Little Miss E's due date was May 11. All my other babies have come at 38 weeks. Here in Luxembourg they are very cautious and (almost overly) careful in their prenatal care. At every one of my doctor appointments in the third trimester I had an ultrasound, a cervical exam, and a 40 minute fetal heart monitoring session. It sure felt like a lot of hassle compared to my other experiences, but I kept assuring myself that it was all for the best, and thankfully, everything appeared to be completely normal. At every appointment, though, my doctor kept telling me that this baby was in no hurry and he would be surprised if she came early. I was having tons of Braxton Hicks contractions the last few months, some of them getting uncomfortable, but they just weren't doing much. So, by the time I got to my 39 week appointment, I felt like I was getting close to my limit. I know it sounds ridiculous- she still wasn't even due for at least a week, but I had never made it to 39 weeks before. Also, by my 38 and 39 week appointments, the ultrasound was starting to show some abnormal calcifications in the placenta, which concerned me, but I tried to be calm about it. Maybe these calcifications have happened in all my pregnancies, I've just never been monitored so closely. Anyway, my dr. told me he didn't want me to go past my due date, so if baby hadn't shown up in the next week, we'd have to get serious about getting her here. I really didn't want to be induced, so I left the office that day determined to find a way to get this baby moving.
My last pregnant photo- taken about a day and a half before she was born.
That weekend, I did some house cleaning, cleaned out the garage, mowed the lawn, and went on a couple long, hard walks. By the time I went to bed Sunday night I was starting to feel some pretty strong contractions. I'd had the same thing happen a few other nights, then they died down and nothing happened. So, I was trying not to get my hopes up. After laying in bed for about an hour, I decided to get up and see if anything changed. I got in the bathtub to see if they would die down, but they didn't. After about two hours of consistent contractions in the bathtub, the intensity was really picking up. We started to get nervous because Miss H's delivery was so fast. (Labor only lasted about 3 hours, I got to the hospital fully dilated, and delivered in triage) K decided it was time to go to the hospital so that we didn't risk having this baby somewhere other than the hospital. We called our friend, Christy, who came right over to stay with the kids. She was such a good sport to rush to our house so quickly at 2:30 in the morning!
We rushed off to the hospital and found our way in to the labor and delivery area, which was no easy task. It was not clearly marked and there was no one around to ask. It was about 3:30 by the time we got there. Contractions were still coming, but were definitely a little less regular and less intense than they had been. After getting checked in at the hospital, I was disappointed to find out I was only at 3 cm. I told my nurse that I was hoping to labor in water for awhile (which I had never done before). She suggested I get up and walk for awhile first since they prefer women only stay in the water for about two hours. We figured I still had quite a bit of time left. The nurse (who is actually a midwife) was really wonderful. Her English was pretty good. We were able to communicate well, though there were a few times that I turned to K after she had left to see if he had understood what she'd said cause I sure hadn't. I have to admit I'm glad that I didn't have this type of experience until we'd been here almost a year because now it doesn't bother me so much to not really know what's being said around me. Earlier in this expat experience it might have bothered me a lot more to not be quite so in control of the situation. Thankfully, though, a few weeks earlier, I'd had a registration appointment with another midwife at the hospital who had created a file for me that included all my wishes concerning my labor and delivery. This hospital was very natural birth friendly. Most of the things I've had to make serious requests for in the U.S. were just standard practice here, so I wasn't too worried. Ok- back to the story- She left the room and things started to pick up pretty quickly after that. Ultimately, due to some complications with the placenta, I wasn't able to get up and walk or get in the tub. But, she was calling the doctor within about an hour. He showed up to check on the situation. He let me know it was okay to start pushing whenever I felt like I needed to. I felt the need pretty quickly after that. It was a unique experience for me to be delivering a baby while the nurse and doctor were chattering away in Luxembourgish. I decided that it was probably good I didn't understand everything they were saying. I think I was able to be more focused on my job and not so worried about trying to hear everything they were saying.
Our baby girl came at 5:25 am on Monday, May 6, 2013 and weighed 3480 grams (which translates to 7 lbs. 10 oz) and was 54 cm long (21.5 inches).
Here we are just a couple minutes after she was born. Hospital gowns are only worn by sick patients- and childbirth is not an illness. All the clothes I wore in the hospital were my own (or K's big t-shirts!)
I just think this little face is so cute! Being born has got to be a pretty rude awakening!
We spent about two hours in the delivery room before being moved upstairs to our mother/baby room. Here's a funny hormonal/annoying European story I'm willing to share- When we first moved to Europe, I struggled some with the food. Most of it's fine, but I'm not very into the pastries, especially for breakfast. I try to eat some protein and whole grains for breakfast most days. Of course, I have since learned how divine the pastries can be, but that's beside the point :) Anyway, so by the time we were moved to our room upstairs the breakfast trays had already been served. Well I was starving, of course! All I had been saying the last two hours was how hungry I was. In the elevator on the way upstairs I had said to K that they better not try to serve me a European breakfast. A nurse brought me in a tray of food that she had found, I got settled in, and K tried to take a little nap on the chair. I lifted the lid to find a piece of white bread with butter, a croissant, and some coffee. As I looked at the tray, the tears started coming. I knew it was silly- and that it was the hormones crying- but I just couldn't stop. I was so hungry at that point. A few minutes later K opened his eyes, saw what was going on, and jumped up to go find some more food. The cafeteria wasn't open yet so he came back with an apple and yogurt from a vending machine and a promise to find something better later. I got over it quickly and actually really enjoyed the food during the rest of my stay.
That afternoon, when the kids got out of school, K brought everyone over to hospital to meet the new baby.
This was Mr. L's reaction the first time Little Miss E started crying at the hospital. Don't worry- he's gotten over that pretty quickly!
We stayed at the hospital from early Monday morning until Thursday at lunchtime. That's the longest I've ever stayed at the hospital, but it was a pretty short stay by Luxembourgish standards. Everyone kept reminding me that this was my time to rest because it would be a lot harder once I went home. My hospital experience was so different here because they were much more "hands off". The nurses would come in at about 7 pm to check on us and ask if we needed anything, then they'd say, "Good night, see you in the morning!" and that was it. I actually got to sleep pretty well there. And nobody made me fill out any charts about how many minutes I spent nursing and how many diapers I changed, etc. It was a really nice experience overall. And you would have thought I was a celebrity in that hospital once everyone found out this was our fourth baby. That many kids is pretty uncommon here. A few days later, we were ready to go home- at least we hoped we were ready!
Everyone was very excited for our arrival home! All the kids wanted to hold our sweet baby as much as possible. Miss H still thinks that every time she holds the baby I'm supposed to take her picture. Let's just say I have a lot of pictures that look something like the one above.
And now, two and a half months later, it's hard to believe how much Little Miss E has grown. K's mom came to visit us when she was just a week old. And then my parents came to visit when she was three weeks old. She started really smiling at about 6 weeks and it still melts my heart every time she does it.
Since she was born, we have travelled to France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. She is one well traveled kid! And next month, she gets to make her debut in the good old US of A! Good thing she got her passport paperwork going when she was just 8 days old. The man at the shop where I went to have her photo taken thought I was crazy for trying to get a passport photo for an 8 day old baby. He just shook his head and said, "Well, I guess it's never too early!". Let's just say, we're ALL prepared for our visit home next month.
Little Miss E is a great eater, entertains everyone with smiles, coos, squeals, and an occasional laugh. She sleeps all night and is such a happy baby, which makes for a VERY happy mommy :) I think she's going to fit in just fine around here!!! And I hope that someday she'll forgive me for taking two and a half months to write a blog post announcing her birth......