At 1:30am on May 25th (Brian’s birthday!) my water broke. I had gone to the bathroom but when I thought I was done I had liquid coming down both of my legs. At first I thought I must have peed myself but after I cleaned myself up it happened again. I was 39 weeks pregnant and ready to meet our girl but also terrified of what this new life would be like and if I would be good at it. I woke Brian up and told him my water broke and pulled up the app on my phone to start tracking contractions. They started and were intense! It felt like the worst period cramps imaginable times 10. We laid in bed and as a contraction would start Brian would hit the timer on the app and I would squeeze his arm for the 40-60 seconds that it lasted. We’d fall asleep in between contractions because they never got closer than 30 minutes apart. I called my mom and left her a voicemail and called Maggie (our doula) to keep her in the loop. We decided to wait it out since the contractions were irregular. It was a very new emotion to lay in bed terrified but calm.
By 8:30 I was tired. I had been up most of the night in pain and in sheer terror of what was happening and what was going to happen. The adrenaline started to wear off and the contractions almost stopped. They fell to 2 hours between. I called Maggie who told me it sounded like Blaire was trying to work her way down but that she may be crooked. So, she recommended that I go to the chiropractor for a quick adjustment to see if that helped move things along. I called the chiropractor the minute they opened and got a last minute appointment (it seems like people will do anything you ask when you tell them you’re going into labor!). I also called Abbi at Sparkle by Abbi and booked a last minute blowout after my adjustment (because if baby girl was coming today I wanted to make a good first impression!).
I emailed my boss and coworkers that I may be going into labor and put up an out of office notification just in case. It was a Friday so I was sure it was going to be a slow day anyway. Mom came to pick me up and drove me to Culpeper because I was scared of contractions and didn’t want to be alone. They took me right in, gave my back and neck a good crack and sent me on my way. Mom dropped me off at the hair salon and Brian was going to pick me up. No contractions. I was getting frustrated but figured it must have been Braxton Hicks contractions and that maybe I just peed myself multiple times and that my water didn’t actually break. So, Brian picked me up with my hair all done up and we went home. He took the rest of the day off just in case we were going to leave for the hospital.
I laid around on the couch all day and had a couple of contractions 2-4 hours apart. I felt terrible because it was Brian’s birthday and I had planned an elaborate seafood dinner for him and my family. I had made his favorite cake from scratch the night before and I didn’t want to do anything but lay around. I didn’t feel right but I didn’t think it was time to go to the hospital. I knew if we went when the contractions weren’t close enough together that they’d send us home anyway and who wants to be in a car 45 minutes one way in labor? So, we waited. The window AC units downstairs were having issues so Dad, Trent and Brian worked on those for hours and installed new ones while I laid on the couch. I think Dad was getting nervous seeing me not feeling well but not going to the hospital. I just knew it wasn’t time.
We canceled the birthday dinner and just sat around waiting, anxious and tired. Maggie sent me stretches to do to try to get Blaire into position. Basically, sitting on the couch with my head on the floor and feet on the couch to get as upside-down as possible. We called my OBGYN to let them know what was going on and they told me to come in. We still decided to wait. We were always told to labor at home as long as possible. My fear was, we would either be turned away for coming to the hospital too soon or I’d be in the hospital waiting for so long that they’d decide on a C-section. So, I waited as long as I could at home. I walked around looking at Blaire’s things, checking out hospital bags (we way over-packed), making sure our to-do list of baby-related things was done. It was! We called the OBGYN back to say we were going to keep waiting at home and they said we needed to come to the hospital no later than 1am because that’s the 24-hour point from when we thought my water broke. Maggie agreed that we should just go to sleep and see how I felt in the morning. So, at around 7pm we went to bed. I’m not sure if we slept much in the next couple hours but my contractions started again, just as intense as before and started right at 15 minutes apart. It was around 10pm and it was happening!
We called my parents to let them know we were going to the hospital and asked if they could check on our fur fam in case we didn’t come home. I wore leggings, sneakers, my Blanqi tank (which are amazing and so comfy) and my new fave shirt – “It’s all fun and games until I got pregnant.” We took the main roads to the hospital since it was so late in the evening and arrived right around 11. We parked in the garage (valet was over for the day, bummer) and grabbed all our bags (one for each of us and one for Blaire). I was power walking through the hospital until we got to the birth center. They said there were eight other women in the birthing suite that night. I thought that was a small amount but one of the nurses said if I had given birth a couple hours earlier she would have broken her personal record!
