(some of this may be a little TMI...and it is long...and picture heavy...you've been warned)
Tuesday March 4th I woke up like any normal day, to the sounds of "MOMMY, MOMMY" coming from Miles' room. I got up, got him dressed, fed, and ready for school. It was Fat Tuesday and he was supposed to dress in costume for Carnevale and bring a snack to share. Nathan had helped and we'd cooked mini bagel pizzas the night before (they asked the AMERICAN to bring pizza to the party...funny huh?!) so I wouldn't have much prep that morning. I had a few contractions during the hour or so pre-school rush, but didn't think much of them. After I dropped him off I came home, had breakfast, showered and settled in for a bit of a rest. Afterall I was 40+ weeks pregnant and sleeping HORRIBLY and I took every advantage of a quiet house to sneak in a nap. While I was trying to wade off to sleep I noticed the contractions weren't stopping. They weren't regular or very intense, but they were enough of an annoyance for me to wonder if this could be it. After trying to sleep for an hour I decided I had better get up and get some things in order, just in case. I also had to pick Miles up at 12...it was a short day. Apparently teaching after three hours of partying and pumping kids full of treats is too much for his teachers, so they sent the kids home early...haha parents, enjoy! I picked up the house, did the dishes, all while the contractions began to be a bit more regular and slightly more intense. When Nathan checked on me later in the morning - which he had started doing the week previous - I told him about the contractions and that it *could* be the day, but not to get too excited. At noon I picked Miles up from school. The nuns and teachers asked how I was feeling and when I told them I was due the week before they were all surprised I was still up and about...and all commented on the size of my "giant belly" (their words). I wished them all good afternoon and see you tomorrows. I got Miles home and down for a nap, and I made a list of everything I wanted to do that afternoon. My brain was growing fuzzy from contractions and functioning on a lack of sleep. Nathan got home and saw me pausing to breathe through contractions while vacuuming and realized I was sort of in panic mode. He saw my list and without a word, jumped in to help. I had wanted our house to be clean when we went to have the baby...so we would come home to a clean house. But keeping a house clean with a toddler, a husband, and two cats is tricky! Litter box, water fountain, dishes, laundry, bathrooms, etc, etc, etc. I was worried the contractions would stall out or stop, so Nathan and I went about trying to seal the deal...if you know what I mean. Within about 20 minutes (6pm Tuesday) they picked up intensity and had regulated to about 3-4 minutes apart.
We had made plans to BBQ that night for dinner with our friend Greg, and I didn't want to cancel. Plus the hospital doesn't want to see you until you've been having contractions 4 minutes apart for 2 hours. Shortly after 6 Greg walks in and first thing he says is "you had that baby yet?"...and he is surprised when I tell him I've been having contractions all day. We BBQ our brats and hot dogs, and I eat in-between contractions, keeping them timed on my phone. By 8pm I realized they weren't going anywhere...we told Greg he had to go and we called Lina & Mimmo (our Italian "parents") and told them we were going to bring Miles over and head to the hospital. Nathan ran him over and I grabbed a few last minute things, and went around the house to turn off all our electronics, lock all our windows, and make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.
|Saying good-bye to Miles before daddy took him to Lina & Mimmo's. I wept, knowing our lives would never be the same and his little world was about to be rocked.|
|Getting monitored night #1|
We decided to leave Miles at Lina & Mimmo's for the night so I could try and rest, and in case we needed to leave again. We got home and I thought I'd try to sleep...that was impossible. The contractions were now 2 mins apart and tough enough that I couldn't talk through them. Slow, deep breathing....in, out, in, out...is all I could do to get relief. I took several searing hot showers, they seemed to help a little...or at least they distracted me enough to seem like they helped. As the night and morning wore on, the contractions slowly moved from 2-3 mins apart to 4-5 and then 6-8...still strong and rhythmic, just further apart. In all those hours I never slept longer than the minutes in-between contractions. I called the OB office at noon, and my doc called back at 4. I begged him in tears for a magic pill that would make things go. He told me I could come in and get checked, but if I wasn't 4cm they wouldn't admit me...as it would be best to stay and labor at home. He was very compassionate and told me he wished there was something he could do...and told me he was sure what I was going through would eventually lead to delivery, but could last for a couple days to a week. I hung up feeling totally defeated. I knew we could drive back up right then and be checked...but I also knew if we did and I was still 2cm, the drive home a second time would break me. I didn't want to go back until I was 100% sure they would let me stay. I sobbed in bed praying that something would happen to let me know when it was time to go. I decided a warm bath would help me calm down a bit. As I stepped into the tub I noticed a couple small drops trickle down my leg...they were yellowish brown and I thought "I need to drink more water, I must be really dehydrated".
