Thursday, April 18, 2013

Piper's Birth Story

I don't ever want to forget these moments.  I don't think it's possible. 
 For Monday, April 1st 2013 was the greatest day of my life...

Piper Grace Marino, 
our journey to you was so insanely beautiful, challenging, inspiring, gratifying and filled with the most important lessons in life and love. 
Over the past three and a half years, you've changed your Daddy and  me in ways we will forever be grateful for.  It was always you, baby girl.  You were always there waiting for us. 
Thank you, my love.
This story is for you.

"Changed" - Rascal Flatts

Piper is just over two weeks old today.  Oh, our little April Fool's Day baby. 
I love that the first of every month will call for a celebration - our daughter beginning a new month of her memories.

These past two weeks...
How the hours have flown by and stood still all at the same time...

Kinda like the precious time that surrounded Piper's birth day...

Saturday, March 31st (Easter Eve), I woke up and knew that even if I didn't go into labor on my own,
that Steve and I would be going to the hospital on Easter night at 7:30 to begin induction.
We spent the day taking in our last moments together at home.  We watched lots of television and movies.  We answered tons of texts and phone calls, letting loved ones know "baby is still in my belly."  I took numerous baths and gave the kitties an extra dose of love - weepy as ever, as I knew those moments would be the last with them before baby came into play.  I called my mom and told her that despite her crazy hunch, I didn't foresee us having an Easter baby.
And finally, night came.  I was feeling a lot of pressure down there...way more than usual but not enough to be convinced anything was truly happening.  I blew Kelly's phone up with questions and texts that involved some very "fun" and exciting words.  We joked that it was a good thing we didn't accidentally send the texts to the wrong number.  She kept telling me that this could be it.  I so wanted to believe it.

  Steve suggested take-out for dinner.  It had been quite some time since we ordered out.  I was excited for what I knew would be my last "big" meal before baby.   We put "The Hangover" on and sat in bed with our feasts.  It was sorta romantic (and totally gluttonous).   Me, sprawled out with my gigantic 41 week belly and my giant grilled chicken salad with extra black olives, honey mustard (and invisible garlic knots that failed to join the party...Can they ever get my order right?!).  Steve, lying on his side (his famous "cherub" pose) inhaling his giant chicken cheesesteak with mayo.

About 30 or 40 minutes into the movie (or whatever time it is when Zach Galifianakis/Alan starts giving his "wolf pack" speech), I started to feel some cramping.  Nothing big.  Just some tugging.  I didn't say anything to Steve as I knew how anxious he was.  And how excited he was to start using the contraction app he downloaded to his phone earlier.  Another 30 minutes or so passed and the cramps were coming and going.  They had no pattern to them.  And I, of course, never having experienced labor before, had no clue if this could be the start of something.  But I also knew it was the most "activity" I had felt in the past weeks.  I continued to watch the movie.  Through my hyena cackles, I turned to find Steve snoozing away next to his box of cheesesteak crumbs.  It was close to 10:30 and I was happy that he was going to get some sleep.  I knew that even if the cramps stopped, that my vampire self was in for a long night.  I covered him up, finished the movie and then headed to the bathroom.  It was then that I felt pretty confident something was happening.  There was color on the toilet paper.  Exactly what my doctor told me to look for.  I let Steve sleep and went into the office.

I sat down and wrote THIS post.  The cramping coming a bit more frequently...
  Though I didn't write of it, it was then that I had a pretty good feeling that I was in what was the very beginning stages of labor.  I cried as I typed.  Not because I was in any kind of pain.  But because the moment was finally here.  That moment I questioned my doctor a million times about - "Will I know when I'm in labor?  What if I don't know?"  I cried because my body surprised me and started labor on its own.  I cried because I was writing what I knew would be my last post until our daughter arrived.  I cried because of all the love so many of you have poured over us these past years.

Muffin sat at the end of the hallway while I typed away.

At around 2 a.m., the cramps contractions started picking up. They felt like strong period cramps. But not that strong. I've gotten some pretty crazy periods in my day. So this was nothing. 
In the next few hours, they began to intensify a bit.  I took a shower.  I watched more television.  I began daydreaming.  And at around 5:30, I woke Steve up.  "Steve, wake up.  I'm in labor."  I always pictured it going like that.  Just in my mind, it was a lot more dramatic.  Like in the's the middle of the night, my water breaks and I shake Steve furiously with no time to get to the hospital. 
I was hanging over the bed, half smirking, half teary-eyed at the words I just spoke.  "Really?!," he said through his famous deep breath/half-asleep/big stretch wake up routine.  And then he sat right up and got his phone.  You know Steve couldn't wait to test out that contraction app. 
The contractions were averaging about 7-10 minutes apart for the next couple hours.
I started nesting hardcore.  The house was 95% clean, but I felt this nagging need to tackle that last 5%.  I stripped the bed and washed the sheets
 even though we had two fresh sets ready in the closet.

The kitties, of course, had to jump on the unmade bed.

I dusted and broke out the Lysol wipes.  I emptied the trashcans, even if they just had a tissue or two in them.  I texted and called a few loved ones to let them know that this was probably it.  Part of me wasn't going to be convinced until the pain got worse and the contractions became closer together.
And then they did...later that morning.
It was was Easter.  But it didn't feel like it.  Though it surely felt like a celebration. 
No Easter Easter get-together at our house...
But that really didn't matter.
There was love.  There was life.  There were prayers.  There were many, many thanks for the new life that would be arriving soon.  There were phone calls filled with pure joy, laughter and anticipation.

