Stellar Baby: Penelope’s Birth Story

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How is it possible that we have a baby that’s 1 month old today?!!

It seems impossible to me that it’s already been a month since our little Penny was born because I still feel like we’re catching our breath. But something tells me that’s what parenthood will be like, indefinitely! Taking care of our little girl is an overwhelming feeling of responsibility — but it’s endlessly rewarding, too.

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If you’re interested, here’s the nitty gritty details of how this precious gal came into our lives.

How it all started: On the Friday before Penny was born I had my week 39 check-up with my OB, Dr. Ellis. I wasn’t progressing very much — barely a 1/2 cm dilated — and Penny wasn’t dropping down either. Because I’m older (37) and I’m at a higher weight (though I’ve had no other issues such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes), Dr. Ellis suggested we come in to be induced the following Tuesday rather than wait until I was after 40 weeks. Penny’s due date was Aug. 31, that Thursday, so it was likely she’d be born just one day early on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

I was actually pretty excited to have a date set. I am a planner, so to be able to wrap things up with work, and finish preparing to bring her home and what we needed at the hospital, felt comforting. Of course I was anxious as well, but I was anxious waiting for something to happen on its own, too!

Time to go! Fast forward to Tuesday — my husband and I finished packing our bags and enjoyed a last lunch out together, then headed to the hospital that night. We were shown to a ginormous birthing suite and while J organized our belongings, I stripped down and donned the lovely hospital gown to get ready for the nurses.

Then came the IV.

Ugh. The IV. It’s possible this process was worse than even the contractions because they had to try three times to get it in a good vein. Stupidly, I looked at my hand while they were working on me, and the sight of the blood made me feel so faint I almost passed out. Jermaine was my rock, letting me squeeze his hand as hard as I needed and cooling my face with a wet washcloth.

When the IV was finally in, it took some getting used to but it wasn’t too bad. I later had a lot of bruising from the failed attempts, but besides being tender, it was fine.

Here come the drugs: From that point we tried to get labor moving, and by early the next morning I had dilated more — I think I was around 2 cm when the doctor broke my water, but Penny still wasn’t dropping. This is when things got a little comical because while I understood what it meant to have my water broken, I still wanted to get up and use the bathroom and was going to get on the birthing ball — all while leaking all over myself and the floor! I really didn’t think that through but the nurse and J were awesome. I ended up not being able to walk around much after all because the contractions were getting stronger.

It’s getting real: Around lunchtime my parents arrived from Massachusetts! I was so excited to see them, even though I was pretty distracted with the contractions at that point. When I was dilated around 3 cm, they brought in the anesthetist to give me an epidural. That process is kind of a blur, but I remember the needle that numbs me first being fairly painful, but not as bad as I expected because they had me sitting up and leaning into Jermaine. Something about leaning into him made me feel secure and comfortable, so the epidural was a fairly easy process.

And thank goodness for the epidural! The contractions had gotten pretty strong and I was having to really focus and breathe through the pain. They were coming pretty rapidly, too, so I wasn’t able to catch my breath much between them.

The big decision: Sadly, even though the contractions seemed to be getting stronger and more frequent, I was still only 4 cm dilated and, yup, you guessed it, Penny still hadn’t dropped! She was determined to stay right where she was. So we had a decision to make.

At about 4 p.m. Dr. Ellis spoke with us about our options. It was possible to labor longer — who knew how long — but also possible that even if I became fully dilated, if she still hadn’t dropped we could wind up needing a c-section after all. I didn’t have many strong feelings about delivering vaginally vs. a c-section — either way I was pretty nervous about the process and the recovery. Being a first-time mom, I just didn’t know what to expect. But the idea of laboring for hours and hours longer, and possibly still winding up with a c-section, while already being tired and hungry, well that wasn’t exactly appealing. So, we opted for the c-section.

Game on! And with that, the next 20 minutes were a blur. My parents rushed in to gather up our belongings to move to another room on the wing where c-section patients are housed. The second they were out the door, the nurses started prepping me and we were wheeled down to the other floor, Jermaine following along. Then poof! I was in the operating room with a cap on my head and was lifted from my bed onto a table where a flurry of nurses worked to get us ready to deliver. I don’t remember too much — I remember breathing slowly to keep myself calm and not think too much about what was about to happen. I’ll eternally be grateful that the whole process happened so quickly, because otherwise I think I would’ve freaked myself out if I’d had too long to think about it!

Before I knew it, the anesthetist — who was so kind and patient and explained each step of the process intricately so I’d feel informed — was hooking me up to increase the numbness so I didn’t feel a thing from the waist down. While I could feel movements, I couldn’t feel pain at all. It was a relief to know that had worked the way it was supposed to.

Jermaine was brought in and sat right near my left ear. I couldn’t see him too well, but I knew he was there and I could hear him, which meant everything to me, knowing he was there. When the procedure began, I immediately became nauseated, which the anesthetist told me might happen. He adjusted my medicine and offered to put an alcohol pad on my nose where the oxygen tube was. I gave it a try and it was like a miracle-worker! For some reason that smell kept the nausea away. I was still breathing slowly, just trying to focus on calming myself as they worked to do their thing on the other side of the sheet.

We had a couple surprising/scary moments when at one point sirens started beeping loudly and, thankfully, our doctor immediately said that those weren’t for us, everything was fine! Thank goodness she was prompt in telling us that because we were definitely concerned.

I was also nervous at another point when I thought I felt the “tugging” feeling that they said would mean they had pulled Penny out of me, but then I didn’t hear her cry. I said so out loud — “I don’t hear her!” — and Dr. Ellis said: “We haven’t taken her out yet!” At which I breathed a sigh of relief.

Because when I did feel them take her out of me (not really feel it, just the tugging sensation and tightening in my chest — no pain), she immediately started to wail and they held her up behind the clear sheet so we could see Penny for the first time! (They had a blue one up during the rest of the time and took it down just so we could see her right away!)

A peek at Penny!

A peek at Penny!

I was so relieved to see her, I started to cry and it wasn’t long when they brought her over to us to see her closer.

Here she is!

Here she is!

Got my daddy!

Got my daddy!

While they cleaned Penny off and cut her umbilical cord, they also finished up with me, including the last step when they wrapped my abdominal section up in a binder and then moved me back to the bed. The best part was when they handed Penny to me to hold as they wheeled us to our new room.

I could hardly believe that the c-section was over and she was finally here! It was an incredible, almost out-of-body experience that is hard to put into words. I think both Jermaine and I were both elated and exhausted and incredibly grateful to the doctors and nurses that everything had gone well.

Our Penny was here!


Born Aug. 30, 4:52 p.m. — weight: 8 pounds, 2 ounces — height: 19 1/2 inches

Born Aug. 30, 4:52 p.m. — weight: 8 pounds, 2 ounces — height: 19 1/2 inches


I’ll write more soon about our hospital stay and our first few days at home. Another post on her nursery will be coming soon and, believe it or not, I have some fashion content underway, plus some plans for fitness and healthy eating, so it won’t be all baby Penny all the time!

Thank you for sharing in our joy as we’ve welcomed the new member of our family! We’re smitten!!

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