Annie Pearl | April 1st, 2014
(warning: this is a birth story, so it gets detailed)
Even though I had woken up a few other nights and early mornings with some random contractions, when I woke up Tuesday morning, April 1st, about 3AM with contractions, I had a feeling these were different. They were tolerable, but much more painful than any of the others and they were more regular right away, probably every 5-10 minutes or so. After about 30-40 minutes, and realizing they were too painful to go back to sleep, I woke Matt up to tell him this was probably it.
I worked through them, getting some last minute things put together, still kind of in disbelief this was finally happening. I was 40 weeks and 4 days pregnant and while normally I wouldn’t have been waiting and anxious for weeks, Lucas came at 38 weeks, so this entire pregnancy I had always assumed she would be arriving well before her March 28th due date. Even still, I figured I had a long day of labor ahead of me, much like with Lucas when I woke up with contractions like this.
We decided to text Jeannie (our doula) a little while later to give her the heads up to get ready and let her know that because they were pretty painful and getting closer together, we were probably going to go right to the hospital because of rush hour traffic. In addition to traffic as normal, the construction can make a stretch of that 40 minute drive a standstill and leaving any later than 6 or 6:15 in the morning would be put us right in that. I also texted Melissa (photographer) and Kalli (videographer) that this was happening sooner rather than later and I’d touch base with them again once we got to the hospital and saw how things were progressing. Normally I would have pushed to stay home longer and labor at home (and have Jeannie come here), but in addition to our traffic concerns, I felt like this was already progressing much faster than Lucas, and I wanted to get to the hospital to have my platelet numbers checked, and back in time, to hopefully remove the heplock they said they’d have to place right away in case they were too low. We called the on call midwife (Lori – who delivered Lucas) to let her know we’d be on our way soon, as well as my mom about 4:30 to come over and stay here with Lucas.
I took a shower and did my makeup which took longer than normal because I had to stop so often during contractions, and then finished packing up the rest of our things, also taking longer than I had anticipated. We finally drove out just about 6:00, and I dreaded the car ride with the contractions I was having.
Thankfully traffic was not too terrible yet, but riding in the car having contractions was awful. I think I threatened to jump out a few times, especially once we were off the highway and stopped at traffic lights close to the hospital. We went to the wrong parking garage first and finally found our way to the right garage and entrance. I walked from the parking garage to the elevator, leaving most of our stuff in the car to come back for later. We knew Jeannie was already there waiting for us and was at triage when we walked in, and I saw Lori (midwife on call until 7AM) sitting behind the triage desk also waiting for us. They made me sign a few things and took us all back to have me checked, before I was officially checked in to labor and delivery. It was about 6:45 or so when we got back there and I knew Lori wouldn’t be there for much longer, but that Linda was on call next. Linda is my primary midwife, though Lori delivered Lucas, I was very comfortable and happy she was on call next.
Lori checked me and determined I was at 6cm, 90 percent effaced, and at a -1 station. That sounded good to everyone, though when I heard only 6cm I was a little worried because I had labored all day with Lucas, got to 6cm and was actually sent HOME from the hospital because labor stalled. So to me, 6cm was still nothing much in my head and I saw hours and hours ahead of me.
We had to wait a few minutes before Katie, my labor and delivery nurse, came to get us to bring us back to room #9, which is a room with the labor tub. Lucas was born in that same room, which brought back both happy and scary memories. When we finally got down to that room, they wanted to put Annie on the monitor for about 20 minutes to get a reading for how she was doing, put my hep lock in and take my blood for my platelet count.
Laying in the bed while they were trying to monitor, while have contractions, plus Katie trying to find a vein for my hep lock and blood sample was torture. She finally put it on the outside of left wrist, which was awful because it felt like it was right on bone (because it kind of was…) plus I knew right away that it would limit my use of that joint while working through contractions. Standing on my hands and knees, bending my hand/wrist, etc. was going to be awful….and it was. As I flipped over on one side, I felt and heard a huge pop and gush, as my water broke. I never felt my water break with my first (must have happen during pushing) so this was completely random and shocking to me and felt super weird. All I can remember is that I was still wearing my own pants and I was terrified it had ruined them (it didn’t!)
During this time I think Jeannie began filling the labor tub so I could get in there once they were done monitoring Annie for a bit. I climbed in there and while it definitely felt better than the bed, I was still so uncomfortable. It was warm, which felt good, but then I was hot. The put a tapped bag type thing over my hep lock which was coming off and so water was getting all over it and it stung so badly being in, in general. I hated putting my wrist under the water or bending it when I tried to get on my hands and knees. It was like I couldn’t find any comfortable position and was just struggling no matter what I tried; warm water, cold water, ice chips, floating on my back, on my hands and knees, leaning over the tub, etc. It was probably about 7:30/7:45 at this point and all I could think about was the long road ahead, in so much pain. With Lucas I labored in the tub overnight, having such strong and constant contractions that I felt like I was going to stop breathing with each one. I was dreading many more hours of this.
