Well, hello there friends. My goodness…I’ve missed you!! I’m “officially” back to blogging today and we have so much to catch up on. The last seven weeks have been a whirlwind in our household and we are so in love with our daughter, Rory. I’m planning a big blog post with all the details about this time as a family of three, but before we get there I want to share Rory’s birth story. And before we get to that, I quickly wanted to share a video diary I created throughout my entire pregnancy. So many things to share!
My Pregnancy Diary
It’s a bit long, but this video was so fun to make (and even better to watch back now that Rory is here). It starts at the moment I found out I was pregnant and ends with me about to give birth in the hospital. A very wild ride!
You can view the video below or over on my Youtube channel right here.
Sharing Rory’s Birth Story
Now, onto my birth story. As many of you know, my due date was May 4th and I was scheduled to have an induction on April 27th (at 39 weeks, since I was considered high-risk). However, Rory decided to make an early debut and she came on April 11th, surprising us all! Let’s rewind and I’ll walk you through Rory’s birth story…
My 36 Week Doctor’s Appointment
During my third trimester, I was visiting the doctor weekly (either my reproductive immunologist or my OB). Even with coronavirus rampant, I was happy to have the extra monitoring with professionals keeping an eye on my baby girl. I had weekly non-stress tests to make sure she was moving around and to monitor for any contractions, and I also had ultrasounds every other week.
On Friday, April 10th, I went in for my 36-week appointment. I did my non-stress test and everything looked great. Then I met with my doctor so she could take a look at my cervix and see if it was still fully closed. I figured she would say it was closed or maybe I was about 1 cm dilated, but she stuck her hand in there and said, “Oh boy…well, that’s the baby’s head. You’re already at 4 cm dilated, which means labor has started.”
I’m pretty sure my words back to her were, “Holy shit.” I was not expecting that…at all. I believed that I still had over two weeks left to prepare for my induction and to finish up last-minute projects around the house. When was the baby going to come?! My doctor told me that she didn’t really know. Some women can walk around for a week or two at 4 cm dilated and for others, it means you could have the baby in the next 24 hours.
She went to consult with the other doctor on staff about what we should do and I quickly texted Finn the details about the appointment. My doctor came back in and said that if I didn’t have the baby over the weekend, she wanted to see me on Monday. And if I felt any contractions, I had to go into triage immediately. Since I was already at 4 cm, this baby could come quickly, so there would be no waiting around at home if I felt anything.
I called Finn on my way home from the doctor and let’s just say he was a bit panicked. He, too, thought we had more time and he was trying to finish up some big work projects, not to mention he still wanted to get the bassinet set up in our room, the pack and play set up downstairs, and other small tasks finished around the house. He also wanted concrete details – “Was she coming now? Did we have the weekend?” Of course, I had no answers to these questions but I said we would calmly get ready when I got home.
When I walked in the door, I saw that I had bled through my jeans on the way home. Uh oh. I went to the bathroom and it was then that I realized my mucus plug had fallen out. I immediately called the doctor and she said to hold off on going into the hospital until contractions started or I felt any pain.
So, for the rest of the day, I did my best to stay calm and finish up last-minute things around the house. I showered; I finished packing my hospital bag; I cleaned up around the house; I finished a few work tasks, and I tried my best to calm down that husband of mine who was frantically running around the house! I went to bed that night around 10 pm and woke up around midnight with a few slight cramps. That’s when I woke up Finn and said, “I think it’s time!”
Saturday – 1:30 am
We got to the hospital in about five minutes and entered triage. I wasn’t feeling much at all, so I was convinced they might check me and send us on home to wait it out over the weekend. Because of the coronavirus, we wore our masks and were extra careful interacting with anyone. The first thing they did was test me for COVID-19 (they test all moms in labor) and they said the results could take a few hours to get back. Until those results came back, we had to both wear masks. If I tested positive, I would have to go to a different wing of the hospital to deliver with a different doctor. I also wouldn’t be able to see my baby after birth. We crossed our fingers that my results would quickly come back and be negative.
The plan was to keep me in triage until my results came back, but when the doctor checked me I was already at 6 cm. She said this baby was coming soon, so we had to get up to labor and delivery.
Saturday – 4:00 am
We got settled in our room and they told us to rest up as much as possible. By this time I was dilated to 7 cm, yet I didn’t feel any contractions…at all. I was hooked up to a monitor and the nurse kept saying, “You just had a contraction. Did you feel that?” Nope. Nothing at all. I kept saying how thankful I was that we went to the hospital when we did. I could have been in labor at home for most of Saturday without feeling any contractions, and who knows if we would have made it to the hospital in time?!