|Mario checking on me during my bath|
We got in the car and made the 40 minute drive back to the base. That drive was rough...the contractions were now every 2-8 minutes and quite painful. And Italy doesn't pave roads very well...poor Nathan probably felt like he was navigating through roadside bombs. We got back to Labor & Delivery, got an exam and they ran an AmnioSure test (the same one I had back at 34 weeks) to see if my water had broken. The test came back negative - meaning my water hadn't broken - but the nurse was confused because she was seeing what was CLEARLY amniotic fluid with meconium constantly leaking. They called my doctor to have him come over and consult...it was now 1am. I joked with him when he walked in the room that he should have had me come in at 4 that afternoon. He did a cervical check and I was 4cm, 50% effaced and baby was at -2 station. That plus the fact that my water had broken was enough for them to admit me. He grabbed the ultrasound to check fluid levels and the baby's position. Fluids were fine, baby was sunny-side up. That would mean a tougher delivery...but there was still a chance the contractions could flip her. The meconium wasn't too much of a concern, but it definitely put an "expiration date" on how long I could labor before they worried about infection.
|Getting monitored night #2|
|2:15am - Admitted & IV'd.|
At 6am I was checked and had dilated to a 6, was now 80% effaced but baby was still at -2. We talked a little about epidurals but I wanted to keep going without one. I was handling the pain well enough with breathing and I didn't want to jump to the epidural too quickly. My doctor and the nurses all told me I was doing so great with the pain, they thought I could definitely go all the way without anything but morphine if I wanted.
|Awesome socks huh?|
|Jello for breakfast - yummy!!|
For the next three hours I rocked on that yoga ball or stood swaying through the contractions that were now 2-4 minutes apart and 90 seconds long. At 9am I talked to Nathan about maybe getting the epidural. I had hit a wall. I had been up for close to 50 hours and I knew once it came time to push it was going to be difficult to get her out because of her position and I would need my strength. With an epidural I could take a bit of a nap and rest up. I was hoping the past three hours of tough contractions had put me to a 7 or 8 and baby was a bit more engaged so I wouldn't have long until it would be time to push. We told the nurses I wanted the epidural and they had the doctor come in for an exam first...to see where we were. 6cm and 80% effaced, -2 station. Still. Three hours of hard labor hadn't changed a thing...in that moment I knew choosing to have an epidural was the right choice. The doctor suggested pitocin to help increase the intensity of the contractions and encourage baby to descend a bit more and move things along. So I got hooked up with both the epidural and pitocin at around 9:30am.
We had wanted to keep it quiet when we went to the hospital. We didn't want to be one of those people who posted cervical updates on Facebook...no offence if that's you, it's just not how we wanted to do it. We had told my mom, two of my closest friends, and Lina & Mimmo...and that was it. It worked splendidly at first. But now it was Thursday morning and Nathan was supposed to be taking his advancement exam and was missing a second day of work. And his work is a rumor mill...news travels fast. I worried that someone from Nathan's work would post something on Facebook and our family would see it and worry...so we headed it off and Nathan posted that we were 39 hours into labor and baby wasn't here yet. We also figured a few extra prayers and positive thoughts couldn't hurt.