It didn’t take long before they moved us into the room and my first thought was, “Is this the room I’m going to give birth in?” It’s just a weird time because this was our baby so everything was so new. The room was really nice and big so I didn’t know if we were just hanging out in there until they were sure I was in labor or if this was where we’d bring our little babe into the world. I think I was just used to the movies where it looks like a very sterile operating room but it was pretty cozy!
I was three centimeters dilated and everything looked good. No amniotic fluid on the test so we couldn’t 100% confirm that my water had broken. It looked like things were progressing but we had awhile to go. The nurse put in a port (and must have struggled a bit because when I looked over there was a lot of blood on the bed by my hand!). Maggie immediately got me out of the bed and into stretches and positions to try to manage the contractions and guided Brian in how to help me. I can’t tell you how amazing and helpful it was to have someone so knowledgeable, helpful, calming, and overall peaceful in the delivery room! She put up beautiful little twinkle lights around the room and brought my favorite scent (lavender) to keep me calm. The photo above the hospital bed was also of lavender!
Within an hour
of getting into our room I felt nauseous. Now, I was blessed with an
uncomplicated pregnancy. My morning sickness was mild and I never physically
got sick. I think I made up for it in those first couple of hours. All the
nurses kept saying that was good because that meant I was getting close. My
only thought was, "uh, well isn’t that wonderful."
Brian held cold compresses on my neck and lower back to help with the pain. It’s funny, at the time it was the worst feeling ever but I can’t really remember what it felt like now. I do know that it felt like a very weird and intense period cramp that kept returning.
Around 1am I was
so exhausted. I just wanted to sleep. I’d do anything for sleep. Maggie and I
had our plan for whether I would ask for an epidural and how I’d take my time
to really decide if that’s what I wanted to do. I felt disappointed in myself
that I wasn’t managing the pain as well as I thought I would. I was almost
ashamed to have to look her in the face and tell her I was done. I caved pretty
early. After almost 24 hours of these off-and-on contractions I yelled my safe-word
at the next person that walked in the door, “pineapple!” I’m sure she thought I
was crazy but they got the point and put me next on the list for an epidural.
twenties minutes the anesthesiologist came in with her “miracle cart” as I call
it and started setting up. I tried really hard not to look at anything she was
prepping because I had watched enough epidural videos to know it was going to
be amazing but was also really scary. It was time to put on the gorgeous
hospital gown and get into bed because I wasn’t going to be moving again for a
while. Brian was calm the whole time. But it was a panicked calm. I could tell
he wasn’t calm but stifled it because he knows I need someone else to be calm
or I’m going to freak out.
So, I sat on the edge of the bed while he sat in front of me holding my hands while they smeared cooling things on my back. It hurt. I don’t know how I sat still but I did. I immediately felt something cold move through my spine, down my back and almost all over. They taped me up, tapped into the drugs and told me to lay back and relax. It didn’t take long for one leg to go numb but I was concerned because the other wasn’t really going numb. So, we waited and they kept doing tests to make sure everything was ok. It was a sweeping relief that I will never regret! I was worried that it would cause a chain reaction – slow down labor, require Pitocin to speed it back up, and eventually lead to a C-section. So, that’s why I was holding out as long as I could.
Eventually both legs were numb and it was time for me to get a nap. Right then, my blood pressure dropped and I almost lost consciousness. When I mentioned terror before, now that felt like nothing. I was in full panic mode but trying to stay calm. It’s like I was falling down a black hole and couldn’t move any of my limbs. My sight dimmed, I felt heavy, and hearing got foggy. All I could say was, “I don’t feel right. Tell someone I don’t feel right.”
The machines did it
for me. I heard a couple people rush in the room and someone say, “stay with
us. Keep listening to me, stay with us” and that was probably not the right
thing to say because I immediately thought I was dying. They gave me some meds,
and then some more meds because it took a lot to get me to feeling right again.
It was awful. But, I finally felt good and was able to sleep for the next five
hours. They turned off the lights and left Brian and I alone and it was about 2am.
Nurses came in every hour or so to check how far I had dilated – modesty is long gone at this point. I ate a granola bar, a little apple sauce, and tons of water because I was so thirsty. I was also freezing. Not a little chilly, but teeth chattering physically shaking freezing. They said it was because of the meds so there really wasn’t anything that could be done about it. I didn’t even realize they had also put a catheter in when I got the epidural and was pretty embarrassed when I saw the bag almost full! Like, oh I really can’t take care of myself at this point. Brian slept on the couch next to me and was always there. Poor Maggie knew there was going to be a lot of downtime but couldn’t go home. So she got a nap in the lobby.
there was a shift change and I met all the new ladies who would be helping me.
