The smoke has lifted. The fog has cleared. We're emerging from the rubble. And by rubble, I mean our house. Our house looks like it was hit by a tornado. A Babies R Us tornado.
We are finally emerging from the haze of the newborn days.
We survived the first twelve weeks with Miss Maddie Grace. And let me tell you, it was not easy. It was harder than I ever imagined, in ways I never imagined. Labor and recovery was brutal, sleep deprivation was exhausting, and the worry-wart in me had a heyday wasting hours of precious time googling all sorts of ridiculous things at all hours of the night. Our marriage relationship was challenged, the state of our house was at times disastrous, our sanity was often in question. And the emotions, oh the emotions and the cries. Happy cries, tired cries, painful cries, the I-don't-even-know-why-I'm-crying cries. And I'm talking about me here, not Maddie. Of course she did her fair share of crying too. Some afternoons we just cried it out together, neither of us knowing why we were crying. I blamed hormones, she blamed gas.
But, somehow, whilst our lives we're turned upside down, we learned, we grew, and we loved. We have been so blessed to welcome this little girl into our family. She is so special, so beautiful, so unique. And at times so confusing (what does that high-pitched-semi-whiny-followed-by-a-whimper cry mean? is that different from the high-pitched-semi-whiny-followed-by-a-grunt cry?). We are all learning more and more about each other every day and making precious memories (that we will hopefully look back on fondly? perhaps some we even laugh about?).
I'm back at work now, and Maddie has started daycare. We've ventured out of the house on errands and made several short road trips (even a couple overnighters!). On my last day of maternity leave, I not only baked brownies but also went jogging! Because those cancel out, right? Anyway, point being, we're like real people again. Who do things other than wear sweatpants, bounce around the room praying the baby will eventually fall asleep, then blankly stare at each other on the couch once she does and we have zero energy left to even speak. Well, just kidding about the sweatpants, I will forever wear yoga pants every day I can.
A blogging hiatus was absolutely necessary for me in the first weeks. Most days, I could barely find the time to shower or scarf down lunch with one hand while whisper-yelling in a sing-song voice from across the room, "I'm right here baby, Mommy's coming right back!" And when she finally fell asleep? Well I couldn't move, because she only wanted to sleep on me. And being unable to do anything because she was sleeping, was 100x better than being unable to do anything because she was screaming. But now that things are (sort of/maybe) settling down, I'm ready to get in the groove again. I need to write things down before the memories disappear right along with the size 1 diapers.
I'll start out with Maddie's birth story today, and have plans for Advice/Lessons Learned post, a Newborn Must-Haves post, and a Returning to Work post. Fortunately, I did write down a very long and detailed novel about Maddie's birth shortly after we went home from the hospital. I'll spare you all the unnecessary TMI in this lengthy play-by-play version. [If you plan to read the whole thing, you better go pop some popcorn and settle in for the long haul]
Monday, April 28 (40 weeks, 6 days pregnant)
3:00pm: I feel my first contraction. At least I think I do, but how could I really know? I take a shower and quietly time the contractions for a couple hours before I tell Tom.
5:00pm: I'm 95% sure I'm having real contractions, and cautiously, excitedly tell Tom. We are giddy... tentatively. The days have been dragging on painfully since passing our due date, and we don't want to get our hopes up too high. We have pretty much accepted the fact that we will probably have to wait until our scheduled induction on Friday, May 2.
7:00pm: Tom decides to go for a bike ride. I sit quietly in Maddie's room, listening to soothing music, thinking to myself, "wow, this labor thing is going to be a breeze - these contractions are but a minor annoyance, la de da de da"
7:30pm: My mom calls. I know she has to work the next day and I don't want to get her excited just yet. I'm still 5% sure this is a fluke. I ramble on about our plans to visit the Arboretum the next day, hoping I'm totally playing it cool.
8:00pm: Based on our calculations from timing my contractions and everything we learned in our labor and delivery class, we figure I'll probably be pushing this baby out at about 1:00am. Piece of cake, only 5 more hours to go!
11:00pm: Yikes, ok so maybe this labor thing is no joke. The contractions are getting stronger and longer. I find a cool app on my phone to track them, which is fun. "Fun." As much "fun" as you can have while wincing in pain every 7 minutes.
