My last post was on Friday, November 11. I was 38 weeks pregnant. Michael and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our little one. Little did we know the arrival would be just 3 short days later!
Our son Michael was born on Monday, November 14, 2016 at 11:55 p.m. He was just 5 minutes shy of a November 15 birth date. He weighed 8 lbs 12 oz. and measured 21.5 inches. He arrived 9 days early; I would have been 39 weeks pregnant on Wednesday of that week.
Our last weekend as a family of 2 was relaxing and fun. After Michael finished work on Saturday, we watched Texas play (and lose to) West Virginia and then Baylor play (and lose to) OU. Michael ordered delicious St. Louis style pizza from Imo’s and we enjoyed it during the games. On Sunday, we went to get a part for Michael’s Big Green Egg. We had fun walking around the grill, patio, and fireplace store where we bought the part. I remember commenting to Michael that the walking around would be good for me, and possibly even start the labor process. After the patio store, we went to Menards, a home improvement store. Michael wanted to look for a patio umbrella. Up here, all of the summer patio and outdoor merchandise tends to disappear during the fall and winter. It is replaced with salt, snow shovels, fireplace accessories, and other cold weather gear. There were no umbrellas to be found. We wandered around Menards for a while, and again I commented on the fact that it was good for me to be doing some walking. The store has an old hardware store feeling to it even though it is a large box store. In addition to the typical tool, plumbing, lumber, and home improvement stuff, it has a neat candy section, small grocery area, pet supplies aisle, vintage toy area, Christmas decorations, and more. We even stopped for some fresh kettle corn at a booth on our way out.
When we got home from shopping, we settled in for another round of football. The Cowboys were playing the Steelers. Fortunately, the weekend of football wasn’t a total bust; the Cowboys won in an awesome game of Sunday night football. I made an Italian dinner from the frozen section of our grocery store. Little did I know this would be the last meal I would eat for a very, very long time! We had fresh salad, fried ravioli (a St. Louis original), regular ravioli, tortellini, and marinara sauce while we watched the Cowboys. The tasty pastas and sauce were from Fazio’s, a bakery and frozen food supplier located in The Hill. After our Italian dinner and Cowboy’s victory, we headed to bed.
Little Michael’s birth story officially begins around 12:30 a.m. Monday morning, not too long after we went to bed. I woke up feeling some minor abdominal cramping, but I didn’t think too much about it. I got up, used the bathroom, and went back to sleep. At 2:30 a.m., I woke up again. This time, the cramping seemed to follow more of a pattern. I stayed in bed for a while and watched the clock on my bedside table. I started thinking what I was feeling might just be contractions! They were coming every 6-8 minutes. Around 3:00 a.m., I got out of bed and the contractions continued. At about this time, I started thinking, “ok, this may actually be it, it may be really happening!”
I had a doctor’s appointment a few days earlier, and she told me after the exam that things looked “very favorable.” When I asked what this meant, she said the exam looked very favorable for labor. She explained that of course she couldn’t predict the future, but based on my exam, she expected something to happen within the week! This is why I was fairly confident I was feeling real contractions by 3:00 a.m. Monday morning. At the same time, I was still in a state of disbelief about it actually happening. Michael had predicted little Michael would arrive on Thanksgiving, and I had been thinking all along that he would arrive late, after his due date and after Thanksgiving. Most of my nieces and nephews had arrived after their due dates, so I just expected this cousin would follow suit. However, our little one had other plans!
Back to the story- I was wandering around the house at 3 o’clock in the morning, waiting to see if the contractions would continue and get stronger. I went down to our laundry room and brought some clothes upstairs that had been drying on hangers. I felt the need to get things tidy and organized around the house. I got on the computer and paid some bills that were due during the upcoming week. As I worked around the house, I wrote down the time of each contraction. I started feeling my adrenaline kick in. My disbelief that it was happening was now mixed with an intense feeling of excitement.
By four o’clock, I was ready to wake Michael up. The contractions were getting slightly closer together, but not really increasing in intensity. I made him a pot of coffee and then woke him up. He was due to get up in an hour for work. I nudged him a few times and told him, “I think I’m having contractions and I think they’re the real thing!” Once Michael was up, it was game on.
We both showered and prepared everything for our trip to the hospital. My hospital bag was basically packed, and all I had to do was add some last minute clothes and toiletries. He laughed when I insisted on taking out the kitchen trash and putting a new bag in the trash can before leaving. While I was completing my packing, Michael took the dogs outside and loaded up the car. It was about 38 degrees outside. He warmed up the car and turned the heater on to make it warm and cozy for me on the ride downtown.
Adding to my excitement, November 14, 2016 was the morning of a spectacular supermoon. The moon turned precisely full in the morning hours before sunrise. I went into labor on a full moon! It was the biggest, brightest, and closest supermoon of 2016, and the closest supermoon since January 26, 1948. I had joked with Michael over the weekend that little Michael may come on a supermoon. I later found out my dad had commented over the weekend that with the full moon, little Michael may just make his debut early. I managed to snap a picture out of the car window on the way to the hospital. I took this picture at 5:42 a.m.
