So here it goes, before I forget it all!
— A week ago today, I went in for my 40 week “due date” appointment. I was still not dilated, still 80% effaced, and she was still about station -1. The doctor said that it was unlikely I was going to dilate on my own if I hadn’t already, so we scheduled an induction for the 14th (tomorrow). The dr. said that unless my water broke, I wasn’t going into labor on my own.
— Tygh and I left that appointment at 4:30. Two hours later, as I’m squatting down at Brae’s bookshelf to pick out some bedtime stories, I feel a “gush”. I paused. No, it can’t be, I tell myself. Then I go to the bathroom, and sure enough, there was no doubt. Just trust me, there was no doubt.
— I go downstairs, numb, to Tygh. He and Brae are watching TV. I say, “Um, I think my water just broke.” Now, keep in mind, we had a false alarm about 2 weeks ago, so he’s a little skeptical. Then, he looks at the floor. He looks at me. He sees what has puddled on the floor. Then, very calmly, he says, “okay, well, let’s get our stuff.”
— As I’m running around the house trying to gather things and call people, my heart is just racing. Two hours earlier I thought I had another week to go.
— Tygh’s mom arrives to pick up Brae. As she’s holding him, I kiss him and say, “Brae, we’re going to get Baby Sienna now.” His eyes widen. He nods his head. I know he has no idea what is going on, but he doesn’t let it show.
— We arrive at the hospital and are put in triage. They confirmed my water had broken. But still not dilated. Behind the curtain next to me, I overhear a sweet young woman just brokenhearted. She’s alone. She’s having false labor pains. She is talking to her nurse saying she is choosing adoption for her baby. She has no way to support him. She says she loves him, but she knows she just cannot provide for him. She lives on the psych ward in the hospital.
— I don’t believe in coincidences. I ask Tygh to pull the curtain back. I call out, “Hi, roomie.” Silence. “Hi, roomie.” “You talking to me?” “Yes. I couldn’t help but overhear you. I just wanted to say that my husband and I adopted our son 2.5 years ago from a birthmom. I just want to tell you that I think you are amazing.” The conversation went on for a little bit from there. She was going through Catholic Charities. She hadn’t chosen a family yet. Minutes later, the doctor told her they were taking her back to the psych ward. As she left, I told her I’d be thinking of her. Then, as she left, I started praying silently for her. Her name is Stephanie. I pray for protection over her, that baby boy, and the family she will choose.
— I arrived at our birthing suite. Our nurse, Brenda, was phenomenal. She swung us a HUGE suite. I settled in, thinking I’d have a baby in the morning. It was about 9 p.m. I watched The Bachelorette (Bentley is a jerk!). I’d already eaten, so wasn’t hungry. Tygh settled in. My mom and sister arrived. Still not dilated.
— By morning, I was in pain. The contractions had started, and I’d asked for pain medication (which I never thought I’d do, aside from the epidural). They started pitocin. A few hours later, when I was around 2-3 cm, I got the epidural. But it never really took on the left side, which, as it would turn out, would be the biggest source of stress and pain of all.
— I was getting hungry. And thirsty. But I was only allowed ice chips and popsicles. Family and friends flowed freely in the room. Contractions were about every 4-5 minutes. For the most part, I was alert until a contraction came. Then, I just would close my eyes, moan softly, and someone would be rubbing my head, my arm, or my lower back.
— Around 6 p.m., I was only 5-6 cms dilated. I was in a LOT of pain. I hit a wall. I’d been at the hospital for nearly 24 hours, and I was only halfway dilated. Are you kidding me?! I felt emotionally and physically exhausted, drained, and just. done. I was done. Literally. DONE. I cried to the nurse, “Please, just give me a C-section. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t even think of pushing or going through this for any longer. Just get her out of me, please,” I begged. “Honey, you don’t want a C-section.” “Yes,” I pleaded, “I do.” Tears were streaming down my face. I was shaking. “Please, I can’t go through this anymore. I’m done.”
— After hearing this, the doctor ordered everyone out of the room. She said she wanted me to have time to rest. I felt like no one was listening to me. They were pushing me to have a vaginal birth. I couldn’t feel my legs or my toes from the epidural. I’d been in a bed for over 24 hours, had no food or water, and was having strong contractions every 2-3 minutes. And I was only 5-6 cms dilated? “Dear God,” I prayed, “Please help me get through this. I feel defeated. I’m worn down. I don’t want this anymore.”
— Then, I fell asleep for 4 hours.
— When I woke up, the “transition phase” started. That’s when you go through the 7-9 cms dilation. It was brutal. I was shaking all over and didn’t have control over my body. I was sweating, and yet the room was at a cool 60 degrees. I was throwing up, and yet all I’d had in the last 30 hours were ice chips and 2 popsicles. I felt like I could die. Sienna was still sunnyside up, so the nurse put me in a variety of side positions to try and gravitationally turn Sienna around.
— Around 11 p.m., the nurse checked me again. I was 9 cms dilated. Thank you, Lord! On the one hand, the end seemed in sight and I was relieved. On the other hand, this definitely meant I was not getting a C-section, which meant I had to keep going. I was not done yet.
— Sienna was SO low (she’d been low the whole pregnancy), the nurse thought that even though I was at 9 cms, and still had to get to 10, if I pushed, I may just get to 10. So, with a little push, I got to 10. The pain on my left side was excruciating. The epidural had never fully taken on that side, and that’s the side that Sienna was on. It felt like someone was digging and twisting a long, sharp knife into my lower back. The anesthesiologist came back in to “top off” the epidural, which only further numbed my right side, but offered little relief to my left. If you’ve ever been completely numb from the waist down, but completely coherent otherwise, it is the most helpless feeling. You cannot even wiggle your toes, try as you might.
