I finally wanted to write Sophia's birth story while I still remembered all the details of truly what is and will forever be the most amazing day of my life. But as I am sure every mom out there knows, there are no words that can ever describe the feeling of that day. And every sentence I type out here will fall short of the extraordinary memories in my mind.
But I will try as best as I can to capture as many details as possible leading up to the moment that literally changed my life, when her little body was placed directly on mine the second she entered this world.
It all started on Wednesday, June 8th, my due date. That morning I woke up around 8:30, made myself breakfast and began checking my work email from home, like I had done that entire week. However, something about waking up that day just felt different. Maybe it was because the night before I had talked to my Mama and told her that I thought Sophia would still be coming on her due date. I am pretty sure she thought I was a crazily optimistic pregnant lady since that was the next day and I was showing NO progress at my doctor's appointments, but either way she knew better than to burst my bubble. After all the "every first time mom is late" comments I had heard leading up to that, I don't think I could've handled another one. Plus, all along, I knew my little lady would be punctual. After all, she knew how extremely anxious her Mom and Dad were to meet her.
At about noon that day, I started to notice some light spotting. I didn't think anything of it, but called my doctor just to be sure. She didn't seem concerned and just told me to keep an eye on it. Once Matt came home from work at 2:30 (he had shifted his hours that entire week), he convinced me to go to the hospital just to get checked out. After resisting for a couple hours, I agreed, and we headed in around 5 p.m. We had packed our hospital bags for "just in case". They admitted us immediately and after hooking me up to the monitors and doing an internal exam to make sure it wasn't my water, they had sent us home. Little did we know we'd be coming back in shortly thereafter.
After coming home, it was business as usual as Matt fired up the grill and we enjoyed dinner on our patio.. Then we decided to invite our neighbors over (hi, Ben and Michelle :). At around 8 p.m. we came inside and just relaxed on the couch. At exactly 9 p.m. I started feeling contractions. We immediately started timing them, and they were very regular and about 4-5 minutes apart. How I went from feeling no contractions to them being so close together, I have no idea! All I know is that Sophia clearly had plans of her own and Mama was just a happy participant in all of this. We timed my contractions for exactly three hours. I have to honestly say that my contractions at this stage still weren't as painful as I had imagined them to be. They were more uncomfortable than painful. And as long as I just remembered to breathe through them, they were not bad at all! But at around midnight, they were exactly 3 minutes apart.
At this point, it had finally hit me that this was it. It was really happening. No more wondering, no more questioning her arrival...we were going to the hospital and I was finally going to meet my baby girl. The next hour was a blur - calling our families, grabbing our bags and sneaking in one last snuggle with Charlie (which instantly brought on a flood of tears). The next time we'd be coming home, it would be with our daughter.
The following twelve hours were the most exciting, intense and at times most emotional of my life. After getting checked in initially at 1:30 a.m., I was still only 2 cm dilated, but my contractions were still 2-3 min apart. At this point the nurse asked me to walk around the hallway for an hour to see how much progress I could make by moving. This is also the time my Mom and Dad came...seeing them automatically put me at ease. As my dad waited in the main lobby, my Mom, Matt and I walked around the labor & delivery unit hallway for an hour, trying to speed up progress. My contractions continued to get stronger but I was completely calm. I knew that the next time they checked me, I would be in active labor. Sure enough an hour later I was already 4 cm dilated and getting wheeled into our room where I would be giving birth! And then my little sister came! To see her was a wonderful feeling. My little sister who hates hospitals, blood, needles and everything else, was there through it all to support me. I cried. Her, my Mom and Matt took turns holding my hand and encouraging me through the contractions which were now coming every 2 minutes. Around 5 a.m. the on-call doctor came in and decided that I was far enough to break my water. This part actually wasn't painful at all, but the contractions that immediately followed were nearly unbearable. My goal through this entire process was to hold off on the epidural as long as possible, as I knew that if I got it too early it could possibly stall the entire process. I wanted to progress as far as possible on my own. So, at around 5:30 a.m. and at 6 cm, I finally asked for the epi and the relief was unbelievable. At 7:30 a.m. they checked me again, and I was already 9 cm and what I thought was close to pushing! I couldn't believe how fast I was progressing. But my Sophia had different plans.
Every time the doctors and nurses would do an internal check, Sophia's heart rate would suddenly drop and once the internal was over, it would go right back to normal. As the doctor's described it, she was calling the shots and we just had to wait. They wanted her to drop as much as possible on her own, so that I would only have to push for a short period and this would minimize the stress on the baby. So, we obliged and we waited, and waited, and waited. Until 12:30 p.m. And it was just around this time that something else took over. Somehow it just happened. My baby girl made her mind up that it was time, and did all the hard work for her mama. After pushing for only 15 minutes, our daughter was healthy and finally in our arms. I have to honestly say that overall labor was much easier than I expected. Maybe it's my selective mommy memory that forgets the bad and only remembers the good, but I could do everything and so much more a hundred times over again for such a special little gift.
And since I'll only continue to fumble over my words, here are a few pictures of our very first days together...
I'll let her sweet face sum up our joy.