We made it to the hospital shortly after 6:00 a.m. It’s a huge hospital, and walking in feels more like setting foot in an international airport than a hospital. We had to park the car in a garage and walk over a skywalk to reach the lobby. We decided to leave my bags in the car for the time being and made our way to the Pregnancy Assessment Center on the 5th floor. Everything was going smoothly since we had learned the ins and outs of being admitted to the hospital during a maternity tour. When we were in the elevator, we talked with a doctor and confirmed we were heading to the right place.
Once we made it to the Pregnancy Assessment Center, it was time to put the hospital gown on. I still laugh about this because it was such a struggle. I can usually figure out these gowns, but this particular one was a mess. It had buttons all over the place and was just awkward. Michael tried to help me, but neither one of us were successful, and he ended up poking his head out the door and calling a nurse to assist. I was in a tiny triage room, and the nurse hooked me up to a fetal monitor after helping me get the gown on correctly. When she initially checked my cervix, I was only dilated 2.5 cm. She told me she would check again in an hour and we would go from there. I think she was pretty confident I would be going home at this point. She mentioned that I could stay and walk around the hospital for as long as I wished if no progress had been made. I started to feel disappointed and regretted coming to the hospital so quickly. However, we live 30 minutes away, and we both wanted to get to the hospital asap when the contractions failed to show signs of stopping. Additionally, I was positive for group B strep, and my doctor had told me it was important to get to the hospital quickly in order to receive the antibiotic for it prior to delivery. The hour in the assessment room seemed to take forever to pass. I was mentally preparing myself to have to walk out of there and go home. Michael and I both commented that we were glad we had left all of my stuff in the car.
Around 7:30 a.m., a new nurse came in to see if I had made any progress. To everyone’s surprise, I was now dilated to 4 cm. She triumphantly explained that I was going to labor and delivery. A flurry of activity ensued in the tiny room. I was hooked up to an IV on wheels, my clothes were bagged and tagged, hospital administration called the room to admit me over the phone, and the next thing I knew, we were being escorted to a labor and delivery room.
Once we were settled in, Michael prepared to make a quick trip to the car to get all of my stuff. The nurse told him that if he needed to leave, now was the time to go. She was confident the baby would be coming within the next few hours. I couldn’t believe it was happening so fast! When Michael returned to the room, he called our parents to let them know that little Michael was on his way. At this point, the nurses had me on “intermittent fetal monitoring.” I was hooked up to the fetal monitor for 20 minutes every hour. I could still get up, walk around, and use the restroom for the other 40 minutes. We were just kind of hanging out in the room, watching post election coverage on CNN, of course. The nurse brought me some Jello, and Jello never tasted so good! I hadn’t eaten since around 7:00 p.m. the night before and enjoyed the cool treat. I was also a little queasy, and the Jello helped with this.
We both had some laughs about the boom box positioned below the TV in the picture below. It had an antenna and a tape deck!
Around 10:00 a.m., the contractions started feeling more intense, and I told Michael it was time to inflate my exercise ball. I brought my own ball and pump from home because I didn’t want to use the hospital ones!
I was rolling on the floor laughing as I watched Michael pump the ball up for me. The pump is very loud! Sitting on the ball during contractions provided considerable relief and felt really good. I used the ball and breathing exercises until about 1:00 p.m. By this time, I had only progressed to 5-6 cm of dilation, and the contractions were just down right painful. I requested an epidural. I was amazed by the entourage that came into my room after I told the nurse I wanted an epidural. We were at a university hospital, so every time a doctor came in, he or she was accompanied by a med student or two or three.
The anesthesiologist came in with an anesthesiologist-in-training/resident and a bunch of nurses. He gave instructions to the resident and she administered the epidural. I’m very grateful she knew what she was doing! I was seated on the edge of the bed with Michael holding one hand and a nurse holding the other. The whole process took about 20 minutes. I had no idea getting the epidural would be such an undertaking and involve so many people. Once the epidural was administered, I had a catheter inserted (I was more unsettled by having to get a catheter than I was with the epidural!) and was now placed under continuous fetal monitoring. It was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. No more getting out of bed.
The doctor we had met in the elevator on our way to the assessment center that morning came in to check my progress an hour or so after the epidural. My cervix had not made any progress since the previous check, and she decided to break my water to try and get things moving. I was nervous about what this would feel like, but fortunately, it was painless since I had the epidural already. After my water was broken, I was confident we would get the show on the road.
The next few hours of the afternoon passed in a blissful way. A liquid lunch arrived from the cafeteria, and I ate some more Jello and a slushy raspberry drink. I was enjoying being pain-free due to the epidural. I could feel a little pressure now and then, but for the most part, Michael had to look at the monitor and tell me when a contraction was coming. I couldn’t feel much of anything. I was relaxed and excited, in sort of a surreal state.
Little did we know that we still had almost 8 hours to go! I will tell the story of the rest of Michael’s birth day on my next post.