It has been 17 days since our family welcomed it's newest member. Baby Victoria Grace came into this world on November 21st at 5:17 am. She was pink, crying, covered in vernix, wide eyed and one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. She was immediately placed in my arms, while still attached to me via umbilical cord. I held her in my arms and immediately began to weep tears of joy. I looked at Micah and back at Victoria, I couldn't believe she was actually here.
My labor began on Thursday morning around 3:30 am. I woke up for one of my frequent bathroom trips and noticed a contraction. I went back to bed, but I couldn't go back to sleep. I went downstairs, turned on the TV and every ten minutes or so I felt another contraction. Since around 22 weeks I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions, so I was hesitant to think this could be the real thing. By the time Micah got up around 6:30 am the contractions seemed to be getting stronger, so he decided to take the day off. As the day went on I had contractions on and off. They would get stronger for a while, and then lighten up. We went to the mall to walk around for awhile, then out to lunch with my Mom where I would periodically sit back and breathe through a contraction. Finally around 9pm they seemed to be consistently strong and regular, we decided to go the hospital and call our Doula.
When we got to the hospital I was checked into triage and the nurse checked me. I was dialated to about 4cm. We walked around the halls for an hour and I got checked again, I was between 4 and 5. We again walked the halls for another hour, this time with our amazingly helpful doula. By now my contractions were strong I was started to feel back labor. I would lean on the hallway handrails, hold Micah's hand and Hattie our Doula would put counter pressure on my back. By the time I got checked again I was close to 6cm dialated. I labored for a while longer before our labor and delivery nurse Paige arrived to transfer me to our delivery room.
Once we got settled in our new room I got in the shower and labored there for a while. Then I came out and not long after my Doctor arrived to check on me. I was lucky enough to have built a good relationship with my Obstetrician over the past two years. She was the Doctor that delivered James and Penelope and had seen me for every appointment following their birth and with this pregnancy as well. She had offered to deliver Victoria even if she was not on call and even gave me her personal cell phone number. I was still around 6cm and she offered to break my water in hopes of speeding things up. At this point I had been in labor for over 20 hours and anything to speed things up seemed like a good idea so I agreed. She broke my water bag and the next contraction was crazy intense. I couldn't believe how much more painful it was. After a few more contractions I started crying and telling Micah and my Doula that I couldn't do it anymore, I needed an epidural. We called the nurse in and she set up an IV for me. She said once the bag was empty we could start the epidural. Within about 20 minutes of sitting on the birth ball and doing some deep breathing I was handling the contractions much better and I told her I didn't need it. Within an hour the contractions were more intense again. My legs were shaking and once again I asked for an epidural. This time our nurse Paige suggested checking me first to see if I had progressed. I was almost 10 cm dialated, I was almost done and I knew I could do it without the epidural.
I got back on the birth ball and a few contractions later I started feeling the urge to push. I begrudgingly got back into bed and our Doctor was called back in along with a Resident. Pushing went pretty quickly and after about 20 minutes Victoria came out. The physical pain of labor and delivery was worse than I had remembered, but the pure euphoria of holding your newborn baby was even better than I had remembered. It had been almost four years since I had given birth to my first daughter and a little over two years since I had given birth to my twins. All three births were completely different experiences. I just held her in my arms, crying and telling her how much I loved her.
Victoria has been home with us for a little over two weeks now and I can't imagine our family without her. She is just perfect and watching Gwenevere in her big sister role is precious. Every moment with her is a gift, but it is also bittersweet. Every moment I have with her is a reminder of what I never got to have with Penelope and James. I am so grateful to have her here, but I can't help feeling sad for my my son and daughter than I never got to bring home. I am also aware that if my twins had survived we would not have gone on to have another baby and Victoria would not be here. She is a piece of our family's puzzle and she makes us a little more complete. But we will always be missing two pieces, James and Penelope. They will always be loved and missed and they will always be part of our family.