Or, rather, she was here four weeks ago! Madelyn Elizabeth Westlake was born on June 24th at 4:08am. We called her peanut throughout the pregnancy, because we didn’t know the sex until she was born, and it turns out, it was an appropriate nickname. Maddie was only 6 lbs. 13 oz. at birth and 20 inches long.
I went into labor on Sunday morning, having fairly regular, but not terribly painful contractions. By mid-afternoon, the contractions were definitely starting to hurt and getting more regular. I had hoped for an unmedicated birth and one of the best ways to do that is to labor at home as long as possible. Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for me. Even though I probably wasn’t ready to head to the hospital, I suspected my water had started leaking. Once your water breaks, the risk of infection goes up, so after calling my doctor, we headed down to the Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortland Manor to get checked out. Sure enough, it was my water leaking and Paul and I were in it for the long haul.
And it was a long haul. When I got to the hospital, I was only 2-3 cm. dilated at around 7pm. After walking the halls, sitting in a rocking chair and laboring in the jacuzzi tub, I made it to a whopping 4 cm. dilated by 11pm. At that point, my doctor recommended we start pitocin to encourage the contractions along. My white blood cell count had come back high and my medical team was concerned that if we waited for things to happen on their own, the risk of infection would grow exponentially.
With that, my hopes of an unmedicated birth were dashed. Around midnight, I was given pitocin to encourage labor along. Anyone who’s had pitocin, which is artificial oxytocin, can tell you that the contractions from pitocin are significantly more intense than natural contractions. And after almost 16 hours of labor, it was time to call in the anesthesiologist. I had always said that I would get an epidural if I was in extreme pain that was hindering my labor or if I had been laboring for an extended period of time and needed a break. Well, both of those criteria were met and after a bit of a cry over the fact that my body wasn’t cooperating, I got the epidural and was able to get some rest.
Rather than a continuous drip, the epidural I was given was supposed to last for about two and a half hours. Well, at about two and a half hours after getting the epi, I started to feel some sensation again. The nurse came in, checked on my progress and found that I had gone from 4 cm. to 9 cm. in that time. It was almost time to push and my epidural was wearing off just in time for transition. And transition was not fun! I started feeling more and more as the pain increased. Soon enough, it was time to push.
Throughout my entire pregnancy and labor, my husband, Paul, had been an absolute rock, doing everything he could to make me as comfortable as possible. And during the pushing stage, he took awesome to a whole new level. I am so lucky to have such an encouraging and amazing husband.
To me, it seemed like I was pushing forever. But in reality, it only took 28 minutes to meet our daughter. Because she had the cord wrapped around her neck pretty tightly, the doctor had to cut it before she was completely out. But once that was done, she passed the baby to Paul, who handed her to me. The feeling of a newborn baby on your chest for the first time is pretty amazing. And Paul and I were so enthralled with the fact that we finally had a baby, we forgot to check to see what kind of baby it was! It wasn’t until the nurse prodded Paul to check that we found out that we had a little girl!
After a few minutes of skin-to-skin contact, the nurse took Maddie over to the warmer to suction out some fluid from her lungs, clean her up and measure and weigh her. Paul was very amused that the nurse did, in fact, count all her fingers and toes (and they were all accounted for). We spent two more nights in the hospital and Maddie passed all her tests with flying colors.
The last few weeks have flown by in a sleep-deprived blur. Breastfeeding is a constant work in progress, but Maddie is growing like a weed and seems bigger every day. After dropping down to 6 lb. 4 oz. when we left the hospital, Maddie regained all the weight she lost and more, clocking in at 7 lb 4 oz. at her two week appointment. She’s still a peanut though!
It’s been really amazing to see how fast she’s grown and developed in just four weeks. She’s already much more engaged than she was last week. We spent some time in the play mat today and she was actually looking around at all the stuffed animals hanging above her. We’re still a few weeks away from real smiles, but every so often, we’ll get a dream smile or, more often, a dream smirk. I wonder what she’s dreaming about! I can’t wait to find out what she has in store for us in the future.