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It was a cold, wintry Tuesday - the morning of February 6, 2007. I woke around 6:45 am and went to take a shower to get ready for the day. Besides work, and getting the kids off to school, I had a pre-natal appointment scheduled at 8:30 am. My husband David, who usually leaves early in the morning because he has a long commute, was home and just waking since he was planning on coming to the doctor appointment with me.
I got out of the shower and was just drying off when I noticed some fluid on the bathroom floor. It was dripping from me and I wondered if this was water from the shower or possibly something else. I dismissed it and continued to dress. I sat on the closed toilet seat to put on my socks when I realized I was definitely dripping and leaking. Is it possible? I wasn't due for another 4 weeks! Still in doubt, I called out to Dave. He opened the bathroom door as I sat there in disbelief, "I don't know, honey. I think my water broke." "Really?" He was shocked. "Well, I could be wrong but I think we better call the doctor anyway."
We proceeded to call the clinic to reach my doctor and I went into autopilot, gathering items I hadn't yet packed. I was shaking with excitement and nervousness. The doc said to just come in for the usual appointment time to make sure it was indeed my water breaking. I kissed my 11-year-old daughter Lauren before we left knowing that I would probably be leaving for the hospital. Because by this time, I was leaking a LOT and KNEW this was it. Before that, I had doubted the thought because it was just too early for me to have this baby. She wasn’t due until March 4. And to think, my husband had just returned from a weeklong business trip 4 days earlier! Luckily he got back just in the nick of time to be with me for the birth of his first child.
The doctor confirmed what I already knew. I passed the puddle test! We were told to go straight to the hospital that morning and that we were now on the clock and have to deliver within 24 hours.
On our way, Dave drove the car and called his family members and friends at work to say "We're on our way to the hospital!" He was so excited and very surprised. In fact, just the night before, he had said how he hoped the baby would wait until he finishes an experiment at work (he's a scientist). That was also an evening I had felt extremely exhausted and very grouchy! I had no trouble sleeping that night (unlike many nights before with insomnia!).
Now as we were on our way to St. Mary's hospital, I said, "guess you won't be able to finish that experiment after all" he laughed and said he didn't care.
We arrived at the hospital around 10 am and went to Labor and Delivery floor and got set up in our cozy birthing room. Then the waiting began. I wasn't experiencing much of what you would call contractions yet, so David had some lunch and we just relaxed in the room, talking and anticipating what was to come. It seemed surreal that we would be having our baby girl this early and that we would be meeting her very soon.
As we hung out together, it snowed outside our window. It had been a second day of very cold temperatures (below 0 degrees) so the local schools had all closed. Our two kids, Lindsey and Lauren, were at home awaiting any news we could share.
Meanwhile, Dave and I went for walks on the L&D floor to hopefully speed up the labor process. He held my hand and looked quietly excited with a tad bit of nervousness in his eyes, but he mostly showed his most calming demeanor for my sake.
Dave was excited to try out the new massager we had bought for this occasion and he was ready to start coaching and nurturing me. Early that afternoon, as I was having mild contractions, he gave me a foot massage. I didn't argue. We listened to music (U2, Bob Marley, etc) and looked at family pictures on his laptop. We got out the massage oil and aromatherapy spray. I discovered how much I like grape juice.
I wasn’t progressing much and my contractions were very mild. Dave said, “Wow, you’re really taking these contractions in stride” but then I explained to him how I wasn’t that brave really, it’s just these pains were “cake” compared to what I will experience later on. This is especially true of what I would endure if they have to give me Pitocin. Well, unfortunately, that is what the doctor ordered. At 3 pm, I was given an IV drip of Pitocin to speed things along. Sometime in the afternoon, someone called for me on my cell phone about a work-related issue. Dave took the call and nicely and protectively explained, “Ah, you can’t talk to her right now. My wife is in labor!” We got a little a laugh out of that one.
By 4 pm, I was feeling it. We decided to try the exercise ball on the floor with each contraction. I leaned over it and Dave rubbed my back and talked me through each contraction as they progressively grew stronger and harsher.
By 5 and 6 pm I was in full blown labor and I was surprisingly vocal with each contraction. I mostly sang a high note or said one word repeatedly. It was the only way I felt I could reach that strong space inside me to cope and endure.
