It’s hard to believe that our sweet Penelope has been home with us for a couple of weeks already. In such a short amount of time, our world has changed so dramatically and now that she’s finally here, we cannot imagine our lives without her.
A friend of mine recommended that I bring a notebook and pen in my hospital bag to make notes throughout the labor and delivery process. I am SO glad that I took her advice because even after a couple of days, some of the details started to get blurry and I was so grateful to be able to look back at the notes we made.
So without further ado, here is Penelope’s birth story…
Our little princess was 8 days overdue; she must have been so comfy! I was lucky enough to work from home the few days before she arrived which was such a blessing. I was so uncomfortable at that point; my whole body was sore and achy. We even had a false labor scare (I thought my water had started to break) so it was nice being home and in a comfortable environment.
Because our little princess was overdue (and showed no signs of wanting to come out) we decided to proceed with a plan for induction. Our doctor recommended that we check into the hospital on Thursday night to start the process and then Friday morning, we’d start a dosage of Petocin to get contractions started.
Because we didn’t need to check into the hospital until Thursday evening, Randy and I were able to spend one last day together as a family of two. We went out for coffee and breakfast and then went for a stroll around the park. It was an unusually beautiful August day – not too hot, no humidity and lots of beautiful sunshine.
Late that afternoon my parents and sister arrived into town…that’s the beauty of an induction, we at least got to make sure our family arrived in time for the delivery! That night we enjoyed a delicious dinner together and my sister and I went on another walk around the neighborhood. While we were walking, I got the call from the hospital requesting that we arrive to check-in at 9 p.m. After packing up the car and saying goodbye to our family, we were off to the hospital!
After being checked in and getting settled into our room, my doctor performed a small procedure to help get me further dilated because I was barely 1 centimeter (they inserted a balloon to mimic the baby’s head on my cervix). By mid-morning the next day, the goal was to be at least 3-4 centimeters along. After the procedure I experienced my first real contractions (they weren’t terribly painful, but noticeably different from Braxton Hicks). They hospital gave me an Ambien so that I’d be able to get at least a few hours of sleep. I remember sleeping pretty soundly from 12:30-3:30 but after that, it was just on/off sleeping throughout the night.
Both Randy and I woke up around 6:30 the next morning and the Petocin started right at 7 a.m. After that, it wasn’t long before the contractions started coming. They were uncomfortable (like heavy menstrual cramps), but not painful yet. Around 10:45 the balloon they had inserted the night before fell out indicating that I was dilated further. By this point I was 4 centimeters along so it was nice to finally make some progress! The contractions continued at this point and got more painful. Just before 11:30 a.m. they broke my water which really got things going.
After my water broke, the contractions became painful and they were coming fast – about 2 minutes apart. I was having terrible back labor and the contractions were so close together I knew I wouldn’t be able to last much longer without the epidural. My nurse dialed back the Petocin to slow the contractions down and called in for my epidural.
An hour later the anesthesiologist was in the room and I was more than ready to not feel pain. I remember hearing conversations happening around me, but was so out of it I couldn’t comprehend much. It was really, really tough to keep completely still while the doctor administered the epidural. I did feel a little pain while it was administered – I also felt this weird pressure in my spine which I can’t really describe. Once I got the epidural, every contraction seemed to hurt less and less until I wasn’t able to feel the pain any longer. I remember Randy telling the anesthesiologist that we would add her to our Christmas card list because she was able to relieve my pain so quickly. She was certainly a godsend!
Having the epidural was one of the most unusual sensations I’ve ever felt. It was like both my legs were asleep – I could still wiggle my toes and move around a little, but I wasn’t able to feel pain. I could feel the contractions in my belly, but again no pain. Once the pain was gone, I was able to relax a little, visit with family and even get in a few cat-naps while my labor progressed.
By 2:30 that afternoon, I was still only dilated to 5 centimeters and 80% effaced. They inserted an IUPC to measure the strength of my contractions to make sure that the Petocin was working the way it should. It was at this point that the doctor realized that the baby was in a posterior position. She was head-down but facing my abdomen which is why I was in such bad back labor. At that point, the nurse rolled me to my side and used a peanut-shaped exercise ball to put in between my legs to get the baby to change positions. About every 30-45 minutes I switched sizes and kept the peanut in between my legs to get the baby into the right position.
Well the peanut worked because after just two hours, I went from 5 to 8 centimeters dilated. By 6 p.m. I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing! Considering this baby seemed to be taking her sweet time coming out, once the pushing began things actually moved really quickly. Throughout the day, the doctors and nurses kept reminding me to get my rest and to save my energy because pushing would be the most difficult part of labor. As a first-time mom with an epidural, they expected me to push for 2-3 hours. Well, I can tell you that I was NOT going to accept that. I was determined to have my baby within the hour. After 15 minutes of pushing, I remember the nurse running out of the room to make sure that the nursing station was ready for baby because she was coming. I pushed with all my might and after 40 minutes of pushing we heard the precious cries of our sweet Penelope Marie.
We had asked the doctors and nurses not to reveal the gender of the baby – we wanted Randy to do that. I will never forget the moment when Randy so excitedly said, “It’s a GIRL!” We were both crying and laughing; our hearts bursting with joy and surprise. We were both convinced we were having a boy so this was especially surprising. I had immediate skin to skin contact with our little princess and from there, we were just drowning in happiness.
We feel so much joy and pride in the fact that we’re Penelope’s parents. God chose her to be our daughter and it’s been the greatest gift we’ve ever been given. It’s true what people say – after being her parents for just a few days now, I can’t imagine not having her in our lives. She’s completely transformed us in the best of ways and we couldn’t be happier.
We love you, Penelope!