We were not prepared. I was convinced that she was going to be late, but Anna Corine made her appearance on Friday, January 21st at 4:51am--38 weeks and 2 days along into my pregnancy.
Here is the story of her arrival . . .
On Monday the 17th (Martin Luther King Day) both Cody and I were off of work and I had some very light cramping--it was more annoying than anything. The cramps would come and go throughout the day and I knew that the process of Anna being born was starting, but I also knew that for first-time moms, that process could take weeks.
Tuesday morning I had my standard weekly doctor’s appointment and Dr. U wanted to monitor Anna’s heartbeat for a half hour just to make sure everything was okay. It was nice and strong and we even got to see on the monitor that I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions every eight minutes, although I couldn’t feel them. I was 0% effaced (the cervix will go from about 2-4cm thick during pregnancy to paper thin right before delivery) and 0cm dilated, which means that my body hadn’t started the labor process yet.
(Passing the time . . . taking pictures of each other while checking email. Fun stuff.)
Dr. U said I was right on target for 38 weeks along and she felt that she’d see me the following Tuesday at my next appointment.
I woke up on Wednesday and started to have cramping that would come either every ten minutes or ever hour—very irregular. I remember describing the pain being similar to someone pinching my leg, more annoying than painful. We even went out to dinner with our friends Randy and Jace. I’d just pause every once in a while when I got a contraction and would go on eating my dinner.
This may sound crazy, but I was totally convinced that these were more Braxton-Hicks contractions, or practice contractions. Everything I had read talked about “real” labor contractions being regular in duration, and these weren’t.
Into Thursday my contractions remained irregular, although they were a little bit more intense than Wednesday’s contractions. I had a three-hour work call at 8am Thursday morning and knew I couldn’t sit through the meeting pretending that everything was okay. I thought I’d work on stuff that needed to get done and just avoid client calls. After lying down mid-morning, I never was able to get myself back to work.
(Writing down my contractions . . . A self-portrait. I looked in the mirror after using the bathroom and realized how horrible I looked! I had to snap a picture . . . And Spangler illegally keeping me company on the couch to make me feel better!)
Cody got home from work and found me on the couch, which is where I’d been hanging out all day. He made dinner and we continued to time each contraction, 55 seconds long and 7 to 13+ minutes apart. From a pain standpoint, they were to the point where Cody would talk me through each contraction, reminding me to try to stay relaxed and to breathe.
I know it sounds crazy, but we still didn’t think they were “real” labor contractions.
As we got ready for bed I threw the last few items I needed into my hospital “go” bag I had packed the week before and Cody went and got the camera. We joked a bit about how we probably didn’t need to do it as we were going to “really” get ready for the baby that coming Saturday (put the car seat in the car, finish packing, charge cameras, etc.).
The contractions kept coming but were mild enough for me to doze in and out of sleep. I’d be in a half conscience state at each one and then fall back asleep with no problem.
At 1:10am I had a contraction and was jolted awake by the sensation that I was wetting the bed. I woke Cody up with, “Cody. Cody! I think my water just broke.” I ran into the bathroom and sure enough, every minute or so, amniotic fluid would leak out. (Sorry for any man reading this, but in full disclosure, my mucus plug then came out.) I also started shivering pretty bad.
To say that we really didn’t know what to do was a total understatement! We knew that I needed to get to the hospital as my water breaking meant that she would be born that day. But, it was 22 degrees outside and I somehow needed to get myself dressed and in the car, while leaking fluid. (Spangler slept through the entire ordeal.)
A pair of old pants and an old towel later, we were in the car and made the drive to the hospital. Cody pulled up at the drop off point and walked me to the check-in counter.
It was a bit anticlimactic at this point as they needed some paperwork filled out. (Yes, I know . . . I guess they have to do it . . . Luckily, Cody was there to fill it out for me.). I then had to go pee in a cup and change into a hospital gown. They were able to then verify that my water did indeed break and they then checked to see my progress.
Holy. Cow. I was 100% effaced and 4cm dilated. I was for sure in labor.
