Last Thursday I spent the day doing things around the house, and sewing some projects for her room. Her room was feeling almost complete but not quite. I also was getting our guest room prepared, because Shelly and Teenwhiz were leaving Utah early Friday morning to come visit for Labor Day weekend. We had joked a bunch about me going into labor day weekend, but all week I had felt totally fine, no contractions, and I just really believed she was coming around her due date, September 11th. Anyway, Thursday was spent out running errands and such. Then when Chris got home that night we stayed up eating snacks and playing Trivial Pursuit—he beat me. We went to bed sort of late, around midnight or so.
At about 2 am, I started waking up in pain. At first I just thought it was the regular old pregnant stuff and ignored it. But it started to happen more regularly, so I thought, “Ok, I think these are REAL contractions. None of that Braxton Hicks biz.” I had downloaded an app to track them, so I started to do that at 2:45 am. They were just sort of mildly painful, like cramps, lasting for less than a minute, and 10ish minutes apart.
Of course one of my first thoughts was, “Oh no, Shelly and TW are coming! If this is really happening I have to let them know not to come. But if this isn’t real I don’t want to cancel our fun weekend!” I kept asking Chris’s opinion about it, and he felt like it was a false alarm because she wasn’t due for two weeks! But by about 6:00 am, I was sure they were the real thing, and called to let them know. They said they would wait for a couple of hours and if they stopped to let them know and they would still come.
I also called my mom, who immediately said, “Yes! We are coming!” My dad hopped online and found the next flight up here and they were leaving for the airport in like two hours. This made me and Chris nervous too—what if it WASN’T really labor? And my parents just flew up for nothing?
We got up and did some things around the house. I said I was going to make a list of things I did during contractions, which I never did, but I do remember these ones—picking up the guest room, putting on eyeliner, drying my hair, walking to the mailbox, and eating a bowl of cereal. They were getting more intense and closer together, but still never more than like 7 or 8 minutes.
My parents landed just before noon and we went and picked them up. It was kind of funny to be picking someone up at the airport while I was having contractions, but there I was. I labored at home for a few more hours, and finally at about 4:00 in the afternoon we headed to the hospital. I was feeling kind of excited now, like it was really happening, but also feeling pretty miserable. We got to Labor and Delivery (or Family Beginnings, as it’s called at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center), and got checked in and in a hospital gown, and a nurse came to check how dilated I was. I was at a 3.
I felt so dumb about that! I had been in labor for more than 12 hours, and in so much pain, and was dilated to a 3?? For the love. The nurse told me they would keep me for an hour, check again to see how I’d progressed, and if I did, I would be admitted.
So I chilled there for an hour, my parents were around, we all just sort of chatted and waited and I had contractions, then they came back to check and I was a 4. Cool. But they did admit me, and it must have been about 6:00 by now, because I remember looking at the clock and thinking, “Well, even if I just do a centimeter per hour, she’ll be born today, that’s before midnight.”
The room I labored in was great. It was really big and had a full couch and a recliner, and Chris spent a lot of time in both. Here I must take an aside from the play by play of my labor and talk about Chris. He was incredible. Once we got to the hospital, I didn’t eat anything until she was born, which—spoiler alert—was 12 hours. And neither did Chris. I kept telling him he should go get something, and my parents kept offering, but he never did. He just wanted to stay by my side, and if I couldn’t eat, he wasn’t going to either. He held my hand and rubbed my back and stroked my face and told me I could do it. He told me how much he loved me and that he knew I was strong and that everything would work out. I love that guy.
Anyway, after they checked me at a 4, I decided to get in the Jacuzzi. Because oh yeah, that was the other reason my room was so great, it had a Jacuzzi. I was in there for a long time, probably an hour and a half. Poor Chris just sat there on a little stool the whole time and talked to me and told me I was doing a good job. Sometimes when really bad ones started I would tell Chris to tell me a story, and he would be like . . . . about what? So I would say like, “Tell me a story about when you and Ryan got in trouble when you were little,” or “Tell me something about 3rd grade,” and he would come up with something.
When I got out of the Jacuzzi, it was like 8:00 ish and I was in SO MUCH PAIN. I was positive I must be dilated to a 7 by now. The nurse checked me—and a 5. For the love. I started to feel really frustrated that I was progressing so slowly. And I had wanted to wait to get a little further before getting the epidural. But after talking with my mom, Chris, and Jackie the nurse (who I loved), I decided to just get it then. I had read too many things about an epidural slowing your progress, that’s why I wanted to wait, but Jackie and my mom both said that when they got them they progressed even faster because then your body can relax.
And my body was DEFINITELY not relaxed. I was shaking and shivering SO much. I hated it. If I concentrated really hard I could stop but otherwise I was just so shaky. I got my epidural at 9:00. Beth, the nurse anesthetist, was so great. I had been feeling really nervous about my ability to hold still for it, because of the shakiness and contractions, but it went really well. Jackie was so calming and gentle and motherly, so it was good to have her there. (They won’t let anyone be in the room other than a nurse, because I guess too many husbands have fainted and stuff.) But I sat on the edge of my bed and she did everything and got me all taped up. And she was really nice, she kept telling me I was doing a great job and I was a poster child for getting an epidural. They got it all in, let Chris back in, and I think my parents too, and I was feeling GOOD. Within just a couple of minutes I felt so great and relaxed and couldn’t even tell when a contraction happened.
