It’s crazy how fast life can change. One day our reality was never ending morning sickness and painful swelling to a beautiful 8lb 6 ounce baby girl. Madison Christine entered our world on June 29 and we love her more than I could ever imagine. Ever since that first full day in the hospital I have been trying to accurately put into words how I have been feeling. When people say your life changes, that is such an understatement in the best way possible.
I want to remember every aspect of this sweet season. And while my memories seem so clear now, I know soon enough they will be a distant memory. So if you are one of those people that enjoy long pregnancy and birth stories then keep reading below! But for now, Ethan and I would love to introduce you to our sweet Madison.
We had a rough 9 months leading up to meeting Madison. I remember looking down at that positive pregnancy test on November 1 and being scared but also so excited. After about 20 minutes and a big pep talk in the bathroom with both dogs as my audience, I decided I couldn’t wait another minute to tell Ethan. So at roughly 5:30am, I crawled back into bed and woke him up by handing him the test.
In the almost complete darkness and his unadjusted eyes, he didn’t know what was happening. Initially he assumed that Tucker had destroyed yet another belonging. But after a few minutes and complete silence from me, it clicked. He was holding a positive pregnancy test. I wish I would have counted how many times he made me promise this wasn’t a joke and to reaffirm that I wouldn’t pull a prank like that at 5:30 in the morning. We were both so excited yet nervous and scared as hell!
Just a few weeks into November, the morning sickness started. I read so many articles about how this just meant we had a strong pregnancy. And while in my heart I knew that was a good thing it didn’t make my day pass any quicker. I talked to my doctor more times than I can count and googled various ways to relieve this not so glamorous side of growing a baby. Nothing seemed to help. Not the dozens of recommendations from friends and family or the first, second…or third prescription given to me by my doctor.
But as every day passed, all I heard was that it would be over by 12 weeks. Well 12 weeks passed and so did 16 and then 20 with no relief in sight. 27 weeks of morning sickness later and we were finally starting to see the light! And then the acid reflux sickness kicked in at about 29 weeks! Mentally and emotionally, it was hard to stay positive in that season but we knew the end was near and then we would meet this precious little one.
My weekly appointments started changing to bi weekly. The doctor’s were concerned that I wouldn’t be able to deliver this baby without complications. At the time, she was measuring in the 97 percentile and estimated to be at least 9lbs and the fluids around her were starting to drop. After consulting with some experts in Lacrosse, it was decided the safest route would be to deliver in Lacrosse instead of Decorah. I was shocked. Due to COVID, Ethan wasn’t allowed to attend the appointments with me. So I sat and took notes on everything they were telling me. The possible complications I could have and the risks and scary issues that would involve for the baby.
On Tuesday, June 23 we had our first appointment in Lacrosse. I remember thinking there was no way I could make that drive while in labor. Ethan and I were both scared about what would happen if we went into labor naturally with the hospital being an hour and a half away. But we were trying to put our trust in our ever growing team of doctors. And after some discussion, it was decided I would be induced at 39 weeks on July 2.
Just three days later, I had another follow up appointment in Decorah to check my fluid levels. It was a fairly quick appointment which I was thankful for. I left the clinic and headed to get a quick lunch before heading home. I wasn’t even five miles away from the clinic when I got a call from Gundersen. My fluids had dropped again and it was decided that I would be induced that day.
I remember the shock and just trying to remain focused on all that they were telling me. But my mind was spinning. I thought I had more time! I mean just a couple days before we had decided on at least one more week. Mentally I wasn’t ready. But I was being told to head home and wait on a call from Lacrosse for when I should come in to be induced.
There was a tear filled call to Ethan. A quick trip into Walmart to replace the hospital bag Tucker had destroyed the night before. And the longest drive home I have ever experienced. I remember repacking and trying to remember all the things I had coming up that I would need to reschedule. Then after a quick shower, Ethan and I were on the road to Lacrosse.
We needed to check into the hospital at 6:30pm so we hung out at my sister-in-laws house for a few hours. I think I was still in shock. It didn’t seem real that we would be parents by the end of the weekend. But as we made our way to the hospital and were directed to labor and deliver it all started to sink in and I was scared.
