My, my, my, how time flies.
Somehow, some way, I blinked, and my sweet baby girl is turning ONE. So, on the eve of her very first birthday, I’m going to share my (our?) birth story. So…if details aren’t your thing, you might want to bail out now.
Okay. Are we all good here? Cool.
One year ago today, I was 40 weeks pregnant and miserable. My hands were swollen, my feet were swollen, I couldn’t breathe because SOMEONE had her knees in my lungs, I was BURNING UP, I threw up every single morning for 40 weeks, and my heartburn was ridiculous (a banana and some water gave me heartburn).
The morning of June 12, 2016, I woke up early, sick to my stomach, and I instantly knew it wasn’t morning sickness. Typically, I would wake up, use the bathroom, drink some water, then puke, but that Sunday morning, I woke up to throw up. I went back to bed, and when I got up a few hours later, and went through my normal morning sickness routine. But when I threw up that time, I threw up blood. It wasn’t a lot, but it was just enough that it made me nervous, so I called Labor and Delivery (L&D) and asked for a recommendation. They told me it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and go in, but they didn’t seem too concerned.
Jeff and I took a little bit to get ready. I ate some oatmeal and drank some water while Jeff loaded the car with our hospital bags and camera, just in case. When we walked into L&D, it was quiet. We were the only ones there, so they took us into an examination room and hooked me up to those AWFUL monitors (if you’ve given birth, you know the ones. They get super itchy and ugh.) As soon as they caught Emmy’s heart rate, they were a bit concerned. Her heart rate sat between 180-200. I was asked what I had for breakfast, if I had any caffeine that morning, if I had been having high blood pressure, if I was pre-eclamptic, etc. And finally, the nurses let me know they were going to call my doctor in.
When my doctor got there, she monitored Emmy’s heart rate (which at this point had been between 180-200 for about an hour), and ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech found no problems (that she told me about anyway), and went back to talk to my doctor. Meanwhile, Jeff ran home to check on the dog and update our parents. While he was gone, our doctor came in and let me know that despite the fact that they had me lay on my left side, right side, and back, and had done an ultrasound, and monitored both our heart rates, that I was not leaving the hospital without a baby.
The plan was to give me Cytotec and Pitocin to start labor, but the start at the absolute lowest amount they could, so as to mimic natural labor. Jeff called to see if Dr. Jones had been in yet, and when I told him the plan, he got so excited he got on the turnpike and started heading north…although I was only about a mile to the west.
I got checked in early afternoon and started signing my MOUNTAIN of paperwork, including the approval for an epidural. I went into labor with a fairly open mind. I wanted to see how far into labor I could get without drugs or an epidural, but I wanted the opportunity to have the epidural as soon as I wanted it. So we got all settled in just in time to…wait.
Emmy’s heart rate came down and I hadn’t started any of my labor inducing meds yet, when L&D slowly started to fill up. Jeff and I got to enjoy the evening in a fairly comfortable room, watching the Tony Awards (where Hamilton won EVERYTHING, and I found a new musical to fall in love with). My pitocin was started at 10:00 pm, but then at midnight, a nurse came in and stopped my IV, because every. single. room. in L&D was full, and she and my doctor agreed to let me have one more night of sleep before breaking my water.
At 6:30 am on June 13th, my doctor came in and woke me up to let me know she was going to break my water, and wanted to know if Jeff would want to be awake for it. When I said yes, and she woke him up, he was a mess of sleepy and nervous, as was I.
As soon as my water broke, labor progressed fairly quickly. By the time I reached a 4, I asked for drugs. By the time I was a 6, I asked for an epidural.
I’ve had people, when hearing my story, ask why I didn’t just tough it out since I was almost done. First of all, how rude is that question? Second of all, I wanted to be able to experience labor with as much focus as possible. And unfortunately, my level of pain (back labor) was so bad that I couldn’t focus on bringing my daughter into the world, and I wanted to be able to really focus on her, not my pain.
I got my epidural around 12:30, and started pushing around 1:15. I had Ed Sheeran Pandora playing in the background, and my doctor, my labor nurse, and my husband/best friend in the room with me. It was such a happy, safe environment that I spent the majority of my time between pushes laughing hysterically.
Emmaline Harper entered the world at 1:37 pm. I did immediate skin-to-skin and delayed cord clamping, and my first words were “Hi Emmy!” As I held her and touched her beautiful face and stroked her thick, dark hair, I caught a glimpse of my doctor’s face and noted that she had gotten very, very quiet.
In all the flurry of getting Emmy and me taking care of, I was very aware of the fact that she wasn’t laughing and joking any more, and she had lines of stress across her forehead. And then I noticed the stress in the L&D nurse’s voices.
They pointed out that at the end of Emmy’s cry, when she sucked in a new breath, there was a rattle. They moved her to a warming table to better work on her, and my doctor let me know that the good news was I only needed two small stitches. Not bad at all. But she also let me know that due to the anemia I had during my early pregnancy, she had struggled to stop my bleeding.
Meanwhile, they let me know that Emmy had aspirated on fluid during delivery, and they were struggling to get the fluid out of her lungs. When nurses bent over her to work on her, she pulled their hair, spit in their faces, and threw a full blown, hissy fit.
I sat up so I could see what was going on, and counted the number of rags used to soak up my blood. 21. I will never, ever forget that.
The nurses let me know they had to take Emmy to the NICU to better help her, and Jeff needed to go with her. The hustle and bustle of the room slipped away and I suddenly noticed that I was shaking uncontrollably. No one told me that was a thing.
Also, no one told me that throwing up after labor was totally normal. Because that was terrifying.
As soon as I was able to walk, my favorite nurse took me to see Emmy in the NICU. A lactation consultant helped me getting Em to latch (which she did like a champ!) and helped me with pumping, because Emmy had to eat every 3 hours to keep her sugars up.
The next day, after Emmy’s lungs were clear, they detected a heart murmur. We consulted with a cardiologist that let us know that between her left and right ventricle, her heart hadn’t completely grown together, leaving a small hole. He gave us a referral to another cardiologist to see when Emmy was about 3 months old (where we learned her heart murmur was gone. Yay!)
And then on Thursday, 4 days after I walked into the hospital, I walked out with the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen. But I may be a bit biased.
And now, my sweet baby is going to be one. A whole year has bone by. She is smart, she is sassy, she is loving, and she has my whole heart. I have had the honor and the joy of not only getting to be her mother, but getting to breastfeed her for an entire year (more on this in a later post). And I have gotten the heartwarming pleasure of watching her interact with her daddy, who loves her more than anything in this world.
Emmaline Harper. Emmy. Boom. We love you so much. Happy birthday, sweet girl.