2.02.2012

blizzard baby

Today is my daughter June's 1st birthday. It is also the 1 year anniversary of one of the most intense blizzards Chicago has ever seen. 21" of snow. 10' snow drifts. And, my little baby girl decided to come into this world right smack dab in the middle of it. Happy birthday to my little snow angel!

I've always wanted to write down the story of her birth. So...here we go.

A few days before June was born, I was at home putzing around with the news channel blaring in the background. I wasn't really paying attention to it and decided to turn it off. As I pressed the button to turn the tv off, I heard that word - BLIZZARD. I hurried to turn the tv back on to see if I had heard right, but it was too late, the report was over. CRAP. So, I checked another channel and confirmed my fear. There was a blizzard expected to hit Chicago. SHIT. A co-worker of mine and I had been joking around with each other for months about how the barometric pressure in the air during a storm can cause women to go into labor. We were always checking the weather and hoping for storms to come, in hopes that I would go into labor. But, a blizzard? Come on, seriously?

Tuesday - February 1, 2011: I dragged my huge preggo ass to work. I had felt a few minor contractions while at work but, figured it was probably nothing. I had been having Braxton hicks contractions for a few weeks so, I wasn't alarmed. My doctor's appointment was scheduled for 5:30pm but, with the reported blizzard coming, I re-scheduled it for noon and only worked a half day. When I left the office at 11:30 am, it was already snowing.

The doctor confirmed that I was definitely having contractions and that I would be having this baby any day now. She told me to just go home and rest, hopefully the contractions would subside. I got home and couldn't even pull my car into the garage because the snow drifted up onto my garage door and it was too high for me to drive over. So, I parked the car in the driveway and waddled through the snow into the house. I did anything but rest. I ate. I cleaned. I played with my cats. My contractions were getting closer & closer together. My nerves were going crazy. Finally - my husband came home. Relief. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart at that point. I called my doctor around 5:00 pm. She told me that because of the weather, I had better go to the hospital now. Oh baby, I'm glad I listened to her.

On a normal day, it takes us about 10 minutes or less to drive to the hospital. It is literally down the street from us. On that day, it took us a good 30-40 minutes to get there. The snow was really coming down. The plows just could not keep up with the massive amount of snow. It was piling up on major roadways and you were pretty much driving blind. You couldn't see the lanes, curbs, or anything for that matter. Here are some fun pictures, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, just to give you a visual of how intense this blizzard was:

We finally got to the hospital and checked in to the maternity ward. I was only dilated 1 cm and not even close to having this baby. But, my contractions were still consistent and getting stronger. The nurses told me to walk around the maternity floor to try to induce labor on my own. Joe and I walked and walked. The snow kept piling higher and higher. Nothing was happening. I was bummed. I didn't want to go home. I had been in false labor before and they had sent us home from the hospital. It sucks. I just knew that this was the real deal. It felt different. The nurse came over to us and said that normally, they would send me home because I wasn't progressing. But because of the weather, they wanted me to stay just in case something happened. Also, Barrington Road {the main road to the hospital from our house} had been shut down completely because it was not safe anymore. Great. I was stuck at a hospital, not having a baby, and had too pay for a $2,000 per night hospital room. Awesome. Five minutes later, my water broke.

Don't worry, I'm not going to real graphic here, I promise you can keep reading. Once my water broke, the contractions became unbearable. The nurse said I could get induced right away, which I agreed to. Props to you women who had a natural childbirth...I just couldn't hang. Anyway, we sat there in our room and I kept asking Joe to report what was going on outside. My only view was of the roof on the building next door and I couldn't see anything but a blanket of white outside my window. I was kind of bummed that I was missing all the action! Then, our nurse came in with some more news - my doctor was snowed in at home and wouldn't be able to make it here. Things just kept getting better and better! At that point, I didn't even care. I was just thankful that I would be having this baby in a hospital, and not in my bathtub, snowed in at my house. There was one OB doctor in the hospital that had volunteered to stay throughout the night. Apparently, he would be delivering all of the babies in the hospital that night, which wasn't many. The hospital had cancelled all of the scheduled deliveries for that evening. Needless to say, we had a lot of attention from all of the nurses because they were so bored. Around 10 pm, Joe and I decided to try and get some sleep. I was still only dilated 1 cm so, we figured it would be a while before any major action started.

Wednesday - February 2, 2011: The nurse came in around 3:00 am to check my status. I had been sleeping {or trying to sleep} since they induced me. So, I was a little more than stunned when she checked me and said, "ok, time to start pushing!". What? For real? Apparently, I was dilated to 10 cm already. HOLY CRAP. I threw something at Joe to wake him up. When he wouldn't get moving it was more like "Joe...get up. NOW! I'm going to start pushing!" That got him going. After about an hour and a half of pushing, our beautiful baby girl came into this world at 5:46 am. And...it was still snowing. The entire experience was very surreal. The moment our daughter arrived she was wailing her little head off and I remember that she just looked so scared. The second they gave her to me, she instantly grabbed on to my index finger for dear life. She was in a strange place, with strange people and I was the only familiar thing to her. She just wanted her mama. She immediately started to calm down once she was in my arms. It was the most precious moment and I will never forget it.

Joe and I had a few names in mind for our daughter but, decided that we wanted to meet her first, before finalizing a name. Our family was a little more than annoyed that we were keeping the name a secret. While I was pregnant, we kept telling everyone we were going to name her Shanikua Jasmine {sorry if my spelling is off} because they wouldn't stop bugging us about the name! We eventually settled on the name June Elizabeth. That name stirred up a lot of comments too - Her name is June but she was born in the middle of a blizzard? Yes, I know, it's kind of an oxymoron. One woman suggested that I name her Stormy. Um, no thank you. My daughter is not a X-Men character. I am a total fan of names that have meaning or a story behind it but, Stormy is a little too literal for me. The name June came as a tribute to the day we discovered I was pregnant - the day our lives changed for the better. This just also so happened to be on my birthday - June 1st. And, Elizabeth is my grandmother's middle name. We love it. It suits her.

The hours that followed June's birth were also a little bizarre. Every woman that goes through labor looks forward to that very first meal after you deliver your baby. You've just had a baby godamit, so you want to have a damn good meal! My meal was a stale bagel with cream cheese and juice. Ew. And, I didn't get it until about 2 hours after I delivered June. Apparently, this is what happens when the hospital is on a food shortage because the food service trucks are snowed in. And, my husband couldn't leave to get me anything because the main road leading out of the hospital was still closed. So, stale bagels it was. Yum. I was also desperately on a search to find a newspaper from that day. But, there were no newspapers to be found. I think I texted everybody in my phone to go on a mission to find a newspaper. And, they all tried. God bless them. What we didn't know is that it was impossible to get a newspaper. As we eventually found out, there were no newspapers delivered that day - anywhere. They actually delivered two newspapers to everyone the next day (the Feb. 2nd & 3rd editions) with a note explaining why they could not deliver any newspapers on the 2nd. Duh. I think we all knew why.

It finally stopped snowing that afternoon and the sun actually came out. It seemed as if the world had shut down all around us {except for the hospitals - thank goodness!}. We were isolated in the hospital, our little family of 3. It was really nice having the whole day to spend with just each other.  I really cherish that time we had alone together with our brand new little snow angel.

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