and... she's here!! our baby girl made a very dramatic entrance on Friday, November 11. and i'm still in disbelief over how it all happened!
we ate a leisurely dinner, and afterwards i read some books to Greta. around 8:30 pm i began having contractions while reading to her. they were about 4-5 minutes apart, and stronger than Braxton Hicks, but still not painful, so i didn't mention anything to Mom yet. i then excused myself to use the bathroom, and started to have a little cramping. i thought perhaps something might happen this weekend after all! but i had a full two days of prodromal labor with Greta that felt exactly like this, so i figured we might possibly have a baby by the next day, but certainly no sooner than that.
while i was in the bathroom, Nick called from someone else's phone during intermission at the drama production. it was 8:45 pm and he just wanted to check in. Mom answered and told him everything was fine here (which is what i would have told him too), and he said he felt that he should head home just in case, rather than staying for the second act. i came back to the family room, sat down on the exercise ball, and chatted with Mom for a bit about the symptoms i was having and we agreed it was probably a good thing that Nick was headed home, but certainly there was no rush. at 9:10 pm, i felt that i needed to use the bathroom again. i stood up and immediately my water broke all over the floor. thank goodness for Mom, who grabbed some beach towels and helped keep Greta occupied. i headed back to the bathroom and just as i got there, a real contraction hit, and all i could do was lean over the counter, sway my hips, and "tone" (the long, low vocalization that somehow helps focus your breath and thoughts during a contraction). and then another ... and another ... and another. i thought, "well, at least this is going somewhere faster than Greta's labor did!" and texted our doula and had the midwife paged. Mom started gathering my hospital bags while also timing my contractions (unbeknownst to me). they were coming two minutes apart and lasting for sixty to ninety seconds. when the midwife called me back at 9:30 pm, we agreed that i would go ahead and head over to Mercy since the contractions were already so intense, and i told her we would be there around 10 pm.
Nick arrived home shortly after that, and from then on there was lots of running around as he changed clothes, packed another change of clothes and toiletries for himself, and put our bags in the car. i was trying to collect the last few things i needed for myself, but i wanted to stay in the bathroom during each contraction so i didn't scare Greta. periodically Mom or Nick would come in to put warm washcloths on my back or provide counterpressure. finally i was able to walk out to the front hallway and say goodbye to Greta and give her a hug. i had another contraction while going down our porch steps and had to hold on to the railing for support, and then another once i got to Nick's car. i wanted to wait to sit down until we were actually ready to leave, because the most comfortable position for me during a contraction was to stand up and lean over something so my belly could hang. i put my purse on the seat with my ipod on top, ready to listen to my Hypnobabies tracks (and thinking that it was a little crazy that i hadn't even had a chance to enter hypnosis yet).
at this point Mom and Nick started discussing if they should call an ambulance to transport me to Mercy, but i thought it would be quicker if we just drove ourselves rather than waiting for an ambulance to arrive. and then another contraction hit -- far more intense than the last, and i could feel the baby's head extremely low in my pelvis. i remembered having a similar contraction during labor with Greta, and that after about an hour of those contractions, i was ready to push. i thought again that this was definitely going faster than Greta's labor, but figured we had at least another few hours to go.
at this point, Nick was coaxing me to get in the car, but i really couldn't imagine sitting down for the drive. and yet, i knew that things were only going to get more intense from here, and i also still thought it seemed ridiculous to call an ambulance. so i just kept standing there, and then, all of a sudden, i had the uncontrollable urge to push. there was absolutely no stopping it. i just had to bear down with all of my might, and in that moment i was suddenly afraid. Nick called 911, and also ran to our next door neighbors' house for help (our neighbor is a PA and his wife had also offered to watch Greta for us if need be). i had another involuntary pushing contraction, and felt her head crowning. my mind was racing, thinking about how or if i'd be able to catch her myself, and if the cord was wrapped around her neck, and if she was going to be okay, and praying that EMS would get there soon, and panicking that if i had another strong contraction she was just going to drop to the ground. so before another contraction hit, i gently pushed her head out just as the ambulance came racing up our street.
i would give anything to have had a birds-eye view of what happened then. i was still standing fully dressed outside Nick's car, in shock, with the baby's head between my legs. our neighbor was standing on my left side giving me encouragement. i kept repeating, "her head is out! her head is out!" the EMTs came running around with the gurney and one of them asked "so you're in labor?" and i think i screamed "HER HEAD IS OUT!" the EMTs were saying that they needed to have me lie down to deliver her, and i couldn't imagine how i was going to get down on the ground without squishing her little head. Mom grabbed the towels from the front seat of the car and laid them down on the little strip of grass between the sidewalk and the curb, and somehow, the EMTs supported me as i lay back. they cut off my pants and i thought, "this cannot be happening! this is insanity!" next thing i knew, there was another contraction and the rest of her body was born. i found out later that our neighbor was actually the one who caught her head, while Mom held a flashlight overhead.
|the spot where Cece was born (in daylight!)|
it was a clear night, about forty degrees, with sparkling stars and a huge supermoon brightening the sky. the sight of my beautiful baby girl being lifted up in the air as i lay on the ground is forever etched in my brain. she was blue and silent at first, but i could see her chest moving as she breathed and her eyes were open and looking all around. Nick asked, "is she alright? is she alright?!" they suctioned her mouth and wrapped her in a reflective heating blanket and then we heard her first cries. "thanks be to God!" Nick said. all i could say was, "oh my goodness. oh my goodness. i can't believe it!" it was 10:13 pm.
they were still trying to keep her bundled up when Mom suggested they put her on my chest. of course! i unzipped my coat and lifted up my shirt (i was still wearing my dress shirt from work that day) and snuggled our sweet girl onto my chest. Mom grabbed the baby elephant hat from the hospital bag, and the EMTs covered us with blankets, and Nick's leather jacket. we lay there for several minutes just resting together. then the EMTs lifted us onto the gurney and into the ambulance, where we had several more minutes of skin-to-skin time while they warmed blankets to put in her carseat, and Nick called our doula to explain what had happened. our neighbor's wife generously offered to stay with Greta so that Mom could come to the hospital with us.
and so it was that about seven hours after leaving Mercy that afternoon, i returned, being wheeled through the ER on an ambulance gurney with a baby on my chest. our beautiful baby girl weighed seven pounds five ounces (exactly Greta's weight) and was 19 1/2 inches long (half an inch shorter than Greta). she is absolutely perfect and healthy, and my recovery has been easy given that i was only in active labor for one hour! i was in such shock over the whole thing that we didn't officially decide on her name until the next day, and ultimately we kept the name we had previously had in mind: Cecilia Marie.
despite her dramatic entrance, Cece is such a calm, even-tempered baby. she eats well, sleeps well, and rarely fusses. and big sister Greta is absolutely in love. we can't imagine our family without you, baby girl!