Ava is almost a month old and it’s 100% true what everyone says! I feel as if I don’t even remember life before being her mom. How does that happen?!
My due date was actually September 5th, but she decided to arrive August 25th. I went in for my 38th week appointment on a Monday. The appointment went 100% normal, minus my blood pressure- she said I was dilated and partially effaced, but never hinted that she would be born only a few days later. She actually scheduled me to be induced August 30th. I was having pretty consistent high blood pressure, which can be harmful for babies, so she decided to schedule a date. I was pretty excited about having a scheduled date [hiiii all Type A friends] since I could plan everything out.
On Thursday [the 24th], I woke up and went to work as normal. I was feeling more “pressure” than I had before, but I contributed it all to winding down my last couple weeks of pregnancy. I thought it was normal. To anyone that hasn’t been pregnant, that is the only way I can describe it. I wasn’t having contractions, but it was just pressure that hurt more than normal. As I was driving home from work, I spoke with our birth photographer [who has 2 kids] and we chatted for a while about what I was thinking, photos I didn’t want, etc. and she ended the call joking saying she’d keep her phone next to her since I could have the baby that night.
I went to bed around 8:30 PM feeling the same “pressure” and woke up around 11 pm feeling A LOT more “pressure”. This time, it was worse and wasn’t going away. I hadn’t downloaded a contractor app yet, so I downloaded one and turns out, I was having contractions about 4-5 minutes. Around midnight, I woke up Sean and we decided to go to the hospital. Also, I’d like to point out if you’re having regular contractions or your water breaks, PLEASE EAT AND DRINK BEFORE. I knew you couldn’t eat during labor, but I didn’t know you couldn’t drink.
When we arrived, they took me to the triage room to make sure I was in fact in labor. I was in there for about an hour and a half while they got a room ready for me. Once they moved me to my delivery room, I progressed really fast and the contractions where becoming SUPER painful. I’ve never loved anyone more than the anesthesiologist [halfway kidding….but I had dilated to 6 cm by the time he came in.]
I pushed for about an hour and half and then she was here. I wish I had words to describe what it felt like holding her for the first time. I always say there are moments in life where I feel as if I can hear God say, “I love you.” When the nurse handed Ava to me I just felt like God was saying, “I love you and I trust you.” Holding her and knowing she is a gift from him that we were entrusted to raise truly felt like the greatest honor in life.
Here is where everything changes. I ended up having a very mild fever after labor, so they took Ava up to the NICU to be monitored for 48 hours…which turned into 8 long days. During her first couple hours upstairs, she actually ended up holding her breath [know as Brady episodes]. Nurse professionals, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s basically where the brain forgets to tell the lungs to breathe, so the baby will hold their breath until 1. the brain reminds them to breathe or 2. they are manually stimulated [by a nurse] and reminded to breathe. Ava was in the second category…..talk about scary. To hear the words that your baby wasn’t breathing as a new parent is an emotion I don’t wish upon anyone. Once this occurred, the NICU nurses and doctors said she had to be 5 days free of any episodes before she would be able to come home. There were many highs and lows during our stay.
At our hospital, the NICU was on a different floor than the delivery floor. Also, in the NICU, the babies are on a strict 12,3,6,9 feeding schedule. We made it to almost every feeding, physically drained, but wanted to be there for Ava. If you look up at the first picture, it’s very scary to see your daughter hooked up to a machine, with wires everywhere that beep constantly. I wanted to hold her, but knew if I held her the wrong way, the alarm would sound which would make a nurse walk in. It can definitely be intimidating, especially as a new mom where everything is new. I remember feeling defeated and embarrassed.
It was about the 3rd day in where I broke into tears. I remember wanting to keep it a secret that Ava was in the NICU, and feeling jealous/angry of the moms and their babies in the rooms next to us. Why wasn’t I able to have that feeling? Why is my daughter upstairs in a different room? At this moment, Sean and I just prayed and asked others to pray with us. I realized we couldn’t go through this experience alone, and why should we when we have so many people who love us, and now love Ava.
Another moment of defeat is when the lactation consultant was working with me to breastfeed Ava, and all she would do was fall asleep on me. I remember wanting to breastfeed her, because that was the ‘plan’. The NICU nurse said if she didn’t eat at this feeding, they had to put a feeding tube in her, which they ultimately did. I knew at that point, I didn’t care if my daughter was feed by bottle, formula, whatever, I just knew I was never going to pressure her or myself to make breastfeeding work. Here we are, and the bottle has worked great for her.
Sean and I left the hospital after 6 days, as we were flooded in [bc of Hurricane Harvey], but also weren’t rushing to leave as Ava was still there. Talk about a mental breakdown. No one prepares you to for the feelings of leaving the hospital without your baby. Going home to an empty home, that’s supposed to be filled with love, joy, and baby cries. Sean and I both didn’t want to be home. Our house is 45 minutes away from the hospital, so we decided to get a hotel near by that had an opening. Most hotels were booked with staff and other families as all of the roads were flooded, some coming from their homes that had taken on water. Luckily, the hotel was 5 minutes away from the hospital. The last 48 hours in the hospital were rough to say the least. As she was on her 3rd day episode free, we knew we were so close to the finish line. Sean and I wanted to be by her bedside every hour as we didn’t want anything to go wrong. Looking back, we know we weren’t in control if another episode happened, but at the time, we thought this would solve it.
Sean and I took shifts where we would literally stay by her bedside the entire time, only switching so the other could sleep for a little while. At the final round, which is what the doctors call the updates everyday, they checked Ava’s vitals and said she was free to go. The amount of pure JOY we felt was like giving birth to her all over again.
As emotionally draining as the NICU is, I know God had a plan for her arriving early and had a plan for her to be in the hospital just a little longer. If she would have come a day or two later, we would have been stuck in our home without the assistance of any nurses or doctors. I also know how blessed I am that she was only there 8 days. While she was there, she shared a room with a baby born at 28 weeks and that would be “lucky” to come home mid-October.
Now that we are home and getting settled with our new routine, I can’t imagine my life without her. We are just so in love with her and truly loving parenthood.