Sophie's birth story

06/12/2011 at 6:25 pm | Posted in baby sunshine, family | 19 Comments
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I thought it was gas.

When that first contraction rolled through, I was sure it was nothing. Like all the false alarms I’d felt in the weeks before. So I sat on the toilet.

Until another one came.

And another.

This was two in the morning on Saturday, May 7. I let Marc sleep while I timed contractions in the bathroom. Within a couple of hours, they grew closer and closer, until they were only three or four minutes apart.

After all I’d heard about second babies coming so much more quickly, and terrified of giving birth in the passenger seat of the car, I woke up Marc, called the doctor and crept into Lily’s room for a kiss goodbye.

Here is where time stood still.

I just could not leave the house, leave my sweet girl to wake up with her parents missing, without one last snuggle before her world turned upside down. I leaned over her bed, put my cheek to hers and whispered, “I love you.”

And in her sleep, she mumbled those words back to me.

How I wanted to scoop her up, explain and apologize and smother her with kisses. But I pulled up her covers, smoothed down her hair and left the room.

I will never forget that moment.

The contractions picked up, but they weren’t all that painful. So I’m riding in the car to the hospital, thinking, Hey, this isn’t so bad. Maybe this time won’t hurt as much.

Ha. Hahahaha. Haha.

The doctor who delivered Lily was on call that night, and I remember thinking it was a good sign. Same for the fact that both girls were due on the 15th of the month and both were born on the 7th. I also was supremely comforted that the triage nurse reminded me of my best friend’s mother, also a nurse. Matter-of-fact and down-to-business, but in the kindest way.

She broke the news to me that my cervix was dilated a mere centimeter and a half.

So we walked. And walked. And walked some more.

I memorized the floor tiles of each different hall we paced. We’d stop every 20 feet or so to breathe through the contractions. Marc held me up, carried my water and didn’t let go of me the entire time.

Finally, after about an hour of walking (and moaning and scaring people in the hallway), I lay flat on my back in triage, hoping for progress.

But again. A centimeter and a half.

They might send you home, Ann said. I cursed.

We hung out a little longer, me writhing in pain on the bed and Marc doing his best to help me breathe. Then, thank the sweet lord, I passed my mucous plug.

They admitted us and I staggered into a delivery room.

Within minutes of lying down on that bed, after a huge contraction, my water broke. I was ecstatic.

Bring on the epidural.

Our delivery nurse, Katerina, was this tiny little thing with a heavy Slavic accent. I could barely understand her at first, but after so many hours together, I mastered Katerina-speak. She quickly became my hero, teaching me a better breathing method on the fly (that really worked) and talking me through every frustration, every procedure. I will be forever grateful for her kindness.

Things get a little blurry here. I labored while we waited for the anesthesiologist, and it became so painful (and I don’t do well with pain) that Katerina gave me some sort of IV drug that made me feel like I was back in college at a keg party.

I dozed between contractions and progressed to four centimeters by the time I received the epidural. Which was pure hell. Poor Katerina. I clung to her through the pain, her head clobbered by my boobs, her ears filling with obscenities streaming from my mouth. I’m sure she’s seen much, much worse, but I remember feeling embarrassed when she kept saying, “Oh my!”

Then, relief. Finally.

The epidural worked slowly, warmth and comfort spreading over me like a blanket fresh from the dryer.

I’ll never forget lying on my side in those quiet early morning hours, Marc snoring in the chair next to me, the baby’s heartbeat galloping over the monitor. I felt peace like I’d never experienced before. Anticipation, happiness, calm.

Then, nausea.

I paged the nurse to ask for a bedpan, and she discovered that my blood pressure had dropped significantly. More medicine and a shift in my position took care of it. And a round of pitocin nudged my contractions along.

In a short time, I was dilated to six centimeters. And even more quickly, I hit the magic 10.

Time to push.

The doctor (a new one; Lily’s delivery doctor had ended her shift) didn’t realize how very close Sophie was to making her entrance into this world and had to scramble after one push to get everything prepped. I remember being told to wait. To hold on until they were ready.

Then, in two swift pushes, the baby slid right out of my body. Head, shoulders, legs. Everything at once.