Getting the epidural was not fun. The contractions were so painful by then that I was shaking...and the (super nice) anesthesiologist hit a nerve that sent lightning bolts of pain over the entire left side of my body. But once it was in and I laid down, it started kicking in and I felt amazing. I was able to nap for the next few hours. Nurses would come in and adjust the monitors, up the pitocin dosage, and ask how I was doing. About 2pm I couldn't sleep through the contractions anymore...even with the epidural. They hurt enough to wake me up. Then I started throwing up. The nurse offered to get me something for the nausea...but did tell me that the throwing up was contracting my stomach too and could be helpful to move baby lower. So I toughed it out and just kept throwing up. I cried to Nathan. I was miserable...and exhausted. I was wondering about a c-section but didn't know what to do. I said a silent prayer that after the doctor checked me the answer would be obvious. At 3pm my doctor came in to check on how things were going. He did a cervical check...still 6cm, 80% effaced and -2 station...and baby had bent my cervix. Six hours of pitocin had done nothing to move things along. I had my answer. He told me they could keep going, up the dose, or talk about other options. "Just take her out" I tearfully pleaded.
That started a whirlwind of activity. Forms to sign, new meds, moved to an operating room, a suit for Nathan. It happened so quickly. I was amazed at how smooth and coordinated the whole process was, it was like a ballet. Both of the OB docs were on hand for the c-section. They got me in and prepped, strapped down and the blue curtain up. The doc started cutting - I hate the smell of cauterizing flesh - and Nathan came in and sat at my head. At 3:52pm on Thursday March 6th, after 46 hours of labor sweet Amelia was born. She cried. They had warned me before that she might not cry, and they wouldn't encourage her to because of the meconium...so not to worry if she didn't. That cry was the sweetest sound and immediately brought me to tears.
|Hearing her cry.|
He came back to show me the pictures of our beautiful, chubby princess. I couldn't suppress the tears, I was so relieved for it to be over and for her to be here safe and sound. They cleaned her off and a nurse brought her over to me. I kissed that soft cheek as the tears fell.
|Meeting my little sweetheart|
I started getting very dizzy and I was having trouble speaking. It scared me and frightened Nathan. Adjustments were made to my meds and they had Nathan leave to accompany Amelia to the nursery. I must have drifted to sleep...or passed out because in what seemed like only a of couple minutes they were moving me to a bed and pushing me down the hall to recovery. Recovery was rough. I was so nauseous and I was shaking non-stop. They gave me something for the nausea and Demerol for the shaking. Nathan, in the meantime, was back in our room waiting for me. I was in recovery for two hours.
|While I was in recovery our doctor came to check on Amelia. We LOVE him - he is such a great doctor. He makes me want to try and get pregnant again right now...just to keep him as my doctor.|
|Holding Amelia for the first time.|
|Exhausted, but so happy|
Friday morning the nurses got me up, to the bathroom, and cleaned up. Brushing my teeth and hair and that baby wipe "shower" felt amazing.
Lina & Mimmo brought Miles up shortly after, and it was so good to see him. When he walked into the room it looked as if he'd grown a foot in the last three days. He was not interested in baby sister at all...but he was very concerned for mommy. Nathan had told him mommy had an owie and he had to be very gentle. It broke my heart not to be able to pick him up and snuggle him...he's my little momma's boy.
|Lina & Mimmo...our Italian family.|
|My big boy|
|Me with the kiddos...my poor swollen legs.|
|Drawing Miles did for Baby Sister|
He left and we napped a bit more. A couple friends came by that afternoon, but we were left alone for the most part...which was nice to have time to bond with her, and nap, and recover from the long few days we'd had.Saturday morning I got a real shower and it was the best shower of my life.
|Amelia and the other OB...he was on call over the weekend and was the one checking up on us.|
|Squishy cheeks! You can also see the little nick on her cheek - her battle would from the c-section. Doc feels HORRIBLE about it...especially since I'd given him a hard time the week before about not slicing into the baby if I needed a c-section.|
|Not the best picture but you can see how much hair she has...on the back and sides and crown. She's just got fuzz up on top...we joke and call it a Dr Phil haircut|
|Walking the loop around the maternity ward Saturday night.|
Sunday morning after breakfast we started the checkout process and we were home by about 3pm.
|Amelia with all the flowers people brought us in the hospital, the quilt mommy made her, and her bassinet name banner.|
|Our landlords had decorated the gate, our door, and the stairwell with pink balloons. They also had a pan of pasta warm from the oven and a tray of tirimisu for us to eat.|
Just for fun, here is a picture of Amelia (center) with Nathan (right) and I's (left) baby pictures...just for comparison.
|Holly - Amelia - Nathan|