gemma's birth story

Last pregnant photo of me.. taken just 2 days before Gemma was born.

It's been almost a year since I've given birth to my baby girl. I know that the time flies and I should have posted this forever ago. I had a long detailed version that I just thought could be summarized a bit, so this is the "shorter" version of the story, and I thought it'd be a perfect night for it on the eve of Gemma's first birthday :)

My due date was October 29. 5am on October 21, I woke up because I had to pee for the tenth time that night and realized I was a little crampy. Coming back from the bathroom, I realized that my cramps were something different than the Braxton Hicks I'd been experiencing for the past 3 months. I woke Bry up and we both got all excited and couldn't go back to sleep. Bry talked me into calling the on-call OB to see what we should do. She told me to go for a walk and see if anything progressed. After our longer walk, my doctor suggested I head to the hospital to get checked {as I was "trickling" water- I wasn't really sure if my water had broken yet or not...} So off we went to the hospital.

Off we go to the hospital. They hooked me up to a monitor to check my contractions. Turns out I was in early labor. There the question arose again...Did my water break? {If your water has broken, you're automatically admitted to the hospital.} They did an exam and found I was less than 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced, however, my water had not broken. They sent us home with a few tricks to try. Take a walk, eat spicy food, drink one beer, etc. Home we went.

Since walking was recommended, we walked and walked. And we walked some more. Then, in attempt to eat spicy food, we picked up Chipotle for dinner and grabbed some Woodchuck Cider for yours truly and headed home. {As a side note...Bryan mapped out all of our walking and found out we walked 10 miles throughout the day. 10 miles!!! At 39 weeks pregnant... who does that?!} After eating dinner, we popped in a movie and settled in for the night. During the movie, the contractions seemed to subside and space out a bit, so I figured my body was relaxing and this baby wasn't coming as soon as I'd thought.

Next thing I know, I'm waking up at midnight to some serious writhing from painful contractions in bed. Breathing through them was getting difficult. Bryan awoke to me breathing extremely loudly and kinda panicked because I hadn't woken him up sooner. I called the doctor again. She said monitor them and touch base in an hour or two. We went out to the living room and decided to watch TV while timing the contractions. After a few hours, we called back and the doctor told us to meet her at the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at 4am. They examined and checked me again... I was 2 cm now but again, my water had not broken yet. They told me to walk around the halls for an hour {as walking can move the dilation process along}. As I stood up to walk the halls, I felt a big gush and there it was... my water broke. We were admitted and staying. This was it- the next time we'd leave the hospital would be with our baby girl!

The contractions began to get worse. I got back into the hospital bed and soon started making unrecognizable noises. Groans, moans, cries, and winces. I can't quite even describe what I felt. The pain basically took over my whole body and all I could do was try to get through until the next break. Poor Bryan looked so helpless. I could tell he wanted to help in some way, any way, but all I could do was focus and not talk and not be touched. So he just sat there and was the best company ever.

I had been wanting an epidural since yesterday {literally- and quite badly by this point} but I couldn't have one until I was about 3 or 4 cm dilated. At 8am, they checked me and said I was 3cm. It took over an hour and a half for the anesthesiologist to get to my room. I was in pretty rough shape {or so I felt}. The anesthesiologist came in at 9:30am and I was so relieved to see him. He said,  "Okay after 3 more contractions and you won't be feeling them anymore..." I kinda didn't believe him, but followed his instructions to sit still. He was kind enough to wait til we were between contractions and that made it a little easier. Getting the epidural wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I didn't even see the needle. Once it was in, I really couldn't feel the pain, I could only feel tightening during contractions. Now it was time to relax. I wanted to sleep but my body wouldn't let me. I think I was too anxious and excited and nervous. So we just waited. Lots of talking, lots of nurses in to check the monitor, and I even was given a popsicle because I was hungry! The nurses had also noticed I had spiked a fever, so they kept checking in on me more often at this point. 

At about 5:30, I started feeling like I needed to push. We buzzed the nurse into the room and my temperature had gone down and then back up again. The doctor came in and looked at where we were at, she told me I was 10 cm dilated, but baby wasn't as far down as they would have liked. They told me I could start pushing if I really wanted to, but I'd be pushing longer because I'd need to push her down farther than if I waited and let gravity help. Well, I could have made things easier on myself and waited, but I felt like I'd waited long enough. I felt like I'd been sitting around waiting all day, I wanted to actually DO something to help get her here sooner. I was tired of waiting. So the nurses prepped and got things together. The doctor came in as well, and so things began.

I started pushing at 6:00. The doctor, the nurse, and Bry all told me I was doing great. {I was told in our birth class that when you push, it's more of a two steps forward, one step backwards type of deal, so you have to keep pushing- 3 pushes for as long as you can before you actually rest}. At one point, my OB asked if I was an athlete. Bry and I looked at each other and laughed as I responded no, but she mentioned that I was really good at holding my breath. I knew that baby wasn't as close as I thought when my OB was checking her Blackberry and answering phone calls without scrubs on. However, I kept pushing and doing what I could to see my girl. I began to get excited when my doctor began putting her scrubs on and prepping the room with the nurse. I kind of hated that there was a huge clock in view of the bed, because I kept looking up to see how much time had passed. I started to feel exhausted and looked up and realized I'd been pushing for over an hour.

As the room started to get busier and I heard "Oh baby's got a head full of hair!" I immediately knew I was so close and felt a bit rejuvenated {as energized as one could feel in labor after almost two days without sleep}. Several more pushes, pressure, and pain, and all of a sudden, there was relief! And there she was! They put her on my belly and I couldn't believe Gemma was here. That little whimper {she didn't cry as much as they wanted her to} was blissful music to my ears. Did I really just bring this tiny little person into this world? I couldn't fathom it and all I wanted to do was stare at her for hours and hours.

{{However, since I had a fever, hospital protocol is to treat mother and baby with a course of antibiotics and baby goes to the Newborn ICU for at least 24 hours. After about 5 minutes together and only 2 minutes of holding her, they rolled her away the NICU floor. Holy heartache. Poor Bry didn't even hold her before they took her away. We were so sad to see her leave. In the end though, we were both treated and healthy and we made up for lost time with Gemma. }}

In the end, or should I say the beginning, Gemma's birth day was one of the best days of my life. The 14 hours of labor and over an hour of pushing was all worth the pain for my little beauty. Yes, Gem's stay in the NICU was a bit disappointing that she was so far away from us, but I'm so glad she didn't have any type of infection. She has blessed us so incredibly much and I can't remember life without her at this point. The day she was born was a day my dreams came true. And I'll never forget it.

I love you, my Gemma girl!!!

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