Tuesday, April 29:
1:00am: OH MY GOD. Am I dying? The contractions are super painful, but still averaging about 6-7 minutes in between, sometimes longer. We learned the 5-1-1 rule in our labor and delivery class. Don't go to the hospital until your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for one full hour. I call the hospital anyway. The nurse says to keep on waiting it out. She suggests I should "take some Tylenol, drink a glass of water, and sit in a warm bath." IS THIS A JOKE? I'm 100% sure this woman has never been in labor. [Later find out, she has two kids] I cry in frustration.
2:00am: After following the nurse's advice, I am still painfully in labor. But I think, what the heck, why don't I lie down for a bit? Surely I can fall asleep while I'm writhing in pain.
2:20am: Yeah that was a fail. Tom falls asleep, but I find that lying down makes the contractions hurt worse. So I put on my tennis shoes to go for a walk. Because that sounds like a very reasonable, responsible thing to do, venturing out into the neighborhood, alone, in the dead of night, while in labor. I make it to the end of the street before I realize this is a terrible idea.
4:30am: I've been walking in figure eights around the dining room table and the kitchen island for two hours. The contractions are still only 6-7 minutes apart. What the heck!? I am officially very tired at this point. Moving around makes the contractions less painful, but I am too exhausted to keep walking. I decide to sit in the recliner for a bit, save some energy. I watch the morning news, eat a granola bar, moan and cry a bit.
6:30am: Tom comes running down the stairs in a panic. "I fell asleep!" Don't worry, you haven't missed anything exciting down here. I detail my past few hours to him, and tell him I want to disregard the 5-1-1 rule and hit the road to the hospital. So, naturally, he decides to cook up some breakfast first. Mmmm, love the smell of eggs while I'm doubled over the kitchen counter trying to breathe through my contractions.
7:00am: Tom is packing things up and I call my mom. I tell her about my night and get her thoughts on heading to the hospital. She agrees that I should go up there. If they send me home, they send me
7:15am: We hop in the car, and no sooner than we hit I-35, the contractions quicken to every 4 minutes. I am suddenly very very happy! Practically elated! With every awful contraction, I cheer! I even tell Tom not to drop me off at the front door, I want to walk in from the parking lot.
7:30am: We arrive at the hospital. Labor & Delivery is packed. So packed, in fact, that they don't have a single room open. Eight rooms full, eight babies born on Monday, April 28th. Seriously, what are the odds? They set up a temporary spot for us in the nursery. There aren't any babies in there since the babies generally room-in with their mothers. I disrobe and the nurses ask me 500 questions before Dr. Chapman (not our usual doctor, but equally as nice and wonderful) comes in and checks me. Yep, 5cm dilated and 100% effaced. She asks me if I plan to have an epidural, and I say yes, oh yes. I am caught off guard when she tells me she'll have the anesthesiologist come in as soon as they move us to our real room, which is supposed to be in the next 30 minutes. I can't believe it's already time to get an epidural! The night sure did drag on forever, but things start moving too quickly! Suddenly I'm hooked up to IVs and monitors, there's fluids and beepings and needles galore. Our doctor, Dr. Fernandez, stops by to say hello. He comments to Tom about how I'm doing so great for being 5cm dilated. I start to get a big head, thinking I have some sort of super-human pain tolerance and I'm going to be the Queen of Delivery. Ha. Oh you silly little first time mother, you don't even know.
7:45am: Tom calls our parents to let them know we've been admitted to the hospital. He also texts Katie back for me - as we were going up the elevator at the hospital, I got a text message from her that said she had a dream I was going into labor!
8:30am: They move us to a room and my parents stop by to say hello.
10:00am: Before long, the anesthesiologist comes in and administers the epidural. It isn't too terrible, other than the fact that he did it twice because the first one didn't work out very well. But hey, better than the contractions! It kicks in pretty quickly and I chill out in the hospital bed for, well, the rest of the day. Our parents, siblings, grandparents, all come in occasionally for visits. It's pretty uneventful. I snooze a little here and there and watch the clock.
3:00pm: Dr. Fernandez comes in to check me. 10cm dilated! It's time for some "practice" pushes. We do a few, he gives me advice on how to breathe and push, and it doesn't appear that Maddie wants to come out yet. He says we'll wait another 30 minutes.