I don't have many photos of me in labor.  And the ones I do have aren't blog-appropriate.  I've mentioned before my need to get naked in emotional moments.  Just picture (or on second thought, don't picture) me walking up and down the hallway in old black Victoria's Secret underwear, from probably 2004, sportin' my nude bra which makes me totally look topless and my hair down and ratty as ever.
Picture me quietly hooting like an owl.  And howling like a ghost every 7 minutes.
Actually, picture the ghost of an owl hoot-howling...that's what I sounded like when the contractions would come.  I was cracking up at myself.  Steve snapped photos and laughed with me and at me.
I grew a little restless as they seemed to start spacing out towards the afternoon for a bit.  I vacuumed in my underwear.  I ate a bowl of soup.  I painted my nails and did my makeup.  I called my mom.  I talked to Jessica.  I had contractions with both of them on the phone.  It was hilarious looking back on it.

What was Steve doing during all this?  Well, besides timing the ever lovin' out of my contractions...
He was playing computer games.  And eating a bowl of hot dogs (without the buns) smothered in ketchup and mustard.  I just laughed out loud while typing that.  His wife was behind him on the spare bed in the office.  Yapping on the phone.  Texting like a nut.  Repeatedly applying lip gloss in hopes it would bring the contractions closer to five minutes apart (the timing of when we were supposed to call the doctor and head to the hospital).

Click.  Click.  CLICK. goes the mouse!

I'd say it was mid-afternoon when there was no doubt that baby started meaning business.  Steve had texted our doctor a bit earlier to let her know what was happening.  Even though we weren't ready yet, with it being Easter, he wanted to give her a heads-up. 
She told us when I was crying through contractions or at least in a definite great deal more of pain, to give her a call. 
And around 5 p.m. (at almost exactly 12 hours since I woke Steve up) she got the call.
They were coming every five minutes for the most part.  The pain had definitely increased and I was breathing heavier and huffin' and puffin' as silent tears fell from the corners of my eyes.  Our doctor told us to head to the hospital.  It all became so real right then and there.  Steve started packing up the SUV.  I called my mom and she came over to see us before we left.  She showed up in her wacky Easter bunny hat - she has a way of adding laughter, no matter what the situation.
She had a little gift for me...
"Mr. Floppy" - a small, stuffed white bunny.

Poor Mr. Floppy.  He didn't know what he was in for.  (You'll see as the story continues.)
I finished one last contraction as my mom followed me all around the living room, telling me to breathe (while I told her I was going to strangle her with the blanket sitting beside me).
And then we cried.  Because it was time to go.  And we both knew that the next time we saw one another that we would be changed women.  She, a grandmother.  Me, a mother.
We hugged, kissed and said our "I love yous." 

Pretty "criers," aren't we?!

She snapped a quick photo of Steve and me - the last one of just the two of us
before we welcomed our daughter.

And then we headed outside.  Steve helped me into the SUV while I gripped Mr. Floppy by his jugular.
It only took us about twenty minutes four contractions to get to the hospital. 
We talked the whole way there.  I was filled with excitement.  We both were.
It was so surreal. 
We pulled in the parking lot and my heart began to race.  This was it.  We wouldn't be outside again until it was time to take our little girl home.  I had to fight Steve to let me carry something in.  He finally settled on letting me carry my Boppy as we walked in and took the elevator up to our floor.  I took a deep breath and said a prayer.  And before I knew it, we were signed in and being walked into our room.

We had taken a tour two weeks prior, but it was like I was seeing the room for the first time.

Our nurse walked in and handed me two gowns.  One to wear.  And one to drape over me to cover my tush.  I set the gowns on the sink while I went to the bathroom and instantly started cracking up - the sink had a sensor.  And as soon as I put the gowns down, water began covering the top half of them. I put the soggy gowns on anyway and told the nurse (who was cracking up at me). "You guys are going to be fun!" she said.  And we did have fun that first hour.  She and another nurse got me all hooked up.  Asked me a ton of questions.  Had me fill out the many pages of paperwork. And got ready to check me.  My contractions were coming more frequently.  I couldn't wait to hear how dilated I was.

Her face said it all. 
"What were you at your last appointment?," she asked.

I've been 70% effaced and 1 centimeter dilated for the past 3+ weeks.

Oh, honey, I'm so sorry.  You're still 70% and 1.

Wait?!  What?!

At this point it was about 6:30.  I was so discouraged.  So was Steve.  And so were our two awesome nurses we had just spent the last hour with.  They called our doctor to let her know.  And came back to let us know she would be in by 8.  They told us that if I didn't make more progress, that they were still going to have to use the Cevidil to ripen my cervix.  And that I would stay on it overnight and be given Pitocen early the next afternoon.  They apologized as I looked at Steve.  We just stared at one another.  We were both so upset and surprised.