Even though I didn’t feel anything yet, I knew I wanted an epidural eventually. So often you see in the movies where the mom-to-be can’t get an epidural in time and I was so worried that might be me! I asked the anesthesiologist about ten times how long we could wait to give it to me. She said we could wait right until I was about to push and that what you see in the movies isn’t very accurate. At this time, I was dilated to about 8 cm and still not feeling anything (you start pushing at 10 cm), so I figured I might as well get the epidural so I could rest until it was time to get this baby out. Once that epidural hit me, I was suuuuper relaxed and got about an hour or two of sleep in.
Saturday – 10:00am
Thankfully, my coronavirus results came back negative and we were able to breathe a little easier (plus, no more mask-wearing). My doctor checked me again and saw that I was at 9 cm, but my water hadn’t broken yet. We figured we would give it another few hours to see if it would break on its own.
By early afternoon, my water was still intact and I was still at 9 cm. She decided to use a hook to break my water (she calls it the “baby wrangler”…yikes). Because I had the epidural, I didn’t really feel this…just lots of pressure.
Saturday – 2:00pm
Once my water broke, things moved quickly. I was finally feeling contractions (they weren’t terrible, though, because of that amazing epidural!) and my doctor saw that I was at 10 cm. It was time to do this thing.
At 2:20 pm, I started pushing. Finn held one leg, the nurse held the other, and the doctor was ready to get our baby out. I asked the nurse how long we might be pushing and she said the average time is two hours. Oh boy, that’s a long time! I wanted to conserve my energy as much as possible, but I also wanted to get our baby out. So I gave it my all. On the first push, she started to pop on out. (Finn gave me a play-by-play as we progressed which was actually super helpful to keep me motivated. What a birth coach!)
I was able to feel the contractions (not horribly, but enough to know they were coming and to be in pain) and this helped me sync up my pushes with my contractions. It only took 17 minutes of pushing for our daughter to be born. On the last push, my doctor told me to only push for four seconds (instead of ten) but the baby ended up flying out with that final push.
Saturday – 2:30pm
Our sweet girl was immediately placed on my chest and I can’t even describe the sense of peace that washed over me. I was holding our baby. She was safe. She was in my arms. She was HERE. Finn and I cried and cried and held her tight. It was the single best moment of my life.
Because she was born at 36 weeks and 5 days (full-term is 37 weeks, so we were just two days off) the NICU team was there to check her out and make sure she was okay. Even though she was a peanut at 5lbs 14oz, she was in perfect health and they said she wouldn’t need to go to the NICU. This was music to our ears. We wanted all the time to snuggle our sweet girl.
Finn and I went back and forth holding her on our bare chests and we kept talking about every feature on her tiny body. What did her nose look like? How about her tiny little ears? Did you see her feet? We tried to soak in every ounce of our daughter. During this time, my doctor stitched me up (I had a stage two tear), yet I really didn’t even know what was going on with my body…I was too engrossed in the little girl laying on my chest.
After about two hours in the delivery room, we were discharged up to the postpartum care unit.
Introducing Aurora Mary Finn
From the moment we found out we were pregnant with a girl, we knew we would use the name Aurora. It means “light from the darkness” and it was so fitting for this miracle who brought us out of a dark place after three years of infertility. I also loved the nickname “Rory”, so from the start, I knew we would call her that most of the time. We texted the good news about Rory to all of our family and friends and my entire family sent us pictures popping champagne at home.
Typically, you would spend two nights in the hospital after a vaginal delivery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. However, because of coronavirus, the doctors wanted us out after one night if I was feeling good and Rory was feeling good. Those 24 hours were a blur, but we did our best to learn how to take care of her (the nurses there are amazing!), I learned how to breastfeed, and I learned how to take care of myself postpartum. I’m planning to share a blog post with what I packed in my hospital bag, but spoiler alert…we didn’t need much at all (except snacks, bring alllll the snacks!).
We couldn’t have any visitors or leave to get food, so we both had room service from the hospital for all of our meals. Honestly, it was pretty tasty but I’m sure I could have eaten just about anything at that point! I ended up bringing my camera to the hospital, so I was able to take a few pictures of Rory on her first day of life. I also used the self-timer on my phone to capture our first official family photo!
On Sunday afternoon, Rory passed all of her tests and we were given the green light to head home that evening. While we were eager to get home and adjust to our new life as a family of three, we were also a bit terrified about keeping this little girl happy and healthy all by ourselves.
But Finn got the car, we loaded her up in her car seat, and we drove (very slowly..ha!) home for our first night together. That’s when the real fun began…Casey