Although a little later than everyone anticipated (mama, family, and doctors included!), our little Marina was born on May 21st, 2017 at 3:28am. She weighed 7.1 pounds and measured 50cm, and still takes my breath away now just the same as when I first laid eyes on her! After a less than easy pregnancy, I thank God every day for blessing me with this beautiful little girl. We have been through everything from fractured ribs, to liver pain and sciatica together, with scares for preeclampsia, nerve damage, and blood clots appearing along the way! I have never been more in love in my life though and would do it all over again for my little princess!
Marina was originally due on May 12th but we expected to meet her much sooner due to mama’s fractured ribs (obtained from a combination of a growing baby and a nasty flu!); I remember the doctor telling me that if I were 35 weeks pregnant (I was 28 weeks pregnant then), this baby would be coming out to meet her mama NOW! We are so fortunate that things got better with mama on bedrest though, and were thrilled when Marina made it to full term!
The week after is what really surprised us though. After 39 weeks, we did our first membrane sweep… and nothing! Apparently things were very tight and we were only a finger nail dilated. When we returned four days later, we did a second membrane sweep and were only 1cm dilated! Third times a charm? Nope! At our third appointment and membrane sweep, we were still only 1.5cm dilated and the doctor was sure it was going to take A LOT of prostaglandin gel to get the labour party started! I prayed and prayed all week long that my baby girl would arrive at her own will but here we were on Saturday, May 20th and still no sign of our little angel!
At this point, I was 41 weeks pregnant and tired of all of my pregnancy side effects! Just ask anyone in my family, ESPECIALLY my mom, hahaha! I was also terrified that the hospital would forget about me and not call to tell me to come in (thank you, allegedly busy long weekend). However, at 8:32am, I received my much anticipated phone call from the hospital telling me to come in for my prostaglandin gel induction. I remember being thrilled to receive the call and told my husband to start triple and quadruple checking the hospital bags (one for us and a diaper bag for baby) and loading up that cooler while I bolted for the shower!
We parked in emergency and purchased four hours of parking, JUST in case! When we arrived, we did the same old pH strip routine and then had our vitals checked (blood pressure, contractions, and baby’s heart rate) and awaited the infamous prostaglandin! I’m incredibly fortunate that I actually had a friend undergo the same routine five days prior to my induction, so texting with her all week really helped ease my nerves about the whole induction process (the doctors made it sound pretty scary as did the mommy forums I had stayed up reading for hours on end the week prior to, while my husband calmly slept beside me). When the gel was inserted, I definitely felt a warming sensation and within about 15 minutes, I began to experience what I considered to be “cramping” at the time. However, in hindsight, I remember the nurse asking me if I could feel my contractions prior to the gel application and I didn’t feel a darn thing! She was impressed as there were a few of them going on even prior to the gel. I remember thinking then, geez, if this is what contractions feel like, this will be a piece of cake! OH GIRL, was I wrong!
After one hour of being monitored, I remember feeling incredibly uncomfortable and squeamish and my husband thought right then that we were going into labour. Sweetheart, I know you love to hear this whenever the opportunity arises… you were RIGHT! When we were released from the hospital, we were told to come back in six hours from gel application for our second dose at 5pm. We briefly stopped at my parents house on the way home as I wanted to see everyone pre-baby for the last time; we only stayed for about half hour to take a few photos of my husband and I as well as a few more me and my sister (38 weeks pregnant at the time!). The “cramps” just continued to get worse and worse and I couldn’t wait to be at home, taking a nap!!
As I had experienced many Braxton Hicks contractions before being induced, I started to doubt myself as to what real contractions would feel like. I figured if I had been feeling these constantly for nearly two weeks prior to induction, maybe they weren’t contractions at all!
