Friday night, our friends, Anna and Matt, arrived from Minnesota. Anna and I did the Peace Corps together in Ghana, and Matt is her fabulous boyfriend that we just met, but are already in love with. I know it was an interesting time to have house guests from out of town, but it was the only time that worked for them, so I said, "come on down even though I might have a baby that weekend." Saturday we slept in, made chocolate chip pancakes, played with Brendan, Seth, & Jacob at the park nearby, and then we took Anna & Matt to our favorite restaurant in Wichita, Passage to India (Everyone in Wichita, you should go there. its on 21st and Woodlawn).
As we sat in our booth, enjoying our amazing Indian food, I noticed that my contractions, that had been going on for over a week, were getting quite a bit more uncomfortable. By the time we got home that evening, it was obvious that something was starting. The contractions got stronger but were anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes long. Anna & Matt made delicious Ghiradelli brownies and we watched the original version of Shutter, a Thai horror film that has recently been made into an American movie, all the while the contractions kept getting stronger. The movie, by the way, was incredibly scary and is probably way better than the American version. Matt and Anna eventually went to bed, while Jared continued monitoring the contractions, and i continued being in pain every 5 to 12 minutes. By about 5am, Jared had gotten a total of about 3 hours of sleep, mostly between contractions, and I had been awake the whole time. The contractions were not any more regular, but I wanted to make sure everything was going OK, so we decided to go to the hospital. I imagined that after 12 hours of painful contractions, I might be dilated enough to keep me in the hospital, but apparently my body is slower than I thought. I was only 2 cm so they sent me home. I was pretty bummed about missing the Easter service at Restored, especially because Brendan was getting baptized; but at the same time I just wanted Nancy to hurry up and get out of my belly.
When we got home Anna & Matt took care of us all day while we dealt with contractions. We watched the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, something that always makes me feel better. We walked the dogs, listened to some cool music, talked all day; and they comforted me by making two of my favorite Ghanaian foods: Kele Wele and Ground Nut Stew with Rice Balls. It ended up being a super fun weekend in spite of me being in excruciating pain every five minutes because we got to hang out with Anna & Matt. Without them we would have spent the first 25 hours of my labor at home stewing in our own misery. The contractions were the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life, but the advice I got from my friend Lisa really helped me learn to deal with them emotionally and physically. I learned to relax and let them do their job rather than tensing and "fighting the pain" as my body wanted to.
Even though they never reached the "required" frequency of five minutes, the contractions eventually got so intense that we decided to go to the hospital around 8 PM Sunday night. This time I definitely thought that I was going to be way dilated because of all the pain; but when we got there it turned out I had only gone from 2 cm to 3 cm. They kept me for an hour, during which Jared and my mom walked me around the hospital trying to bring on more contractions. At the end of the hour I had gone from 3 cm to 4 cm, which was fortunate because if I had not changed they would have sent me home again. After they admitted me and I had been in labor for a total of 31 hours, my body eventually became so exhausted that I couldn't even stand up and I ran out of emotional energy to deal with the contractions. I had hoped to be able to experience the birth completely naturally, but at this point I decided to get an epidural. The procedure went really well and right away I knew it was the right decision. I was able to rest a little and enjoy the last 5 hours of my labor. It was actually a good thing for both of us; for the entire first 31 hours, Jared would drop everything and be there completely for me, to help me emotionally and physically through each contraction, so now he finally got a chance to rest too.
Eventually I made it to 10 cm and was ready to start pushing. After all of the hard work, Nancy practically popped out after pushing for only about 15 minutes, instead of the 1/2 hour to 2 hours that it usually takes to push babies out. I don't think I can properly describe what happened next, although I imagine anyone who has been through this experience already knows all about it. Seeing her for the first time and holding her and knowing that Jared and I made this beautiful little person- there are really no words for that. I nursed her right away, which was also an unbelievable experience. How incredible is it that we can actually make other people. Nancy was created inside my body and lived in my belly for 9 months, and here she was, laying on my chest, getting food from my body. God is so amazing.
We are now home spending some quality time with our sweet Nancy Lucille, enjoying every minute of it. Of course, it helps that she is a great eater, a great sleeper, and an all around perfect baby. But we are even loving the crying and the pooping (well, jared is not really loving the poop). Sorry for any of the phone calls I missed, but I left my phone at Passage to India and it was there all weekend. Thank you all for your phone calls and visits and thoughts and prayers. It was an incredible experience.