(And a month old already!)
Our little Natalie made her appearance on April 21st, at 1:16pm.
How grateful I am for her, and her birth.
I was blessed to have the chance to have monthly ultrasounds with this pregnancy.
This was due to "chronic high blood pressure" concerns that were identified at the very beginning of this pregnancy.
While it was another appointment in my busy schedule, it was always fun to see her, her heartbeat, and have her measured for size and appropriate growth.
It was also reassuring to be told time and time again that it really was a girl this time.
(We were told Isaac was "most likely" a girl and/or "We don't see any boy parts" on 4 different occasions before he was born. Needless to say, we were shocked when HE was born!)
About a month ago, my doctor did an ultrasound that measured our "little" one at 9 lbs, 1oz. (plus or minus a pound).
I was quite concerned about giving birth to such a large baby, as I still had 3 weeks still to go.
Isaac weighed in at 9 lbs. 14 oz. at birth, and his labor/delivery was very difficult for me.
Due to the high blood pressure concerns I had, my doctor talked to me about delivering my daughter early...and I spent 2 days seriously considering how I felt about making that choice for my little girl.
I feel very strongly that babies need to "cook" as long as possible, and that we shouldn't choose convenience for us as the parent over their personal health and development.
That being said, as I considered the choice my doctor had presented, I felt very much that our little girl needed to come to earth sooner rather than later, and that we should progress with the induction on the 21st.
My nerves up to that point were fairly raw.
I truly believed Isaac was my last child, and mentally, I shut a lot of doors mentally and emotionally the day he was born.
Stepping day by day toward delivery had me facing my fears and concerns head on, and sometimes I handled them well, other times with not so much courage.
I borrowed two books on "Childbirth Without Fear" by Grantly Dick-Read and Michel Odent and "Hypnobirthing: A Celebration of Life" by Marie Morgan to read in the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy.
I loved the concepts they presented, and mentally, I believe they helped me get to a realistic, healthy perspective on what I would be allowing my body to do...hopefully without a lot of pain.
When the morning of the 21st arrived, I headed to the hospital (just a few minutes from my home!) to check in by 6am.
By the time all of the check-in processes were finished and I was taken up to a room, it was nearing 7am.
Pat walked in just after they finished placing the IV.
I'm always relived to have him present...he has always been a very calming influence on me throughout the births of my children.
We spent the next hour and half just resting...I was dozing off, knowing that the next few days would be physically tiring, and Pat was reading...enjoying the peace and calm of the hospital room.
My doctor came in about 8:30am and made 2 decisions: 1) She would break my water, and 2) I needed to use a birthing ball.
I have never had the opportunity to use a birthing ball before, and so I was curious if it would make any difference at all.
The first one the nurse brought in was for in the bed, and was shaped somewhat like a large peanut.
I used that for a while, and when my body was weary from being in that position, I moved to the birthing ball on the floor.
It was amazing to feel an immediate relief of pressure and a shift of gravity while I was on the birthing ball...I truly thought it was great, even initially.
I got back into the bed for a while, and remember making the comment to Pat that it looked and felt like it was going to be quite a while before we moved into transitional labor.
While the contractions were regular, the pain was minimal...more of a pressure than pain.
I've always marked the progression of my labor by the intensity of pain, and so when I once again moved down to the birthing ball, I could feel the intensity of the pressure increase, but I found the pain was still not "intolerable".
It really helped that Pat could wheel a chair up right behind me and put counter-pressure on my back.
Every time I had a contraction, he would apply that counter-pressure, and I found it really felt almost good to know my body was doing what it needed to do to get my little girl here.
I hit a point where I was shaky, sweaty, and having a hard time reasoning through things (about 12:15pm).
I was still on the birthing ball, and not in a huge amount of pain, so in my mind, I thought we had a good hour or two still to go before our baby would make her appearance.
At that point, I became overwhelmed at the thought of enduring labor at this level for another couple of hours...and asked to be checked to see where I was in the dilation process.
My nurse actually told me she couldn't check me unless I was getting an epidural...and I looked at Pat and said, "Fine, I'm getting the epidural!"
I had felt repeatedly that if I got the epidural, I'd have my baby within 5 or 10 minutes, but at that point, I had no physical signs that I associated with transitional labor, and so I thought I was far from the point she would actually be born.
(Pat later told me that he KNEW I was in transitional labor, but also knew I would have a hard time hearing ANYTHING at that point!)
During this procedure, my doctor walked in.
No nurse had called her (last check I had only been dilated to a 4), but she, in her words, "just thought I should come check on you".
As they were placing the epidural, I kept feeling contractions and movement...downward.
I was still sitting on the side of the bed when our little girl decided to move the process forward more quickly.
I guess I said, "Ladies, we're having a baby!" to get everyone's attention. (I don't remember that!)
My doctor came over to check to see how far I had dilated.
I was at a 9+ and 100% effaced...and with the pain I was in at that point, the doctor said, "Just push, and we'll get this baby here."
I started pushing, and within a minute and just a couple of pushes, our "little" girl was born.
She weighed in at 10 lbs. 3oz. and measured 22 inches long.
My doctor was wonderful...I truly couldn't have asked for a better experience.
I've joked that if I had have known that birth could have been that wonderful, I would have had 8 more children.
I'm so glad our little girl is here.
She is a true sweetheart...and has been a joy to have in our home.
She is officially "our princess"...and called that mostly by Sam.
All of her siblings love her and willingly hold her and help with her as much as they can.