WARNING: If birth stories might make you pass out (it happens. to people I'm related to.) I would skip reading this post. I get a little detailed.
I wanted to take some time to write out the story of Elle being born. Not that it's especially riveting or anything like that, I just want to make sure I record every detail before things start getting to clouded by dirty diapers and late night feedings. (and if you're pregnant, and if you're anything like me when I was pregnant, you'll enjoy reading through other people's birth stories in anticipation of your own.)
Thursday evening I decided that I'd had enough sitting around and waiting, so I went to dinner with some friends from our Missional Community. We spent time eating, laughing and praying together over the remainder of our semester. We also took communion together and spent time thinking on the painful beauty of Jesus' death and resurrection so that we might know and love Him. It was so refreshing to be in God's presence with sweet friends. My anxious, distracted, baby-waiting heart was put to rest as I remembered that Jesus is for me. He's on my side and not holding out on me. It was a great evening.
Now, my mom was on her way into town that night so I had really been praying and hoping to go into labor soon so that she wouldn't waste her precious vacation days sitting around with her beached whale of a daughter with no baby to hold and help me care for. Well, on my way home from our missional community I had a bit of a coughing fit in the car and my... um... water broke :) It wasn't a flood, mind you, but I HIGHLY suspected that we would be heading to the hospital very soon.
I got home and informed Tyler of my suspicions. He was a little skeptical as this had happened before. (a false alarm, obviously.) But I wasn't in any hurry to rush to the hospital. My contractions weren't super painful or close together yet, so I thought we'd just sleep in our own bed and go to our scheduled appointment on Friday morning at 9:30am. During the night, my contractions got more and more intense and I continued to ahem... leak, but I was still feeling ok. I didn't end up sleeping very much because I was so focused on timing contractions. But I sat up in our wonderful glider and read Harry Potter and thought about how I'd probably be rocking our sweet girl very soon.
Friday morning, my mom made coffee, I ate a bowl of cereal, Tyler went for a run and then we packed up all our little dolls and dishes and made our way to our appointment. The appointment was quick. It went something like this:
Me: I think my water broke last night.
Dr.: Well let's check. Yep. That's what happened. See you upstairs.
So we checked in to Labor and Delivery at 10 am. I was still feeling ok. I was still only dilated 1 cm. That was a little disheartening, but I was checked into the hospital and I knew I'd be leaving with our baby. We were all excited and ready to go.
Around 11 or so, our sweet nurse gave me a pill to help get my cervix ready to dilate. This pill is so potent that you can't even touch it if you are pregnant because it might cause you to start contracting. Crazy. Anyway, this little teeny tiny pill definitely jumpstarted things for me. I was still able to handle the contractions, but with Elle being so low in my pelvis and my uterus going all crazy, around 3:30 I was ready for some kind of relief in the form of heavy narcotics.
Here's what I've been told about epidurals: "Oh! You can have it as SOON as you want it!" Now, I went in with the mindset that I would hold out as long as I could, but you better believe I was going to ask for that epidural when I was through with the being tough thing.
Well, that's not how it went on Good Friday. In tears, I called my nurse. "I think I'm ready for the epidural now!" I was crying because I felt like a baby, because I was still only dilated 1 cm. And because I was in a lot of pain.
When my sweet nurse got in the room, I apologized for being such a sobbing mess and she responded with - "Oh, sweetie, this is good. You actually look like a patient in labor now." Apparently, reading Harry Potter and watching the Office with your husband on his laptop is not how normal labor patients look. So, I felt official. And then I felt really sad because she told me I couldn't have the epidural yet. My normal ObGYN (whom I love and could write volumes about how wonderful he is, so if you need a recommendation, let me know) wasn't on call that day and apparently, the doctor who would be delivering our babe was MUCH more strict on his epidural allowances.
So I labored for 3 1/2 more hours with only a little demerol in my veins. Which really, just made me feel drunk and in pain. But I think that was better than not drunk and in pain. FINALLY, the nurse worked up the courage to ask Dr. Akin again if I could have my epidural. After checking to see how dilated I was, (still 1 cm. bah.) but finding that Elle was super super low (or "engaged" I think is the medical term) in my pelvis, he decided that I was probably in a considerable amount of pain and gave the OK to give the epidural. What a glorious announcement it was for me to hear," The anesthesiologist will be here in 15 min." I think I remember asking Tyler if I could do this for another 15 minutes. And I think he said something super encouraging and compassionate. (Later, Tyler said he maxed out his encouragement and compassion quota for the year with me in that delivery room. He really was a wonderful, wonderful support.)
Epidurals are (very seriously) such a tangible picture of God's sweet grace and mercy. Praise God.
Around 11pm or so, I started feeling some considerable pressure (who knew that there was pain after the epidural?! I sure as heck didn't.) and knew that something was going on. They had just told me around 9 or 10, I think, that I was dilated to a 5 and they estimated about 1 cm an hour at this point. Well... Little Bit was ready to get the heck out of there and only an hour or so later I was almost completely dilated and effaced. (Just means that everything is ready to go!)
So, the nurses started setting up their little table for Elle's arrival. That was really exciting and crazy. Even through the contractions I was feeling in the form of intense pressure/needing to push feeling, Tyler and I were talking about how crazy it was going to be in a few minutes when we started pushing this little girl into the world!!
I pushed for and hour and a half (yes, I watched in a mirror. seriously mamas to be, consider it. it was SUPER motivating. and pushing is hard work.) and then I got to meet Ellerbe Anne. Sweetest little squid-like newborn you ever did see.
I think Elle might just be the cutest little girl in the whole world. But newborns just are not good looking.
I really do think about that first moment I had holding our little girl often. Precious, wonderful, sweet, joyful, I cannot think of enough of these kinds of words to capture what that moment was like. There was such a rush of sweet sweet joy as they handed her to me. (I don't know if I ever shared this, but I was deathly afraid I would drop her when that moment finally came. I'm happy to report that I did not drop her. Slippery goo and all.)
I think the only comprehensible thing that came out of my mouth in that moment was, "Oh my goodness. I don't even care that your gross right now!" ha. Here's a picture of that moment:
You can clearly see my lack of regard for her cleanliness. Gah, that's a good moment that I'm hoping will be etched into my memory for as long as I'm alive.
My second favorite moment of the night: Seeing Tyler hold his little girl. He just looked at her with these eyes that I've never seen. He sure doesn't look at me that way. (He loves me. A whole lot. But he loves her in a completely different way. And I'm totally ok with that.)
Disregard the leg in the stirrup. That's not mine. Weird.
Well, that's our sweet Elle's story. That was 3 weeks ago. Currently, we're laying on the couch together. Elle's sleeping, I'm finishing up this blogpost and waiting for her to wake up to eat. I thought it would be alot sooner, or I would have gone to bed when she did.
I have lots of blogposts to write about things that have saved my life. things that have almost killed me. things that i love. things i have learned to love. things God is teaching me. there's lots to share and write about, but forgive me if I'm not as prompt on the blogging as I want to be. I'm working on a new normal here.
Love this little sleeping beauty.