On the 5th morning past my baby’s due date, I partially woke up in the middle of the night from the sensation that I was…leaking. As many of you mothers or pregnant ladies know, that feeling is the norm during pregnancy. I gave props to myself for remembering to put a pad on before going to bed that night and then went back to sleep.
I woke up again around 6am for a potty break that just couldn’t wait until sunlight and that’s when I discovered that my “leaking” was actually blood. I had spotted a few times before but this was enough for me to be concerned about and so I called the doctor. My doctor wasn’t on call on this particular morning, so I spoke with another one. Since I was scheduled to be induced 3 days from then if nothing had happened in the labor department, he advised me to head on over to the hospital to get checked out. My response was, “Please tell me I have time to shower first.” Yes.
Since I’m now retelling my birth story, 7 months later (well, 7 months in 3 more days!)…some details have been blurred or forgotten, unfortunately. Other than being anxious, nervous and excited, I don’t really remember how the next hour or so went. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention stressed because we had to figure out how we were going to get our dog, Roxi, to her emergency room that day for a scheduled (major) surgery. Thanks to my parents and to Carol for working with us on making that happen. Check out Roxi’s story here if you’re at all interested in the kind of madness we had already been dealing with. Anyways, I know that I showered and I grabbed my “birth bag” and the next thing I knew, I was in my hospital bed wearing their very flattering gown waiting for the next word on what was going on. Turns out that what I discovered in my panties at 6am was the “bloody show.” My husband and I had attended a birthing course and I totally forgot about that stage. It was nothing to be concerned about. Also, I was in a very early stage of labor, only about 2cm dilated I think. We were actually given the option to stay and receive a boost (aka Pitocin which is a drug given to increase uterine contractions) to speed up labor OR we could have gone home and waited for labor to progress further on its own…at least for the next 3 days until I would be back there again anyway to be induced. We chose to stay. I mean, we were already there. Might as well make ourselves at home for a bit. And for the record, by staying we weren’t technically induced. My labor was augmented or sped up, since I already was in early labor when I arrived at the hospital.
Quite some time before Mia’s due date, Dominic and I had invited his cousin, Michael, into our delivery room as our official photographer on the day of our baby’s birth. We’re so grateful that he accepted. He showed up to the hospital around 10am and stuck around for the entire day until the events came to a close around 1am. I had wondered if having him around would be uncomfortable for me at all, but to tell you the truth, it wasn’t. By the day of Mia’s birth, I had been so exposed in front of so many people by now, what’s one more set of eyes going to hurt? He is family, after all. And, I don’t even remember much from the day. The images he saw are forever engraved into his brain. I’m sure the discomfort was all his. For that, I apologize. All pictures from here on are moments captured by him. They are beautiful. They are priceless. These pictures mean the world to Dominic and I and we’re forever thankful. Man, the pressure is on this year for a great Christmas gift for him!
The story that my pictures tell me is that around 11am I began to feel really uncomfortable. Dominic was there by my side whenever I needed him to be, and he stayed as far away from me as possible whenever I needed him to be. He rubbed my feet and fed me ice chips and sips of water to help keep me as comfortable as possible. I remember wanting the room to be really quiet. I had made a playlist on my iPod with soothing music, but I didn’t even want that. I never turned it on. The pain gradually strengthened and I was clenching the side rails of the bed by 1pm.
My doctor made her first appearance around 1:15pm to check on me. I was a little more dilated but not by much. After her visit, Dominic’s dad stopped by for a bit. I was in pain, but still managed to keep the mood rather light. By 2pm, I was hurting. Between 2pm-3pm, my contractions were hitting hard every 2 minutes, leaving me in the fetal position and squeezing anything I could grab with all my might. Dominic was good about trying to keep my breathing pretty rhythmic and deep. The contractions were so intense that with each wave, every inch of my body tightened until the pain passed. I was told, later on, that the Pitocin I was given intensifies the contractions more than they would be naturally. At this point, I was also told that my contractions were only going to get worse.
