Evelyn Grace was born one month ago today, on January 28, 2013 at 4:57am, 86 minutes after I was registered at the hospital. She was 6 days overdue, which makes her the earliest of my three children. She weighed 8lbs 6oz at birth, her head was 14.5 inches around, and she was 21 inches long. She was also the smallest of my three children. And unlike Oliver and Naomi, she gave us plenty of warning that she was coming!
At 5:30am on January 27, I awoke to find our bed and my legs were wet. Brad was an hour away at a leadership retreat in the mountains, so I debated whether or not to call him at camp. After 2 hours of regular contractions, I concluded that my water had indeed broken and called the three emergency phone numbers Brad had given me. I had our family’s pick-up truck with me at home, so our friends drove him back from the retreat. The four of them pulled up in front of our house at 9:30am, only to hear that my contractions were weakening. I continued to have mild Braxton-Hicks contractions on-and-off all day, but nothing strong or regular. My water continued to leak slowly for the rest of the day, and finally we decided to go to bed around Midnight.
I woke with a start at 2:15am on January 28. The baby was kicking unusually hard in every direction, when I suddenly felt a gush of water! I yelled, “BRAD!!!” and ran to the toilet as fast as I could. At that moment I was certain I was going to deliver the baby on the hallway floor! When I looked back down the hall, I could see the trail of water from my side of the bed to the bathroom. Brad followed behind me, picking up rugs and mopping the floor with a towel. I sat there completely perplexed because with my other children, my water had broken at the hospital during delivery. Yet here I was at home gushing water, with still no contractions and no baby.
After some discussion, Brad and I decided to call the doctor’s office. The doctor on call told us to go ahead to the hospital. Brad got dressed and then called our friend Carole to come stay with Naomi & Oliver. I got dressed, but quickly had to change my clothes when my water broke a second time. Brad ate a light breakfast and I snacked while we were waiting for Carole. I began having contractions shortly after my water broke. I would let Brad know when I felt each contraction, and he would tell me how far apart they were. Once Carole arrived, Brad and I showed her around the house and then left for the hospital around 3:15am, about an hour after my water had broken.
My water broke a third time en route to the hospital, drenching a third pair of pants, socks, and my shoes. The hospital is only 5-10 minutes from our house though, so I wasn’t uncomfortable for long. We parked directly across the street from the hospital entrance, and Brad gathered our bags. I waddled across the street, and then stood dripping in front of the security guard at the front desk. He gave us name tag stickers, and asked if we knew where we were going. We’d taken the hospital tour a few weeks earlier, so he buzzed us into the building as I apologized for leaving a puddle next to his desk.
The hospital was a ghost-town, and we felt like the only people in the building. Brad and I stepped into the first elevator we saw, waited for the doors to close, and then punched the button for the second floor. Nothing happened. I told Brad dryly, “We’re going to have this baby in the elevator.” We punched the button a few more times without any response. Then we re-opened the elevator doors and walked back to the security guard. He informed us we’d been in the service elevator, and that there was a second elevator further down the hallway. We walked back down the hall a second time, and located the second elevator.
When we reached the second floor, we walked around until we found the nurses’ station. A number of nurses were there, so we addressed the group of them with, “Umm…Hi. We’re here to have a baby.” They asked us for some personal information and the name of my doctor, and then ushered us into a nearby room. Brad noted that the clock on the wall read 3:31am. There was some confusion at first since my doctor left her practice abruptly in early December, and I had switched to a midwife named Lori at the recommendation of a friend. I have loved having Lori as my midwife, so I was relieved when they were able to reach her and let her know I was in labor.
For most of the 86 minutes, we felt like things were moving pretty slowly. Naomi was born 43 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, and Oliver was born 52 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, so Evelyn seemed to be taking her time. The nurses introduced themselves, I changed my clothes, they hooked me up to an IV, they monitored my contractions, and Lori arrived. Lori asked if I wanted a snack or a drink, invited me to move around or use the restroom if I wished, and offered to remove any excess monitoring devices. I was so glad to have Brad and Lori there with me. Lori told me I could lay on my side if I wanted, so I rolled to my left side facing Brad. With each contraction I squeezed Brad’s hand with my left hand. Between contractions Brad and I talked and laughed. I asked Brad how he knew when my contractions were increasing or decreasing in intensity, and he showed me the steady line of spikes on the monitor.
Suddenly I felt what we later dubbed, “the contraction that never ended.” This last strong contraction grew more and more intense as I began pushing, knowing the baby was coming. Brad told me I brought my right hand around to my left and squeezed his hands with all my might. He realized that he was alone in the room with me and immediately began looking for a “call button.” He didn’t need to worry though, because I was shouting, “Somebody get in here!” Lori and the nurses came running back into the room, announcing what I already knew, “The baby is crowning!” Everyone worked together to roll me to my back and slide me down to the end of the bed. In the midst of the craziness, Lori said firmly, “Jessica, open your eyes and look at me.” Everything stopped for a moment, and I looked right at her. “Now, push.” I took a deep breath and pushed one last time as hard as I could.
Evelyn Grace was born at 4:57am, almost 23 ½ hours after my water started breaking. Her head came out first, and a moment later her shoulders and the rest of her body slid out. Lori wrapped Evelyn up in a towel and handed her to me. Brad and I admired our beautiful (albeit slimy) little girl with her headful of light brown hair. He was delighted when Lori asked him if he would like to cut the umbilical cord. Although Evelyn is our third child, it was his first time cutting the cord. Then the nurses whisked Evelyn away for washing and weighing. I too was delighted because this was my first delivery without an episiotomy. Although I did tear along my episiotomy scar, I only needed a couple stitches this time, and recovered even faster than I did with my last two deliveries.
After Lori was done sewing and cleaning me up, the nurses handed Evelyn back to me for nursing. She had no problem latching on, and nursed for most of the next hour. When it was time for Evelyn to go to the nursery, Brad followed her and watched through the windows. He returned from watching her, chuckling to himself. I asked why he was laughing, and he said that Evelyn was lying under the heat lamp completely naked, sound asleep! When the nurse pushed my wheelchair by the nursery window later, we peaked in on Evelyn who was still sun-bathing peacefully.
Evelyn Grace slept most of the time we were at the hospital. Brad brought the kids by to visit her more than once, and some of our youth ministry friends came to visit. The nurses were wonderful, and I had a very pleasant hospital stay. Evelyn slept in the nursery for most of her first night so that I could get caught up on my sleep. I was discharged at 3:30pm on January 29, 2013, just 36 hours after registering at the hospital. We drove home for the first time as a family of five, with all three car-seats across the back of our pick-up truck. It was hard to believe how much our lives had changed in a day and a half!