So here it is 1 month later and I'm finally getting around to writing her sweet birth story. The story I was praying about for months and wondering what it would be like. This month has flown by and each moment/day seems to go at lightning speed. I truly enjoyed every stage and age of childhood, so I get so sad when one passes but then excited for what's to come- it's a confusing thing I know. But oh what joy it's been to have a sweet little baby in the house again! We love her more and more with each passing moment. I've so enjoyed watching her big sisters love on her and having her add to the love/crazy in our house. We're truly blessed beyond measure!
Well where to begin? I'll start with week 37 of pregnancy and go from there because that's when my body started making me nuts and keeping us wondering...
So both Lauren and Olivia were born just over 37 weeks so I wondered if that was my body's limit. So at 37 weeks 1 (a Friday) I had an OB appointment. I woke that morning having some contractions. This is normal, to some degree, for me towards the end of pregnancy but that morning they seemed a little more 'regular' as I woke at an early hour to prepare for the appointment. We were dropping Lauren and Olivia at Esther's house and then Matt and I were heading to the appointment. Well that was the plan until I got a text from Esther that poor Evan had been up all morning sick. So as I was getting ready I was racking my brain as to who else could help us. Well since it was Good Friday, Robin didn't have school so I called her and she was able to jump in at the last minute. Problem solved! Well about ten minutes later Matt was putting on his socks and he did something to make his back get messed up. I know putting on his socks of all things, but my dad herniated a disk in his back putting on his socks so you just never know. Well Matt was in obvious pain and at one point asked me to help him walk...while I was having a contraction! I immediately started to panic...what if I am in early labor, then what?!?! He was in no way going to be able to hold a leg let alone do any other helping during labor. So then I called my great friend Heather, the only person in town I would even consider being in the labor room with me, and in panic mode asked if she could help out if this was the day. She said she could do it and to keep her posted. Things seemed to spiral into craziness as the morning continued. I got nervous as the contractions continued so I said we should bring the bag with us, just in case. I was so anxious and in wonder- was this the day??
At the appointment I told my doctor about the contractions and she got right to checking me and I was 1 cm and 'ripe' (such a nice term). She asked if I had timed them and I laughed and told her I hadn't even thought of it with our busy, hectic morning. She hooked me up to a monitor and left me there. She tended to other patients as Matt and I sat. It seemed that as I 'relaxed' (as best I could under those conditions) so did my body and the contractions slowed. I had a few spaced out contraction but the monitor had been hooked up wrong so they didn't even register. When she came back 45 minutes later I just wanted to leave, go home and sleep. So back home I went, off to work Matt went, and sweet baby girl stayed right where she was. Later that evening the contractions came back and where very regular but not very strong- an hour later they were gone altogether.
That was Easter weekend and I spent the whole weekend wondering if it was time. I kept trying to think of anything else I needed to do to prepare. And this is when I also started praying and praying fervently that when the time did come that there was nothing dramatic about it. I prayed to God for a quiet exit to the hospital where I simply had a baby and that was it. No drama, just baby.
And my poor mom was just on call waiting to book her plane ticket so she could be here to help out. She was hoping our baby girl would stay in a little longer since she had a 'can't miss' doctors appointment on the 9th that couldn't be rescheduled.
Well the week continued, days filled with contractions and no labor. I got to the point where I would just ignore them and go about my day. I just remember being more and more exhausted as each day passed. I would get to the point of having nothing left to give each day by lunchtime- after that I was running on fumes. Only by the grace of God did I continue to put one foot in front of another. Thankfully and unfortunately the month of April was fairly empty since I was planning on having a baby sometime in that month so I didn't plan anything just in case. Well some days I was so thankful since I was just big and done and then other days I needed distraction and something to keep my mind off being big and done.
My next appointment was a week later (38 weeks), also on Friday morning. This time we just took both girls with us. I was not in fear of going into labor during the appointment so I had no problem with bringing them. We brought a wonderful sticker activity book to occupy them and told them that when the doctor came into the room they had to sit with daddy behind mommy while I talked with her. They did wonderfully. She checked me again and I was a "soft 1 cm." I really wonder who comes up with these terms! Well as my sweet little ones were keeping daddy's hands full I asked my doctor about induction.
