I chronically nested for this baby, in the worst way possible. I spent days during a terrible spell of rain in my in-law’s attic sorting through first baby clothes, then Christmas decorations, followed by high school and childhood memorabilia, throwing and donating item upon item. But, the baby would arrive and be completely disheartened that I had more than one Rudolph figurine, and a pamphlet from my Senior FFA Banquet, so it was absolutely necessary preparation. I knew that labor was imminent 2 days before Etta arrived when I talked myself out of organizing Hattie’s melty beads in a craft box. By color. See melty beads here to fully appreciate the level of insanity I had reached.
For those of you unaware, I like being pregnant. I may complain jokingly, but it’s a sweet time for me, and I don’t handle change well, so the anticipation of ending this really exciting growth phase set me on edge, plus I was nervous that this labor wouldn’t go as well as the first two. I knew through the weekend before her delivery that I was only days out, I could feel it, it’s like a sixth sense we moms have when we really tune in (or maybe I was just getting tipped off by something called a due date…).
Sunday evening my sister in law came home (for Mother’s Day) and asked for Hattie to spend the night with her, so we obliged. I remember tearing up as we left her there though, because something told me that the next time I saw her she wouldn’t be my only sweet little girl anymore (that maternal sixth sense had me certain I was having a girl as well). We went home, I spent extra time reading Todd Anthony stories, we went over every single part of the blasted tractor in his “Mac The Tractor” book multiple times, then I cleaned the kitchen, swept the floors, finished laundry, and finalized my taxes. I’m joking about that last one, but I did think about doing it….
I laid down around 11, but spent the next few hours migrating between the bathroom and bed feeling insignificant contractions, yet waiting for the big ones, totally aware that they were on their way. I switched my nest to the couch where I could listen to my music without waking anyone and laid on my side breathing slowly through every contraction. At around 2:45 AM things really started intensifying, it’s as if someone had flipped a switch, and this is where I’ll begin my timeline that leads to Etta’s speedy and joyful arrival (sparing no detail-true Amber form).
May 15, 2017
My contractions took a radical 🙂 shift in frequency + intensity. I laid as relaxed as possible, breathing through each one, mentally preparing myself for the focus I would need in the hours to come. Thankfully James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac were there to help a sister out.
My water broke in the middle of a more intense contraction, and my nesting instincts that were running rampant made me jump up and irrationally hurry to check to see if I needed to give the couch a good cleaning (oh, yes I did…). Thankfully it was spared, so I ran to the kid’s bathroom to clean up a bit and call in my reinforcements (AKA Jessica to watch the kids + Brooke to save my life)
My future sister in love, Jess, and my best friend, thankfully a labor and delivery nurse arrive. One with gloves in hand, the other with wide eyes and a semi-concerned look. After a quick check Brooke had determined that I was at 6 cm, but she said it was close to 7. I had woken Ben up right before they arrived, so he came into the living room then and Brooke began mulling over whether it was safe to make the 45 minute drive to the hospital where my doctor delivers, or if I should opt for our local town’s hospital where she works instead. I assured everyone I could make it, and attempted to load the car (I was quickly stopped and assisted) as I was hurried along by Brooke, who was pretty adamant that we leave NOW.
I remember passing interstate signs along the drive that displayed the names of towns drawing me closer and closer to my destination, but they couldn’t come fast enough. Both Ben and Brooke had questioned me once more on the drive into town about my certainty of making it the entire way to the hospital. Someone had to reassure them, so I confidently declared to get on the interstate. After about 10 minutes my confidence had faded. I was getting worried, but I was trying to breathe through some seriously intense contractions. Relaxing is hard when you’re weaving around 18 wheelers at 95 miles an hour, but I like a challenge 🙂
I felt both tremendous relief and concern at the same time. One because we were passing landmarks that I knew meant we were only minutes away from the beautiful tall building that I so desperately wanted to make it into, and the other because my I couldn’t get ahold of my doctor yet and I could tell that I was nearing transition, which meant I had very little time until baby was earthside. About a mile before the hospital we passed an ambulance, who jumped in line behind us, and turned on his lights to escort us the rest of the way. I remember Brooke calling me to point this out, and I could barely talk, but I was laughing in my head as it seemed she was calling to just casually chat (she was following in her car). “Sorry bee, I’m busy here”.
I waddled through a contraction into the entrance of the hospital while simultaneously directing my helpers about which items I needed them to bring (the Type A mind never rests), someone (God bless them) stuck a wheelchair behind me and pulled me into it, then hurried me toward the elevator that leads to the women’s delivery pavilion. The world seemed so loud up until then, and there was an eerie silence (and relief on my end) as the elevator ascended to bring me where I really needed to be. Brooke broke that silence making me chuckle as she said “Should I feel bad that I just left Ben to park my car”? I love her…
Brooke wheeled me to the front desk on the labor unit as calmly as possible and promptly told them my name, my doctor, and that I was almost 7 cm 60 miles ago. I know how people look at an OB check. I was totally an OB check. I quietly handed them my ID and insurance as they requested even though I wanted to scream that I did that the week before when I admitted. Thankfully, they put me into a room rather quickly, while Brooke whispered “Maybe you should scream or something so they know you’re really in labor”. Again, I love her….
