Well I guess one of the easiest places to start is when I thought you might arrive. I was so set that you would come before your sister so in my mind, I imagined a birthday of 12/14. This would have put you at 38 weeks and 5 days. Well, that weekend came and went with no vision of you in sight. The following week was spent analyzing every feeling, every twinge, every bit of my body to try and find some indication you were on your way all while prepping for Christmas and hoping you would not come too close or on Christmas. I had some contractions, some aching feelings, some definite “oh maybe this is it?!” but alas, you were very comfortable. I actually gave you a no-go window (and you listened-thank you!) that if you weren't here by 5pm on the 23rd then you'd have to wait until the 26th. Suzanne was flying in that day and very hoped you'd wait until at least noon on the 26th. Well, you did and then some. Suzanne and I went to see Pitch Perfect 3 all the time wondering and joking if we would make it through the movie. We got this ginormous pretzel and soda and stuffed our faces while giggling at the movie. You stayed put. We came home, hung out with your dad and sister and stuffed our faces again with some delicious pizza bagels your dad made.
The next day, we had a midwife appointment. I spent the morning imagining/panicking that they would tell me I've progressed so much that I needed to go to the hospital right then and there. Well, the appointment was pretty much the exact opposite. I was just the same as I had been for the past few weeks. At that point, I was so eager to meet you (and take a deep breath and tie my shoes) that we decided we would help you out. If you didn't come on your own by 5pm the next day, we were going to start the process of induction.
The next morning I was all over the place. I had feelings of excitement and worry all jumbled together. I so very wanted to meet you (we all did!), but was worried that this may lead to trouble coming out and this beautiful birth I had been imaging with you would be lost. I was so thankful for your family for helping me have the strength and courage to go forward. Would you have come eventually? Of course! But excitement was mounting and at 41 weeks you were plenty cooked and could come earthside safely.
On Thursday, Dec 28th, I re-stocked and double checked the bags. We dropped your sister off at Mima’s around 2 pm, had a cup of coffee and took some pictures. We gave your sister the biggest hugs and kisses and let her love on my belly some more. She told me “Be careful getting her out Mama! Okay?” with the demanding adorableness that is your sister. We loaded back into the car and drove to one of my favorite places to eat, Lunchbox. I got my favorite sloppy Joe, daddy, his favorite sandwich and Suzanne got fish sticks and french onion soup (she was surprised by the portion sizes). While we were there I got a message from the midwife telling us to come at 8 pm instead. So we came back home and hung around for a few more hours, keeping ourselves entertained while watching the clock.
Sleep was a laughable concept. Being 41 weeks pregnant you can't stay in one spot for longer than 45 minutes. However, I was hooked up to both contraction and heartbeat monitors, so every movement would move you around causing them to come in and re-adjust the monitors. I was up and down most of the night complete with frequent pee breaks.
At 4 am I browsed Facebook, chatted with the random people who were up, certain that this medicine was doing nothing and that I was going to have gone the whole night without making any changes. At 5:15 am I updated my mommy group. The contractions I was silently having at the beginning of the night finally became a bit more noticeable, but were slow and nowhere near breath catching. I wrote to my mamas … well I'm having some contractions but they are sporadic and not anything I would call someone about.
By 6:30 am, the contractions had become more intense. The nurse came in to move the monitors again, because I could not sit still and asked me what my pain level was at, to which I replied “5”. She was surprised to hear this as I hadn’t been feeling really anything before. Our conversation woke up your dad. He took one look at my face and said “Oh they are really coming, aren’t they?” (You could tell he just jumped right into protector mode.) He hopped up and labored with me for a few minutes. I had planned not to wake Suzanne until 7 am, but by 6:45, I needed help, as breathing was just not enough coping. Our midwife had told us the night before that she was staying in the hospital and to ask for a check when we were ready, so we called the nurse’s station and asked. We talked about reaching out to my mom to let her know contractions had picked up, but we were unsure if we should wake her since we didn’t know what the outcome would be. Well, we decided it was best to at least let her know things had picked up and that she should start heading over here. We knew that she was going to take about an hour to get to the hospital, but considering it was rush hour traffic, we knew that it would be even longer. In the interim, I had gotten checked and was at only 3 cm and -2/1.5 station. Which to everyone meant we had some time before you were coming.