I had gone into the day with the hope that I would not opt for an epidural and that I could bear all the pain until the end. I lasted until around 3pm when I decided that I wanted it. Part of my decision in not wanting it was out of fear of it. Have you seen an epidural needle? Yikes! It’s not even a needle, it’s more like a sharp tube that they stick in your spine and then tape it on so that a drip can be administered throughout the process whenever it wears off. Another reason for not wanting it was because I was hoping that the contractions wouldn’t be much worse than what I experienced on Christmas day of 2011 when I went into the hospital with pre-term labor. I had felt contractions all day then and although they were painful, I got through it. Well, I was wrong. After experiencing these contractions, I knew I was in for a whole other level of pain and that no needle could feel worse than this. Bring on the epi! Thank God I was finally right about something. The anesthesiologist was by my side within minutes (did I mention that I was the only woman in labor at the hospital that day? All eyes on me!). I was first given a shot that numbs the area of insertion for the epidural. It felt like a pinch or a weak bee sting. Next, I had to remain on my side in bed and then curl my body so that my nose was as close to my knees as possible while the woman slowly inserted the needle and navigated it through my spine until it reached it’s appropriate location. I could feel the sensation of the needle in my back, but it didn’t hurt. I also felt tingling in my leg, which is what the doctor told me I’d feel. It was bizarre. I was having contractions during this process, but I was in the zone and didn’t move a muscle while the epidural was given…like a champ. I made sure not to do anything to screw up my opportunity to be pain free…which I was, about 15 minutes later. I was on cloud 9, people. The monitor to my side kept telling me that I was having contractions but I didn’t feel them. The mood in the room had lifted and we all could continue labor with a smile on our faces. Dominic could use the next few hours to regain feeling in his hand that I had been squeezing. The epidural was my first blessing of the day.
My parents stopped by for a visit around 3:30pm and my friend, Kasia, made it over around 4:30pm. Having company was nice and it helped to pass the time and take my mind off of the clock and it’s slow moving hands. At this point, I had an oxygen mask on because my epidural caused my and the baby’s heart rate to drop, almost to dangerous levels. The nurses stopped my Pitocin for a while until our heart rates reached a safer level. I wasn’t sure what was going on at the time, but Dominic’s worried look on his face said it all. The room was tense until things were back to normal.
Around 6pm or so, I relieved Dominic and his cousin of their duties to take a dinner break. I was still slowly dilating and nothing big was happening then. Of all places, they went to Fat Dog. A bar. It’s a nice bar that serves really great food, but nonetheless, it’s a bar. I wish I could have gone to the bar! I was hungry. I could have used a drink..a strong one at that. But no, I hadn’t eaten since 7am (a small bowl of cereal). They don’t let you eat until the baby’s out. Nothing but small sips of water and ice chips for me. I was so jealous when they came back. At least they didn’t take anything to-go and eat it there in front of me. I would have shot fire out of my eyes.
Around 9pm, Dominic and his cousin left to our house for a little break and Dominic wanted to shower before the baby came. While they were gone, the nurse checked on my progress and I had reached 9cm dilated. She said in about a half an hour or so, it will be baby time. Of course it will, right when my husband leaves! I called Dominic, but Michael answered the phone. Dom was in the shower but he’d relay the message and they’d be back, STAT! Dominic told me that when he entered the shower, he had a feeling he’d be getting the call. Can you imagine how frantic things were on their end? In a way, Dominic did end up getting to experience that hurry-up-my-wife’s-having-my-baby rush out the door and fast drive over. They returned around 10pm. Mia was on her way, too :)
At 10:20pm, I gave my first push with Dominic holding one leg, the nurse holding the other and my mom standing over my left shoulder for support. Originally, she chose not to be in the room. At the last minute, she went back and forth with “should I stay? Should I go?” Well, that one push was all it took for her to call it quits. She later said that she wanted to be in there, but couldn’t stand the feeling of helplessness while she watched me push in pain. She was out the door. Thanks for trying, Mom.
