Thursday, September 29, 2011

How I Spent the Last Day of Summer

A birth story dedicated to my first daughter, Evangeline Marie.  

*Note: Contains medical information about her birth. Please don't read if you're sensitive to this.
1:25pm on September 22, 2011, the last official day of summer. The day and time my little girl's life outside in the world began. To me it began before this day, on a cold January morning nine months before when I was in a rush to get to work. I had taken an early pregnancy test just out of curiosity, but of course it was more than that...there was hoping :) I remember looking real quick and seeing one line and going to toss the "dumb test" and then I did a double take. There was the faintest second line ever. Was it even there? I must have shown it to Chris a hundred times for confirmation.
I remember telling family and friends she was on the way on Valentine's Day, hearing her heartbeat for the 1st time, the boys "talking" to her through the Doppler, seeing her for the first time via ultrasound on a warm day right after Easter, the Tuesday nights when I would drive myself to the doctors for my last few visits, always wondering if this would be the last time. Yes, there was so much to her story before she even came into the world...
I never wanted to admit it because I was afraid I'd be wrong, but it was my first pregnancy where I actually had a feeling from the very beginning that it could be a girl. Maybe I was just hoping.

As you all know, I was scheduled for an ultrasound at 9am on the 22nd. I hadn't slept well the night before. I had a few painful contractions every now and then that woke me up and kept me tossing and turning, but by the morning they were gone. Chris took the morning off to take me to the appointment and watch the boys. I grabbed my hospital bag "just in case." I was due in 7 days and I knew that if they found anything significant I would be sent to the hospital. As fate would have it, no other nearby screening places had appointments open, only a place near the hospital (which is an hour away from us).

I went in and the tech remarked how small I looked for 39 weeks. I said "I know, that's why I'm here." The scan went on and didn't look good. I could see on the screen that 35 weeks, kept coming up whenever she took a measurement. I asked concerned and she kept trying to reassure me, "Maybe it's just a small baby, I don't have all the calculations yet, etc." I was getting stressed and getting contractions. She finished and told me to wait to leave until I heard from the doctor and see what s/he thought. That's never good, if things are fine you go. I waited and started timing the contractions: 2mins, 3mins, 2mins, 5mins. "These really hurt, I think I'm in labor," I thought.

They let me go around 10:20am and I couldn't talk through the contractions. I know they say to wait till contractions are 2-5mins apart for over an hour and it had barely been 30 minutes since they started, but I didn't want to risk driving all the way home to have to come back or possibly not make it back to the hospital. I called a nurse and she said to go straight to the hospital, after looking over my records and seeing how fast my other labors were.
I was checked into OB triage around 11am. I tossed my clothes into a plastic bag and put on a gown. That's when it always hits me that I'm in labor and I get nervous. They had me hooked up and sure enough, contractions less than 5 minutes apart and strong ones. They were reaching the top of the scale. I was checked by a doctor about 30 minutes later. The boys were with us in the triage room because there was a possibility I could go home if I wasn't dilated. I was 4-5cms, 80% effaced and at 0. They were admitting me to Labor and Delivery once a room opened upstairs (they were full).

About an hour into being in the triage room, around noon I was in serious pain and started getting "vocal" with contractions. We were still waiting for family to get there to get the boys who were enjoying an episode of Sesame Street in my room. The nurse could hear me from the hall and got concerned that I was progressing quickly. She called upstairs and they were wheeling me there as my two sisters got there. My sister who's in high school took the boys to the waiting room (huge props to her for handling both till my parents arrived). My married sister Elizabeth came with me to L&D as a support person (she's also a RN herself). Once I got into the room, they called my OB who came to check. I was 8cms and 100% effaced! I had only been in the hospital for less than 2 hours.
Here's the last pregnant pic of me in L&D. The smile is fake and taken in between a contraction.
Once they got an IV going and me all hooked back up, they asked to break my water. I was off the wall in pain, literally crazy so I consented hoping to progress faster. Immediately after breaking my water I was 9cm and had to push SO badly. It was around 12:30pm. They said I couldn't yet. I was in literal agony for the next 45 minutes, it seemed like a lifetime. I would get a contraction and sit on the bed on my hands and knees, buckled over in pain. I remember wanting to pray for the pain to be over, but I was in so much pain I couldn't pray or even ask anyone to pray for me.

My OB was also a certified midwife and she never left my side till I delivered (a rare thing since only one doctor is on call). She knew different techniques like rubbing my lower back which helped so much. My sister was really good too. She held my hand so I could squeeze it while they tried to get an IV going without me moving. Her and Chris kept encouraging me and telling me it was almost over.

