On September 11, 2009 at 6:26am, our sweet baby love Annabelle Katherine was brought into our world! We are thrilled, exhausted, amazed, elated, and completely in love. I can’t believe she’s here, after making us wait for what seemed like forever! Already it seems like she’s been a part of our life forever, but yet we barely know her. One thing is certain – we can’t imagine our lives without her.
Annabelle’s Birth Story
I woke up on Thursday Sept. 10 and went about my normal routine at home – shower, get dressed, breakfast, work on emails a bit… in retrospect, I really didn’t feel 100% like myself. Of course I had been on an emotional roller coaster for at least two weeks, being that I was as of Thursday 10 days past my due date. My appointments with the doctor on Tuesday and Wednesday went pretty well and I had been in good spirits, in spite of the fact that I was staring an induction in the face, which was one of my biggest fears about labor and delivery. The induction was scheduled for Sunday the 13th, so needless to say I was incredibly stressed out about going into labor on my own. It didn’t seem like it was possible that would happen, since I had not made any real progress at all and had not even felt any signs of pre-labor. But I was still maintaining some hope that Annabelle would decide to come on her own.
I had gotten an internal exam (my first real internal) at our 41 week checkup that Tuesday, and since that point I had been losing small amounts of my mucuous plug. This was encouraging, but knowing that it could mean nothing, I tried not to be too hopeful or excited. Then it started to taper off during the course of Thursday afternoon and I started to think that it really wasn’t a sign that things were moving. I had an emotional breakdown and called Mr. K at work and asked if he could come home early, and since he was planning to start his paternity leave the following day, he agreed that after his last meeting in the early afternoon, he’d come home. I was so relieved to have him home with me. He was able to distract me from how depressed I was by suggesting we do some baking for the L & D nurses that Sunday and for goodies to eat when we came home from the hospital after the induction and delivery. We went to the store to pick up some baking supplies and stopped at Blockbuster for a few movies, since it looked like we were going to be holed up at home over the weekend with not a lot to do except wait for Sunday’s scheduled induction to roll around. Walking around the store and Blockbuster, I felt really tired and my belly just felt unusually heavy and uncomfortable. I didn’t realize this meant that things were actually happening! I think I was in denial.
While we baked, I had to go to the bathroom several times and discovered that the MP loss was picking up again. We cooked and ate dinner, and I kept going to the bathroom every 15-20 min; I just kept having to pee a lot and I pooped at least twice. I really felt like I was having some bad gas pains and slight constipation though obviously I was able to move my bowels! At about 8:00pm I felt like there was a small pop in my abdomen, but it felt a little like a gas bubble moving so I decided to wait to see if any fluid started gushing before calling the doc. I was getting a little excited now, but worried that if my water had indeed broken, that meant we were now on a timetable to get the baby out. I really wanted to be able to labor at home a while and not be on a time-crunch once in the hospital. Of course, right about then I started to feel little gushes of fluid and I knew at that point that this was it! We were having a baby within 24 hours for sure!
I don’t remember at what point I decided I was actually having contractions, but it wasn’t long after my water broke that I realized the uncomfortable belly feeling was now coming and going at a somewhat regular pace. We started timing them and they were anywhere from 12 to 15 min apart. Mr. K started to pack the car with our hospital stuff, and I walked around saying, “Why are you rushing? This could take hours. I’m going to put on some more makeup and fix my hair; you should relax.” I did freshen up, and then I started fussing with the camera since I hadn’t cleared the memory card yet and I wanted to take it with us. I was in no rush to go anywhere, but Mr. K was getting antsy and felt like we needed to get going. I kept telling him to chill out. At about 9:15 or so the doctor who was filling in for Dr. Sebestyen called and told us that since my water had broken that we needed to go in to the hospital and get checked. I sort of rolled my eyes, still thinking things were going to take a while (I was prepared for a 24-36 hour labor!). But I did finish packing stuff up and agreed to get in the car ASAP. All this time I was talking, walking, and breathing through the contractions (which I STILL wasn’t convinced were doing anything really effective). I didn’t realize till we got in the car at about 9:45 pm that my contractions had gone from 12 min apart to 4-5 min apart in less than an hour. It was riding in the car to the hospital where I started to think this might not be the 24 hour labor I had imagined!
We got to the hospital and went to triage, where the kind nurse got me all gowned up and checked me – I was about 2 cm and 80% effaced. I felt a little disappointed I hadn’t progressed further already given that the contractions were so close together (still 4-5 min apart), but since it was the most action I’d ever had I was happy! I was joking with her between contractions, and just easily relaxing and breathing through them as they came. At this point they were intense enough that I couldn’t really talk during them, but I would not classify them as painful at all. Again to the bathroom to poop, and after that the nurse took us to our L&D room.