My doctor broached the subject with me two weeks earlier and since I was so used to giving birth early I didn't even give it a second thought. Then I started to think about it more and more as the days passed. I just kept thinking about how it would really help with planning and my mom and I also thought about how it would help me relax and enjoy the last days of pregnancy as much as I could. Plus, my doctor might actually, finally deliver one of my babies if we went this route- she missed Olivia by ten minutes! She was open in it and told me how it would all work. She also informed me that the last five patients she had scheduled for an induction went into labor on their own before hand. So that gave me hope that I would too. So we went ahead a got the ball rolling. Later that day, after the appointment, the doctors office called to tell us that we were scheduled to be induced on Monday, April 20th. They gave me all the pertinent information and that I would need to come in on the following Thursday to do all the pre-registration stuff. I got off the phone with mixed feelings.
I really wanted to go into labor on my own- I started praying now for a drama free labor that happened on it's own. I prayed and I prayed most off all though for the strength to trust in Him who knows all. To trust and believe that He had it all worked out and if induction was His plan- than that was that and I didn't need to worry about it. But you know how God works- sometimes he takes us down a road that looks to us like a detour but what is to him the right road all along.
I only spoke of the induction to my mom, Esther (since she was going to take my kids) and another prayerful friend. I know all three of those women were praying hard for me. I am eternally grateful to them for that love.
Now that we had a set date on the books for our sweet girls potential arrival and it was now passed my mom's important doctor appointment, my mom and I could plan for her arrival to our house. My mom called me the Sunday following the 38 week appointment and said that her and my step-dad Bill had talked it over that they thought it would be best for her to head our way at the end of the week so she could help me out before and be here a little early incase Audrey came sooner too. My exhausted self was so glad to hear that help was on the way. God knew I needed it!! He always provides for us- Amen!!! I was praying then that the baby wasn't born Monday because that would have made for craziness but thankfully she was still tucked safely inside and content to be there.
My mom, Grammy P, arrived on Wednesday evening. The moment I knew her plane had arrived I let out a breath of relief and relaxed a lot. It was nothing but the grace of God that my mom provided us in those few days leading up to Audrey's birth. Especially since that Thursday I had the pre-registration appointment, right during nap time, that took two and a half hours and cost us $500 (oh we'll get our money back but not until after the hospital and the insurance company go through that long drawn out process of settling the bill- so annoying). Then the next day, Friday again, I had my 39 week OB appointment. So my mom babysat for both appointments- heaven sent!! At this early morning appointment she checked me and said I was a generous 2 cm and said she would like to see me Monday morning already in labor and if I went over the weekend then it was very unlikely that she would be there due to personal obligations (she was throwing a fundraiser at her house for an early childhood preschool program for abused children- she's truly a wonderful lady). At this point I wasn't sure I cared who delivered by baby as long as she somehow made her way out. My doctor also wanted to do an ultrasound that day to check baby's weight. Another time I was overjoyed my mom was in town. So I left that appointment, got home, we all went grocery shopping, then headed back to the doctors for the ultrasound.
It was so cool to have my mom at an ultrasound- she had never had one before and this was her first chance at seeing her newest grandbaby and seeing an ultrasound. The girls came too, and they loved it. The tech gave both of them their very own picture. It was cool for me too, since I had never had an ultrasound so late into my pregnancy. Oh seeing her on the screen made me even more excited for her impending arrival.
After the ultrasound we headed to meet daddy for lunch since we were all starving and Matt works 5 minutes from the hospital. Plus, I was excited to show him the ultrasound pictures. But when we came home from that morning/afternoon I was exhausted to the core, we all were. I was grateful for mom there to cook dinner and help with the kids too.
Saturday came and so did some time for rest. It was eighty degrees that day so we set up the pool out back. Matt mowed the lawn and mom and I rested in chairs on the deck watching the girls enjoy the first hot day of the season. As the day progressed so did the intensity of my contractions. During nap time mom and I went for a walk. During the walk she said "I have a feeling about tomorrow." I laughed and told her I've had a feeling about a lot of days when my contractions seemed more intense and continued to brushed them off.