I was so emotional and kept breaking down in tears, partially from the pain and also because it was happening so fast I was overwhelmed. Around 1:15pm, they had me try push to see if I could dilate to 10. I had been begging them to push. I started pushing with all of my might. I never worked that hard with either boys, pushing was pretty much effortless with them. At 1:20pm, I was complete and pushing for real. It was definitely the most intense labor I've ever had. I mean I was screaming like Katerine Heigl in Knocked Up. I remember someone shutting the door so no one outside could hear me. Pushing was so much work. I was using every ounce of energy in me to do it as hard as I could. The worst was the burning and stretching as she came out. I kept asking if the baby was out yet and everyone kept answering almost. I felt like it never was going to end. Finally they told me to look down and the doctor said "Dad, do you want to tell us what it is?" Before anyone could say, I saw it was a girl!
They put her on my chest and she never left the room. In this new hospital they can weight the baby and everything right in the delivery room (huge room). We named her Evangeline Marie, a name we had selected years before she was born. We plan to call her Evie for short (pronounced EH-vee).

It's so strange because whenever I watch someone give birth on TV or write about their experience, it always makes me cry. However, when I'm in that moment right when they hand me the baby, I never can cry.
One of my favorite moments was being wheeled from L&D to Recovery. It was like reaching a finish line after a race. Our families were all waiting with balloons and cards and I could see my boys :)  They were all so excited and followed us to my room, Room 444. I didn't have that with Christopher or Andrew because of the times they were born.  
Now I'm so glad to be home with my family and our new addition. The next journey begins...
Oh, and the results from that ultrasound? One of the OBs got back to me the next day (she had no idea I already had the baby). She was calling to tell me that she thought I should be induced because the baby's kidneys looked dilated on the ultrasound (it later checked out fine). When I laughed and told her I had the baby already, she said "Well I guess your body and baby knew what to do!"
Being transported for a follow up ultrasound outside of the womb :)
...and that's how the summer of 2011 ended :) 


  1. Another fascinating birth story! I'm glad your sister got to be there; it was really special to have my sister there with me. Good luck with the little one and TRY to relax.

  2. Wow, what an amazing journey. I'm so glad you shared this because I rarely hear the actual details of someones labor and want to know everything there is about it. I know I'm going to "vocalize" my pain too. It annoys me when doctors/nurses tell someone to calm down, like they did with my sister and I swear I'll bite someones head off if they tell me to keep quite. :p You look so great! I hope to look half as put together as you did while in/after labor. You little girl is gorgeous just like you too. :) I love that little hat they gave her. The one's I've seen don't have that little bow.

    Okay, enough ranting for now.

  3. I was glad to have my sister too. The last two my mom was there, but by the time she arrived she just decided to wait and help with the boys.

  4. Sean Marie- I wanted to write an honest account of it all (hopefully it doesn't scare anyone). Vocalizing helps and I had a really supportive staff. Best of luck to you! Can't wait to hear what you name her :)

  5. beautiful pictures!!! She is gorgeous! Congratulations!

  6. Marjorie, I love how the photos tell the story too! I had to laugh a little, b/c you look so pissed in your "fake smile" pic. I've never seen you that way, LoL. I'm sorry it was so painful, but am glad it was over relatively quickly for you. You all look so beautiful!

    You said something about not getting to pray while you were in pain. God hears our cries and thoughts and answers those too. I used to get very upset if I fell asleep praying, but a priest once told me that's when our guardian angel takes over. I liked that and thought I'd share.

    <3 Ania

  7. I just cried reading this!! So amazing and you are AMAZING! Cant wait to see more pics!!!!

  8. what precious pictures! i love this. that hat with the bow is adorable......

    thanks for sharing!


  9. Ahh! This is one of my favorite posts of yours, if not my favorite. Thank you so much for sharing! I always try to imagine what I will be like during labor. Ryan thinks I'll be a screamer, but I think I will internalize for the most part. Knowing that you were different during each delivery makes me wonder. I'm oddly excited to find out what I will be like :) Congratulations again! I am so happy for you! You look beautiful in the photos! Did your sister or Chris take the photos of you holding her?

    The fact that you never cry when your baby is handed to you is a neat fact.

  10. Ania- I can't complain because it was so fast.

    Sarah- I love that you and Ryan already talked about labor! :0 I never thought I'd be the screamer, but I'm labor can make you a different person for a few hours. Chris and my sister snapped the pics, but I'm not sure who did exactly which ones...

  11. Beautiful story, congratulations - she is adorable!! :)

  12. How is it that you look so beautiful after pushing out a baby?! I hope to look as good as you after I have a baby! I loved this story, MJ!

  13. You wrote about everything so beautifully and truthfully! Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!

    I was vocal with my epidural with M, and I was as loud as could be with E with my localized block. I remember you talking about Christopher's birth and how you made a little noise. That amazed me! I do find it interesting that within 45 minutes of me having E I had walked through the hospital and through a contraction without any noise.

    So amazing how quickly you went! What perfect time of day to go into labor! Wow, you only pushed for ten minutes!