Saturday morning we woke up to the first snow of the year. Our house and yard were covered in the white, fluffy stuff and that alone was enough to make me happy. We would have a white Christmas! I also secretly thought that Grace was sure to make her appearance soon because she must be able to sense how much I hate driving in the stuff. With snow and ice on the ground and the hospital at least an hour away, it all added up to the "perfect" time for Grace to enter the world. Despite the snow, we headed to
Getting out of the house definitely helped my spirits...or maybe it was just quality time with my husband that made the day! Christmas shopping was a bit of a bust but Yakima isn't the shopping capital of the world so I wasn't expecting much. After a few stores, we decided to forgo the shopping (or lack thereof) and head to Costco. We figured that after Baby Grace came, the last thing we would want to do is drive an hour in order to stock up on toilet paper, PLUS we needed to buy some baby essentials - diapers and diaper wipes. Once inside Costco, we hit the fun sections first. The books, DVDs and CD's. I think I wasted too much energy on those isles because once it was time to get down to business and shop for the paper towels, dog food, etc, I hit the wall. I was exhausted. My feet were beyond swollen and my back ached and ached. People kept staring at me because I obviously looked like I was about to pop at any moment and I was limping around the warehouse trying to save my back as much as possible.
Finally, the essentials had been rounded up. We paid and loaded up the car which was a bit more difficult because as I mentioned above, the car was loaded up with our hospital gear. Once packed, we headed home, both a little disappointed that all the walking and shopping had not enticed Baby Grace to make her debut.
We got home, unloaded the car, made dinner and settled in to watch a movie called A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar. It was a documentary that follows several law students in California on their quest to pass the infamous bar exam. There were interviews with several famous attorneys and the anxiety for the law students built as they approached the three day exam. The movie brought back much of the nervousness Court and I felt when we studied for the bar three years ago. We both had a pit in our stomach watching the movie. (On a different note, some of the students the movie followed had sat for the exam several times and when I say several, one of the gentlemen had failed the exam 41 times and was attempting his 42nd bar exam! Can you imagine??)
Anyway, the movie must have hit a nerve in both of us because we woke up the next morning each having had nightmares about the bar exam. Once we finished discussing our dreams, our conversation turned to how we were going to "kill" the day as we assumed Baby Grace would continue to hold us hostage. As Court suggested driving to the Tri-Cities to go to the mall (something that under normal circumstances would make his skin crawl) I felt a sensation that required a trip to the bathroom. I rushed to the bathroom in the middle of Court's offer and he got frustrated. He felt like I wasn't appreciating that he was basically offering to take me to a place equivalent to his hell. "I think my water broke!" I exclaimed. That got his attention and the look on his face when he glanced at my lower half made it pretty obvious that indeed my water had broken.
Since only 10% of pregnant women experience the bag of waters rupturing, I just assumed that I would not fall into that category. I wasn't expecting it at all and it kind of made me happy and excited to experience that sensation. Although the real reason I was excited was that the hospital has to admit you once the water has broken so I knew we were on our way! We were going to have a baby very soon! (I like to think that the nerves associated with watching the movie about the bar exam caused my water to break.)
The funny thing is that although my water had broken I had not felt any contractions. I was actually feeling pretty good - or at least as good as you can feel when you are 10 months pregnant with a pinched nerve in your back. I got dressed and Court packed up the car. My water broke at 8 am and by 8:30 am we were in the car headed to the hospital. We had a leisurely drive to the hospital as I was not in any pain. We just kept laughing because we couldn't believe that this was finally happening. After 9 long months, we were about to have a baby. The leisurely drive also allowed us time to call our families and activate Operation Baby Grace. Court's parents were in Seattle and headed over the pass upon getting the good news, as did my sister. Unfortunately, my dad had to work and was unable to head up. My mom jumped on the first available flight to Yakima and was due to arrive at around 9 pm that night. We all had our fingers crossed that she would arrive in time!
We got to the hospital at around 9:30 and by 10 am, I was admitted and hooked up to an IV. My bag of waters had not completely broken so they finished off the job so they could start pumping me full of the labor inducing drug, Pitocin. Just as Molly and my in-laws, Dave and Priscilla, arrived at the hospital, my contractions began. Little at first, but slowly intensifying. By 2 pm, my contractions were pretty regular and just starting to get uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I was only dilated 1-2 centimeters.
I must pause here to say that during our entire stay at Memorial Hospital the nurses we encountered were amazing. Each and every nurse was helpful and professional. What was even more comforting to me was that although the nurses see several babies born on each and every shift, they made me feel like my birth experience was special and unique. They were comforting and encouraging, thoughtful and sympathetic. They really made our birth experience fantastic.
Our nurse suggested that I get up and move around to help get things moving. However, with the pinched nerve in my back and the extra 55+ pounds I was carrying made the thought of pacing the halls unbearable. So she suggested an alternative of sitting in a spa bath for an hour. For her previous patients, the spa bath had spurred the dilation process by 3-5 centimeters. Jackpot!! Spa bath here we come!! By 2:40 pm, I was sitting in a huge bath tub surrounded by warm water and blaring jets. Almost heaven, minus the strengthening contractions. At 3:40 pm, I somehow managed to heave my huge, convulsing body out of the bath tub and walk back to my room. At the time, I thought this was a feat on par with giving birth.