They put in an IV (I did much better than in the ER back when I found out I was pregnant, but it took three attempts because I kept pulling it out—after attempt two Cody told the nurse to stop telling me when she was putting it in) and did a blood draw to figure out my platelet counts. I was then moved upstairs to a Labor & Delivery room. They also called Dr. U.
It was 3am by this point and I was contracting much more regularly and they became much more intense. Cody called our families and our Doula, Caressa. Caressa showed up fairly quickly since she lives pretty close to the hospital and started to help Cody in talking me through the contractions.
Looking back, the next hour seems like a bit of a blur.
Dr. U showed up and checked in on me, but was waiting for my platelet counts to see what we were working with. She went to consult the anesthesiologist in case of an emergency c-section. My sister, Steph, was the next person to get to the hospital and joined us in the room, although by that time I really couldn’t talk to her as it took so much focus to get through each contraction and to try to relax during the short breaks between each one. The pain was starting to become too much and the idea of an epidural was sounding like heaven.
I don’t know if my platelets would have allowed me to qualify for an epidural or not as the nurse checked me and it was announced that I was already dilated to 9cm. Anna was coming quick and fast and I was past the point of getting any pain medication. Steph was sent to the waiting room, as delivery was eminent. The contractions were almost constant and suddenly I had this huge urge to push. I was checked again and although I was at the full 10cm, I had a lip in my cervix, which needed to go down before she’d fit through. I had Cody, Caressa, Dr. U and the nurses all telling me (well, more like yelling at me since I wasn’t listening) to stop pushing and it took everything I had to not push and I still ended up pushing a few times with each contraction. Caressa was trying to get me to grunt through the urges but she told me later that I would have none of it!
Caressa wanted to change my position (I was on my back) to get me on all fours in the hopes that gravity would do its thing and push the lip open. I was being a bit difficult (again) because the idea of moving AT ALL was not appealing to me, but with Cody telling me that I really needed to do it I flipped around and after three or four contractions Dr. U checked me again and the lip was gone! I heard the most WONDERFUL words come out of her mouth, which were that I could finally push.
I was put on my back again and with the next contraction Anna’s head crowned. Dr. U warned me that I was about to tear and gave me a shot of local anesthesia in anticipation of the tear. The next contraction came and I pushed her head out. Then, with the next contraction, I heard, “She’s out!” and she was placed on my stomach.
The contractions stopped immediately and Cody and I were left staring at our little girl.
I couldn’t have written Anna’s birth out to go any better than it did. All of that anxiety, stress and worry was for nothing. So many people to thank.
It was as if God was showing me that He was in control the entire time. I felt His presence with me, especially when I would call out to Him in the middle of a painful contraction. It was a huge moment for me as I learned that I am not in control of my life, and I need to stop trying to be.
Cody was amazing. He was next to me the entire time and was full of encouraging words. It’s indescribable, but to be able to create life with your best friend is such an amazing experience. It was something we did together. He was with me through everything . . . the scary trip to the ER when I was just weeks pregnant, the doctor’s appointments, the blood draws, and now the birth. I love him so much and going through Anna’s birth together brought us closer than I could have ever imagined.
Dr. U, who put up with my anxiety and craziness during my pregnancy, and made it just in time to deliver Anna. I am fortunate to have a doctor that I trusted and who made sure she did everything to keep Anna and me safe during the pregnancy.
Caressa, who, early on in my pregnancy I’d talk or meet with her and we’d talk through my fears and anxieties and she’d pray for me. I firmly believe that if she wasn’t in the room with me during delivery that I could have easily wound up with an emergency c-section because of the lip in my cervix. The nurses, although very good at what they do, are not used to dealing with an unmedicated birth. It was Caressa that thought out-of-the-box and flipped me over, using gravity to open my cervix to where Anna could be born. I know that God placed her in that room for that very reason, and I will always be thankful for her. (Especially since I have nothing to hide from her now that she’s seen me give birth—Ha!)
My family, who not only showed up at the hospital super early, but who were excited about Anna’s arrival.
To have the people I love show love for my daughter is just priceless. (My little sister, Lizzie, and Cody's family showed up at the hospital later that day!)
And finally, Anna Corine, who has already changed our lives for the better.