Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eli's First Month: 9.14 - 10.14

The original purpose of this blog was to document our pregnancy (hence its name: mike and ali plus one) and I had so much fun writing weekly posts about Eli's milestones and other pregnancy ups and downs.  Now that Eli has arrived I want to continue to blog but with a different agenda and timeline.  My desire is to share Eli's treasured moments with friends and family -- near and far.  Mike's family resides on the west coast and this has been a great way for them to be stay involved in our lives throughout the last nine months.  In additional to Mike’s family, we've had over 3,000 site visitors from 10 different countries!  We love how interested people are in Eli's life.  We want to continue to share the joy that our son brings us.  I highly doubt I'll be able to create weekly posts but I plan on making a post at least once a month as well as "event" posts for things like holidays, birthdays, etc.  This is my goal -- we'll see if I can achieve it!  If you are a regular reader -- thanks for sharing in this journey with us!  It has been nothing short of a miracle and Eli is our pride and joy!

Our Hospital Stay

After spending 3 hours in our delivery room we were moved to the 'mother and baby' side of the maternity ward.  Mike got our room put together and organized our stuff.  We met our nurse, Natty, who was very nice.  Her first goal for me was to get me to urinate.  I couldn't urinate after I gave birth and my enlarged bladder kept my uterus from contracting smaller.  I had tried to go before we left my delivery room but was unable to -- I felt like I had to go but I just couldn't.  So I tried again but to no avail.  Natty said that if I wasn't able to go the next time I tried she would have to but a catheter in.  I definitely did NOT want to have another catheter.  Natty gave me 2 Tylenol 3's and 800mg of Ibuprofen for the pain and a couple hours later I had a successful trip to the bathroom.  The reason I could not go in the first place was after two hours of pushing I was so swollen "down there" that I could not relax the muscle enough to release my urine. 

After I finally peed, I was able to completely focus all of my time and energy on my precious, precious son Eli.  Mike and I took turns holding him and we couldn't get over how cute he was!  I was pretty much bed ridden the first 24 hours after labor so Mike was in charge of all the diaper changes -- he did such a great job and didn't complain once about the sticky tar-like poop he was dealing with!  However, Eli screamed and screamed and screamed during his changes -- poor Mike.


Mike and Eli around 5 hrs old :)

Midnight was approaching and I knew that they would take him to the nursery to be weighed and bathed.   The nurse asked if we would like to leave the baby in the nursery for a few hours so we could get some sleep but I declined because I really wanted to "room in" (which means keeping the baby with you as much as possible).  Once they took Eli, Mike convinced me to sleep while he was going to be away (it has been 20 hrs since I had slept)  -- but I was still too full of adrenaline to get any decent sleep, of course Mike was snoring within minutes!  Typical male.  J When Natty brought Eli back, Eli's hair was dry and so much lighter!  He was clean and so cute!  After we cuddled with him a while we put him back in his mobile crib and for the most part his slept well the first night (I wish I could say the same for me, every little sound I heard woke me straight up!  Welcome to motherhood, right?).  We actually had to wake him up to breast feed every four hours.

Eli after his first bath.  His red mark is from the internal monitor placed during labor.  He also had several scabs on his scalp due to rubbing against my pelvis for 2 plus hours.  Poor guy!


The next morning I looked at myself in the mirror and saw complete exhaustion.  I literally looked like I got hit by a train.  But, I still couldn't truly sleep.  I was still too enthralled with my beautiful, precious Eli.  I could stare at him all day long.  That morning Eli was taken to be circumcised.  Mike and I had varying opinions on whether this should have taken place and since he insisted that Eli be circumcised I made him go with Eli to comfort him during the procedure.  Mike let him suck on his finger and said Eli only let out a few cries.  Mike came back saying we had a tough little guy and was proud to announce that Eli needed the second largest ring for his penis!  Ha!  Shortly after he was circumcised he saw a pediatrician and received his renal ultrasound (see below for results).  The pediatrician said we had a very healthy boy on our hands!


