I woke up at 5 am Sunday morning to use the restroom. As I stood washing my hands, something gushed.
Let me back up here to explain why this is miraculous. For the last six months Stephen has been planning a major conference for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before my due date. I told him I would do everything I could to keep from going into labor before or during the conference, all the while growing fatter and grouchier and generally more miserable with that blessed final stage of pregnancy.
At my last doctor's appointment, we decided to induce on Wednesday, February 4. However I told Dr. Lash I really hoped to go into labor before then (see: fat, grouchy, miserable), and that I was actually planning on Sunday. He laughed at me.
So when my water broke 5 hours after Stephen returned home from the conference after-party and right when I told my doctor it would, it was what I consider to be a total flipping miracle.
I woke up my confused and exhausted husband, added a few things to the hospital bag, made Ivy go potty, and headed to drop off our child and dog with Stephen's parents.
I had a few contractions en route to the hospital, that may have been legitimate or may have been hysterical. I kept wondering if my water really had broken. As much as you think you know your own body, things just get straight up weird in pregnancy and it's hard to ever tell for sure what's going on. Plus having been sent home twice from the hospital before having Ivy made me feel like history was about to repeat itself.
"I think my water broke," I told the nurses at labor and delivery check-in. They asked a few questions then took me to a room where I would either deliver Ramona or be told to pack my things and head home. As the nurse monitored my vitals she asked if I was sick. She said my heart rate was abnormally high. She ran some tests to see if the gush was in fact amniotic fluid. There are three tests. The first two were negative. The third was positive. When the nurse said we could stay, my heart rate immediately dropped to normal. Nerves, man.
I was given some pitocin to get things rolling. My family soon showed up. I had previously agreed to let my sister, who hopes to be a labor and delivery nurse, be present at the birth. Personally, you couldn't pay me enough to watch someone else give birth, but if that's her thing, then cool. My parents, brother, and sister-in-law were there for moral support before the big show. I think they were surprised by how boring labor really is. "Why are you not yelling or crying in pain?" my dad asked at one point. Because epidural. Bless those drugs. I napped, played Trivia Crack, watch Bob Ross paint a cabin in the woods, and saw the last half of an episode of Law and Order before it was time to push. Well actually it was beyond time to push. Suddenly I went from feeling nothing to feeling yikes, ouch, which apparently was because Ramona was centimeters away from the outside world. But Dr. Lash had not arrived yet. So the nurses pretended not to panic and I kept hitting the happy epidural button, hoping there would be some sort of placebo effect.
Finally, Dr. Lash arrived looking like he had run from the parking lot. I kicked everyone but Stephen and Hannah out of view, and got to work birthing the baby. It took longer than anticipated because of some pelvic angle something or other, and her shoulder needing some adjusting. But at 4:33, she was here and I heard her cry.
If I'm being completely honest, going to the hospital Sunday morning, I was more excited by the thought of pregnancy finally being over than I was by the thought of having a new baby. But when I heard that cry, and watched as she was washed and examined, and then when I was finally able to hold her and see her open her eyes for the first time, I fell so completely in love.
Ramona arrived weighing 7 lbs 11 oz and measuring 20 inches long. She came with a full head of dark hair, and her face looked identical to Ivy's when she was born.
Due to flu season regulations, Ivy was not allowed to visit the hospital (she was having the time of her life with Stephen's parents instead). So it wasn't until we came home Tuesday afternoon that she was finally able to meet the baby sister she'd been hearing so much about. When I walked into our living room holding Ramona, Ivy got a look on her face that seemed to mean "Wait, this is really happening?" and for a while she was scared to get close or say anything. But then five minutes later she was rubbing Ramona's head and telling her stories and asking to hold her over and over and over again.
We've spent the past few days enjoying Ramona's pleasantness for the twenty minutes she's awake every day.
My pediatrician said something I really liked. He said second babies are always easier. Not necessarily because their personalities or dispositions are actually better than a first child's, but because there's so much less anxiety on the part of the parents. I'm finding that to be absolutely true. With Ivy, I'm afraid I spent her entire first year worrying about my own incompetence as a mother. I've always loved Ivy with a fierce kind of love, I've just had moments where I was unable to truly enjoy being her mom out of fear or just inexperience.
But I'm calm this time around. Like our family now has a piece we were desperately missing. Things feel more complete and we're just really glad Ramona's here.