Unfortunately, the weeks leading up to his birthday weren't as magical. At around 37 weeks, I started having contractions on and off. At my doctor's appointment that week, she checked me and said I should make sure I have my hospital bag packed and our car seat installed! I came home and my mom and I frantically put the finishing touches on his nursery.
I spent the next few weeks counting contractions and finishing up any last minute projects and to-dos. It seemed like he was going to come any minute, but despite long walks and spicy foods-nothin'! At my last doctor's appointment, she asked me if I wanted to schedule a day to get induced in case he didn't come before his due date. I couldn't believe it! Here I was thinking he was going to come weeks early, and now I was talking about being induced. I told her I wanted to wait until next week to decide if I would be induced or not.
I went into labor on my due date, at about 5:30am as the bedroom started to fill with morning light. As the pain of the first contraction rolled over me, I woke up Matt by whispering "the baby's going to come today!". A few minutes later, we were scrambling to go to the hospital as the contractions came hard and fast.
Labor wasn't terribly long, just under 9 hours. I had complete back labor and the pain was all-consuming. I really only remember bits and pieces of it all. Like getting wheeled into the hospital by an intern, who spotted me buckled over in pain in the parking lot and brought out a wheelchair. Or the moment we saw a deer grazing in the grass outside our window; a perfectly serene moment in the midst of intensity and pain. I remember Matt offering me ice chips, juice, cold wash cloths, constant support and encouragement. For some reason, Taylor's heart rate dropped with every contraction. The nurses would rush in and turn me over, hoping to release pressure on the umbilical cord. It was a little unnerving to hear the words "flat line" in regards to your baby's heart rate, but our wonderful nurses did a great job of reassuring me that everything would be fine. And it was! (Although the next morning, the doctor mentioned she thought it was going to end in a c-section! She was so calm and confident, I had no idea at the time.)
The moment Taylor was born was the most surreal moment of my life. I stared down at the hot, squirming, purple baby they put on my chest with utter disbelief. I remember glancing up at the smiling faces of the nurses gathered around the bed and seeing Matt eyes filling with tears. I put my hands on Taylor's back and couldn't believe he was here, on the outside of my stomach!
I pulled him away from my chest to look into his face for the first time and his eyes slowly opened. We shared a moment of eye contact, him studying me, me studying him, before he popped his thumb in his mouth and fell asleep. I looked up at Matt and exclaimed "I love him!" Everything people told me was true. I instantly fell in irrevocable, consuming and unconditional love with him. (I think at one point I even asked my mom "how can people like their babies when their babies aren't Taylor?"...)
Even though there was a lot going on, I really enjoyed our hospital stay. We had really wonderful nurses, great care and lots of sweet moments together as a new family (and drank about 64 ounces of sparkling cranberry juice from the nurse's lounge, which was the best reward ever after only drinking water during pregnancy). After two days at the hospital, we were finally discharged at about 10pm. At 9:45pm, we still hadn't picked his middle name! Our bags were packed and Taylor was buckled into his car seat, but we couldn't leave until we turned in our birth certificate paperwork, which we stood over, staring at the blank line above midde name. We always knew his name was going to be Taylor, after Matt's dad, but we could never agree on a middle name (I was pulling for "Taylor Gray" but Matt wasn't convinced that "because I like it" was a good enough reason...). Finally, we agreed on Matthew. It seemed so perfect for a little boy who came out looking exactly like his daddy. (Seriously, I can't believe I get to kiss TWO pairs of those perfect lips!)
The past month has been the most rewarding and exhausting experience of my life. We are so blessed by all the love and excitement people have shared with us. Whether it's a visitor stopping by, a card in the mail or simply a text asking about him, we are so thankful to have so many family and friends sharing in our joy.
We are healthy, happy, sleep-deprived, thankful and in love.