Our nurses' shifts were over and our new nurse came in and introduced herself.  We'll call her "Meanie K" (because I'm being nice).  Steve had a theory that she was a grouch because she had to work the Easter shift.  Let's hope so, because she was a major downer.  She just wasn't going to mesh well with us (or anyone, from what we could see).  She told us that she would be back in a little while to check on us. 
The next hour was long.  Our doctor still hadn't arrived.  It was well past 8.  And my contractions were closer.  Stronger.  Hot (the best way I could describe them).  My lower belly felt like it was on fire.  My body was exhausted but I was full of adrenaline at the same time. 
 I just kept thinking "I have another 12+ hours of this before we make more progress and I still need to take those drugs?!"

Steve put the t.v. on and found one of  "our" shows.
I could tell he was restless and I wished I could get out of bed to comfort him.
Just like it wasn't easy for him to see me in pain, it wasn't easy for me to see him feeling so helpless.
I was starting to feel hungry.  That soup I had earlier wasn't cutting it, but I wasn't allowed to eat.
I knew Steve had to be starving. 

This was the beginning of what Steve refers to as "the birth of my two personalities - Maria 1 and Maria 2."
I looked over at him...he was super fidgety and anxious.  I knew what would calm him down - those gummi bears and beef jerky I had picked up for him a couple weeks beforehand.  I looked at him and so sweetly said, "Baby, I know you're hungry.  Why don't you order some food or at least take out the snacks."
Though he didn't go for them right away, I could see the excitement (and fear) in his eyes.  Finally, through my heavy panting, I demanded he eat the gummi bears.
A few minutes passed and another contraction hit.  Suddenly, those gummi bears were pissing me off.  With each crinkle of the bag...each pop of another gummi in his mouth, my frustration grew.
"Put those damn gummi bears away!  If I hear that bag crinkle one more time, I'm going to jam those gummies up your nose!" 

My two personalities battled for the next hour as we wondered where in the heck our doctor was and wanted to shove the remaining gummies up Meanie K's nose.

A short preview of the "two Marias"...

"Steve, I'm so hot.  Put your hands on my legs  They're so warm."

"Ahh, get them off of me.  You're like an oven!"

"Steve, hold my hand.  Squeeze my hand!"

"Ahhh, get off me!  Let go!"

And then, he really went for it.
We had talked about this beforehand - I told Steve the one thing I knew, no matter what, that I would loathe, is if he rubbed my head or ran his fingers through my hair.

In a moment of desperation, he did...

"Don't  you dare touch me there!  We talked about this!!!!"

It was now after 9 and still, no sign of our doctor.  I kept asking Steve where she was, as if he had any clue.  I told him to take me home and that I wanted to have the baby in our bed with Muffin beside me.  I told him I wanted to take a bath.  I silently told our nurse to shove it when she told me to concentrate on the t.v. show and not think about the contractions. I had to pee and tried to hold back tears when I came out of the bathroom with her following miserably behind me.  I walked up to Steve and he hugged me so tight.  We both stood there holding one another with tears in our eyes.  He kissed me and I got back into bed.  It was such a comfort to stand and move and be out of that uncomfortable bed for even a minute.

Steve broke out the camera when I got back in bed.  Notice Mr. Floppy in my right hand.  He came along for the ride every few minutes.  The next two pictures make me laugh out loud.  But at the time, I was dead serious.  I would grip the bed handles and take Mr. Floppy up n' down them, and breathe heavily (and ghost-owl hoot and howl). 

I would catch a breather and text a bit.  I would hold onto Mr. F's ears and ask Steve to pull his legs - us stretching the even lovin' fluff outta him.

And then I would start all over again. 
Steve couldn't help but bust out laughing a few times.  "Why are you walking him up and down the bed rails, hunny?!"
"Because it feels good.  Just let me, okay?!!!"  As I gave him the look of death with steam coming out of my nose.

God Bless, Mr. Floppy

10 o'clock came.  Our lucky hour.  We miraculously got a new nurse.  Maybe Meanie K didn't like us either.  Our new nurse was a breath of fresh air.  She was Steve's age.  So funny.  Sweet.  Cute.  And a mama of four.  She had a big heart and a great sense of humor.  We loved her instantly.
She lightened the mood right away.
Fifteen minutes later, we got even luckier.
Our doctor walked in.  I swear it's as if an angel appeared...halo and all.  She was still in her Easter outfit.  Smiling.  And comforting as always. 
She didn't apologize for being so late.  And it was then that I could see the look on her face - it letting me know she probably held off on coming so early in hopes I would make progress.
She looked at me and softly told me she was going to check me.

And then she smiled - "Good girl, Maria.  You're 100% effaced and 4 centimeters dilated!  You're going to be able to do this on your own."
I cried.  Steve cried.  I was so happy.  And so pleasantly surprised.
Our doctor was too.  She went on to say how glad she was I wouldn't need the Cervidil and that labor would be so much "better" now.

She asked me if I wanted the epidural and told me it would be a little while to get the anesthesiologist.  "YES, please," I replied.  It wasn't long before a sweet young man in scrubs came into our room and I felt myself already breathe a little easier.  They don't allow husbands in the room (in case they pass out) during the epidural, so the nurse had me rest my head on her and hold onto her jacket.  I used to think I'd be so nervous about the epidural.  I didn't feel a thing.  Not even a pinch and it was over.  Within a few more contractions, I was feeling good.  My doctor and I discussed at my previous appointments that I (and she) didn't want me to get too strong of an epidural.  "I need you to be able to feel to push and feel something or you could be pushing for 3+hours."
I was in total agreement with her.  I didn't like the idea of not being able to move my legs or feel anything at all.  I could lift my legs and feel my legs the whole time. 