Eli and I -- day 2

Later that day we received the most beautiful flowers and balloons from Mike's parents!  My parents visited and brought us chick-fil-a for lunch.  Aunt Libby came to visit too and with news that Eli is going to have a GIRL cousin in February!  For the most part, that day we just enjoyed our precious son, slept when we could, and took advantage of being taken care of by our nurse Larrie and the other hospital staff.  We also asked all the questions we could think of to prepare for when we wouldn’t have the luxury of a call button. 


Eli with our day time nurse Larrie -- we love her!  She was soo good with him!

By Friday we were ready to get home yet still a little nervous.  Before we checked out we had to watch a movie about shaken baby syndrome (so sad) and fill out some paper work.  Once that was completed they wheeled Eli and me (while Mike carried our things) to our car and we were headed home.  :)


Our new (and improved!) family before we left the hospital.

Welcome Home 

Mike, Eli and I headed home around noon on Friday the 16th of September.  It was a cool, dreary day in KC.  We were not prepared to have Eli all bundled up for the ride home because when we checked into the hospital it was 80 degrees and sunny -- so we did the best we could with the receiving blanket we had with us.  Eli enjoyed his first car ride by sleeping the whole way home.  :) 


Eli headed home for the first time!

It was really nice to have Mike home with me for an additional five days after our hospital stay.  (However, if you are a first time mommy I think two or three weeks with your hubby is ideal.  Mike was so helpful and for the first time in our relationship he did ALL of the housework!  This was great because it allowed me to rest, recover and focus on getting a good start to breast feeding.  HUGE props go out to my wonderful husband and Eli's super dad for that first week at home – he was nothing short of an angel to us.  When Wednesday the 21st rolled around I was in tears and Mike was terribly sad to leave Eli and go back to work.  I had no idea how I was going to manage without him.  Luckily, my mother came over Wed, Thurs, and Fri to help me.  I tried to sleep when she was over but I've never been much of a nap taker and it is hard for me to sleep when the sun is out.  So, while I rested and fed Eli my mother did household chores like the laundry and the dishes.  Thanks, Mom!

The following Monday was my first day totally on my own and we survived!  Eli was still sleeping the majority of the day which allowed me to shower and get a few things done around the house.  This day also marked the start of two full of my church delivering dinners to Mike and I!  This was such a blessing and it allowed us to not have to worry about what is going on the table and just focus on spending precious time with Eli.  Thanks to everyone from Outreach who “meal” ministered to us!


Amber (and many others from Outreach) brought us dinner and a spice cake!  Yum!

Eli and I have enjoyed our time together at home during these first precious weeks.  I thought I’d be able to get on somewhat of a schedule but I was kidding myself.  I was lucky to get a shower in the first weeks and now I’m lucky to get a load of laundry done.  J  However, as time passes things are getting easier.    We still really enjoy a visit from grandma every so often – Eli loves cuddle time with her and I get to do some things around the house.


Eli and me - 2 weeks.

Kidney Update

Turns out our little Eli is a miracle baby!  The morning after he was born he received a renal ultrasound to check his kidney.  If you remember, just two weeks before his birth his right kidney was quadruple the size of his left.  Well during the ultrasound the technician couldn't tell the difference between his left and his right kidney.  They were both normal sizes!  Unreal!  His right ureter was a little swollen though so we went to see a nephrologist (kidney specialist) at one week and assured us that Eli's chances of having to have surgery were very slim to none!  Mike and I were completely relieved and we both sung praises to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for healing our son!  So many people had been praying for him and if you are one of them let this be a testimony to you!

Eli is on antibiotics for two months until his immune system really starts to kick in.  Then at four months he will do a return visit to the nephrologist and, hopefully, that will be it!  Again, praise God!



Eli at the nephrologist wearing his urine catcher bag -- notice daddy is trying to comfort him with his finger!  What a good daddy!

 Eli's Firsts

Bath.



Walk.



Tummy Time.

Face plant.  :)


Taste of Fame.


A really neat tradition my school does!

Play date.

Eli 2 weeks, Cooper 8 months


Eli's Likes 

He loves being swaddled really tight.  Daddy does a very good job of this.  We really like the fleece swaddle me.


This is a teddy bear my mother had made for Eli out of his great gma's robe and his great, great grma's button.  What a precious gift!

