My due date (June 28) came and went with no signs of labor. As much as I imagined that I felt differently, I had to admit I felt as great as ever and she was probably going to be late. My doctor said we didn't even need to talk about getting induced until I was 2 weeks late. So back home I went to keep busy and try to encourage her to come with long walks in the evenings.
On Saturday, June 30, Rebekah and I came up with the idea to make a few decorations for the hospital room. We went shopping that afternoon, bought some cupcake wrappers, scrapbook paper, and ribbon and got to work making pinwheels, cupcake decorations, and a name plate for the door. Anything to keep busy, right?
Tuesday, July 3 was a big day for Ryan. He was scheduled to take his Step 1 exam for medical school. This is an 8-hour exam (8 am - 4 pm) that he had to pass in order to begin clinical rotations this fall. In addition, the score on this test will be one of the main factors in determining what residency program he joins in a couple years. All that to say, it is probably the most important test he will take during medical school. Fortunately, he was able to take the exam at a testing center just a couple minutes from our house.
Ryan left for his test around 7:30 Tuesday morning. I didn't have any plans for the day, so I stayed in bed a little longer. As I lay there praying for Ryan's test, I suddenly felt my water break! Ironically, I looked over at the clock, and it was exactly 8:00 am - the very minute that Ryan's test began. I think I actually laughed out loud! We had always joked about the baby coming on test day, but I thought there was no way this was actually going to happen. I had already thought about the fact that if I went into labor while Ryan was in his test, I wasn't going to tell him. This test was very important, and there was nothing he could do once he began taking it. So until his test was over, we didn't tell anyone outside of my immediate family.
I half expected contractions to begin immediately, but after a few minutes, I realized they weren't coming anytime soon. I decided that while I still felt good, I should probably be getting ready. I showered, put on some makeup, and finished packing our hospital bags.
About an hour later, I came downstairs and calmly told my parents that my water broke, but that I wasn't having any contractions, so I wasn't going to the hospital right away. I knew that once I got to the hospital, my food choices would be limited during labor, so Dad made me a delicious breakfast. After eating, I put in a couple loads of laundry and decided to start working on the cupcakes. I had my first contraction around 10:30 am. But it only lasted a couple minutes, and the next one didn't come for another hour. I continued looking at the clock and wondering how I was going to last until 4:00 pm when Ryan would finish his test. I tried to keep busy around the house in order to spend as little time in the hospital as possible. I did call my doctor right after my water broke and told them I would be there that afternoon.
Around 12:30 pm, the contractions started coming about half an hour apart. Dad left for a lunch meeting with someone, and Mom and I left for the hospital around 1:30. I walked up to the nurses' station and told them my water broke and I was in labor. Apparently they get a lot of false alarms from first-time moms because they all seemed very skeptical. But once they brought me to my room and checked my progress, there was no doubt this baby was coming! I was only 2 cm dilated at this point, though.
One of the many blessings from this day was the fact that my nurse was a friend of ours from church! She was an amazing help to me during labor, especially without Ryan there. She encouraged me to try different positions - the birthing ball, the hot tub, walking around, etc. Also, I think we had one of the nicest hospital rooms in the country. We had a huge, corner room with a lovely view and tons of space. The rooms are also set up with an area to weigh and bathe the baby, so she didn't have to leave our room at all after she was born. We felt more like we were in a hotel than a hospital, and we were so thankful for such a wonderful experience.
From 2:00 - 4:00, I felt like my labor was progressing very quickly. The contractions were much stronger and so close together that I hardly had a break in between. I originally planned to go as long as I could without an epidural, but I think the combination of being there without Ryan and not being able to rest in between contractions had me asking for it around 4:00. By this time, I was only 4 cm. The nurse continued to encourage me to wait a little longer (at least until Ryan got there).
Around 4:15, Rebekah called Ryan from my cell phone, knowing he would be finished with his test. When she told him I was in labor, he thought she was joking. She assured him she was serious and told him to come straight to the hospital. I don't even want to know how fast he drove on the way over there! By the time he got there I knew I needed to get an epidural soon.
The anesthesiologist took his time coming up (per my doctor's instructions, as I found out later). He finally came up around 5:30. I don't even remember feeling the needle. I was so eager to have some relief from the pain. After about 30 minutes, I could tell it wasn't working, so he tried it again. This time, I began to relax almost immediately. By this time, it was about 6:30. The doctor came in to check me again, and I was at 10 cm! I'm so thankful for a doctor who postponed the epidural long enough for labor to progress on its own. At this point, there was nothing to do but wait for the urge to push. The nurse turned down the lights in the room, and left us alone for about an hour to relax and try to get some sleep. I don't think either of us slept, but it was nice to have a few minutes of peace and quiet. Around 9:30 pm, the nurse said we should begin pushing. I didn't find this part very difficult at all, and enjoyed the anticipation of finally meeting our little girl.
Avery Lyn Hudson was born at 11:12 pm on July 3. She weighed 7 lbs, 12 oz. and was 21" long.
She was wide awake right from the start. Ryan was able to cut the cord, and then the doctor placed her on my chest. I couldn't believe how beautiful and perfect she was.
After completing the necessary procedures, the nurses left us alone for about 30 minutes so I could nurse her, and we could spend some time as a family. A little after midnight, the nurse came back in and gave Avery her first bath. My family had been outside in the waiting room since around 11:00 pm, and were eager to meet her! Ryan went and brought them to our room and we had a wonderful, special time introducing Avery to her family.
They also brought us subs, fruit, snacks, and drinks since we hadn't eaten anything all day! Shortly after my family left, we all went to bed. One funny side note, we had not named Avery at this point! We were still debating between two names, and couldn't decide which one we liked better. Everyone said we would know what to name her as soon as we saw her, but not us! My parents encouraged us to take a few hours and decide in the morning. It was so late at night anyway, that we weren't going to announce her birth until the next day. So our poor daughter spent her first night without a name. (Some of her hospital paperwork still says "Baby Girl Hudson.")
The next morning, we finally agreed on her name (Lyn is my middle name, and we just liked the name Avery), and sent a text to friends and family. I was surprised at how good I felt. I put on real clothes (albeit sweatpants and a t-shirt) and got cleaned up for the day. I had bought a little 4th of July outfit a few weeks ago, assuming she would be here by then. We dressed her in her patriotic outfit and took a couple pictures before breakfast.
Can I just say how much I loved the food at the hospital? I know that is unusual, but it really was so good. That first morning, they brought French toast, eggs, sausage, cereal, orange juice, coffee, and a protein shake - enough food for both of us!
Just a couple hours later, our steady stream of visitors began arriving. My sister brought a beautiful name plate for the door and amazingly decorated cupcakes for our visitors.
We had so much fun introducing her to some of our closest friends and family. It was very special to spend the day surrounded by so many people we love. I still couldn't believe they were all there to see OUR baby, though. We had suddenly become parents! We truly were loving every minute, though.
I especially loved seeing how easily and naturally Ryan interacted with her. Coming from a family of all boys, he had not had much experience with babies and hadn't held more than a couple little ones. But from the minute she was born, he knew exactly what to do, how to hold her, soothe her, and talk to her.
After a good night's sleep and the last few check ups from doctors the next morning, we were finally discharged a little after lunch. It felt great to be back home and enjoy the time with our baby and my family.