I am so happy to announce to the world (for those few of you who haven't heard yet) the birth of our sweet, sweet baby boy, Emery Lewis LaValley.
Little Emery clocked in at 10:55pm on Friday July 19th weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces and 20 inches long. This little peanut made QUITE the entrance.
Zach works double shifts on Fridays so i hadn't seen him all day. I was pretty restless for most of the day. I didn't want to be home. The house was a mess. The dishes were dirty, the laundry was piled up, the dishes weren't clean, and I didn't care. I didn't want to look at it, clean it, or live in it. So I called my mom. "Wanna go to Costco?" So I spent the morning running around, avoiding my house, but eventually had to come back home for naps.
Of course Jonah only slept for 45 minutes. Because why would he take his normal 2 hour nap and give me time to rest as well? As soon as he woke up, I was like, FOR.GET.THISSSS. I got him dressed and carried our massive stroller down the stairs and we walked a mile to Publix in 90 something degree weather. I realize now that I was kind of overdoing it. When we got to Publix, I was so out of it. I was dizzy and disoriented and just felt off. I kept forgetting what I was there for and walked from one end of the store to the other without realizing it. At one point, Jonah turned around and said, "What are you DOING, mom?"
Thankfully, my mom was on her way to our apartment to drop some things off so she came and picked us up and took us home. I honestly don't know how I would've made it home otherwise. I was a mess. When we got home, I gave Jonah dinner (ahem. deli meat slices and string cheese. I'm telling you guys, I was not with it.) and then put him to bed.
He fell asleep in record time and then I decided to make some taco dip. I was really excited about that taco dip. Before I could finish making it, my little brother Zachary came over to drop some more things off. We hung out for a little while and then he went home. I sat down on the couch with my dip, pressed play on some movie with Gerard Butler on Netflix and reached for the bag of chips. POP. I literally heard a pop. Kind of like the noise your back makes when you crack it. I had the quick thought "I think it makes noise when your water breaks. Did mine just break?" I stood up and well .. yea. My water broke. I called Zach and he didn't believe me at first. Something about how I always called him and told him my water had broken to get him to leave work early. Once he realized I wasn't bluffing, we weren't sure what to do. I wasn't contracting at all. There didn't seem to be any reason to rush to the hospital. I certainly didn't want to be there longer than I had to. I told him to just come home whenever he could, but not to rush back.
I called my mom and my bestie, Rachel and it was while I was on the phone with her that my contractions started. That was around 9:15. I texted Zach and told him he should probably come home and he was already on his way. I called my mom to tell her we were leaving for the hospital soon and she had already sent my little brother back over to our apartment to stay with Jonah for the night. Somehow every one else knew things were progressing fast. I was clueless. By the time Zach got home, I couldn't talk through my contractions. I had only had 2 since my water broke. By the 4th, I couldn't move. They were one on top of the other. By the time we got to the car, I was pretty sure we weren't going to make it the hospital. We got on the highway around 9:45 and called the hospital to let them know we were coming. A few minutes later, one of the midwives called Zach back.
"Is this the Kristen that was in our office for the first time on Tuesday?" Yep. "She's been stuck at 5cm for 2 weeks?" Yep. "And her water broke 45 minutes ago?" Yep. "And her contractions are really painful?" Yep. "I'm on my way!" Click.
That's when we both realized that this was happening fast. I think that's about the time I started freaking out. I did NOT want to have the baby on the side of the highway. Our hospital was 20 minutes away and Zach couldn't drive fast enough. When we got off the exit, we were at a red light and this guy ran in front of our car. He was dirty and had an apron sticking out of his back pocket and I said to Zach, "I don't want that guy delivering this baby!!" I don't know what my line of thinking was there. I think that was the beginning of the "Hilarious Things Kristen Says When She's Freaking Out" story.
We pulled into the parking lot of the hospital a little after 10pm and I couldn't get out of the car. When I put my feet on the ground, I could feel the pressure of the baby and I started yelling, "He's coming! We're gonna have him in the parking lot! I don't want to have him in here! We have to go! I can't get up. I can't walk. Oh God!" We walked as fast as we could in between contractions, but each time, we didn't get very far. At one point, this very pregnant woman walked past me with her family and her eyes were full of fear. I wonder what she saw in mine... Probably the same thing.
