As we close in on Eleanor’s first birthday, I realized that I have never written out her birth story. I don’t ever want to forget the beauty of that magical fall night. It was one of the most wonderful moments of my life, full of so many emotions – fear of my first labor, excitement to meet our little girl and of course the apprehension of just what this little person who had been growing inside of me for the last 9 months would look like. I get chills just thinking about that night. And so here it goes….
The last month of my pregnancy, I had gained no weight. In fact, I had noticed that my belly hadn’t really gotten any bigger, so I brought it to my doctor’s attention about 2 weeks before our due date. He took note of this and decided to do a sonogram just to check and make sure everything was ok. Nora looked great, but my doctor did notice that my amniotic fluid levels were low. Normally they want your levels to be at 10 or above, and mine was at about and 8.5. He had encouraged me to drink lots of fluids and come back in a couple of days to recheck. So what felt like about a million gallons of water later, I came back and my levels had dropped further. That being said, the sono tech thought that my levels were even lower than what the test read. So Dr. Snider gave us two options – be induced within the next 2 days or wait a little bit longer and run a high possibility for a C-Section. At that point, I had been having contractions for weeks, and the thought of a C-Section scared the daylights out of me. So we put it on the schedule to be induced on September 12th, at 6pm.
The day of September 12th was so special. Eric and I got up, went for a long walk, did some odds and ends around the house, went to Subway for lunch (I swear those jalepeno chips were what sent me into labor), tried to take a nap and then headed out to Panera for a light dinner before we went to the hospital. And all day long, my body decided to go into clean out mode….and by that I mean I was in the bathroom all afternoon. Awesome.
We got checked into OMC and were thrilled that my childhood babysitter was my nurse for the night. How special would that be if she would get to be there for the birth of our daughter! She quickly told us that she would probably not be there for her delivery, since my labor had a high potential for being long as a first time mom. No matter, I was just glad she was there. It was the most comforting thing to have Penny in the room getting things started. She hooked me up to the fetal monitors and surprisingly said, “Um, your totally having contractions. Are you feeling those?” I laughed and said that this had been going on for a month already. It was old news to me. While I was pregnant, I developed PIT, pregnancy induced thrombocytopenia. Pretty much my platelets and hemoglobin bottomed out. I was extremely relieved to find out that my platelets were high enough to get an epidural if I wanted one. Yes!!
Dr. Snider goes with a more unconventional approach to incduction with a drug called Cytotec. Penny checked me and I was still only a 2, as I had been for a couple of weeks, then inserted this little pill inside of me and told me it would most likely cause irregular contractions and not do very much, but to expect to start Pitocin in the morning. At this point, Eric popped in a Harry Potter movie and I planned on taking an Ambien a few hours later. I was so wrong…..
I did have some contractions for about 2 hours, but they weren’t too bad. I just kept watching my movie and breathing through the contractions as they came. But then they picked up. And by picking up, I pretty much had one straight 2 hour contraction. They were about a minute to a minute and a half long with about 10 seconds in between them. They were relentless. Poor Eric was standing beside me, almost pulling his hair out…Poor guy didn’t know how to encourage me through the constant contractions. Nevertheless, he was such a trooper!
I kept saying out loud to myself over and over again, “I was created for this. I was made to be Nora’s Mom. I was made to bring her into this world.” And sweet Eric just kept on reinforcing it. Penny had given me a liter of fluid to try and slow the contractions down, but it did nothing. She checked me again and I was only a 3. Talk about frustrating. At that point, I was so uncomfortable. So I asked for an epidural. It was by far the best $1000 we have ever spent. I tried to take a velvet glove type medication to prevent gastric upset before the epidural and threw it right up, so that did nothing. My epidural was placed and I literally felt almost nothing. I was so glad because I could still feel and slightly move my legs, even feel my contractions, after it was placed, so I still felt like I had some control of my body. There was almost no pain at all. Within 5 minutes of my epidural being placed, my water broke. And that is where things really picked up.
To our amazement, we literally watched Nora move down my stomach. Penny kept having to move the fetal monitors down my belly to keep up with her. 30 minutes later, I was at a 7. Ten minutes later, I was feeling the urge to push. Penny said, “Girl, I just checked you. Oh, my…” She hardly had to check. I was a full 10 and she told me that Nora had a full head of hair. I knew that we were going to meet our daughter soon. Eric and I looked at each other in disbelief. And the adrenaline was pumping through my body. I was shaking so hard, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I will say that was the weirdest feeling ever.
I began pushing very quickly. Penny and Eric led me through the pushes. Much to my amazement, I felt almost no pain. And it was glorious! Dr. Snider came in just in time, with only three pushes left. At the very end, I asked Dr. Snider, “How am I doing? How much longer?” He looked at me, smiled and said, “Lauren, look down…” Eric and I looked down to see our precious daughter halfway out into the world. We both looked at each other, laughed and hugged. For one last time, it was just the two of us. Eric looked at me and said, “Let’s meet our daughter.” And with one last push, out she came. Only 5 hours of labor, 23 minutes of pushing and 2 stitches later.
At 1:53 AM, they placed my girl on my chest. “Oh, there you are!” I said. And she was perfect. All 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 19 ½ inches of her. She let out a glorious scream, eyes wide open and she looked right at me.
It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. Eric cut the cord, they wiped her off and they whisked her off to the warming lamps. I kept peering back to where Nora and Eric were and all I could see were flailing arms and legs. That should have been my first sign of a highly energetic baby.
And then my dear, sweet husband came over with a tiny bundle and placed my Nora in my arms. That man – that wonderful, amazing man. The father of my child, the lover of my soul. I had never loved him more than I did that night. And I have never felt closer to him than in that moment. Now the fun part – we pulled the blankets off and got a good look at her. Ten fingers and ten toes, a FULL head of hair, huge feet and the most angelic face I have ever seen. I couldn’t have pictured her any more beautiful. She was the essence of perfection.
Both sets of our parents and my brother were in the waiting room when she was born, and they all got to come back within about 30 minutes of Nora being born and meet our girl. Her middle name was unknown to them at the time, and I couldn’t wait to see the look on their faces when we revealed it to them. Eleanor Sue…named so, as both of our Mom’s middle names are Sue. They couldn’t believe it. It was a joy to give that gift to them.
**Nora’s first name was one that Eric came up with. Eric’s dream car is a Shelby GT-500 – this car is known to any car fan as “Eleanor.”**
Within an hour, I was up and walking to the bathroom to get cleaned up. We were able to go into the nursery to watch Nora get her first bath (oh, she hated that!) and spent some time getting to know our baby girl. It all seems like a dream to me, how perfectly it happened. I think the weirdest thing was when I woke up the next morning and didn’t feel her moving around inside of me. It took me a few seconds to realize, “Oh, I had a baby last night!”
Going into this, I envisioned a grueling 36 hour labor and not being able to enjoy the birth of our daughter. But it was so much better, so much more magical, than I ever could have expected. And when we brought our girl home, we laid her in our bed, right in between us, and simply marveled at her perfection. Half of me, half of Eric and a wholeness that filled an empty space in our hearts. All I could think at that moment is that God is so Good. And from the moment they laid that baby on my chest, I can never imagine living another moment of my life without her.