Well…it has been a mind-altering, exhausting, yet wonderful week at our house. Olivia was born on December 28, 2016 at 4:32 PM. Today my post will be a way for me to record all of my thoughts on the last week, including the story of her birth, her homecoming, and how parenting feels so far.
Last Tuesday we had a doctor’s appointment with my OB. We started the day just like any other lazy day without work or school (we were both on Winter Break). After grabbing some coffee at 116 Market we went to my 11:45 AM appointment where my doctor discussed the possibility of inducement in three weeks. We left the appointment a little discouraged, but happy knowing everyone was healthy. We even made plans to go to the zoo in hopes of naturally inducing labor through walking.
After going to the doctor we went to Freebirds and I ordered some of the more spicy options on the menu-we were really trying everything at this point. We had planned an afternoon of running errands, mainly in order to “stock up” on things we might need when our girl did decide to make her arrival. We went to Best Buy to look at some tv options for our bedroom and we spontaneously checked out a fabulous men’s clothing store for C.J.. After those errands we debated on just getting groceries and going home instead of getting the rest of the list completed…but something made us continue crossing things off the list. We went and took care of our Christmas gift to each other, new pillows and bedding. It was a little crazy how it all worked out. At one point we were going to order what we found online to take advantage of a coupon, but we ended up getting everything on sale in the store. We were tired and ready to go home, but we still needed to get groceries…this is C.J.’s least favorite errand. We got all of the paper goods, drinks, and snacks that we expected to need/want after our baby arrived…and the whole time C.J. had the most upbeat and fun attitude.
Looking back on that day, I know I am blessed. My wonderful husband devoted the entire day to making sure my tedious list was complete so that I could relax about any upcoming labor. We laughed and joked and enjoyed each others company all day-not even knowing that it was our last day with just the two of us being able to run errands so freely.
We grabbed dinner on the way home and after unpacking groceries we settled in with some movies. It was so cozy and perfect.
Around 12:30 AM, I started feeling sick to my stomach. My legs started cramping with each stomach upset. It was odd, but not what I expected contractions to feel like, so I didn’t think much about it until three or four had happened somewhat consistently. I started timing them with my contractions timer, but even after about 10 consistent happenings I was still not convinced that they were contractions. C.J. must have sensed something, because he kicked it into gear fairly quickly while I was still trying to figure things out. He showered, shaved, and gathered up last minute items in less time than it typically takes him to get dressed in the mornings-I am telling you, I was impressed.
I called the hospital to describe my symptoms and the nurse I spoke with wasn’t convinced that my contractions were real. It didn’t feel like a belt, everything was lower abdomen and in my upper legs. It felt like a really upset stomach.
Around 2:30, C.J. made the call to go to the hospital. Clearly these were contractions or I at least needed something to make whatever they were stop. Once we got to the hospital we interacted with the same nurse I spoke with on the phone, who still seemed skeptical of my contractions. I was monitored in a triage room for an hour. Still not satisfied with my progress, we were allowed to walk around the labor and delivery ward for another hour (that was rough). After what I am sure was a fairly humorous hour of walking I had made enough progress for the nurse to contact my doctor, who made the call to admit me to the hospital.
We were finally admitted around 6:00 AM. We got into the room that would be ours for the next three days and C.J. went to grab the bags that had been sitting in my car for almost a month. We were prepared. After filling out a bunch of paperwork in between contractions I was finally asked about pain management. Those who have interacted with me throughout the pregnancy know that I was on the fence about what I would do. The thought of a natural birth seemed strong and respectable, but knowing my pain tolerance I knew I would need something. At this point, after a full day of errands, zero sleep, and 6ish hours of contractions, I opted for the epidural…and I am not ashamed.
The epidural wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be and the doctor who administered it did a great job. Throughout the day I felt no pain, was still able to move my legs without assistance, experienced no headaches, and am able to remember all that happened during the day. All of my fears about the epidural were not even a concern.
With the pain medicine I was able to rest a bit, and I could tell that C.J. was not as worried about me. He was so great during the whole labor process-always making sure I had anything I needed, communicated with our family/friends, kept me laughing, and made sure that everything was how we had planned. All while he was completely exhausted-I am one blessed wife.
