The days passed slowly. Painfully slowly. Lee & I were in this stagnant funk once the due date hit. We hardly talked about anything in those final days. Our exchanged looks conveyed it all: ancy anticipation + it was the largest wave of anxiety that I had felt since college. An anvil of pressure sat on my chest and compounded in nature with every "where is that baby?" ..."is the baby here yet?" text I would recieve from concerned and loving friends and family. I wanted to strangle each one of those messages as it made me feel equal parts defeated in that there was no news and anger towards those well-wishers. "You'll know when she arrives, promise" tended to be my response of choice although some friends got a bit more sass back and for that I apologize. I was teetering on the edge. I was sleeping restlessly. I had to engage in some major deep breathing exercises to simply relax before bed. And I was upset with myself, comforted only when I would hug Lee and he'd say "it's going to be OK babe, she'll be here so soon." (cry cry sniffle sigh.)
Monday, Dec. 17th: I showered that morning. I washed my hair (something I only do 2-3x/week.) I put on makeup. (Three crucial things that made this birth day exponentially better looking back.) And I left for my 41 week appointment with at the OB. I took my normal waddle there...over to Central Park, south down to the 59th Street entrance, down 7th Avenue to the office. As soon as I got called into the room by the one nurse I absolutely hate in the office (has told me wrong information many times, made snide remarks about my weight gain, etc.), I knew the day had taken a turn. Blood pressure was up...and I mean really up. Throughout the entire gestation, my BP has been 110/60. That morning? 130/90. I blamed the nurse. Got attached to the Non Stress Test monitor and rechecked by the doctor. 130/80. Baby girl held steady at a 130 heart rate, cool as a fetal cucumber. I explained to the doc my high level of anxiety, visceral response to the young nurse, and asked her to take my BP again in 10min if I was allowed to relax.
I'm sorry, but I need to send you to the hospital for better monitoring..."
I think I grunted pretty loudly in annoyance. I was ticked off...today I was going to go to Chelsea and get a new pair of New Balances and a mani-pedi at my favorite salon by our old apartment. If the baby seems to be fine, just let me be. But off to the hospital I went. I walked, actually. Three avenues and 2 blocks over to St. Luke's Roosevelt: enjoy the breeze and calm yourself down, Sarah. I hit the corner of 59th & 9th and thought this monitoring at the hospital may take a number of hours so it was probably in my best interest to grab that deli egg & cheese on a roll now. SMART MOVE (which ended up being my final feast.) Yes, a dirty deli in Hells Kitchen meal alone in the window was my last meal before baby. Ah, New York...
Once in triage and hooked up to the fetal monitor the PA there got all my vitals and said that the good news was that my doctor, Dr. Olivares, was on call that day and she was sending her over to chat with me about the "options." I immediately called Lee and told him to leave work and join me. What I thought was a routine fetal check was now becoming THE day. One of my biggest fears for delivery was being induced. I had planned and prepped for the stages of natural labor but not for induction. From everything that I had read, induction was a different ball game. Contractions, labor, everything would feel more intense, less controllable on my part. Once Lee arrived and Dr. O came to speak with us, it was clear: high blood pressure could lead to pre-eclamsia and we were having this baby most likely tomorrow. WOW. It started to sink in. Kindof? I felt unprepared. I felt weak. I felt like I was part of the maternity system where they put the fear of God in you that if you don't "get that baby out now," something bad would happen. I was cursing myself for being so strung out the days before as if staying more calm would've lead to a better natural birth outcome. I went there in my mind, and then let it go...
1pm: Lee was told to go home for a few hours, shower and get my hospital bag as once they put the Cervidil in, the process was just beginning and likely going to take hours and hours for my cervix to open up more (I was still just 1cm at my appointment that morning.) So off Lee went and I began texting my family and bests! Go-time! Induction is happening! Tomorrow will likely be the day! It was equal parts exciting and scary to know that the time had come, but so thrilling to feel all the positive vibes from those I love most. SKr and I began swapping pictures back and forth, keeping it all lighthearted as I started this journey. And then the contractions begin. Ooof. Okay, I can handle these (30min or so of what seemed to be a build up...)
I am fine, totally fine. No need to buzz for the nurse, I got this. Lee will be back in 2hrs or so, I can do this.
And then it just happened. I went from what felt like 0 to 100 in just a few contractions. Quickly text Lee: Please get back here, contractions are intense. His reply? Okay, Downton Abbey is still downloading, I'll be back in an hour.
GET HERE NOW.
I pretended I was in bikram, breathing through each opening sequence with grace and openness. I envisioned myself on a long walk through the woods, each tree one step closer to the mountain top. 2.5 hours have passed, Lee returns, another hour passes, and I'm finally checked: 3.5cm with contractions lasting 1min every 30 seconds. My body was on overdrive. I didn't even have pitocin yet! Eff. (Oddly enough, I was in the 1% of women who don't need Pitocin once given the Cervidil. I felt very good about this, hung my hat on that one.)
430pm: I ask for the epidural, this is exactly what I didn't want to have happen. Drugs setting off this spin of reactions in my body unnatural that I couldn't breathe them away. It was all happening too fast. But I make peace with the decision...and transition into a state of labored bliss. Defeated yet happy. I don't really know what to make of it all in that moment. The lights are dimmed in the room and I'm told to rest, but I can't. I feel like I'm watching the movie of my delivery and unable to wrap my head around the fact it is actually happening.
A few hours pass, at some point I reach 8cm, maybe around 8pm? This chunk of time is hazy to me.
945pm: My doctor had already gone home for the night under the assumption that progress wouldnt be so quick, that around noon on the 18th I would have the baby. She returns, examines me and we are at 10cm ready to go. Time slows down, the room becomes silent with only the russling of paper gowns being tied, medical instruments being set out, Lee standing guard over me squeezing my hand. Miguel, my (yes male) L&D nurse turns on the bassinet warmer. I remember thinking "wait, already? she's coming that soon?" And things get going...in the most peaceful and zen and remarkably non-dramatic fashion. With just 2 nurses, Dr. O, Lee & myself...the pushing begins. Dr. O counts down each contraction in such a soothing voice, I push without making a sound. I glance at Lee between contractions, both sets of eyes glassy with tears on the edge. We do this about 10 times I believe, the aura in that room staying so tranquil you could hear a pin drop. And with one final push, out she came!
10:50pm: Time freezes. She cries and wimpers and I notice for the first time that fuzzy blonde hair. I cant take my eyes off her. She's here! Morgan Anne Markle, welcome to this world! I'm biting my lip to keep from ugly crying, but the tears are flowing and I hold that baby tight and close to keep her warm.
The following hours stay dream-like to me. I remember her being on my chest and nursing right away but I'm not sure for how long...Lee & I simply stare at her, soaking in the moment, in awe of this precious life. I don't want to let her go, not even to get measured and weighed and given to Daddy while I get taken care of...
As they say, the rest is history. She slept on my chest that entire first night, and part of the second. I couldn't bear to be even inches apart from her. We snuggled and talke about all the things we will do in life together, but mostly just told her how much she is loved. More than she'll ever know...more than I'll ever be able to express. Our hearts are so very full because of you sweet Morgan. Just like that...parenthood begins :)