Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The best and worst day of my life

Wow... I just realized my last post was over a month ago! Since a lot has changed since then, this post may be a little long.
Let's start with the most important and best news of our lives... our baby is here! Marla Rae Schmidt was born on December 26, 2010. She weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces and was 21 inches long. She is perfect and the new center of our lives.  
See?  I told you... perfect.

Now... how did we get here?The last few weeks of my pregnancy were wrought with misery, unfortunately. This was mostly unrelated to the pregnancy and almost entirely due to a massive cold that I caught early in December. I should say it started as a cold, but I quickly learned that I never knew what a cold was until I was 37 weeks pregnant. Silly me. It escalated into one upper respiratory infection after another (ear, sinus, throat). After a trip to urgent care, three separate trips to the ENT, two rounds of antibiotics, tubes in my ears, several days home from work, and countless pregnancy-approved drugs and remedies, I finally started feeling halfway human again, just in time for the holidays. 
Getting close to delivery! 39 weeks pregnant.
Here comes the exciting part. On Christmas Eve morning, I began having sporadic contractions. REAL contractions, not just the Braxton Hicks ones that I barely even noticed. The contractions intensified on Christmas Day, but quit after a while. I was up most of that night and began timing the contractions at 6:00 am on the 26th. I decided to do some housework and was emptying the dishwasher when my water broke! I woke Jeff up with the news... I've never seen him move so fast. He leapt out of bed, grabbed his wallet, threw on some jeans, and was ready to go. We got to the hospital by 7:00 am and were checked into a labor/delivery room. Labor throughout the morning was fairly manageable. Because my water had broken, they didn't want to check my cervix until they absolutely had to in order to minimize the chance of introducing bacteria into the birth canal. So Jeff and I watched movies while I contracted away, blissfully unaware of my progress. 
Here I am in labor. Notice how I'm still smiling? (That didn't last long.)

 By the time mid-afternoon came, I was in quite a bit of pain and assumed I must be almost ready to start pushing. No such luck. The doctor put me at four centimeters. I decided to prepare for my epidural by letting them get an IV with fluids started. Unfortunately, I went from four to eight centimeters so quickly that I sort of missed my window for the epidural, so I decided to skip the drugs. This ended up being a big mistake in my opinion, but whatever. At least I know for next time.

Speaking of next time... I'm pretty sure that in the middle of labor I told Jeff there would never BE a next time. I also did a lot of other things that I swore I would never do during labor. Like scream (a lot). And beg. And cry. And plead God for mercy. And tell the doctor, nurses, and anyone who would listen to just GET. IT. OUT. NOW. It was the most surreal, painful, and indescribable experience of my life. The medical staff called it a straightforward and "textbook" delivery. Straightforward??? If that's the case, I don't want to know what a difficult labor is like. Looking back, I'm proud of myself for surviving, and amazed that women go through this "straightforward" experience every day. I never gave my mother (and all mothers) enough credit until now.

I'll get to the part that made it all worthwhile. Our daughter was born at 6:56 pm. She came out pink, healthy, and with a great set of lungs. Both Jeff and I were utterly amazed that we could have made such a perfect baby.

From now on, I'm guessing most of my blog posts will be devoted to Marla and everything that makes her special. Here are a few things to help you get to know her:

1. She is named for two of her great-grandfathers: Jeff's Grandpa Marland Schmidt and my Grandpa Raymond Terwilliger.
2. She loves to snuggle and be walked around and hates baths and sitting still for any amount of time.
3. She nurses like a champ and is gaining lots of weight to prove it.
4. She gets the hiccups about three times a day, but takes it all in stride.
5. She has Jeff's big feet and my long fingers.
6. She sleeps well at night, but keeps us awake with various newborn noises that we're not accustomed to yet, along with some grunting and straining that the doctor has attributed to gas.
7. She is a tough cookie, as evidenced by her ability to stay healthy despite both Jeff and myself getting the flu shortly after arriving home from the hospital (thank goodness for Grandma Pam's help!).
8. She scowls just like her mommy and eats just like her daddy.
9. She is very alert and bright-eyed while she's awake, which seems to be a LOT.
10. She is nothing that we expected and more than we ever hoped for. :)

 Lots more pictures to come, but here's one of my favorites, taken a few days after her birth.
Welcome to the world, Marla Rae!