Lily's due date was December 24th, and about 2 weeks before that my OB had suggested that we do an induction on the 21st. I was seeing a high-risk OB because I have an autoimmune disease called myasthenia gravis that causes muscle weakness. The pregnancy had gone great thus far, but my doctor just wanted to make sure we had a controlled delivery in case any problems came up. We had an exam on December 15th and the doctor determined I wasn't quite ready for the induction, so we scheduled it for Dec. 28th instead. I was a little bummed, since by then I was VERY ready to no longer be pregnant and meet our baby. But I was glad that the doctor wasn't forcing anything along.
Well it seems that Lily heard the original date and decided that she was sticking to it regardless of what the doctor thought. December 21st turned out to be the last full day of my pregnancy. I went out that afternoon for a walk to Davis Square to do some Christmas shopping. I had heard that walking helped to get labor moving. That evening I went to bed feeling a little odd - I can't really put my finger on it - I just had a feeling something might be happening. As it turns out I never really got to sleep that night. I was more uncomfortable than usual and by 2AM was pretty sure I was having contractions. They weren't very strong, but they were coming pretty close together - about 3 to 5 minutes apart right from the start. At 3:30 I woke up Gordon and we stared timing together. I though that my water may have broken, but couldn't really tell. Finally at 4:30 we gave in and called the doctor. She suggested that we head into the hospital to see what was going on.
We got into the hospital and settled into a labor & delivery room by 6AM. I was half-convinced we'd be sent home, but after a quick exam a resident determined that there was a tear in my membrane and I was indeed in labor. So it was the real thing after all! Our L&D nurse Maria came on at 7AM and stayed with us pretty much all day - she was so awesome - we can't thank her enough. The contractions came regularly and steadily all morning, slowly growing in intensity. There was talk of pitocin to keep labor moving, but I never ended up needing it. Gordon was a great coach and between the two of us and a deck of Snoopy cards we were cranking along. By 11AM I was 5cm dilated and nearly 100% effaced. That's about when the contractions were painful enough that I could get past my fear of having an epidural put in. So at 11:30 the anesthesiologist came in and with some coaching from Maria I was good to go. Now the contractions got MUCH easier and I was able to catch a little shut-eye.
The afternoon sped by and around 4PM the epidural started to wear off a bit. We started talking to Dr. Bayer about the next stage. Because of my MG she was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to push the baby out on my own. So she had planned to let her birth down and then use forceps to assist. But we had to decide - we were going to up the anesthesia so I could tolerate a forceps delivery or let it wear off so I could push. I decided that I wanted to try pushing so we started doing that around 5PM. The first half hour was crazy hard - wow, but I did manage to make progress. So we kept going. My memory here gets fuzzy, but I know that sometime after 5:30 I moved onto my side and things progressed pretty quickly from there. Before I knew it Maria was out in the hallway calling the doctors in and suddenly the room was full. Gordon and I were accompanied by: 2 nurses, 2 residents, Dr. Bayer (our OB), 2 doctors from NICU and an anesthesiologist. Next thing I knew I mustered up a couple of more pushes and out came our baby!
Meeting Lily for the first time was such an amazing experience - I'm sure I can't do it justice here. Her birth was such a beautiful and awe-inspiring event - I cant' believe that I was afraid of childbirth going into it. I mean, sure, it was hard at times and while pushing I didn't think I could possibly do this, but wow all that paled in comparison to the moment when Lily arrived in the world. We didn't know her gender before she got here, so I guess the first emotion was processing that we had a little girl! Unfortunately, because of the MG the NICU doctors took Lily right away and checked her out. There was some concern of neo-natal myasthentia. But she was absolutely fine and they were gone from the room in minutes. Finally she was given to me and I got to look into her eyes for the first time. How amazing to meet this little person who had been living inside me for all this time. Gordon and I were both just awe-struck, actually we're still pretty much feeling the same way.