He loves his bouncy seat.  Especially when we bounce it even more for him!



He likes going on walks.  He especially likes moving in his car seat -- whether it be in the car or in the stroller or just carrying him in it -- as long as we are moving he's good!


So content.

He also likes being held under his armpits and bounced up and down.



When he is awake he is constantly looking up at the ceiling and his favorite pass time is glaring at the ceiling fan in our living room! 


He loves to sleep on mommy and daddy's chests. 





Bath time.  The first couple of baths he loathed probably because he was cold.  However, once his circumcision ring and umbilical cord fell off he loved his baths because the warm water made him happy (it also made him pee!).   After his bath he loves to be blow dried!





Sad to admit but he likes the Telly!  Obviously it is just the colors but it will occupy his attention for a few minutes. 



Eli's Dislikes

Eli hates getting his diaper changed!  He screams bloody murder and Mike and I feel so bad for him.  This has gotten a little bit better as time goes on. 

Gas.  Poor Eli has terrible gas and cries and cries until he passes it.  I talked to the peditrian about this and he said it that it is very common for babies under 6 weeks of age because they do not know how to control the rectal sphincter yet.  So they push and push with out any relief.  Poor Eli!

Getting naked.  Eli doesn't mind being naked it is getting there that he doesn't like.  He also doesn't much like getting dressed either.

Taking meds.


Eli's funny face after taking vitamins. 

Month One Milestones:

By four weeks Eli can:

Lift his head briefly when on stomach - 1st week

Smile - not socially but spontaneously while he sleeps or if you tickle his cheek - 2nd week

Focus on faces - 3rd week = briefly, 4th week = more

Hold head steady while upright - 3rd week = briefly, 4th week = more

Coo- 4th week

Follow an object 180 degrees - 4th week

What we are looking forward to next month:

Eli’s Oma and Opa (Mike’s parents) are visiting for one week starting on October 22nd!

My Aunt Margot, Uncle Scott and cousin Jim are coming from Illinois to see Eli this Friday!

A precious 6 week old monkey (AKA) Eli will be trick-or-treating to a few lucky homes on Halloween!

And, of course, watching Eli grow and learn – I’m especially excited to see him socially smile!  J

Beginning Breastfeeding: ups and DOWNS

Notice that I have written "downs" in all caps -- that is because, for me, breast feeding has been the most difficult thing about being a mom.  Let me preface the rest by saying breast feeding was one thing that I was super excited about.  I had read books, listened to podcasts and attended classes and support groups to prepare for this special time between Eli and I.  I knew the multiple benefits of breast feeding and was 100% committed to it.  Thankfully I was because if I hadn't been 100% committed I wouldn't have lasted longer than a week. 

We tried to get Eli latched and feeding with in the first hour of life but he wasn't having it.  Once we got to our post partum room I knew we needed to get down to business and get him latched and feeding.  He was wide awake but it was difficult to get him to the breast with a wide open mouth.  Both Mike and I wished and there was a lactation consultant to meet with but since we didn't have him during normal business hours we were out of luck.  Once we got him latched, we did have several successful feedings in the first 24 hours.  At this point I didn't have much to give but I knew that was completely normal -- baby's stomachs are very tiny and only need the rich colostrum that our breasts give the first 24-72 hours.  The next day the lactation consultant met with us and thought his latch and suction was really good.  I felt some discomfort but for the most part was happy with the process.  This lasted for another day - day and a half. 

By Saturday night (day 3) my nipples were so sore I wasn't sure I'd be able to continue to feed off of them.  (cracked, blistered, bleeding)  Thank God for Mike and his support.  He knew how committed I was and he also wanted Eli to have the benefits of breastfeeding (he learned them all at the class we attended in August).  Mike called around trying to find a lactation consultant to talk with at 4 a.m. and luckily he found one who assured us this was not uncommon for new breast feeding mommies.  In order for Eli to still eat and I to have some relief we manually expressed some milk and Mike fed it to Eli via spoon.  The next morning we met with the lactation consultant I saw at the hospital and she was impressed by how much milk I had and he was taking in.  She said that his lips needed to be rolled out like a fish because they were sucked inward while he was feeding.  She also said that we needed to have my OB write a prescription for All Purpose Nipple Cream (I definitely recommend this to all bf'ing mommies!). 

