Life as a family of five is so wonderful. But let me back up and share the first couple of days of Norah's life in our world.
I expected her to arrive before her due date. So by the time her due date came, I had already spent two weeks thinking "maybe today is the day!" The mental and emotional game is tiring. I'd been having prodromal labor (or "false" labor, as some people call it), and of course every time the contractions would get regular, I would hope that they would kick into active labor. This happened off and on for over a week. So on Thursday, July 3, after a night of waking up many times due to somewhat painful contractions, I was frustrated that they had petered off. Again. I went to lunch in the park with a group of friends, and tried to be cheerful. I just. wanted. to hold. my baby.
I started having some "cramping" at around 4pm. I'd just gotten back from the doctor's office, where the on-call doctor had performed a simple procedure that sometimes nudges women into labor. "I don't know why you're not in labor," he said. "I bet you'll have this baby before the weekend." Of course being an entire two days past my due date, I was sure that the baby was just going to wait two more weeks to give me a lesson in patience. So when the "cramps" started coming in "waves," I couldn't shake the mindset that they were just going to taper off. Again. I'm glad math is straightforward, because when I timed my cramps, it finally occurred to me that they looked an awful lot like contractions. Then I realized I was breathing funny and couldn't talk. It finally sunk in that I might actually be in labor. My biggest decision was whether or not to summon my sister. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive, and I didn't want her to make the drive just to have my contractions disappear. But I texted her. "I'm going to feel horrible if nothing happens." I was still in denial. But somehow I had the sense to call my mom, who was in town. And I texted Bryan. "I think I might be in labor. But I don't know." He was home within 10 minutes, and rushed around checking things off my list of things I wanted to bring to the hospital. My camera. The gift basket for the nurses. My phone charger cord. He called the Family Birth Center to let them know we were on our way. "She's going to want an epidural," he said.
We pulled up to the hospital at about 5:30 pm, and everything was so surreal. I'd been imaging this moment for so long. We walked in, and I smiled and gave hugs to the nurses I'd gone to school with. They got me to my room, and were surprised how much labor had progressed. "Wow, you don't look like you should be this close to delivery," Jen said. They started scrambling to get everything in order. The baby could come pretty fast, and if I wanted an epidural, they had to hurry. Yes yes, I did want the epidural. While the IV fluids poured into my circulatory system, Betsy showed up with her camera and one-week-old baby Daniel in tow.
The IV fluids did their thing, and Deb, the anesthetist, did her thing. I was surprised how little the epidural hurt. I think the other pain surging through my body might have had something to do with that. The nurses were changing shift, and Marilyn asked, "did you feel that contraction?" I had done my Labor and Delivery preceptorship with her eight years ago. She was just as wonderful now as she was then. "What contraction?" I asked, as a smile spread across my face.
I laid back in bed and relaxed. I had no pain. None. Zero. They say an epidural usually provides about 70% pain coverage, but I got all 100%. It was wonderful. It was amazing. I couldn't quite believe that I was still in labor, but the monitor showed nice, regular contractions.
My body slowed things down a little, which was great, because my sister got stopped at a crash for a while. When she finally showed up, it felt like a party or something. My friend from church, Melissa, stayed long after her shift was over to be there with me. ("I told you you you were going to have this baby on Thursday!" she insisted.) I was laughing and joking with everyone. Dr. Minudri, true to his word, had come to check on me. I was so excited that he was there, that I knew and loved the nurses and CNA taking care of me, that Betsy and Katie had made it, that I wasn't in horrible pain, that my mom was home with my other girls, that Bryan was there to hold my hand, and most of all, that I was going to get to meet my baby soon!
It was a completely different experience than the wonderful births I'd had at home. I loved my home births, but in these moments, I felt like a million bucks. "So, uh, if we have more kids, we're doing an epidural again, right?" Bryan asked. It was a completely new experience for him as well. With my first labor, he spent the final eight hours pushing on my back with all his might. His arms didn't really work the next day. "I think probably so," I said, laughing. Laughing! When labor was nearing the end! It was pretty great.
And then it was time to push. She had been in optimal anterior position for the prior eight weeks, but Baby decided to flip posterior sometime while I was in labor. Despite that, I only had to push for a half hour. But her forehead and face were a little smushed when she came out sunny-side up, at 10:38 pm.
But she was here. She came. Norah. She was perfect.
I started crying. Flooded with so many emotions, the tears just rolled down my cheeks.
She looked like a beautiful little gnome-frog-lion cub baby. Her forehead and face were pretty squished, but she was our perfect baby girl.
Bryan couldn't stop smiling, either.
After a good long while of snuggling my baby, they measured and weighed her. 7 pounds, 12.7 ounces. We rounded up to 13. And 21 1/8 inches long. We rounded down to 21.
We eventually made our way into our post-partum room. Bryan settled down in the fold out loveseat-to-bed. It was actually my first experience being the patient. I had a wrist band on, and I was the one in the hospital bed. But it wasn't the mediocre mattress that kept me awake all night. It was the joy. I was just too excited to sleep. I held my baby close to my heart, and stroked her soft skin and smelled her sweet smell. I dozed off from about 3:30 to 4:30, but then the sun started rising.
I had my iPhone close, and I needed to tell the world that she was here. So I took a few pictures of her first glimpses of daylight, and let the world know that she had arrived.
Holding her, waiting for family to arrive to meet her. I was so excited to introduce her to her sisters.
About 12 hours old, Norah meets Chloë and Elaina for the first time.
Thanks Jessie, for getting a little footage of this special introduction.
Bryan's parents holding their fourth grandbaby. I'm just sorry we didn't get pictures of everyone holding her.
After everyone went home, we rested some more. I even took a little nap while Bryan snuggled Norah.
The nurses and staff were wonderful. I was afraid that I might find a hospital setting annoying after the comfort of my own home, but I didn't. We had room service and ordered whatever we wanted off the menu, the nurses only came in to to check on us a couple of times, and we had a nice little "candlelight" dinner before we went home.
As wonderful as the hospital was, I was glad to be home. Home... with all three of my girls and my wonderful husband. God is good.
Photos compliments of Betsy Becker, Katie Botkin, and my and Bryan's iPhones.
Norah Katherine Blakey was born on Thursday, July 3, at 10:38 pm. She weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces, and was 21 inches long.
10 hours old.
Crinkly skin still adjusting to our world.
We were surprised by how blond she is. Her eyelashes are platinum, along with the downy lanugo that covers her ears, back, and chubby shoulders. Her hair is sandy blond, and I'm curious to see how much it will change.
She was born two days after her due date, and I was having a difficult time remaining patient. My body launched into labor on Thursday afternoon, we hurried to the hospital, and after seven hours (and a glorious planned epidural), she was in our arms. Everything went wonderfully, and of course we absolutely love her. More details and pictures coming soon!