Sunday, June 14, 2015

Annalee's Birth {Part 2}

{In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 here...}

I dropped Lilly and Wyatt off with my friend, and they were so excited to be with their friends (she has six kids, so it's an automatic party), they barely even looked back at me.  We were off to the hospital!

Except I suddenly had this thought that maybe I hadn't turned off the curling iron after doing my hair, and I wanted to stop by the house to check.

"Seriously?" Matt asked.  I pictured the house burning down as I labored.  Yes, seriously.  He sighed in exasperation and went back to the house.  Jayna got out and raced inside to quickly determine that everything was fine and I'm truly just a little OCD.  Everyone rolled his or her eyes at me...

So then we were really off to the hospital!!!  

The car was filled with our slightly nervous laughter and conversation.  I kept timing, and the contractions were definitely more regular, and the traffic was moving smoothly, and I thanked God that I wasn't doing this during rush hour.  And then there was even a parking spot in the Stork Parking!!

As we walked into the hospital, I noticed there was a group of pregnant women and their husbands/ significant others gathered in the lobby listening to someone talk. Grreeeaat. I had managed to get there just in time for the weekly hospital tour.  I hurried my steps as much as I could, though I felt pretty cumbersome and was having contractions on the way.  I had just gotten to the desk, though, and started talking to the nurse when the tour group showed up.

I was suddenly Exhibit A.

The nurse asked why I thought I was in labor -- contractions 3-5 minutes apart, told to come in when they were at 5 minutes so I could get the IV started, fifth baby, etc. etc.  Meanwhile, the tour group leader was saying things like, "You'll want to come to the hospital when your contractions are about five minutes apart.  Or when your water breaks."  I felt like I was in a documentary with the narrator talking about exactly what I was doing.  Everyone was staring at me, and my cheeks we're getting hot. I tried to concentrate on the pertinent information even as another contraction came.  I'd found that rocking side to side seemed to help with discomfort, so I was standing there trying to say everything I needed to, rocking, under the uncompromising stares of about twenty people.

So yeah, it was a little awkward.

Then the tour leader said, "Your cervix will be checked for dilation..."  I heard a slightly muffled snort from behind me.  I'm still not sure if it was Jayna or Skyler or Matt, but suddenly, all three abandoned me for the waiting room.  Apparently that was the point at which they couldn't keep a straight face any more.

Fortunately, I was put straight into a triage room and hooked up to the monitors.

It seemed like forever, but it was probably just about half an hour before a midwife came in.  It wasn't either of the ones I'd seen in my pregnancy, but she was really nice.  She checked, and I was 4 cms and still only about 50% effaced, but for once I considered that good.  I was officially "in labor", but maybe there would be time to get the IV and have it in long enough for it to do its job before the baby came.  I wasn't in horrible pain, so... I could do this.

But then came the bad news.

Everyone and their best friends were having babies that day.  They weren't sure there was a room available -- she thought there was, but she'd have to check -- and there also had to be a nurse who could sit with me for an hour while the IV was administered in case I reacted poorly to it.  

So we waited at least another hour in the tiny triage room before we finally got word that there was, in fact, a room available.

 Fortunately, my contractions stayed about the same, but they were uncomfortable enough that I desperately wanted to get the ball rolling.  We were taken to the room, and I was very pleased to discover that there was a jacuzzi tub in the bathroom.  I had hoped to labor in the tub (because I always love a good long soak in the tub, especially if I'm hurting).   Only problem was, I had to wait till after the IV.

The IV started at 4:30.  Courtney, the nurse assigned to sit with me, was super nice, and we chatted while the IV dripped and I labored.  She seemed like someone I could be friends with, and Jayna asked her questions about college and what she had done -- because that's my life, people, having a baby while another baby is talking about college!  Aaahhhh!!

Matt posted this picture of me on Facebook,

and I appreciated all the kind words of encouragement as a distraction.  FINALLY! The IV was done!  I could move around!  Courtney said it would take "a while" to fill the tub, because the hospital is a really old building with antique plumbing, so she started doing that while I turned on some music and started walking and rocking around the room.  I went on the birthing ball for a little while, but my back was killing me, so I leaned on the bed while Matt pushed on it.  Courtney's shift was ending, but she hung out with us a little longer.  The contractions were super close now, and feeling noticeably stronger.
Getting serious

The tub was still filling up.... Courtney had to leave, and the new nurse came on.  She was nice, too, but a little more business-y.  Just not the same "potential friend material." But the new midwife was Susannah, who I had seen before and really liked.  Yay!  

The tub continued its painfully slow fill... They wanted the water to be above the jets before I got in.  It was almost seven o'clock when Matt announced it was ready.  My contractions were almost constant by this point, but I was determined.  I would make it till 8:30, they could slam the next IV through, and the baby would be born safely.  I'm a stubborn person, I could do this.

So at very long last, I climbed into the tub.  The temperature was just right.  I sank down into the water and felt my whole body relax after the last hard contraction.

"Perfect," I said.  I leaned forward to try to figure out the jacuzzi jet settings.  Another contraction was starting.  Suddenly, there was this sound that I can only compare to a water balloon popping... And it came from me.  My water had broken with all the girls' births, and been broken with Wyatt's.  With Jayna, Skyler, and Wyatt, it had been a mostly-slow leak.  With Lilly, it was more like this -- very forceful -- and she was born about an hour later.  

"Uh.... I think my water broke," I announced.  The nurse came running in.