— Around midnight, the nurse wanted me to start pushing. The doctor was at another delivery (not my doctor, but the on-call doctor). I did about 2-3 sets of pushes, and the nurse could see her head. She called for the doctor. Then, we waited. This was the hardest part. Sienna was almost here, and yet I had to wait. And wait. Because of the epidural, there wasn’t really much pain, just a lot of pressure.
— Tygh is very queasy. When I’d gotten my epidural, even though he didn’t see any of it (he was in front of me, holding my hand), he nearly went over. So, I knew he wasn’t going to make it through the delivery. But, when he’d heard that I was getting ready to push again, he came in, gave me a kiss, and said, “I love you. You can do it.” Then, he returned to the waiting room. My mom, my sister, and the nurse remained.
— The doctor came in and around 12:30, we started pushing again. I did about another 2-3 more sets of pushes, and she was out! In total, I pushed for about 26 minutes. The doctor said that was one of the fastest first-time deliveries she’d ever seen. After 31 hours of “labor,” 26 minutes was like lightning. Thank you, God! She was born at 1:11 am. I went into the hospital on Monday. She was born on Wednesday.
— I didn’t know it at the time, but learned just yesterday a very cool side story. My dear friend, Rhonda, who has walked this adoption journey with me, and has adopted a son of her own, sent me an email. Around midnight/1 p.m. on Tuesday/Wednesday, she said she awoke to the sound of 3 knocks on her door. Or, so she thought. She got up, and went to check on her son. He was fine. Then, God brought me to her mind. Rhonda knew I was in labor, but had last received a blog update around 6 p.m. the night before. She didn’t know whether I was still in labor or had delivered. She felt God impressing on her to pray for me. She began praying. By the time she finished, it was 1:30. She didn’t know it, but Sienna had been born. (Thank you, Rhonda. I still tear up). (We have a very similar story for when Brae was born — an acquaintance was awoken in the middle of the night and felt impressed upon to pray for our son, who had yet to be born. She did, and he was born the next morning).
— I thought for sure I’d want music playing during the delivery. I even had my iPod playlist all ready. Nope. I wanted none of it. And I didn’t want to be touched. I wanted it dark, cool, and silent. No one spoke, except for the doctor to count.
— I saw Sienna come out and it was surreal. This little person has been growing and moving inside of you for all this time, and she’s finally here. I can’t describe it. I was overcome with emotion, but too exhausted to express any of it. This little life was transferred to me in cell form, and here she had eyes, ears, a mouth, toes. She was a person. She grew inside of me. I still can’t wrap my head around it. My sister started to cry. My mom cut the cord.
— They placed Sienna on my chest. I felt her warmth. Her little heartbeat. To this day, I’m still amazed.
— As they took Sienna over to get cleaned up, weighed, and measured, the doctor tried to deliver the placenta. But, it wasn’t detaching from the wall. After another 30 minutes of increasing the pitocin and still contracting, the doctor finally had to go in and get it. OUCH. Hurt way more than the delivery of Sienna. (Can I just say the placenta is a remarkable-looking organ? But no, I don’t want to keep it or freeze it or plant it.) But, the doctor said because of the quick delivery of Sienna, I barely had any tearing. I had “skid marks”. She did a few stitches, but said everything should heal just fine.
— Tygh came back in and held his daughter for the first time. Family and friends slowly began to come in and greet our baby girl. I was still way too exhausted to show any kind of emotion. All I wanted was a Sprite. My dear father-in-law scoured the hospital, and finally came back with two Sprites. I downed them.
— A few hours later, I was transferred up to the recovery suite. Family, friends, and Tygh went home. As hard as it was, I asked to have Sienna in the respite room so I could get some sleep. I knew I needed sleep for her, and for me. But, after 3 hours, I couldn’t take it. I asked for her back, and we slept together.
— I came home Thursday evening and was so ready to be home. The hardest part of the recovery was actually regaining sensation in my legs. I’m thankful for the quick delivery because it really has made for an equally quick recovery. I’m really not in pain, and the cramps are only mild. The hardest part has been the pain and frustration associated with nursing. Sienna doesn’t have the best latch, and despite several sessions with a lactation specialist, I probably will not be able to provide Sienna everything she needs with nursing. That was hard to accept at first, and I had to wrestle with some guilt, but the girl needs to eat. So, I’ve been doing some nursing just to help with the bonding, but am mostly pumping and bottle feeding.
— I know most moms say this, but Sienna really is a dream baby. Last night, she slept 5.5 hours straight. She really doesn’t fuss, she loves to be held, and she’s just so very sweet.
— Brae has been remarkable. He was at his grandparents for 2 days while I was in the hospital, and as much as he loves them, I know it was hard and confusing for him. He went to school a couple days last week, and the teachers said he wasn’t eating or sleeping well, and seemed teary-eyed. ; (
— Tygh and I have made special attempts to spend time with just him alone. We had a good weekend. Brae hasn’t shown any sings of aggression toward Sienna. He’s actually been a good helper (bringing me a bottle for her, turning on her vibrating chair, wanting to make sure she has a slice of pizza too, etc.). But he definitely has shown jealous tendencies — wanting to be held when we’re holding her, demanding more of our attention, etc. This morning, when I dropped him off at school, he threw a tantrum and didn’t want me to leave. Broke my heart. I know he’s going through just as much of a transition as the rest of us. I don’t want him to feel replaced. He’s not. He will always be the child that made us parents. He will always be the child that filled such a longing in us.
— So, such has begun my summertime maternity leave. And it’s raining outside. But inside, next to me, in her little butterfly vibrating chair, pursing her rosebud lips, lays my daughter. My “promise from God.” My Sienna.