To say Ryan and I were diligent about preparing for Ella's birth is an understatement! We read a ton of books, researched online, and talked with close friends and family in-depth about the birth process. Most of what we read went out the window because of how everything shook out! But in the end, we wouldn't have it any other way! To think back on the week leading up to Ella's birth, God was preparing us and ensuring that both Ella and I didn't have any medical complications.
The Friday before Ella was born (July 10), I woke up feeling horrible. I had to call Ryan with my head hanging over the toilet to ask him to come home. That morning was awful! I kept playing through everything I had eaten and where I had been. I chalked it up to food poisoning from the night before when I went to dinner with a friend. Once I started feeling a little better I called the doctor to let them know and see if I needed to be concerned. Since I hadn't felt the baby move a lot (because my stomach was constantly convulsing due to getting sick) they wanted me to come into the hospital to get checked out. I figured it was no big deal just a precaution.
It was like a trial run between parking, finding our way to L&D, getting hooked up to machines, etc. Our first nurse really scared Ryan and me. If all the nurses were like her, we were in for some trouble. Between not finishing her sentences (we had no idea what was going on) to problems with the computer which lead to having to do everything twice (meaning twice the needles), it was going to be a long road if they all were like her. The tests they ran on me gave mixed signals. It seemed like everything was okay on the food poisoning front, but Dr. Bennett was concerned about my blood pressure and protein count. This marked our first night in the hospital with me having to do a 24 hour urine test which meant I was going to miss Ryan's birthday date for me! We did have a change of nurses and Jasmin was amazing (more on her later). Luckily, I got to go home the next day to finish the test there but was on bed rest until I went back to the doctor on Monday for the results. Needless to say, I was going to be watching a lot of SVU!
Monday came, so off to the doctor. Again everything seemed to look okay but my blood pressure was elevated and Dr. Lawson didn't like what she saw with the protein count. So guess what, back to the hospital I went. This time I only had to stay for a few hours. My blood pressure went back down and blood tests checked out, but I had to do another 24 hour urine test and take it in when I went back to the doctor on Thursday. Bed rest continued. At this point, preeclampsia had been thrown out, but I wasn't showing all the signs and the signs I was showing were not consistent. It was frustrating because no one could give us a definitive answer on what was going on. It became a big waiting game.
Ryan and I went back to the doctor on Thursday. We both had a good feeling about it. I was feeling great! I knew that everything was going to check out. First thing I do is get my blood pressure checked, and of course it was high. After talking to Dr. Combs and laying down to check my blood pressure again they send us to have an ultrasound. Ella checked out there; growing as she should be with no concerns. So we head back to the doctor's office hoping they are going to let me go home. Dr. Combs conferred with Dr. Bennett (my ob) so after checking my blood pressure once more, Dr. Bennett came in to tell me that we were going to be having this baby. I pleaded to see if we could wait until Sunday (I wanted to go to my shower)! But no, they were all too concerned for mine and Ella's health. I couldn't even go home to get my stuff, I literally had to walk straight to the hospital.
As excited as it was to think that we would be meeting our daughter the next day, it was really hard to comprehend. It wasn't how we had planned or thought it would go. We weren't completely ready on the home front; the nursery wasn't complete, I didn't even have the diapers and wet wipes I needed! So because of my need for control and having everything planned out, I was having a difficult time facing the fact that Ella was coming!
So for the third time, we made out way to L&D and checked in (I feel like they should know me by this point). They put us in a room and got me hooked up once again to all the machines. It was just so uncomfortable! Ryan left to get ALL of our many bags we packed (definitely overpacked!) and take care of Bauer! (I didn't even get to spend time with Bauer one last time, just the two of us!)
In the meantime, I laid in bed and kept getting stuck with needles. They couldn't find veins for the IV so they just kept sticking me. They even had to call in back-up! And the back-up wasn't gentle! Thursday night wasn't so bad. They gave me something to thin out my cervix so they could start the pitocin Friday morning. We watched Big Brother and kept the mood light. As much as I wasn't ready to have the baby (it wasn't how we had planned it), it was beginning to sink in that it was really happening. Although, I still don't think I fully understood that I was going to have a baby in 24 hours.