"Okay, you need to get out.  Right now.  Come on."

"No, it feels so good!  Please let me just stay!" I begged.  I could feel the contraction getting stronger.  
"We have to check you and check on the baby.  It's a change of status."  

I sighed and closed my eyes.  "Okay... Fine."  My mood was going south, and the contractions were really strong.  I had a feeling I was going through transition.

As slowly (and argumentatively) as I could, I got out of the tub.  The nurse handed me a couple tiny towels that make the ones at Motel 6 look luxuriously large and tried to dry me off quickly.  By now the pain was really intense, but more than that, the contractions were insanely strong.  

Matt started the special playlist he'd made for my labor -- which included "Shake It Off", "Under Pressure", and "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky.  I snapped, "Not funny!  Turn it off!"  I got to the bed with another towel (I would call it a washcloth) draped on my chest as the midwife checked me.

"Okay, five centimeters, effacement complete." Wait... FIVE CENTIMETERS?!  I had been at the hospital almost five hours!  I'd been at four when I got there!  How could I have only dilated one centimeter (the size of a Cheerio, see previous post) in five hours?!  The nurse and midwife tried to get me to breathe through the contractions which were to the point that they took my breath away and made me feel like I was going to throw up. I had felt much more in control when I was having Wyatt (until I was pushing and everything got scary). 

"Why won't you let me push?" I begged.  "I NEED to push!"  It felt like a bowling ball with a freight train behind it was pressing on my tailbone  Way deep down in the parts of me that were still acting and thinking like...well, me, I knew it wouldn't be long.  But at the same time, five centimeters?  When each contraction felt like a million years?  So I said something to Susannah  that has made my family tease me every day since: "You're SOOOOO MEEEEAAANNN!"  

Susannah said something about getting a little too intense, and suggested that I blow through the contractions, sink into the bed and let it swallow me... Or something like that.  I was thinking, Lady, you don't know too intense yet.  I can go full-on crazy if this keeps up much longer.  

But I tried doing what she said.  She told me, "Good job."  And then... For some reason she left the room.  (I'm guessing to go check on someone else?)  Matt was leaning over me, quietly telling me that he just knew it was going to be over soon.  The contractions were almost on top of each other now, with barely seconds between them.  During those seconds, I could feel my fear growing.  I told Matt I didn't think I could do it again, I was too scared. But then as the contraction peaked, I felt my body pushing in spite of my best efforts not to.  The nurse hurried out telling me not to push, and in a moment, she and Susannah were back.

"I can't stop it!" I said through my clenched teeth.  And then I loved Susannah so much because she said, "It's okay, if your body is telling you to push, just go ahead and listen to it."  So I did, rather tentatively, but she checked and said everything was good -- I was fully dilated, and the baby's head was on its way out.  I pushed again.  This was about twenty minutes after my water broke.

It's always surprising how exhausting and incredibly painful actual birth is, but somehow you push through it anyway.  Then my heart sank for a moment because the nurse said in that serious, scary voice I'd been dreading, "Push hard.  The baby needs to come out right now."  (I found out later the cord was around her neck.)  And I felt panic rise, but I pushed through it, too.  Then Susannah said, "It's okay now, just a couple short pushes if you can... Okay, one more big one, we've got some shoulders here," and next thing I knew she was out.  She made a little gurgling sound, then coughed and started crying. Good and loud.  Through the blur of my own tears, I saw my hands reach out as she was lifted to my chest.

 Jayna and Skyler were crying, Matt was saying how beautiful she was, I was crying... Oh goodness.



We named her Annalee Mirabel.  Anna means "grace". Lee is a family name, but it also means "pasture" so combined with Anna, it makes me think of Psalm 23, and this picture of grace -- "He leads me to green pastures".  Mirabel means "marvelous" or "beautiful reflection."  



I know a lot of people don't want to have kids these days.  And if you do a cost-benefit analysis of pregnancy and birth, it kind of makes sense to wonder why anyone does.  You go through pain that can make you feel crazy, and it forever alters your body.  If everything goes just right and both you and baby are healthy at the end of it, you have someone who is demanding and hungry and needs everything from you. 


But therein lies the grace, doesn't it?  I think so, anyway.  That with the newborn in your arms, warm, wet, crying, you have a chance to love someone who isn't going to give you anything for a while except an endless supply of poopy diapers, a lack of sleep, and spit-up.  And maybe it's in those moments of such deep love for someone so totally helpless, so dependent on us, that we get a tiny glimpse of the heart of God.


7 comments:

  1. Melissa MorrisonJune 15, 2015 at 5:49 AM

    So beautiful, your words, birth, you and your new baby!!
    I have had that happen, at five cm then have the feeling to push and bing bang boom baby was here quick!

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  2. Thanks so much, Melissa, for the kind words!

    So you had that happen too?? Funny! I'd heard of it with other people, but I think in the thick of things, I was just panicked by "5 cms." But in retrospect, it was kind of nice that way because it was only a few minutes of "I can't handle this!" :-)

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  3. Okay *sniff-sniff* that was so beautiful and perfect and hilarious all at the same time. Gosh, I need to stop crying over this baby!

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  4. Lol! Thanks, Elissa! :-)

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  5. this is so beautiful, what a sweet, sweet little girl. thank you for sharing her debut! (clicked over from Camp Patton because 33 weeks with #4 and ... birth stories.)

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  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, blissful is exactly how I felt! :-)

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  7. Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Congratulations on your newest little one! How wonderful. :-)

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