Probably within about a half hour, my contractions were feeling even stronger and I think I asked to get out to use the bathroom and that I was feeling like pushing. Jeannie asked for Linda to come in and check me in the tub, and she was soon there doing that, but I don’t remember what she said. At this point I think Annie was still posterior or sunny side up, which generally means a longer labor, back labor, and much harder to push through your pelvis, so I was trying hard to be in positions that could turn her.
It was really soon after that that I’m pretty sure I told them I needed to get out and felt the urge to push. Nothing I could do was comfortable, during a contraction or not, so I was pretty much over the tub. I ended up on the bed, on all fours leaning my head down and I don’t think I was checked again; I think I just began pushing, though in that position absolutely nothing was happening and I was feeling exhausted, and scared.
I flipped over to my back and saw everyone around me ‘getting set up’. I pushed for about 30 minutes I believe, but it was a little too long and although I later learned that Annie had turned on her way out and was born facing down! During pushing, Linda (midwife) was extremely calm, but noticed Annie was not getting enough oxygen so she was pretty stern about not messing around and taking my time. Lucas, who was 4 lbs 8 oz at birth, left me with some pretty good tears, so I think part of being unable to push well was that fear, and also the sheer pain. With each push I felt like I was giving everything and nothing was happening. At one point Linda told me that if I didn’t push her head out with the next push she would have to cut me. The midwives are not ones to throw around episiotomies like they are necessary or done often, so that completely freaked me out and I knew things were serious. I pushed for about 3 hours with Lucas, so it just never occurred to me that after this “short” of a time, we’d be getting serious. Hearing that I knew that one way or another it was going to be rough down there and I braced myself for a really bad tear, but I really did not want to be cut, having no pain meds whatever at this point.
I think another couple pushes during the next contraction and they told me her head was out and I needed to keep pushing to get her shoulders out. This part followed quickly, and just like last time, felt super easy compared to a head. She was out completely within seconds and I felt them throw her up on my belly. Quite purple/blue still she hadn’t made a sound and by the time I could get out any words to worry about, Annie Pearl Cruger let out a huge, gigantic cry in my arms.
She stayed with me for a long time and I looked up to see Kalli there filming and Melissa came very soon after to photograph us. Everyone got caught in traffic and none of us expected me to have a 6 hour labor, being in the hospital for only about 2 hours before Annie was born! After holding Annie for quite a bit, I was so eager to see what she weighed, compared to her brother. When they told me 7 lbs 4 oz I was in shock. They brought Annie back and we snuggled some more as I delivered the placenta. It was determined that I barely even tore a tiny bit and nothing needed to be done to it, which made me super happy compared to what I thought I had coming.
Because my platelet results had not come back yet and I was bleeding a little more heavily than usual, things with me began to get a bit interesting. I hadn’t used the bathroom the entire time I was there, but had been drinking a lot, so they thought my bladder was full and not allowing my uterus to begin contracting and clamping down (which is what stops the heavy bleeding). I got up and tried to go to the bathroom, but nothing was happening. They wanted to catheterize me, which to a woman who got her first hep lock just hours before and had never had any of this stuff done, sounded awful. Coupled with the fact that a 7 lb baby just came out of a very near area, I was terrified. Told it wouldn’t be that bad at all, we went ahead with it, but that was a lie. It completely sucked. However, it was necessary and that began to help a little. I also opted to get Pitocin (also never had before) through my hep lock to help things clamp down and the bleeding to stop. Being worried about my platelet numbers and my biggest fear going into this birth bleeding to death, I was happy to do it. Katie told me she needed to flush out my hep lock with saline first and it might sting a second. Also a lie. That was probably one of the most painful parts of the day after pushing Annie’s head out. I think I sat through two small bags of Pitocin and then they decided things were much, much better. This was also all provided with heavy, heavy pushing on my belly by Katie who, while small and young, must have taken great joy in being pretty harsh with that. It was super painful and I remember lying there thinking, I thought all the pain was over. The hour or so after her birth was pretty awful, though. My platelets came back after all of this and were in line with the past few counts during my pregnancy at 148, which is low for a normal person, but well above the safe line for an ITP/prenatal patient. I made it!
During all of this I learned that my mom had arrived with Lucas (they also thought they had some more time to get up to the hospital!) and when I was finally at a safe place, I had them come in which was just adorable. Lucas getting to meet Annie for the first time, in the same room he was born in, was amazing to watch. He was incredibly shy and timid in the hospital setting with all of these strangers, so totally adorable. I’m so lucky to have all of this on film from a fabulous videographer and photographer as well. My dad soon followed and everyone began packing up the things we did bring in with us as we prepared to move to our postpartum room. I was feeling great at this point and just so happy that Annie was healthy and so was I.
In our postpartum room I snuggled into bed with Annie while everyone set everything up and Melissa and Kalli continued to film and photograph our sweet family together. Lucas was getting a little bored hanging around and not too interesting in me or Annie, but then he opened up to her a bit more, coming over to see her face, count her fingers, and at one point he took his well-loved blankie I made for him and tucked her in with it. Our family was complete.