I had big plans and expectations for how Hailey was going to be born. They always say that a birth plan isn’t something you can really depend on and that’s 100% right. I kinda feel like all my plans and ideas went out the window, and I’m starting to become ok with that. Everything worked out perfectly, even if it wasn’t as I expected it to be. Hailey is healthy and I am too. We are both alive and unharmed. That’s all you can really ask for!
Almost 2 weeks before she was born, John and I went to BJs to get groceries. I started having contractions and I thought for sure she was coming today. But, they turned out to be Braxton Hicks and went away. Then almost a week before she was born, I had painful contractions but those didn’t go anywhere either. I was starting to get frustrated and confused.
After these 2 false alarms with contractions that led to nothing, I was starting to get cranky about baby’s (lack of) arrival. After the first false alarm I was thinking, holy crap- I’m not ready for this! But, then I started to get excited. With every additional day (and false contraction) I started to get more and more impatient.
On September 27, I woke up at 4am with the beginning stages of labor, but at this point I was unsure what was real and what wasn’t. This felt a little different than the other times, but I wasn’t willing to bet on it. My husband went to work (he leaves around 5am) and I went back to sleep. I kept having contractions while I was asleep (the pain kinda made its way into my dreams!) and they finally woke me up around 7am.
I monitored my contractions all day, but they still weren’t regular. Strong contractions came and went, sometimes every 15 minutes and sometimes nothing for a half hour or more. I really felt like today was going to the the day, so I got a manicure to try and relax. I luckily had an OB appointment at 1pm, so I told her my symptoms and she checked to see if I was dilated. I was 3-4 cm dilated, and she said normally she would have sent me to hospital at this point if contractions had been regular! She didn’t seem too convinced that I would be having this baby today so I went home confused once again.
John got home around 3:30pm, and my contractions started to get more regular. I was hungry at this point, so we went to McDonald’s and called the family to let them know I was probably going into labor. We stayed home for a while but by 7pm my contractions were 5 minutes apart (or less!), so we went to hospital. Everyone met us there and we were in the waiting room a while. I finally got admitted, they checked me out in an exam room, and determined that the contractions had slowed down to 5-7 minutes apart. They gave me 2 options- go back home to wait it out, or down to the lobby to walk around for an hour or two. I decided to go home so I could at least be comfortable (it could’ve been more than an hour or two!) and we ended up bringing my MIL and sister back with us. My parents went back to their house to rest for a bit. It was probably around 10-11pm at this point and everyone was tired.
The 20-minute drive home was full of contractions, which came every 5-7 minutes pretty strong. Everyone was hungry so we hit the McDonald’s drive-thru, and the contractions were so intense that I made everyone be quiet while they were happening. It was so hard to go through the pain with everyone chit chatting and asking me questions, and I felt like I had a hang over! Everything seemed loud, I was nauseous and the smell of the food wasn’t helping. We got home and I took a shower, where I had my husband hang out in the bathroom with me and time the contractions. They were super strong and a minute apart. We got a little worried, so we sat down on the couch and they were 2-3 mins apart. I knew they would make me lay in bed at the hospital so I practiced getting through the contractions while laying on the couch. I somehow slept through the less than 5 minute break between contractions. John kept reminding me to breathe through contractions, since I tended to hold my breath. I wasn’t in a rush to get back to the hospital and possibly sent home again, so we stayed home to about 2 am then headed back to the hospital.
Natural vs Epidural
I really wanted a natural birth. John and I had both decided it would be best for me and the baby. I was worried about the epidural slowing contractions, then needing pitocin to speed up the contractions, then eventually needing a C-section. I knew a few people that ended up on this route and I didn’t want that for us.
When I got to hospital, I was 4-5 cm dilated. Then an hour later only 5 cm dilated. Around 4am, after being in labor 24 hours and awake almost a whole day, John convinced me to get an epidural and I’m so glad I did. I was terrified of the epidural (um, it’s a needle in your SPINE!) but my contractions were hurting in my back. I figured at least this way, the stabbing pain would only be for a few minutes as they were doing the epidural then go away, vs labor going on who knows how long. After I got the epidural, I felt immediately calm. We finally were able to get a few hours of sleep around 6am. At 9am, visiting hours began and our moms and my dad came into the room. My sister had stayed at my house and doesn’t drive, so my aunt gave her a ride to the hospital and stayed with us for a little while too.
