I’ve wanted to write this post for weeks now, but every time I try to sit down at the “big computer,” I decide to sleep instead. And also it is really hard to type with one hand.
A Birth Story
On May 8, we went to a regularly scheduled OB appointment and discovered that the baby was transverse – lying across the uterus instead of in the preferred “head down” position. The fact that I had a lot of fluid and a misshapen uterus (thanks to a myomectomy and a twin pregnancy) made it very easy for the baby to swim into whatever position she preferred. Dr. G had already performed a “version” (changing the baby’s position) in the office at 37 weeks, but the baby happily shifted by the next day. Knowing that the baby moved so quickly, Dr. S suggested that once we achieved 39 weeks gestation, we should schedule another version followed immediately by an induction. In the meantime, we were advised that I should try hard NOT to go into labor and that if I did go into labor, or my water broke, we should go straight to the hospital due to risk of umbilical cord prolapse.
Thus began my maternity leave.
The first available date for the version and induction was Wednesday, May 14 with Dr. G. We were signed up for a 7:30 a.m. time slot.
In between the appointment and the induction, I managed to injure my neck, causing me considerable pain and insomnia. The day before the induction, we visited our friendly neighborhood chiropractor who attempted to mitigate the pain and gave Frank some suggestions for assisting me with pain management during labor and delivery.
We both woke up bright and early on Wednesday morning, ready to meet our third child. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and a perfect drive to the hospital. I was so happy to walk into Labor and Delivery, instead of being wheeled into L&D in complete terror (as was what happened with the twins). We were set up in our room, I changed and was put on monitors … and then the fun started.
Dr. G is sort of a legend in our area. My mom actually went to his practice many years ago in hopes that he would deliver her third child, my brother Andy, but unfortunately she went into labor on a day that he wasn’t on duty. He is an older gentleman, with a sweet and kind demeanor. His old-school training made him more likely to try things like a version, something that only one of his colleagues would also attempt (Dr. S). He was optimistic that he could shift the baby’s position, but he was also realistic. He’d seen enough versions that should’ve been easy that failed, and other versions that should’ve failed, work. Within minutes of locating the baby on the ultrasound, he began the process of shifting her position. We watched in awe as her little shape moved into a perfect head-down position.
Once it was confirmed that her head was in the best position possible, Dr. G broke my water and began pitocin.
Everything was pretty uneventful after that. Frank and I watched a movie, texted, played games, and just sat around waiting to meet our baby. Frank left for breakfast and lunch breaks, and finally by about 2 p.m. we decided to get the epidural. At that point I was dilated to 2 cm and everything was looking good.
At 5 p.m. Dr. G was leaving for the day and he wanted to see how things were going with me before handing me off to Dr. S. I was dilated to 3 cm and everything looked fine. After he left, though, my nurse and I both noticed a deceleration with the baby’s heart rate on the next contraction. I bit my lip nervously as I waited for the heart rate to return to normal.
A few more contractions came and went without decelerations. The nurses changed shifts and the new nurse wanted to check my cervix. While she checked, a worried look crossed her face.
“Did the doctor mention anything about feeling facial features when he checked last?” she asked. I shook my head.
I’m not a doctor, but I knew enough to know that you shouldn’t feel a baby’s facial features during a cervical check. Crap, I thought.
The next contraction, as though the baby knew, involved another heart rate deceleration. I furrowed my brow. Frank was now pacing next to my hospital bed. The nurse called the hospitalist (the doctor on duty for the hospital). The hospitalist arrived quickly.
“Yes, I feel a forehead… and eyes. What does the OB want you to do?” the hospitalist asked the nurse.
“Turn her on her side and stop the pitocin and call the OB in,” said the nurse, reaching to turn off the pitocin as she said it. The hospitalist nodded. Within 30 minutes, my OB was in the room.
Dr. S was a very professional and still very kind doctor. She is one of those doctors that instills a sense of authority while still being very compassionate at the same time. She spent a long time assessing the situation. During her check, she attempted to move the baby’s chin down in order to shift her head into a better position. She attempted to push the baby’s head back into the uterus. Neither effort worked – the baby was fully engaged. Dr. S could tell that the baby’s head was becoming swollen from the pressure from the contractions.