After dinner that night mom said we should go on another walk, "we're going to walk this baby out" she said. The girls road bikes and I waddled along. Mom took a picture of all of us (I need to get that from her) and told me "you got to look at this Jennifer, you look huge!" Yeah, just what I wanted to hear and see- big ol' Jennifer, no need to remind me- Thanks mom. I know she could just see it, see that I was done. I knew I had just a day left until for sure we were headed to the hospital so I took it in strides. That night I headed to bed around 9:00 with not an ounce of energy to have a care in the world.
At 12:35 am I awoke to a pretty strong contraction. I again didn't think much of it. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I had awoke to a few strong contractions only to fall back immediately back asleep- that's how exhausted I was! But I got up this time and headed to the bathroom. It was there that I realized what was going on, the fog lifting. I laid down only to have another contraction tell me that it's time! I woke Matt, also exhausted. He was so tired that he fell back asleep after he asked why I was waking him. He seriously fell back asleep three times after me telling him it was time to get up and start timing the contractions and start packing the bag. Each time I told him that and each time he'd fell back asleep forgetting anything I said. This annoyed me to no end so I started fussing at him and my tone was one of a very frustrated wife. It was then that he started waking only to fuss at me for fussing at him while he was trying to sleep!! Oh we were so tired. Finally, he got up and watched me breath through a few strong contraction as I was running around the room throwing things into the hospital bag while looking over my check list. After he was alert we both apologized for being so harsh and got to work. The contractions were like clock work 5 minutes apart and very obviously strong so we called the doctor.
I was feeling a little stinky from the hot day and all the walking and since I was too tired before bed to shower I wanted to hop in for a quick shower to freshen up. Since the doctor could take up to thirty minutes to call back I jumped in, only to have her call back in like two minutes- go figure. So Matt answered and talked to her. He came into the bathroom and had her on speaker phone. She made me laugh because she could hear me breathing through the contraction and she said "I think it's time to get out of the bath and head to the hospital." Oh I was planning on it doc!
We quickly finished up, Matt headed upstairs to tell my mom we were on our way out. She was awake already, she said that she heard us moving around down there and knew that it was time. Then we were out the door. Oh the ride there- the contractions were not easy to take sitting down. I remember just being so glad it was the middle of the night and the road was empty, allowing for a quick trip. It only took fifteen minutes but all three contractions I had in the car were not easy- I wanted to be up- it was so much easier to handle them walking around.
We parked by the Women's wing and walk to the emergency room entrance, having a few contractions along the way. Matt check us in at the kiosk as I breathed through another few contractions. The emergency room check-in nurse called L&D. He was very anxious to get me up there and told me I had to ride in the wheelchair so I didn't have the baby right there. The L&D nurse who met us at the elevator said he looked very nervous and it made her laugh.
She wheeled me into the room and one of the first questions out of their mouths was "Do you want an epidural?" I said no. I was going to try again to have another natural birth- lots of prayer for that throughout the pregnancy. I told them I labor rather quickly and also that I had been scheduled for an induction the following day so my chart was already put together. They got me in the bed and checked me. At 2:00 am I was 5 cm and 70%. Wow, I thought, all that walking got me another 3 cm. Only 5 to go!
The next hour and a half went very quickly. I had two wonderful nurses helping us. I have to laugh at the fact that we had two nurses with two totally different personalities- one just like mine and one just like Matt. One sweet, calm and quiet, and the other bubbly, talkative and encouraging. I am so very grateful for both of them. They had one of the laborist doctors come in at 3:00 am and check me. I was 8 cm and 90-100%.
For some odd reason she wanted to do an ultrasound on me to make sure baby was head down. I'm not entirely sure why. As far as I knew she had been head down for a month. The lady who did the ultrasound on Friday afternoon never said anything that would indicate she wasn't but she did it and found that baby was indeed head down. It was not something I care to due in the middle of labor contractions but she did it anyway, only to find out all was well.
Shortly after that, I think- things are getting a little fuzzy a month out, my water broke. I was very glad I was laying in the bed at this point. Matt was a champ through the whole thing. He helped rub my back, talked to me (even if one time when I asked him to talk to me he start out by saying "I wonder how long..." in quickly interrupted that thought with "NO! Something else, talk about something else."), and he helped me out in any way I needed it. I know he was tired- it had been a long month, it had been a long week, it had been a long day but he rallied and stayed with me.
