Welcome, Clara

Love and Light Photography – Lindsay McCrea

3-5% of women deliver on their due date. Apparently, Clara was interested in being part of that statistic. It’s funny, I remember getting our original due date of January 22nd at our first OB appointment and my first thought was “oh, that’s a nice date… two months exactly before my birthday.” And she had every intention of being prompt.

The last three weeks of my pregnancy were emotionally hard. I was done, like many pregnant women. I remarked to Chad that I don’t remember having the same urgency to be finished with my pregnancy with Landon, and the biggest difference I can think of is social media. I didn’t have any of it when I was pregnant with him, so I didn’t have as much comparison to have with other women and moms, let alone in my face all the time (I know, only because I let it…).

Chad’s mom had come down to stay with us for a few days over the weekend, just in case something happened and at my 40-week appointment on the 21st, they had agreed to set up a scheduled induction date in case I didn’t progress. Of course, I picked the soonest one they would let me pick – January 23rd.

I woke up on January 22nd with contractions. They weren’t intense, and if I had learned anything from Landon’s birth (11.5 years ago!), it’s that labor can go on and on and on, with little progress…sometimes for days! So contractions weren’t going to get my hopes up. Landon went to school, as usual, Chad went to work as usual, and my mother in law and I hunkered down as I tried to literally will my contractions into working their magic. I was timing them every 3-5 minutes, and by 11am, the pain had intensified to the point where I felt like I should call the nurse and check-in. They saw me at our OB clinic for a quick check and her conclusion was that I would probably labor at home for another hour or two before it would be a good idea to head to the hospital (unless water breaks or something more critical happens prior to that). We left, and I relayed the message to Chad, who thought to finish up his day a little early and wrap things up before heading home.

In trying to let my contractions work their magic, I decided I wasn’t just going to sit on the couch, I was going to work through them. So I did laundry, made some Superhero Muffins, and when Chad got home from work, we went for a walk. Well, the walk was a little less walking from me, as the pain got to a point where I thought it would be a good time to head in. I waddled my way back to the house, called the nurse to let her know I was heading in, and we checked into Johns Hopkins Howard County General Hospital at 3pm.

I met with my OB as our nurse was getting me settled in the Labor and Delivery unit. I had expressed that my fear was checking in only to be sent home to labor there more – she said (with confidence) “oh you’re not going home…” and that allowed me to breathe a huge sigh of relief that our baby girl was officially on her way!

At 5:30pm, I received my epidural, which only worked on half of my body. When I had Landon, my epidural only worked on half of my body. My left side was in full-blown 100% labor, and my right side was completely dead. This time, it was reversed! The difference was, by the time I had my epidural with Landon, it was “go-time” so soon after that we never redosed it, we just had to rock with it. This time, we tried a few tricks and flipped me into different positions to let gravity do its thing, but when the pain was leaning on unbearable, they brought the aesthetician back in for a redose. Thaaaaaaat suuuuccckkkkkkked. I was so dead from the waist down that it was uncomfortable and it almost made me nauseous. Sometime around this, maybe 8pm?, my OB broke my water and we went back to flipping and flopping to try and progress labor some more.

Landon and Pat (my MIL) had popped in for a visit and stayed for a bit. Landon wanted to be in the waiting room when she was born, even if it was the middle of the night, so I agreed to give him a break from school in the morning if things progressed to that point. I mean, if the birth of your baby sister isn’t reason enough to miss a few hours of school, I don’t know what is! They made their way back to the house and tucked in for the night, awaiting our call…

I slowly started to notice the contraction pains coming through on my right side again… which was almost welcomed, until it wasn’t. It didn’t take long for them to reach a level that was intolerable. My body began shaking uncontrollably with every contraction and as much as I tried to relax into them, the stress on my body was taking its toll and baby’s heart rate started causing concern. The nurse didn’t like it and assumed my position was making baby unhappy, so we flipped again, but the contractions were too much. She called in about 4 other nurses and paged my OB when her heart rate dropped really really low (as I was trying not to panic and think c-section or worse), and then it immediately spiked way too high. Chad, this whole time, is the picture of calm and supportive; however, would later admit that he was losing his shit as well internally and just trusting the nurses and doctor. He’s such a badass husband!

Dr. McDowell arrived and my amazing nurse caught her up to speed and upon checking me, she goes “well we’re going to have a baby in about five seconds.” Only being slightly facetious, I looked at Chad – certain there were tears welling in my eyes – and asked him to tell his mom to bring Landon over.

My nurse politely reminded me what my duties were the next few minutes: bear down – push for the count of 10, repeat 3-4 times per contraction. My next contraction started building, my nurse gave the queue and I think she made it to seven before our baby girl was out. We literally blinked and she was here!

They placed my beautiful baby girl on my chest and her glorious cry was music to our ears. She was so tiny but had long limbs and just the slightest bit of hair. I counted her fingers, and through tears began to inspect this little girl I so lovingly referred to as my “nugget”. This beautiful baby, who had rocked my world for the last few months, was now blowing my mind… and I just sobbed. I held her close, felt her warmth outside of my body, and let the tears stream down my face. She was here. And she was perfect.

Clara will be two weeks old tomorrow, and to say life with her around is a dream is a complete understatement. She’s the calmest, most passive and content baby I’ve ever seen. Landon wasn’t too far off, either, but she’s such a blessing. I love capturing moments where they’re hanging out together, as Landon is such an incredible big brother… I can only imagine he’s going to be more engaged as she gets older as well. She sleeps like a dream, has a pretty regular little schedule so far, and is spending longer parts of the day awake and soaking in the world.

I felt incredible after delivery, almost to a fault. It was too easy to start walking and moving around a lot, I felt like I could skip recovery! That being said, I was very aware of what my body had been through so as great as I felt, I still have been taking things very easy. I started a workout program today and because I’m breastfeeding, I have a lot of motivation to eat well and stay hydrated. I’m looking forward to my appointment next week and have my fingers crossed that they’ll clear me to start running – albeit slowly.

Chad is quite the natural father, and no one is surprised. He’s been involved and raising Landon since he wasn’t quite five, but seeing him with his little girl is incredible. They say you don’t know how you’re going to fit all of this love in your heart, and then when you don’t think it can get any bigger, it grows leaps and bounds.

*Photographs provided by my loving husband, Chad and professional images by Love and Light Photography

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