Willow Rose Johnson is one week old today. We love her so much! I can hardly believe that she was still in utero last week--she seems so big and grown up lately.
If you want to be spared the details, you should skip reading this post. Here's a little anecdote of how Willow came into the world on July 8 at 4:11 pm.
It all started on Tuesday (July 5). I was frustrated that my body wasn't doing anything to get Willow out. I had been drinking raspberry tea, taking walks, etc., to encourage her arrival. On Tuesday, I set about trying to finish a to-do list. Somewhere in that process, I started organizing my mom's laundry room. I spent four hours working up a nasty sweat, and was out of breath by the time the room was in order. I also started to feel some contractions and I started praying that they would stick around and not stop.
I started feeling regular contractions. They had a definite time pattern, but were not growing in intensity or frequency. They were anywhere from 5-8 minutes apart and did not subside. Adam and I went out for dinner with friends from Moody. We hadn't seen many of these people in two years, and it was fun to be in the windy city again. We ate at Giordano's--and while I was melting in the mid-summer heat, I was hoping that the pizza would somehow magically kick those contractions into high gear.
Well. The pizza failed.
So did my attempt at sleeping that night. I felt extremely uncomfortable. Between the usual pregnancy discomforts, plus the added pain from Willow dropping, and the regularly spaced contractions--it was near impossible to sleep on Tuesday night. I did get a few hours, and was thankful for that. The whole night, I was praying that Wednesday would be the day.
Wednesday came and went with no additional progress. I kept praying and praying that Willow would be born on Wednesday, and if not, that my prenatal check-up on Thursday would at least show that my body had made progress. I couldn't bear the thought that all these contractions might be for nothing. The week before, I was only dilated at 1 centimeter and baby Willow seemed very comfortable in her womb-home.
Wednesday night was even worse for sleeping. I just felt uncomfortable and frustrated with my contractions. On one hand, I was thankful for the contractions--but on the other hand, I just wanted to sleep.
Thursday. I went to the doctor's office for my appointment and my OB did a membrane sweep. She said, "hopefully this will get things going and you'll be calling me tonight". She also said that if I wanted to, I could go straight to the hospital to be induced, or set up a 6am appointment for the next morning to be put on pitocin.
If I had the luxury of time, I would feel less anxious about being overdue. Actually, my due date wasn't until July 10, so technically I wasn't overdue. But always my mind was thinking about the paperwork that needs to be done in order for Willow to go to China with us. All these documents are extremely time sensitive and take a while: birth certificate; social security card; passport; visa....
When given the option to have Willow early--even if just by a few days--my heart skipped a little beat. I told my OB that I wanted to think about it. She said that I had until that afternoon to decide whether or not I wanted to be induced in the morning. During the appointment, she told me that I was at 2 centimeters and 70% effaced--so there was little risk to being induced. And at least the pitocin would help the contractions to become more regular and effective.
On the car ride home, my contractions were beginning to become more regular and painful. I had only been home for a few hours when I decided that I did want to schedule an appointment at the hospital for the next morning--I wanted this baby out! By Thursday evening, I was feeling the contractions even more. I didn't eat supper, but did snag a bowl of raspberry rumble ice cream. It's basically vanilla ice cream with raspberry syrup and chocolate truffles. Yum. I tried to watch, "Taken" with Adam, while I kept track of my contractions on our iPad. I thought, "if I can make until 6am, then it will work out perfectly with my appointment at the hospital".
By 10pm, I was writhing in pain and shaking uncontrollably. Adam decided, after performing a quick google search about stages of labor, that we should go to the hospital. My contractions had been 2-3 minutes apart for at least 2 hours and I could hardly stand the pain.
Well, I'm a pansy.
We got to the hospital and discovered while in the triage room that I was only 3 centimeters dilated. I was a little upset. The hospital contacted my doctor, and they decided that we should just stay the night.
All night, Adam and I were up, trying to get through each contraction. At any point, I could have asked to be put on the pitocin or given an epidural, but I wanted to see how long I could go. By 8am, I was struggling. I was in active labor, but was so exhausted from lack of sleep that I was falling asleep between each contraction while sitting on one of those exercise balls. I was weak and tired and the only thing I could think of was, "I wont be able to push this baby out--and then they'll have to perform a c-section". I knew that I had to be put on pitocin, because the baby would never arrive at this rate. And I wasn't sure I would be able to endure the pitocin without drugs....so I caved. "Exhaustion" had been the one exception to my "natural child birth/no drugs" plan. At 6 centimeters, I just couldn't do it anymore.
They hooked me up to machines, gave me the amazing epidural---and then I slept. Somehow, I was able to hold still enough (from all the shaking) while the anesthesiologist did his magic. For 4 glorious hours--no nurses bothered me and I was able to rest.
When I woke up, I had an amazingly strong urge to push. Epidural are amazing. While I slept, I reached 10 centimeters and the baby had started to push her way down. I tried to breathe through and resist the urge to push as much as possible--since it was just Adam and I in the hospital room. Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore and so Adam called my nurse. She was quick in coming, thankfully, and helped me to get started. She called my doctor, who was at the hospital but in a meeting. My doctor said she'd be there in 15 minutes. I couldn't wait that long, and the nurse didn't want to make me. So, she told me to start pushing--she was on my right side and Adam was on my left side. There were no other nurses and my doctor was still unavailable. My nurse was calling everyone else, trying to get more help in the room, but everyone was busy. There were about four other babies being born at the moment.
I could have panicked, but by God's grace, I was able to focus on what my body was telling me to do and on trying to push that baby out!
30 minutes later, my doctor showed up. She took one look at me, and squealed, "Give me one minute to change!" She was in her scrubs lickety-split.
10 minutes later, the room was filled with nurses and Willow was flying out of my body. Relief.
It's a girl! Yay--no more guessing or speculating on the gender of our baby. She is definitely a girl after all. Thank you very much, China.
They plopped Willow's slippery purple body on my chest and all I could think was, "She's so small!" I think that I had imagined Willow being a 10 pound monstrosity--because that's what it felt like when I was walking around.
Okay, taking a little intermission from this story. We've been without power since Monday morning (it's Friday night)--and it finally just turned on again! I need to feed Willow, so this will be have to be continued later.