Birth Story: Annabelle
(birth photography by Meaghan: meaghanphoto.com)
It was a few days leading up to my due date. I was overdue with Alexander, by 6 days, so I was assuming I would be overdue with this baby.
Friday morning (January 29th), I decided to accept reality, that I would be pregnant another week, maybe more. I took Alexander to the Mall of Georgia to walk around a while. (I was noticeably more irritable, though I didn’t realize it until later.) Tired and achy, we headed home. For some reason, I also decided to take a nap with Alexander, which I never do anymore! I shared a snap on Snapchat that said, “Maybe his last nap as an only child!”
Around 5:00pm I started feeling a little crampy, and I noticed the Braxton Hicks contractions were happening more than usual. By 5:30pm, they were painful, and I realized they weren’t disappearing if I walked around or changed positions. I knew that was one sign of true labor versus false labor, but I wasn’t about to get my hopes up.
It was 6:15pm. I started timing contractions, just to see if they were consistent and how far apart they were. Cameron came home at 6:45pm, and I told him I thought things might be happening. At that point, the contractions were 7-8 minutes apart and lasting 60-90 seconds. Cameron had brought home some dinner; I forced myself to eat a few bites. At that point, I was pretty confident I was in true labor. I called my midwifery, and I texted my doula, photographer, babysitter, and mother.
The contractions were getting stronger, so I took a shower to see if they would subside. They didn’t! The contractions were now about 3 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds.
Around 9:00pm the babysitter (our friend Carrie) came over, so Cameron and I told Alexander goodnight and started toward the hospital. Along the way, I had several contractions. Car contractions were tough! I knew they’d be harder than at-home contractions, but I made it through them. We got to the hospital around 10:00pm. I should have pre-registered (oops), so we had to do some paperwork right away.
Now…. the exciting part. It was 10:30pm when I finally got into a triage room; they checked my blood pressure and all that. I had to lie on the table while they did everything, and the contractions had gotten closer together (every 2 minutes). In the middle of one contraction, while the midwife was about to check my dilation, my water broke! That was intense. And the midwife told me I was 4 centimeters dilated. She requested that I walk for an hour before getting settled into the labor and delivery room.
We walked for a little while, but honestly, the contractions were getting to be really tough for me to handle. Every 90 seconds or so, I grabbed onto one of the handrails in the hallway and breathed/moaned through it. I decided a shower might do me some good. (With Alexander, I really enjoyed standing in a hot shower while the water beat down on my lower back.)
I did that for quite a while, and at about 11:30, I told the doula and nurse that I wanted the bath filled with water. (I was told it would take about 20 minutes for the tub to fill.) Around midnight, the contractions were so intense that I vomited. I remembered that happening last time, near the end. While physically upsetting, I knew that it was also an encouragement.
Only two positions were manageable for me. One was leaning over the bed and swaying my hips back and forth. The other was standing next to the bed and just embracing the pain. This time around, I didn’t like anyone touching me through most of the contractions, so I just stood and breathed through them mostly on my own.
It was about 12:30am (Saturday now, January 30th), and I felt the urge to push while I was standing there. I told my doula, and she quickly told the nurse that I should probably be checked for dilation. Of course, my fear was that I would push the baby out while standing there, and he/she would fall to the floor!
The midwife came in and had me get onto the table to check my progress. She let me know I was “one good breath away from being fully dilated.” Woohoo! She also told me to go ahead and push whenever I felt the need. Cameron and the doula stood on my left side while the midwife stood on my right side. (The bathtub was only filled to 6 inches, so I wasn’t able to get into it! So much for a water birth!)
Each push was intense and burned, just as I remembered. When I started feeling the baby’s head coming forward, I tensed up and got very emotional. I only wanted someone to reach in there and pull it out for me. I didn’t want to keep going anymore. It hurt too bad. After I pushed as much as I thought I could, the midwife would say, “Give me just a little more.” So I would push just a little more.
I felt the head, finally. I could feel it almost out. But I was out of energy, out of breath. Then I pictured the baby, I told myself I was about to find out if I had a little boy or little girl. I was almost done. I was going to meet my baby. The midwife gave me that command again, so I pushed and screamed and shouted until I felt the baby come.
Relief! Instant relief. We pulled the baby up, and someone said, “It’s a girl!” It may have been me. It was all a bit fuzzy. Immediately they unwrapped the cord (it was around her neck twice and twisted around her body) and cleaned out her mouth. They wiped her down with a towel very quickly then placed her directly on my chest.
It was just before 1:00am.
Within a few minutes, she did a breast crawl and started to breastfeed. I learned I had no bruising or tearing (woohoo!) so I wouldn’t need stitches. After the cord stopped pulsing, Cameron cut it, and some time later, I delivered the placenta. For two hours, our little girl laid on my chest. The nurse weighed her at that point (about 7.5 pounds), and we all just relaxed while they prepared a private room for us (recovery room?).
Compared to Alexander’s birth, this was so much faster! I couldn’t believe it! We were really fortunate.
And now, it’s been a few days, and we’ve got a precious baby girl and a sweet boy at home. We are settling in, slowly but surely. It’s going to take a while for me to adjust to having two children! I think that once Alexander connects with her, things will be smoother. For now, we are just enjoying both of them and enjoying our time as a family of four.