Friday morning, we woke up early (who am I kidding, I don't know if we ever really slept!) and had to get a shower and eat because Dr. El Gammal wanted to get the pitocin started. The morning went by without any problems or any pain. But a little after lunch everything changed. This was what we hadn't read about. We came in with a birth plan of how we wanted things to go. Since this wasn't my body's natural time to have a baby, a lot of things went differently. They had to break my water...
This one little thing completely rocked my world. Dr. El Gammal said that I might want to go ahead and request an epidural, but Ryan and I decided to wait as we wanted to go natural. It was within an hour and I was screaming for an epidural. It was crazy how fast the contraction came on. Unfortunately for me, as the nurse put it, the monitor wasn't reading my contractions (so I wasn't getting credit for them). I just kept thinking, if they are this bad now and the line on the monitor isn't moving much, how much worse are they going to get?! Once they adjusted the monitor, it was crazy to see the line spike! The issue here was that since it wasn't my body's natural time, my body wasn't making the endorphin it needed to help with the pain so things were much more intense. What was Ryan doing during this, watching a new show on Netflix. He was trying to get my mind off the pain, but there was little that was going to do that! However, great show pick, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Even through the pain, I did somehow stay on top of the story line.
Every time a nurse came in, I was questioning them on where the anesthesiologist was! With another patient and they didn't know how long it would take. Finally it was my turn, all fear of the big needle and what if it didn't work went out the window. I just wanted to pain gone. Of course those things made me a little nervous as well as making sure I was laying correctly so that it went to all the right parts and I didn't pull it out! But oh my, what a relief once it started working. Play on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!
Before we knew it there was a shift change again and who walks in...Jasmin! We were so excited to have her back as our nurse and for her to potential be the one to help us deliver Ella. Once this happened, things started moving! The nurses began bringing in all their equipment. Dr. El Gammal was coming in more regularly. Then it was time to start pushing.
Ryan wanted to be up by my head encouraging me and leaving somethings "as a mystery". The doctor and nurse however had another plan. We were both ready for Ryan to get suited up, but no he was just told to grab a leg and help! This took us both by surprise; guess we have watched too any movies! And he thought he wasn't going to be an active participant and was going to have it easy and stand by my head with encouragement! We pushed for about an hour and a half (probably a little less). During this time we talked with Jasmin about what else, but restaurants! We shared with each other our favorite Atlanta spots as well as Jasmin loves San Fran so that was fun to talk about all the great places to eat there too!
I kept pushing through each contraction, not really knowing the progress. All of a sudden, there she was. I didn't even realize how close she was to coming out. When we first laid our eyes on her it was amazing. I couldn't help but cry. I was a little in shock too not realizing how soon she would be here!
We had a little bit of time "just the three of us" (and the doctor and nurses of course). It was nice to be able to hold our little girl and so surreal at the same time. We just basked in how amazing she was. The baby nurse took her to measure and and test her. Ryan stayed with her and when they had to take her out he went. Jasmin continued to take care of us and got us all situated in our new room. Lucky for me I got to stay another day in L&D before going to postpartum.
Just when you thought the fun was all over, now it was time for 24 hours of magnesium. Because of the preeclampsia they do this as a precaution to make sure there aren't any seizures afterwards. This meant that every part of my body was hooked up to a machine, both legs and arms/hands. I wasn't going any where without help. Since this was the case, I wasn't able to get up and take care of Ella but Ryan did an amazing job changing diapers, etc. He was completely in awe of her (and still is).
It was so great to have time with just the three of us before anyone came. There was something so special about this time! Yes we were interrupted by nurses and doctors for both Ella and me, but I loved that it was just our little family of 3. I don't think I would have wanted it any other way, except for maybe Bauer being able to join us!
Once my 24 hours was done they moved us to postpartum. Not my favorite part of the hospital stay, but it was only for a short amount of time so not the end of the world. It's crazy to think that in a matter of three days we had moved to three different rooms. Poor Ryan, having to carry all our stuff each time! The next morning we got the go ahead that we were able to go home! I was a little scared because I liked having people that I could ask my questions to, but not we were on our own!