3:35pm: I thought you said 30 minutes? It's been 35. I was mentally ready to get this baby out. But physically, I had some challenges. It was time to start pushing again, but I just couldn't get the hang of it. They wanted me to bear down, hold my breath, and push for 10 seconds. My mom and Tom were in the room holding my feet. My mom was my cheerleader, and Tom, well you know Silent Tom. He was my quiet supporter. But I just couldn't seem to hold my breath for a full 10 seconds! The bed was super uncomfortable, and I couldn't feel anything down there, so I wasn't sure if I was even pushing or just bursting blood vessels in my forehead
5:30pm: I've been pushing for nearly 2 hours. The nurse says she can see the baby's head full of hair. But I just can't seem to push her out. I am in so much pain, so so much pain. And it all seems useless! I'm exhausted from pushing, and not sleeping, and only having had a granola bar in the past 20 hours. And I'm frustrated, really frustrated. Dr. Fernandez has to leave for his son's award ceremony, so Dr. Chapman comes in. She asks us to make a decision: try using forceps or go for a cesarean. In my drugged, delusional state, I opt for the forceps because I'm terrified of surgery. But using forceps requires a pediatrician to be present, and she has just gone home for the day. So we wait on her to come back.
6:00pm: The pediatrician has arrived, there are seemingly 300 people in the room (maybe just 8), and I am trying my hardest to remain somewhat composed, but on the verge of falling apart. We try the forceps 4 times, which requires 12 more pushes. No avail. Baby is not budging. By this point, I am a crying, blubbering mess. "It hurts so bad," I repeat every 10 seconds. Things started to get really hazy for me at this point. It was just so darn painful.
6:30pm: Time for the c-section. The new nurses (doctors? techs? who were these people?) start introducing themselves to me, and I am so over it. Seriously, I would have let a janitor delivery the baby by this time. I don't care what your name is, Mr. Doctor! They wheel me into the freezing cold surgery room and start administering drugs. My teeth are chattering, they're all making small talk. They cover me with blankets and invert the bed so that the numbing drugs will move further up my abdomen. Tom comes in and sits beside me. Someone makes jokes about Longhorn doctors delivering an Aggie baby. It's all REALLY hazy for me.
7:30pm: Everything is ready, they tell me what they are doing behind the blue sheet. Finally, it's time to make the incision. They tell me that they're going to pull the baby out, and it's going to feel like someone is sitting on my stomach. Suddenly, a CRY! She cries immediately.
7:39pm: Madelyn Grace Cooper makes her debut. She enters the world at 8lbs 11oz, 20 inches long. Tom gets to see her and hold her as soon as they clamp her cord and wipe her down. I am still a hazy mess.
8:00ish? I see our baby for the first time, and she is nothing like I imagined. I pictured a petite little thing. But she is big. Big and swollen from all the fluids. It doesn't really feel like she is ours, and I don't immediately feel the love and attachment like I hoped I would. I mostly just feel exhausted. I don't know it at the time, but it will take a little while for me to have these feelings for sweet Maddie. But they do come, and when they do, they are fully encompassing. So much love, I feel that my heart will burst from it all. Such an incredible, powerful, life-changing love.
The rest of the hospital stay (until Friday morning) was really a bit of a blur for me. Recovery was brutal. I was on a lot of meds and in a lot of pain. I was definitely not a super-human pain-tolerating all-star. But we had lots of sweet visitors, our doctors and nurses were wonderful, TOM was wonderful. Seriously, the best ever. Since I was so incapacitated, Tom took over on everything - the diapers, the swaddling, the bouncing around the room. The rearranging of pillows, the calls to the nurses, the helping me pull up my pants when I couldn't bend over. Seeing him this way was so special to me and truly made me appreciate what a wonderful man I married. The perfect husband and father, perfect to us.
It's hard to believe it was nearly three months ago that Madelyn entered the world. It's true what they say, babies really do grow up fast. That puffy, bruised, sleepy baby has blossomed into a cheery, smiling, playing baby. We love watching her grow and soaking up all the snuggles we can. Sweet Maddie Grace, we love you so!