February 22, 2012

The Day My Heart Grew

Disclaimer: This post is a bit wordy. You'll forgive the tiny details, won't you? It's not every day a gal has a baby, and I'm sure to forget all but the beautiful girl we brought home if I don't record it now.

Valentine's Day didn't quite turn out the way I'd pictured it, even hoping our daughter would be on her way to meet us February 14.

The evening before was ordinary as could be. I wrote this post and then took B on a variety of oh-so-exciting errands.

We swung by CVS (where we bought Nyquil, something that proved to be a poor call), Target, Academy Sports: a mish-mash of last minute activities designed to kill time, keep us busy and conquer a few lingering to do items.

My Everyday Valentine post was published around 6:00 pm; we left the house and returned around 8:15.

We were scheduled, for a few reasons, to be induced at 6:00 am, so I texted a friend to find out how late I could eat and drink beforehand. (Typical Anne concern.)

At 8:30 I made Bradley take two Nyquil, which wouldn't make me bat an eyelash but knocks him out for days. Neither of us had slept more than four hours the night before and, despite just finishing a round of antibiotics, he still had cough and cold symptoms bad enough to keep him up again.

At 9:00 I was tweeting with friends to keep myself virtual company while B prepared to hibernate. (So glad social media helped me track down the missing pieces of this night! Interesting to see what mindless chatter I engaged in just hours before things got nuts.)

Not fifteen minutes later I started to feel contractions. These were more than Braxton Hicks, but I'd had false labor before and noted how irregular the timing was. I chalked it up to my body "practicing" and hoped it would make our induction as smooth as Mac's.

By 10:00 I was seriously, truly uncomfortable. I took a hot shower, asked B to pray I could get some sleep (how he could do this with only half of his Nyquil-addled brain operating I don't know) and tried to picture things that made me happy.

Mac was with his grandparents or I'd have crawled in for a stolen snuggle. Instead, I watched all the Mac videos on my iPhone and tried to picture his sweet, chubby cheeks every time I felt ready to throw in the towel with these painful-but-clearly-not-real-labor contractions.

By 11:00 I was starting to panic. I had the shakes in a big way, another sign I missed. I tried timing my contractions but, being the dunce I am, couldn't figure out if I should measure them from the start of one to the start of the next or the end of one to the start of the next.

Regardless, they were all over the map. Nine minutes, seven minutes, two minutes, eight minutes, three minutes. All painful but none lining up as the literature says. The labor signs flyer our OB hands out is very clear. No need to call the doctor - just come to the hospital when you have regular contractions X minutes apart. And I didn't have that.

I knew enough to know that contractions two minutes apart would have to mean a baby was just moments from arriving...and clearly mine wasn't. Yet another reason I just knew my body was making me crazy for no reason.

I had woken Bradley to help with the "timing" of these painful things, but the poor boy kept dozing off in between rounds and just couldn't keep up. At 11:45 I decided we had to go in to the hospital; they had to make this pain stop so I could manage a few hours' sleep before delivery.

I really wanted to call and ask someone what to do, but between Bradley's inability to stay awake and my inability to speak during my constant (and way too long) contractions, that didn't seem possible.

Once we decided to go in, I attempted to dry my hair, which was a ridiculous comedy of errors. I couldn't walk to the bathroom, so B brought it to the bed. I couldn't manage it there, so I just decided to throw in the towel. Instead, I grabbed my makeup bag to apply concealer and blush en route. Priorities, people.

In all seriousness, the distraction of applying mascara (shaking hands and all) during our drive kept me from counting every last pothole we ran over during our eight minutes in the car. Come on, city of Greenville, get it together. You nearly killed me!

I was also grateful for the superficial preparations I'd made over the weekend - a manicure and pedicure, applying a pregnancy-safe self tanner, packing cute pajamas for after the big event. It's amazing what keeps your mind busy in times like this.

By the time we got to the hospital, we were the stereotypical "couple in labor" from every sitcom you've ever watched. B dropped me at the door while he parked (because the Labor & Delivery lot was closed for the night?!?) and I could tell from the look on the security guard's face that he didn't know "nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies."

I could barely walk, so B parked and caught up to me without a challenge. We hopped (hardly!) on the elevator and had to hang out, screaming elevator alarm and all, through a contraction until I could move the two feet required to shut the stupid thing up.

I also had to breathe huff through one immediately after stepping off said elevator, just in front of a group of gaping, giggling, gasping teenagers who had found some absurd reason to be on the baby floor at such an hour. All looking straight at me. If only I'd had the energy or breath to make a witty-slash-let-this-be-birth-control-for-all-of-you remark in that moment.

B offered me a wheelchair, which I steadfastly refused, but when a nurse came running at us with one of her own, I exhaled in gratitude and took it gladly. Poor, chivalrous, ignored Bradley!

By the time we got to the nurses' desk, I had trouble holding still, answering questions, looking at paperwork - doing anything at all. I did manage, however, to tell them I didn't want to talk because I don't like to cry in front of people I don't know.

Seriously, y'all, the one-liners continued all night. Including asking the doctor if they had any wine available or if anyone wanted to trade places, because "this" wasn't nearly as fun as it must look. Laughing when I could catch a breath was my only coping mechanism.