Dr. S looked at me with sad eyes and I knew before she even said it. “We have to do a C-Section. I can’t move the baby’s head. There is a risk that if the baby is allowed to be born this way, she might break her neck,” explained Dr. S.
My heart dropped. My poor baby. All I could think of was this poor, sweet baby trying to be born into this world and being stuck and injured. Frank and I took a few minutes to talk and to pray. I knew I had to do the C-Section, but even though I had tried to mentally prepare for that before we were induced – I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.
I’ve done a lot of difficult things. Not climbing mountains or anything, but I’d had surgery before, been through challenging seasons of my life and so on. I’d created ways to mentally push through those difficult situations by outlining steps in my head. Just get through this, this and this. Once you do those three things, you will be done. But being awake for a major surgery? I knew what the steps were and I just couldn’t see my way through. I actually thought, so then they will put your organs back in… sweet heavens to Betsy… my organs will be on the outside… on.the.outside. I couldn’t see my way through it. I started to panic.
And then I remembered that the last time I had a similar surgery to a C-Section (a myomectomy), I had been horrifically sick. I threw up for hours by myself in my hospital room after surgery. I remembered texting Frank and telling him how sick I was. Frank had asked if he should come back to the hospital. For what reason? I remember thinking. To watch me puke up jello into a kidney shaped blue bowl while I try not to hurt my already aching stomach muscles? It was the kind of lonely misery that would not be improved by a spectator.
At the memory of my myomectomy recovery, I became scared of puking on one side of the operating curtain, while my actual stomach was exposed on the other side. I couldn’t handle it.
I will say, my doctors were amazing. Upon hearing of my nausea/vomiting fears, they took every step possible to reduce any chance that I would become violently ill while delivering my baby. Not once during the C-Section did I even think of vomiting. I was grateful.
Once I signed off on the paperwork for the C-Section, I was prepped and wheeled into the same operating room in which I delivered the twins. I was moved from the L&D bed onto the narrow operating table. The anesthesiologist began the spinal through the same port as my epidural and the final work to bring our baby into this world began.
Frank joined me by the head of the table, but he watched the entire surgery, not missing a moment of our baby’s delivery. The thing about a C-Section is that while you do not feel pain, you feel your insides being moved around. It’s a totally surreal situation – knowing that on the other side of a thin piece of blue fabric, your insides are on the outside.
But, oh heavens, at the first gurgling cries of sweet Annabel – it was all worth it. At 7:18 pm on May 14, 2014 she made her way into this world.
“It’s a girl! And she’s a big baby!” announced Frank and the doctor, laughing.
They brought a screaming, healthy baby Annie around the curtain so I could see her for the first time. Frank laughed, “Boy is she angry!” The swelling in her forehead gave her a particularly angry scowl.
They cleaned up Annie and weighed her – 9lbs 3oz and 21 inches long – and brought her over for a more formal introduction.
Annie and Frank hung out in the nursery waiting for me to get cleaned up and after two hours of recovery, we were all reunited.
Annie and I snuggled while Frank tried to forge for food (a nearly impossible task). In between coos, I hit the button for pain medication every ten minutes. I’ll tell you what, C-Sections are no joke and I am grateful for the excellent pain management (the PC way to say “large quantities of pain killers”) that I was offered at the hospital.
The twins were excited to meet their new sister. Poor Carrigan, confused and concerned by the logistics of birthing, immediately asked if Annie was going “back in.” We assured her that Annie was here to stay.
Annie and I hung out in the hospital for four days and were discharged, happily, on May 18.
About the Name
Annie’s first trimester was more exciting than we had hoped. Early on, we were very concerned about some bleeding issues that went on for nearly four weeks. During that time of worry, I felt peace at church and felt that her middle name would be Ruth. We knew we wanted an “A” first name, and it was between Abigail and Annabel. I’ve always loved Annabel and it’s literary history. We both loved that the name could be shortened to Anna, Ann, Annie, etc. Annabel is actually a variation on the Scottish name Amabel, meaning loving. And she definitely is a little lovebug!