Ava has arrived! We love her so much.
Here is the birth story...it's detailed for our records sake so feel free to skip around if you'd like!
At about 2am on Thursday, December 7th I woke up feeling some light contractions. I really didn't know if it was "the real deal" or if it was Braxton-Hicks. When reasonable morning hours came around and I was still having contractions I figured it was for real. The contractions were still about a half hour or more apart and not that strong so Eric went off to work. He was in a training where he couldn't be online and only could call home during breaks and lunch. By the time lunch came around the contractions were 15 minutes apart and much stronger. After an extremely long debate, Eric decided to come home. I didn't want to have him miss out on his training and I didn't want to get to the hospital and then be sent home. My doctor advised when contractions were 5-7 minutes apart or if my water breaks I should head to the hospital. By the time Eric got home (good ole I-405 traffic at 1:15pm!) my contractions were about 8 minutes apart. The contractions while they were happening were really painful. I tried to subside the pain by walking or changing positions but nothing eased the pain. They lasted up to a minute in length and then relief. During the relief periods I thought - I can do this - I can hold off a little longer before going to the hospital but while the contraction was happening I felt like I was going to have our baby right then. Such a strange experience. Anyways, I had gotten everything together and ready to go - Eric loaded the car - and we were off to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, only about 10 minutes away. We had been updating our parents and Cindy headed right over when we left.
When we arrived at the hospital we went directly to the 5th floor and proceeded to wait there at the reception desk for waaaay to long for someone already in labor. As soon as they got me in the room they hooked me up to machines and checked to see if my contractions, dilation, etc was worthy of their time. Luckily it was! I was already 5 cms dilated and having strong, progressive contractions. They admitted me and it all began. I was admitted around 2:30pm. Our room was really great - we had an ocean view and we were there through sunset.
The contractions of course got worse and closer together. Eric was feeling bad that I was having so much pain but he couldn't do anything for me. Luckily the nurses could. The guy giving the epidural was in surgery so I opted for some regular drugs in the meantime which Eric said I was acting super weird on. Then it happened...my water broke. Not only was I now uncomfortable in my bed but the contractions increased in intensity and frequency. Seriously...I know that millions of women for millions of years have given birth but it really was painful. No worries though - I wasn't one of those scream my head off patients. I just endured as best as I could. The nurses were proud of my "high threshold for pain". Wow! Who knew? Anyways, then my most favorite thing happened - I received an epidural. Ahhh - no more pain! I was able to breeze through the rest of the labor without pain.
So, this all sounds long and drawn out but it really wasn't. Like I said, we arrived around 2:30pm and I delivered Ava at 7:03pm. A pretty amazing first pregnancy/labor/delivery. I only pushed for about a half hour and then out comes Ava. I was so amazed by the whole process. I was pushing so hard. Eric said he had never seen my face so red and strained! I was really grateful too because my OB (Dr Stephanie Ricci) was available and came right over for the delivery. She had her cord wrapped around her arm and neck so every time I pushed her heart rate dropped creating a little stress on the baby. The doctor was a little worried about that and even though it was going fast she wanted to get her out of there ASAP. So I received an episiotomy. But again - thanks to the epidural, no pain.
The whole process was so amazing. Eric even sneaked a peek or two which I was so proud of. He also got to cut the umbilical cord. Then Ava was dropped right onto my chest. She was hardly crying and not that messy at all. Eric, the nurse and I hurried and wiped her off. I couldn't believe that she was just right there in front of me. We were touching her and everything. One minute before she was inside. Seriously - blows my mind. I really don't know how you can't believe in God and His plan when you experience this. Ava was born at 7:03pm, 18 inches long and 7 lbs 6 oz.
Someone that really gets overlooked in the whole process is the labor nurse. My nurse's name was Vera. She was so amazing. Very personable and helpful. Also, my night nurse Lidia. Really great people doing things that the average person can't even comprehend or stomach doing.
Ava is beautiful. It's hard to imagine that she will be any bigger then she is now or on that day. Immediately her big eyes were open - checking out the world. She was so small in our arms. She just looked at us so intently. Like she definitely knew who we were. After Eric and I took a few new family moments together we had our visitors come in and share the moment with us. Eric's parents, Meredith, Rachael, Brennan and Carter, Aunt Karen and Uncle Rich, and Camille were all there to help us greet Ava. They were all pretty grateful for the fast delivery too.
Eric and I moved to the 6th floor for recovery. We had a private room where Ava and Eric could both stay with me overnight. We spent the two days in the hospital mostly just looking at our new baby. Trying to soothe her cries - learning to feed her - entertaining visitors - and trying to get a little bit of sleep. Eric was a big help changing her diapers, swaddling her, handing her to me for feeding, etc. at all hours of the night. We had such a great experience. We are so happy Ava is here and healthy. We are so blessed.