Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Big Gender Reveal

I'm a mom.

I know . . . stating the obvious. But every day it catches me off guard with excitement and wonder. Every time I look at R (since my blog isn't private, I'm referring to her by first initial only), I smile and think to myself how awesome it is that she's ours. It's been two weeks with her, and we're certainly adjusting to this new and crazy world that is parenthood. I'm sitting here on the couch, listening to the silly noises she makes in her sleep . . . and I smile with each one. I know I should be sleeping since she's asleep, but unfortunately the last two weeks (and years of freelancing) have conditioned me for nights with only three hours of rest, and I'm just not tired enough right now (I will be, I'm sure, right as she wakes up for her next feeding).

So since I'm awake, I figured it would be good to get back to the blog and tell the story of our labor (excluding the TMI portions) and how the big gender reveal went down.

It became clear at our last few doctor appointments that our baby was taking his or her sweet ol' time. We were given the option of inducing on November 25 or December 2 (Thanksgiving falling in between the dates put a kink in the inducing schedule). We decided to stick with the second in hopes that the extra week would allow nature to do its thing and get my body closer to labor without having to do all the drugs.

But December 1 rolled around and we still didn't have a baby in our arms. So that day, eleven days after my official due date (we thought our date was the twenty-second, but it turns out it was never changed from the twentieth), we went to the hospital to start the process of being induced. I would have to be on a drug for twelve hours to get my body ready for the pitocin, which would move the contractions along, so we were told that we'd probably have the baby Monday afternoon or evening. We got to the hospital at 5:00 p.m. and finally got a room right around 9:00. The first drug was administered with the disclaimer that the doctor wanted it in for at least six hours, if not the full twelve, but I could have it removed at any time if I became too uncomfortable. I made it four hours. After three hours, I wanted to call it quits (and Mike definitely wanted me to call it quits after seeing me in pain), and it was only because I don't like failing that I was able to (uncomfortably) push myself for another hour.

As it turns out, the labor process had already started on its own, and I made it farther along in those four hours than most women do in twelve. (I'd also been having contractions all day, though I didn't think they were the real deal because they were in a different location than I had been feeling previous contractions, they weren't in any kind of increments, and I was able to talk through them--which I was told I wouldn't be able to do.) In fact, it was decided I didn't need the pitocin because my contractions were already steadily moving along. At 2:00 a.m. I caved and got an epidural. I wasn't opposed to the epidural, though I wanted to try to go as long as possible without it, especially once I found out that the hospital did not offer walking epidurals as I originally had heard (the idea of being bedridden for hours really wigged me out, and at the time, I thought I'd still have at least half a day of labor to go). Once I received the epidural (seriously, so glad I got it), I was able to get an hour of sleep before I started feeling the pushing pains. The on-call doctor came in at 4:30 with the news that I would be having this baby sooner rather than later . . . much of a shock to us. At 6:30 I started pushing, at 7:30 my doctor showed up (and our nurse said she was going to stay past her shift to see us through the end--she was so great), and at 8:05 . . . we became parents.

Now for those of you who had been following, we didn't know the gender of our baby. I've said for years (long before I was ever married) that I always wanted to wait to find out the gender--the reveal was one of life's greatest surprises and I always thought it would be more special after waiting nine months. Mike thought boy before I was ever pregnant. For the first half of my pregnancy, I also thought boy. But then something switched, and in my gut I knew the baby was a girl. Our nurse, Ree, said that she'd been guessing baby genders (when the parents didn't already know) since August and had gotten every single one right. She said she had to get a feel for the couple before she made her prediction, and right before I started pushing, she said she got a feeling and that the baby would be a girl. Mike, of course, thought we were both wrong.

When the baby was out, the doctor asked Mike if he wanted to cut the cord. We thought my mom would be in the room with us (as was originally planned), but since the labor happened so quickly, it was just me and Mike . . . so there was no one to take the picture. I made Mike pass the camera to me so I could take it (those who have known me for years will not find this surprising at all). And that whole time, I still hadn't thought, Do I have a son or a daughter? It was such an overwhelming feeling to know that I had a baby. That I was taking a picture of my husband cutting the cord of our baby. Labor really is labor. It's not fun, but the end result is so worth it. And it's also really hard to focus in the moments afterward. Not to mention, the doctor never said, "It's a . . ." (or if he did, neither of us heard it).

After Mike cut the cord, he looked at me and said, "It's a boy! We have a son." And you know what my first thought was? I was wrong? Yes, it's a downside to being a competitive person. I knew that when my gut switched to girl that one of us would be right and one of us would be wrong. And I didn't want to be the latter. So I looked at Mike and repeated, inquisitively, "We have a son? Really?"

Mike's mistake was innocent enough. In the excitement, Mike saw the umbilical cord stump and the swollen genitalia and thought it was the anatomy of a boy. (And to be honest, I wouldn't put it past Mike to joke in a moment like that, even if he had known it was girl from the start.)

It wasn't until Mike was in the side area with our baby and the nurses while she was being weighed and footprinted that I looked at Ree and said, "We were wrong. It wasn't a girl." Imagine the doctor's face when he heard me say that. He was pretty confused but then confirmed what my gut knew: "It's a girl."

And my first thought when I heard him say that? I was right! And that thought was shortly followed by my calling out Mike for being ridiculous with his original announcement.

So while the gender reveal didn't go exactly as planned, I'm still so happy we did it that way. And it was so much fun as family arrived to see their faces when we made the announcement that the baby was a girl (which didn't come as a surprise to anyone but Mike).

The next two days in the hospital were a whirlwind. The first night I spent hours just staring at R as we spent time skin to skin. It's so hard to put into words those first twenty-four hours as a mom.

Our first night at home was rough--she cried the whole night and wouldn't sleep anywhere that wasn't on my chest or in Mike's arms. Every time she cried, I cried. There were many moments when Mike took R and my mom took me (or Mike took me and my mom took R). And it's not that it wasn't expected--I knew it wasn't going to be easy. But there's all the emotion of being a new mom and having this life that you're responsible for and listening to your child cry and not knowing why. And the hormones. Oy, the hormones.

But since then? It's been pretty good. R is a pretty chill baby (knocking on wood). Sure, she cries, but it's generally when she has gas (it's so sad watching how frustrated she gets when she can't get the gas out). She isn't a fan of her crib yet, though I try to put her in there a couple of times a day just to get her used to the room. For now, she prefers the bassinet in the living room (and getting her to the bassinet was a weeklong struggle; she preferred only the car seat before that). So I sleep on the couch (so glad we have a great one now) and watch countless marathons during her night feedings (I'm pretty sure Law & Order: SVU is on twenty-four hours a day if you just flip channels).

Tomorrow (well, today), I'm going to my first mommy event to meet other moms in the area. And it's hard to believe that next week is Christmas. This holiday season has seemed so bizarre and different without the normal traveling preparations of years' past. But it's different in the very best way possible. And we certainly have so much to be thankful for this year.

It took a while for us to get pregnant. And it took our daughter an extra twelve days to make her arrival. But she was worth every minute, day, week, and month that passed before her arrival.