As soon as we arrived in our room, things really picked up. It was about 10:00 or 10:30. I don’t know if we were still timing the contractions at this point, but I’m guessing they were around 3-4 min apart. Not super close together yet, but most definitely picking up intensity. I was starting to go into “laborland” where I could not talk during the contractins (which I now began to think of as “surges”) and had to really focus hard on moving around and breathing/relaxing. The relaxing during the surges was HARD! But I knew that I had no choice but to do it and allow my body to take over. I didn’t want to fight it – I wanted to let my body do what it needed to do, so I somehow found a way to move and relax each surge. The absolute best position I found was doing a deep ballet squat or plie next to the bed with my upper body laying on the bed or birthing ball, while rolling my hips or rotating them in a circle. It helped tremendously. The one problem I had was that I knew I needed to relax my pelvic floor (like when you use the bathroom), but in order to do my squat/hip rotating, I had to do kind of a standing pelvic tilt and pull my abdomen in, which tensed my buttocks a lot. But it relieved so much of the pressure in my back! I decided that though it felt really good to do that, it wasn’t going to get me anywhere and was possibly hindering progress, so I kept going to the bathroom to labor a bit on the toilet so I could feel a little more comfortable releasing my pelvic floor. I needed to pee frequently and poop again anyway (this was the 4th poop session since dinner!), so the toilet did help. I went back and forth from the squat next to the bed and the toilet for a long time. At some point here they checked me and I was at about 4 or 5 cm, 90% effaced, and Annabelle was at a -1 station. So, progress. 🙂 It was a while before they checked me again and I can’t remember at about what point it happened, but I somehow got to 6 cm in there somewhere. I asked the nurse a couple of times what my non-epidural options were for pain managment, but I knew in my hear that I wasn’t going to really ask for them. I just kept thinking that it was going to end eventually and that I would live. I have no idea where I got the strength to remind myself that it would be over soon and that I could do it.
At some point the doctor on call for Dr. Sebestyen came in, but again, I have no idea what time this was. I was nervous about her since I had never met her before, and I wasn’t sure how close to Dr. Sebestyen she was in terms of her philosophy about med-free and low-intervention births. I really wanted Dr. S to be the one that delivered me (or one of the midwives), but since she herself had her baby prematurely the week before, it wasn’t going to happen. So I was terrified this doc wasn’t going to go to the lengths I know Dr. S would have to ensure that we got the birth that we wanted. Anyway, Dr. Schmitz (the new doc) checked me and I had finally gotten to about 7.5 cm. She said I could start “bearing down” a bit and hopefully that would help get me all the way. She left, and I began to bear down with each contraction like I was going to take a poop. I remember reading a lot of med free birth stories and everyone saying that transition and the urge to push came upon you as if you had to take the biggest crap of your life. Well, in my case the whole labor felt like that! I continually had a strong urge to at least bear down or push from that 7cm point on. I am not sure how long I labored like that, using relaxation over the rest of my body while bearing down as hard as I could without actually pushing. I do remember that at this point I was still on my side and I started to feel a lot of fluid gushing out. I thought it was just amniotic fluid and whatever gunk normally comes out during labor. With all the pooping I did all night, I don’t think I pooped on the table, though. At some point around this time I must have been losing my focus during some of the contractions, and I remember whining that I couldn’t get comfortable at all, so the nurse suggested getting in the shower. It didn’t sound good at all, but I was out of ideas, so I agreed. I leaned over a birthing stool that was in the shower. Bad idea. The pressure of the water pouring on my lower back was SO annoying. After a few minutes I told her I wanted out, and they helped me dry off and get back into bed on my side.
The doc came back in after a while and checked me again – I was 9.5 and moving quickly towards 10 cm! She said I could start pushing to see what would happen, but that we were really going to have to watch Annabelle’s heart rate because the dips were starting to really concern them since I was losing so much blood. The relief and excitemet of being able to finally start pushing was combined with complete shock when she said that I was losing blood – I had no idea that the gushes I was feeling were actually me losing blood. I was oddly not scared at all, though I think at the time I was just so focused on the fact that I’d made it all the way without drugs and the fact that I was really really close to seeing my daughter and the END to the insane surges that I didn’t realize how serious the situation was. I did get the sense that though the doc and nurse were very calm, that they were really pretty concerned about me.
