At 1:18 this morning, Riley Grace Maroon officially turned 1 week old! This past week has been both the most incredible and most difficult week of my life. It has been incredible because I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl on the planet, motherhood is a powerfully amazing thing, and because I have fallen so deeply in love with my husband in watching him be a father. It has also been difficult because we were in the hospital until Thursday night, then after being home for about 17 hours we were re-admitted to the hospital where we stayed until Saturday night due to Riley’s high jaundice levels.
Let me back up and start from the beginning. Since this is going to be a long blog, I will break it into 3 parts: Our Birth Story, Back to the Hospital, and Parenthood. Feel free to skip ahead to whatever category you like.
Our Birth Story:
As you know, I was scheduled to be induced on Sunday, November 6 at 8pm. When we got to the hospital I started having contractions so the doctors wanted to wait a couple of hours to see if I would go into labor naturally. During that time Jordan and I walked around the 5th floor of UNC Women’s Hospital sipping on cranberry juice and excitedly talking about the arrival of our baby girl. It was such a special time for the two of us and we were both emotional and excited for what was soon to happen. After a couple of hours, I had not progressed so they decided to insert a Foley Catheter, used in hopes to cause dilation. It is an overnight process, so they gave me an Ambien and Jordan and I slept for about 5 hours to prepare for a long day of labor on Monday.
On Monday morning, I had progressed to about 3.5 cm, which was exactly what the doctors had hoped for. Unfortunately, I still had not gone into labor on my own so at 9am they started the Pitocin. The good news about Pitocin: it definitely worked for me, I started having contractions almost immediately, starting active labor and bringing us that much closer to meeting our daughter! The bad news: contractions on Pitocin are a lot stronger than in spontaneous labor. After about an hour into the Pitocin, the doctor said I was having the type of contractions that most women in labor don’t experience until the very end (the most painful ones). They were severely intense, and coming at about a minute and a half apart. Not much time to rest in between! Both Jordan and Hannah (our doula, but also a good friend) were wonderful at giving me massages and applying back and hip pressure to help me get through the contractions. I wanted to wait as long as I could before getting the epidural, since it can sometimes slow down labor and restricts movement so I persevered through contractions until about 3:00 when I couldn’t take it anymore. Getting the epidural was pretty uncomfortable, especially since I had to sit still in a “C” position for 10 minutes while having the strongest contractions yet at 30 seconds apart. But let me tell you, once that epidural set in… ahh, RELIEF! It was incredible. I’m pretty sure I told Jordan and Hannah about 20 times that I could be a walking ad for epidurals and just wanted to tell the world how wonderful they are.
For the next 8 hours on the epidural, I couldn’t feel a thing. It was fun to look at the monitor and see that I was having really close contractions and not feeling them. Those 8 hours were actually pretty fun! I talked and laughed a lot with Jordan and Hannah, watched TV, read magazines, and took a nap. The only hard part was the anticipation in waiting and not having any clue when baby was actually going to come. At around 8 or 8:30pm I had not dilated much, so we had a decision to make: the doctors could break my water to try to get things moving, or we could stop everything, sleep through the night, and try again the next day. This was a bit of a tough decision for us to make. If we had them break my water there was a chance that things would still not progress enough, which would be dangerous and could potentially lead to a C-section. But having to go through everything all over again the next day was almost impossible to think about. Based on my contractions and other body responses it seemed like things were going somewhere and just needed a little help, so we decided to have my water broken. And that’s what really did it!
Once that happened, I dilated to 9.5 cm in just 3 hours and by almost 1am I was ready to push. The doctor told me that I would get a sudden strong urge to push when it was “go time” and they were going to wait on me to let them know when that happened. The funny thing is my epidural was apparently so strong that I never felt that urge and when the doctor finally did a check, baby girl was already half way down the birth canal! So it was a really quick, chaotic process of the doctor calling everyone into the room that needed to be there and get everything ready immediately for the delivery. One thing that surprised me was that I started shaking uncontrollably and vomiting right before delivery. I didn’t know that was normal. Since baby was already so far down, I only pushed for 20 minutes and then there she was! Let me tell you, I have a whole new respect and admiration for women who push for hours. I seriously have no clue how they do it. Even with my strong epidural… YIKES! That hurt ßunderstatement of the year. And to every woman I know who had no epidural or pain meds in childbirth, I salute you!
At 1:18am Riley Grace Maroon was born! She was beautiful from the start. Seriously. Even right out of the womb, we could not get over just how beautiful she is! We fell in love with her immediately. We ooohed and ahhhed over her and were just mesmerized. I just kept saying, “How in the world did we do this?” And then I wanted a huge cheeseburger or something (starving!). I also remember saying, “I feel great! I thought I would be in a lot of pain after that but I’m not!” Yea… that’s because the epidural was still going. That eventually wore off…yikes.
