Monday, March 1, 2010
After 9+ months of anticipation, Ava Kathleen Johnson came into the world at 2:44 pm on February 22nd. It's hard to believe that a week has already gone by (and we're only now finding time to update the blog), but it turns out that it really is true what everybody says about just how busy and exhausted you'll be with a newborn.
This is going to be the short-ish version of events leading up to and since delivery, because the whole story will take too long to tell.
Tam had continued going to work through Friday the 18th. Ava was due on the 15th, but rather than sit around at home waiting she decided to keep busy. She finally had her doctor put her on FMLA leave effective Monday the 22nd. She figured she would relax over the weekend and get a few projects wrapped up at home. So now that plans were in place to relax, Ava was sure to arrive.
Tam started having sporadic contractions in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday the 19th. Nothing too regular though, so she thought "this can't be it." So we ended up driving down to Ocala for her niece's bridal shower that afternoon. The contractions continued off and on through the day, but not with any regularity. We even stopped by Office Depot on our way home to get a file cabinet and re-organize some files. We laid down for a nap and woke up to contractions spaced about 15 minutes apart. Tam remained unconvinced that this might "be it." But the contractions were coming so frequently it was difficult to focus on anything else. Shortly after going to bed (around midnight) it became clear to Tam that sleep would be impossible and relocated to the library to read. She timed her contractions while I slept. Her rationale for not waking me when they were eight minutes apart was that I was going to need my rest if this truly was labor- she still was unconvinced. After breakfast however, the contractions became a bit more intense and we decided to call our good friend, Lindy and ask her opinion. Lindy is a former labor and delivery room nurse and we got some advice from to her to go ahead and call my parents to get them headed down from north Georgia, because this was most definitely labor.
Tam, being Tam, said after she hung up the phone "I don't know. Do you think this really is it?" We timed the contractions, wrote them down in a notebook, and when we saw the space between getting shorter and the intensity getting stronger, we decided to head for the hospital. We got there at 4:30 to find that her water had indeed broken, so they checked us in. At that point we knew that within 24 hours, Ava would be here no matter what.
Although her water had broken, she was only dilated 1 cm, so she endured another couple hours of contractions before they got so intense that she asked for the epidural. Ava's godfather came in to the hospital on his day off to administer the epidural. Tam got some relief from it, but after an hour or so it was clear that it was only taking effect on her right side, so it had to be removed and re-inserted. That's when she could finally get some rest from the pain. She and I both managed to get a few hours of sleep as she dilated up to 7cm, and then early in the morning came the transition stage of labor where it's almost time to push.
When the time did come to consider pushing rather than dilating and more, our nurse was fantastic. Ruby talked us through the the first 95% of the process. And it turns out that she has a little girl named Ava who was born in the same room - 3419. She was better than any doula we could have hired; she kept Tam focused and got her to keep pushing even long after she wanted to keep going.
Finally we reached the point of crowning, and then one more push and Ava almost shot out past the doctor's hands. That's when the scary part started. We were waiting for that big cry to let us know she was okay, but all we got were a few little gasps. Over the course of the next minute, half a dozen doctors and nurses surrounded her, and they ended up intubating her and taking her to the NICU.
We were fortunate, though, because she only had to spend one night there, and we got to come in and see her and hold her throughout the evening. There were plenty of babies in there who you could tell had been there a long time. I changed my first diaper in the NICU, and Ava got her first bath there, too. Then she was released to come back to our room the following afternoon.
Tam was discharged on Wednesday, but we ended up staying until Thursday, because Ava was having some difficulty feeding due to throat irritation from the breathing tube. Once they were sure that she was feeding well enough, they cleared her to come home with us on Thursday. That first journey down from the room to the car was the first taste of traveling from here through the foreseeable future, because we dragged what seemed like a dozen bags down with us. At least we didn't forget the baby, though.
So now we've been home for a few days, and Ava is a week old. We're realizing now how true everybody's advice was to get all the sleep we could because we were going to need it. She's adorable, exhausting, wonderful, gassy, cuddly, fussy, and everything that you could expect a newborn to be. We love this kid like crazy, and we can't believe she's finally here.