February 19, 2018, as cheesy as it is, was the day my life changed. Ariel came into our lives at 3:51pm on a Monday afternoon. She was tiny and perfect and came with 6 pounds 3.4 ounces of emotions and love I had no idea I was capable of. To say it was the best day of my life is complicated. Yes, my baby girl coming into the world was both my husband and I’s earth shattering happy moment. But that day was not full of happiness and joy. Let me rewind and explain.
Two weeks before we met Ariel, I had my routine Doctor’s appointment to check how both of us girls were doing. The Doctor was pleased with my health, and Ariel’s heartbeat was strong, but he was a bit worried about the length she was measuring at. He wanted to be sure that she was finishing the race strong and healthy. He ordered us an additional ultrasound to check her size the following week. The ultrasound showed that, although healthy, she was small. The Doctor said that she had gotten what she needed from me on the inside, and was ready to continue growing in the real world. He scheduled an induction two days later, which was the day I turned 39 weeks pregnant. We were shocked, excited and extremely nervous. The next two days were filled with last minute preparation and lots of “last time it’s just the two of us,” cuddles. We left for the hospital Sunday evening feeling prepared, but we definitely were not.
My body was nowhere near naturally giving birth, which made for a difficult start to the induction. After about an hour of working to start the process, the Doctor sent me home for the evening. He told me to return in the morning to start the second phase of induction. I was planning on getting some dinner, getting plenty of sleep and a good breakfast before heading back to the hospital…but that did not happen. About 2 hours after leaving the hospital my contractions began. They weren’t so bad at first, just some discomfort that lasted less than a minute. At about the 4-hour mark I was crying in the bathtub clinging to my newfound labor mantra, “No no no, I can’t do this.” The pain was so intense. My contractions were a minute long with about a minute break in between. We called the Doctor to see if this was normal and they told us to come back in. Here’s the kicker, I was 1 centimeter dilated. Before this moment I had wanted a natural birth, but that plan changed pretty quickly. I stayed at the hospital that night, was given a small dose of morphine and slept like a baby. The next morning, I was able to shower, change into a nightgown of my own, and prepare for the Pitocin (The drug used to kick your body into high-baby birthing-gear).
To make the story short, I began Pitocin at 6am, and I asked for my epidural at about 10am. After some sleep and some change in positions, I was told that I was running a fever, which meant that Ariel was running a fever as well. This was not good. My Doctor came in around 3:00pm and told me that if when she checked me I was not close to full-dilation, that we need would need to discuss other options. Thankfully, when she checked I was more than ready to start pushing! It was happening, I instantly became terrified. This was the part I was nervous about, and it was here!
My Doctor coached me the best way that I could imagine! Ariel entered the world in 20 minutes and about 4 pushes. She came out with her cord wrapped once around her chest and twice around her neck. This sounds alarming, but the Doctor quickly unwrapped her like it was nothing! Ariel cried a few moments later, but not enough. The nurses had to work to get her to cry long and hard enough to get the fluid out of her lungs, which took a while, but she was real and she was beautiful. Our baby girl was finally in the world.
That initial skin-to-skin time is something mommy’s everywhere plan for and dream about. Finally holding your sweet newborn and instantly working on the bond between mom and baby. Oh, how I wanted that precious time. But, that was not how our story played out. Ariel was taken instantly to start antibiotics through an IV due to the fever she ran at the end of labor. This was supposed to take minutes, but it ended up taking 2 hours. It was 90 minutes before I was able to look at her, hold her, touch her or meet her. She was across the room and all I was able to do was look at the pictures my husband took and listen to her little cries. The nurses were having a hard time getting the IV in. They called anyone who has ever put an IV in to try on my sweet girl. I was in tears (gotta love those postpartum hormones), dying to touch her. At the hour and a half mark the Anesthesiologist realized that it had been longer than anticipated and offered me 15 minutes with my girl. To say those precious minutes were indescribable is an understatement. I was able to feed her, kiss her and smell her until she was taken again for another 45 minutes before she finally had her IV and we could be moved to our room.
Friends and family know; this was not the end to Ariel’s start of life story. But, that is for another time. Ariel Noelle Locke shattered any prediction we had of how we would feel as new parents. Having your heart in front of you, in your arms, is the most beautiful and terrifying thing ever. We were so ready to be her parents and love her with every fiber of our being. Man, were we unprepared for what happened next.
“Children Are a Gift From the Lord; They are a Reward From Him.” Psalm 127:3