All of the photos in this post were taken by the lovely, sweet, and talented Missy Hill of Missy Hill Photography.
Dorothy Sue Key: Born November 23, 2017, her due date, at 8:47 a.m. She weighed 7 lbs. 8 0z., and was 20.5″ long.
On Wednesday, November 22, 2017, the day before your due date, I had a routine doctor appointment. The doctor checked my cervix, stripped my membranes, and let us know that I was 2.5 cm dilated, 75% effaced, and that he wouldn’t be surprised if I went into labor that night – ha. I chose not to believe him, since your sister was a week late. I was NOT getting my hopes up! We came home and prepared for our family’s arrival that evening; it was Thanksgiving week and with your due date the next day we invited everyone to Houston for Thanksgiving and, we hoped, to meet you. Your Nonnie made her famous lasagna for the family that night, and after dinner we played a few round of Cards Against Humanity. I was having regular, period-like cramp contractions all evening, about every five to ten minutes, but I attributed it to my membranes being stripped and refused to believe that I was going into labor. We went to bed around 10:00 that night, contractions still coming but thankfully I could sleep through them.
I woke up at 1:35 a.m. to a contraction that was noticeably more painful. I got out of bed and started walking around the bedroom and bathroom, timing the contractions, which were coming about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to just over a minute. The pain level was about a 3 to a 4 out of 10, and I was having to focus on relaxing during the contractions. I woke your dad up at 2:45 a.m. and told him it was time to go to the hospital! Your Mammy came with us while Nonnie and Papa drove to the house to stay with Maxine. We arrived at the hospital at 3:30 a.m., checking into triage and waiting to see if I had progressed. The contractions were even more painful, becoming difficult to talk through. When we were finally taken to a triage room the nurse checked my cervix and let us know that I had progressed to 4 cm! We then transferred to labor and delivery and continued with labor there. I told our nurse that I would eventually be wanting an epidural and she let us know that I had to have a bag of fluids pumped into my system before we could do that. That bag, I swear, would NOT budge. Every time I looked up at it the fluid still seemed to all be in the bag, and with the contractions growing all the more intense I was anxious to get the epidural soon.
Your dad served as my labor coat, mostly following my directions as I told him to apply pressure to my hips while I knelt over the bed to breathe during contractions. I remember moaning, tapping my fingers on the bed, and breathing deep, controlled breaths to get through contractions. During one contraction, I told your dad that I wanted to try face him during a contraction, leaning on him with my arms draped over his shoulders while he squeezed my hips. We prepared for the contraction and as soon as it got in position your dad’s coffee breath slammed me in the face, making me feel so sick. I didn’t have the capacity to move during the contraction so I just buried my head in his shoulder until it was over, then looked up and told him, laughing, “Your coffee breath is KILLING me.” Then I threw up, ha. Several more contractions (and lots of vomiting) later that darn bag was FINALLY empty and I told the nurse to put in the order for the epidural at 6:15 a.m. She looked at me and said, “Oh goodness, it’s getting close to shift change. I’m not sure if he will squeeze you in before shift change but I will see what I can do.” I must’ve had a look of utter desperation and fear, because she hopped back in about 5 minutes later and said, “He’s on his way!” Thank. God. The physician placed the epidural at 6:30 a.m., and I was pain free by 6:45 a.m. Your dad and Mammy came back into the room and commented on how cheerful I was. The nurse checked me at that point and said I was dilated to 6.5-7 cm. The epidural was perfect in that I could still feel the pressure of contractions but none of the pain. Starting at about 7:15 a.m. the contractions were SO intense, lasting up to two minutes and so much stronger than the previous ones; needless to say, I was very grateful for the epidural!
The new nurse came in to introduce herself at about 7:30 a.m. and checked my cervix, letting us know that I was now dilated to 9.5 cm! All I can really remember from that point on was how much PRESSURE I was feeling. I kept laughing and telling your Mammy and Daddy that I was surely going to poop all over the table! The nurse told me that the intense pressure meant that I was getting really close to being ready to push, and that when I felt that pressure consistently, not letting up, to let her know and they would call the doctor to prepare for delivery!! Well, at 8:15 a.m. I paged the nurse telling her that the pressure wasn’t letting up and I was about mid-sentence when my water BURST all over the bed. A few minutes later and the nurse, the on-call doctor, and the resident came in to check me, confirming that I was at a 10 and we were ready to push!
After a handful of pushes, the nurse told me to open my eyes because your head was out! I didn’t get to see that with Maxine, so looking down and seeing your little purple head was just the boost I needed to get you OUT! A couple of more pushes and you were out of my body and on my bare chest. A few seconds passed and you let out your first screams and proceeded to cry for several minutes as they wiped you off and checked all of your vitals. I remember laugh-crying from relief when you came out, and then trying to comfort you while you were crying on my chest. I remember thinking how beautiful you were, looking nothing like your sister, but just as beautiful. I remember taking note of your little dark eyes, your tiny chin and nose; everything about your features was so petite! I was really surprised to learn that you weighed more than your sister!
You waited about an hour to nurse for the first time, then a few hours later your family came in to meet you. I was so worried that I couldn’t possibly love you as much as I love your sister, but my goodness how wrong was I. My heart doubled in size that day, and I know it will continue to grow as you and your sister grow.