Tillie’s Birthday

At 4:36 a.m. on April 27th, two days before her due date, Jeremy and I welcomed Matilda Catherine into the world. Tillie’s birth was hard, wonderful, nerve-wracking, beautiful, and pretty much nothing like I had imagined it.

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I woke up on Friday, April 26th with a strong feeling that labor was near. I wasn’t having consistent contractions, but I told Jeremy I would be surprised if we didn’t have a baby by the end of the weekend. I had a routine midwife appointment that morning, and I was really excited to tell her my latest symptoms and have her check if my body seemed to be progressing.

When I got to my appointment, a nurse took my blood pressure. “Have you been struggling with high blood pressure this pregnancy?” she asked. I hadn’t been, at all. I had one high reading previously, but we chalked it up to my anxiety and I never had another issue – until that day. My numbers weren’t anything too serious, but enough that my midwife wanted to investigate a bit further.

My midwife quickly got me scheduled for a non-stress test and an ultrasound. I’d never gotten an NST and hadn’t gotten an ultrasound since about 28 weeks, so the entire situation was really scaring me. Baby girl passed the non-stress test without issue – what a relief. I was feeling a bit calmer when we headed into our ultrasound, but that didn’t last for long.

After my ultrasound, the technician left the room and re-entered with a doctor. He summed up the results: my fluid level was low, and baby girl wasn’t moving “how they’d like to see.” (Side note: the ultrasound technician even did a really concerning and strange imitation of how baby girl was moving, and it was horrible bedside manner that ended up making Jeremy and I ten times more nervous). Those things, in combination with my newly developed high blood pressure, raised a few red flags. He explained that he didn’t feel comfortable letting me go home, and I’d be admitted to the hospital that day to deliver our baby. Naturally, I was crying before he finished.

For 39 weeks and five days, every scan and test showed a perfectly healthy and thriving baby. I’d had my own personal complications, but there was never anything remotely worrisome about my baby. Hearing the doctor tell me that Tillie had scored too low on her biophysical profile immediately filled me with terror. If the experts wanted baby girl out, that was all I needed to hear. However, the fact that I was being admitted to the hospital without my bags – and without saying goodbye to my pups! – made me feel like things were spiraling into chaos. This was not how I’d planned on things going, and I was terrified.

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I was taken to triage and hooked up to a monitor so they could keep an eye on baby girl while Jeremy dashed home to grab our bags and walk our dogs. I immediately let my mom know what was going on, and she had a flight booked within minutes. I also may or may not have sobbed to a poor nurse that I felt horribly guilty for not giving my dogs enough love before leaving the house.

After being monitored for a couple hours in triage, I was thrilled to hear I was having pretty sizable contractions (and pleased they weren’t hurting yet!). In fact, one of the nurses said I might be able to skip the Pitocin and just walk the halls for a bit, because it looked like baby was ready to make her debut with or without an induction. I was really happy to know that my body seemed ready to deliver and hoped that meant everything would go smoothly.

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Finally, a room opened up and Jeremy and I got settled in the room where we’d be having a baby! I was still an anxious mess about the troubling ultrasound and test but was feeling more confident knowing things were moving in the right direction. I ended up starting on the lowest dose of Pitocin a little bit before 5:00 p.m., and my contractions picked up. I discovered that standing up and swaying a bit made the contractions less uncomfortable, and Jeremy ended up putting on our first dance song from our wedding (Nothing Can Change This Love by Sam Cooke) and we started dancing in the hospital room. Before we even got to the first chorus, my water had broken!

Almost immediately after my water broke, my contractions became super painful and ten times more intense. I let my nurse know that I’d like my epidural sooner rather than later. It only took about 30 to 45 minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive, but it felt like much longer. I was actually really scared of getting the epidural, but quickly realized Pitocin contractions were scarier. Luckily, the entire process was super fast, easy, and mostly painless.

After I got the epidural, Jeremy and I relaxed. We watched my favorite movie (They Came Together) which incidentally was the first movie we ever watched together, on our third date! After the movie, Jeremy got some sleep – I tried to do the same, but was unsuccessful. Weirdly enough, I could still feel pain from contractions in my rib cage so I couldn’t get very comfortable. When the nurse came back to our room around 2:30 a.m. to check my progress, I told her, “I’m having a decent amount of pain, so I hope that means something is happening!” After a quick check she announced I was ten centimeters and it was go-time… hallelujah!

My midwife came to our room about 30 minutes later, and it was time to get the show on the road. I’ve heard a lot of women with epidurals say that contractions just felt like “pressure” and they had to be told when to push… that was not the case for me. My contractions were painful, and I was basically yelling when I needed to push. I pushed for an hour and a half, and Tillie was born at 4:36 a.m. I won’t try to put into words what it felt like when they put her on my chest for the first time, because there aren’t words that will do it justice. I cried, Jeremy cried, Tillie cried, and there is no greater feeling of love, accomplishment, and relief wrapped into one. After all of the concerns from the day before, seeing her chunky 7 pound, 10 ounce body and hearing her loud, healthy scream was the greatest moment of my life.

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Our daughter has been here for two weeks and two days now, and I could write a novel about the emotions and experiences of her life so far, but I’ll spare you (for now). We are happy, exhausted, and completely, totally, endlessly in love.

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