So here goes: It started with what felt like the longest week of my life! We hit the "due date" which of course is just an estimate. Even though I knew that, I still felt very disappointed when that day came and went with no sign of labor whatsoever. Each day after that felt like an eternity- a large, waddling, swelled-foot eternity. We did our best to just keep busy and enjoy our last baby-free days (oh man, thinking back those days were AMAZING!). We went to a Fall party at a friend's farm, we went on several long walks, we had dinner with our parents, and even went on a day trip to Stillwater to go antiquing. Besides a few contractions one evening, I had no signs of labor whatsoever.
Then, exactly a week after she was due, I woke up at 2:30 one morning in the middle of a really strong contraction. I bolted up in bed, partly due to the pain and partly from sheer joy. I went in the bathroom and gripped the counter as another contraction hit me. Oh wow, I thought, that's rather painful. I knew it was the real deal, but I waited a few more contractions before I woke up Josh. Finally, I had the confidence to go in and shake him awake. "Honey," I said, "I just had three 'Oh S$#%" contractions!" (pardon my French...). He shot straight up and went into hospital-mode. By 4 am, we were in the Labor and Delivery room and I was having contractions 3-4 minutes apart. It's funny that before I was concerned that my body didn't know how to go into labor, boy was I wrong! Once labor started there was no messing around, it was "go" time! The nurse who checked me in asked me if I wanted an epidural right away and that shocked me, I had imagined it would be hours before I could get one. I decided to wait for a while to make sure that it wouldn't slow down the labor. My parents arrived shortly after we got to the hospital. My mom was going to be in the room for the delivery and my dad was going to wait in the waiting room for the good news.
By 6 am, my contractions were literally on top of each other. I decided to stop being a martyr and get that epidural. It took the nurse 15 minutes (and probably 15 pokes with that darn needle) to get an IV in my arm, and I still have the bruise to prove it! Once the anesthesiologist gave me the epidural, the pain from my contractions literally melted away. I had the perfect epidural! I went from crying in pain with every contraction to not feeling them at all. However, I could still feel my legs and move them! I actually felt better being in labor than I had felt during the last week of my pregnancy. I know that there are many people with strong feelings about natural labor, but I'm here to say that medical intervention can be a wonderful thing! It allowed me to rest and actually enjoy part of the labor experience. I told my mom at one point that I felt like I was cheating! Don't worry, that feeling did not last...
Some people worry that epidurals can slow down the labor process, but that was not the case for me. In fact, I think it made my body dilate faster because I was more relaxed. By 9:50 am, I was feeling the urge to push (yup, I still felt that even with the epidural!). Our amazing labor nurse, Stephanie, told me that I could start pushing. My doctor was outside the room working on paperwork, and I remember wondering why she wasn't coming in... apparently the doctors really like to wait until the last minute. Well, I had no idea how much work was ahead of me. After pushing for an hour, I started to get a little concerned. I felt like I was not making any progress at all and I was starting to get really exhausted. Dr. P would come in occasionally and every time she left again my heart would sink. After two hours, I was even more exhausted and I started feeling like my body was going to explode. The pressure was so intense that it was becoming incredibly painful. I didn't feel like I was cheating anymore. Finally, Dr. P came in to stay and a couple of other nurses and a resident came in as well. By that point, I was in so much pain and feeling so much pressure that I really didn't care who was there I just wanted that baby out. I kept begging the doctor to get the baby out. I was so tired and felt like my body was shutting down. She just told me to keep pushing and that she knew I could do it. Josh was by my side the entire time, and he encouraged me through every single push! I don't know what I would have done without him there.
By the third hour of pushing, I was really freaking out. I literally had panic attacks in between each contraction and felt like I was going to die. At one point, I was sobbing and begging Dr. P to do something, and the resident (Dr. Elizabeth) actually started crying too! On a side note- I wanted to hug her, she was a huge sweetheart and so encouraging. She held my leg for a good hour and kept encouraging me with every push. I'm so glad that she was there for the delivery! Finally, after over 3 hours of pushing Dr. P said that the baby was past the pelvic bone and if I wanted an episiotomy that might speed things up. I think that was the most emphatic "YES" I have ever spoken in my life! Once again, medical intervention was my best friend; she made a very small incision and it was all I needed to get the baby out. I pushed 3 more times and Evangeline was born! I was sobbing from relief when they placed her in my arms, and looked at Josh and just said "It's finally over!" Evie was crying so loudly, but it was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. She was all purple and her poor little nose was smushed from being in the birth canal so long, but she was absolutely exquisite. I remember being worried before giving birth that somehow my baby would get mixed up with someone else's and we would bring the wrong baby home (don't you love those irrational fears?), but once I saw her I knew that that was impossible because she was definitely my baby.
One of the most amazing moments of my life was seeing Josh hold our daughter for the first time. He instantly became the best father I have ever seen (but I'm a little biased, I know). He cut the cord and took her in his arms and everything just felt right. I don't remember him ever being awkward or uncomfortable with her; from changing diapers to holding her and soothing her he seemed to know exactly what to do at any given moment.
The weeks since her birth have been the most difficult, wonderful, emotional, beautiful, and incredible times of my life. I think I have shed enough tears to flood the Mississippi, tears of frustration and tears of joy, and even tears for no particular reason at all. It has definitely been difficult, but it's also been wonderful. I still can't believe sometimes that I'm a Mother, what a crazy thought! Somehow watching Josh become a father has made my love for him grow in leaps and bounds, and every time I see my sweet little girl my heart just overflows with love. I would have pushed for 10 hours for her, and even now I would do it all over again for her because she's my daughter and I'm her Mama. Now, I just have to remind myself of that when I'm up at 2:00 in the morning...
Ok, that was a lot of words! Now, for a lot of photos:
(Just arrived at the hospital, in between contractions)
(Mom and Dad)
Evie is born!
Auntie Elsie (my sister)
Uncle Kyle (Elsie's hubby)
Meeting Uncle Iain
One day old!
My cousin Liesel just sent me a package with a sweet baby gift (and some lipgloss and eyeshadow for me, how wonderful is that?) and she also put a beautiful verse in there for encouragement. It's Psalm 62:5-8 "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people, pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." So many times the blessings we receive can be overshadowed by what we see as hardship. Even though giving birth and becoming a parent are extremely difficult things, they are also miraculous and full of blessings. We prayed for a baby for years, and now she is finally here!