All my girls were overdue - Link was a week early because my water broke - so I was surprised that I was actually dilated to a 2+ at 38 weeks and a 3 at 39 weeks, so we were able to set an induction date. In our family we have birthdays on the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th, so I thought it would be neat to see if we could have her on the 8th if she didn't come by then. Well, she didn't come by then :) I had pretty strong and painful contractions, but they were never regular, so the 8th it was!
4 am was the induction time. Honestly, it could have been anytime in the night because I didn't get more than an hour of sleep. I was emotional, excited, grateful. Jason gave me a beautiful blessing and I was truly looking forward to meeting our new baby girl. We got up about 3:15, prayed, ate, gathered our few last-minute things, took some pics and off we went to the hospital. I made sure to bring my pictures of Link & the girls, as well as wear my Link bracelet & earrings. Thanks to mom who stayed with the girls in the morning & got them off to school!
Once we got there & situated, they checked me (I was a 4) and started the pitocin about 5am. My deal with this pregnancy was that if I went into labor completely on my own, I would try & go natural, but if my water was broken or I had to get pitocin, bring on the epidural. I had the same anesthesiologist as I had with Link for my epidural & it was, once again, fabulous. I could move my legs, but had no pain. Which was, again, a very good thing for all they had to do at the end. At about 8:30 or so, my midwife came in and broke my water & stripped my membranes. After that the contractions were coming faster. Her heartrate decelerated when the contractions came, so I turned on my side for a while & my other side for another while. At about 10am the nurse checked me and I was at an 8. Yay! But the heartrate was decelerating even more with every contraction - into the 60s & 70s. I really got worried when I'd hear her regular little galloping heartbeat & then the contractions would come and it would really slow down to sound like an adult heartbeat. My midwife came & decided that I needed to have that baby right away. Also - they had seen some meconium leaking & wanted to get her here. Well, apparently (like Link) she was posterior and took some convincing to turn. So I pushed on my back, then on my side, while Jason was trying to push my tummy to one side as I pushed her out. Everything was just kind of crazy for a bit. They called Dr. Polson - our peditrician - and he came running. The heartrate still seemed way too slow. And in between pushes, I looked up at the ceiling, the bright lights, and I prayed. I pleaded that Link would be there to get his baby sister here safely. I pleaded she would be okay and these medical professionals would know what to do. After she had turned, I was able to push her out (10:50 am), and I watched as my midwife untangled her from her cord. It was around her neck, under her arm, and around her leg. Scary. But she was finally, finally here. And she was okay. And I was SO grateful.
They placed her little purple body on my chest and I cried as I held her. I knew Link had been there, and somehow I felt his pure joy that his sister was here. He had done his job - he had watched over her and brought her safely into mortality. She must not have been that happy about it, though, because she screamed & screamed! For a good half hour to an hour, that baby girl let us know that she wasn't so happy about being here :-) It didn't bother me, though, because just hearing her cries was such a blessing. They let me hold her for quite a while & didn't take her from me until I wanted to see how much she weighed. 7 lbs 13 oz. 20 inches long. And the hair! Both Jason & I had had dreams of this little one and in both of them, she had a lot of dark hair, so it made me smile to see her exactly as we had pictured her. She was definitely the spirit we had been waiting for.
The girls came to see their baby sister at the hospital after school and were so very excited to finally meet Noelle. The first thing McKinley said was "I get to hold her without all the wires?" I smiled a sad smile when she said that. Their experience with their brother was so different. I was thankful that they were able to hold her without the wires. She had to stay an extra day to be under the lights for jaundice, and Ireland really wasn't happy about that. Even though we assured her that jaundice is common & she would be able to come home the next day, she said "how do you know? How do you know you'll be able to come home?" Oh - the lingering fears. She's known another reality and surely hasn't forgotten it. Thankfully we were able to come home the next day (April 10th). I carried her carseat out and the nurse commented on how fast I was walking for someone who just gave birth. I smiled, but in my mind I was thinking of a year and a half ago, when it took almost 2 months to be able to do what I was doing - walk out of the hospital with my baby in their carseat - and I was going to get out of there as fast as I could before someone could stop me! :)
Noelle is 6 days old now. She is so so precious. I am cherishing this time with her - nursing her, watching her sleepy smiles, loving how she already seems so intent to focus on you or the fan or the light coming in through the windows. Since she came so fast, she had a lot of fluid still in her that took a good 3 days for her to cough up. We're glad she's done with that & seems to be eating, sleeping and pooping well :)
As for my anxieties, they are there. I still check on her a lot in the night and during the day - even more than I did with McKinley - and even though I have the Snuza monitor on her. I am intent to make sure she is breathing. Watching her chest rise and fall is what soothes my heart.
A day or two ago, I took Noelle to her brother's grave. I told her about her wonderful, beautiful, brave brother. And I cried. I talked to Link, too. Thanked him for watching over his baby sister - and asking him to continue to do so. I cried as I told him how thankful I am for her - and how much I still love and miss him. I told him that he will never, ever be forgotten. And of how I am going to close my eyes when I kiss Noelle's sweet cheek and pretend I'm kissing both of them. I truly hope they will share a bond in this life and that she will teach me even more about him and his mission here.
Overall, I am surprised at just how much joy she has brought me & our family. And, like I said, I have felt very strongly that Link is overjoyed she is here as well. I know it's strange, but I swear every picture I see him in lately, he seems to be smiling bigger & brighter. No - her entrance does not take away the pain and the dark night of grief - but having a baby to hold, to nurse, to kiss, to smell, to memorize... it helps. It heals. The name "Noelle" (Noel) means "birthday of our Lord." We believe that Jesus was actually born in the spring - in April - so this fit perfectly (and starts with an "N," so now we have names that start with H, I, J, K, L, M & N) :) and just as the Savior's birth brought so much healing and hope, Noelle's birth has also brought that for our family. She is most undoubtedly my sunrise baby. Heard this song (can you tell that songs are one way the Spirit speaks directly to my soul?) the other day & it is PERFECT. My favorite line is "You alone can resurrect this heart of mine." Of course that line & this song is about the Savior - and He above all can heal me - and His gift of this sweet new soul is also part of that hope. That promise of love and light. With Easter this week, I am finding more hope, healing, and love than I have in quite a while.