Another hour passed and I was already at a 6+.  Our nurse came in and we talked well into the night.  We were having so much fun.  It was refreshing to have a nice, happy nurse and not be feeling as much pain.  Eventually, she left us to try and get some sleep.  She told me that she expected me to start pushing around 6 or 7 in the morning and that with it being my first baby, I would probably push for 2-3 hours.  Steve's eyes were heavy and I told him to get some rest.  I knew there was no way I was going to sleep.  I called my mom to let her know where we were at in it all.  And texted back and forth with a few friends.  Steve fell asleep with the t.v. on (and dumbo me, not realizing I could control the t.v. from bed, laid there with "Futurama" on in the background,
 followed by some infommercial with Joan Lunden).

Around 2 a.m. I started feeling the contractions coming much faster.  I could tell the epidural was wearing off some and the "heat" was returning down there.  I breathed through them and watched the clock - dozing off for the one to two minutes I had before the next contraction would start. 
At 3:30, there was no doubt that they were coming on super strong.  I was still numb down there but was feeling so much that I knew I had to be making some decent progress.  I told myself to wait it out, let Steve sleep and give myself a little bit before ringing the nurse in.  And at 3:55, I couldn't take it any longer and pushed the "Nurse" button on the side of my bed.  She came right in.
I looked to the right of me - "Steve, wake up!  Wake up!"
Steve was disoriented for a minute.  I told him he looked like a baby bird and that he better pop a few of those gummi bears in his mouth and look alive. 
He stood up, took a few big stretches and kissed me.
I told the nurse that the heat was back and the pressure was mega strong (through huffs and puffs).  She checked me, looked up at me with a huge smile and said those magic words...
"You're 10 centimeters.  It's time to push."

I looked at the clock and it was exactly 4 a.m.
She went to go get my doctor (who had never left and was sleeping in one of the back rooms). 
 Our doctor walked in at 4:15, still in her Easter sweater.  "Let's have this baby, Maria," she said with a smile as she rubbed her eyes and got set up.  She rolled the cart in with all the fancy "tools" lined up.  She busted out the humongous light that was hiding in the ceiling.  And got the stirrups ready for me (Woah, they weren't like the ones in her office!)

Mr. Floppy was my #1 fan.

Steve stood beside me as she and the nurse explained how to push.  "When each contraction begins, you're going to take a deep breath in and count to ten.  And then, with your chin to your chest, push as hard as you can - like you're taking a poop - for another ten.  Repeat until the contraction ends.  And then rest."
They told me it would feel good to push.  I didn't tell them that I didn't believe them.

But at 4:26, I had my first push.  And it felt good.  Steve stood by my doctor and told me he could see the baby's head.  Through a large grunt I said "Don't tell me that!"  I'm laughing again, because I so wanted to hear those words.  It's just that I was just getting into my zone.
Three pushes in, I was feeling good.   My doctor and nurse kept telling me I was a pro-pusher while they cheered me on.  
And Steve told me once again, with wide eyes and excitement - "I can see her head, baby.  I can see her hair!"  This time, I choked back tears and "Maria 2" said "Aww!! Really?!"
It was motivating.
Steve came over to my right to feed me a few ice chips.  He kissed my head and counted to ten.
I couldn't see anything, but I could tell that things were happening down there.  My doctor kept saying "Good, Maria.  Good!  Good!"  And the nurse kept telling me to lift my tush about every five minutes so she could change the pad underneath me.  Hey, they said "Push like you have to poop!"  So, I did.  :)

I remember looking at the clock at 4:40.  Hoping that the baby would come before 7 because the nurse told me her shift was over then.  I liked the teamwork she, my doctor, Steve and I had going on.  
A few more pushes and the next thing I heard from Steve - "Baby, her head is right there!"
My doctor looked me in the eyes and asked me to stop pushing.  She stood up.  Suited up.  And brought her cart closer. 

I immediately got emotional and felt a huge lump form in my throat.  It was time.  Already.  I could tell by the tone in her voice.  Just under a half hour of pushing and we were moments away from meeting our daughter.  I could see it written all over our doctor's and nurse's faces.  I could see it written all over my husband's face.

I took one of the deepest, most exhilarating breaths I ever have.

And Piper was born.


I took my first breath as her mother and melted into a puddle of sweet, sweet emotion as my eyes met with our gorgeous daughter.  Oh, she was perfect.  Crying her little lungs out.  Her cries - a new and beautiful song that sent such a rush of  pure and intense love running through my body.

I looked at Steve.  We just stared at each other in complete awe.  And at our precious Piper.  I said she looked like my brother, Nicholas.  Steve agreed.  And then, they placed her on me.  The moment I have longed for.  The moment I have prayed for. 

 The moment that used to be just a dream for me...
Was now as real as it gets.  Living and breathing in her first seconds of life.  Staring right up at me.
Meeting her mama for the first time.

I sobbed.  And sobbed.  And sobbed.  And cried out a million thank yous.
I kissed her head.  I wrapped my hands around her warm body. 

