Ready and waiting: The birth of Anne Louise
Our due date came and went without so much as an ache or contraction. I’d never felt better! In the words of my doctor at our last appointment our little girl was “comfy cozy” where she was, despite my eating copious amounts of eggplant parmesan and walking every hill in our neighborhood multiple times a day. It was decided that if she hadn’t come on her own by the following week we would induce.
Waiting for a baby to arrive is like waiting for Santa to arrive—except you’re not sure when he’ll actually show up and you can’t stop eating all the cookies. Honestly it became quite comical because every night Taylor and I would pray my water would break. Every time I moved Taylor jumped and asked how I was feeling. I sent so many texts to my mom and best girlfriends about every possible “labor is coming soon” symptom and used an embarrassing amount of exclamation points.
I drank red raspberry leaf tea non-stop all weekend and started having mild contractions that were a bit uncomfortable but wildly exciting. Finally something was starting to happen!
At 40 weeks and five days there was still no sign of Annie budging. My parents and brother came to town, and we all went out for a final meal of my favorite Italian food. When my dad told our waitress I was about to have a baby she brought me chocolate mousse on the house—and yes, I ate every last bit of it.
At 9 p.m. that night Taylor and I made our way to the hospital. I was terrified, mostly of all the unknowns of the experience. Would it be super painful? Would the epidural actually work? What would pushing feel like? Would Annie be a healthy baby? My incredible husband held my hand and said the most precious prayer as we drove, knowing we would be meeting our baby girl soon. We both cried.
We checked into the hospital and greeted the nurses on the floor with a huge batch of homemade cookies—because who doesn’t love cookies? We were shown to our corner room (yay!), and soon I was in the glamorous hospital gown and chatting with our first incredible nurse, Amanda. She calmed our nerves by explaining most everything and encouraged us to try and sleep as much as possible during the night. We watched the “birth episodes” of both “Friends” and “The Office” (classics), and then I finally fell asleep.
My contractions started getting more intense during the early morning, and Taylor was so wonderful to hold my hand through each one. We probably slept three or four hours tops.
The next morning we met our incredible nurse with the great hair and even better attitude, Julie. I loved her from the start. She told us how she always pays close attention to details and would explain every little step of the process. She had me at “details.”
Julie started the Pitocin drip, which kicked my contractions into high gear. Although my pain was increasing, I was so excited to feel something happening. Soon my doctor (whom I am borderline obsessed with) came in to confirm things were progressing nicely and I was ready for my epidural. Relief flooded my body. Dr. Rupe broke my waters, and then it was time for my epidural, which by that point I was more than ready for thanks to my low threshold for pain and increasingly intense contractions.
Julie held my hands, and Taylor held my legs as I leaned over the bed with my pillow while the super nice anesthesiologist made all my dreams come true. I was shocked how quickly the medicine took effect but also how I was still able to move my legs.
My parents arrived and remarked on how calm I seemed. I told them they had missed pre-epidural me, and Taylor gave them a quick update on the night before. Taylor and my dad watched my contractions build on the big machine next to my bed while my mom and I chatted. My brother and his fiancé got there, and they all watched Jaws while bundled up in blankets.
Hours ticked by, and I kept dilating. My good friend and nurse on the floor, Paige, came in to talk for a bit. Friends, family, movies and God’s miracle drug? This wasn’t so bad after all.
Then, in the early afternoon we had a scare when Julie noticed Annie’s heart rate would drop with each strong contraction. She was concerned. Rupe came and told me they would closely monitor us both, but if things didn’t calm down she would have to perform a C-section. I was terrified but trusted my doctor and Julie. She turned off my Pitocin, and it was up to my body to keep labor progressing. Taylor took my hand and we prayed. After being closely monitored for an hour Julie told us my contractions were building, and Annie’s heart rate was doing just fine. Praise the Lord!
My dearest friend Ashley came after work and stayed by my side, encouraging me and making us all laugh. I was given oxygen to help me rest while I ate popsicles. Around 5:30 p.m. Julie checked me, and I was at 9 centimeters. She called Rupe. By the time she arrived, I was at 10 and ready to push!
After a couple test pushes they told me I was pushing so effectively our baby would be born in 10, 20 minutes tops. My family, Rupe and Julie held hands around me while my dad said a prayer for a safe delivery. It was such a special moment, and I felt at peace. I was ready.
They broke down the bed, turned on the bright lights, put my legs in the stirrups and told me to grab the bars, bear down and push. Julie would say, “Go,” and I would push while they counted to 10 in sets of three. We’d rest for a minute or two and then begin again.
I willed my face to stay relaxed, but with each push I could feel my eyes swelling. Taylor and I had decided he would stay “north of the sheet,” but when the nurses yelled out that she had dark hair he leaned over to see. We were both momentarily overwhelmed by a flood of emotions, but we quickly pulled it together to keep pushing.
Lots more pushing. Lots more nurses in the room. I joked with the nurses between pushing. Taylor amazed me by being the perfect birth coach—holding my hand, holding my leg to help me push, giving me water to sip. Taylor was my rock of strength and encouragement as I became more and more tired. You can do this honey. Our baby girl is almost here. You’re doing so amazing, one more push.
Julie was supposed to go home at 6 p.m., but she told me she would stay with us until Annie arrived. More pushing. No more talking between pushes—I focused on deep, restful breaths (all that prenatal yoga came in handy) and prayed for strength. Taylor and Julie said I was in the zone. I didn’t understand why I was still pushing and could feel my epidural starting to wear off.
Rupe came in a little before the two-hour mark and told me my dad was pacing, so we needed to push harder. I gave my all to the next push but no change. Annie’s heart rate was in some distress, and her shoulders weren’t coming out on their own for some unknown reason. My doctor looked serious and explained that while some doctors would do an emergency C-section, she wanted to try using the vacuum while I gave one final push. If that didn’t work then I’d be rushed to the OR. Taylor dropped to his knees and prayed, and I focused on my breathing, knowing I needed all the strength I could muster for this final push.
Taylor, Rupe, Julie, Paige and what felt like 10 other nurses surrounded me and shouted words of encouragement as I pushed one final time. I felt a great amount of pressure and then heard the sweetest cry at 8:49 p.m. Rupe held up our precious miracle and placed her on my bare chest. Annie immediately got quiet as she looked up at me. She knew I was her mommy. I cried as I thanked God for such a perfect baby. Taylor cut the umbilical cord as we both cried uncontrollably.
Taylor kissed me through the tears and then said hello to our baby girl. She turned to look at him, and I cried harder. I asked Julie if I could keep her, and I heard a collective “aww” from the nurses.
As Rupe stitched me up she told us that Annie had flipped her body last minute to be sunny-side up and that she would have had to perform a C-section if my pushing hadn’t been so efficient. She also added that it would have been 10 minutes of pushing if Annie hadn’t flipped. Of course, Annie insisted on a dramatic entrance into this world.
Paige placed Annie underneath the warmer and Taylor held her tiny hand. She weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce and measured 20 1/4 inches long—so dainty and perfect in every way. Soon everyone left the room and turned the bright lights off, leaving us with our baby girl. Our little family. Our perfect gift from God had arrived, and our hearts were forever changed.
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!
By Katie Powell Bell