On to the story...
One thing that I was blessed with during my pregnancy was the ability to sleep well. Granted, I wanted to sleep all the time, but at least I could do it reasonably well in my whale-like state. I was enjoying a peaceful slumber on Friday, January 11th when I woke suddenly at 5am. I felt something warm, flowing, and water-like. I raced (as fast as a waddling woman can race) to the bathroom where the floodgates opened. Normally water breaking would make a pregnant woman giddy, but I was only 34 weeks pregnant----6 weeks before the little one was due to arrive. I woke Steve and told him that my water had broken and we needed to get to the hospital. With my history of fast labors I was very nervous that this early baby would come before we could get to the hospital. I called my neighbor, Jeanne, who rushed right over to stay with the older kids. Steve tried to get me to pack something, but I couldn't think clearly about what I needed. We finally just grabbed the camera and went on our way without anything else.
At the hospital, they confirmed that indeed my water had broken (duh) and I was 2cm dilated. I was having contractions, but they were random and not very strong. I couldn't go home because I was 34 weeks and my water had broken, so it was just a waiting game. My doctor said that I could stay pregnant as long as my body would let me as long as I didn't show any signs of infection. Steve and I watched the news, watched Dr. Phil, and eventually watched a couple episodes of '24' on his laptop. Nothing was happening except me getting very frustrated and uncomfortable. The doctor ordered an ultrasound to get a better idea about how big the baby might be. The entire ultrasound, I was just afraid the technician was going to mess up and tell us if the baby was a boy or a girl. We had waited this long, I didn't want to find out now! Luckily, he was good at his job and all he told us was that the baby weighed around 5 pounds, 6 ounces. That was very good news. The doctor also ordered a steriod shot for me to help the baby's lung develop more quickly.
Around 10pm, I started to feel more regular contractions and they were starting to get quite uncomfortable. Most of the pain was in my back and I was not pleased to be experiencing "back labor." The pain was getting intense, so I asked the nurse to check me. A whole stinking 3cm! I remember saying "you've got to be kidding me!!" It felt more like 7cm, not 3cm. I asked for the epidural at that point. The anesthesilogist was in on a c-section and I was told it would be about an hour. I borrowed Steve's Ipod and tried to listen to a little Dave Matthews Band to distract me. That must have helped because the magical epidural man was there rather quickly. I don't remember the epidural process hurting as much the first two times I had it, but once the drugs kicked in, I didn't care and I was a happy camper.
It was after 11pm so Steve and I tried to get some sleep at this point, but it was so hard to rest. I was so nervous about the baby's health. It didn't help when a team of nurses from the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) came in with a big box full of supplies to help the baby to breathe if necessary. Somewhere around 3am, the nurse came in and checked me and lo and behold, I was 10 cm and the baby was "right there." I asked for a mirror so I could see the baby coming out and the doctor got all set up to catch. I gave one big push and prepared myself for another big push, but the doctor just said "just a little push will do it" and out this little tiny baby came! I never even had time to look at the mirror I had requested. I remember looking down and frantically searching through a mess of little legs and umbilical cord for boy or girl parts. I was surprised to see little girly parts. More importantly, she was pink and crying. And absolutely beautiful. She weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces, and was 18 inches long.
She wasn't having any trouble breathing and seemed pretty healthy, so the nurses left her with us for about 20 minutes before taking her to the NICU.
Steve went with her, snapped lots of pictures, and stayed until he was so exhausted he couldn't stand any longer.
Our Baby Girl spent one week in the NICU. She was jaundiced and had trouble maintaining her body temperature, but never needed help with breathing and was able to eat on her own from the start. We were very lucky to have a Lactation Specialist on shift in the NICU the first time I tried to nurse her and she took to it very well.
After a week, we were so thrilled to be able to bring her home! Little Boy and Little Sister had only been able to see her through the window of the nursery at the hospital and I just wanted our family at home together.
Our little surprise baby was supposed to be born around Valentine's Day, so I had picked out a little unisex red outfit. A big white bow on top made the whole thing complete.