I pushed HARD through a couple sets of contractions with the doc’s directions. By this point, I wasn’t really in pain at all – pushing wasn’t necessarily the “relief” that I’d heard it described as, but it was most definitely more comfortable than dealing with the huge surges. Dr. Schmitz still didn’t like Annabelle’s heart rate and told me that if it didn’t improve with the next few contractions, we’d need to do a c-section and get Annabelle out. She asked that I roll onto my back to push more, which I didn’t want to do at all since it closes up the birth canal, but she really thought it might help Annabelle’s heart rate. It did improve things enough that she gave me a few more contractions to push. We could see Annabelle’s head, and Mr. K said he could see that she had a bunch of hair! I was amazed that she was so close to being out that I really was determined to push hard. Through one of the sets of contractions Dr. Schmitz had her hand on my cervix and was pushing back, presumably to help get that last .5 cm out of the way and control the bleeding I guess. Worst pain of my life!!!! I did NOT like having her push back on my cervix while I was working so hard to push out. I just kept wishing she would stop, and I kept wishing would shut up with her pushing directions. I didn’t want to push like she was telling me to, I wanted to push out for a longer period of time and then take a breath and start again, but she just telling me to push harder, and everytime she’d say that I wanted to yell back, “I AM PUSHING HARDER!!!” I just didn’t want to do it on her timetable, I wanted to do what felt natural. Unfortnately at this point the doc informed me that there was just too much blood, that the placenta had separated probably before the pushing started, and that there wasn’t time left to allow me to work at it any longer. She told me to stop pushing, and that was sooooo uncomfortable. She instructed the nurses to go get the prep kit for the c-section. I remember weakly pleading “Nooooo!” but it was halfhearted – I knew that I had lost so much blood that I wouldn’t have energy left for much more anyway. I couldn’t believe that I’d made it this far without pain managment aside from my relaxation, and even though what was about to happen to me was my absolute worst-case scenario, I knew it was the right decision in my heart, so I just started asking questions and mentally preparing myself. My biggest worry at that point was having to sit still for the spinal during contractions, which were and had been for a while literally right on top of each other.
Everything moved quickly but seemingly in slow motion at the same time from here on out. They wheeled me to the OR and I glanced at the clock above me – it was after 6am! I had NO idea that all that time had gone by. It didn’t seem possible that I had labored almost 12 hours nonstop already. When they started preping the spinal, I was having MAJOR contractions that hurt a lot, and I begged them to wait for it to end before sticking me. I was sitting on the edge of the bed rocking back and forth sideways like a weeble wobble, and one of the nurses said, “Wow, I’ve never seen anyone do that during a contraction!” Finally the anesthesiologist said that she really had to do the spinal right then because we needed to get going. Somehow, thank goodness, my body just knew it had to stop contracting so that I could sit still. The local was administered and wasn’t bad at all; barely felt like ant bites. Then when she placed the spinal I don’t remember any sensation of it at all other than a slight tiny pop sensation, but it was not painful in the least. All of a sudden my feet and legs started to get warm, and I remember saying, “Oh, that feels so good!” because I guess I was cold. I was definitely trembling, but I thought it was mostly due to my muscles working so hard. THEN the numb feeling set in. That sucked – I hate the feeling of not being able to move my limbs, and it kind of freaked me out and I started to panic a little. But I just reminded myself that it was normal and everything was working right, and I breathed and relaxed through the sensation. It was a long time before they let Mr. K back into the room; I think they had already started making the incision. I didn’t like that they weren’t telling me what was going on and how things were moving along, but once Keith got back in the room I relaxed a little more and started asking unrelated questions of the doc and chit-chatting about I don’t know what. Finally the doc said “We’re about to pull her out so you’re going to feel some pressure. You are not going to hear her cry right away because we are going to keep her quiet until we can suction her out. There is meconium in the fluid and we need to make sure she doesn’t breathe it in.” Again, I wasn’t freaked out by this and knew that she would be okay. It wasn’t very long before I did hear her cry, so I felt 100% better then! They cleaned her up and placed her on my chest for about 45 seconds, and then she started to cough and sneeze a little so they said they needed to go ahead and take her to the nursery. Mr. K went with her while they finished sewing me up, which seemed to take FOREVER. Finally they wheeled me to recovery where they then left me completely alone and freaking out for about an hour; WAY too long in my opinion. I was pretty out of it so I was having trouble articulating that I wanted someone there with me. I didn’t know if my mom and dad (who were in the waiting room with some friends and with Elyse, our birth photographer) had even been told that I’d had a c-section. Finally I asked them to find my mom, and eventually she came in and sat with me. Meantime I was feeling really nauseous from all the anesthesia, so I asked the nurse to give me something in the IV. She gave me a dose of Zofran, then a while later another dose when the first didn’t work. The second didn’t work either, and I asked for a barf bag and something stronger. I believe she gave me a dose of phenegren, which looped me out even more than I was already. When they FINALLY wheeled me off to our post partum room, it was more than I could take and they had to stop in the halls a few times while I puked up the completely empty contents of my stomach. (I had had every intention of eating during labor, but things moved SO FAST there wasn’t time at all! I wished now that I had forced something down.) My poor parents, some friends, and Elyse had to witness my violent upchucking. It wasn’t fun at all. But I finally got to see my baby girl! Unfortunately I continued to be sick throughout the rest of Friday and most of Saturday, so they had to keep giving me drugs to help cope, but the drugs really looped me out and I felt like I wasn’t really able to enjoy my baby to the fullest for a little while. But I was so glad she was here and that she was perfect and healthy! Everyone said how beautiful she is, and everyone is crazy about her long hair! She got my brown hair, but it has beautiful blonde highlights in it – pretty much the haircolor Mommy has to pay big bucks for! 🙂
So that’s the story of the birth of the Amazing Annabelle! And now for a few pictures….