On Monday I attended my first BF support group at St. Lukes East with my mom.  It was great to hear that most of the moms in the room experience the same pain and nipple trauma I was experiencing.  Also, I really liked the LC that heads the group -- Marjie.  She is very empathetic and knowledgeable.  I walked away feeling a lot better about breast feeding.  That day I also got the nipple cream which has pain medication, antibiotics, antifungal and ibuprofin in it.  After a few a days of applying this to my nipples they were in much better condition and breast feeding was less painful than it was previously but it was still pretty uncomfortable.

I've continued to breast feed through the pain.  I am so thankful for my Monday support group because I'm not sure I would have made this far if I didn't have other mommy's to lean on and gain encouragement from.  I'm praying that as time goes on the pain will decrease. 

I'm also very thankful for Eli's healthy intake and that he comes off the breast so satified.  I do love that when he cries because he is hungry I can offer my breast and watch him become so content in an instance.  I love when he falls asleep after a good feeding and I can cuddle with him on my chest and watch my sweet baby while he is in dreamland. 

My Recovery (just in case you were wondering...)

Without going into too much detail:

1st week – I could barely walk.  Bled quite a bit with a few clots.  Very, very sore. 

2nd week – I started to feel better but was still very sore and bleeding but not as bad.  Sits baths helped quite a bit and I took 1-2 per day.  Started to feel very dry in perineal area which I guess is very normal for breast feeding moms.  Walking and sitting are still uncomfortable.

3rd week - Around day 16 I began to really start to feel better.  Only spotting.  Walking and sitting are fine almost always.

4th week -  I’m feeling back to my old self.  Well, almost.  Barely spotting.



Me - 2 weeks post partum.  I did get one small strech mark on my side.
 To view all of our first month pictures click the link below:
 http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephensphotoalbums/sets/72157627761979275/with/6241439754/

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Eli's Birth Story

A few days before Eli was born I was reading a blog that I follow whose author -- a marathon runner -- compared birth to running a marathon.  In her post she mentioned that before she gave birth she thought I run marathons -- 26.2 miles!  If I can do that, how much harder could birth be?  She then went on to say that giving birth was immensly harder than running a marathon.  I'm not a marathon runner and still her written words did not sink in.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I had no idea how hard labor and delivery would be and I had no idea how amazing the prize I received at the end would be.  (To read her actual blog post: http://julia-transition.blogspot.com/2010/04/comparison.html )

After a couple bouts of bleeding and rushing to hospital my doctor decided it would be best to induce me the morning of September 14th.  (For more info read: http://mikeandaliplusone.blogspot.com/2011/09/our-big-scare.html ) At first I was a little bummed because I did not want to be induced -- I knew that being induced increased my risk of having a cesarean.  But the disappointment soon wore off as the excitement grew knowing that I would meet my son in 24 hours!  The doctor suggested we stay in the hospital for the night but I asked if we could go home and rest -- she obliged.  So after a nights stay in the hospital, Mike headed to work and I headed home.  My mother came over and I rested while she changed our sheets and did some last minute cleaning.  I was fairly calm most of the day but when Mike got home around 8 pm (he had to work late due to a board meeting) I was a little wound up.  I took some Tylenol pm so I could sleep -- knowing I would need my energy the next day.  I layed my head down and before I knew it was 4:30am, the alarm was ringing and, like I mentioned earlier, we had no idea what wild ride we were in for!  (And, thank the Lord because I would have been in a terrible panic if I would have known).

We had to be to the hospital by 5:30 to get checked in and start the pitocin as soon as possible.  When we got to our room, I changed into a hospital gown and a nurse asked us the same 100 questions they had asked the last two times we were there -- and, guess what?  My answers had not changed in the last 12 hours since we left the hospital.  She then drew some blood and put in my IV and started my dose of pitocin.  I had heard that once they start you on pitocin your contractions go from nothing to intensely painful in a matter of minutes.  I asked the nurse about this and she said that they gradually get stronger and stronger due to the amount they give you -- which increases every 15 minutes.  So, to start, the contractions weren't all that bad. 