The process was so efficient and professional and something I really
appreciated but didn’t expect. It almost made me feel bad like, why are they
doting on me so much? That’s just my personality, I hate to feel like a burden. Brian kept himself busy with getting Blaire's birth announcement board updated with the date. I think he was a little disappointed she didn't come on his actual birthday.
Laura was my second nurse. I’ll never forget her face or her name. She was so happy, helpful, calming, informative, and all around the most amazing stranger I’ve ever met. I had a lot of wonderful nurses through the three days we were there, but Laura was by far and away the best and I’m blessed to have had her that morning. After Laura and Dr. Rachelle introduced themselves I got freshly checked. “Oh wow, you’re 9 centimeters! It’s almost time!”
My next thought
was, I guess I can’t sleep anymore! But it was ok, things were happening and I
felt so much better after getting some sleep. Brian got up, changed clothes,
and went to grab a coffee from the café down the hall. I knew the average first
time mom pushes for around two hours so I just kept wondering when it was going
to start and when it would be over. There was really no way to know. The
doctors told me to ease up on the pain meds so I could feel the contractions a
little better to more efficiently push. What!? Less drugs!? I got scared all
I stopped hitting the little drug button every 20 minutes and did start to feel the pressure of contractions again. They dropped the end of the bed down, took out the catheter, pulled up some stirrups and lifted my “dead legs” onto them. The nurses brought in a cart with a small weight scale, the ID badges, a little yellow hat and other items to clean up the baby. It was at this point that I think my brain kind of left my body. It felt like everything happening around me was happening to someone else. It felt like when I went skydiving and right before it was time to jump out of the plane I just lost all control of my limbs and fell out. I started to sweat. Full body drenched in sweat. Brian was putting the cold compresses on my face and neck. It felt amazing but I was also pissed about my blowout getting ruined.
Laura had me do
some practice pushing to get a sense of what I needed to do. I couldn’t feel
much but I did feel the pressure of contractions. She told me to push when I
felt one coming and then relax in between. She’d watch the monitor and I’d tell
her when I thought one was coming. She would confirm and hold my leg and foot
and was always smiling. She had such a positive and calming demeanor that I
really needed! She would touch me in my nether regions and say “try to push
where you feel my pressure.” It was so strange but it helped me focus my
energy. After about 15 minutes or so of this Dr. Keng came in and I knew things
were getting real.
I’m not sure how many pushes later but they said it was 49 minutes before Blaire made her debut. Her head was showing and they asked if I wanted to see it with a mirror or touch her head but I couldn’t. The idea scared me so much! I just wanted to get moving and get her out. Once her head was coming through it was almost like the rest of her just slipped right out. It was overall a very pleasant birth experience! She came out fast and was wiped off a little before being placed on my chest. Brian was too scared to cut the cord so they left it on for a bit before cutting.
I just saw this purplish baby all squished up and covered in white film and blood and thought, oh my god what is this!? She had just been pushed through my pelvis so I’m not sure what I thought she’d look like. Her head did the most work and got very elongated to pass through. It was kind of scary to see but thankfully, totally normal! It started going back to round almost immediately. We did our skin-to-skin time and the doctors asked me what I thought and how I felt and I honestly didn’t know. I was happy it was over but so overwhelmed that now it was real!
Dr. Keng had to give me a lot of stitches because I had a second degree tear. Thankfully, I barely noticed because I was still numb but it was weird to feel the pressure of a clamp hanging from myself while she did it. There were so many things going on around us (nurses cleaning up, removing large bags of whatever came out of me, boxing up my placenta for encapsulation, Maggie taking photos, etc), but I just kept staring at Blaire the whole time.
Laura tried to get Blaire to breastfeed a little and this was a whole new level of fear! She didn’t really do the “breast crawl” so we positioned her to take a breast and oh my god the pain! I could not believe how badly it hurt! Laura gave us a lot of instruction and explained that we are learning how to do it but we also have to teach her how to suck because she’s never had to. So, it was a major learning experience for all of us. After our hour of skin to skin time they took her to clean off a bit more, get her height and weight, her footprints, and put her ID bracelets on. I just laid there feeling so in shock. I’m a Mom now. How do I do this!?
After she was cleaned and wrapped up she was given to Brian for his skin to skin time. It was so precious to see him with her and how she nuzzled right into him. I felt a love for both of them I had never known.