It was awesome to finally get some rest, too. My parents went back to our house to sleep, and Chris slept on the couch. They came in to check how dilated I was every hour or so, and I still wasn’t really progressing. So at midnight Dr. Watson came in to break my water. Which, dayum—I’m glad I had an epidural for that, because it seemed like it would have hurt SO bad otherwise. Anyway, I was still only at a 5 when he broke my water, and he also realized at that point that her face was up and not down, which is probably why I progressed so slowly.
So from there we just kept snoozing, I basically only woke up when they came to check me. At 3:00 ish, they came in to check and I was like, “I’m probably at a 7 or something,” and Jackie said, “No, you are all the way ready! Do you want to push?” Chris and I both sort of leapt into action at this point. We were just like, oh my gosh, this is really happening! She said she would call the doctor once we could see her head, and until then, she and Chris would just coach me through pushing.
We got my legs up in the stirrups, and I would sort of sit up and hold behind my knees and push. Chris said it was exactly like the movies. I had had Jackie turn down the epidural a notch several hours before, because my legs were SO SO numb, so I had a perfect amount of feeling to everything. I could feel when a contraction happened because it got tight and I had the urge to push, and they were looking at the monitor too and telling me it was time. I would do three big pushes every contraction.
Pushing was really hard and exhausting, but I only did it for about 20 minutes before we could see her head, and then she crowned. They pulled the mirror over for me so I saw half her little head sticking out. Chris had always thought he wouldn’t want to watch everything, but he was so amazing. He was totally into it. He kept saying, “Erin, oh my gosh, here she is! That’s her head!” And he was amazing through the pushing. He would say, “Ok, push push push push! Good job, you can do it, keep going!” You know, the standard encouraging stuff like that. And we could see hair! We were so surprised about the hair!
Once the baby had crowned, the doctor still wasn’t there, and then Jackie did the only thing I didn’t like the whole time she was my nurse—told me to stop pushing because we had to wait for him. I was like, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I mean, obviously it didn’t hurt because of the epidural, but I could still FEEL half her HEAD coming out of me! In re-telling the story I always say, “And then they told me not to push, and I was like, ‘Ok,’” and then Chris will correct me and say, “Um, that is not what you said.” Because really I was more like, “What? Are you kidding? When will he be here? How long? This feels terrible!” She assured me he was almost there, and it would only be a couple more minutes.
Then I could feel something happening down there and I said, “Hey, is her head going back in?” Jackie looked down and said, “NO.” Then she called out and said, “Hi, Carla, I need you guys to get in here RIGHT NOW.” Then I started to feel it, she was just slipping out! I was looking at Chris, and watching him watch her come out was the most incredible thing. He was so amazed and excited and he kept saying, “Erin, oh my gosh, here she is! This is so amazing! This is so amazing!”
I felt her slide all the way out, and they immediately wiped her off a tiny bit, then put her on my chest under the gown. I was so emotionally overwhelmed, but never cried. (In fact, I don’t think I cried through the entire labor. Which is all VERY strange for me. I cry a LOT.) But anyway, they put her on my chest, and Chris and I just stared at her and laughed and smiled and told her we loved her and how beautiful she was. Oh, and her hair! We kept saying, “Look at her hair!” because we didn’t really imagine having a baby with a bunch of dark hair! She was so small and so amazing, and it felt so amazing to just have her there next to my skin. I kept kissing her little head even though it still had stuff on it, I just didn’t care at all. She was so alert, and just kept looking around at us. It was so amazing.
They clamped the cord, and Chris cut it, and I think it was around then that the doctor ran into the room all out of breath. He saw the baby and was like, “What?!” and the nurses told him it just happened.
While they got me all stitched up Chris and I just sat and stared at her. I don’t really remember any specifics of those moments, but I do remember how it felt. And it felt amazing. I loved him and her so so much. It didn’t matter that there was a team down below stitching and blotting, it felt like it was just me, Chris and Maggie. I think that was when we first called her Maggie, too. And we said, yep, that’s it. That’s her name.
Once they were done stitching and stuff, I let them know they could go tell my parents she was born but that we wanted to be alone for a while. So they left Chris and I alone with her for I don’t know how long, maybe like 45 minutes. And same thing, I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, but I know how it felt. And I don’t think I’ve ever felt more love for anyone than in those moments. She was just so incredibly beautiful, we couldn’t believe it. Oh, and she was so alert! Her eyes were open and she was just looking around at everything, taking it all in. We kept telling her who we were and that we loved her. We kept saying that even if this weren’t our baby we would be dying over how cute and perfect and beautiful she was. Which is true. She seriously was.