Soon after my doctor came in and broke my water -- ouch!  This took longer than I thought it would.  And, to top it off Mike filmed the whole thing -- how embarrassing!  He claimed he didn't know what was going on and that he was just trying to get the camera set up.  You can hear me on the video saying, "Mike, get over here!"  After she broke my water, she placed an internal contraction monitor in my uterus.  This too was an uncomfortable process and stayed that way all day long.  It is just awkward to have cords hanging out of your lady parts for any amount of time. 

At 7:00 it was shift change and we met our nurse, Karen.  She was obviously pregnant and we asked how far along she was -- 37 weeks!!  We really liked her.  She helped me to the restroom, since I knew I would be getting an epidural at some point and would be bed-ridden for most of the day.  This was very awkward with the internal monitor and since my water was broke I leaked a ton standing up -- it was kinda gross. When I got back into bed I began to feel the contractions get stronger but not even close to unbearable.  However, Karen got a call from anaesthesiology saying that I could either get my epidural now or in two hours.  Even though the contractions weren't all that bad yet Mike and I decided not to chance it and to go ahead and get the epidural. 

It was probably another half hour until our anaesthesiologist arrived to preform the epidural.  He was nice  and sort of sarcastic -- which was odd to me considering how scary epidurals can be for first timers.  As he prepped my spine he told me to let him know if there was any ringing in my ears or a funny taste in my mouth.  Little did I know, I was NOT supposed to feel these -- instead, I figured these were normal symptoms of a normal epidural.  So, when I felt both of these I calmly let him know.  Then, I heard an "Uh-Oh" type utterance and I knew I wasn't supposed to feel these symptoms.  He then explained that he must have hit a vain and began to ask me a couple questions.  I looked at Mike and even though I knew the answers I could not speak them.  Finally I said to Mike, "I can't find the words."  I was pretty nervous but kept telling myself to stay calm and that worked well for me.  The doctor had to make a few adjustments and finally the catheter was placed in the right location.  The relief from the epidural was nice but I could still move and feel my legs which I wasn't expecting.  The nurse then placed a urine catheter in and now I had two cords hanging from my lady parts -- lucky me!

While we waited for my cervix to dilate and efface I began to notice that I could feel my contractions and a lot of pressure "down there."  I could push a button in order for some more "numbing goodness" to be released through my catheter.  When I did this I noticed a cool sensation running down my back.  I stopped noticing this and it wasn't because I had reached my limit instead the dead batteries in my machine were the culprits.  :(  A nurse fiddled forever trying to get the new battery in and once she finally did there was still no medicine and no relief.  So Karen called anaesthesiology and the same anaesthesiologist came to inject medicine directly into my IV -- felt the cool sensation but still no relief.  So, they called for a new anaesthesiologist who took out my catheter and re-did it.  Yay for three epidurals in one day!  NOT!  However, this epidural seemed heavenly.  I immediately felt relief and was even able to sleep for a while! 

For the next several hours Mike and I talked, rested and I worked on my 39 week blog post.  Karen would come in every so often and check my cervix.  Each time I had progressed and before I knew it I was dilated to an 8 and 100% effaced.  I called my mom and sister to tell them to head to the hospital  so we could hang out a little before I started to push.  (Mike and I had to decided a long time before that it would only be him and I in the room while I was pushing and for about an hour after the birth of Eli so that we could enjoy those first intimate moments together).  The nurse had me sit up in order to further dilate my cervix and by the time my parents arrived it was almost time to push.  I think they were a little freaked out because I was wearing an oxygen mast and shivering due to the anaesthetics when they first saw me.  My sister arrived just in time to wish me luck and then I ordered everyone to leave because I was 10cm.  I was so excited -- looks like I was going to get the vaginal birth I had hoped for! 

