These are gorgeous pictures taken by my dear friend, Chandra. She came to my home and spent the morning capturing my little model's beauty. We are so grateful for her time, efforts, and talent!
My labor started the day before, on July 20th. After an afternoon inside with Kyle, my water broke at 3:30pm. Even though my water also broke with Joel, I wanted to be really sure that the event had, in fact, occured, and that I was not just peeing myself, ha! I continued to bounce on my exercise ball, and would then stand up quickly and wait to feel a gush. Yes! This was really it! Kyle and I were so excited! I decided I wanted to wait a little bit until we called the midwife's office. Joel was upstairs napping and I knew I wanted to get a shower.
At 4:45pm, I spoke with the midwife on call - the same amazing midwife who delivered Joel, and who came to meet Gabriel in the hospital after he was born. I was thrilled to hear her voice! I had just had a checkup appointment with her the week before, and she had told me she was taking a short vacation. We joked that I would wait for her to return. So the first thing she said on the phone was, "You waited for me!" So precious. She agreed that I could take my time coming in, as we had to make childcare arrangements for Joel, and I wanted to wait until my contractions were closer together, regular, and painful. I also, half jokingly, told her I wanted to hold baby Zoe in until tomorrow, since Gabriel was born on the 21st of August, and I thought it would be perfect if she was born on the 21st as well...
My mother-in-law got to our house around 6:15pm, and by this point I was having painful contractions every five minutes exactly. I was very happy to see her face, knowing that we could make our way in! We arrived at Meritus around 6:45pm, and I was checked for the first time at 7:15pm. At this point I was 3cm and 90% effaced, and it was confirmed that I was, in fact, leaking amniotic fluid! So, I was officially admitted to the hospital, IV fluids were started at 8:15, and by 9:30 I was getting an epidural! I had originally thought I would try to do things naturally this time around, but then remembered how painful childbirth actually is! And the waves of contractions brought me right back emotionally to the last time I was in labor - with my angel baby.
We were warned by nurses and other families that Zoe's labor and birth may be traumatic, as it was possible that the labor pains would trigger memories of the last time we were experiencing childbirth. There were two specific times that this happened. It was so nice to be able to cry, talk to Kyle about what I was thinking about, and go right back into focusing on meeting our little girl. Our nurse was amazing, she was very quiet, as she understood that we were doing this together.
The process of getting the epidural was not as easy as the last two times. With Joel my water broke and I was given pitocin before receiving pain medication, so the epidural was a godsend! They could've shot me in the leg during that labor and I still wouldn't have noticed because the contractions were that bad. With Gabriel, I got the epidural because he was breech and I was told the more relaxed I was, the easier the labor would be. I don't remember the epidural taking a lot of time to insert, or being painful, like this time, but maybe it was because I had too much else on my mind that morning. This time, once the epidural was finally in, I could tell that it didn't "kick in" and take away all my pain like it was supposed to. It still gave me some relief, so for that I am grateful.
The next few hours were really rough. I was checked at 11:30pm, and was informed I was only at 4cm. Two hours later at 1:30am, I was still at 4cm and everyone decided I would need some pitocin to get things moving. I really didn't want induction medication, but was assured that it wouldn't be as painful as my labor with Joel because this time I already had my epidural in place. Around this time, I was also told I had to have a catheter inserted. The thought was that maybe Zoe wasn't moving down because I was unable to empty my bladder on my own. I didn't have to have a catheter with my other two deliveries and was not happy about this at all - but it wouldn't be bad, I was assured, because I had my epidural! Well, all of this would've been much more reassuring had that epidural been taking away all my pain, but alas, it was not.
I was convinced I was going through "transition" for hours because I was very shaky, and really nauseated off and on. I never did throw up, so, not too bad! About an hour after getting the pitocin, with my epidural not really working, I decided to get myself as upright in the bed as possible, put my right foot off the bed onto the floor, and began to bear down myself to get this baby out!! Then about 30 minutes later at 3am, I informed Kyle that the head was crowning!! And how did I know?? Cause I could feel everything!!
After everyone rushed into our room, three pushes later - one for the head, one for her shoulders, and one for the rest of her body - Zoe was here! She was born at 3:10am. They put her on my chest and Kyle and I just stared at her. I remember I said (for the millionth time) "I'm gonna puke," and everyone was like, "really?" and I said, "No. I think I'm just in shock." I kept thinking, "Who does she look like? She doesn't look like Joel!" It's just so funny how you get this idea in your head of what your child will look like, and then they come out, so you're not totally convinced it's yours! If I hadn't seen them put her straight out of me, onto my chest, I would have demanded to see the other babies in the hospital, because surely this chubby-cheeked, black-haired baby couldn't be mine. She was more beautiful than I could've imagined. She was alert and content and looked right at us. I ruined the perfect moment by yelling at Kyle to get the camera, before realizing that he was in awe, crying, staring at his daughter.
After admiring her for some time, I looked up to see our midwife, our nurse, and Zoe's nurse in the background just looking at us, and waiting. When I asked if everyone was waiting on Zoe, my midwife said to me, "You take as long as you need. No one is going to take her from you." It was the most amazing thing I'd ever heard. Soon after that, I agreed for her to be cleaned off and then she was promptly returned to me. She breastfed for the first time from 3:45 to 4:15am. Then at 4:30 she got her first bath and medications. We had our first visitors around 7am that morning, including big brother Joel, but I was unable to rest in between - I just stared at Zoe Elizabeth...
Even though it was rough at times, and even though I felt the pain of the contractions, and the crowning of her head, and the pressure and pain of every push - Zoe Elizabeth's birth experience was completely amazing. Our midwife was amazing. Our nurse was amazing. And we were even fortunate enough to have amazing nurses throughout our stay, as well. A few days after Zoe's birth, my mom was visiting and one of my nurses asked her how many grandchildren she had. My mom responded that she had two now on earth, and one in Heaven. I then explained to my mom that this nurse was the same one who took Gabriel's foot and hand prints, and she looked at my mom and said, "Oh yes. I got to meet Gabriel." It was so very precious. I will not forget that for a long time...