At that point, I asked to be moved to the labor room with the tub in it. It was my plan to labor in the tub and cope with the pain with hydrotherapy. However, the contractions had really picked up, coming every 2 minutes with seemingly no break in between. Our midwife, Jess, coordinated the move and we picked up all our things and took the slow walk, it was about 50 feet. It felt like forever though; contracting as I was walking, I just kept telling myself, “Don’t stop- Just keep walking”. We set up camp in the new room and I went to the yoga ball. Suzanne rubbed my back while your dad held my hands and I leaned into him. Suzanne suggested I used the bathroom, as it had been some time since I had gone. Begrudgingly, I stood up and went. Suzanne had told me during our prenatal talks that an empty bladder helps the baby to descend as it frees up space.
Well, let me tell you- Holy cow- my bladder must have been the only thing really keeping you back. Once I had gone, I remember getting this overwhelming bear down type feeling of just crazy pressure and movement. I kept telling myself, “You have to get up. You can’t stay here or you’ll have this baby on the toilet!”. All the while, I hear your dad, Suzanne and my midwife talking, and me thinking, “Just fill up the tub! I need relief!”. When I came out I practically collapsed onto the bed, the pain had gotten so intense. It turns out, your heart rate had dropped a bit and they wanted to monitor you a bit longer before letting me in the tub. By this point, the contractions were beyond intense and I could barely catch my breath. Our midwife asked if she could check me again. In my mind I thought, this can go two ways: either I have progressed a lot and this was good, or I hadn’t progressed at all and was just having intense contractions. I agreed to the check because at that point, if I hadn’t progressed I was going to request pain relief. All I could imagine was a birth like your sister’s and feeling this intense pain for at least another 24 hours. She checked me as I had my head buried in a pillow and was silent. No number, no indication. “That’s it,” I thought, “I haven’t progressed. I need meds.” I finally hear her say, “How far away is her mom?” Your daddy ran out of the room to call Mimi. What I later was told was that our midwife had checked me, popped her head up and held up 9 fingers- meaning you had progressed down and were almost ready to come out!
Suzanne leaned into me and asked me “Do you want this to be over sooner, or do you want to try to wait for your mom?” I moaned back “I need it to feel better. I can’t go on like this!” She then explained that my water bag was bulging and that the midwife could break it, which might provide me some relief, but would ultimately speed things up. I was torn, I wanted my mom to be there. It was how we both had pictured it for months. Your dad came back and said Mimi was still 45 minutes away and that she understood she may miss it and for me to do what I needed. This was so helpful to hear, as I knew then she wouldn’t be mad at me for taking help when I could get it.
Well, our midwife got the tool to break my water, but, lo and behold, with the mental barrier now gone, my water broke on its own. “Great I’m peeing everywhere!” I thought. I was reassured it was just my water breaking and was given the go ahead to start pushing if I wanted. Well, regardless of whether I was told I could or not, my body took over. Pushing was the only thing I could do. There wasn’t time to think, time to process birthing positions, it was just PUSH. This is where Suzanne and your dad really shined, because they kept me focused, kept me on task and reminded me to take a break when they came. Because your heart rate kept dropping, I was given me oxygen mask.
“Breathe deep for your baby” was all I kept hearing. Suzanne leaned over and reassured me my hard work was paying off “She’s right there. I can see her.” Your heart rate must have made them worry, because they called in the neonatologist. All the while the room never felt panicked, though. Everyone was just matter of fact. Which was really helpful and such a stark contrast from the panicked yelling and rushed nature of Zoe’s birth. After some pushing, the neonatologist had arrived and suggested using the vacuum to help you come out faster. I was asked if this was okay, and agreed. Well, just like breaking my water, you wanted no one’s help and promptly decided that you were ready to come out. One more push and plop, out you came. Your dad said our midwife literally “caught” you as you came out fast and with energy. Our Riley "Roadrunner" born at 8:24 am, 7lbs 1oz, 18.5 inches.
They plopped you on my chest and your dad and I were just in awe. I can’t believe you were here. Your dad was overjoyed. It was complete bliss. After a quick check from the doc, he told me “she’s perfect- good job mom” which when I think about, still makes me tear up. They wanted to weigh and measure you, but Suzanne politely suggested that I should hold you first, which I am eternally grateful for. I held you in your newness, fresh in this world and just could not believe you were here, finally. After all that waiting, all those aches and pains of pregnancy, every pizza bagel craving, you were here. The world can be a big, scary place, but you make it worth living in. I love you, Riley Eve. Welcome home.