At this point, my contractions had slowed down again, so they gave me pitocin to speed them up. Despite the epidural taking away the pain, I was totally weak and out of it. I hadn’t eaten in so long but luckily I was able to get some apple juice and jello, which honestly gave me some strength. If I wanted ice chips, I couldn’t even say it- I would pinch my fingers together and my husband would hand me the cup. People were asking me questions and I wasn’t even answering. I didn’t have the strength to listen, process it, form a response and speak it. I talk SO much and the fact that I couldn’t say a word just showed how tired I was.
Around 2pm, the doctors finally told me I was about 9.5 cm dilated and would be pushing soon. It was such a relief because things felt like they had stalled, but the pitocin was finally helping. They also showed me the magic blue button that you can press to get a boost of the epidural, which ended up being a lifesaver since the pain was getting more intense. I couldn’t really feel most of the pain from the contractions, but there was still some happening and I was so exhausted I couldn’t handle anything
The nurses came in and determined that I was ready to start pushing soon. I was fully dilated and baby was in position. They asked John if he wanted to see her head and he said no, but I made him take a peek. The first thing he said was “wow, she has a lot of hair!” Luckily Hailey was right in position, so it only took a few pushes to get her out. John said it was about 20 minutes but to me it felt like only 5! The epidural was still pretty strong, so I didn’t really feel anything. As soon I started pushing she was already making her way out, so I figured hey I guess I’m doing something right!
First Few Moments
As soon as Hailey was born, she started crying. It was such an amazing thing to hear, and I immediately started crying too! Our family was right outside the door and my sister recorded her first cries, so we’ll always have that video. They cleaned her up a bit and handed her to me and I was staring at this foreign creature, really confused. They say some women feel an immediate connection to their baby, while others need some time to bond. Despite feeling so connected to her in the womb, I was definitely more in the “who are you” category! We couldn’t even get a good 3D scan of her, only sonograms. And I was staring at her trying to figure out who she looked like, but she didn’t really look like anyone. I couldn’t really grasp the concept that that tiny little human wiggling around inside me was finally out in the world!
the doctors cleaned me up and I got a few stitches while we decided her name and then she gave us the (middle) finger for the very first time! It was so funny and I tried to have John get a picture, but then I had to push the placenta out so we didn’t capture it. Darn!
We decided we wanted to spend a little time just the 3 of us before letting the troops back in. This was perfect because I had decided while I was waiting to deliver that I wanted a smoothie. I was parched, exhausted and starving. A smoothie commercial had come on and it was exactly what I needed. So I half-joked that no one could see the baby unless they brought me a smoothie. And let me tell you, that smoothie was one of the best things I have ever had in my life. I literally passed my child off to anyone that would take her so that I could enjoy my smoothie. At one point I had to put it down for a photo, and I started asking for it again. And they thought I wanted the baby so they were ready to hand her to me. Nope- I wanted the smoothie! Labor is so tough guys. I swear I’m not a monster! It’s just that after 24 hours without eating and being in that much pain, I really needed some fuel. I mean…. I think this photo says it all.
John and I had decided early on that we didn’t want to tell anyone the baby names we were considering. We really wanted to decide on our own, without people influencing our decision or criticizing our choices. We both liked the name Hailey, and John suggested using my sister’s name, Irini (pronounced ee-ree-nee), for a middle name. I’m really close to my sister and she’s going to baptize the baby and be an important part of her life, so John thought it would be a very fitting middle name for her. It was soooo sweet that I couldn’t resist. When we told her the name, she got adorably awkward about it. She told me that when she got home she cried because she felt so honored that we named our baby after her.
The Next Few Days
We stayed at the hospital another couple of days, and we had tons of visitors! Everyone wanted to see the baby. Although it was a bit exhausting, it was nice to see everyone so happy to meet the baby. Plus, they made the time pass by faster AND they brought us food! I was getting hospital meals which were ok, but John wasn’t. It was nice to get some tasty food and sweet treats when people came to see her, especially after a tough labor and sleepless nights with the baby.
We are so in love with our beautiful little Hailey. I spend most of the day holding her, and we all have enough pictures of her to start a gallery haha. I can’t believe my first pregnancy is over, but I am so happy to have my little girl! If you’re interested in postpartum tips and advice, stay tuned. I have a whole series coming up since I learned SO much in these past few weeks!
*Special thanks to my sister Irini for taking these pictures of us at the hospital! I really wanted to hire a photographer but it wasn’t in the budget, so I really appreciate having these photos from the day :)