I hugged her so tight.
I kept looking up at her Daddy, who was snapping photos, smiling the biggest smile I've ever seen.
I felt her sweet face press against mine.
I will never ever forget the way she felt in my arms.

At 4:49 on that April morning, she changed our lives in an instant.
She made all our dreams come true.
She filled that room with a new kind of love.  One that couldn't be felt until she took her first breath.  We breathed it all in along with her. 

Oh, Piper.
We could tell you we love you a million and one times a minute and it still wouldn't be enough.
I hope you always know how loved you are.

It was pure and true love from the start, my baby girl...

Your Daddy couldn't wait to get a better look at you.  He stayed by your side while they cleaned you up and checked you out.  He was mesmerized and completely lost in your eyes.
I took photos as tears streamed down my face.

He was so proud.

After your bath, they handed you back to me.  Your soft, sweet skin pressed so close to mine.  It was pure bliss.  I was in heaven as you rested your face against my chest.

I kissed you a hundred and ten times.  And said your name over and over as your Daddy and I just gazed at you with amazement.  The nurse came over and told me I could nurse you. 
 It was so incredible...the way you knew what to do...the way you knew I was your mama
 at just barely an hour old.

We hadn't told anyone of your arrival yet.  We just wanted to take those special first moments in with you.  It was an awesome feeling knowing that soon, we would make so many people very happy and filled with so much love with the news of you.

I asked your Daddy to get me my phone as I cradled you in my arms.  You were awake and alert as ever when I made the first call (to your Dee Dee).
I felt the adrenaline run through me as I waited for her to answer.
And then she picked up.  And I didn't have to say a word.  You were crying loud as ever - letting her know she was a grandmother.  She cried so hard.  So did you and I.
It was so beautiful.

As were the next two days in the hospital with you...

 I talked to Aunt Kelly and Aunt Jessica and cried as I told them all about you.  I couldn't wait for them to come and meet you.     

Daddy couldn't get enough of you. 

He held you close and couldn't take his eyes off you.  The nurse came in with the prettiest pink hat for you.  Our doctor knit it just for you. 

We ordered breakfast and got some food in Mommy so she had some energy to get out of bed.  I was feeling pretty dizzy and the apple juice, omelet and (way too tiny) cinnamon bun muffin helped me feel better.

Afterwards, Mommy took a shower.  I felt weak and shaky but so very alive.

We moved into our new room.  And then into another new room because of the noisy construction going on outside the first one they put us in.

We sat and breathed in every bit of you.

Daddy couldn't have asked for a better day.  There was a Yankees game on that afternoon.
You watched it with him.

And then your visitors started to arrive.
It was magical...every time we got the call to our room that another person was there to see you...your Daddy going out to welcome them...waiting for the curtain to be pulled...and seeing their faces as they laid eyes on you for the first time.

Your first visitor was Uncle Nicholas.
He held you right away and stared at your tiny body all swaddled up.
We told him how much we thought you looked like him.

Aunt Kelly came next.  She was giddy with emotion when she walked in.  I handed you right to her.

She brought Mommy and Daddy a wonderful lunch.
Salad for mama.

Sushi - oh, how I missed you.

And an extra large sandwich for Daddy.  You, the Yankees and an enormous meat-wich...what more could he ask for?!

She also brought me a Diet Coke.  Ahhh, my beloved DC.  I only took four sips.  They were an amazing four sips.  But I'm doing my best to stay away from any caffeine right now.

Uncle Kurt came to visit soon after.

 Your Aunt Kelly even helped me get you to latch better.  That's right...
She totally helped my nip into your mouth.  That's what friends are for. :)

Aunt Jessica came in next. 
We cried when she called me after getting my text that you made your way into the world.
I gushed to her as we sniffled through "Awws" and "Ohmygoodnesses."
She had been anxiously awaiting the news of you - her sweet Pippy.

I love this picture.  You were under the blanket nursing.

We had a surprise visit from T.J.
He was in the area and was so thoughtful to come by and meet you.

And then, Dee Dee arrived with Aunt Karen.
Dee Dee walked up to us in bed.  I pulled your blanket back so she could get a good look at you.
"She's beautiful, isn't she?," I said as my voice quivered.
She cried so hard as she shook her head yes.  I placed you in her arms and she's been madly in love ever since.

I love this photo of you and Aunt Karen.  She was so, so very happy to meet you.
She, Dee Dee and I all had tears in our eyes from the moment they walked through the door.

 Dee Dee had a special Easter basket made up for you with tons of sweet gifts...
even another Mr. Floppy!

Poppa came in next. 
 He held you in complete silence as he took you in and stared at your face
and sniffled.

Night came and we were all tired.  Daddy snuck some more time in with you before getting some sleep.  And I...
I held you all night.  I couldn't let you go.
You were (and are) such a snuggler.

The next morning, Aunt Kim came to visit.  She brought us breakfast and yummy donuts.
Even though she just got off of work, she couldn't miss getting to meet your little one day old
self.  She had us laughing and smiling all morning.

And so did Aunt Kelly.  She brought us pretty bright pink roses and tulips.
She held you and cried
as we talked about just how crazy and surreal it was that you were finally here.

You and Daddy relaxed all afternoon while Mommy took another shower and freshened up.