At 8:00pm I started the induction process with a balloon after it was determined I was already having mild contractions. I was told it would force me to dilate to at least a three or four. So every few hours it was checked and at 9:00am Saturday morning it was out and I was started on low levels of Pitocin. After 9 hours and my Pitocin at a level 20, nothing had changed. So it was decided they would give my body a break for the night. So I was then given a pill to start to soften things and get the process going at around 7:30pm. Two more pills later and a never ending stream of nurses checking my vitals and monitors, at 9:00am Sunday morning we started back on the Pitocin.
By around 3:00pm we had gotten back up to around a level 16 of the Pit with little change when it was decided they would break my water. By 3:45, I finally understood what a REAL contraction feels like. And for me, it felt like someone was taking a sledgehammer straight to my back every two minutes!
So with my contractions about a minute and a half to 2 minutes apart, we opted to try the nitrous as our first form of pain relief. And let me tell you folks, it was just the right amount to take the edge off! But eventually that was no longer enough as my contractions grew stronger. So after three hours, we switched to an IV pain medication at 9:45pm. Within about 15 minutes I realized this wasn’t doing anything for me. If anything I felt my contractions MORE than when I did on the nitrous. All I remember was telling Ethan that I didn’t think I could do this as we waited for the meds to kick in. Spoiler alert they never really did and by 10:30, we asked for the epidural and by 11:15pm it was in.
I can honestly say that Sunday night was one of the longest nights of my life. Every time Maddie moved, my monitors would need to be readjusted to better pick up her heartbeat. So while I didn’t sleep much, poor Ethan had been sleeping on a glorified futon for the past few days so at least I had a somewhat comfier bed!
By 9:30am on Monday, my whole body was shaking and I felt so weak. I remember telling Ethan that if the doctor came back and I wasn’t dilated to a 10 I was ready for a c-section. The thought of getting all the way through labor and not having the strength to push out this big baby terrified me. I knew I would never forgive myself if Maddie got stuck and suffered because I didn’t have the strength to get her out. When the doctor came in at around 10:30am, I could barely keep my eyes open. I was praying to be at least a 6. Literally anything other than her telling me I was still at a 4 after two full days.
At 10:40am the nurses prepped the room and we began pushing. I remember being in pain with each contraction but so relieved because FINALLY it felt like something I had control over. We had been in this exact same room since Friday night but now I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I had been through so much over the past 9 months and this felt like my last hurdle to overcome.
After just over an hour of pushing, the doctor said in just a couple more pushes you will get to meet your little miracle. And that was just the extra motivation I needed. I remember being so hopeful and terrified at the same time. I never screamed but I do remember the constant encouragement pouring into my ears from both Ethan and the medical team. Then just like that the doctor said, “The head is out annnnnd her shoulders…congratulations!”
The doctor held her up and Ethan told me I was right all along, it was a girl. They laid her on my chest and it just didn’t seem real. While I could only see the top of her head, she was beautiful and she was here. I delivered an 8lb 6 ounces baby girl without any issues. I never cried. But I remember Ethan asking multiple times if I could see her and if she looked like the name we had planned.
Our birth story was nothing like I had imagined it to be. And I definitely never imagined how long it would be either! But I can honestly say I don’t even care because it was beautiful and exactly how it was supposed to be. We are so thankful for the amazing team of doctors and nurses at Gundersen in Lacrosse. I can’t say enough positive things about how they made me feel during our stay. When the doubts and discouragements started creeping into my mind, they were always there. They were the greatest gifts to me.
I have never met a core group of people who are doing what they were born to do. I could do an entire post about all the little things they did that made a MASSIVE impact on our story. But I will leave that for a different day. Instead I will simply thank them for the never ending encouragement when I needed it most, for always using language I could understand and re-explaining things when I didn’t fully understand and for always believing that I was strong and capable even when I didn’t feel like it.
We are so thankful. And while we may be a little sleep deprived now, Ethan and I love being parents to this precious little girl and we are cherishing these first few weeks together as a family. Life is so so good.