Then "something" started to happen..
I tossed and turned but could not sleep. My body was tense with cramping in my back and lower abdomen. The cramping reminded me of menstrual cramps only the pain occurred on and off instead of a consistent ache. I got out of bed to use the restroom and the cramping suddenly became a sharp pain like one gets before having diarrhea. I sat in the bathroom for quite a while with jelly like legs and chills confused by my body.
For the next two hours I went back and forth from my bed to the bathroom. Sleeping did not and would not happen at that point so I did my absolute best to turn my feelings of frustration and annoyance into prayer. I remained laying on my left side but soon found myself walking around in circles in my bedroom. The pain increased so much so I had to get up and walk it off.
Then it hit me..
Could I be in early labor?
I tried to deny the inevitable and continued to redirect my thought process to something other than labor but failed time after time. I reminded myself my due date was a week away and my last OB appointment, just two days before, revealed my body had only progressed to 1cm. I simply could not be in labor..no way no how!
Around 9am the shooting pain and cramping did not diminish, in fact it intensified. I timed my contractions and watched as the increments between them went from 10 minutes apart to 7 and then to 5 all within a few short hours. My body could not lay down or even sit anymore as the pain caused me to jump to my feet.
I texted my mom..
I contacted her the first time at 10am saying the contractions felt 'different' than the Braxton Hicks ones I had in the days prior and thought this could possibly be it..you know, labor. She texted back and asked if I could walk during these contractions. I could. This led my mind from "I'm having a baby," to "Come on Katie, you're fine," with each passing second. Every emotion played throughout my mind--excitement, denial, fear, happiness, anxiety, giddiness. I did not know what to do so I took a long, hot shower. I shaved my legs as a 'just in case' and continued to have contractions throughout my shower. I convinced myself the contractions eased up and I would not go into labor.
After my shower I debated doing my hair and makeup, again as a 'just in case', but instantly brushed those thoughts aside when a contraction caused me to grab onto the wall and bend over at the waist. At this very instant I knew..
Yes indeed, I was in labor and had been for hours.
I got dressed and opened up Gmail chat. Adam and I asked the usual questions to each other, "How are you? How's your morning going? What are you working on?" and then I spilled the beans. I told him things were happening and that I may need him home later in the day. We ended the conversation with Adam telling me, "Just call, I'll be ready. Love you!"
I anxiously walked around our bedroom looking at the mess of laundry piles and laughed out loud remembering what I told Adam last night, "I will work on laundry tomorrow and even start packing!" That phrase was a popular one during my pregnancy and caused me to laugh at my procrastination. I searched for clean clothes to fill our carry sized suitcase to take to the hospital as well as clothes for our baby girl. Packing was interrupted again and again by stronger and longer contractions. By noon, my contractions were 3 minutes apart.
I called Adam.
He came home around 1230pm and walked into the house to find me watering my plants. He responded with a smirk on his face, "Really Kate?" as I explained the plants were my babies too and needed water since I did not know how long we would be away. He rolled his eyes. We packed our hospital bag, prepared Colden's (our dog) things for his stay at my in-law's house, and ate lunch together. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Two of them.
My contractions remained 3 minutes apart for the next few hours each one lasting longer. Adam and I knew what this meant but we denied the truth a bit longer and decided to stay home and watch an episode of Fringe. We laid in bed together. Adam rubbed my lower back and I timed my contractions. I missed most of the show due to shutting my eyes, holding my breath, and praying through each contraction. My body felt miserable at this point and the shooting pains spread everywhere--up my back, down my back, down my thighs, across my hips, and up my stomach. I used the bathroom when the episode ended and saw the last bit of evidence I needed to finally accept my body was indeed laboring.
At that moment I said, "It's time. Let's go."
Adam loaded the car and helped me get in at 4pm. We headed to his parent's house to drop off Colden. He watched me as he drove and held my hand the whole way. He pointed all of the air condition vents in my direction and did his best to drive fast but smooth. My body felt pain, excitement, and more pain. Every bump in the road caused discomfort to my body, mostly in my lower back. I gripped Adam's hand as my face winced and turned red with each contraction.
We pulled into the carport of the hospital and walked into the building together. Adam then parked the car. I kept a pleasant look on my face, a smile even, as I waited for Adam to return. I greeted the ladies behind the desk and awkwardly took a seat. Adam entered the building and we rode up the elevator. The doors opened and we stepped into a new area of the hospital.
The 'Labor and Delivery' floor..
The clock on the wall read 5pm. I checked in and dealt with a not-so-nice nurse. Adam waited inside the room as I changed into my gown. He helped me into the hospital bed and we just stared at each other filled with nerves and giddiness. We talked, laughed, and freaked out together in between contractions. A new nurse entered our room and smiled at me. I smiled back and knew it would all be okay. As the nurse asked me questions and typed things into the computer something happened..
My water broke.
Only 5 minutes had passed since I sat in the hospital bed, only 15 minutes had passed since we entered the building. Embarrassed and rather grossed out by what came out of me, I apologized to the nurse and doctor who came in to check me and cracked a few corny comments to lighten the mood. They all laughed and Adam kissed me while he whispered in my ear, "You are a treat to them!" I smiled.