We were induced at 11am and by 3:30pm, I was having some of the worst pain of my life! My husband insisted that those must be contractions whereas I started thinking that maybe the pain was all in my head! We were in the car by 4:00pm for a very hellish drive!! I felt every bump in the road, every turn, and every brake! It was awful! And my poor hubby, trying his best to keep me calm, did his best not to pull up next to other vehicles and drive as gently but quickly as he could. Once we arrived at the hospital, I remember paying for parking seemed like the longest task EVER. I held myself up against the car door while my husband waited for the older woman paying for her emergency parking to finish up!
When we reached the maternity ward, we were also not told that there was a buzzer we needed to hit before being let in, so wandering back and forth along the halls felt like eternity as we looked for a nurse to tell us where the heck we should check in!
I remember not being able to speak or gather my thoughts as I tried to speak with the nurse behind the counter; all I said was that I was supposed to come back for 5pm for another dose of prostaglandin and they managed to pull up my details while my husband left to check us back in downstairs.
Again, I was laid down to have my vitals checked but this time, the pain was just excruciating. The first nurse I had was absolutely lovely though and contained to call me pet names like “sweetie” as we worked together to get me into a hospital robe. Note to expecting moms, DON’T pack your own gown! You’ll probably never get to it unless you are having a planned C-section.
By this time, my husband returned to find me breathing through contractions while hooked up to vital machines and being observed by this same lovely nurse. She noted then and there that I was having A LOT of contractions with minimal breaks in between. When the resident doctor arrived, she checked me out to find that we were 3cm dilated and fully effaced and thus, not leaving the hospital until after baby arrived! As the contractions did start to get worse and worse though, they suggested laughing gas as a way to cope through them before our delivery room was ready. While I do actually recommend using this to get through the pain, I would consider it more of a psychological tool that helps your brain focus on another activity to help you cope. I do remember feeling INCREDIBLY dizzy immediately after my first few “hits” though!
We were moved into the delivery room almost immediately, while other women were being sent home, and I remember thinking, thank God! I must have pretty good pain tolerance to be here at 3cm rather than the 1cm dilated I had heard the doctors tell the other two patients they were at. Again, wrong thought!! While we tried laughing gas combined with rocking back and forth, standing, sitting up, walking, and even almost a shower to calm the pain, things just became more and more painful. When the nurses who would be helping to deliver our baby arrived, they checked to see how I was doing and measured me once again… one hour had past and we were STILL only 3cm dilated!! However, the two nurses did note that my contractions were abnormally frequent and that I was experiencing between 6-8 every 10 minutes at this time (later on, they began to occur consistently at 8 every 10 minutes)! I didn’t ask for an epidural, it was offered to me! And I replied, YES!!
When Dr. Ho arrived (amazing, I know!) to insert the epidural, I was in the worst pain of my life and I remember jumping just before he put the needle into my back as I was having another contraction! The nurses said I was having triple peaks (lasting over a minute each although it felt like eternity) with zero breaks in between and thus, this was the reason labour was so painful at this time. When the epidural kicked in, I felt amazing! I couldn’t believe what relief it brought and was shocked that everyone doesn’t choose to go this route! I could have pushed for 30 hours!! I was laughing, having the time of my life, and even conversing with the nurses about my pregnancy experience and their experiences in their workplace. I remember telling one nurse that I wanted to give her and the epidural a high five!! Hahaha. But amazingly, I could still feel my show and a desire to push that came around 8cm.
My husband and I hung out with the nurse for a few more hours and when she went on break, another one replaced her. I remember not being crazy about this dark haired woman at first as she questioned why we were induced after only one week late! Oh, if she only knew! I remember feeling irritated by this comment as well considering the fact that WE ARE ALREADY IN LABOUR!!! She did have some pretty good suggestions though including trying this variation of a birthing ball called “the peanut”, “tag team yoga”, as my husband calls it (he presses down firmly on my left leg while I laid on my back while the nurse pressed firmly on my right leg), and the one that got the job done, the birth bar!
