Elle's birth story starts early on the morning of Friday, February 13th. Even though I had hoped to go into labor naturally the second time around, Elle decided to stay put so we scheduled an induction for the 39th week, like we did with Wren. The night before the induction, I did start having real contractions for the first time (instead of the Braxton Hicks contractions I had for weeks), but they weren't strong enough to get labor started that day, so we continued with the induction as planned.
Jon and I woke up around 4am on the morning of the induction, showered, dressed and finished packing our hospital bags. We woke Wren up around 6am. We went into her room together with the video camera and filmed her waking up, telling her today was the day she would become a big sister. She was so sleepy, and I don't think she understood, but it was a sweet moment to have with her before the big day. I had been emotional for weeks thinking about how the second baby would change things for Wren - I just wanted her to know how much we loved her.
The only family member we have close by is Jon's mom who lives a couple hours away in northern Virginia, and we had asked her to be in the room with us for the birth. Thankfully, Wren's daycare opens at 6:30am everyday, so we made plans to drop her off when they opened since we had to be at the hospital at 7am. We got her dressed for the day, gave her a quick snack, loaded our bags into the car and headed to the daycare - it was still dark outside and very cold.
When we got to the daycare, I walked Wren in like I always do. However, since it was so early, she was going to a different classroom with a different teacher that she didn't know and no other kids had arrived yet. When I bent down to tell her goodbye, she started crying and threw her arms around my neck - scared because everything was so different. I immediately started crying, too. I had been worried about this happening and really wanted her to feel like it was a normal day, nothing to be afraid of. I comforted her and told her that daddy and Gigi (Jon's mom) would see her that afternoon to pick her up to meet her baby sister, and I headed back out to the car. The lady at the front desk stopped me to ask me some questions, and I could not stop crying. I kept apologizing to her - telling her it was an emotional day for me. She probably thought I was a crazy person!
Back in the car, Jon and I headed to the hospital, driving into the most beautiful, brilliant sunrise - all pinks and reds and oranges. My excitement and nervousness grew the closer we got to the hospital.
We parked at the hospital and headed up to the labor and delivery floor where we met our nurse for the day, Annika, and got shown to our room. At this hospital, you only have one room for your whole stay. The room that you labor and deliver in is the same room that you stay in for the remaining recovery days. I loved this so much. It meant we could settle in right away and not worry about moving our bags after I delivered. It also meant I had plenty of time to rest and snuggle with Elle after she was born, instead of being rushed to get up and move rooms. I don't see why all hospitals don't do this - it made our experience so smooth.
All of the rooms on the labor and delivery floor are large with big bathrooms, a small table and chairs, a small couch that folds into a bed and a wall of windows. We had the last room at the end of the hallway. Annika gave me a gown to put on and left us to get settled. We unpacked a few things, and I changed and climbed into bed. Annika came back a few minutes later, got me hooked up to all of the monitors and gave us a run down of what to expect for the day. Next, she got everything ready to put my IV in, which turned out to be the worst part of the day - even worse than pushing the baby out!
I have never been a fan of needles, and I get super nauseous when anyone talks about blood, needles, veins, etc. When she was prepping my arm, she joked that my veins were so good she could throw a needle and hit one - which totally jinxed me! It ended up taking her three tries and three different spots to get the IV placed correctly. After the first try didn't go in correctly, she tried wiggling and pushing the needle into place, all while talking about collapsed veins and valves, and I felt myself getting sick and really, really hot. I looked at Jon and told him I was going to pass out and/or throw up. Annika quickly gave me a bucket to throw up in, and I dry heaved a few times (I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since dinner the night before - you can't eat before an induction). Jon got a magazine to fan me and a cold rag for my neck. Annika took the needle out and gave me a break to calm down. I thankfully did not end up passing out, and once I relaxed a bit, Annika tried two more times and was able to get the IV in and start some fluids. I was SO glad when that part was done.
Jon and I hung out for an hour or so, setting up the iPod with our playlist and the camera, until my doctor stopped by the room on her way in for the day, around 9am. She double checked that we for sure wanted to have a baby that day - and we said YES! - so she broke my water and told Annika to go ahead and start the Pitocin. I couldn't believe how quickly things were going - my water was already broke and it was only 9am! I knew from my experience with Wren's birth that the contractions would get a lot more painful now that my water had been broken, and that made me nervous.
Annika came into the room shortly after and confirmed that I did indeed want an epidural (yes, yes I did!), so she set out to get my name on the epidural waiting list. Jon was hungry by this time, and we chatted about where he could go to pick up some breakfast. He had just gotten his jacket on to head out when Annika came back in and let me know the anesthesiologist was on his way. Jon and I were both so surprised - already?! It wasn't even 10am!
Jon went ahead and left in search of food (they don't let anyone stay in the room for the epidural procedure), and the anesthesiologist came in a few minutes later. He was a young guy, super friendly and laid back. I was really nervous about the epidural because I didn't have the best experience with it during Wren's birth. Annika helped me get in the correct sitting position on the bed and basically hugged me from the front to help me hold still. Even though it did hurt going in - a lot of pinching and stinging on the right side (and was probably the second worst part of the day) - the anesthesiologist was able to get it in correctly the first time - hallelujah!
While he finished taping all of the tubes to my back, he joked with me about the teddy bear I had with me (a bear I've had forever and also had during Wren's birth). I told him it was kind of like having an extra pillow - he and Annika laughed and said it was totally fine if I needed it for comfort. I laughed and admitted that maaaaybe it did make me feel better. The mood was light and happy and the sun was streaming in through the windows. I couldn't believe my epidural was already in (before 10am!), and I hadn't felt a single painful contraction yet. It was pretty amazing.
