Thursday, May 31, 2012

A squishy little niece.

One of the most vivid memories I have from the days my boys were born, is the intense swirl of conflicting emotions. And usually - nerves & fear overshadowed the rest, at least for the first part of the day. So as my sister's due date came and went and anticipation over my niece's arrival built in all of us - I was really looking forward to spending her birthday with just one dominant emotion: excitement!

Mission accomplished. There was a very close runner-up, though. Exhaustion! Although my sister would probably laugh at that in comparison to what she went through that day.

She and her husband live about 2.5 hours away from our hometown, so for weeks we've been packed and ready to go at a moment's notice. As her post-due date check ups went by, she was disheartened to find that there was no progress. So finally, they scheduled an induction date for the 29th - 10 days past due. That morning, we packed up the van, did some last minute preparing, got Henry to take a morning nap, and spent probably close to an hour on the phone with my mom. Excitement was really building in all of us!

When we arrived at the hospital and parked in the parking garage, Luke was asleep and some weather was brewing, so we decided to hang out for a while and watch the approaching storm. I think this may have been the most fun, exciting part for all of us waiting - maybe it was the energy from the storm that surrounded us, but we were all smiles and jokes and silliness. Around 2:30, my sister called me and said that her water had just broke on it's own. She was already 4cm dilated at that point, so we expected things to pick up the pace, and excitement among our little group skyrocketed!

Waiting in the parking garage through the storm!



So around 3, we decided to head into the hospital to wait. It was tricky with the babies - we weren't sure if they'd be allowed into the family waiting room or not. We expected to wait down in the lobby, but surprisingly - they allowed them in! We couldn't go into L&D, of course, but to have everyone in one spot was nice. There was only one other girl in labor at that point, so we had the room to ourselves! Which was fabulous, because in addition to nursing H a handful of times, we sprawled across chairs for naps, unleashed craft supplies on the table, rearranged furniture to play musical chairs with my Pandora app, and allowed Henry to perform his baby gymnastics, among many other things.





At dinner time, we packed up and went downstairs to the cafeteria. I got a veggie hummus wrap that was surprisingly incredible for hospital food! Luke had cereal, since nothing else appealed to him and we didn't feel up to a public preschooler fight. As we ate, we got messages from my sister's husband saying that her contractions were on top of each other. Thinking she was hitting transition, we finished up & rushed back upstairs. This was around 6pm.

Hours and hours went by, and rather than rehash every detail, here's the gist of what happened. She made it to 9cm with over-lapping contractions, so the doctors got prepared and were just waiting on the final cm for her to push. When she got there, they realized that there was a bag of water in the way that she was pushing down, rather than the baby - and each push forced the baby back upwards! So the doctor got rid of the bag, and she went back down to an 8. Around this time, a nurse noticed that her pitocin was up too high, and turned it down a bit. So at this point, she was getting 2-3 minute breaks between contractions, and the baby was up way too high to push down. She'd basically pushed a reset button. Obviously, this was disheartening for all. By 11pm, we were dropping like flies (though Matt got Henry to sleep in the car seat). My sister's husband came out to the waiting room to tell us she was given some medicine to help her sleep through the contractions so they could do their job and bring the baby down far enough for her to push again. She hadn't taken anything before this point and was completely exhausted. So we had to make the hard decision to head home. Tom had said they'd try a couple 2-hour rounds of this medicine to see if baby would come down far enough, and if not, they'd consider a c-section. There was no telling if this round of medicine would work, or the next one, there was nothing we could do, and we wouldn't be allowed to see the baby for an hour after birth anyway - so we made the call to pack it up and go back to my sister's house for the night.

This was an interesting experience! Her guest room was hot and stuffy, and though we'd brought along a pack and play for Henry, he needed to be nursed to sleep in bed with us - so ALL FOUR OF US slept in a DOUBLE bed! It was as complicated and nightmarish as you might imagine. After driving there, setting up, getting ready for bed and getting everyone to sleep - it was about 12:30!

My mom came in around 12:50, shaking me awake among the pile of my just barely asleep family. I turned over to see a big smile on her face and she announced, "she's here!"

Because I'd gotten about 20 minutes of fit-full, uncomfortable sleep before this point, I was groggy and disoriented and I just couldn't make my brain function. I tried to stay awake in case I had to go back to the hospital with my mom (though I was seriously doubting it would be safe for either of us to drive just then). My mom was waiting for word on whether or not it was okay that we wait until morning to go see them, so I kept my phone close, looking for permission to sleep. While that didn't come for another 10 minutes or so, I DID get a picture of my little niece sent to my inbox - and I laid there, in the dark - among my sleeping boys - staring at her on my little iphone screen. I could tell immediately that she looked like my sister, and as I searched her little face, I noticed hints of both of my parents. As tired as I was, I wished I was there. But as we found out later, my sister went through a pretty big ordeal of her own that night and it was probably best that we weren't.

The next morning, after getting ready and packing up, we went back to the hospital. My mom was seriously deranged with desperation to get in there and see the baby. She was even mad at us for little things like walking faster than her, or not getting stuck in the same traffic she did. In fact, she forgot her phone on the way into the hospital and held us hostage in the lobby by making us stand with her bags while she went to get it so we couldn't go upstairs without her. And then she ran into my sister's room with the promise she'd let me know right away if I could join her, and after waiting 10 minutes I had to take matters into my own hands and just go in!




And finally - I got to meet our newest little squish! Even more rewarding for me was the fact that Luke was allowed in to meet her. He came in the room, a little hesitantly, and after checking out his sleeping baby cousin he commented, "Hmm. She looks good." Haha! He presented her with a drawing he made for her the day before. And soon after, I got my turn to hold her.



Oh, she was so tiny! She was bigger than we expected her to be, at 8-1/2 pounds, but both of my boys had nearly a whole pound on her, so she still seemed little to me. And of course, I'm used to my big chubber baby! I was instantly mourning the loss of newborn squeaks and tiny little breaths. And that sweet, saggy fluff on newborn cheeks - before it becomes bouncy and full from smiling. She looks enough like my boys in their newborn stage to make me desperately miss that time - and it also makes it so easy to love her.

I didn't want to leave, but with a 2-1/2 hour drive ahead of us, we needed to leave so Matt could get home in time for an afternoon meeting at work. So I soaked up my snuggles and touched her smooth little cheeks as much as I could before saying goodbye. She'll probably be close to a month old before I see her again, and I know she will have already changed so completely.


While I wasn't able to see my sister during the ordeal, and despite getting through a couple of difficult days with the boys, I'm so glad we were there. I've always pictured it going like this - waiting in the hospital, laughing with my family, feeling the excitement charge between us all. It's an experience I will never forget, and I'm so happy to have been a part of her story.

Welcome, little Annabel Grace!

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