Around 11:00 AM I had made enough progress for things to start becoming a little more active. We started pushing around noon and delivered at 4:32 PM. It was definitely a long and tiring afternoon, but the whole process made me feel strong and like I had a purpose. The actual delivery happened so quickly. I remember our team coaching me through pushing one moment and then very quickly everyone sprung into gear getting out equipment and masks and gloves. With a few more pushes Olivia’s (huge) head finally emerged, she was almost “tossed” on my chest, and I heard them asking C.J. about cutting the cord. At this point, I also remember feeling my tear ducts erupt and I cried bigger tears and more tears than I have ever cried before. They just flowed continuously. The nurses then took Ollie from me to clean her up and suction out some of the fluid she had ingested during the delivery. C.J. floated back and forth from my bed to her warmer. Once I was fixed up and Ollie had been taken care of, she was given back to me for an hour of skin-to-skin. C.J. and I were overwhelmingly consumed with love for her. The whole thing really could be described as beautiful.
We had about two hours of family bonding time before we started allowing visitors in, and the night went on from there with visitors and the two of us loving on our baby. That first night in the hospital was bliss-she slept quite a bit, so much that I woke up every hour to check on her.
The second day at the hospital was pretty calm, steady with doctor checkups and visitors wanting to celebrate Ollie’s arrival. The second night was a bit rough with a lot of cluster feeding and not a lot of sleep, but even in those moments we still just gushed when looking at our baby girl. It is impossible to be upset with her.
On the third day we had a few appointments in order to get discharged to go home. Ollie’s jaundice levels were fairly high, so we were prescribed an at home light box bed which we were on for two days while continuing to go to the hospital each day for level testing. The light box bed was awful for C.J. and I…all we wanted to do was hold our baby, but wanting her to improve meant leaving her in the light bed.
My parents met us at our house that afternoon and helped us get settled in. I will admit that ever since I left my parents’ home to go to college, I have have been very independent…but in this life changing moment of bringing a baby home and breastfeeding and just hormones….I needed my own mom. I am eternally grateful that she was here to help me. Yes, my husband is fantastic at taking care of me and there is no one I would rather have as a partner for raising our amazing little girl, but in that moment, I needed my mom for her wisdom, reassurance, and love.
Ollie is such a wonderful little girl. Right now, she only cries when she is hungry, sleeps well, and, of course, has stolen many hearts. We have had a steady stream of visitors since we returned home, but nothing is better than when all three of us are home by ourselves.
Surprisingly, I have felt a warm calmness since her birth. I definitely have had moments of high stress (light box bed), but overall I have found myself being more patient and calm with everyone and everything. Maybe it is exhaustion…maybe it is hormones.
One of my favorite things to do is see how C.J. interacts with Ollie. Ollie recognized his voice right away in the hospital and it is clear that she loves her daddy. I am a little jealous of him sometimes-all the love, none of the physical symptoms of childbirth. Because of his support throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery…I would do it all again without hesitation. C.J. has been a phenomenal husband and dad from the very start. From making sure I am doing well physically to putting up with my jumbled mess of emotions (full time annoying job), from being patient when I need help to making sure that Ollie is getting more than enough love, he has been available and dependable without any hesitation. He went back to work on Tuesday, and regardless of how needy/mushy this sounds, I actually felt like a piece of me was missing. It had nothing to do with taking care of Ollie, and everything to do with me missing my best friend and true partner in life. I am absolutely dreading next week when he starts his next semester of law school. In true new me fashion (read: “full of emotional hormones”), there will probably be a lot of tears. Ollie and I are blessed that he makes up 1/3 of our unit.
Tomorrow marks the start of week #2 and I am excited, tired, and a only a little overwhelmed. I know that things will continue to get better as we build a routine, get to know each other, and figure out the ropes as we go. Really the biggest obstacle for me is figuring out who I am now. I expected to miss my baby bump, but I did not expect to be thrown into such an identity confusion. I suppose it makes sense though-for nine months I was “pregnant me”…everything revolved around the life growing inside me, I was a special vessel for creating this wonderful little human, and now, I am just “me”. I suppose this is a good time to recreate myself in a positive way, and to strive to be the best mom to Ollie and the best wife to my always amazing husband.
I am not going to commit to weekly updates, but know that there will probably be more Ollie/figuring-out-mom-life posts in the future.
Until then, enjoy the day and delight in your blessings…I know I am.