I've just been sitting here, watching the clock, seeing the minutes tick by until finally: 2:03p.m. Kristen is one week old! I cannot believe it's already been one week. I cannot believe it's only been one week. Such a paradox, my new warped concept of time.
I keep replaying in my mind the events surrounding her birth and wonder what I might have or could have done differently. I woke up that Monday morning a little later than usual, and thought I might be having very mild contractions. I took my scheduled medication, rested, drank some water, and didn't think too much about it. They were no worse than what I had been feeling in the hospital over the weekend, but two hours later, when I was still feeling somewhat crampy, I took a second dose as my midwife had instructed. By noon, I realized that despite the two doses of terbutaline, numerous glasses of water, and lots of rest, those contractions were not only not going away, but actually seemed to be getting stronger and more regular. I called my midwife around noon and she said that I could actually take 5mg of the terbutaline every 4-6 hours, and since I had already taken that much in two divided doses, I figured I'd be safe to take the full dose again at one o'clock. At 12:30 I decided a half an hour couldn't make much difference, swallowed the medication with another full glass of water, and laid down to rest on my bed. Darren, by this point, was really getting nervous, but we still thought that the stronger dose of terbutaline just might do the trick. My midwife hadn't sounded too concerned, so I rationalized that I shouldn't be, either. That is, until I got up to relieve my bladder, full from all that water I had been drinking to stay hydrated, and saw, to my horror, that I was bleeding again, much worse than I had been on Saturday.
We hastily called my dad to come watch the kids as we threw together another overnight bag. Now we were both freaking out, but I still didn't think I'd actually deliver our baby that day. Magnesium sulfate, I thought. They'll start me on mag and everything will be just fine.
Every minute that passed was agony as we anxiously waited for my dad to arrive. Finally I decided to wait in the van so I could honk the horn for Darren as soon as I saw my dad's car coming down the street. I've never seen Darren drive like he did on our way to the hospital. I was crying, as the contractions were suddenly coming so fast and furious. I was glad I had taken a minute back home to call the hospital and let the charge nurse know we were on our way. When we pulled up to the doors, Darren helped me out and we didn't even pause at admissions. I had brought my badge and took us straight up to L&D...there was no way I was going to waste even a single second! There was a brief discussion at the nurses station about what type of room to put me in (antepartum versus labor); I didn't mind asserting that I needed a labor bed! Darren went downstairs to admit me and by the time he got back to my room, I had nurses attempting to start an IV and my midwife was arriving to tell me that, as I had expected, the plan was to start magnesium sulfate and transfer me to a hospital about an hour away. But even as we were talking, I knew that there was not much chance that I'd make it out of that room undelivered...things were just too intense and I realized by then that I was about to have a baby. When she checked my cervix and found that I was already dilated to 7 centimeters (minutes before I had been only 3-4), she amended her plan and everyone quickly prepared for the delivery. A nurse from the special care nursery was called to be present, as was the pediatrician (who didn't arrive until after the birth), and as my midwife broke my water, I felt the urge to push. Terrified doesn't even come close to describing what I was feeling in that moment. Everything had happened so fast, and I was still so far from my due date. Eight weeks is an awfully long time when every day in the womb sees such vital growth and maturation. My midwife was wonderful, though, stroking my face and offering reassurances even as I cried in pain and fear.
Darren was right by my side when, at 2:03 on Monday, March 17, our little Kristen Marie came screaming into the world. Her cries were the most precious sound I had ever heard, and even Darren had to wipe tears from his eyes as he cut her cord and set her free from me. She was, and is, absolutely beautiful, rosy red and quite vigorous, crying loudly as the nurse assessed her. We were delighted to see that she weighed over four pounds: 4 lbs, 1 oz to be precise, and she was 17 inches long. Darren accompanied her to the nursery, where she transitioned extremely well, and I tried to rest in a state of overwhelmed shock, joy, and anxiety!
It's been a week now, and we just feel so blessed. Kristen is the most perfect, angelic little bundle of sweetness and love and we just cannot imagine our family without her in it! It's amazing to me how a parent's heart just swells with love to encompass each new addition to the family. We've only known Kristen for seven short days but love her so very, very much! And far from detracting from the love we feel for our big kids, it just makes us love them even more. They are all such miracles. I look at them and I am just overwhelmed by them, by the babies they used to be not so very long ago and by the amazingly awesome children they have grown to be. I cannot wait for the day when our little Kristen is big enough to come home with us! In the meantime, her bassinet stands ready and waiting beside our bed, her teensy tiny clothes are folded neatly into her dresser drawers, and we all wait in hope and anticipation of her joyous homecoming. I pray these days speed by!