The evening of January 9th, the day before your due date, started off as being nothing short of ordinary. It was a Saturday night @ around 7:30pm and I had a big pot of minestrone soup on the stove. My crazy over-planning self had been making super-sized versions of all our meals, whenever possible, to freeze for easy dinners after your arrival. Anth had been out walking the dog and the soup had just finished so I continued working on your baby quilt (almost done!).
I was leaning over, cutting the fabric on the floor, when all of a sudden I felt a “pop” inside of me. Shortly after, I felt fluid rushing out of me. As quickly as this all happened, it seemed to go in slow motion. I remember thinking as I felt the “pop”: “Huh, well that feels weird. Could that be…? Nahhh.”. I guess only about 10% of pregnant women’s water breaks before going into labor so I certainly wasn’t expecting that to happen to me. After a few moments of feeling the fluids rushing out, I thought it would probably be a good idea to get to the bathroom. When I got to the bathroom, it hit me. I just couldn’t believe what was happening. You were COMING! It’s strange, you had just kind of been like a permanent fixture inside of me and the idea of you actually coming into the world and not having you kicking/poking me in my stomach just didn’t seem real. But, the reality is that you weren’t going to stay in there forever and we really were going to get to meet you! Snap out of it Chantel, this is the moment!
Once I came to, I called Anth. When he picked up, I could hear him downstairs in the lobby. He said he had just gotten back and was talking to our neighbor. He asked if everything was alright. Ha! I said everything was just fine and I would see him when he came up. I sat in the bathroom, anxiously awaiting for Anth to walk through the door. It felt like an absolute eternity, but he came up shortly after we got off the phone. He walked to the bathroom and immediately knew. We laughed and cried and couldn’t wipe the huge smiles off our faces (looking back on it, it was the same amazing feelings we had when we found out I was pregnant). Since my water broke on it’s own, we knew we needed to call the hospital to let them know. I called and explained what happened and they asked me to come in just to check you and I out and make sure everything looked fine. The nurse explained that I very well could be going back home after the check up, but to bring our bags, just in case.
Anth and I already had our bags packed and I just needed to grab a few last minute things. While I did that, he hung up the last few items that were going on the wall over your crib (one of these things being a wooden “P” that we didn’t want anyone to see before your arrival!). Better late than never! I hadn’t had any contractions before my water broke. Never felt any braxton hicks contractions either. About 5-10 minutes after my water broke, I started to feel the dull pains. They weren’t painful, but definitely uncomfortable and they seemed to be getting more uncomfortable as time went on. Regardless, I was sure that we would end up coming back home after the check in to labor there. We put the soup in the fridge and we’d have it when we got back tonight. All the while, Adel was following me everywhere. This pup knew something was up and he wasn’t letting me go a foot without him being there for me. Before we left, I gave him a huge hug and kisses. Should we not be back, daycare or Anth’s Mom would be back for him. But, nah, I’m sure we’ll be back.
We get to the hospital and I get checked into the triage department. The nurse and doctor looked me over and had no concerns. I was 3 cm dilated which meant I still had a ways to go before you were making your way out. But because my water broke, they want you to come out within 24 hours. The doctor said that I was welcome to go home and try to labor there for as long as possible, but they weren’t sure how quickly my labor would speed up. He recommended checking into the labor department and laboring there. Wha?! We decided to stay and couldn’t believe that this was it!
The nurses hooked us up with a huge corner room with beautiful views of the city (er, despite it being night time and rainy).
The nurse got me all settled in and my contractions seemed to be quickly getting stronger. We tried different positions (standing/sitting, with the birthing ball/without the birthing ball) but the only position that I could stand to be in during a contraction was leaning over the bedside table and swaying my hips back and forth. Later, I also tried being on my hands and knees on the bed.
Anth stood behind me the whole time, helping as much as he could with wonderful words of encouragement and back massages. Man, contraction pains are intense! After a while, I felt like they came so quickly and I could barely catch a break. It was around 1am when I started talking to Anth about getting the epidural. For some reason, I was so hesitant to get it yet. I didn’t know how much worse the pain was going to get and, for some reason, felt like I needed to wait until the last possible moment. A few more contractions came and went and I knew I needed some relief.
