Esther Rose

 My last blog post was written as I glanced from the clock to my computer screen to make note of the space in between contractions that I recognized were a little more than the usual Braxton-Hicks contractions I easily dismissed on a regular basis.  They were enough that when I finished my post, I went to take a long shower to see if things would slow down.  They did and I went to hospital bag packed, no real plan in place in case they picked up again other than that I would throw some things together, text my doctor and head a mile and a half down the road to the familiar place where unspeakable joy has unfolded eight times before.  That is pretty much exactly how it happened too...
 ...with the addition of unnerving chills setting into my slumber sometime between when I laid my head down around 1:30 and when I finally forced myself out of bed around 5:30.  They seemed to plague me for at least that many hours, but I'm betting real time was much less.  I was so cold and shaking with such profound violence that I couldn't even consider climbing out of my covers, but I finally did because I couldn't ignore the fact that my contractions were closer together and reaching an uncomfortable level.  (I know full well when labor is truly close as they definitely change from uncomfortable to real pain).  I still had time.
I forced myself out of bed, still shaking intensely, put my things together, woke Tim and slipped out the door in the dark while the rest of the house was silent.  The warmth from the heater in the passenger seat calmed my shivering enough to allow my muscles to relax a bit and I welcomed the reprieve.  I was admitted to labor and delivery with a fever, which meant extra antibiotics, monitoring and made it necessary for the NICU team to be on standby.  This next part usually goes fairly quickly, so you can imagine my disdain when we had been there six hours with no real progress.  My desire to relax and just take a nap, conflicted with my desire to make an effort to get things moving.  I kept thinking of all the things I could be getting done at home if we would have stayed a little longer...but then again, I wouldn't have antibiotics on board to shake that fever either.  
I must admit that just because I have done this eight times before, my anxiety grew with each passing minute.  The memories of the intense pain and excruciating physical effort required seemed to become more and more amplified.  More than once I inquired about an epidural, even though I've not previously had one.  I'm not sure that my fear of the pain and effort is greater than my fear of an epidural.  In the end, I decided I could suck it up.  I'm sure that the adrenaline that follows produces such a euphoria that the pain and fatigue quickly evaporates.

 It really didn't last long once those contractions finally got going!  Intense contractions cause me to shift from being conversational to shutting down so I can pull all of that pain inside.  I tried to pray a Rosary, but I lost track where I was with every contraction.  I'm sure I probably prayed 100 Hail Marys and quite possibly nothing else.  I've always wished I could accurately describe the sensation of labor.  I have my own analogy but I'll keep it to myself to spare offering TMI. :)  I can say without a doubt though that no matter how many times I've experienced this miracle, it is new again every time.  The joy is truly immeasurable.
 No wonder the discomforts of pregnancy, labor and even delivery are erased with a single glimpse of this new little perfect despite any imperfection.  The tangible version of the ultrasound image and the outside visible version of those little feet and elbows that poked and prodded my belly for the last months leave me breathless each time.

 The NICU team was there but they didn't need to whisk her away at all.  She was just fine.  She required IV antibiotics as well because of my ambiguous infection, which also meant a full stay for us instead of being able to run out of there after 24 hours like I would prefer.
 My anxiety was for not.  The pain and effort were real but the beautiful result of both is too.
 The icing on the cake?  Our little Esther Rose, whose name we had chosen prior to her arrival, waited exactly a week past her due date to debut on her Great Grandma Esther's 86th birthday.
 Welcome to the world Esther Rose.  We're sure glad you were born!