What a crazy, unexpected string of events that brought our daughter here almost 2.5 weeks early. But we already cannot imagine life without her. As with past posts, this is as much for our records as for our friends and family so forgive the LONG post!
Last Thursday, March 24, I went to the perinatal specialist for a “routine” check of my fluids. That’s usually followed by my weekly OB appointment, which is across the street. I’d been battling low amniotic fluids for several weeks, but truly believed I had it under control by increasing my water consumption to a whopping 100 oz/day. Before last Thursday, my fluid had been “low normal”. At last Thursday’s appointment it had plummeted from 11 to 4.11. Also, they couldn’t get Elia to “practice breathe” which was another strike.
I knew that if it dropped that induction would be an option. But I’d already talked to my OB and let her know that I wanted induction to be avoided at all costs. She said they’d monitor me carefully if it dropped between 5 and 8, but if it dropped below 5 an induction would be necessary. Even knowing this, I was in complete denial when the doctor told me I was 4.11. I jumped off the table and started re-arranging myself and told him that I’d discuss it with my OB since I was already slightly late for my appointment with her. Instead, he told me that I wasn’t walking over there. That I needed to sit down while he called her. Not a minute later he came in to say that he needed me to go directly upstairs to check in to L&D. I asked if they’d monitor the baby and then let me go home to go on bedrest if I wasn’t dilated (hello, denial). That’s when he told me, “You’re not leaving here without a baby.”
My world stopped at that point. I did NOT want to be induced, Ashley was not there to help me think through the fog, my mom was on a business trip in DC…I didn’t know what to think at that point. And through all those overwhelming emotions, the only 3 thoughts that I could hold on to were: we don’t have a camera yet, we don’t have the car seat installed, and “I haven’t shaved my legs!” I guess everything else was just too overwhelming to consider.
I found my way out of the office but couldn’t bring myself to go upstairs. I sat down on the first benches I saw to call Ashley and told her through tears what I’d learned. I asked her to go home to get our hospital bags, but she smartly called our friend to handle that and she left her meeting to come straight to the hospital. She collected me from the benches where I’d been “stuck” since hearing the news, and together we checked into L&D around 5pm on Thursday.
At 7:50 that night I got Cervadil and was put on the monitors. Sleeping that night was impossible since we kept “losing” Elia’s heartbeat. SHE was fine, but she’s always moved a lot and that night was no different, so the nurse came in to adjust the monitors frequently.
At 6am on Friday they pulled the Cervadil and I was 2cm dilated. They started the Pitocin at 7:20am and my mom arrived at the hospital about an hour later. I’d imagined a slow build up to labor at home – a special time with Ashley until my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart when we’d go to the hospital. Instead, I went from nothing to contractions every 2-3 minutes, many with double peaks. At 10:15 I finally saw my OB for the first time. At first she said I was too happy to be in labor and feared it wasn’t working. After checking me though, she was very happy with the progress and decided to break my waters. She was optimistic at this point that we’d be ready before her shift was over at 5 and that she’d be the one to deliver our baby.
I tried to go as long as I could without the epi and lasted 7 hours on Pitocin at which point I could no longer stay on top of the contractions. The nurses were upping the dose from the nurses station outside and I had little warning or chance to get used to the new intensity. Of course, I can’t really say that *I* labored for 7 hours because, really *we* labored for 7 hours. Ashley was right there rubbing, supporting, coaching and breathing with me every step of the way. Frankly, time flew by for me, but I’m sure that her perception of time was quite different. I’ll be forever thankful for her strength during that time.
Of course, as soon as I got the epi, progress came to a near standstill, and it became clear that we were in for the long haul. From 2:30 – 6 there was a whole lot of nothing to report, and we had to accept that my OB wouldn’t be the one to deliver. I knew and really liked the on-call OB though, so it wasn’t a huge deal.
My dad arrived a bit after 6pm and we told him that we’d still be here for a while. I was beginning to believe that we’d go into the next day. Then, at the 7pm shift change, the new nurse checked my dilation and announced that we were ready to go! Surprise! Fully dilated, fully effaced after hours of nothing. I guess Elia was just waiting for the whole gang to arrive.
Everyone left, leaving just me and Ashley and about a million medical personel. As it turned out, the nurse thought she saw meconium, so NICU was on standby just in case. Even though I was fully dilated, the on-call Dr wanted me to feel pressure before she was called in. I told the nurse a few times, although not very sternly, that I *did* feel pressure. She finally decided to set me up for a “practice push” to see how far down Elia was. As soon as I was about to push, her eyes got big and she said “Stop! And… uh… close your legs. I’m calling Dr. Sun. Right NOW.”
Ashley and I both had the same thoughts: Dude. I’ve (she’s) been trying to tell you this!! WHERE is the damn doctor and why aren’t we trying to quickly deliver this baby if she possibly swallowed meconium?!? It was apparent that Elia was lower than we thought, ready to make her grand entrance, and we were so ready to meet our daughter!
Ashley told me later that she was so frustrated at having to wait, and so full of anticipation that she wondered briefly if she’d be one of those partners to pass out at delivery. However, the OB suddenly showed up and we got down to business. All of the stress and worry left us as we focused on getting this baby here. I pushed through 5 contractions with Ashley’s constant support and coaching and suddenly Elia Grace was in the doctor’s hands at 7:51pm.
God, she was perfect! The doctor suctioned her immediately and it turns out that there wasn’t meconium after all! Unfortunately, she was tiny so there were a few extra tests that NICU insisted on doing before allowing skin to skin. Ashley was with her the whole time reporting back to me that she was beautiful and healthy and perfect. After about 10 minutes, I got to hold our baby. She started rooting immediately and showed everyone what a great latcher she is. After a while on my chest and after she lost interest in eating, Ashley was able to enjoy some skin to skin.
And suddenly, we’re a family of 3.