It has been a little more than a week now that we have been blessed with Little Baby Emma in our lives, and sometimes I still can’t believe that she’s here!
We had been waiting for her arrival since I hit the 38th week, and every day since then had been anxiety-filled and putting what-ifs into question. I had also gone for several rounds of prenatal fetal non-stress tests before Emma’s arrival, and every time I had been told, “Your baby looks perfect! This baby’s beautiful!”
Apart from the regular Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been feeling, there was no other indication that Emma was gonna come soon. Week 39 came and there was obvious stress on my bladder and pubic bone. I was finding it increasingly hard to move around, but I still did my regular stuff: cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and even some yoga and light cardio on the elliptical. Her movements in my belly were more prominent at night. I tried to keep my mind off the waiting by doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, rewashing Emma’s crib linens, whatever I could think of, but nothing happened.
I drank a lot of labor prep tea (containing red raspberry leaf) and also had yogurt with pineapple in it, in the hope of starting off labor, but guess what, nothing happened.
Initially I had predicted Emma would be born on February 28th, but that day came and went without incident. Then Pete predicted she would be born on the same date as her sister Hannah’s birthday, but March 2nd came to pass too. Then we thought it would be March 5th, and I thought for sure it would be March 8th. But nothing happened.
Incidentally, we had a blizzard on March 8th, which lasted till March 9th, so had she decided to make her entrance that day, it would be hard for us to make our way to the hospital too. Clever girl.
On Saturday, March 9th, I felt stronger contractions, or rather they felt like the urge for a bowel movement. Nothing happened then though, except that I *thought* my mucus plug was dislodged that day. On Sunday March 10th, at about 11:00a.m. I definitely had “the show”, and I excitedly told Pete about it.
“This is it,” I said. “Emma will be here in a day or so.”
We went out to Quincy, MA for a scrumptious lunch of Vietnamese pho, and all along the contractions were coming in a little stronger each time. We did some grocery shopping after that and reached home around 4:00p.m. Had a bowel movement, which appeared to cleanse the body in preparation for labor.
The contractions seemed less pronounced after that, but started getting more painful again after dinner. Had another cleansing bowel movement late that night. We told the kids that Mommy might need to go to the hospital soon, so we got them bathed and in bed slightly earlier that night. Pete and I were presuming we would only be making the trip to the hospital at about 5:00 or 6:00a.m. in the morning.
At about 11:30p.m. I was watching TV and also timing my contractions. They were about 4-5 minutes apart at that time and lasted about 30 seconds each. At about midnight, I told Pete that the contractions had become about 45-50seconds each and lasting about 3-4 minutes apart. I told Pete that I would try to sleep it off to see if that works.
But at about 12:30a.m. when Pete came to check on me, I told him the contractions felt more intense and that we definitely had to go to the hospital right then. So we slowly got ready and Pete took my labor bag to the car first. He then woke up the kids one at a time and dressed them in an extra layer of clothes. Thankfully I could still walk in between contractions and also thankfully, the kids were not in a cranky mood that night. Well, nothing we could not handle.
We finally made our way to the car. It was a good thing the weather was not too chilly that night. We reached the hospital in about 20 minutes and Pete parked in front of the Emergency entrance. I was then wheeled in to the Labor and Delivery suite, while Pete and the kids came in soon after they parked the car.
It was about 2:00a.m. then. I was put on the fetal monitor to monitor the baby’s heart rate and upon checking, the nurse told me I was about 1cm dilated. I could hardly believe it because I thought I would have to be at least 4cm, judging from the pain of the contractions! The situation in the labor and delivery suites that night was pretty chaotic. I heard that the doctor was in the O.R. and we could tell that they were understaffed.
We told the nurses that I had been tested positive for the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection, and as a result, I would need to be on antibiotics via IV drip at least 4 hours before baby was born. However, I was only administered the antibiotics at about 3:30a.m. because the nurse said something about having to be sure that my contractions and dilations were progressing well.
At that time I was about 3cm dilated. The contractions were getting unbearably strong and I was beginning to lose my cool. I asked when I would be able to get an epidural, but the nurses kept telling me, “Soon honey, as soon as the anesthetist comes out from the O.R.”
