Our sweet Emily was due on October 15th, and we awaited that day with much anticipation. I knew in my mind that a "due date" isn't necessarily the exact day she would come, but was pretty surprised when she came FIVE DAYS LATER! It may not seem like that long (and we were so thankful for a healthy, full-term pregnancy), but the last week really did seem like a month! I am so grateful for the time for my heart to truly prepare. I was on maternity leave by this point, and it was so special to spend the time doing even more preparation for our baby.
At 1:00am on the 20th, I began to have what I thought felt like contractions. It's hard for a first-time mom to really know what they are supposed to feel like. But when they kept coming, I knew that something was definitely different. I went through about 6-7 of them before I woke Matt up. I thought they were about 10 minutes apart, just by estimating. We started timing them and at this point, they were coming about 7 minutes apart lasting a full minute. Within the hour, they started coming every 5 minutes, lasting a minute-and-a-half.
Matt went to load the car at about 2:00am! He was so excited to be able to finally do this! So whenever we were ready, our stuff was packed. I love how he took care of me during this time. He would get water, make toast, start a bath, rub my back, and just encourage me the whole time. I don't know how many times I said, "Hey babe..." He would kindly respond and get whatever I felt I needed. I will forever be grateful for this time.
We called the doctor to see what our plan should be. We knew we were in early labor, but wasn't expecting them to be that frequent this early. She encouraged us to labor at home for much longer.
Over the next eight hours, I labored at home. I tried to sleep in between contractions but they were consistently coming between 4-9 minutes apart. They would fluctuate but were definitely getting more and more intense. At 9:00am, we decided it was probably time to head to the hospital. As I began getting ready, the contractions started coming every 4 minutes. I had 4 contractions as were just trying to get into the car!
We were finally on our way! We had a 30-minute drive to the hospital, and so I had about six contractions just while getting there! We arrived and my mom, mother-in-law, sisters, and cousin were there waiting for us. I went back to be checked (and hopefully admitted) and I was only dilated a 2!! What!? After almost nine hours!? I was sad and a little discouraged. They made me take the next hour to walk. They wanted to see more progress. So we walked...and walked. For a solid hour, we would walk the halls, the stairs, and more halls. Every three minutes, I would stop to breathe through a contraction. I had very bad back labor, so I would bend over and lean on whatever I could find and rock back and forth and Matt would rub my back. In between the contractions, Matt, my mom, Val, and Wendy would walk and talk.
After the hour, I had dilated to a 3!! Progress! They admitted me and I began the process of laboring in the delivery room. I sat in the tub and walked around my room. I was getting really, really tired. Labor had been really intense for about 12 hours now, as it was 1:00 in the afternoon. I could tell my body was struggling for energy. I laid in the bed at this point, to see if I could rest a little. It was hard to open my eyes and engage in any kind of conversation. I remember Matt asking me questions, and I couldn't answer them. Contractions were still every three minutes, and my body was so tired.
At 2:00pm, I was dilated to a 5. We received news that my pelvis looked great and that it was big enough! This was SUCH an answered prayer! We have prayed for this from the very beginning. We were concerned about my size and baby's size. This was very, very exciting!
We started talking about the rest of my labor. The nurse brought up the option of an epidural. I went into labor not wanting an epidural. I wanted to labor without medicine and it really was my goal. The more we talked, the more I realized how exhausted my body was. I still had the hardest part of my labor left, plus the pushing stage. She also said that sometimes the epidural can relax my body enough to continue the dilation process.
I decided to get the epidural. Going into this process, I didn't think I would. But once I was in the situation, I decided it was best for me. I had labored thirteen hours by this point, and I was ready for intervention. Matt and I talked about it, and he was so supportive and encouraged whatever I wanted, no matter what my original plan was. From this point forward, I haven't regretted my decision for one second. I remember in our birthing classes, we talked about "owning your experience," no matter what it was. I truly felt I could own this decision and haven't looked back since.
After the epidural, I felt like a different person. I could relax and I was able to get in a position where we could get Emily to turn (she was posterior). Over the next five hours, I fully dilated! They turned off my epidural to prepare for the pushing stage.
I was in the pushing stage for an hour and a half. The doctor on call (not our own) was incredible. He was so patient and instructed me in ways that would allow Emily to come into this world naturally and without any extra help (episiotomy, vacuum, etc). It was painful and intense, but I am so glad I could feel what was going on and that our doctor was so careful and strategic. The pushing stage is truly incredible. I will spare you the details, but the way a baby is created to come through a birth canal is nothing short of a miracle. Truly a miracle of God!
Emily was born at 7:58pm, weighing 7 lbs. 1 oz., and measuring 19 inches in length! It is truly amazing the love you feel the moment you see your baby! I cried as they brought her to my chest. I cried because she was ours, and she was so beautiful! I looked at Matt and was so incredibly amazed that we had created a baby together.
God had given us this gift, this baby girl. As I held her, it was so surreal. She is our baby. I am a mommy. Matt is a daddy. In that moment, I had no doubt of God's love for us. It really is amazing. He LOVES His children. I LOVE my little child. I get to be a mommy to Emily, and it is a dream come true!! I am so honored to be a mother. I love Emily so much!
PS. I cannot thank Matt enough for his incredible support. He is so patient, loving, caring, and devoted. A long 20 hours, and countless hours of support beforehand. His love for us is something I am forever grateful for. I could not have done this without him, and I am so honored to call him my husband and father to Emily. I love you so much, Matt!!
PSS. I have to say a thank you to my mom, mother-in-law, sisters, and cousin Wendy for being such great encouragers and supporters as well. Having them there meant a ton and I am thankful for each of them! Journeying together through this has made such special memories!