On our main nurse’s second break, this dark haired nurse returned again and we were checked out again by the head nurse to find that my dilation had increased to 9.5cm. My urge to push just kept getting stronger and stronger though and the second nurse told me to just go for it when I felt the urge. Both she and my husband could tell from the looks on my face and nods I would give before pushing; I tried to push in sets of threes (and sometimes fours!) each time the desire grew stronger and counted to 10 with each one. Although I’m sure they say it to every woman in labour, her words of encouragement in telling me how strong I was and being amazed that we were actually making progress despite an epidural, made me feel so empowered! Apparently she could already see the head as they were on the phone with the doctor!
From the time of our doctor’s arrival to Marina’s birth, we pushed for something like half to one hour. My husband was just incredible during the entire experience as well and his words of encouragement, kissing me, and telling me how amazing I am and how much he loves me are what I believe helped me to focus in and get those pushes out in threes! Each time they asked me for one more big push, I wanted to give them two! And with my husband gently caressing my arm and forehead and bringing me water and ice chips, our labour lasted only about 12 hours (from those terrible contractions at home) until birth (16 hours total from the time of induction).
When the doctor and nurse offered to have me touch her head on her way out and a mirror, I remember responding with “that’s just ___ weird” (you fill in the blank)! We all had a good laugh and baby girl was born in what felt like a couple of minutes afterwards.
While I’ve heard others say that labour seemed to last forever, I truly feel like mine just flew by (besides that one hour we spent at 3cm dilated and triple contractions). It was an incredible experience and made me feel so empowered; from the moment I saw my little girl, I knew it was time to only say yes to what I really want and that absolutely nothing would ever get in my way when it comes to protecting her!
When Marina made her way into the world, I had no idea she was out; the adrenaline dump that came after the shaking that started when my body went into pushing mode was starting and I remember being complete out of it. I just remember seeing a tiny dark figure across from me and being in utter disbelief that I had just pushed out a tiny person! While you’re pregnant, you know you’re carrying a baby, but to actually see your special little someone across the room from you with your own eyes, turns everything into a reality. I remember thinking, “this is the most amazing thing I have ever seen”!
As we didn’t know the gender of our baby, the doctor announced it was a girl by saying “look what baby doesn’t have”, and I remember being so woozy, I had no idea what she was talking about! It took me a moment and my husband to point out that “its a girl!!”. I was overjoyed and when they handed her to me in her beat up green towel and crappy little yellow hospital hat, I just cried! This was the special little someone who had been living inside of me for all of these months! This is the special little someone who I learned I was pregnant with in Zagreb, Croatia, where my ancestry is from! This little girl and I had been through so much together from illness to aches and pains (and painkillers, like morphine, which I was terrified of taking but was prescribed for my rib pain) and here she was! She was just beautiful! She was absolutely perfect. I remember looking into those big brown newborn eyes (though they have since changed to blue) and telling her I was her mama and would always protect her. I fell in love right then and there! I wanted to go out and upgrade our sale priced Graco Glider to a MamaRoo! I wanted to buy a house the very next day! My God, I wanted to give this little girl everything and I still do!
Nursing her for the first time was also an incredible feeling; while tato (daddy) had cut the umbilical cord, this little princess would still be dependent on me for months to feed and years to come for emotional, well-being, and financial support among other things. She would rely on me to become a strong and independent woman! Oh my God! She will be in college before I know it, I thought! And then suddenly, everything my mom ever did for me clicked in! Mom, I REALLY get it now! All I want to do is guide her and raise her to the best of my ability in the ways I know how and the ways in which my incredible mother taught me.
Being a mother really changes you! It changes everything!! From the moment I first saw my little Marina, I felt a shift in who I was. Being Marina’s mother is not my job, its my identity. My little girl completes me and even though we spend most of our days napping, changing diapers, cleaning spit up, and nursing 10 days in, I wouldn’t trade the incredible time I get to spend with my daughter for anything in the world. I love my baby girl so much and thank God for blessing me with her every second of the day!