About an hour and a half after she was born, they came to weigh her and wash her and prick her and do all that stuff. We had my parents come in for that to see her, and they loved it. They took tons of pictures. Finally they got her all wrapped up and Chris got to hold her. Watching him hold her for the first time was incredible. He is the cutest dad already, and loves her so much.
The rest of our hospital time is somewhat of a blur. My parents were in and out, loving to hold her and take pictures. They brought Chris and I some breakfast, and those were the best dang pancakes I’ve ever eaten! We were dying over them, because neither of us had eaten in like 15 hours.
Me and Chris had a lot of fun together at the hospital, raising our beds as high as they would go, and stuff like that. We worked on breastfeeding and it never went for very long, but it seemed to be ok to me. They tried to teach me different holds to make it easier, and that helped. We stayed at the hospital all night Friday night, of course, because she was born early Saturday morning, and then Saturday night too. We mostly slept with her in the room with us, but she did go to the nursery for a little bit, which was kind of nice because it was hard to sleep with her in there. Not so much because she made a peep, but because I either couldn’t stop staring at her or couldn’t stop going, “Is she breathing? Is she ok?” Crazy mom style.
I loved being at the hospital. Everyone was so nice and so ready and willing to answer our questions and help us out. On Saturday we ate our “celebration dinner.” The hospital does a cute thing where they bring you a menu in the morning with fancy food options, you order what you want, and then they set up a nice table in your room for you. We had steak and asparagus and cheesecake and sparkling cider, and it was really fun. We just had a nice little date together.
All day Saturday my parents were in and out, they ran some errands and did stuff but also were with us at the hospital. It was so great to have them there. Dad flew back home on Sunday afternoon, so from then on it was just Mom with us doing everything.
Saturday night we slept pretty well, and Sunday we thought we’d be leaving by late morning, but ended up being there until after dinner! We could have stayed the night, but chose not to. They were in no rush to get us out, though, it was nice. They wanted to make sure I had breastfed her successfully a few times, be absolutely sure everything looked good with her and with me, and that we felt comfortable before going home. Another thing they brought us on Sunday was the most BEAUTIFUL picture of her they took in the nursery. We just can’t get over how perfect she is. We all keep saying they should use that picture for their billboards, and we’re not kidding. It seriously is so gorgeous.
Sunday night we ate our dinner, then starting getting ready to go. We packed up our bags, I changed out of my hospital gown, we changed her out of her hospital shirt and blanket, and put her in her very first outfit—a little white sleep sack with a pink elephant on it, a matching hat, and a pretty pink muslin blanket. I got in the wheelchair, we put her in her car seat, and they put the car seat in my lap. I felt a little precarious holding it but everyone else seemed fine with it. We took some pictures, of course, and then started to go!
We left the hospital doors, posed for a picture, and right then this sort of white trash couple was walking in to the hospital. The lady was really huge and just sort of gross looking, and she said, “Hey, it looks like you need lots of baby clothes!” and I was like, “Oh, yeah, thanks!” and THEN she said, “I’m selling a bunch. 0-18 months.” YEAH RIGHT GROSS LADY! Luckily the nurse just kept wheeling me and I didn’t have to respond, but OH MY GOSH. Look lady, how about you don’t accost adorable new families leaving the hospital with their perfect baby? My mom said, “Ooh, tempting,” and the nurse was like, “Yeah, you find some crazy people at the hospital.” I know this is so rude of me, to describe them in this way, but that's the best I know how. And it just took me by surprise so much. We're there with our beautiful perfect newborn baby and then there's some weird lady! Anyway.
We got to the car and got her all set, the nurse congratulated us and left. Mom drove our other car home, and I got in the backseat with Mags, and we headed out. For whatever reason, I don’t know if it was the white trash lady ruining the moment, or just the reality of what was happening, but that was the first time I cried. I started looking around out the window and realizing the hospital wasn’t the only place she would ever be, where it was clean and safe and full of knowledgeable, capable people. And we were in charge, and would it be ok? I cried most of the way home, for that and also because I just love that girl so much.
When we got home, our neighbors the Joneses had decorated our house with balloons and a cute garland saying “It’s a Girl!” and it was so cute and nice of them. Mom took our picture by the front door, bringing her home for the first time.
And then we began! I wish I could remember exactly what happened every day since then, but it’s all sort of a blur, really. I’ve slept at weird times, and I have cried a LOT about various things—how much I love her, thinking about mom leaving, being homesick for Utah and friends, my boobs hurting, my down there area hurting—stuff like that. Mom has been amazing, cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping.
Chris is the cutest dad I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe how much I love him. He loves her so much and he loves it that she looks like him. Which she totally does.
Maggie is amazing. She is so beautiful and such a good baby. She sleeps a lot, and when she’s awake she is so darling and just stares at everything and makes cute faces. We can’t get enough of her. Like I said, I wish I could remember and record exactly everything that’s gone down in the past week, but I can’t. But I can and hope that I will always remember how these days have felt. I love her so much I can’t even believe it.