I awoke like I had many many nights during the latter part of my pregnancy…to go to the bathroom. There was certainly nothing unusual about that. And after days of thinking, “Could this be the day?” I think I had finally resigned myself to the fact that our baby girl would make her appearance whenever she felt like it. I was still 8 days from my due date and, despite the fact that I had been told about 36 hours earlier that I was already 3-4 cm dilated and contracting without feeling it, I knew that she could very well take all 8 (or more) of those days to get around to arriving.
|Showing off the closet Annie and I were to share...and my enormous belly.|
So on that Wednesday morning – 1:00 a.m., on the dot, to be exact – when I got out of bed for my middle of the night bathroom break, I didn’t think anything out of the ordinary was happening. Very soon, though, all of that would change.
As I finished up in the bathroom and started to head back to bed, I felt something… unusual…something that I would soon learn was my water breaking. It didn’t happen like it does in the movies – no huge rush of water – but I knew enough from my childbirth education class and the books I had read to know that a big dramatic splash isn’t usually how these things happen. And after a couple of minutes of figuring out what was going on, I was certain enough that something was happening to wake up David.
Laugh at me if you will, but David and I had practiced exactly how I should wake him up if this exact scenario presented itself. The practice came about because I told him I would wake him with the usual, “Baby, it’s time.” But he thought I sounded kind of mad when I said it and didn’t want the blessed birth of our beloved daughter to start out on a harsh note. So I practiced different inflections and word choice and ended up with something sweet and calm. And I almost made it work on that Wednesday morning. Except since my water breaking was more like a faucet leaking, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what was going on. So I came out with a sort of soft, weak, “Baby, I think my water just broke.” To which my sleepy husband responded, “What makes you think that?” You would think he would just go with me on this instead of making me explain myself, wouldn’t you? (Love you, honey.)
As the minutes passed, I became more convinced that my labor was actually starting. Along with the frequent trickle of water I was feeling came some minor contractions. So after taking showers and packing some last minute items, David and I headed to the hospital.
Baby birthing Lesson #1: They don’t let you eat once you get to the hospital. And sometimes these things can take a while. So when leaving your home en route to labor and delivery, make a wiser food choice than a Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie. It may sound like Heaven to your sugar-deprived gestational diabetes-having self, but it isn’t exactly sustaining through hours of labor.
|Nursery was all ready. Just add baby.|
We arrived and were checked in by about 2:00 a.m. and the labor and delivery nurse reported upon her first examination of me that I was already about 5 cm along. During this exam is also when my water really broke – like all over the place – so I knew there was no turning back now. This was really happening.
I mentioned earlier that I had been told a couple of days before that I was already starting to dilate. The glory of this statement is not lost on me. Apparently, I am what the doctor referred to as a “silent dilater.” I have many qualities – some of them good and some of them not so great – but perhaps the best of these qualities is the fact that my body can apparently prepare itself for baby delivery without me really feeling it. Thank you, Jesus, for small favors.
Baby birthing Lesson #2: Don’t feel like you need to be modest and change into your hospital gown in the bathroom at the hospital. I apparently didn’t understand what was going to be happening and got kind of shy about changing in front of my labor and delivery nurse. Changing, mind you, into a gown with no back to it. And right before I was about to, um, have a baby. This is not a time for modesty, friends.
After about an hour and a half at the hospital, with only minor contractions, things changed kind of quickly and suddenly I really started to feel the pain, mostly in my thighs. So since the nurse had contacted the doctor on call from my OB’s office and received the okay for me to get an epidural whenever I needed it, I decided I needed it at about 4:00 a.m. I had always sort of planned on receiving pain meds. I completely respect women who go au natural, but I just didn’t think I would handle the pain very well. So I made the epidural choice relatively early on – and I am oh so glad that I did. All went smoothly with the epidural (aside from having an anesthesiologist who smelled like he had been working all night…which I recognize he had, but would a little deodorant reapplication be too much to ask?). I could still feel pressure with each contraction but no pain – and that’s the way things stayed for several hours. David and I called our parents when a reasonable hour arrived – I think I called my mom at about 6:00 a.m. – and we passed the time watching Home Improvement reruns (there really isn’t much on at that time of day).
|Post-epidural (obviously). Let's do this thing!|
My mom arrived at the hospital around 7:00 a.m., with breakfast for David. And the three of us sat waiting for things to progress so that I could start the next phase of labor. I really don’t know how that time passed, as I have no real memory of it – but it passed quickly. I wasn’t drugged up or anything, so I don’t know where my mind went, but I honestly can’t remember much about the details of that waiting game. Maybe I dosed off or maybe I just laid there, but I was uncharacteristically patient during the whole process. That was most likely helped by the fact that my epidural had taken away any pain. I do remember that at one point David and I discussed that he should maybe go to the gift shop and buy a pack of playing cards so we could do something to pass the time. You know, no time for a game of gin rummy like during labor. The nurse advised against that, though, telling us instead that it was almost time to start pushing.
My nurse anticipated that I would be ready to start pushing around noon. She also indicated after one of her “checks” that she was afraid my pelvis might be too narrow to deliver this baby. That was a little disconcerting – I was really hoping to avoid a c-section and my doctor had never mentioned this possibility during any of my prenatal visits. Aside from that little tidbit and a fetal monitor that occasionally stopped reading the baby’s heartbeat properly, my labor was really pretty uneventful.
Just as anticipated, they checked me again at noon and determined that I was fully dilated and ready to push. Even though my doctor wasn’t there yet, my mom retired to the waiting room and we started the whole pushing process with just the labor and delivery nurse on hand. They had told us that this process frequently takes 2 hours with a first baby, so we knew we might be at it for awhile.
Baby birthing Lesson #3: If they offer you a mirror so you can see what’s going on during the pushing phase, don’t take them up on it. I’m not going to say anything else about this, as this is a family blog. Just take my word for it.
True to averages, I pushed and pushed for over an hour – and started to feel very discouraged by what I believed to be a lack of progress. My doctor arrived and we kept going with the pushing. In the back of my mind, I was remembering what the nurse said about my pelvis being narrow and I worried a little that the longer we went with this with no baby to show for it, the greater my chances were of a c-section. But my doctor never said a word about that prospect and just kept encouraging me with each contraction…as did David. He would say, “She’s coming, she’s coming!” And finally, at 1:39 p.m. – one hour and 39 minutes after we started working at it – I pushed one more time and David said, “She’s here!” and Annie Kate Noble made her entrance into our world.
|First family photo.|
And she was perfect. As soon as she was out, I started giggling. I was overcome with emotion and just so glad to have her out in the world with us. They placed her on my chest and David cut the umbilical cord, then they whisked her over to the scale to clean her off quickly and get her measurements. David got out the camera and followed along. (He and I had implemented a strict no camera during delivery policy. I saw no reason for there to be photographic evidence of her actual entrance into the world. I mean, who do you show those pictures to, anyway?)
She was beautiful and perfect and healthy. And we couldn’t be happier. Or more smitten. David’s parents had arrived from Indiana and were in the waiting room by that time, and once we had some time just the three of us, he went out to tell the grandparents how precious Annie was. Soon after, my mom and David’s parents came into the room to meet their granddaughter and the camera flashes really started going.
And I was already in love. So in love with my little girl. She was everything I had imagined she would be and so much more. True love at first sight, that's what it was. Mama and Daddy love you, Annie Kate. So very much.
|Our girl these days. Photo courtesy of Alison Salyer.|