I had no idea what I was doing. I grabbed a hold of the back of my thighs and just pushed. I was instructed to do so, using my rear-end muscles. That’s a good tip, but my epidural didn’t allow me to really feel anything down there so I couldn’t tell if I was doing it right. I couldn’t even tell if I was pushing hard enough, I couldn’t feel it. The continuous words of affirmations and encouragement were my only signs that I was actually doing great. Now, instead of pain in my lady parts, I instead had some sharp cramping in my stomach above my baby bump. Each push intensified it and each push sent a wave a nausea down my throat. I felt so close to hurling and the little pink barf tray that the nurse rested on top of my baby bump was less than reassuring. Was she kidding? I could have filled up 3 of those. Luckily, I held it all down along with any screaming that I thought I’d be doing. I was fairly quiet. I was so focused on trying to keep my face from tensing up too much and on giving each push every ounce of energy I had.
Dominic stood by my side and eagerly watched the entire birth of our daughter. Not only was he by my side, but he was an active participant. I think he would have pulled Mia out of me himself if they let him. He was so curious, so fascinated and so excited to see her enter the world. I admit, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of him being scarred for life with bloody images of me, but there was no keeping him away. He was so thankful and proud to be witnessing this little, everyday miracle. For him, it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made and an experience that he’ll carry with him for life.
Some of you moms are about to hate me, but 30 minutes and about 8 or 9 pushes later, Mia was here. We took a few breaks, of course. I cold, wet towel was applied to my neck at one point to help cool me down and ease my nausea. You see, earlier in the day I had been told that the pushing part of labor could take anywhere from 30 minutes to over 6 hours. I decided early on that I’d much rather push for 30 minutes. The final stage of labor really couldn’t have gone any smoother.
Without any pain, I felt the pressure of her body leave mine in a quick and smooth exit. I heard my baby screaming. The nausea and the extreme stomach cramps had disappeared and I was left with this surreal moment where I felt and heard the busyness in the room around me from the nurses and doctor but at the same time, all my eyes focused on was the slow-motion appearance of my screaming, gooey baby girl being handed to me from in between my legs, into my arms on my chest. What an overwhelming moment. There were so many thoughts and emotions speeding through my head, they blurred into each other and I didn’t know which one to feel.
I think I held my screaming Mia for about 3 minutes. I remember trying to soothe her because she was screaming so much. The nurse nearby was assuring me that she’s okay and that we want to hear her scream. I also remember wondering what in the world this baby was going to initially look like. Was she going to be pale or white like one I saw in a birthing video? Was she going to be slimy and have a giant cone head? You guys, she was perfect. Slimy, yes. But she was so beautiful and not at all yucky as I had expected. I was relieved over a smooth and fast delivery but I was also still in shock and in awe that this actually just happened. At this point, I still didn’t have time to really feel anything. I was just glad the birth was over. It all happened so quick because in what seemed like a blink of an eye, they were already taking her to the prep table in the back of my room to clean her off, weigh her, measure her, and suck all the gunk out of her nose and mouth. There was some merconium found, which means she pooped inside me. That’s not a good thing. Luckily, nothing bad came of it.
While I was still on the delivery bed having my placenta removed and my snipped hoo-ha sewed back up (yup, doc cut me), Daddy Dom got to have some really precious first moments with his baby girl. My heart melts over them.
I noticed Mia’s rather large “big” toes right away. The other little toes have some catching up to do.
Here are a few of Dominic’s and my first moments with Mia Rose. Her beauty, her presence, her pure little being was so captivating I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. We created her. I carried this little bundle inside my belly and close to my heart for the last 9 months and now she’s here in our arms. Thank God for paternal instincts because we have no clue what we’re doing.
We are forever changed.
My mom was the first of our family to hold Mia at 11:45pm. She’s a Grandma!
That’s my family, getting their first glimpse of our newest member.
Grandpa had his turn with his first granddaughter. Later, he confessed how much he was moved by holding this little baby. She took him by surprise. That’s one more person she has wrapped around her little fingers.
Uncle Chris held his niece for the first time.
Uncle Chris and his girlfriend, Kristen.
And now for the group shots at midnight.
Another Grandpa, Dominic’s dad, made it at the very end. This is his first granddaughter, too.
By 12:30am, the show was over and most everyone went home. For Dominic and I, it was the beginning of the rest of our lives as parents.
Every day of pregnancy, every hour of labor and each hour of sleep lost so far…has been more than worth it.
We love you, Mia Rose.
The Rest of Our Hospital Stay…
P.s. please vote for us (once, daily). We appreciate every single vote.