Before we started to push Karen wanted to wait because Eli's head was still at a -2 station (range is -4 - +4) and she didn't want me to start pushing too early and then wind up pushing for hours.  However, my epidural seemed to work amazingly for my uterine contractions but not so much in the perineal area.  I was really starting to feel some pressure "down there."  (And, yes, it does feel like you have to take a humongous poop).  Since I was feeling pressure during contractions Karen decided I should go ahead and start pushing. And pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and pushing...

At first pushing wasn't all that bad.  Karen taught me that the proper way to push was grab my thighs -- remember I can feel and move my legs even with my epidural -- and when I felt the contraction peek to bear down and push 3 times for 10 seconds each.  During the first pushes I imagined myself running around a softball field trying to make it to home base before being thrown out -- weird huh?  It was very helpful to have Mike and Karen counting the pushes and cheering me on.  It was especially encouraging when they would tell me they could see the head and even some hair!  I always wondered what it would be like during labor as my husband peered into my expanding vagina (I mean, that is as about as exposed as you will ever be, right?).  Would I be embarrassed?  Would I want him to stay next to me and not look?  Well, during labor all my modesty was thrown out the window.  I felt completely comfortable with Mike watching the process.  He seemed excited to see the head and that made me happy. 

Speaking of throwing modesty out the window, a while into pushing I began to feel very, very nauseous and told my nurse I felt like I was going to throw up.  She said that nausea was very common and usually her patients only feel this way but it doesn't come to fruition.  Not the case for me!  Mike had the puke bag ready to help but he didn't get it under my chin so to say the least it didn't catch much throw up.  I puked for about 30 seconds all over my hospital gown.  The nurses offered me a clean gown but I declined.  I was hot and to be honest felt better naked.  So, for the next 1.5 hours I pushed in my birthday suit -- that is how Eli and I met -- both in our birthday suits and for him it was very fitting considering it was his birth day.  :)

After about an hour of pushing, I began to think -- okay, how much longer???  Karen informed us that his head was stuck at a certain point and that when I would push his head would move but then slip back into place.  She also informed us that we still had a long way to go.  I'm thinking -- are you kidding me?!?!  I was feeling very exhausted and hearing this was a huge blow.  I began to get a little worried, thinking that I may have to have a C-section if this baby's head would not begin to move down.  This did motivate me some and instead of pushing 3 sets we jumped it up to 4 sets of 10 seconds each.  The charge nurse came into relieve Karen (all the while, I'm thinking I wish someone could relieve me).  This nurse had me grab on to handles attached to my gurney instead of my thighs while I pushed.  This helped to get Eli's head unstuck but after that they realised that my thighs were more productive.  At some point the nurses left for a while and Mike took their position at the foot of the bed holding both of my legs and counting for me.  This was nice because I was comfortable with him and he let me put my legs up on his shoulders in between contractions so I could relax them (it is hard to hold them up for 2.5 hours!). 

At one point during pushing Mike began to laugh -- not a good move on his part.  Immediately, I told him that he was not allowed to laugh at all and that this was not a funny situation.  This is the one time that I got grumpy with Mike during labor.  Considering it took 2.5 hours to push our son out of me I'm pretty proud that I wasn't flinging cuss words around like a drunken sailor.  Later, I accused him of laughing again and he said he wasn't but that he was crying.  I turned and looked and he was!  The only other time I got grumpy was with my nurses for asking me if I wanted to feel the baby's head.  I kept saying no.  To tell the truth, I was too nervous to feel my vagina.  I had an awful image in my head of what my vagina would look and feel like during birth and feeling around that area just freaked me out.  After the 3rd or 4th time they asked I said, "No and please don't ask me again!"

As the 2 hour mark approached I began to feel very, VERY exhausted.  At this point, during pushes I imagined myself running to Jesus and Jesus running to me and I silently repeated the song lyrics Jesus, Lover of my Soul.  I didn't plan anything to imagine ahead of time and this is just what popped into my head.  Jesus.  (Looking back, I wish I would have concentrated on the scripture Phil 3:14: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Oh well, there is always next time!)  Anyways, I was so exhausted and I knew that he wasn't on the verge of being born because the nurses still hadn't called for my doctor yet.  I kept asking when they were going to call her?  I was pushing in sets of 5 and 6 with hardly any break time.  And, then it happened.  I broke down.  I started to cry and told everyone that I couldn't do it any longer and I honestly felt that way -- how could I continue to do this?  It is such a weird feeling like you can't go on but you know you have to so somehow (and I don't know how) you gather the strength and you continue to push, through the pain and exhaustion -- you push.  So I continued to push.

