The title of this post is a bit obvious if you follow me on any form of social media since I've posted about a million pictures since the big day, but still... it's true! Alice Juliet joined us on October 10 and we have spent the last three weeks falling completely in love with her. Here's how it all went down...
On Wednesday morning (the 7th) I woke up having contractions... really the first ones I had experienced during my pregnancy which was kind of a miracle, I'm told. (I think the Lord just knew I couldn't have handled them any longer than I did.) They were anywhere from 10-30 minutes apart all that day but as the evening wore on, they got closer and closer together until they were about 4-5 minutes for a while (and I was hurting really bad... or so I thought, naive little first-time mom that I am. Ha!) My mom and sisters were telling me to go in to the hospital, and I really wasn't trying to be brave and stick it out only to have to deliver at home with only hot water and towels, Little House style. I just didn't want to go in and be sent home, which ended up being exactly what happened.
I decided that if I was still having contractions five minutes apart by 10:30 we would go to the hospital. Jonathan is a doll so he passed the time by cleaning and getting things ready in case we left. The appointed time came and went with my contractions still going consistently so we took a few pictures, looked around in disbelief that this was actually happening, and off we went. As we got closer to the hospital, my contractions were actually getting closer together, about three minutes, confirming to me that I had made the right choice. (HA!)
Last bump picture... taken right before our first trip to the hospital.
Since it was after nine PM, we had to enter through the emergency room (why are there always such sketchy-looking people in the ER late at night?) and as I approached the desk, holding my huge belly and panting, I was still asked why I was there. (Um, I broke my thumb?) Thank goodness we preregistered so after only a couple of minutes a nurse from the maternity floor arrived with a wheelchair and up we went.
I got into triage and hooked up to the machines... and then things got interesting. As you moms know, getting checked to see if you're dilated is uncomfortable at best and SO HORRIFICALLY PAINFUL at worst and mine was the worst. (Long story and totally TMI but it was truly awful.) I had done fine with the contractions (I mean, within reason) but the exam totally did me in and I was sobbing when they were finished. They asked me a million questions, gave me a huge thing of water to drink because apparently I was dehydrated (a result of being sick of having to go to the bathroom every two seconds, I guess) and left me to be monitored for over an hour. Then they examined me AGAIN... two nurses this time and it was nothing short of traumatic (more tears and more cries of pain.) Anyway, blah blah blah... I was barely dilated so they gave me a shot of Demerol and sent me home around 3 AM. Then I had to roll out of bed to be at my OB appointment by 8:30.
My doctor told me that I wasn't in active labor and that she could tell by looking at me that I wasn't going to go that day. She basically told me I would have to just survive it and went ahead and scheduled an induction for the following Wednesday (as I nearly wept at the thought of enduring this for another six days.) I continued to have contractions throughout Thursday but they were more spaced out. I pretty much didn't sleep at all that night as I was either worried to death about actually going into labor or breathing through another contraction. (So fun!)
Being sent home...
By Friday morning, having endured another night of contractions and having them more intense and closer together, I decided to go in again. More monitoring, another painful exam... and once again, I was sent home in tears. (Fortunately my mom arrived right before we left and that helped a lot.) They told me to come back in if my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and even more intense (something I couldn't imagine at the time) and after moaning my way through the day, I finally broke down Friday night. I knew that I couldn't handle any more pain... it was absolutely unbearable by that night and my contractions were super close together. I was begging God to let them tell me I was dilated because the thought of being sent home again was just more than I could take.
We got to the hospital around 9 P.M., got whisked into triage, examined, and... miracle of miracles... I was dilated to 3 cm and we were admitted. Even as panic gripped me- hello, you're having a baby!- I was so relieved to be getting something for the pain that I couldn't even be as terrified as I had planned on. The anesthesiologist (my new best friend) arrived around 10:30 and I felt like I could take a full breath for the first time since Tuesday night. Then the waiting game began... my water still hadn't broken and I had to obviously progress to several more centimeters so I tried to just get some sleep.
I progressed bit by bit throughout the night, dozed in and out of sleep, and since I still wasn't quite where I needed to be, they gave me Pitocin around 7 A.M. My water broke a few minutes later (such an odd feeling!) and they began to prepare for the delivery. I'm not sure when I began pushing- so weird! so surreal! so hard! (the epidural definitely didn't dull ALL the pain)- but Alice was born at 8:33 AM! I was thrilled that she had lots of hair and my first thought when I saw her face was that she looked like Amy (my little sister.)