Close to 7 pm, I was ready to throw in the towel but Dave was such a great supporter. He was there every moment and gently talked me through it. The nurse offered some assistance for pain management. I found myself giving a second thought to my original decision to stay drug free and not accept an epidural. As time wore on, the contractions became extremely unbearable. I decided that some narcotic to help take the edge off would probably help. I was sometimes in a state of panic, realizing that I couldn’t escape this situation of pain and that I was totally stuck in it to the bitter end.
The narcotic proved to be helpful, as it allowed me to dose a little between contractions. It wasn’t long after I received the medication that I found myself announcing that I wanted to push. When I did, I could suddenly hear preparations being made in the room around me and heard people arriving to assist. When I was ready to push, I somewhat deliriously looked up and saw a team of 3 or 4 at the foot of the bed ready to deliver – all dressed in scrubs. I didn’t recognize them. Dave was at my side, telling them I was ready and “shouldn’t she be pushing?” But my doctor was not there. “she’s on her way” someone said. It didn’t matter. I was going to push anyway. Suddenly, Dr. O’Quinn was there and she said, “thanks for waiting for me. I got here as fast as I could!”
They all coached me to push – the nurses, the doctor, Dave. Dave tried to joke a little by telling me “This is it, honey. Baby is getting her evictio n notice. Time to come out!” He also tried to motivate that strong furious side of me by saying Dave said, “get mad and get it done!” And at one point I cried out, “Oh baby. Why don’t you just come out???” We can laugh about this now, but at the time I was in tears. This labor was truly the hardest thing I had ever done but I was determined to get it over with and finally have relief. I thought about the means to an end as I followed their commands but there were moments that I didn’t think I could go on. When they told me they saw the head and that she has “lots of hair” I thought they were just telling me that to motivate me. But my doctor said, “Hey I’m not lying. She really does have a lot of hair. One or two more pushes and you’ll be done” and I think that was what finally drove me to completion. The burn was something I had never experienced before. My other two deliveries had not been like that because I was given an episiotomy - but not this time. I would feel the sting like nothing else in this world. But, this momentary burn would be something I would greatly appreciate later when going through recovery (the recovery is much much better and less trying without an episiotomy).
Finally, our little darling popped her head out and I felt a sudden slippery relief of her sliding out just a moment after the doctor said she was carefully maneuvering one shoulder at a time.
8:48 pm on the night of Tuesday Feb. 6, 2007. The moment had arrived. It was the most amazing, incredible space of time for both Dave and I as a couple, together, to see our little girl, for the very first time, the one that we created together. She was crying! Our little sweet daughter was wailing! Dave looked at me and I could see he was going to cry.
She was tiny and perfect and indeed had lots of black hair! She was healthy! What a blessing!
The doctor said that it was clear that she was premature because she was still covered with the white vernex. They carried her to the tiny bed under warm lights and cleaned her off. They gave her eye drops and checked her vitals. Dave quickly got the camera and took her first photos. He was a proud daddy and finally he was able to meet her. Then they brought her to me, all wrapped up like a taco tightly in a blanket and I held her for the first time. I swear, she looked right at me. It was so moving – I couldn’t speak for a while.
Sofia Rose weighed in at a healthy 6 pounds 6 ounces and 20 inches long.
One thing that I never ever forget is how Dave took very special care of me that day. As I faced the most challenging moments of my life, he saw me through to the victorious end. He was also very nurturing of me throughout my pregnancy and for all of that, I am so grateful.
That night, Sofia met her two older sisters, Lindsey (16) and Lauren (11) and her maternal grandparents. The girls were taken with sweet Sofia and we all bonded together. Everyone sat adoring her for at least an hour before the nurse said visiting was over and we would be moving to our recovery room.
Lindsey and Lauren went home for the night (Grandma and Grandpa stayed at our house that night) and Dave would stay on a cot in the hospital with Sofia and me.
Later that night, Dave and I watched our new daughter receive her first bath as they monitored her temperature all night. We were exhausted but also riding on a wave of a natural high from the thrill of this amazing life experience. Dave got in the hospital bed with me and we held each other, feeling the magnitude of such a monumental, astounding day in our lives.
Julia, mom of 3! Baby Sofia born Feb. 6, 2007 (she had been due March 4), Lindsey 18, and Lauren 13!