Some people bless your life just by simply existing. That's how I feel about Josephine. The last few months with her have been some of the best we've had. Listen, that is totally something Zach would say because he is the most optimistic, glass half-full person I know. But I am wholly and joyfully saying that.
The "4th trimester" typically brings a roller-coaster of emotions for me; the hormones hit hard. Following one of my hardest pregnancies, I braced myself for the onset of those feelings this time... only to find complete contentment and joy. The laundry is a joke, I genuinely don't care what my kids wear on their bodies out of the house, our bathrooms are the worst because our people who should sit to pee... insist on standing to pee, and I found out halfway through the semester that Shep had been bringing home papers that were actually homework? We never did them and still have not. He's in preschool and that's stupid. I digress.
Anyway, my main postpartum goal is to SURVIVE. I still think that is a very valid and legitimate goal. However, this time I can say we are actually (surprisingly)... THRIVING. Kids are still hard, frustrating things still come up but she has brought such a peace with her and brought about a fresh perspective. Silly things can fall away because at the end of the day our kids know we love them and that we love each other, there is a security and completeness in that.
I kept telling people that it only took me 4 tries to get postpartum right. Basically, DON'T DO ANYTHING. Let your aunt wash the baby clothes when you realize at 38 weeks you haven't yet. Let people bring you food. Let your grandma fold your laundry. Give yourself grace. And don't try to argue with me, we have the absolute best friends and family. They served and loved us over and beyond the last few months.
Okay, okay. Now, on with the birth show!
Well, lady gave us false alarm after false alarm. I prided myself on knowing how my body went into labor, it had happened naturally 3 other times and the signs were all almost identical. But this time was decidedly different. I thought I had birth down, therefore this marathon experience humbled me in many ways.
I was due October 17th. I had gone in at 32 weeks with early labor and they had given me a couple shots to stop it. I had strong braxton hicks since about 20 weeks but they were never consistent. At 37 weeks I had been positive the time was now. But it wasn't and I was sent home with my tail between my legs. My entire 39th week repeated a pattern that looked like: go to bed at 10pm, wake up at midnight, contract consistently until the early morning hours while chugging water, taking a warm bath and binge watching "Say Yes to The Dress." All of this to then have them abruptly stop at 7 am when my children are now awake.
I was sleep-deprived and confused.
At my 40 week appointment my doctor laughed that she couldn't believe we had made it this far. I was officially the most pregnant I have ever been. We discussed inducing but I said I wanted to wait at least a week and see if I could go on my own. Even though I was miserable, I had never been induced before and that made me nervous. Past experiences made me feel like I could do it on my own and I wanted to make sure the timing was exactly how it was meant to be.
The morning of October 18 (40 weeks 2 days) was no different. Like clockwork, I woke up around midnight and contracted all night into the early morning hours. I did some dishes, some laundry, and curled my hair. I woke Zach up about 4am and said I think this is probably it but who knows at this point. I'm going to put my make up on and then you can call your grandma to come sit at the house. By about 6 am she had gotten to our house and Reagan was up and getting ready for school. We sent him off thinking "today's the day!"
On our way to the hospital we realized I probably won't get to eat for a while, we better get some McDonalds. McDonalds began their, very successful, breakfast all day promotion during this pregnancy. And it very successfully went into my mouth. I realized after we had gotten the food and arrived at the hospital that I hadn't really had any contractions. I started to feel self conscious and told Zach we needed to do a couple laps around the parking lot. Off we walked. While we walked my contractions stayed at about a minute long and 3 minutes apart. I was feeling reassured by that so I gave the go ahead for us to actually walk through the hospital doors.
My triage nurse was super chatty. I sat down in the stupid little triage chair and got hooked up to monitors. As soon as I sat down contractions stalled. Naturally they suggest walking. We ran into Joan, my favorite mother-baby nurse and now real-life friend. I sway as we chat and she suggests a few of her "go to" labor tricks. Mainly suggesting we go occupy an empty room. After a couple hours of walking, contractions 3-4 minutes apart, we headed back to triage to see how much progress I most definitely have to had made. I sat down to get hooked back up to the monitor and .... no contractions. WHAT THE HECK. I have had so many babies! Why is my body not acting like it normally does?? I'm reminded that the baby is sunny-side up, meaning their spine is against mine and sometimes that can take them longer to descend. I think I'm like mayyybe at a 2cm. Yes that is embarrassing, but even more so, they are SENDING ME HOME.
