Tuesday morning (3/20) I had what was supposed to be my last doctor's appointment of my pregnancy, as I was getting induced one week later. They found that I was dilated to a 1.5 and stripped my membranes to help prepare for induction. However, my doctor was worried that I was measuring smaller than the week before and ordered an ultrasound. They found that my amniotic fluid level was really low, so I was sent home with strict orders to drink as much water as possible and come back Thursday morning for a follow up ultrasound. At the follow up appointment things were looking much better on the ultrasound (and I gained 4lbs from all that water!) and that I was further dilated to almost a 3. Dr. Hechtman stripped my membranes for the second time that week and told me that she had seen women go into labor with second babies very quickly from a 3 and that maybe this baby was even coming tonight! She told me if I was having contractions for 2 hours or more and wasn't sure if it was labor or not to give her a call, because she would be on call that night.
All Thursday I had very painful contractions - just a couple every hour. They continued at night and would wake me up about every hour and a half. Starting just before 3am they started coming a little faster but not super consistent. Around 5am they still hadn't stopped and I was 100 percent sure I was in labor, but I called the doctor and let her know I had been having super strong contractions for about 2 hours between 8 and 20 minutes apart. She said that this could possibly be it, but to wait until they were 6 or 7 minutes apart or they would just send me back home from the hospital. I got off the phone, and tried to go back to sleep...and didn't wake up for another hour and a half. My contractions had stopped. We were so bummed. We didn't even know what to do with ourselves all day Friday because we had been convinced that we would be spending our day in the hospital.
Friday afternoon we went out with the missionaries to help teach a discussion to a really great family. After the lesson the wife, Roxanne, was asking me about my pregnancy and when I was due. I told her about the night before and how we figured that this baby would be showing up any day now. She said something about eating a whole pineapple making her go into labor with one of her babies. Most do it yourself inducing labor techniques sound pretty sketchy, or just plain not fun to me - but I figured I could eat pineapple. So Danny bought me one to eat with dinner.
Friday night I sent Danny out to play video games with my brothers, even though I was having really strong contractions again. I just felt like if this baby was coming soon, he needed to get to have at least one fun night out for his Spring Break before he stuck around taking care of me and babies for the next week and a half. When he got home around 1:30am I had still been having really bad contractions, about 10-20 minutes apart. Still not close enough together to go to the hospital according to Dr. Hechtman the night before. We decided he should sleep on the couch so that he could get a few hours of sleep without me waking him up with every contraction I had. I laid down in our bed, hoping I would at least be able to sleep between contractions, and sure enough they started slowing down and I could sleep for 20-30 minutes at a time. Around 3am they started getting steadily closer together and were 7 minutes apart at 4:30. I woke Danny up and had him call my little brothers to come stay with Ollie while we went to the hospital. By the time my brothers arrived and we got to the hospital it was 5am and my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart. I spent 15 minutes in the bathroom trying to get the stinking hospital gown on because I would have to stop and lean over the bathroom counter every time I had another one.
I finally got into the hospital bed and the nurse checked me and said I was dilated to a 6 or a 7 and that this baby would be there within the hour. Distressed by this news I asked if there would be time for an epidural and she told me she was going to try, but she wasn't sure she was even going to be able to get my IV in. Yikes. Yikes is an understatement - I was terrified. I started begging during contractions for nothing in particular. "Please, please, please." Then screaming during contractions. I always kind of wanted to know what it was like, and how I would handle having a baby naturally. But never bad enough to actually do it. And it was hard, and painful, and scary.
The doctor arrived remarkably quickly and was very calm and reassuring. I was dilated to a 10 and ready to start pushing by 5:30. And it was good because baby's heart rate was dropping dangerously low. The nurses and doctor started telling me that I was good to start pushing and it looked like the baby really wanted me to. Really needed me to. Like her life depended on it they said at one point. They called for the NICU nurse. They all screamed at me to push and push harder. The Dr. said she was going to use the vacuum to help but I needed to push first. So I pushed and I screamed so much and so loudly that I'm sure I woke up everyone on the floor. Danny was crying and letting me break his hand and telling me how great I was doing. And then she was born at 5:39am with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck. And I couldn't open my eyes or stop shaking. I had to make myself look and see that there was a beautiful baby girl here and that she was the reason I had just gone through all of that. Once they got her out and unwrapped from the cord she pinked up quickly and cried like a very healthy baby girl for an hour.
Nora Elise is gorgeous. She weighed 6lbs and 7 oz and was 19 inches long and was born at 5:39am on March 24, 2012. She is just so tiny. We can see Ollie in her expressions and I think I've seen a dimple in her right cheek, though it's hard to tell when she doesn't smile yet. She has lots of soft, dark hair. She is nursing well. Danny keeps saying it feels so different to have a baby girl - I asked him if he could feel her wrapping him around her little finger yet and he just smiled and said "yes."
As traumatic and scary as that very quick birth was, recovery has been much easier than it was with Ollie. Other than afterbirth pains, I feel really great. With Ollie, I'm pretty sure I was sore and had a hard time sitting for at least a week.
Thanks to everyone to helped so much and gave so many kind words and congratulations. Especially my parents and brothers and Danny's parents. They have all taken their turns watching Ollie and taking care of us here in the hospital over the last few days and we are so grateful.