Marla Sokoloff's Blog: Sharing Olive's (Early!) Birth Story
In her latest blog, Sokoloff shares the birth story of her second daughter
Celebrity blogger Marla Sokoloff is a new mama again!
Since audiences first got to know her at age 12 as Gia on Full House, Sokoloff has had many memorable TV roles — Jody on Party of Five, Lucy on The Practice, Claire on Desperate Housewives — as well as turns on the big screen in Whatever It Takes, Dude, Where’s My Car? and Sugar & Spice.
Sokoloff, 34, most recently played Dani on ABC Family’s The Fosters and also starred in a two-episode arc on Grey’s Anatomy.
She wed her husband, music composer Alec Puro, in November 2009 and the couple — plus pup Coco Puro — make their home in Los Angeles.
On March 13, they welcomed their second child, Olive Mae, a sibling for 3-year-old daughter Elliotte Anne.
Finally leaving the hospital! – Courtesy Puro Family
It was 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 12th. I woke with a start. I was having a great deal of trouble breathing so I switched my pregnant belly to the opposite side hoping that would make me feel better.
In fact I felt much worse.
I now started to feel as if my throat was closing up, which caused me to sit up in a panic. The room was spinning and I instantly broke out into a cold sweat. I shook my husband awake to let him know I felt like I was going to pass out. As the words came out of my mouth, that’s exactly what I did.
When I finally came to, my very freaked-out husband wanted to call an ambulance. All I could think about when he said that is how the EMTs would wake up Elliotte, who was so peacefully sleeping in the next room, having no clue what was going on. I told him to give me a second to breathe and figure out what we needed to do next.
Obviously, my body was trying to tell me that something was happening. Believe it or not, labor wasn’t my first thought. I figured I was possibly coming down with the flu or was severely dehydrated. I was only 34 weeks along so baby still seemed far enough away to rule that one out. Looking back, it’s pretty clear that I was in major denial.
Very soon after I fainted, the contractions started. No ambulance was called, but we did ring a trustworthy friend to come stay with Elliotte while we went to the hospital. We didn’t want her to panic when she woke up and noticed we were gone, so my husband woke her up to let her know that Mommy had a tummy ache and needed to go to the doctor. Fast asleep, our sweet girl nodded her head and continued to dream as we rushed to the hospital in the darkness of the early morning.
Sisters – Courtesy Puro Family
Upon arrival, I was instantly hooked up to the monitors in labor and delivery. My contractions were two minutes apart and I was three centimeters dilated.
As we waited for my doctor to arrive, my husband and I were very sure that she would advise the nurses to try to stop my labor and we would be discharged by day’s end. After all, I had told Elliotte we would go see Cinderella that afternoon and I wasn’t breaking my promise.
Again, there was major denial between the two of us!
When the doctor arrived, she simply looked at me and said with excitement in her voice, “You’re going to have a baby today!” Once again I panicked.
I asked all of those questions that run through your head when you find out you’re about to have a premature baby. Will she be okay? What about her lungs? Will she have to be in the NICU? Why is she coming six weeks early?!
Many of those questions couldn’t be answered until she could be examined outside of the womb. My doctor assured me that at 34 weeks, she will have the best chance of survival and that the NICU team will be in my delivery waiting to take the very best care of her.
It was happening. Baby girl was coming early.
I kept looking at my husband with tears in my eyes, saying “She’s not ready, it’s too soon.” I was panicking and needed my ever-present support system to assure me she would be okay. Very deep breaths and a surprise visit from my mom later (we all need our moms under these conditions), I started to calm down.
Dare I say, it even became fun? I mean, it was painful fun, but the adrenaline was flowing.
I started to laugh at the hilarity of plans. We had lots of them and very little had gotten done. Still no nursery and we were days away from celebrating my husband’s 40th birthday with a meticulously planned party. Meticulous because my husband actually turns 40 on what was to be my due date in mid-April. We thought we were being smart but Miss Olive had other plans.
Olive sleeping – Cydney Puro Photography
In between strong contractions, we ironed out her name. Olive (just because we love it) and Mae (for Marla, Alec and Elliotte) Puro.
We discussed a game plan for Elliotte (slumber party with Grandma that included unlimited cuddles and ice cream) with a very strong promise that Mommy will take her to see Cinderella as soon as possible.
Full disclosure: I cried the most over Elliotte that day. There were more tears than I could have ever imagined. I felt terrible leaving her in the middle of the night. I was sad that I didn’t get to kiss her face multiple times before leaving for the hospital.
In my head, I pictured a grandiose final weekend as a family of three. I wanted to do something memorable and special before she became a big sister. My hormones suggested Disneyland, but at 8½ months pregnant that probably wouldn’t have been wise!
The night before I went into labor, Elliotte and I went to the mall and ended the day sharing some pizza from the food court. Not exactly Disneyland, but in retrospect it was absolutely perfect. My husband was working late, so it was just the two of us. Eating pizza and See’s Candies post-Disney Store. It was the perfect night and I will never forget it.
Olive finally made her appearance on Friday the 13th at 12:53 a.m. I’m still not sure how I feel about that birthday! Maybe she’s the good luck charm we need to turn that superstitious day around.
I was able to hold her for only a few seconds before she was whisked off to the NICU where she would remain for the next 16 days. Her lungs were perfect — she just needed to gain weight and learn how to eat without a feeding tube.
Hands down, the hardest 16 days of my life.
Regression is real! – Courtesy Puro Family
I will never forget the incredible care she received while she was there — her nurses were absolutely amazing and I felt comfort in knowing they were taking the best care of her when I couldn’t be there.
For those few weeks, I spent half of the day with Elliotte and the second half at the hospital. There wasn’t one day that I didn’t leave in tears. Leaving your newborn baby behind was so incredibly hard and something no mother could ever get used to.
I worried if we were bonding or if she knew who I was. I couldn’t sleep at night because my entire being just ached to have her home.
I also couldn’t help but think about how this was our second child to spend time in a hospital. It’s just not natural to sit at your child’s hospital bed while they are hooked up to tubes and machines that prevent you from cuddling them — my heart was broken at the thought that my body may be the cause of it all.
We are four weeks into Olive’s life and I look at both of the girls now and think about how they are truly little miracles. I also think about how scary having babies can be and maybe two is just enough for our family.
I’m not completely closing the door (my husband apparently has that door padlocked and triple bolted!), but I thank my lucky stars every day for my little blessings and can’t wait to see these two sisters grow up together.
Elliotte never leaves her sister’s side – Courtesy Puro Family
— Marla Sokoloff
More from Marla’s PEOPLE.com blog series:
- Marla Sokoloff’s Blog: Welcome to the Threenage Years
- Marla Sokoloff’s Blog: Learning to Love Two
- Marla Sokoloff’s Blog: Mastering the Art of Letting Go