We had a fancy steak and lobster dinner.  (Okay, Daddy did, because my order got mixed up again).  
But it didn't matter...we shared. 

Aunt Vanessa and Uncle Doug came to visit after dinner.
Aunt Vanessa is cookin' you up a little boyfriend.  He'll be here in July.

 Uncle Nicholas stopped by again.

It was so heartwarming seeing Daddy and our friends love on you.

Aunt Jen and Uncle Sean came later that night. 
 They brought us hoagies and chips and tons of hot peppers and pickles.  We had a fun little picnic and talked the night away.

I told you baby girl...
You are so loved.

That last night in the hospital, I laid in bed with you close to me.  I kissed you and let tears fall on your sweet face.  I thanked you over and over again for blessing us.
  It was such a special night that I will always remember.  Our nurse came in and convinced me to let her take you so I could get at least an hour of sleep.  I finally budged and handed you over.  I slept peacefully for an hour and a half and before we knew it, it was morning.  And time to take you home.

 We dressed you in what was going to be your Easter outfit (from Dee Dee).
And packed our bags and said our goodbyes and thank yous.
The nurse wheeled us down the hall and to our SUV that Daddy had waiting for us.  Everyone stopped and stared at you, asked your name and gushed over how cute you were in your little pink dress and bonnet.
I was such a proud mama.

 You were all we ever wanted and needed.
And there you were - all ours to bring home with us...this tiny, beautiful, new life that just made our lives new and beautiful.

 there were so many moments along this journey that took our breath away.
Shook us to our core.
 And filled our nights with very little sleep.
 And very many questions.

But you're here now. 

 And it's funny, because our breaths are still being taken away.   Your Daddy and I feel a love so deep down in our core that it hurts.  It hurts so, so very, very good.  We still might not be getting much sleep these days.

 But those questions...  
You answered all of them for us.

You taught us to be brave.  To embrace change.  To have constant hope and faith.
To not give up on each other and our dreams.
And to trust in the one thing that has never ever failed us...



We are so madly in love with you, Piper Grace.

All My Love,


Melissa said...

Absolutely beautiful! I'm so happy for you guys!

Kelly said...

This has to be the most beautiful birth story I have ever read. I cried so hard, such happy tears. I've said this a hundred times, but she is PERFECT! You look so amazing even through labor with Mr. Floppy. LOL! That rabbit is gonna be on Toy Story 4 telling all the other toys to run if they ever see someone with a big belly reach for them. hahaha! That bunny saw things no other stuffed animal would ever witness. hahaha! All kidding aside, we couldn't be happier for you. It's so amazing, and beautiful, and perfect, and a million other adjectives. God bless you, Maria & Steve & Piper. You all deserve all of the happiness in the world, and I have loved seeing your dreams come true. LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! xoxoxoxoxoo

Maria said...

I laughed! I cried! What a wonderful birth story, Maria. Really, just beautiful! Welcome to the world, Piper.

It always sounds so ... trite to say, "It will make all make sense one day." But doesn't it? When you look at her, doesn't it all make sense? She was worth everything.

Sending lots of love and baby snuggles!

Mrs. JRose said...

Maria, I LOVE this post!!!!! I laughed and cried!!! I'm so happy you have your beautiful Piper in your arms and your dream has come true!!!!! I'm so happy for you and Steve!!!!! She is absolutely beautiful!!! :)

Love and hugs!

lovejoy_31 said...

I agree. I laughed and cried. Absolutely beautiful from start to finish!!!!

Steve said...

Relived each moment reading this, showed this to a friend while at my desk and we both said we were going to cry looking at everything.

Pip, as I refer to her, is/will be beyond loved by us and all of you, our friends. I hope that this is the start of a string of good events for her in her life. Maria and I originally set out to give a better life than we had (As all parents want) and this is the best start possible.

And the Gummie Bears were worth the threats!!

Love you Pip and Mom!

Stephanie N. said...

OH MY GOSH. Every detail - I LOVE THIS! You have me crying like a fool. How super sweet, super amazing, and super YOU. This couldn't be more genuine, perfect experience. I'm so stinking happy for you all over again! :)

The pictures of you and Piper when you first held her -- OH MY GOSH. Those are the sweetest pictures I may have ever laid eyes on. Frame those. Love those. Never lose those! lol

I'm so happy for you and your family! I love your message to Piper at the beginning of this. What a lucky little lady she is!

Hope your week has been full of love and a little bit of sleep. ;) Hope the kitties are adjusting! (Yogi never has, poor thing, lol). <3

JP said...

Oh tears! Laughter and tears! Beautiful story for a beautiful family. Much love, JP

Anonymous said...

I may have to buy a new keyboard after that!! What an amazing birth story, for an amazing little gal! GOD is soooo good!
Nana in MS

Rian Eidson said...

You never cease to amaze me, Maria!!! Piper's birth story is the most beautiful one I have ever read and I felt like I was right there in the room with you. Your love for Piper and the awe you were in as she entered the world were palatable through your words. I cried so hard and laughed just as hard. I am so so SO happy for you!! Much love!!!! Xoxoxox

Judy Haughton-James said...