Maggie got some wonderful photos of this to finish up and then headed home. Was it really over!? We finally got around to texting our family that she was here and that’s when I found out my mom hadn’t been able to wait and called the hospital to check on us. Thankfully they gave her the update and knew that everything was perfect and we had just been basking in our new baby cuddling time. We told them we needed some down time to nap and figure out this new stage of life before we wanted visitors but that we’d be ready for a little visit at dinner time (and would they bring us steaks!?).
Once the anesthesia started to wear off Laura had me sit up a little and get my sea legs back. It was a weird thought that I got into the bed as a pregnant woman and I’m trying to stand up now as a Mom. My legs and whole body were pretty shaky. Laura gently guided me to the huge restroom in our room and had me sit on the toilet. She explained all the products she brought in in a large clear bag – hospital grade pads, Tucks medicated pads, Dermoplast spray, mesh panties and an empty squirt bottle. Laura walked me through it all and literally helped pull my panties up for me. It was so kind and gentle and honestly I wanted to cry every time she helped me because she was amazing. I’ll never forget her.
I was allowed
to get dressed and get back into bed to relax for a bit longer with our new
baby before we would move to the room we’d be staying in for the rest of the
weekend. That period is a bit of a blur. When it was time, they brought in a
wheelchair for me and had Brian pack up our bags. Thankfully, we just went down
the hall a bit to our new room. It was much smaller but we had beautiful
mountain views and it was still pretty nice.
We spent the
day napping, all three of us. Blaire was in a clear box on a rolling cart and
we kept her just out of arm’s reach so we’d have to get up to help her. We had
to feed her every two hours but she mostly just slept. The nurses showed us how
to hand-express the colostrum and use a syringe to feed her. Brian learned how
to use his finger to teach her to suck while using the syringe in the side of
her mouth to give her the milk. It was so precious! I'm sure it felt like a real chore for him but he honestly taught her how to eat!
CC, Pappy and Uncle Trent came by around dinner time to meet Blaire and bring us dinner from Texas Roadhouse. Trent wore a suit because he “wanted to make a good first impression.” I think Pappy was the first to hold her, then Trent, and then CC because she was so nervous! It was so wonderful to see her grandparents and godfather meet her. Once they left we finished eating dinner and settled in for our first night. I was so afraid and exhausted.
We let the nurses take her to
the nursery because they would bring her back every two hours to feed. I was so
worried about not being with her but I knew the nurses were way more prepared
to take care of an infant than we were! They always rolled her in and out in
her little cart and it made my heart hurt whenever she left. I tried to sleep
as much as possible but nurses were still coming in and out to give me medicine
and check me. They would massage my stomach every few hours to make sure my
uterus was contracting and going back down to its normal size. It was so
We spent the next two days in the same routine. Meeting new nurses and doctors, feeding and sleeping every two hours, trying to eat hospital food, writing thank you notes to everyone that helped us, trying to walk around the birthing ward to gain my strength, and learning how to be parents. It was an amazing and exhausting experience.
The morning we were due to check out was full of anxiety. How were we prepared for this!? We can’t possibly be ready! We have all the supplies we need but we don’t know what we’re doing and we’re not qualified! It didn’t matter, the time came where we filled out our paperwork, packed up our things, put Blaire in the car seat and had to walk out the door. I thought I would pass out from the anxiety because I was so worried about the car ride home, about her meeting the dogs and cats for the first time, and navigating this new life without nurses at our beck and call.
We barely broke the speed limit the whole way home. I was petrified every time we had to put on the brakes that it was hurting her little neck. She slept the whole way home, completely oblivious to the change that was happening in her world. We got home, pulled the car seat out and prepared to introduce her to the dogs who are always barking at the door when they hear us pull up. We kept her in the carseat and held each dog by their collar so they could look at her and sniff her. CC had dropped off the little hat the hospital had put on her the first day so the dogs could get used to her scent. They seemed overall disinterested!
We went inside and found so many wonderful surprises. CC and Pappy had cleaned our house from top to bottom, washed all our bedding, stocked our refrigerator, had a crockpot of tortilla soup waiting, fresh cookies on the stove, fresh flowers, and tons of snacks. It was AMAZING! I cried. There was no way I could repay them for their generosity and for taking care of what we didn’t even know we needed.
been a complete rollercoaster between the learning curve, the hormones, and
being a parent for the first time. It’s a beautifully exhausting experience and
we’re so happy to be navigating this season of life with a beautiful little