It wasn't much longer before I was telling them I felt the need to push. They checked me again and said I was 10 cm with a little lip. I didn't seem to care about the little lip. I wanted to push. I pushed three or four times and at this point they were already hustling around trying to prepare everything for the baby who was coming soon.
I was happy to find out that the Laborist that was going to deliver her was the same one who delivered Olivia. At least if I didn't get my doctor I got someone I already knew. She was in there helping to prepare everything. Once they got the bed all set up she checked me again and said that there was still a bulge of amniotic sac behind the baby's head so the broke that. After that I was pushing through each contraction. It took a little longer to push her out than Olivia, like 5-10 pushes.
I need to preface this next statement with the fact that I am NOT, I repeat, NOT a night person. I am a morning girl to the core. So the fact that I was giving birth at 3:30 in the morning would not have been my choice but that is how it was. So after the last big push, yeah she's out. I just flopped back like a sack of potatoes. Then I had a thought- 'oh wait, I need to look at my baby.' so with the little energy I had I sat up and looked at her with tired, relieved eyes and then plopped back down again. I was so glad for her to be there but was so ready to a rest. They then put her on my tummy, so I didn't have to sit up to see her.
Oh she was precious right from the start. I'll let some pictures do the talking now...
We laid together for the first two and a half hours. Matt tried to stay awake through that whole time but he laid down for a bit. I was even tired as the excitement wore off and the room clear of doctors and nurses. During this time she nursed and we snuggled. I kept saying to Matt "She was just inside me and now she's out." "She's here!" "Wow, I just gave birth to her!" I think it all happened so fast, three hours from when awoke in bed to birth, and I was so tired that I just couldn't believe it had actually happened and that I actually gave birth to her.
The whole pregnancy was very reminiscent of my pregnancy with Lauren- how I felt, what I craved, how I carried and then sure enough she was born with clubbed feet just like Lauren. She was also longer and leaner, like Lauren. Oh I was so excited to finally see her sweetness outside of the womb!! To soak in her preciousness and met her gaze.
My mom brought the girls later that day. They were so excited to meet baby Audrey. They took to her right away, wanting to hold her and give her the gifts they had gotten her- Lauren a Whale lovie and Olivia an animal blanket. They were also excited to find out Audrey had gotten them a little something too. It was so precious. Lauren wanted to wrap her in her blanket and give her her Whale lovie- my heart was overflowing with love. They also got bored of that after a bit and spent the second half dancing around the room and hiding behind the curtain. Oh the joys! Then my mom so wonderfully took them to a birthday party. That day was also their friend Aliana's birthday!
I was so excited that Audrey shares a birthday with my great friend Heather's third child. In fact, Audrey shares some special thing with not only Aliana but her Aunt Carrie too. So here it is. All three girls are third babies. They're all girls- obvious I know. They all have six letters in their first name and four letters in their middle name. Aunt Carrie and Audrey share the same middle name- Ruth. All three girls are born in April. Aliana and Audrey share the same birthday and were born almost twelve hours shy of the same time too - Audrey 3:31 am and Aliana 3:35 pm. It's just really sweet. They will forever be linked in these special ways.
Matt and I enjoyed our two and a half days of quiet time at the hospital. It was our longest hospital stay since she was born so early in the morning on our first day there. Matt took a LONG nap once we made it to the post paradom room on Sunday. I however couldn't sleep, too much excitement. I was looking forward to having my sweet Audrey Ruth back in the room with me. This is when our mini vacation started. I'm tell you it was truly a vacation after the end of pregnancy! Nurses waiting on me, quiet...lots of quiet, I sat for hours at a time with nothing pressing for my attention, food being brought to me with no prep work or clean up to bother either of us, time to talk and reconnect after what seemed like a month or two of chois and crazy with each other, and nothing to do but love on our newest little girl. We watched some TV but spent most of the time with it off and just enjoying the sweet silence and talking to each other with no interruption. It felt so good to get rejuvenated- we needed it!
Before we knew it though it was time to head home and start enjoying life as a family of 5!!! We were so excited, even if it meant our vacation was over. We missed our big girls and couldn't wait for them to start loving on their newest little sister. Life couldn't feel more perfect!