Shortly after my breakdown I felt the emotions in the room change from tension to excitement.  The nurses were saying that it wouldn't be too much longer and showing me how much of the head they could see by making circles with their hands.  They asked again if I wanted to feel it -- even after I said not to ask me again -- of course I said no.  Mike was very excited as he could see a large portion head too.  Not only was I feeling the excitement but also the pressure, pain and burning from Eli's head wedging its way through my vaginal canal.  Talk about extreme pain!  (The worse pain I had felt in my life previously was getting my tonsils out when I was 14.  This was 100 X worse).  The excitement motivated me.  I knew that soon I would be meeting my son!  And, finally I heard the words that I had been waiting to hear for the last couple hours, "It is time to call the doctor!"  YES!  This meant he was on the verge of being born! 

Or at least I thought.

My doctor came in as I lay on the gurney naked and moaning.  I felt really bad for the other pregnant women nearby who could hear me as I'm sure that all the noise I was making probably freaked them out.   A few minutes previously I wouldn't have been able to imagine that the pain and pressure could get any worse and if someone would have told me that it was going to -- I would have asked for a c-section.  My doctor was good at encouraging me to push through the pain and she was also the best motivator to get me to push longer and harder.  Along with the doctor came a "birthing technician" -- someone to assist the doctor during birth and after birth -- and her trainee.  So it was me, Mike, our nurse Karen, the charge nurse, my doctor, the birthing technician and her trainee for a total count of 7 people in the room.

And, now for the finale...

Like I said, I couldn't have imagined the pain getting any worse but it did.  About 20 minutes after my doctor arrived I felt what I knew had to be his head fully crowning -- brings a whole knew meaning to the saying, "Ring of Fire."  This was the most intense pain I have ever felt and pushing only made it worse but there was no way I was stopping now.  I pushed with every ounce of strength I had left in my body (which after 2.5 hours I really surprised myself).   All of the sudden, I felt an immense amount of relief and I knew he was here!  Someone handed him to me and I swear the next 15 minutes I was filled with the most indescribable, incredible love I have ever felt in my entire life.  I didn't cry (which is surprising because I always cry when the baby is born on the show Baby Story).  I just stared at him -- completely mesmerized by the most beautiful baby in the whole wide world (okay, maybe I'm a little biased.)  As he lay on my chest, crying the cutest cry you've ever heard, I whispered to him how much I loved him and how much his Savior Jesus Christ loved him.  I don't think anyone else in the world even existed to me during those first minutes with him.  I can't even remember what Mike was doing.  I've heard that the moment you see your child you are changed forever -- and this couldn't be more true.  I love my son so much!  I can't imagine my life with out him.  I want the best for him.  And, I can't wait to see what the Lord has planned for him!

After about 15 minutes they took Eli to the warmer and Mike followed.  (A nurse had asked to take him earlier but I requested to keep him until my doctor was done sewing me up -- he was a good distraction).  Mike was a little camera happy and I told him that I just preferred him to be with Eli and comfort him during his inital tests.  They said Eli looked perfect and his Apgar score was 8-9.  We told a nurse to let my family know that he was born and after a while, my mom and dad came in to see him -- I guess they just couldn't wait one second longer because we hadn't yet invited them back quite yet.  Libby and David followed shortly after.  Everyone thought he was so cute and couldn't get enough cuddle time with him -- especially mommy and daddy!

So that is it!  Eli's birth story!  Words truly can't describe how wonderful it is to be a mom!  It may have been more difficult than a marathon and it definitely was the hardest thing I've ever been through but I would do it all over again for the most pefect ending ever:

Elijah Michael Stephens
Born September 14th, 2011 at 5:09pm
8 lbs 7 oz
20 inches

For pictures of this day: http://mikeandaliplusone.blogspot.com/2011/09/dads-first-post.html