Katelyn Jael Rapp is here! She was nine months in the making and worth every ache and pain. There were a lot of these, though, and while I hear that the memories of the intensity of labor fade, I’m still waiting. Looking down at her little nose, her constantly curling and uncurling fingers, her eyes blinking open after a long nap, it’s still sometimes hard to believe that she is ours. It’s hard to believe that I was pregnant this time last week.
Thoughts on labor:
Apparently my body doesn’t believe in half-hearted or slowly progressing contractions. Saturday I had contractions every 2-3 minutes for 10 hours that died down early Sunday morning. By the time I got to the hospital to start my Pitocin drip Sunday night, contractions were back at five minutes apart and soon reached every 3 minutes again. Because of this I was one tired cookie during labor.
I know there are many opinions out there, but personally I am a fan of epidurals. The worst thing about it was that I started a contraction just as the anesthesiologist began the injection and it took all my concentration and the help of a nurse to keep me still. But after precious little sleep the previous two nights and several hours of awful back labor due to Katelyn being posterior, I was so glad to get the epidural. I was able to sleep a bit, I was able to continue moving and turning sides in bed so that Katelyn was no longer posterior when it came time to push, and my body relaxed enough to dilate much quicker than I had been before.
Pushing is hard, hard work. I had mentally “prepared” for different aspects of labor, but pushing was nothing like I had imagined. Either my epidural was on a slow drip or it had started wearing off, because I could feel almost everything. Amazing how an hour and a half can feel like an eternity, and it’s amazing that God gives women that extra strength they didn’t know they had at the end to get through. Also, uncontrollable labor and recovery shakes are a real thing.
My husband is a rock star coach. We went to a birthing class together, but since then we haven’t really practiced or talked about it. Yet somehow he knew exactly what I needed during contractions and pushing. He also knew when to take over from a rather unhelpful nurse (lets just say that nurses should ban the word forever from their laboring vocabulary).
Other than that particular nurse, who unfortunately was with me during the beginning of both hard labor and pushing, everyone on the medical staff that we encountered was amazing. Even so, by the end of our hospital stay we were so ready to be home. As wonderful as everyone was, sterile rooms and nurses and doctors coming in at all hours made us thrilled when we walked back in the door of our quiet apartment.
When they first put Katelyn on my stomach so they could clean her off, all I could do was say her name several times. It was so surreal. I think I was still surprised that I actually pushed her out and didn’t need a c-section. The minutes after her birth are a blur; I was conscious of the doctor stitching me up, of nurses around Katelyn’s incubator trying to clear her lungs, of Peter going back and forth between us. It wasn’t until several minutes had passed and I saw Peter hold her for the first time that I really realized that our baby girl was finally here. And then, at last, the calm moment when they put her on my chest and she looked up at me, her little blue eyes blinking at me. I’m a mother.
48 hours of contractions, 12 hours of active labor, a wonderful husband, great medical staff and, most importantly, a merciful Heavenly Father brought this little bundle of beauty into my world. Am I ready to do it again? Not quite. But the overwhelming joy and love I feel for my daughter is enough to make me know that I will be. And probably sooner than I think.