On Wednesday, February 24th, Dr. Hannah stripped my membranes in his office around 11:30am. He was surprised to see me there, still pregnant as ever, considering each week I had gone in for my check-ups, I had progressed more and more. Exceptionally well, considering it was a first time pregnancy. At 35 weeks, I was dilated to a 1 1/2 and 75% effaced. At 36 weeks, a 3, and 80% effaced. The next week, I was at a 4, and the next a 4 1/2. The week I was at a 4 1/2 (wed feb 24th) is the appointment that he stripped my membranes to help bring on labor. By this point, my mucous plug had dropped, I'd had my bloody show, I was dilated, effaced...everything...yet, no Ruby yet! I hadn't had any contractions, nothing. I was slightly discouraged but had a word my whole pregnancy to respond right, to consider it ALL FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE ME. That Wednesday night, I was having regular contractions, every 3-5 minutes. I was so excited! A LITTLE nervous/anxious, but mostly just excited! We went to church, since those contractions started around 5:00pm and we were leaving the house for church anyway. After talking to a nurse in labor and delivery, she said to give it about an hour, and if they keep coming, to come on in. After Kevin led praise and worship at the beginning of the service, we left the church and headed to what we thought could be the birth of our baby. Once we got there, they monitored us and sure enough...they were Braxton Hicks contractions. They were really only happening because Dr. Hannah stripped my membranes, and the nurse said that contracting like I was in VERY common the day your OB does this to you. So...we were sent home. Gladly though, because that showed me that I want to labor at home as long as possible, and what a real labor contraction is. The nurse taught us "walk through, talk through, breathe through". If you can't do those during the contraction, you're in real labor, and it's time to go to the hospital. We were a little bummed to not get to have her that night like we thought we might, and there was no telling when we WOULD get our Ruby, but we kept on going with our heads held high.
I really can't complain, because it wasn't even her due date yet, so she wasn't late. (Which was confusing in and of itself, considering we had 3 different due dates: Feb 28-according to my period, March 9-according to her 9 week ultrasound, and March 4-according to her 20 week ultrasound.) I had just gotten my hopes up from all the people in my life (including the doctors!) saying "wow, you could have her ANY day now! You are so progressed!" That had gone on for weeks, therefore it FELT like I was weeks overdue. Little did I know...she would be right on time.
It was the night of Saturday, February 27th, and I had been having some contractions on and off that day. At around 8:00pm they started to get more consistent, and then started to get stronger. We had church the next morning so we got into bed and decided to just watch them. I could not sleep. I kept waking up, needing to use the restroom, needing to walk around, etc. I went out to the living room to lie down on the couch and put in Fly Away Home, a feel good goose movie. Finally, at around 5:00am, I went into the bedroom and told Kevin "they are really, really hurting. No position is comfortable, honey, I think it's time." So we jumped to it and packed the last minute things into our bags and went out the door. As we were pulling out of the driveway we both looked up at the huge full moon over our house and smiled. That same full moon was shining over the hospital as we pulled in, filled with anticipation as well as a bit of a "hopefully this is the real deal" attitude. They signed us in and a nurse came and got me and wheeled me up to Labor & Delivery. We were put in a triage room to monitor baby's heartbeat and the consistency of my contractions, as well as to see how dilated/effaced I was. When we went in, I was at a 4 1/2. After an hour of monitoring and Kevin and I talking through the contractions, the nurse came in and said "ok, we're going to keep you, let's move you into a Delivery room. "WE WERE HAVING OUR BABY THAT DAY!!!
We called our friends at church to let them know we wouldn't be there and let our family's know what all was going on. Going into the whole thing, we hadn't yet decided if I was going to get an epidural or not. Now was the time for me to decide, and my decision: yes please! The nurse, Angela, whom we really liked gave me some medicine through the IV that took the edge off until Dr. Porter, the anesthesiologist, could come in and get me the epidural. Throughout all of it, I had a complete peace about taking the medicine. It's kind of funny. I won't take pain pills, but I will have an epidural! The nurses, I think, found that interesting. One nurse said to me "you're tough!" Once I had the epidural in, it was smooth sailing. I could feel the contractions, but they were absolutely pain free. It was wonderful! Sadly, our Dr. Hannah wasn't on call that weekend and they said they called him but he hadn't called back so his partner, Dr. Amy Fry, would be delivering Ruby. We were bummed at first, but again, at complete peace. We had prophesied that the doctors and nurses we came into contact with throughout the whole experience would be ones that we were joined to, supposed to work with, and ones that would be a blessing to us and the whole process. We loved Dr. Fry! Once I had the epidural in, Angela put in a catheter, and Dr. Fry came in and broke my water. That didn't hurt a bit because, again, I had the epidural in. It was such a crazy feeling! Warm, watery substance just gushing out of me, and kept gushing out...and KEPT gushing out. so sweet that my baby girl lived in that stuff for 40 weeks. Must have been quite a shock for her to feel it and see it all gushing out!The one thing they did that we didn't care for and will be more fervent on for our next birth is Pitocin, a medicine given through IV to speed up your contractions. Being a hospital, they want things to move along, and want you to progress and get the ball going, which just comes with the territory, unfortunately. I said I'd rather them not, but they were like "are you sure? You don't want to be here all day, do you?" And we just sort of looked at each other and thought "...well...okay" and they said they would just go ahead and do a small dose (2 CC's) of pitocin. So that of course, sped up the contractions and got the ball moving even faster. Things were moving right along, going smoothly and quickly when suddenly, my epidural wore off. I could feel everything. The contractions were VERY strong by now, with it being towards the end, plus the pitocin makes them come on stronger and faster. I told the nurse and they were trying their best to bring the anesthesiologist back in, but it being a Sunday, he was the only one there, and he was downstairs in the OR with an unconscience patient. She gave me the same medicine that she gave me before I got the epidural to take the edge off, but it really did nothing. I was doing my best to remain calm and just BREATHE. I was so focused on the lights above me, I could tell you every detail about them verbatim. The sweetest thing that I will never forget is that through the thick of the hardest strongest contractions, my breathing pattern that helped me get through each one, was breathing to the exact beat of Ruby's heartbeat playing on the monitor. It was like she and I were working together to get through each contraction. One of my favorite birthing moments.
