen about five of the photos Keri took. There are many good photographers to consider out there, but Keri is simply incredible. She is truly an artist.

It was shortly after 9am that I started pushing. I hated that I couldn't feel my legs and, about halfway through, I felt nauseous. (I'm guessing a reaction to the meds and the fact that I hadn't had anything to eat in a while.) But my nurse, Jennifer, was great. She encouraged me through the pushing and told me to take a couple of breaks. Kyle was also amazing. He counted during my pushing, kept telling me how great I was doing, and just helped support me in general.

My doctor, Dr. Kollar, got to the hospital about 9:35 and I started pushing with her. Let me tell you, I simply cannot imagine a better doctor than her. She is just wonderful. She has this way about her that is knowledgable and not too serious at the same time. Very in control but also friendly.

Pushing for that last segment is somewhat of a blur. I didn't push for long, and I was very tired. But two things stick out for me. The first was when Emma crowned and Dr. Kollar told me to reach down and feel her head. Crazy, I know! But I wasn't surprised by this at all since Barb has the same doctor and she experienced the same thing the day before. What DID surprise me was when Emma's head was out and my doctor said, "Ok, reach down and help pull your daughter with the next push!" I think my response was, "Do WHAT?!?" So, that's exactly what I did. With my doctor guiding me, I reached down, wrapped my hands around my daughter, pushed, and pulled her to my chest. Words fail to describe that moment.

The rest was pretty much the standard post-delivery stuff. Kyle cut the umbilical cord, watched her as they did measurements and whatnot, and I laid there thinking, "Did all that really just happen?" After all was said and done, Dr. Kollar came over, put her forehead to mine, and said, "You were AWESOME! Your body is definitely made to have babies, so keep going!" While I have no intention to just keep going and going, I just love how encouraging she is!

The most peaceful moment out of all this craziness, and the moment that is most clear in my memory, is when they put Emma back to my chest. It felt...right. Like she belonged there the whole time. Yes, that sounds incredibly cheesy. But it's so true.

One mistake we made as newbie parents was getting so wrapped up in the moment that we forgot to send a text or a nurse to the waiting room to tell our families she was born safely. They knew at our hospital they allow one hour of bonding time before people are allowed back to meet the new baby, but they didn't know that hour had started. Once Kyle looked at his phone and noticed this, he fixed that mistake. Ooops. :)

When our family got back there, the first one to hold Emma was my Grandma Emma. That was my call, and I'm so glad we did that. After that, just about everyone took turns holding her while Keri took pictures. Seeing the joy on each of my family members' faces as they held her is a memory I'll forever cherish.

So here we are, now home with an eight day old baby girl who is precious, sweet, beautiful, frustrating, and wonderful all at once. We're sleep deprived and not sure what we're doing most of the time. But she's our little blessing, and we're trying to be worthy of that.

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