And they kept asking me my weight. 😛
Anyway, I remember a few minutes after the antibiotics were administered, I requested to go to the bathroom. I felt an urgency to bear down then, but I thought it was just another bowel movement. Nothing happened of course.
I came out and told the nurse I had the “bear down” feeling, but that I was ready for the epidural. They started to prep me, and the nurses requested that Pete take the kids out for a while when the epidural was administered. The feeling to bear down came at each contraction and I could not find the strength to move into the position the anesthetist wanted me to. I screamed that the strap on my tummy to monitor the fetal heartbeat was too tight and yelled at them to “Take the strap off NOW!” I was relieved they finally removed it. The nurse asked me if I still wanted the epidural or if I wanted her to check my dilation.
I could no longer talk coherently, so they went ahead with the epidural.
The epidural was administered at about 4:00a.m. (I think), and I propped my back on the bed for a few seconds before the next strong surge of contractions started again. I felt every single ounce of pain because it takes about 15 minutes for the epidural to kick in. The “bear down” feeling came again and I could not hold back any longer. The next thing I knew, I felt something like a BIG explosion and then I felt water gush out.
The nurse asked, “Oh was that a big kick?”
I answered, “Nope. My water just broke!”
The doctor was already there in the delivery suite and I heard her say, “Yup, water just broke! And the liquid’s clear.”
I could see Pete and the kids coming back into the room at that moment, and I vaguely remember everyone rushing around to get things ready. I asked weakly, “How many cms am I dilated?”
“You’re 10cm honey. We should be ready to push any minute now.”
I could hardly believe it. That had to be the shortest epidural ever, and on hindsight, I might not have needed it after all. But still, I might not have had enough energy to push.
Anyway, they got everything ready and told me to hold my breath and push for 10 counts for 3 times each every time I felt a contraction coming. I pushed and pushed for 3 times, but still no baby. I asked, “Is she crowning yet?” and the doctor said, “Not yet. Almost!”
So we waited again. The next time, I pushed with all my might. On the second push, I felt the baby’s head and then followed by the body.
And then it was all over.
Emma let out a cry a few seconds after birth, and she was briefly wiped before she was laid skin-to-skin on my chest. The hospital practices the Golden Hour where the mother and baby are allowed and encouraged skin-to-skin contact and bonding time for an hour after birth. Emma was born at 4:30a.m. weighing 6 lbs 10 oz (approx. 3.005 kilos) and 21 inches long.
And yes, if you are wondering, Pete and both Ethan and Hannah were in the delivery suite together with me, witnessing the wondrous birth of baby Emma. I had asked Emma to come when she was ready, preferably in the late morning, but it looks like she had other plans of her own and she wanted to say hi to her siblings when she came into the world too.
The placenta was then delivered and although I did NOT have an episiotomy (yay!), I had a smallish tear which needed to be stitched up. I was oblivious to this all, because I was marveling at my little wondrous creation in my arms.
Just like her two siblings, Emma is a pro at breastfeeding. My milk came in on the evening of the 2nd day and Emma was none the happier. Emma and I stayed two nights in the hospital and we left on Wednesday morning. We would have been able to leave on Tuesday actually, but because I did not get the full 4-hour dose of the GBS antibiotic before she was born, the pediatrician wanted to monitor Emma for a full 48 hours before she could go home.
She’s been drinking and peeing and pooping well so far, her first poop (meconium) appeared the morning she was born, and the mustard-colored stools started making its appearance sometime during the 3rd or 4th day.
It’s great to be back home now instead of staying in the hospital, but we’re all working hard to get our routines straightened out, as well as balance the sleep deprivation. 😛
I truly believe that no one can predict the time and hour a baby will make her entry into the world. She will come when she is ready, and in Emma’s case, she decided to come exactly on her due date of March 11 2013, making her one of the 5% of all babies in the world to fall into that statistic. Not a day early and not a day late.
She probably wanted to wait for the days to get warmer. Smart girl, this one.