When the doctor placed that squirming, slippery little body onto my chest, the baby’s back was to me. No one announced “It’s a girl!” so Marc and I got to make the discovery ourselves. Euphoria.

I held her to my skin, kissed her face and breathed her in. Her cries quickly subsided into this awesomely mellow state of alertness. Eyes wide open, neck craning, as if to say, “What is this place? Where am I?”

She latched easily and began sucking away, although my body didn’t have much to offer her yet. Still. I was amazed.

I can honestly say that the love I felt for her surprised me. No fear. No anxiety. Just all-out bliss.

While I was nursing, Marc went downstairs to fetch Lily. And I can’t possibly write about the sisters’ meeting without crying. There are no words to describe. Lily, tentatively walking over to the baby, curious and afraid. Sophie, calm and bright-eyed and covered in goo. I held the swaddled bundle out so Lily could get a better look, and without hesitation, she leaned over and kissed her baby sister’s head.

And again that day, time stood still.

The only thing that existed in the entire world was the love radiating among the four of us in that hospital room. Our little family. A new family.

This was the experience I’d hoped for. That I was so blessed to receive.

And that I’ll carry in my heart forever.


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  1. I am bawling my eyes out. Thank you for sharing this intimate moment with us šŸ˜‰

  2. Your description of your sweet daughters meeting brought tears to my eyes. I hope Laura can have a similar experience some day.

  3. I love reading birth stories and am so happy you shared yours! I loved the part about leaving in the night while Lily slept and then her meeting baby sister. I cried reading both.

    Also, “maybe this time won’t hurt as much”, I was hoping that would be true. Thanks for bursting my bubble. I had Pitocin contractions last time though and that stuff is the devil in liquid form.

  4. How wonderful! I’m so glad you got the experience you wanted the second time around. I did too and it felt so good.

    I hope the perfection continues šŸ˜‰

  5. Ahhhh that is so perfect and wonderful. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. this was just what I needed to read this morning. What a beautiful story, congrats!

  7. Your words are so eloquent when expressing your deep feelings. This was truly a beautiful story of new life, new family and another new beginning. This time one filled with assurance that you are, and would be, the best Mom in the world to your little girls. Tell Marc how awesome he was through all the labor and delivery !! In my day, the dads stayed out of the delivery room since the doctor did not want to trip over their bodies when they fainted from the shock of the delivery !! Your Papa Mellow told me that story and he would know.

  8. I was doing alright through your birth story until your daughters met – I’m a puddle of tears! Beautiful beyond words.

  9. tear! wow..i remember that “IV drug that made me feel like I was back in college at a keg party,” think i had some of that too! births are never as you imagine, but the result is wonderful! congrats!

  10. Aw, I loved reading this. Sounds like a dream! I am so glad things went well and that you have a sweet birth story to hold on to forever.

  11. Sniff. So beautiful. You are an awesome mom and an awesome writer.

  12. I can relate to every moment of this! Such a sweet story!!!!

  13. How awesome! We can just imagine how much LOVE and WONDER filled the hospital room when you, Marc, Lily and Sophie celebrated together. That joyful encounter will be an unforgettable part of your lives for all eternity. We love you all more than words could ever describe…

  14. Yep…bring on the tears. And the love! How beautiful sis…a perfect ending to my day. Thank you!

  15. Dang girl, thanks for making me cry!

    I love that you can go from the line “I thought it was gas” to “I can honestly say that the love I felt for her surprised me. No fear. No anxiety. Just all-out bliss.” in one post. You are talented. LOL.

    seriously though, beautifully written. It makes me remember Big Roo meeting Little Roo for the first time.

  16. “This was the experience Iā€™d hoped for. That I was so blessed to receive.”

    not for the first time, you moved me to tears. VERY happy ones for you and hopeful ones for me, that i’ll have the opportunity to feel this in the future. thank you for posting. šŸ™‚

  17. Yep, another crier here! Beautiful post Suzanne. Looking forward to seeing you & meeting Sophie tomorrow!

  18. Nursing my baby girl and reading this through tears. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!!

    • Congratulations mama!! Hope all is well!

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