We finally got through the door of Labor & Delivery and unfortunately, I cannot repeat the things I said, which made the receptionist die of laughter, because they were wildly inappropriate. In an effort to keep some trace of my integrity, let's just say... I used some very unladylike language. My words were so memorable, that the receptionist was still laughing when my mom and sister arrived. He said, "I know who you're looking for, she just went upstairs." My sister asked him if I was yelling and screaming and he said, "No.... but she was very .... vocal."
We got on the elevator and another pregnant lady was getting off. She took one look at me and her eyes got really huge and she jumped (maybe ran?) off. I yelled back to her, "don't let me scare you! You'll do fine!" We went up one floor and the elevator stopped to let someone else on. I mean, seriously!? I'm in labor and the elevator had the nerve to STOP and let other people on!? As we were riding up to the next floor, I said, "This is so awkward." And the poor people that had just came on the elevator awkwardly laughed. (Thus confirming my point.) FINALLY we got to labor and delivery and the nurses and midwife were there ready for me. They tried to take me to triage to get checked in and monitored and hooked up and all that. I walked in and leaned on one of the desks and said, "I'm not having my baby in here." It was this big room with 7 or 8 beds. I turned to the midwife and said, "I wasn't supposed to meet you until our appointment next week." And she said, "Well here we are! I'm Libby!" "I'm Kristen. Ow."
Mid contraction, I heard somebody say something about checking me to see how far dilated I was and I said, "NOPE. No. You're not checking me. I can't do it. I'm in labor." The nurse said, "I really don't think we need to do that. Obviously she's in labor." The midwife said, "Yea. We don't have time for this. Let's get you to a room."
As we were walking to our room, I saw my mom and sister and cousin standing in the hallway and I gave them a half hearted wave. We walked into the room and I said, "I have to pee!" So I did. When I came out, the midwife said, "Quick. Get on the bed, let me check you before your next contraction." I obliged and she was in and out before I could take a breath. She told the nurse, "She's at 9 and ready to push!" I climbed off the bed and squatted on my exercise ball. Zach ran out to get my mom. I started getting dizzy and losing all sense of myself.
This whole time, during contractions, I wasn't brave. I didn't find a secret source of inner strength. I wasn't calm. I didn't chant a soothing mantra. I was screaming. Yelling. Crying. Praying. Begging them to make it stop. I kept saying, "This is too fast. It's happening too fast!" I was so overwhelmed. But every time I looked at Zach, he had this stupid grin on his face and he kept saying, "You're doing amazing, babe." He was so excited. There I was in the most pain of my life and he was smiling like an idiot. It gave me strength. HE was my strength.
The nurse kept trying to put a blood pressure cuff on my arm. Your arm has to be perfectly still for those things to work and I was crouched on the side of the bed writhing in pain. I don't know how many readings she tried to take, but I couldn't feel my arm. I was like, "Seriously does it matter at this point?!" But she just kept doing it. Just as Zach was about to rip the cuff off, the reading worked and my arm was free. It was so infuriating though. Then someone tried to put a hospital gown on me and I instantly froze up. Zach was like, "I don't think--" and the midwife said, "You can keep your dress on if you want, but it's gonna get messy." I said, "I don't care. It's black, it'll be fine." And they all laughed and I threw the gown on the floor.
After a couple more contractions the midwife said, "Kristen, if you get on the bed right now and start pushing, we can get this baby out in a few minutes. So I climbed on the bed and started pushing. It was so intense. I said some more things that I can't repeat, but most of it I don't really remember. At one point, my mom and Zach said, "Kristen we can see his head!" And I thought they were lying to me. I didn't believe them. I kept saying, "He's not coming. He's never coming. He's just going to stay in there forever." I had been pushing for about 5 minutes when I screamed, "JUST GET THE FORCEPS. GET THE VACUUM!" And the room erupted in a loud, "NO!!!" For some reason, that empowered me more than anything else anybody had said. I realized they weren't going to take the easy way out. They were making me do this. There was no way out. I had to do this on my own. I think everyone could tell I was losing my mind so I heard a lot of voices saying things like, "Grab your leg. Push. Calm down. He's coming. Breathe. He's almost here. You're doing great. Make this noise. Make that noise." The midwife said, "EVERYBODY STOP! Kristen, look at me. Breathe. Grunt. Push." I looked at her and said, "I can't. I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared." She said, "I know. Breathe. Grunt. Push." And the room got really quiet and stayed quiet.