When Jon got back from getting breakfast (he ended up going to Krispy Kreme for coffee and donuts, and I was SO jealous), his mom also arrived at the hospital. She entered the room right as Annika was placing my catheter - ha! What a way to greet someone! (You have to have a catheter with an epidural since you're numb from the chest down and can't feel when you have to use the bathroom.) I was not nervous or embarrassed at all about having Jon's mom in the delivery room with us. She has a very laid back, calm personality, and I knew she would be great to have in the room. My mom was with us for Wren's birth, so it was super special that Jon could have his mom there this time around. (Even though she does now know me a lot better than she did before - ha!)
Once Jon's mom arrived, it was really just a waiting game. Jon and I played around with the camera, took selfies (of course!), read magazines, talked to family and friends on the phone and tried to nap a few times. Annika came by to check me and rotate me from side to side every hour or so, and I continued to dilate a little more each hour. After she left, we would make bets on how much more I would be dilated the next time she came back. My doctor was supposed to come by around noon to check on me, but when it hit 12:30pm and she hadn't made it by yet, Annika stopped by again. I told her I was starting to feel the contractions more strongly - not necessarily pain, but a lot of pressure. She said that probably meant we were getting close. Sure enough, she checked and I was dilated almost to 9!
Jon and I were a little shocked - it had all happened so fast! Annika left to call my doctor and gather a few things we'd need in the room when the baby arrived, and Jon and I texted and called family and friends to let them know we were about to have a baby. My doctor got to our room a little after 1pm and helped the nurses get the bed ready for delivery - and then it was time to push!
With Wren, I pushed for one hour, so I was prepared for the pushing to take a while. Little did I know, things go A LOT faster the second time around. I only pushed for 10 minutes with Elle - and I know for sure, because we have all of it on video. The whole delivery was such a fun, peaceful, enjoyable experience. That is probably the weirdest way to describe delivering a baby, but it really was. My doctor started off by giving me a quick reminder on how to push. Then I would push three times in a row, then rest, push three times in a row, then rest - pushing during the contractions and resting in between. In between when I was resting, we would all chit chat - about the weather, about the songs on our playlist, about the baby's name (which we hadn't told the nurses or doctor yet) - and then we'd concentrate again when it was time to push. Jon and I laughed when we first watched the video of the day, because we are all laughing and joking around in between contractions - not what you would expect of giving birth!
Just like with Wren, everyone could see Elle's luxurious head of hair before she made her grand entrance. At one point, my doctor asked me if I wanted to look down and see her coming out. I said a big 'no thanks!' to that - haha! (Jon's mom was hilarious afterward - even though she's had three kids of her own, she kept shaking her head with wide eyes and saying "I just didn't know" when we asked her how it was to see it all happen up close and personal.)
After my fourth set of pushes, Elle Evergreen Klock was born! (And to the song she was named after!) The doctor held her up for Jon to cut the cord and then the nurse wrapped her in a blanket and placed her on my chest. I was able to hold her for a few minutes before she was moved to the bassinet in the room to be weighed, measured and cleaned off a bit. They did all of this right in the room with us, and then gave her back to me as soon as they were done.
Once Elle and I were both cleaned up, the nurses helped me sit up and get comfy in the bed, then quickly cleaned the room, rolled everything out that was no longer needed and left us alone to snuggle our new little bundle - and I absolutely loved this. When Wren was born, they took her to the nursery for her newborn tests and her first bath shortly after she was born, so we didn't get that special snuggle time. With Elle, we had her all to ourselves for a couple hours before the baby nurse came in and gave her a bath in our room. Then we had her to ourselves for another chunk of time before they took her to the nursery for her newborn tests later that evening.
I don't think I'll ever forget the way I felt in those first few hours after Elle was born. It was such a different experience from Wren's birth. With Wren, there was a lot of nervousness, worry and lack of confidence in those first few hours. With Elle, all I felt was love. Overwhelming, overjoyed love. Love for her, love for Jon, love for the whole wonderful experience. I could not stop smiling, and I just felt so happy. It really was the best day - I would do it over and over again if I could.
Elle was born at 1:42pm. Jon and his mom left around 4pm to pick Wren up from daycare and grab some dinner. They arrived back at the hospital around 6pm with food from one of our favorite BBQ joints, and Wren got to meet Elle for the first time. It was so fun to see them together and to see Wren's reaction. She seemed to understand that the baby came out of my belly (and she still sometimes tells people that when they ask about Elle). She touched Elle's face and counted her fingers and then ran around exploring the hospital room. We ate dinner together, and I finally got up and moved around the room a bit (which is always a little scary after giving birth and having an epidural).
That night, Jon went home to stay with Wren, and I stayed at the hospital by myself. This had been our plan all along, and I was a little nervous about being alone, but I have to say, even though I would've loved having Jon there, I also really loved having those two nights in the hospital just Elle and I. That first night after everyone left, Elle and I snuggled, watched TV, played on Instagram (and loved reading everyone's sweet congratulation notes) and called Jon and my sister a million times to chat. I had planned to send her to the nursery around 10pm so that I could get a good night's sleep, but I was on such a high - I didn't want the day to be over! I stayed up with her until almost 2am, just hanging out, before she headed to the nursery and I went to sleep.
All in all, Elle's birthday was such a great day - probably the best birth experience I could have ever asked for - and a day I will always think back on with a smile and so much love. I can't wait to tell her all about it one day. :)