What an interesting birth story Maria! It held my attention like a bestseller. I enjoyed reading every word and seeing all the beautiful pictures. Heartiest Congratulations again to you and Steve. I am very happy for you both. I was over here in Jamaica waiting and watching to hear wonderful news about the birth of your Baby and hoping that she would be a special Easter gift! Take good care my dear friend and I wish you, Steve and Piper a good weekend. Lots of Love, Friendship and Best Wishes always.

Rebecca said...

What a great story. You will be so glad you wrote everything down. How wonderful to have a 1st baby. You are right, each new month you can celebrate your angel. Enjoy little Piper! She is such a cutie :)

Rachel said...

Oh Maria you have me crying. That was such a beautiful story and Piper is one lucky lady! I'm so happy for you and Steve what a beautiful family. You both have been so strong and I know you can make it through anything together. Big hugs from the Warren family!

I'll Love You Forever said...

Beautiful beautiful birth story, Maria! The smile on your face and Steve's face says it all. Piper is gorgeous! I am so glad that she came on her own. Love all the love and support that surrounds you guys. I love you and that baby girl! Darling.

p.s. I swear every birth story has that ONE nurse who is Meanie K


Faith said...

This was so amazing to read. I really loved how in the beginning of labor you were just going by your daily routines. So awesome. And you were so calm.

The pictures of you when you met Piper for the first time had tears rolling down my face. What a priceless moment to capture!

Such an amazing birth story!

Congrats again!!

Anonymous said...

Goodness! She's such a beauty! I just spent the last half hour pouring over this post. I'm not even sure I found your blog, but I'm so very glad I did. You have so much love in your heart and I'm so so so very happy that your miracle is here! She's beyond perfect!

I love your posts! So much positivity! Its inspirational. Thank you for sharing your journey, adoring husband and your gorgeous baby girl with us! Blessings to you and your family and I look forward to seeing Piper grow!

Lisa said...

What a beautiful family! I'm so very happy for the 3 of you! Piper is just gorgeous!! Enjoy every moment (as if you wouldn't ;) ), because it hours so very fast!

Lisa said...

What a beautiful family! I'm so very happy for the 3 of you! Piper is just gorgeous!! Enjoy every moment (as if you wouldn't ;) ), because it hours so very fast!

Mrs. E said...

I'm sitting here crying like a fool!! I love this, I love you three...I'm so glad you had such a wonderful delivery. You deserved it, mama :) You are also quite possibly the prettiest post partum mom I've ever seen. How do you still have the pregnant glow?? I was like dumpy the bloated snowman!! Xoxoxo

Candice said...

Delurking here! This is Aleisha's sister-in-law, and I absolutely love your blog! Congratulations on your little sweetie. She is so perfect. Your birth story is heartwarming and so touching! :)

Jamie said...

Ugh. I'm bawling. So sweet.

Olivia {i am still learning} said...

This brought back so many memories :)

One being this is too good to be true, life can bless you in ways it's hard to imagine... so much happiness, so much love, take it all in and remember it all.

Enjoy every precious moment, and let the fun begin! :) She's going to grow like a weed!

Love to you all and precious Piper :)

Our Journey Through This Lovely Life said...

I think I just went through a whole box of kleenex! What an amazing birth story! I loved every word and every picture! Congratulations Mama! Sending lots of love!

Hanna said...

Awww...loved reading this! SO glad her birth went so well. Wonderful news. I love seeing first time moms.It really is a magical experience isn't it? Love!


mail4rosey said...

Bah, you always make me cry, woman! I loved reading your birth story. And you're right to tell your daughter she's oh sooooooo loved, I see/feel it every single time I visit.

I loved the pics. Your daughter is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. :)

ErinMSW said...

This had me in tears at work! Except for: "Hey, they said "Push like you have to poop!" So, I did." That made me laugh out loud. So true. And so completely un-embarrassing! Ha ha!

JustBean said...

So happy for you guys!!! Congratulations again!!! .... *must go get a tissue now* :)

ps...she is adorable!!!!

Kiara Buechler said...

This took me all day to read this, but I savored every word. I remember the video of you getting your positive pregnancy test, and now she's here! Congratulations again.

Noor Unnahar said...

Gosh! It is so beautiful . I took half an hour to read the whole words and I totally love it :) Congo for you guys!

Xlovehappyx said...

what a great birth story and the baby is beautiful!

loved the pic of you enjoying your coke haha

Brittany said...

Ahhhhhh Maria, I always know when I come to your blog I'm going to end up in tears!! But the happiest, giddiest, on-cloud-nine-you-totally-just-made-my-week tears! This is SUCH a beautiful post and birth story. It reminded me of having Bear...we had very similar labor experiences! I laughed at the picture of you walking up and down the hall in your underwear (not because you wouldn't look GOOD doing so but because I remember that just don't care!). I'm SO SO SO thankful everything went smoothly and that sweet, precious Piper came into the world such a healthy baby girl. She is BEAUTIFUL, Maria! Looks so much like her momma. I can also relate on the only being 1 cm dilated...they told me I was 1 1/2 and I remember vividly how frustrating it was. But we both got our babies here and it's all worth it, isn't it?! I just LOVE the pictures of your first moments holding Piper- such a special, unforgetable moment. The look on your face says it all- she is your everything.