After another push or two, somebody started pulling at my clothes. I was so confused. It was distracting. And then I heard Zach in my ear, saying really quietly, "They're moving your dress out of the way so she can put the baby right on your skin." That was all I needed to hear. I pushed one more time and all of a sudden I had a beautiful, slimy, screaming baby boy on my chest and everyone was cheering. I just kept saying, "Hi. Hi. Hi. We did it. We did it!"
We'd been at the hospital less than 40 minutes. And there he was. It was amazing. My midwife and nurses were incredible. They treated me with such kindness and love and respect. I can't even describe how awesome it was to have that experience after everything we've been through. The real icing on the cake was about 15 minutes later. Zach and I were lost in joy, staring and oohing and ahhing at our baby boy when the midwife said, "Kristen. I need to talk to you." I looked up at her and she had this very serious look on her face. She said, "I''m pretty sure a piece of your placenta broke off and is still in your uterus. I have to get it out and it's going to be painful. If I don't get it out now, you're going to hemorrhage." I was like, "Ok. Ok. I don't know.. Ok. Do what you have to do." She said something about pitocin and some other procedure and we were like, "Just get it out now." My mom asked if they should take the baby away from me and the midwife said, "Nope. Leave him right there."
What happened next was probably the most painful thing I've ever felt, but having Emery on my chest, snuggled close and smelling so new, distracted me and kept me calm. If they had taken him away, I think it would've been a lot worse. But they just left him there. When they got the retained piece out of me, the nurse said, "You need to let him breastfeed now. It'll help prevent you from hemorrhaging." I couldn't believe they were letting me breastfeed him! When Jonah was born, they took him right away from me and I didn't see him for 45 minutes, even though he was in the room with me. When they gave him to me and I tried to breastfeed, the nurse laughed and shook her head and left the room. But these guys were TELLING me to breastfeed. And the little guy just latched right on and nursed for a good 45 minutes. It was incredible.
The next few hours are a blur of congratulations and joy and laughter and phone calls and texts and all things wonderful. Over the next couple of days, Zach and I just kept talking about how at peace we felt. About how we know this was God's plan for us the whole time and how much better it turned out to be in the long run. The night Emery was born, I couldn't sleep at all and I just lay there in my bed, staring at the wall with my perfect little peanut snuggled up against my neck, and I was just smiling like an idiot. In my drunken, new baby stupor, I was thanking God over and over and over again for how faithful he's been to us through this journey. It's been such a long and stressful 9 months, but here we are. Chapter closed. We can't believe how blessed we are. Every day we are so overcome and in awe of how stinking GOOD God is. We feel so undeserving, but so thankful.
I needed this hospital experience and God knew that. I needed to be in the hospital. I don't think my scars from my experience with Jonah would have ever healed if I had delivered anywhere else. We got absolutely everything we ever wanted out of this birth experience and more than we could have ever hoped for. God is faithful in the most uncertain circumstances and I'm just so thankful for how everything has played out. Anyway. Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement and support through this whole process. It has meant the world to us.
A few people have asked us about Emery's name. When I was in labor the FIRST time, I was looking at a baby name app to help distract me during contractions. We still hadn't decided on a name and I wanted to see if we'd overlooked any. I stumbled on the name Emery and in that particular app, it said the name's meaning was "home strength". At that point, I thought it was kind of funny because we were having the baby at home and I suggested the name half heartedly. Everyone fell in love with it. The "official" meaning is "brave and powerful", which I feel fits our little rock star and his story more than anything else. He's also named after my favorite author, C.S. Lewis, whose writings have had a major impact on my walk with Christ.
OK. Enough words.