I'm 40 weeks, 2 days. I'm pregnant with my fourth child. I am being sent home for the 3rd time.
Given the details in the last sentence you might guess where my next stop would be. Ice cream! 10:30 am, we grab ice cream then lunch then hit the constitution trail. Chris, Zach's dad was getting his car fixed at a place that backs up to the trail so he met us. For a couple of hours we paced the section of trail between towanda avenue and G.E. road, stopping to grab Zach's arm every 3-4 minutes. I am dead set on maintaining these contractions but at this point I haven't slept for days. I knew these had to be productive contractions therefore a baby had to be imminent, but I also knew that having a fresh baby after working this hard on basically fumes wouldn't lead to the exciting introduction I was envisioning. So with a sort of "I'll show you" type of attitude, I decided "Fine. No contractions when I lay down? I'll just nap then."
I laid down about 2 pm, and an hour and a half later I woke up to a very strong contraction. I decided to relax in the bath. Maybe I was too
Dr. Dalton made me feel less crazy. She said go back in to labor and delivery, she would call ahead and have them get me a room all ready. The sun is going down now, it was coming up the last time we drove to the hospital. I sail right in, past triage and directly to my room. Thank you, Dr. Dalton. I am in so much pain, I cannot talk through the contractions anymore and have to pause while getting gowned up. I warned and apologized so much to everyone in my vicinity, proclaiming the contractions would stop when I got hooked up that Zach told me to stop (they did slow, and after birth my nurse checked and my contractions never got closer than 4-5 minutes apart even through transition and pushing.) I got checked and was at a whopping 4 cm. I was livid. I'd worked and writhed in pain all day... to progress 2 measly centimeters?!?! Sunny-side up babies are no joke.
I was up for my epidural asap. Zach's cousin Hilary was working and she bopped in. We prodded her and my labor nurse on who my anesthesiologist would be. They assured me he was quiet but good. In fact neither of them had ever seen him smile in two years, let alone say more than 2 words to them. Zach took that as a challenge of course. In came the anesthesiologist at about 8 pm, wheeling his magic cart of pain relief. He immediately asked Zach about the Cubs. The two chatted like old buddies for the entire administration of my epidural while my nurse and Hilary picked their jaws up off the floor.
The epidural was really strong, I couldn't feel a thing. I took the opportunity to rest for a while. My assumption that I would be having the baby on the 18th was slowly being proved wrong. By 11pm I was maybe at 6 cm. Over night the nurses had me rest on my side with an exercise ball between my knees, hoping that would help me to progress faster. I vaguely remember my water breaking. Eventually I started to feel a dull pain in my epidural spot. Over time it got very strong, I cried to Zach about it but wouldn't tell my nurse because I didn't want to be a complainer. Zach just found and told them instead. A new anesthesiologist came in and very seriously said it could be two things. One, I was leaking spinal cord fluid which is very dangerous and rare. Or two, my epidural could be placed too deeply so he would just need to pull it out slightly. Thank goodness it was the later! That seemed to do the trick.
By about 10 am on the 19th, I was complete. 30+ hours after starting. By far my most humbling and longest labor.
I braced myself for a good long stretch of pushing, posterior babies are notorious for strenuous pushing and bruised faces. Dr. Dalton came in, and without much effort, our baby was born and immediately placed on my chest. 10:33 am! All eyes went directly to Zach and I. Everyone knew it was going to be a surprise, my doctor does her own ultrasounds and had listened to me gripe for months about how this "boy" couldn't come any sooner, knowing all the while what a fun trip we would be in for.
I was in disbelief! I couldn't ever fathom having a girl, the thought honestly never crossed my mind. I packed only blue baby blankets in our hospital bag and we had absolutely zero girl names prepared. I had told myself a boy was all that was possible and had genuinely felt like another one would be awesome. Having my very own girl was blinding, tears welled up. Zach was utterly speechless, a first! I looked at my doctor and said "how did you keep this from us?!" and she said "how did you not figure it out?!" This pregnancy and labor was wildly different from all of the others and we both knew that. The harrowing labor was immediately a distant memory. Pure elation.
It felt like a dream, it still does. To this day, she is a dream.
Josephine Mae Williams
7 lbs 15 oz
October 19th, 2016