Ohhhh the beloved DC! ha! I'm a bad mommy and drank it throughout my pregnancy (1-2 cans a day) so my doctor said it'd be fine to keep drinking it while breastfeeding. And Bear's a big healthy boy! You gotta reward yourself every now and then...being a momma is hard! ;) but the best job ever.

So thankful you posted this...I loved every bit of it! You have such a way with words. Hope you've enjoyed this beautiful weekend with your two loves! xoxoxoxo!!

Courtney B said...

Ooooh my goodness! This post totally made me cry! The story, the pictures... it's all so beautiful! I love how you wrote every single detail! I left out some details from Mia's birth story and I want to go back and add them because like you, I don't want to forget anything!!

Alex[andra] said...

I can't believe I'm so late to reading this.

Such an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing it! I know that when the day comes that I'm ready to have children, I'll be reading this over and over. It's almost like I know what to expect now. I felt almost like I was there. :)

I love that you went into super cleaning mode! I can see myself doing that too lol. And your mom sounds so amazing!

Gorgeous pictures, Maria. Congrats again. <3

Jessica @ TheCrazyChaoticHouse said...

What a beautiful post. I am so happy for you and steve. I absolutely love the pic of you and her right after she was born face to face, such a sweet picture. And yes little piper is so loved, you have a wonderful circle of family and friends...brings tears to my eyes to see all the love surrounding you:) congratulations again! Xoxo

I'll Love You Forever said...

I had to stop by again to let you know I came back again to see these beautiful photos. Love them! Being a Mom is so amazing isn't it?! I love the pictures on IG. She is an angel. I wore the earrings you sent the other day, got a lot of compliments! Hope you have a great day, Maria! xoxo

Kara and Mary said...

I'm really not sure how I missed your birth story. But you referenced it in your most recent post and of course I clicked right over. I loved every word of it. You did such a wonderful job! And the pictures of all your family and friends meeting Piper just tugged at my heart. Congratulations again!!!

Moosey Mommy said...

What a beautiful birth story! I cried through the entire thing, but happy tears. Pregnancy and birth is such a miracle, and I am in awe each time a precious new one is born. Your sweet girl is absolutely perfect and beautiful. I am so, so happy for you and Steve! Congratulations again!!

Jenny said...

How did I miss this post last week?! I had been waiting for it to pop up on my dashboard so I can't believe I didn't see it. Oh I am now sitting at work bawling my eyes out. Such a beautiful story. That little girl has so many people who love her already. You three are very blessed with amazing family and friends - and now a very sweet girl :) Enjoy every second of her!!!

Miki said...

Oh, my God, Maria! This post is just so wonderful and filled with love! It makes me so happy to know you guys have Piper and I loved reading her birth story! Gosh, I hope I get to experience it one day.

And by the way, you're such a trooper!!! Letting Steve sleep when you knew you'd started labor and thew again at the hospital, wow!

Thank you for sharing this! Hope the 3 of you are getting ready to have a fun weekend! ;D

Tight hugs,


Cyndy Newsome said...

Congrats to all, she is beautiful!

Kerry said...

Such a beautiful birth story guys, I loved reading the entire thing feeling like I was there experiencing it with you :)
She is just gorgeous and I know just how very much she is loved and how very much she was wanted. You guys are going to be an awesome little family, oh you have so much ahead of you!!! Thank you for sharing, for allowing us into your lives. Piper Grace is very much loved, hopefully one day I will get to meet her xoxo

Ashley said...

How on Earth did I miss this post?!! You never fail to bring me to tears, lady! ;) I loved reading this and practically feeling all of the love and emotions. It brought me right back to those moments that I was in four years ago! There is no moment like the moment you meet your child for the first time and the pictures you got were so priceless and amazing! Thank you for sharing with all of us.
Way to go momma on not pushing for very long, you must have pushed like a pro! You had me cracking up too when you said she helped your nip in her mouth! hahaha!! That is what true friends are for!
How sweet that your doctor knit Piper a hat, that is pretty amazing!
Oh, and I totally had a nurse I wanted to punch in the face when I was in the hospital. She tried to revoke my wheelchair privileges when I was on bed rest and I was so mad, so when she showed up when I was in labor I took one look at her and said "oh, heck no! You can find me another nurse!" Yeah, not my proudest moment, but ya know, labor makes another side emerge!

Jess @ said...

Aren't those first moments incredible?! I'll admit...I balled and kept blubbering how we had a baby, finally after 4 years we had a baby.


Heather Nelsen said...

Oh tears- you made me laugh and cry and laugh and cry. What a beautiful story, Maria! And what a beautiful baby girl sweet Piper Grace is. So so happy for you guys. You and Steve are gonna be the best mommy and daddy!


Camille Griffiths said...

I'm a little late but congrats!! Amazing birth story, you had me laughing AND crying. She is just so beautiful. I'm so happy for you guys!

Irish Carter said...

Oh what an amazing story. I have a photo of me and Maddi very similar to yours where you have Piper getting ready to try feeding her. The boys call that photo of me and Maddi my mona lisa photo. I have no clue why. You are so inspiring my dear. I love that I am going to get to see Piper grow up and hear her story her. So lucky to have met you. What a blessing you are. = )


Anna said...

So beautiful! I was so excited to read this after reading your first post. Congratulations on your beautiful daughter. I look forward to reading more of your posts. :)

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