Esther Grace

I feel like I should interject...before getting share a little about the conception of Esther Grace.
Well, not the ACTUAL conception.
Just the surrounding facts. I went to my doctor in April, 2007 and told her we'd like to try to get pregnant. Until this point, we had been preventing with a birth control pill (another post for another time). So she explained that some couples find that it takes at least a year after getting off the pill (which is why...oh never mind. Another time, I said!) So I told my husband the situation. We were ok with that. At the time, we were living in an apartment and searching for a house. We felt like this gave us some time.
In May, 2007 I was pregnant. 

The day we found out! We were so artsy and cool!!
We found our house and closed on it on July 7, 2007.
My pregnancy was uneventful. Very low stress, very easy. No sickness. Well, there was one time, for whatever reason, in a local pizza joint. I went there with my bestie (who was pregnant and super sick all the time) and got sick from the smell. Yuck. 
My due date was Groundhog's Day - March 2nd.
I had my normal appointments. Hearing the heartbeat was unbelievable.
I fell once, at 16 weeks, I slipped and fell down my front stairs (4 stairs). I called my doctor's office. The nurse all but yelled at me to get to Labor and Delivery right away.
They did heart tones and and another ultrasound and, of course, everything was fine. Couldn't tell if we were having a boy or girl, the baby's lets were crossed!
We did the general 20 weeks ultrasound. Everything looked fine. The little bugger wouldn't show the sex, though.
My sister in law had a friend who was an ultrasound tech, so at 32 weeks pregnant, we found out we were having a girl. I knew immediately that she was Esther. I did have to convince Jared a little. We went to work on a middle name. In the end, his dad picked it: Grace. Perfect.
Now she just needed to get here.
At my 39 week appointment (It was a Friday), my doctor wanted another ultrasound. The baby felt small to her.
The ultrasound said she'd be about seven pounds. I was relieved.
I was a 10 pounder.
Contractions started that night. Nothing to write home about, but they were there. And they kept me up all night.
The next day, Saturday, contractions kept coming. We walked to try to get things moving. My husband even did the unthinkable: took me to the mall to walk. It was amazing!
Later on that night, with contractions still happening, I wasn't feeling her anymore.
I nervously called my doctor. She assured me it was no big deal, but told me to go to Labor and Delivery and they'd let me hear her heart beat. (much easier than the last time!) We went in, heard her and were relieved. We were also happy to find out I was dilated to 2 cm.
Between excitement and contractions, I didn't sleep. AT.ALL.
The next morning, Sunday, my contractions were strong (not unbearable) and close.
Back to Labor and Delivery.
Still 2 cm.
I laid there and felt defeated.
My nurse suggested doing some walking. So I did. I walked the halls of the Labor and Delivery unit and the Mother Baby unit for what seemed like ever. My doctor found me roaming and suggested Pitocin to get things going. She was worried I wouldn't have the strength to make it through labor. I obliged.
The nurse started me on Pitocin at 1PM Sunday.
I contracted all day. Like, a lot. Different contractions, too. They were harder. I felt like I was getting somewhere.

Faking a smile on Pitocin and external monitors
At 10PM, I was dilated to 2 cm. Still.
I about turned violent. I was so angry and exhausted. The doctor suggested we stop Pitocin until the next morning. Sometimes a break will really jump start things. I remember thinking, "You'd better be right lady."
So we slept in Labor and Delivery. My husband on the hard, leather couch and I on the pull apart labor bed. Have you ever slept in one of those? Yeah, me neither. There was no way to get comfortable. I was exhausted and in pain from the contractions.
At 4AM, the nurse started me on Pitocin again.
Contractions picked up again, and were strong. I tried to walk a little, but it was hard with my heplock and pole to drag around. I felt like I was intruding on other people's spaces while I was in the hall way. I retreated back to my room. I tried to sit in the tub, too. The IV situation was just so ridiculous. I had to be almost constantly monitored, too, which wasn't helping.
At 9AM, I was 3 cm. My doctor broke my water. 
Contractions were intense before she closed the door behind her. I felt like I never really got a break, they were just coming, coming, coming. Esther's heart rate would fall off the monitor with each contraction.

Contractions more difficult now
At 10:30AM, the nurse put an internal fetal monitor on her little scalp.
Well, really, she put two. The first one only grabbed a few little strands of her hair and the second one stuck. I didn't know until later, that Jared almost lost it during this procedure. My mom told him to go get something to eat before he passed out. I'm so grateful I was spared that episode at least.
The contractions were so strong and sharp. They were right on top of one another. I was in so much pain. I wasn't sure how much more I could handle. I finally broke down and told my husband and my mother that I couldn't do this. I needed something. I remember asking him for Tylenol!!
At 12:00PM, Jared went to ask the nurse if I could have 'something.'
I felt like it took her FOREVER to come in. I was laying in bed, writhing around. With each contraction. I couldn't handle it. I didn't want to have a baby anymore. It was awful.
At 12:30PM, the nurse came in to check me before giving me anything for the pain. 10 cm! And nothing for the pain. She rushed out of the room real quick and came back with another nurse. She asked me if I was feeling like I needed to push. I said, "I guess I have been feeling that way!" She told me I could push with each contraction as I felt the need. The next contraction came and I pushed.
I felt so much better. So powerful. I felt like my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing. The nurses hurried about the room, preparing things. My trusty husband and mom coached me through breathing and pushing as necessary. The nurse came for a peek and hurried to get a hold of my doctor who was in surgery! I remember my doctor flying, in with her resident student, just in the nick of time. Literally, with my next push, her head was out. One more push and the rest of her was earthside.
Esther Grace, born on Monday, January 28, 2008 at 12:53PM.

Look at that smush face!!
The room got remarkably quiet and dark. All I could see was this little baby. I couldn't hear anything or see anyone else. It was just her and I. She was here. I did it. My doctor gave her to me right away. It was absolutely surreal. Daddy cut her umbilical cord and I brought her to my face. She was absolutely beautiful. She had giant cheeks and a full head of dark hair. I felt so empowered, so amazing. She never did cry. She just looked at me with these big dark blue eyes.
7 pounds, 3.7 ounces. 20 inches long.

A new family!
Everything else was a blur and I didn't write it down. I remember them doing 'routine' stuff and cleaning up. I remember latching Esther as soon as I could and she latched like a pro. She was just stunning.

Looking back, of course there are things I would've done differently. My plan is to never be put on Pitocin again. Or, for that matter, to have my membranes artificially ruptured. Part of Esther's birth story plays a factor in why I became a doula. I really didn't know what Pitocin was before they offered it to me. I didn't know the risks of AROM (artificial rupture of membranes). I didn't know what an internal fetal monitor was. Why is that? I took the class the hospital offered. Yet when these interventions were proposed, I gave a blank stare. My purpose is to educate women (and men!) about their choices in labor. There are more things that I would change if I could, but I'll save those for another post at another date.

Definitely a Grandmom's girl, pictured here with my mom

My Esther is absolutely beautiful, ever changing. She appreciates the world in her small child state of mind, it's beautiful. She dances and sings. She loves to read. She likes to investigate little bugs outside and loves pretty much all animals. She's sensitive. She's smart. She has a remarkable memory. She's outrageously hilarious and her laugh is to die for. I love teaching her about God and love even more when she asks me questions about Him or just spouts off random facts.
Just tonight in the car, she said, "Daddy and Mommy?"
"Yes, Esther."
"Jesus is alive again."

I'm in love.

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