“Third time’s the charm,” Eric whispered as we prepared to head to the hospital yet again. I felt so discouraged and I prayed that I wouldn’t be sent home again. I had been having regular contractions for about twenty-four hours at this point. It was clear that I was in labor, but I was not progressing.
Sunday, February 3rd I started having lower back pain for the first time in my pregnancy. I hoped it would be the start of labor and I was right. The next morning at around 10am I started timing my contractions using contractionmaster.com. They were still far apart so I went into total nesting mode and straightened up the house and did laundry. By five, the contractions were getting closer together, and I called Eric to come home from work. I also called my mom, Eric’s mom, and our doula. They all came over and we hung out. It was actually a lot of fun having them there and it took my mind off of everything.
When the contractions started feeling worse, our doula Kristina and Eric took turns rubbing my back. Kristina helped me be as comfortable as possible even down to having my favorite chapstick and healthy snacks. I was so glad to have her there. She and Eric go back to his freshman year of college when they met at school. So although she was there as a professional, she was also there as a good friend. Here we are in between contractions. She wore an oxytocin (a labor-facilitating hormone) shirt which was perfect!
Later that night (maybe around 6 or 7?) we headed to the hospital for the first time. I was only a couple of centimeters dilated so I got hooked up to the monitors and checked again an hour later. No progress. So I got sent home and told to come back when contractions were worse. So I waited at home and contractions got worse. We went back to the hospital at around 3am and found that I had only progressed about a centimeter so I was hooked up to monitors for an hour and was allowed to take a walk after that. But it still wasn’t enough so I got sent home again and told to come back when I couldn’t walk or talk through my contractions. “But I CAN’T walk or talk through them! grrrrrrr” At around noon that day (the 5th of February, the baby’s due date) the contractions were quite strong so I headed to my doctor’s office to get checked and she gave me the most glorious words. “You’re dilated to about a four so you can head to the hospital now.” Eric was right. The third time was the charm.
Labor up to this point had been painful and extremely frustrating because it seemed like the pain was for nothing. Once I got to the hospital everything got better. One of the first things I did was get an epidural. I probably could have held off for longer, but I knew I wanted one anyway so I went ahead with it. The anesthesiologist was awesome and gave me the Mona Lisa of epidurals. The midwife came in and broke my water hoping that it would progress things. It didn’t. She said that my contractions weren’t effective enough and recommended getting pitocin. I said OK knowing that it was the best choice, because I wasn’t progressing on my own. It ended up being awesome because I already had my epidural and couldn’t feel the stronger contractions. Finally things were moving! I was told to try to sleep so I could have more energy for pushing. Although I hadn’t slept in 30 hours it was still hard to sleep. I was too excited.
Eric, his mom, my mom, and Kristina all settled into the quiet room and waited. It was such a peaceful time. My support people dozed off, read books, played on their phones, and I tried to nap. Eventually I started to feel building pressure. The pressure got kind of painful and definitely intense. It felt like I need to start pushing and I told the nurse. She checked me, but I wasn’t dilated enough. I was only an eight out of ten. So I waited as the pressure built even more. I had to start breathing through the contractions to keep from pushing. This was the most difficult part. When I finally was able to push things got so much better. The baby was already so low that the nurse could see the head right away. Another forty minutes later at 10:52pm our baby entered the world. Eric got to announce the sex: A GIRL! He also cut her umbilical cord. It was so amazing. I didn’t cry when I first held her. I just felt so much joy and couldn’t stop smiling. She weighed in at 8 pounds 1.8oz and was 20 1/4 inches long.
I had developed a fever during labor and it was passed to our baby girl. She was taken to the NICU almost right away and Eric went with her. I couldn’t hold her again for another two hours, but I’m so glad that Eric was able to be with her the whole time.
Eric and I did not find out whether our baby was a boy or a girl until she was born. We had a list of names picked out for a girl, but when we looked at her we didn’t connect any of the names with her, so we held off on naming her. That night we went to sleep and Eric dreamed of three names for girls. In the morning, he could only remember one. Noelle. She looked like a Noelle to us, and even though she was not born near Christmas we love that the name represents the birth of Jesus who is very important to us. We gave her the middle name Elizabeth after Eric’s grandmother. She is one of the kindest women I’ve ever met, and has been so supportive of Eric and I over the years we’ve known each other. She also had ten kids and loves babies more than anyone I know. :)
I expected to love being a mom, but not this much. Eric and I are absolutely loving being parents, and most importantly loving our little Noelle.