Once back in the room, the contractions were becoming absolutely unbearable. I have NO IDEA how the pioneer woman rode a horse while in labor only to pull over, give birth and hop back on to keep riding. I would have made a terrible pioneer woman.
At 4:30 pm, my doctor was called in to see if I was ready for The Epidural. Although I was only dilated to 3 cm, based on the amount of pain I was in, they ordered The Epidural. The Epidural was administered shortly thereafter and life got a whole hell of a lot better! The person who invented The Epidural, in my mind, deserves to win the Nobel Peace Prize or at least, something equivalent. It really is the best invention created by man. One minute, you are seriously contemplating death, especially when you hear you are only dilated 3 cm and have to get to 10 before the REAL fun begins and the next minute you are watching the Cowboys - Giants game on TV hoping to catch a glimpse of Jessica Simpson cheering on her QB boyfriend, Tony Romo. Let's just say your perspective dramatically changes.
Within an hour or two of the epidural, I dilated 5-6 cm. The nurses said the calming effect of the epidural helps your muscles to relax which in turn allows your body to dilate easier. Apparently, the breathing techniques you learn about are supposed to have the same effect on your body. Ahhh...come again? There is absolutely no way a little bit of breathing can calm and relax you. NO WAY! All I can say is hallelujah for modern medicine!
By 8:30 pm, I started to feel the urge to push. The nurses said to hang on as long as I could without pushing in order to conserve energy. First time mothers can end up pushing for hours - completely exhausting themselves. By 9 pm, I could no longer "hold" the urge and so the pushing began. Pushing in comparison to contractions feels like a walk in the park. I would push all day long before I agreed to feel contractions ever again.
I went into labor telling Court that I expected to throw up at some point. It is normal for women to vomit during labor and since this pregnancy had me before the porcelain God more often than not, I just assumed that throwing up was written in the stars for me....and I was right. About a half hour into pushing, the nurses made me drink some water so as to keep hydrated. (I really didn't see the point since I had been on an IV for 12 hours but figured they knew best.) A few minutes later, I had thrown up all over myself. Obviously, they stopped making me drink water after that.
Court was a true champ throughout the whole process. He offered plenty of comic relief when needed and was the best hand-holder, push-counter you can imagine. What's been even more impressive is the way he has taken care of me and Baby Grace since returning home from the hospital - cooking, cleaning, running to the grocery store...but that is for another blog entry. I will say he has been nothing short of amazing.
The doctor arrived at about 9:50 pm. Like I said before, the doctor and all the nurses were amazing. Everyone kept telling me I was doing a great job and that I was almost there. For whatever reason, even if they were just blowing smoke, it really helped! It kept me motivated and focused to keep pushing. The doctor announced shortly after his arrival that the baby would likely be born in two more contractions. The home stretch!!
He was right. Before I knew it, Grace Elizabeth was resting on my chest....eyes wide open, tongue moving in and out of her mouth, quietly taking everything in. Whenever I read or hear what new moms says about this moment, it always makes me gag because it sounds so cliche and cheesy. But the reason it sounds that way is because that is the way it is. It is a life changing moment. You are in complete shock that this little human was inside you. For some reason, I didn't expect such a human like baby to appear before me. The images I created in my head were more cartoon-like for some reason. I don't remember exactly what I said - but I know there were a lot of "Oh my God's" and "She is so beautiful."
She was whisked away for the Apgar tests. I didn't hear the score for the first round but they gave her a 12 the second time because they said she was so beautiful. As a new mother, you just can't hear enough how beautiful your new baby is!
Finally, the momentous moment came for Grace to be weighed. Court, Molly and I had all placed bets earlier in the day as to how much Grace would weigh. My guess was 7.1 lbs although I secretly hoped for more because that would offset my massive weight. Court thought 8.1 lbs and Molly thought AT LEAST 8.8 lbs. In the end, Molly was the closest. Baby Grace weighed in at a healthy 9 lbs. 3 oz and measured 21 1/4 inches long. Needless to say, I was in total shock that I had just given birth to a 9+ pound baby! I wasn't expecting that and can't imagine what the next baby will be like. They say the more babies you have, the bigger they get!
Anyway, I could go on and on about the details surrounding her birth but I want to get this posted. I have been trying to write this entry for over a week per all of your requests to know the details of Grace's labor and delivery. But every time I get started, I get interrupted and with the lack of sleep...well, you understand. I also want to take this opportunity to apologize for not contacting as many people as I hoped and planned to after Grace's birth. Now that babies room in at the hospital, neither Court nor I got much sleep and we were both too overwhelmed to make phone calls, send emails or to accept guests at the hospital. I promise that I will eventually get back to you. Please be patient! If for some reason I don't get to you this week have a very Merry Christmas! More pictures and stories to come!!
Court holding his new daughter for the first time. He is a natural!
Grace's first outfit. Pretty in pink- naturally!
Grace's first outfit. Pretty in pink- naturally!