One month ago this sweet face entered the world.
The story of her arrival is just as wonderful and special as any ordinary birth story. I've decided not to be brief, nor overly eloquent, but just to tell the story that I want to tell. It's Tuesday, my one-month old baby is sleeping quietly next to me, and I'm feeling sassy that way.
I couldn't go to sleep the night of the 11th. I stayed up, reading fascinating articles on Slate and hoping that I really was going into labor. About midnight I determined that my contractions were close enough together so I ought to pack a bag. As I packed my bag, Jason woke up and asked what I was doing.
"I think I better pack my bag," I said.
"Oh boy," he said and then went back to sleep (he will tell you that he didn't really go back to sleep...he was just resting his eyes on account of it being the middle of the night and all).
For the record, Jason had asked me to pack my bag two weeks earlier, but I was stubborn and refused. He brought the suitcase up from the basement, and there it sat, in our room, where Jason would occasionally glance meaningfully at it. The last time I packed early for something was when I was 16 on my way to summer camp, and there was no sense in breaking my 18-year streak just because I was going to be giving birth.
After all, a person needs something to do to distract from all those contractions.
Not that I really needed distracting. No sirree. I was excited and no small amount of pain was going to keep me from laughing at midnight.
Around 2:30 am, I called my parents and told my dad he'd need to walk over and watch the girls while we went to the hospital.
"Well, all right," he said.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a nice hot shower knowing that I probably wouldn't get one for the rest of the day. As I took a shower, I practiced my hypnobirthing techniques. I wasn't going all out on the hypnobirthing, but I have some practice at focusing my mind on something other than pain. Years of migraines have taught me that. So there I stood, our hot water tank shortly about to be empty, and realized that the pressure of the water on my face was the perfect distraction. If I could focus on that slight pressure on my skin, I could easily get through the contractions.
An hour later, Jason and I were on our way to the hospital, and my excited jitters compensated for Jason's exhaustion. Poor guy. He was tired, and I was just gearing up for a marathon. All I needed was some Black Eyed Peas playing over the radio, and it would have been a regular party.
We checked in at the hospital about 4 am, and after signing some paperwork (fortunately I had pre-registered, so not too much paperwork), I was marched off to triage. I filled out more paperwork, answered some questions about whatever, and got hooked up. I was dilated to 5 cm, which was thrilling because that meant they wouldn't send me home. As each contraction washed over me, I had Jason rub my arm (imitating the feeling of the water from the shower) while I counted dots on the ceiling. Not just regular counting, mind you. Alternately counting by 3's and 5's. I don't know. It just seemed like the thing to do. And it worked.
The first contraction that measured on the machine showed a sharp decrease in Baby's heartbeat.
"Well, that's not great," said the nurse. "Baby's not quite cooperating here."
I felt a moment of panic. I had not planned for any drama, not expected anything other than just what I had experienced with the other two. When I heard the nurse's words, I felt fear.
And in that moment I realized: I loved this baby. I wanted this baby. For all the months of apathy and depression, I had never particularly felt anything toward the baby. But in that moment, where her tiny heart slowed way down, I knew I would do anything to protect her.
A twinge of fear, and then...the heartbeat resumed. The nurse said, "It might have been nothing." It did turn out to be nothing, but that instant of nothing helped me turn the corner and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
At 4:10 am, I fell in love with Adelynn. I was having a baby. My baby. Our baby. This baby. Such joy.
I waited until 4:30 to call my BFF Megan. No answer. She was, obviously, sleeping. I called again. Jason dozed off in the chair as I hung out in triage. I texted Megan. Eventually, I decided that I better call Megan's home phone even though I was afraid it might wake up her daughter.
Thankfully, that phone call didn't wake up Amelia. But it did wake up Megan. We squealed on the phone, and I was relieved that my friend would be here for Baby's birth. (As a sidenote to Megan's story: Sunday turned out to be the perfect day for her to be at Adelynn's birth because her whole day was free, unlike the Saturday before or the Monday next. Hooray for serendipitous births).
Around 5 or 6 am, I moved into my hospital room (one of the few remaining, they said. Lots of babies born the day before), and decided that I would get an epidural.
I had always planned on getting the epidural, but since I was doing so well managing contractions then I briefly considered not getting one. I might have been fine without one, but I didn't want to chance getting panicked by the pain, so I got one.
Well, I got one in my left leg. In a lovely twist of medical fate, my right side was epidural free. Call me crazy, but I thought it was sort of cool that I got to experience half the contractions. The doctor said they could readjust my epidural, but I wanted it the way it was. It humored me.
Megan showed up around 7, and the photodocumenting began.
There are no less than half a dozen photos of Megan and me posing for the camera, because really, it was a party. We were giddy with exhaustion and hopped up on excitement. Crazy kids.
Poor Jason was so tired. He slept through part of the party. But he was there for me when I needed him.
Having babies makes me feel like a rockstar. It's so exhilarating.
Nurse Galina showed up and she was lovely. There was a brief moment of introduction where I was afraid she might be too chatty, but then I was quickly won over by her charm. Lovely lovely lady. Jason's mom showed up, then my mom showed up, and then we all just hung out for a few hours waiting for Addie to arrive.
I called my dad at 11:15 and told him that Addie would be here in about 30 minutes, so would he please bring the big sisters in a couple hours. He and the girls were having a good time at a church picnic, and just as soon as they were done with the face painting they'd take a trip to the hospital.
At 11:15 I'd said 30 minutes.
I wasn't too far off.
And since I hear my little one-month rustling around, that part of the story will need to wait until tomorrow.