They got Dr. Porter to break free and come in right before I was dilated to a 10 and ready to push, and he gave me a good dose of the epidural to finish the labor. I guess the tubing or the actual machine had messed up and it wasn't infusing. So they fixed that and we were good to go. Angela came in and said "Ok, you're ready to push!" As she popped the end of the bed off and pulled the stirrups out I just couldn't believe it. "I am about to give birth. I can't believe I'm here right now doing this!" She taught me how to push during each contraction and we started. She was so encouraging me and it seemed like in just a little bit she said "that's it, that's her head, you're doing awesome. Dad, you want to come see the head?" Kevin went down and looked and as I saw his eyes widen and heard his "oh my gosh, good job babe, keep going you're doing great" I was ecstatic. There was a point where I said "oh my gosh I can't do this, just cut her out!" I, of course, was being sarcastic, but it really was so hard! After more pushing, I don't even know how it go brought up, but Angela said "do you want to see?" and she rolled out a mirror. THAT WAS THE BEST THING EVER!She wheeled it over and got it to where I could see. And there is was. My Ruby's head. I had never been so encouraged and determined in my life. I could SEE her, she was ALMOST HERE and it was up to me and how strong I could push to bring her here. I pushed and used muscles I didn't know existed. I pushed myself so hard that I threw up. Fortunately, all I had to eat was a grape popcicle so there wasn't too much and it wasn't too bad. Dr. Fry came in for the last bit and we were almost there. I was about to meet our baby girl. Dr. Fry said something at the peak of it all that I will never forget. She said while I was pushing and Ruby was almost out "When it burns the most, you push the hardest". That phrase is what got me through it and the next thing I know, I'm watching them pull Ruby out of me, along with more fluids, blood, and the umbilical chord. The most beautiful sight in the world. The most miraculous honor in the world. There she was...Our Ruby.
"She's a chunk!" I hear. And she was! With the cutest little double chin you've ever seen in your life, she weighed 8lb. 6oz. and was 19 1/2in long. She was so healthy! They immediately put her on my chest and started to rub her down while I held her in awe and absolute shock and complete adoration. Then they took her over to the warmer to weigh her and clean her up, and while they did that, I birthed the placenta. I will never forget as soon as that placenta was birthed was like the CRAZIEST relieving feeling of my belly being...emptied. It felt like ahhh, ok NOW I'm not pregnant anymore. Such an array of emotions. You have your baby out and healthy and in your arms, yet, you deeply miss that very baby being IN you. Part of you.
After they weighed Ruby they brought her back over to me to nurse and she latched on right away. She is SUCH a good nurser! Everyone told me how much it hurts and how hard it is, but the moment she latched on it felt AMAZING. It felt good, it felt right, completely natural. I was so excited. I tore in 3 places. One down the middle that had to be stitched up, and 2 smaller ones on the side that weren't really worth stitching, I guess, because of the size of the tear. I am still currently healing from the tearing, (I'm writing this 4 days after the event) and am looking forward to that being whole and well. After the birth, all 20 people in the waiting room got to take shifts coming in meeting her. Then we were taken to our postpartum room where we spent the next 2 days being taken care of, Ruby getting what she needed, learning tips and techniques from nurses, etc.
The day we were going home, we were all packed up, Ruby was asleep,Kev had started taking bags down to the car, and I just sat there in the hospital room. Looking at her, looking at the room, registering what all had just happened and feeling the newly made memories starting to take place. A very high place. I took out my camera and took a picture of Ruby. I scanned back to look at it and kept going past and came across a picture of me in my underwear with my shirt up to show my big pregnant belly and a grin from ear to ear. I burst into tears. No more belly. No more just me and Kevin being silly and taking belly pictures all the time, laying in bed with our hands on my belly waiting for a Ruby kick. That season is over and it's time for new one. One that I have come to find out is the most beautiful, amazing, miraculous season I have ever been a part of. I am experiencing love in a way that I didn't even know existed. And this is just the beginning.