Piper’s due date was 12/30/17. Pretty early on, I had a feeling she was going to make us all wait a good long time for her arrival….after all, we had been waiting a long time for a little girl of our very own…why would I expect anything else? Around week 36/37 I began to get the “itch”…mommies know what I’m talking about…the “get out of me as soon as you can” itch. I had her brothers at weeks 38 (technically 40), 32, and 36…I was a little optimistic that she would follow suite and come a little early, before the pregnancy was pure misery. Nope, this would not happen. Week 37, then 38 went by. Finally in the 38th week, we had an official date for her arrival…we booked the OR for an elective cesarean on 12/27/17. Perfect, just a few days after Christmas so I could be home with the family on Christmas Day. Week 39, I begged the midwife to strip my membranes, to help me get the ball rolling. I don’t recommend this…not only did it make me cuss like a sailor, it didn’t work.
On 12/21, my gorgeous niece Violet was born and the next day, the 22nd, as soon as I could, I went and met her. I noticed that I was cramping and feeling the contractions a little more than usual but chalked it up to late-pregnancy woes. 12/23, the contractions start to pick up, but went away….again. Another false alarm. That evening around 6 pm, I felt a little “off” and decided to sleep it off, surely I’d feel better with a good night’s sleep. About 11 pm, something shifted and next thing I know, there was no longer a question about it- I was definitely in labor.
Contractions were 1.5- 2 min apart and lasting 45 seconds. I remember thinking, how does one BREATHE when there’s not enough time to take a breathe between contractions?! In a panic, I called my mom, because moms fix everything! Uncle Travis came over and relieved us and we were off to the hospital. Daniel actually dropped me off, and I waddled myself in and tried to tell the receptionist through panting breaths I was in labor and to just call my doctor. Wondering why Daniel dropped me off? Well, it was 12/23 and Santa’s helpers were slacking on the gift-wrapping so he had to go back to the house and oversee that process…well into the morning hours.
December 24th rolls around at some point in all this, and after some monitoring and some pain relief, my doctor comes in and announces it’s baby day! My contractions look fine, and Piper is having mild decelerations but nothing too scary, we decide to go the calm route and just go have a baby! Before I was walked into the operating room, my doctor asked if I’d like her to pray over the operation…of course we did! My heart was so comforted by her sweet prayer. I’ll never forget that gesture.
A few things I remember about the operating room: amazing anesthesiologist. He was clear about everything happening and radiated an authentic love for his job. He put me at ease so many times. Christmas music! There was Christmas music being played while my baby girl came into the world! A personal favorite, my doctor wore her Christmas scrubs! Oh, and Daddy had the camera, he was the official photographer for the big day! Back to the birth part. They numbed me, had me lie down and a sheet went up. I have no idea what they were doing, and that’s perfectly fine by me. I had previously requested a “gentle cesarean” and in the moment…I forgot. But my doctor didn’t! They lowered the sheet so I could see my baby the second she was out. The cord was allowed to pulse until it was done, and it was completely white before they cut it. She was not washed off, in any way, like I requested. She was immediately put to my chest, for skin to skin and they checked her stats there. They took her away a few feet from me to weigh her (7lbs 10 oz and 20 in long), lightly swaddled her for warmth (operating rooms are freezing by the way!) and brought right back to me, where I was able to nurse her while being sewn up. I did feel a bit woozy and things went black a bit but Daddy held her until I was out of surgery and back into our room. It was a calm, beautiful, and as natural of a process as I could have ever hoped for.
To this day, I am so deeply thankful that every single one of my wishes was respected, and everything happened exactly as I’d asked/hoped for. Such a blessing. It was very healing, after the traumatic experience of Owen’s birth, and my doctor was an angel to do all in her power to give me that gift. After seeing that we were safe and well, Daddy went back home to do Christmas with big brothers. Santa Clause came overnight, and I was able to FaceTime and watch everyone open gifts! Fun fact: mid present opening, the nurse came in and pulled my catheter. I nearly had a panic attack….would it hurt?! It was fine. Way better out than in! Ha! Christmas Day meant visitors: Daddy, big brothers and Mimi and Poppy, Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Mary all came by. Piper and I spent all of her first Christmas snuggling and resting. Piper Kaylee Duke born on December 24, 2017…the best Christmas present!