It all happened rather quickly, the climbing on the bed while the nurses attached the TOCO, those sounds all come rushing back in such a familiar way, the baby’s heartbeat, the nurses shuffling with wires, asking one another if they heard from the Dr., asking me questions that I couldn’t answer, because I’m way too far along at this point. I feel the nurses trying to start an IV on my left arm, but I know they won’t be able to access a vein there-it never works. I hear them fuss over it blowing, and feel them move to the right side, they’ll find one there. I’m worried I won’t get abx in time, and I was Group B + this pregnancy, I hear Brooke advising them that I delivery fairly quick, and I need some penicillin. I hear a nurse asking me to lay back so that she can check me, but every sound and person feels so far away at this point, at half volume. The intense focus and internalization that happens in those final stages of delivery are truly something rarely experienced in life. I hear the nurse say that I’m still at 6 cm, and I think to myself “bullshit”. I did love that nurse though 🙂
At this point my IV has been started, the baby warmer has been turned on, the nurses are getting a little more settled, my doctor still hasn’t made it in, which made me less worried than I imagined it would, the baby seems fine, and my nurse just finished checking me. I lay on my side, pretending not to be discouraged by the declaration that I hadn’t progressed, and breathe through one contraction before the pushing urges started. I roll over, rip back the blankets and attempt not to push through the next contraction, but reach down to check just for my own sanity, and feel a little head bulging through. ” I need to push” I said to anyone who would listen. Brooke had just stepped out for a call and Ben looked at me a little surprised, so I just said it again and again and again until Brooke came back in, and my nurse did a quick check only to find that I was complete. She called in a few other nurses, and I waited for them to start breaking down the bed + for my doctor to walk through the door, but soon realized that this delivery would be a little different, neither of those things were happening, there was no time, and my focus shifted to the baby that I knew was minutes away from being in my arms.
I started pushing as the nurses stood by to assist if needed. I was in my own labor zone of sorts, I knew Brooke was taking pictures, and I had given Ben my phone to video (I always regretted not having footage of my other two births). The sweet nurses were letting me do what I wanted as my body prompted me, and I’m so thankful that I had the space to just labor in my own way. After a few pushes her head was out, and after some assistance in turning her a bit I was able to make that final push. It all happens so fiercely fast that the moments all combine to make one beautiful string of memories. It was perfect, she was here, and she was beautiful. I felt so relieved, the months leading up to her delivery had been stressful, and I spent way too much time worrying, but in those precious minutes, the only thing that mattered was right inside and then in front of me, and the world was still, and this tiny baby seemed like an old soul that had always been with me as she laid on my chest.
Etta was here. I was so certain it was her that I didn’t even check for her gender. After a few minutes the nurses moved her to the warmer since she wasn’t crying and wasn’t progressing like you want to see a newborn do. At this point my doctor walked in, smiling like the good sport he is, and I’ll admit I think we were both a little bummed that he missed it, but that’s the way OB works… you can’t schedule life around unpredictable babies or natural birth. The third stage shakes started, and I began to worry about my baby across the room who still was pretty quiet, and had a small tube down her throat suctioning. You feel those post labor pains and the delivery of the placenta much more when there isn’t a sweet baby distracting you on your chest…Darryl was great at keeping me calm as he did his thing with the placenta
+ the stitching (oy..) I know he could sense my anxiousness over the baby, so he turned around at one point and told them to bring the baby to mama, and I was never more thankful for him than I was at that point. I finally had my little love, my sweet baby girl that I had grown so connected to over that last trimester, and feeling her and smelling her and seeing her was so magically soothing and exhilarating all at the same time. My mama ran into the room at some point right after delivery with tears in her eyes, both out of joy at seeing both Etta and I well, and out of sadness at realizing that she had missed the crazy. I was so happy to finally have her there, and I pray that one day my daughters are just as comforted by my presence.
After leaving the hospital a short 12 hours after delivering Todd Anthony, I was perfectly happy to settle in and do some recovery in the peaceful quiet this time around. Brooke scored me some orange juice (I’m so glad she read the Bradley book too), and the rest of our families poured into the room to meet sweet Etta. It was so special having both of my brothers there, and I sat in my bed watching everyone fuss over the baby so grateful for their love.
The rest of my hospital stay was pretty lovely. The typical postpartum routine, lots of pancakes and bacon, PB&J sandwiches, pebble ice, the best diffuser blends that everyone caring for us loved, so much snuggling, minimal visitors, and much quiet alone time for Etta and I. I caught up on some Grey’s, took some great pictures with that magical hospital room window lighting, and got to know my new little friend. We quickly figured each other out and continue to grow more in love with one another everyday. This girl made her entrance into this world in a quick little fury, and I can’t help but imagine her as a passionate little ballbuster one day, and prompt too, always arriving right on time. Just when I needed her the most. I love you Etta Jolie, I’m so proud to be your mama, and thank you for letting me be part of your amazing little birthday. I love you always