The anesthesiologist administered the epidural and I quickly felt so much more comfortable. Thank goodness for meds! Soon after that, the doctor came in to check how far along I was and I was 8cm! With a number like that, I thought you’d be here in no time at all. The nurse had me rotate to lie on my other side and left me to try to get some sleep. About 10 minutes later, a machine began to beep. Beep! Beep! Beep! The nurse came in to check and said the baby’s heart rate dropped. She turned me over and made a phone call. About 10 doctors came rushing into the room and they immediately put an oxygen mask on me. I had no idea what to think and was so concerned that something was wrong with you. I remember I was able to see Anth’s face in between 2 doctors and he looked relatively calm. I knew that if he looked ok, they must have everything under control so I tried to relax.
Once everything settled, the doctor explained that your heart rate dropped very low; likely due to shock from a combination of the epidural, me rotating to my other side, and how quickly I had dilated. To help you adjust, they gave me medication to slow down the contractions. All was well again and off they went; leaving me to try to get some rest.
I was able to doze off for a little bit in the beginning but then awoke to some very uncomfortable contractions. They weren’t nearly as painful as before the epidural, but a dull pain every few minutes. The contractions were definitely getting even stronger and those meds were a lifesaver. Time seemed to stand still for me as I impatiently awaited for you to be ready to come out. During this time, your Daddy got some sleep on the reclining chair next to me.
It was around 9am on Sunday and Dr. Collins did a check to see how far along I was. I finally reached 10cm and was ready to start pushing! Hallelujah! The doctor said he would come back and check up on me in a bit and left me with my nurse, Emily. “Wait, what? Aren’t you going to help me deliver this baby?!” I guess I’ve seen too many movies and didn’t realize that a)the baby doesn’t always just come out shortly after you start pushing and b)it was just going to be the three of us. Anth was instructed to be holding one leg while Emily held the other. Um, what? I told Emily that Anth is very squeamish when it comes to blood/needles and the last thing that I needed was for him to be passed out on the floor. My thought was that he was going to be up at my head the whole time. Well, there was no other option and he held his own way more than I ever could have imagined! In the end though, there was only so much he could do to help and I needed to push you out of there.
With each contraction, I’d push 3 times, for 10 seconds each. It was hard for me to push “the right way”. Yes, apparently there is an effective way to push a baby out and if you aren’t doing it, that baby ain’t coming out. Once I got the hang of it though, it seemed to be helping you make your way, little by little. We tried pushing on my side and also with the help of a bar. A few exhausting hours passed of this and as hard as I was trying, we weren’t making as much progress as I felt like we were. The doctor came in and seemed a bit concerned with how much further I still had to go. He assessed your positioning and discovered you had shoulder dysteria, meaning that one of your shoulders was stuck in my pelvis. This certainly was not making it easy to get you out. He discussed the option of a c-section or use of a suction (only if I could get you far enough along). I had come so far and I expressed my desire to be able to push you out. The doctor was really wonderful and respected my wishes. He said he’d keep checking back on me because after 3 hours, most women start to lose steam and can’t reach the end result on their own. As long as there was no harm to the baby’s or my health, I could keep pushing. After this last check in from him, I was determined to get you out on.my.own.
That last hour was the most empowering thing I have ever experienced. I have never tried harder at something in my entire life, and I don’t think I ever will. I was going to get you out. Not long after, I remember Anth saying the most amazing words: “I can see her head! She has a full head of dark hair! Come on babe!”. That gave me all I needed to finish the job. The doctor came back in shortly after. He was happy with our progress and said he would like to try to use the suction to help with the final delivery. A team of doctors came in and you, baby girl, were on your way out! The next few contractions were all a blur and became one huge push. It didn’t matter how exhausted I was, I didn’t stop pushing until you came out. At one point, the nurse, Emily, jumped on my stomach to give your shoulder a push in the right direction and unlock it from my pelvis. And after almost 4 hours of pushing, out you came!
After you came out, they brought you right over to the warming area to make sure you were ok and Daddy went over to cut the umbilical cord. They were all asking if you had a name yet. I asked Anth if “you look like one?” (meaning, like a “Penelope”) and he so quickly responded “Yes!”.
And just like that, Penelope Rose, you were born @ 12:52pm, weighing 7lbs 12.9oz, 20in long. Welcome to your wonderful world, little one. To say that we are already so madly in love with you, is an understatement! We can not wait to watch you grow and love on you every single moment.