My Precious Girl,
Today is November 3. If we were not a high risk pregnancy, this would be the due date we would have been anticipating and counting down toward. Today you would be 40 weeks, instead you are 19 days old! As I write this, you sleep in the Rock and Play next to me. They say when you sleep, we should sleep. I'm exhausted but I can't stop staring at you and I am feeling nostalgic about three weeks ago tomorrow when you decided it was time. I want to remember everything about this, which is why I am writing. I want to remember all of these moments, all of these emotions, every feeling of exhaustion, pride, sadness, joy, fear, triumph - all of it rolled into one.
The morning of October 14 I woke up around 5:00 am, your typical time every day to say good morning mama! You were kicking and moving, but I was also feeling contractions. I had been feeling them since the Sunday before when we went to the hospital to be monitored when your heart rate was elevated. The contractions had not increased in intensity and were still very irregular throughout the week but Friday morning, they were feeling a little stronger. At our 37 week appointment the day before, I had moved from 1.5 cm dilated on Sunday to 4 cm dilated on Thursday. We talked with our doctor about how Tuesday morning would go when we'd arrive to induce labor. My doctor felt like we would probably make it to then, but she said she wouldn't be surprised if you came on your own before.
I took my time getting ready that Friday morning. It was my last day of work before maternity leave started. We had a busy weekend and I planned to spend that upcoming Monday at my final appointment, followed by a prenatal massage, then doing any last minute errands before your Daddy and I had one final date night at one of our favorite restaurants. That morning I took my 37 week photo which was the last bump shot with you!
I got to work and felt a little off. I was trying to wrap up everything but in the back of my mind, kept wondering if these contractions were really feeling a little more real, or if it was just in my head? I finished my to-do list around noon and said my goodbyes to the team. On my way out, both my boss and another team member predicted you would come sometime that day or over the weekend because of the full moon.
I got home around 12:30 and felt the need to feel close to Hudson. I held his lamb, sat in his rocker and wrote him a letter. I was feeling very nostalgic about his birth and very emotional. After about an hour, I realized that contractions had become much more regular - in fact, incredibly regular. I decided to start timing them just for fun. I didn't think we would get to time contractions so I was somewhat excited to do that. After about 30 minutes had passed, I noticed a pattern, that they were every 4 minutes for exactly 1:05 or 1:15 min. After an hour of doing this, and checking your heartbeat on the fetal monitor, I let your Daddy know that we may be heading to the hospital. He said he was on his way home! I called my doctor's nurse and she told me to head to the hospital and check in for observation in Labor and Delivery because it sounded like we could be in labor. Daddy got home around 2:30, we grabbed the hospital bag that I had packed, kissed Georgie pup goodbye and had our moment of could this be it?! after all. Leaving the house we were about 40/60 that the next time we came home, it would be with you in tow.
We got to the hospital and checked in with Labor and Delivery Observation. They hooked me up to monitor your heartbeat and the contractions for 30 minutes. During this time, we had a very special person who set the tone for our experience, Nurse Jill. My doctor's nurse, Stephanie, had already called down to them and prepped her for us. She knew all about us and was ready for us. She was so wonderful and I felt she was a special angel placed to be there for us on that day and just what we needed to begin this experience. During that first thirty minutes, Daddy and I sat in our triage-like, curtained off room and overheard a scenario I recognized all too well. A woman had come in and she was in a panic. In tears she was frantically asking if her baby was okay. We listened as they tried to calm her and look for a heartbeat. Tears fell down my cheeks as I heard the sound of a fetal heart monitor searching for a heartbeat and her scared stifled sobs. Your Daddy reached for my hand. It took a bit, but they did find a heartbeat and I could breath again, but it really rattled me. When Nurse Jill came back into our area, it's like she knew. She talked to us about Hudson, she said his name, she said we had a special angel watching over us. She told us that we were going to get you here safe and sound.
At the conclusion of that first 30 minutes, she had tracked the same contraction pattern I had at home but they were now every 3 minutes. I was 5 cm dilated so she told us we were going to walk this baby out. We were instructed to briskly walk around for 30 minutes and then come back, that we would do this three times and after each 30 minute set of walking, we would check your heart rate and my contractions. Throughout our walks, I definitely had stronger and closer together contractions. We walked all around that hospital and the exterior in those 30 minute increments with brief check ins.
After the last walk, we went back in and I was 7 cm dilated. Jill called the doctor on-call for my doctor's practice. She came back in to give us the option of going home and seeing how things continue to progress on their own, that I'd probably be back within 24 hours. Or, if it was okay with me, she recommended we go ahead and have this baby. We chose the latter, though it meant that Dr. Kurian, who we felt so close to throughout this whole experience, would not be the one able to deliver you. The doctor who was on-call, Dr. Myears, was someone we had seen once when our doctor was sick. She was very caring and compassionate, and she knew our history. Having met her before set us at ease and we were comfortable that she would be delivering you. Jill looked at us and said, let's go have your rainbow baby, she's ready to meet you. Shift change had started but Jill stayed an extra hour to make sure that we were transitioned well and that everyone who was going to be working with us through the delivery process was in the know of what the plan would be. On the Monday morning following your arrival, Jill came up to check in on us, gave us big hugs and had the chance to meet you!