The sweet nurses fully appreciated the Boden maternity tunic and leggings I was sporting, as well as the silver flats, pearl studs and lip gloss that made me feel like it wasn't after midnight and I wasn't losing my mind. (Or having a baby at any moment.)

And then they were all gone - every accoutrement. Just a hospital gown and baby time. Eep.

We wheeled up at 12:45, were out of triage and in a delivery room just after 1:00 and met our daughter at 2:03 am. No time for an epidural* and no turning back.

I couldn't figure out why our OB was 'hanging out' and wouldn't leave our room even for the necessary prep work. Turns out he saw the writing on the wall, friends, and it said, "This baby is practically here already. No one move an inch."

Holy stupidity, y'all. I waited way too long to go to the hospital. Blame genuine ignorance, a firstborn tendency to follow the rules, plain stubbornness and a healthy dose of Nyquil.

Bottom line: We have a healthy, beautiful, dark-haired baby girl who makes us wonder what we ever did without her.

I spent months wondering how I could love a girl the way I love Mac. How I could love any child the way I love our first. How he'd react, how I'd split my affections, how I'd ever manage to catch on to the concept of having more than one tiny human in my heart.

Here's the beauty of it: The minute I met her, I just did. I was still shaking so badly I asked Bradley to hold her for the first hour of her life, close enough so I could gawk. My heart grew three sizes that night, and it's still growing.

Valentine's Day this year was filled with the most love of any day of my life. My parents raced up the interstate to meet their grandgirl within 90 minutes of her debut. My son met my daughter by lunch.

And just after 2:00 am, my husband fell in love with another girl before my very eyes; I did nothing but melt alongside him.

There were a few tough hours that night, but every minute since has been surprisingly easier than I'd expected. Recovery, our stay at the hospital, the initial adjustment, the swallowing my pride to accept (lots of!) help, all of it.

We have been given a beautiful, healthy little girl and I lived to tell the tale of the wildest Valentine's Day Bradley and I have shared to date.

I've already forgotten the pain, but I'll never forget that night. What a miracle!

Meet our Mary Brooks, the source of all things tiny and pink in the Smith house. We're smitten.

*Remind me to tell you the story of the anesthesiologist who put both a needle and a tube in my spine before taking them out, telling me nothing would help me at this point, then congratulating me (umm? no baby yet, sir!) and telling me I'd "do great." Hmph.

Without the labwork and waiting required to get an epidural, this bundle of pink could have arrived a full thirty minutes sooner. Can you imagine?

Evidently, after being told I'd get no medicinal assistance this go round (I had 15 minutes of an epidural before Mac was born), I informed the doctor I'd need a moment to "rally the troops."

It took a few minutes of breathing through contractions, as well as encouragement from our OB and the most fabulous nurses God ever created, to pump me up enough to fly solo. You'd better believe my heartfelt thank you notes to each of them are in the mail - literally.


LyndsAU said...

Ok. This made me cry!!! She's beautiful Anne And you are a champ! I mean wow!! I can't wait to meet her (well, you all) one day!!! Lots of love friend!!!

Mary Loyal said...

tears in my eyes! what a sweet story-- one you will surely never forget! congratulations on your beautiful addition!

Taylor said...

This was one of the most beautiful posts I've ever read!! What a birth story!!! And congrats on sweet Mary Brooks, she is precious!!!

Maggie said...

So happy for you, Anne... what a great story! She is just gorgeous!

Anne said...

What a pretty girl! Glad to know we have similar "priorities" when it comes to delivery...I fought tooth and nail to take a shower and dry my hair hours after Gracie arrived via c-section...gotta look good for those visitors, you know ;) Also GO YOU having a natural delivery, wow!

Day Old News said...

I canNOT believe I missed this!!!! CONGRATS! What a story! I totally feel like this would be me, worrying about whether it was wrong to call or go, and then getting stuck with no meds. You BRAVE woman! Congrats on little Mary, she's beautiful!

Day Old News said...

I canNOT believe I missed this!!!! CONGRATS! What a story! I totally feel like this would be me, worrying about whether it was wrong to call or go, and then getting stuck with no meds. You BRAVE woman! Congrats on little Mary, she's beautiful!

Amy said...

loved reading this! you are a champ!! and what a way to enter the world...watch out for this little girl. :)
btw, my best friend's name is mary brooks (first/last but we always call her by that b/c it just sounds so darn cute together!) congrats!! :)

The Gaymons said...

Way to go, Mommy!!!!! I figured you didn't have an epidural....so sorry about that. Of course, in true Anne fashion, you make the story so fun, entertaining, shocking, and beautiful to read and imagine. Love all the Smiths....and can't wait to meet sweet little Miss Priss. Welcome to the World, Mary Brooks!

Shannon said...

what a sweet little girl. i love all that dark hair!

congrats on little MB!

Carmen Feemster said...

This just made me cry! Anne, she is just beautiful!! Hope to see you soon.

Alle said...

Congratulations Anne!!! She is absolutely perfect!

Mrs. Yellow Ribbon said...

Congratulations! What a wild ride!


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