Back to the Hospital
Having Riley in our lives made last week, in many ways, the best week of my life. I didn’t realize how quickly it would also turn into the hardest week. About a day and a half in, one of the nurses mentioned that Riley looked a little jaundiced. I had heard of that before, knew that it made babies look a little orange, but didn’t know anything else about it. They checked her Bilirubin level and were concerned with how high it was. We ended up having to stay at the hospital a little bit longer to put her under a blue light to try and make it go down. Although I knew it was good for her, it was killing me to sit and watch my basically naked, flailing daughter crying under a light and not being able to hold and comfort her. We didn’t get discharged from the hospital until Thursday evening, bringing us home after 7pm. The next morning we had a doctor’s appointment for Riley to check her levels again. When we got home around lunch, we received a disturbing voicemail from the doctor’s office saying, “You need to bring your daughter to the Pediatric Emergency Department Immediately.” Talk about the scariest voicemail you can get as a new mom!
I was sobbing and we were both scared and nervous. Her Bilirubin levels had gotten even higher and she was losing too much weight. Thankfully we were able to talk to a friend who is a pediatrician and he was able to explain things to us in a way that was reassuring that Riley would be ok. In retrospect, the doctors could have been a little more reassuring in the voicemail they left. It made things sound worse than they actually were.
Anyway, we spent another night in the hospital, physically and emotionally wiped out. It was SO hard to watch our little newborn hooked up to IVs (they gave her 5 hours of fluids through IVs) and to machines, sitting under another blue light, and getting her blood taken constantly to check her levels. I cried so much. Many people were telling me that jaundice was pretty normal and everything would be ok, but it didn’t feel normal to watch this. It felt like torture. I knew these things had to be done and that they were good for her, but I just couldn’t handle it.
Praise God, Riley’s levels dropped, and we were sent home on Saturday night! We were able to take a “Bili Blanket” home with us, which is basically the type of lights they had to put her under in a portable version that just goes on her back and can sit under blankets so we can still hold and feed her while she is on it.
Over the past 2 days we have thankfully watched our daughter start to look pinker, feed better, and poop more (which is good in helping jaundice go away!) At her Monday morning doctor’s appointment we learned that she had regained her birth weight, actually weighing 1 ounce more ! Today we got the phone call that everything now looks great, and we can take her off the Bili Blanket! We are SO very happy to be home with her, and I am thankful to take every opportunity to hold the heck out of her and love on her like crazy.
I knew that I would love being a mother. I’ve always wanted to be a mom and I LOVE babies! But I had no idea just how much I would love it! Of course there are moments of, “Ahh, I have no idea what I’m doing!” but they are crowded out by all of the “wow, I cannot believe how beautiful she is and how amazing this is” moments. I thought maybe I would just make a little list of some of those favorite moments :):
- When I watch Jordan with Riley. I seriously think this may be my favorite thing in the world. He is such an incredible father! I’ve been surprised by just how much he and Riley have bonded so quickly. He is the person who is the best at soothing her and she seems to respond to his voice. He can almost always calm her down (unless she’s hungry). I love watching him hold her; I swear the two of them just make googley eyes at each other! Jordan is such an involved father. He gets up for every feeding during the night. We play soft music as I feed her, and sometimes he will read to Riley or pray for her… and he changes way more diapers than I do! Gosh, I just love watching him be a dad! There is nothing more attractive in the world…
- When she is sleeping. Especially when she makes sweet little cooing sounds. She is just so adorable!
- When she is awake and alert. She will just stare up at us with her big blue eyes and make the cutest faces! I just love her little lips. And her gorgeous hair. And little hands… and feet. Ok so basically I’m just obsessed with her. She is a really good baby (so far)! She is so chill and peaceful all the time. I think she was so traumatized at the hospital with all she had to go through that she got her screaming and crying out there and now just loves her life at home. At least that’s what I tell myself 🙂
- When I feed her. I’ll be honest, it was tough at first. But now I’m getting to the point where I actually enjoy her feeding times. I love feeling like I am providing and caring for a huge need of hers and it feels like quality mom and daughter time, or family time when Jordan is around.
- Watching our families with her. Every single person in both our families just adores her and I love watching them hold her and love on her!
- Dressing her up. Just look at our pictures of her. Little girls are so fun! There are so many cute clothes and accessories… we take about a million pictures per day.
- Showing her off. I mean, I know I’m biased but Riley is one beautiful little girl and I love introducing her to people or posting pictures. At least once a day Jordan and I will say to each other, “How in the world did that come from us?!” It baffles us, but I am a proud mamma 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to read my super long blog! They won’t be this long from now on, but I look forward to continuing to keep you updated on my journey through motherhood, thanks for joining me on the trip :).