The doctor checked to see how my body had progressed and within seconds he said, "I see dark hair-lots of it!" My body progressed to 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. The nurse officially admitted me and walked Adam and I down to our room after monitoring my contractions and our baby's heart rate. The walk down the hall took a little long due to powerful contractions and the hilarious looking "tights" I had to wear.
We settled in the very spacious birthing room around 630pm and watched a video on receiving an epidural. During the video, Adam leaned in to ask how I was doing already knowing what my response would be. We laughed at the situation before I could even answer--strong contractions on top of each other, the nurse hooking me up to machines, buzzing hospital room noises, bright fluorescent lighting above my head, and to top it off a video about huge needles..
..I felt GREAT ;)
The laughter and conversation soon came to an abrupt stop. My body and brain did not know how to handle the heightened pain. I needed Adam by my side but did not want him to touch me during the contractions. The extra movement on my body from him rubbing my lower back caused even more discomfort and pain. I went into a Katie-God-Prayer-"Happy" place and tried to stay there but failed numerous times focusing only on the pain and when it would end. My lower back sent violent pains shooting up, down, and across my entire body. I shut my eyes hard and covered my face with my hands. I gripped the side of the hospital bed. I became tight and contracted my body inward.
At times I moaned and groaned and asked when it would be over while other times I remained silent and calm.
Adam and my nurse encouraged me until I made the mistake and asked my nurse when this would be over. She replied that she did not know but that it could be hours from now and my pain would get 100 times worse. This scared me and caused me to really doubt my ability to handle that kind of pain. I knew the amount of pain I was currently experiencing and could not imagine it getting any worse. Little did I know at the time my body was moments away from pushing and fully dilated.
I asked for pain medication at 830pm.
My nurse struggled with my IV as she attempted to get it 5 different times each in a different location on my arm and hand. I did not notice because I continued to deal with the pain from the contractions. Adam helped me by bringing cold, wet washcloths that I used to cover my entire face. The cold water felt amazing on my hot sweaty head and surprisingly brought relief. Adam scurried back and forth between the bathroom and my bed bringing the washcloths as the nurse continued to work on my IV. I kept telling myself, "Medicine is coming soon, medicine is coming soon, just hang on, just hang on.." The nurse finally got my IV in and hooked me up to pain medication.
This did absolutely nothing for the pain..nothing..
I was extremely discouraged when the medicine brought zero relief to my body. I lasted through a few more contractions until the word epidural came up. My nurse helped roll my body to my right side to start preparing for an epidural if I chose that route. After she turned me over the next contraction is one I will never forget. It sent my body into forceful, extreme pushing mode. I had no control over it. I gripped onto the side railing of the bed as my body contracted and pushed all on it's own. I let out a cry. I was scared. It hit me for the first time that it did not matter if I was mentally or emotionally ready, my body was ready physically and I would be having a baby soon! After that contraction ended, I felt our baby's head down and ready. I had never experienced so much pressure before. I could feel her coming everywhere--surprisingly, mostly in my bottom.
I said yes to an epidural.
Within minutes, the anesthesiologist entered my room and prepped my epidural. Adam and my nurse helped me sit up and set me in position. I wrapped my arms tightly around Adam and smushed my forehead firmly against him. I became safe and at peace in his arms and felt our Heavenly Father work through Adam in that moment. I only felt the pain from my contractions as I received my epidural and focused on not moving a muscle. I struggled with guilt as I sat up right fearing I would hurt our baby's little head. The epidural ended a few contractions later and mentally I could feel myself calming down.
As the anesthesiologist cleaned up her station a new doctor walked into the room. Adam and my nurse helped lay me down so the doctor could check my progression. She instantly said with a smile, "You are ready to push! 10cm and 100% effaced!" I smiled and shrugged at the same time. I asked if I could at least wait 10 minutes or so for my epidural to kick in.
I could not..my baby girl made it clear she wanted out!
The doctor and anesthesiologist left the room together. It became quiet and peaceful. Adam held my left leg and my nurse held my right leg. It was just the three of us. I began to feel the epidural slightly in my right leg by the tingling, pins and needles sensation. I knew exactly when to push because I continued to feel my contractions though the pain had dulled. My nurse told me how long to hold each push by counting through each one and encouraged me the whole way. After 2 sessions of pushing 3 times, my nurse explained the quicker I could push after each initial push the faster the baby would come out. That is all I needed to hear and after the next 2 pushes my nurse excitedly shouted for me to stop.
My baby's head was crowning as my nurse called for the doctor. The stretching pain felt awful and I simply wanted to keep pushing but refrained. Minutes later the doctor entered the room. She very calmly told me to do a little push and as I did she said, "Stop, her head is out." After two more tiny pushes the shoulders came out and I heard a faint cry.
Our baby was here.
Penny had arrived and the doctor immediately placed her onto my chest. As I felt her perfect little warm body the tears formed. One look at her and the tears unleashed. I glanced over at Adam in disbelief that this beautifully formed person came out of me and is ours to keep.
..I loved her, I loved her more than I ever thought possible.
I loved my Heavenly Father more.
I just loved more.
Penelope Layne Miller
Born on July 1st at 9:26pm weighing 6lbs 11oz measuring 19 3/4in long.
Psalm 139: 13-16,
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."