I just read an article that said it's okay if you don't hear angels singing the first time you see/hold your baby... and that was true for me. First of all, my entire body started shaking uncontrollably and I was sobbing- not even happy tears just "I'm completely overwhelmed, that was incredibly traumatic and I can't believe it's over and she's out" kind of tears. And... this is probably TMI, but #realtalk- something you definitely don't want to hear two seconds after your baby is born is that you can't hold her because the doctor has to stitch you up since you tore through three layers including muscle. Ah! Yeah, that was one of my biggest fears and it came true in a big way. I was pretty much terrified that my recovery was going to be absolutely awful as soon as I heard them say that, but I have to thank the Lord and the amazing doctor (not even my regular doctor- she was out of town!) because it's been really hard but not as bad as I thought. Given the severity of the tearing and my complete lack of pain tolerance, that's a miracle!
SO, I was getting stitched up (ewww) while they cleaned her up but they finally gave her to me and I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. It was like I had been pregnant forever and that part was over but somehow disconnected from this little person who was now out and blinking her big blue eyes at me like, "You're going to keep me alive, right?" Honestly, she's three weeks old and I still hold her and can't believe she's here. It's a little terrifying to think of all of her fitting inside me... no wonder I was so uncomfortable!
So even though people who say "As soon as I held my baby, I forgot about the pain!" are either crazy or lying (hehe), all the craziness and trauma and pain WAS, of course, completely worth it. The last few weeks has been a hazy blur of huge smiles and laughing and a million iPhone pictures, keeping up with medicines and burp cloths and pacifiers, emotional moments where I'm convinced I'll never have this mom thing together, and then feeling my heart explode about a million times a day when I look at my girl's chubby cheeks and realize I just want to squeeze her and never let go. (Ever seen Homeward Bound? Poor Alice is the cat. "Sweetheart, Sassy can't breathe.")
There are so many things about this time, especially those first few days, that I want to remember... putting her in the carseat for the first time, carrying her around to give her a "tour" of her nursery, watching Jonathan be totally paranoid (I knew he would be!) and also the sweetest daddy ever, realizing I've become a person who claps in delight when her baby has a dirty diaper (since that was a concern at the beginning), watching Disney movies all day, eating giant chocolate chip cookies from Costco, staying up late with my mom laughing ourselves to tears over ridiculous Facebook posts, dutifully drinking my weight in water from my huge hospital mug, the way Alice tucks her bottom lip in when she finishes eating, her squishy face when she sleeps, her little hand wrapped around my thumb, how she sleeps with one hand against her face, her snuggling on her daddy's chest, the million (nearly identical) pictures we take a day, the smiles she seems to reserve only for Gigi... I could go on! (P.S. My mom left last Saturday and after a week without her I've decided the only viable option is for my parents to move here. Sorry, Georgia.)
You think you're fairly competent with a newborn and then your mom leaves. =( We never would have made it through the first two weeks without her!
I follow a few other new moms on Instagram and sometimes I think, "she looks so happy and put together and she's wearing real clothes... I wonder if she ever sits up in bed at three in the morning with tears streaming down her face because the pain of nursing rivals the pain of labor and she feels like her life is just one big painful recovery in addition to having a tiny human to obsess over and worry about 24 hours a day? Does she lie in bed knowing she should 'sleep while the baby sleeps' but then find herself scrolling through pictures of her instead? Or checking on her even when she's two feet away?" (I bet she does all those things and is just choosing to spend her time curling her hair instead of watching episodes of Diagnosis Murder which is currently my activity of choice. We all have our priorities! =)
The past several days have been the hardest of my life in terms of pain, exhaustion, and just a complete overwhelming of emotions... but I can't imagine loving someone more. I could (and do) just stare at her and snuggle her all day and thank God a million times over that He gave us this sweet baby. She's pooped on us, deprived us of sleep, and broken our hearts with the saddest, raspiest little cry... and we are loving it. (Well, the poop not so much.)
...and one day you put a crown on your baby and die of the cuteness. We love our princess!
Thank you all so much for your sweet comments and words of encouragement over the last few days! We are super blessed with the best friends and family and can't wait for Alice to meet more of you at Christmas! Keep us in your prayers as we continue to adjust to life as a family of three! (And if anyone truly wants to be a big help, just consider using your Costco membership to send me a lifetime supply of chocolate chip cookies... they're Alice's favorite. =)