As July 4th approached, I wasn’t showing any signs that labor was near. At my 39 week appointment, we decided it would be best to schedule an induction. There wasn’t a medical reason, and I still felt terrific, but I started to get more anxious. Since she was due on the 4th, which fell on a Sunday, they weren’t scheduling inductions for Monday. We had to wait from Friday until Tuesday to find out when I would get on the schedule. Those were by far the longest five days of my pregnancy. We received a call on Tuesday, July 6th, to come in at 11:30 am on July 8th. Rhys and I were ready; the house was clean, and our bags were packed.
As Thursday approached, we received a call from the hospital that all of the beds were full, and they were going to have to push my induction. They would call me back at 3 pm. We didn’t want to go anywhere if they called, but 4:00 rolled around, and I didn’t hear anything. I called, and they told me the beds were still full, but they were hoping I would get on the schedule for Friday.
We thought one more night of sleep before this baby arrives, and tomorrow will be the day. At 5 am when I woke up, I called the nurses station. Yet again, they told me the beds were full but to call back around 9:00 to see if anything opened up. Thirty minutes later, they called and asked, “When can you get here? I ran upstairs and woke Rhys up and said, “We are having a baby today!”
Timeline of events:
- 8:15 AM – We arrived at the hospital, checked in at triage, and tested for COVID. Oh my gosh, it was the worst covid test I have had throughout the pandemic.
- 9:00 AM – They started me on Pitocin. Pitocin causes the uterus to contract to induce labor.
- 10:00 AM – I met my first doctor. Someone in the practice I never met throughout my appointments, and she was only with me for a couple of hours. She checked my cervix, and I was still only 2CM dilated, which I had been for two weeks.
- Noon: Our Doctor came in again, and since I hadn’t made any progress, they decided they would break my water. They punctured my amniotic sac with a hook. It sounds painful, but I barely felt it. Shortly after this, I started to feel the contractions. I didn’t want to get my epidural too early because I didn’t want to be bedridden, but there came the point that breathing through them just wasn’t enough. WOAH, were they intense.
- 4:00 PM – The doctor was now coming every four hours. At this point, I was only 4CM. It started to feel like my body wasn’t ever going to get there, even with the help of Pitocin. Shortly after this visit, I had my epidural. I was terrified. From my experience, the IV they put in my hand hurt more than the epidural itself. The anesthesiologists and labor and delivery nurse made me feel less anxious about the process. My nurse was SO incredible. She held my hands, walked me through everything going on, and was just insanely encouraging the whole time.
- 8:00 PM – I am now 8CM!! We started to feel a little more hopeful that I would have the baby before midnight. My parents both share a birthday on July 9th, and we thought it would be so fun for our baby girl to have the same birthday as them. My great aunt also was born on July 9th and just turned 105!
- Midnight- We were wrong; she had her own plans. As midnight approached, I was still only 8CM, and the baby was sunny side up. That means her face was looking up and then wanted her to look down. For the next almost two hours, the nurse had me use something called a peanut ball. It is a yoga ball shaped like a peanut. Not only did the ball help to turn her into the correct position, but it also helped to open up my cervix and get me to 10CM.
- 1:45 AM – Let’s push! The first five times were practice, and I kept saying, “I don’t feel anything! Am I doing this right?” That epidural indeed was terrific! For the next hour and 45 minutes, I was pushing. At this point, I am so sleep-deprived, but my adrenaline just kicked in. The doctor asked me if I wanted to feel her head as she was crowing, but I didn’t have the guts to. Rhys was strategically looking above my head the whole time, but he saw everything when she was ready to come out. Our nurse Ciara said Rhys screamed, “Holy Moly!”
- 3:38 AM – After 40 weeks + 6 days of pregnancy our sweet baby girl Athena Amalia arrived on July 10th, weighing 8 lbs 0oz and measuring 20 inches in length! I cannot thank the doctors and nurses enough at Northwestern Prentice Women’s Hospital. Lexi and Ciara, my Labor and delivery nurses, were encouraging, kind, and with me every step of the way. These women are true angels, and I wish there were some way I could repay them.
For the next couple of hours, we stayed in the labor and delivery room. My epidural was still in effect, so I didn’t feel much, but I had a second-degree tear. They said it was normal, especially for an 8lb baby. Everything was a blur. My adrenaline wore off. Physically and emotionally, I was exhausted. My goal to breastfeed had gone out the window. I was so nauseous and weak that I didn’t have the mental or physical strength to do it.
When they were getting ready to move me to the postpartum room and into the wheelchair, I knew something was wrong. I had a 102 fever, and my blood pressure tanked to 60/50. For the next hour, I sat in the wheelchair while the nurses consistently monitored my vitals. From there, we were transferred to the postpartum room.
Our time in the hospital was difficult, and honestly, I would not have gotten through it without the help of my husband. I was so emotional because all I wanted to do was hold her and help, but I couldn’t. I knew Rhys would be a wonderful dad, but he exceeded my expectations from the moment she was born. I’ve fallen in love with him in a completely different way over these last ten days. I genuinely don’t know how people do it without a partner who is willing to help. He changed every single diaper in the hospital. Fed her for every meal and supported me as I was struggling through the pain.
How did you pick her name?
Athena and Amalia were our top choices throughout my pregnancy. Amalia (A-ma-lia) was my great-grandmother’s name, and I always thought it was so beautiful. We thought the name Athena was strong. Athena was a Greek Goddess of ‘war and wisdom .’ Her name means ‘praise.’ We originally had two different middle names picked out for Athena, but since we couldn’t decide between Athena and Amalia, we combined the two.
What’s in your hospital bag?
I don’t find it necessary to share all the things I packed in my hospital bag because it’s basically like packing for a vacation. Plus the hospital gives you a lot to use. There are a handful of things that just made our time more comfortable.
- Your own pillow and one for your partner as well. The hospital pillows are paper thin. My pillow during labor and delivery made me more comfortable, especially once we got to the postpartum room. Bonus if it’s a silk pillowcase. It made my stay feel much more luxurious than the rough hospital sheets!
- Your own blanket and one for your partner as well. Just like the paper-thin hospital pillows, the “blankets” they give you are sheets. When my temperature was all over the place, I was freezing with what they offered.
- An amazon fire stick or Roku: We watched an entire season of Mad Men while I was in labor, and when I was delivering Athena, I had it on in the background. Essentially it was my focal point and a great distraction.
- A few more things that made my time more comfortable. A robe, a fresh pair of pajamas, shower shoes and a nursing or pumping bra
What was your first meal postpartum?
I had one request for Rhys after I delivered Athena, and that was what I was going to eat. JP Graziano’s Italian sub and BBQ chips. I wolfed that down and didn’t leave a single piece untouched. After almost 24 hours of eating broth and jello, plus nine months of not having lunch meat, an Italian sub never tasted so good.
Visitors and leaving the hospital
Athena had so many visitors while we were in the hospital. She met her Yiayia, Papa, Gigi, Papou, Thea Steph, Uncle Eric, and Aunt Mariann. We were lucky because the restrictions for visitors were changing again the day after we left!
Now what? Both nights we sent her to the nursery. Part of me thought I would have felt guilty, but I didn’t. I believe it is important to remember that your body also needs to recover, and sleep is an essential part of that recovery process. I am thankful for the wonderful nurses who took care of her while we got some rest. After all the help, the coaching on swaddling, feeding, diaper changing, etc., it was time to go home. It was time to start our new lives as a family of three in our new home!
Thank you for all of your kind words and congratulations as we welcomed Athena into this world! We are so in love! In the next blog post, I want to discuss all the things I have experienced post partum.