** This is long and pretty detailed. It's mostly for me and Ellison. I didn't want to forget anything. I won't be offended if you don't read the whole thing. :-) **
It all happened pretty fast. Thursday started out pretty normal. I slept in a little bit and went into work a couple of hours late. I'd been having contractions on and off all week, but none that were every very consistent or super strong. I spent a few hours at work, still fully convinced that Ellison was going to be late and that we still had a week or so to go before we were going to meet her. Around lunchtime, I felt like my contractions were starting to come regulary, although not very often. They were pretty consistently an hour or so apart for most of the afternoon. I was uncomfortable, but they definitely weren't unbearable. I left work around 2:30 and headed home. Once there, I started to really keep track of my contractions with an app I downloaded on my phone. Around 3:00, I was averaging minute long contractions about every 20 minutes. By the time Barrett got home around 5:00, they were about 7 minutes apart. Not only were they getting closer together, they were getting much stronger too. I was having to really stop, concentrate, and breathe through them. I hopped in a warm bath because I'd heard along the way that it was supposed to be soothing. It was...but by the time I hopped out of the bath my contractions were averaging about 5 minutes apart. We continued to track them for about two hours and we were holding steady at just under 5 minutes between each.
We called the OB's office, spoke to the on call nurse, and she decided to send us over to labor and delivery triage at the hospital. We hopped in the car at 9:06, and when we arrived at the hospital a half hour later, my contractions were about 4 minutes apart. I still wasn't 100% convinced that we were going to be staying to meet Ellison though! It seemed like it had all happened really quickly!
|Our last "waiting for Ellison" chalkboard entry!|
|here we go!|
We zipped upstairs to labor and delivery triage and started the monitoring process. They wanted to monitor me for a good 30 minutes before they called the OB to find out if they wanted to admit me. When the nurse checked my progress, we were 3 cm dilated and 80 % effaced. My contractions were strong and steady at 4 mintues apart, so the OB decided to admit us. We were well on our way to meeting our sweet girl!
We were moved into our L&D room and started the process toward getting the epidural. Contractions really are a crazy thing. While you're having one, it's all you can focus on. You go into kind of a mommy trance, power through, and once it's over you're back to normal. Another thing...at least for me...is that they went from tolerable to intolerable pretty quickly. We'd been in our room about 20 minutes or so, and my water broke. Our nurse, Sara, said that the contractions would be much more intense without all the extra cushion so we paged the anesthesiologist to bring sweet relief. Was she ever right! The intensity increased ten fold after my water had broken and I couldn't get the epidural fast enough! The nurses and anesthesiologist kept saying that I was "so controlled" which made me feel like I was doing something right even when I felt like I was about to crack!
Once the epidural was in and started to take effect, I was like a new woman. To each they're own, but I can't understand why anyone wouldn't want one! I was so much more relaxed and was able to focus on more than just the pain. I could tell when I was having contractions because I could still feel my belly getting a little tight, but there was zero pain.
|Time for some pain control...|
|My amazingly supportive, handsome hubby|
|Yes, let's meet her. :-)|
|Yep...feeling good now!|
Now we were just in a waiting game. Once the epidural had taken effect, Sara checked my progress and we were still hovering right around 3-4 cm and 80-90%. So we tried to settle in and relax a little. My mom and sister and Barrett's dad and stepmom arrived at the hospital around 2:00 am. My dad and stepmom were in the car, on the way up from Louisiana. They left during Hurricane Isaac and set out on a 12 hour trip to Charlotte. We visited for a little bit and then they all left us to try to rest. As much as we would have liked to have slept, I think we were just too excited! So, we sat up and talked, rested our eyes a little, and tried to be patient.
