Whether you look at it from a scientific or a religious perspective, Amelia’s pregnancy and birth were truly a miracle. Statistically, since I had a history of recurrent miscarriages – with no discernible cause after a bazillion tests – it was unlikely that I could carry another child so soon after my fourth loss. Yet, for whatever reason – be it the progesterone from early conception or my uterus just figuring things out – the pregnancy stuck.
After a hellish first 20 weeks, a fantastic intermediary 10 weeks, and the on-set of pre-term labor at 30 weeks (with bed rest, hospital visits, medications, etc), it is amazing Amelia stayed in as long as she did.
My labor contractions began at 8 pm on Sunday evening, the night before 36 weeks. They came at regular 5-10 minute intervals throughout the night, keeping me awake and moaning in pain. I woke up knowing this was it. However, given my history of long labors (Andrew’s was 48 hours), I knew better than to sit and wait. So, after dropping Ben off at work, I drove to our favorite park for a lovely 4 mile walk, pushing the stroller. Afterwards, we went home and I drank a delicious cocktail of Dr. Pepper and Castor oil (gag!) (which I would not have taken had I not already started labor). The contractions were still steadily coming at 5 – 10 minute intervals. The kids and I settled in for our afternoon nap in which they slept and I alternated between writhing in pain and texting Ben. I started timing the contractions using a cool internet site and was surprised to see them coming in at 2 – 5 minute intervals. However, they weren’t at THAT point yet. And, despite my initial prognosis in the morning, I was feeling understandably tired and defeated. After an hour, I decided to get up and pack things. In between contractions and tears, I managed to get the kids’ bags and my suitcase packed.
We picked Ben up from work and went home for a bite to eat. I cried on Ben’s shoulder, terrified that I would be in labor forever. He encouraged me to call the doctor, so I did. Through contractions and sobs, I managed to convey that I did not want to go to the hospital only to be sent home. (For whatever reason, it takes my uterus hours of contractions to go from a dilation of a 2 to a 5 and the contractions did not have the “5” feeling yet.) But the doctor convinced me to head to the hospital, so I re-checked the bags, added a few forgotten items, and called my good friend, J., who had already volunteered to take the kids for us.
That hour and 15 minute trip was ridiculously tiring. Once we dropped the kids off, who were excited to have a sleepover at their friend’s house, I alternated between breathing through contractions that were lasting between 1-2 minutes every 2 minutes and crying because I didn’t think we’d ever get to the hospital. We finally arrived at 9 pm. The walk from the car to the building was, um, fun.
Once we were placed in the triage room, the nurse, Heather, checked me and I was delighted to hear I was dilated to a 3.5 and 75% effaced (the last time I had been checked, over a week ago, I was a 2 so that means over the last 24 hours I had progressed 1.5 cm, yay?!). To see if I was still progressing (despite the obvious contractions coming at 3 – 5 minute intervals), I was monitored for an hour. Nothing. Heather recommended another hour in which I used a combination of birthing ball movements and squats during contractions to try and speed things up. She checked me again and I was at a 4. She consulted with the doctor after hearing my plea of “remember, I’m in pain!” They agreed to let me stay for more monitoring. A very wise decision. After 30 minutes, they moved me from the triage room into a delivery room at which point the contractions had reached their pinnacle, or for the “5” of which I had been waiting. Heather checked me again and announced that I had, indeed, reached a 5! I was admitted, finally, and the nurse anesthetist was called (honestly, doing a natural birth after weeks of pre-term contractions and over 24 hours of contracting was not a possibility). At 1 am, I was given an epidural (which took like 45 minutes and was pure torture) and rested as much as I could with consistent contractions. After an hour or so, I felt liquid pouring out. I called the nurse who checked me and said, “your water broke!” Since my water has never broken naturally, I was thrilled! However, I was still only a 5 and 75% effaced. After another 5 hours (around 7 am) and literally no progress, I called Heather because I felt intense pressure in my pelvic area. She came in, checked me and called in another nurse. That nurse checked me and said, “um, call the doctor, she’s at a 10 and this baby is ready!” I had gone from a 5 to a 10 in one hour.
We waited for the doctor. Since I was only 36 weeks, they also had to call in a NICU nurse, a pediatrician, and a few other people for after the baby was born to make sure he/she was okay. Finally, after what felt like an eternity and me trying really hard to keep the baby in and force my body not to push, the doctor arrived. (Another first, for me, was the push feeling.) After 2.5 pushes, the baby came out. I looked down, saw the baby’s parts, and shouted, “it’s a girl!!! It’s Amelia!!” Since everyone around me, including Ben, were convinced that we were having a boy, I laughed a bit because they were all WRONG! And I was right. Ha ha! (I’m adult like that.)
After 35.5 hours in labor, I had a precious, baby girl. Ben told me later (I was in a sleep deprived haze and could barely think) that the cord was wrapped around her neck a bit and Amelia was a gray color. After Ben cut the cord (an amazing experience), the NICU nurse and pediatrician took her to the table for further examination. She quickly acquired a pink look, breathed on her own, and whined a bit. The doctor helped me birth the placenta and happily told me I had no tearing (another first!). Amelia was ready (after being weighed [5 lbs. 15 oz] and measured [19 3/4 in.]) to meet me and her daddy. Ben brought her over and I cried big, fat tears of happiness. I brought her to my breast and gave her the first few drops of colostrum while Ben announced her arrival – via phone – to our family and kids. We took pictures (I took a few with my nurse, whom I had already developed a relationship with, she was THAT amazing) and exchanged looks and hugs of shock and amazement.
Once Amelia and I were settled, Ben left to get the kids. The nurse took the baby to the nursery for all the requisite tests and the Hep B shot while I was taken to the recovery room and given a delicious breakfast. I dozed as I waited for Ben to return with Emily and Andrew and the nurse to return with Amelia.
When the kids arrived, they ran over and hugged me. Emily happily announced, “Mommy! I’m so happy the baby is out of your tummy!” Soon, the nurse brought Amelia back in and the kids spoiled her with hugs and kisses.
The rest of the hospital stay was a blur of nursing, diaper changing, pediatrician and nurse evaluations, visits with Ben and the kids, phone calls, and sleep. We had to stay an extra day because of Amelia’s early arrival and a few other things, and happily arrived home on Friday.
Since then it’s been busy. I am still in shock to have this precious angel after 2 years of losses and suffering. She is our miracle.