Remember Nurse Katie from Hudson's labor and delivery? She was planning to be there on October 18 as our doula and photographer - the "doulagrapher" as she called it. Since you moved up the timeline, I immediately sent her a message to let her know that plans had changed and I was in labor now. With three kids, a nursing career and photography business, I fully didn't expect that she would be able to be there, but the amazing person she is made it happen. She met us at the hospital with camera in hand, smile on face and there with us through the nearly 12 hours of labor, again. My doctor's nurse, Stephanie, had also been a huge support throughout this process and she came up to be part of "Team Hadley" as well.
|With Nurse Stephanie after you arrived|
We were settled into our delivery room by 6:45 and shortly thereafter, there was a knock on the door. A familiar face popped into our room and I nearly burst into tears. For anyone who has read Hudson's birth story, you may remember that the first person to enter the delivery room after I had been hooked up to the IV was the sister of a friend of mine. She was the resident on the floor and was coming in to check my vitals and Hudson's positioning via sonogram. It made me immediately comforted to have a familiar face there in my darkest hours. This time, Mallory was doing rounds on another floor but saw our name on the board and came to say hello. I haven't seen her since Hudson's delivery and to have her pop her head in was really special. We exchanged big hugs this time and smiles as we caught up.
Our main nurse for the labor and delivery experience was Nurse Shirley. She was a very different personality type than I thought I would need for this, but it turned out to be exactly what we needed. Shirley's big personality kept us on our toes, kept us laughing, and kept us distracted.
My family arrived by 9 PM and kept us company well into the early morning. The plan that Jill and Dr. Myears had was to start a pitocin drip to help progress labor, to get the epidural and then break my water. However, Shirley felt like my body was doing this on its own and she wanted it to keep doing that as long as we could. We took more walks, used the medicine balls and then around 10 pm, it was decided to go ahead and break my water. Contractions really picked up then, fast and furious. It was apparently a very busy night, maybe there really is something to the full moon and women going into labor after all, but it took almost an hour for the anesthesiologist to arrive in our room after requesting the epidural. That gave me quite the taste of true labor pains and your Daddy and Katie helped me get through them. The anesthesiologist who gave me my epidural with Hudson came in the room and was part of this birth story too. This time, it worked correctly on the first try and I was comfortable throughout the remaining hours of labor without needing to increase it or have a new one.
By 4:30 am, the room was full with "Team Hadley" and as everyone took position, I had to focus because it started to become all too familiar. I needed Daddy by me, I needed his hand in mine and at my side so we could receive you together. I felt overwhelmed with emotion and Shirley talked me through this. She said this time would be different, it may take longer, to listen to her cues. She instructed me on full pushes and half pushes. They had an oxygen mask this time, I needed that to get big breaths.
At 5:08 am on October 15, you arrived. Of course you did, I should have known. That 5:00 am window was always your time of day. You were 7 lb, 3 oz and 20 inches of pure perfection. I watched as you were lifted and I could see you in plain view, waiting for your scream. I saw you before I could hear you and before I could finish my thought of why isn't she crying, there it was. The most beautiful sound I have ever heard. You screamed and you cried. As soon as I heard it I laughed. I wanted a river of tears to flow but laughter was how my emotions were expressed instead. They laid you on my chest and your Daddy buried himself in us. Nothing was like the last time anymore, it was now its own experience. You were here, you were breathing, we looked into your eyes, your arms and legs moving as you were laid on my chest. In those moments, time stood still for just a little while.
They lifted you into his arms again and he walked back across that room to me and we spent time together, just the three of us, as a little family before we introduced you to your grandparents who were patiently waiting in the waiting room.
While we were in the hospital, you met two of your uncles, three of your great grandparents, two great aunts and a great uncle. You met some of Mommy and Daddy's special friends who love you beyond measure. And now here we are. You are perfect in every way. You and your brother resemble each other slightly but that's maybe because I want you to. Every now and then I'll catch a glimpse of him in you, but you are your own little lady with your own features and characteristics that we will be able to watch grow and change. You have the biggest cheeks and a dimpled chin. Your Daddy's eyes and the softest skin. Your hair is lighter than Hudson's and without any curl. You have the longest fingers attached to the most precious chubby little hands. I count your toes and rub your feet. Your nose continues to look more and more like mine, and like Hudson's. I rub our noses together and cry to be able to do nosies with you the way I did with him. You have the sweetest yawns and sounds.
I will never forget the moment that I realized you knew me. It was our first full day in the hospital. You were wailing and then quieted at the sound of my voice. You gripped my finger and were instantly calmed while the nurses poked at you. I knew I loved you from the time I found out about you. I bonded with you throughout my pregnancy and loved you more by the day. Seeing you for the first time and feeling you on my chest was one of the most beautiful moments I've ever experienced. But watching you as you recognized me and knew I was yours, that was a moment I didn't know to expect or how to prepare for and one that takes my breath away every time it happens. I watch you with your Daddy and how you both adore one another. You snuggle up to him and do not fuss when he holds you. You know him as yours too.
You came on your own time and on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. A day that the year prior had brought us pain as we remember Hudson in our raw emotional state. But this year on October 15, you restored our hope by bringing us the greatest joy and a redeeming love to show that beauty can rise from the ashes.
Hadley, you are our miracle. We are so thankful to have you and that you are ours. I will not say that all the pain we endured on this road to getting you was worth it, that you were worth the wait. No, because that diminishes your brother and is not a fair representation of either one of you. However, it is because of what we went through that makes you that much more special and wonderful and incredible. Our promise to you is that we will love you unconditionally, we will teach you, grow you, support you, and provide you with everything we can to enrich your life with love. Welcome to the world baby girl, I can't wait to do this life together and see where your story takes you.