Sometime around 3:00 am, I called our nurse in because I felt like maybe my epidural had stopped working great. I was feeling some pressure and pain on my right side when I'd have a contraction. They had me lay on my side some and I started pushing my epidural bolus button for a little extra dose of the pain meds. After about a half hour, the pain was increasing some rather than subsiding, so we called anesthesia back in to give me another dose. Before he came in, nurse Sara decided to check my progress once more. When she checked me, it turned out that I was just about 10 cm dilated and fully effaced. She even said she could feel the hair on Ellison's head! The reason I was feeling more pain wasn't because my epidural wasn't working, it was because I went from 3 cm to 10 cm quickly. We called the OB (Dr. Verross) in, he checked my progress, and said that he wanted me to labor down for about an hour and then we'd start pushing!
|Find some energy, Papa Bear|
|Sunrise on Ellison's birthday|
|Let's roll baby girl.|
At about 6:50 am, my night nurse Sara had me do a few practice pushes to see if we could get anything going. She really wanted to be there for the birth, but hospital's have rules and shift change caught up to us. Luckily, the day nurse who came in, Shannon, was just as amazing. We couldn't have picked better nurses to be with us. We started doing some more pushing with Shannon, and at about 7:20 Dr. Avery came in (shift change happens with the OBs too!) and we got down to business.
At 7:50 am, weighing 7 lbs 4 oz and measuring 20 inches long, our beautiful baby girl entered our lives. We did have a little scare right in the beginning. Ellison wasn't crying or making any kind of noise when she first arrived. Barrett had intended on cutting the umbilical cord and the plan was to hand Ellison right over to me once she was born. But very quickly, those plans changed. Dr. Avery said something to the effect of, "It's OK dad, I'll just go ahead and cut the cord real fast." Then she passed Ellison over to the baby nurse. After what seemed like forever but was probably only about 30 seconds, we heard our baby cry. It was the most precious sound. Apparently she'd just been sitting in one place too long and had a little fluid caught in her airway. She also had a little fever of around 101 when she was born. My temperature was a little elevated too, about 99.7, so we think that may have warmed Ellison up a bit. It bought her a CBC and a blood culture though (not a super fun way to spend your birthday) to make sure everything was OK.
Once everything was running a little smoother, I finally got to hold my sweet girl. It's truly a moment that is indescribable. You're exhausted and overwhelmed and so, so happy. There were smiles and tears and the love you feel for your baby is like nothing you've ever felt before. It's amazing. I'll also never forget the look in Barrett's eyes when he held her for the first time. I didn't know it was possible, but I love him more now than ever.
After about an hour or so, some of our family came in to meet Ellison...
|Saying hello to Gammie|
|Getting some love from Aunt Rachel|
|Snuggles from Grandad|
After some sweet snuggles, Ellison had a busy birthday. She got her first bath, had her footprints made, and took some much needed naps. Around 11:00 that morning, my dad and Sondra made it to Charlotte and got to meet Ellison for the first time. My friend Caroline came to meet her too. All of the postpartum rooms were full, so we hung out in our L&D room until about 4:00 that afternoon. We got a really nice room with a great view of uptown Charlotte. Nurse Shannon said that one of the perks of working for the hospital is that you get first priority for the good rooms. Works for me...I'll take my perks where I can get them! When we were in our new room, my friend Anna came to meet Ellison, and our family came back for one more visit before visiting hours ended. Ellison got checked out by her new nurse and we finally settled in for the night after being awake for a solid 36+ hours.
|Footprints in her baby book|
|Our first family photo|
|Meeting Paw Paw|
|Getting love from Noni|
|Sunset on Ellison's Birthday|
|Our sweet little peanut|
I have to say that we feel so incredibly blessed. We have a happy, healthy baby girl. My labor and delivery went really smoothly. It all felt very calm and peaceful. Although I have nothing to compare it to, I'd say that it probably went about as well as it could have. We are so in love with Ellison. You always hear that it's love at first sight and that you are immediately, unconditionally in love with your baby, but you can't fully understand it until you live it. She is simply amazing. She is the best thing that we have ever done with our lives. We can't wait to see what the world has in store for her.