Laughing matter: The birth of Anani Pearl

By Published On: June 13th, 2016Tags: ,

image 1 at the hospitolSaturday morning, June 1, I woke up with this crazy urge to pee. I got up, or rather rolled out of bed and headed to the bathroom. (I was in my 38th week of pregnancy.) Everything went normally, so I headed back to bed and checked the time … it was 3:30 a.m. I was lying there WIDE awake at that point, just trying to flop around and get comfortable when I felt a small warm surge flow out of my va-jay-jay. Whoa!

It felt like I went an extra tinkle; it had happened before. No biggie. Then the warm surge happened again—and once more—but the latter was a LOT more! So, I whacked my partner on the bum and said, “I think my water broke!” Of course, I had no clue, and I was freaking out. Normal, right?!

I rolled out of bed and the moment I stood up, a much larger gush flowed out! Yet, I was still clueless and asking out loud if my water broke because, again, I was freaking out. Could it be true? Was this really happening? I didn’t know what to do, what to think and wanted dearly for this to not be happening.

I went into the bathroom to see what it was and my bottoms were fairly soaked with a slimy type substance. And as I was standing there, more was coming out. By that time, my partner was up and waking my mom because it was time!

image 2 medicine ballI made the call to my OB/GYN office, and they told me to come in immediately. I took the time to change while my mom was getting ready. After changing, I was standing there chanting, “I can’t do this. Please. Why did I do this to myself? I don’t think I can do this!” Over and over. (Side note: I was saying, “Why did I do this to myself?” because I went through a IUI process to get pregnant.)

My mom listened to me and calmly said, “Get in the car because I am not calling the ambulance to come get you.” (Ya, mom, really funny.) Oddly enough, I was feeling NO pain, even during the drive over. The car ride was filled with even more chanting and talking to myself about how I couldn’t believe this was happening. My mom was just smiling.

So we got to Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts, and check in.

At the hospital everyone was being so nice. Too nice. I wasn’t expecting this kind of treatment. I actually didn’t know what to expect. All the nurses were just making sure I was as comfortable as possible.

My OB/GYN came in, did the ultrasound and tested my amniotic fluid. It was a go!

image 3 pain before laughing gasNext I was being hooked up to the many monitors to make sure the baby had a heart beat and mine hadn’t exploded. They needed to know how far along I was, so they did a pelvic exam. Let me add that I am not a fan of pelvic exams. Who is? But for me, it was just painful. When it came time to see how much my cervix had dilated, it wasn’t pleasant. My OB/GYN attempted the exam and an epic deathly scream filled the air. Failure.

My OB/GYN walked right out of the room saying only, “Get the epidural!” She told me I was not dilated past 1 cm. As a result, the nurses had me go through a 10 hour regime of walking, squatting, bouncing on a medicine ball, hugging that medicine ball and just trying everything under the sun to get my cervix to dilate.

Leading up to getting myself and the epidural ready, I was induced with Pitocin. Apparently, my water broke, but I was not in labor—if that is even possible? After being induced, I started to feel the twisting and straining of labor. Not bad until the dosage was raised higher and higher. So I was offered laughing gas.

I had never heard of this and surely didn’t think it would work for labor pains. I had a myriad of questions, but the main one: Will this hurt my baby? They assured me that inhaling the gas would not hurt the baby but would help with the pain.

image 4 Anani and I after birthI was given the mask and told to breathe in very deeply. I remember taking three deep breaths, and on the third I felt my entire body just instantly relax. My hand holding the mask dropped, and I began to laugh in a tone I had never heard before.

I was laughing so loud that the nurses had to ask my mom if this was normal! It was not normal, but I could not control my screeching high-pitched laugh at all. I had NO control over my body. It struck me as funny that I could not control a thing, and yet I felt so relaxed. (Of course, my mom recorded a video of this happening. Thanks, mom!) As you can see, I was fine and felt no pain, just extreme pressure.

Even with everything I tried to help dilation along, nothing happened. After all was said and done, I never dilated. By then 15 hours had passed, exhaustion had set in, and I was asked that dreaded question (because I knew it meant I was going to need a C-section), “Do you want to have this baby?” I replied, “Yes.”

So began the preparation for the C-section. “Just breathe,” the anesthesiologist said right before he slid the needle in my lower back. I didn’t jerk—nor did I feel any pain. Just a prick. It felt like a rush of cold water was flowing down my back but on the inside. Almost immediately my legs went limp and felt as if they weighed 100 pounds each! It was the oddest feeling to see my legs yet not be able to move them or have any control over them.

While the team was prepping for the procedure, I started to regain feeling in my right leg. Not sure why, but the anesthesiologist had said that my spine was twisted slightly in the middle of my back. Right before I was taken into the operating room, I had ANOTHER epidural done. I was completely numb at this point. My legs felt like lead weights, and it made me laugh that I could not move them no matter how hard I tried.

image 5 Anani and I skin to skinInto the operating room I went with only my partner. Upsettingly, my mom was not allowed in the room. It was a small room with white walls and one door in and out. I had one hand on my OB/GYN the entire time. I was scared and felt so alone. I was also administered a spinal tap at that point. I was so out of it by then that I didn’t question why I even needed that, as well as why I needed morphine. I felt so drugged up, and my mind was so distant. I felt alone and very nauseated. I was throwing up the entire time. Especially during the C-section. The only things I felt physically were the shaving, the harsh pushing, and a vacuum of sorts.

The first words I heard from my OB/GYN were, “Look at all that hair!” Yes, she had a full head of hair.

Moments later, I heard my daughter’s first sounds—her cry. It was the most beautiful sound, and I just lost it. I started asking for her and crying uncontrollably. I couldn’t see anything but a blue tarp! Then she came around the side and was brought right to my face to kiss, feel and just love.

I almost don’t remember after this. I also never got skin-to-skin right away either. I felt so sad because they took her away, and I didn’t see her until almost 45 minutes later. I was also so exhausted that I think I was sleeping most of that time; I was in and out.

The doctors had to stitch me back up and make sure I was OK and cleaned up, but I figured I would get some time with her right away. I felt a bit of a disconnect. Is that normal? After all was said and done, my little girl was healthy and just wanted to sleep.

image 6 Anani with soft hatThe next five days were spent in recovery and just learning the ropes of motherhood. I am sure that the mommies reading this know all the highs as well as the lows. Because I had a C-section, I couldn’t get out of bed for the first couple days, so thankfully my mom was a huge help with feeding, changing and caring for my baby.

I also got extremely nauseated and was vomiting for the first day postpartum as well. I couldn’t eat anything—just water.

I loved all those nurses, all hours of the night, who brought my pain meds every four hours because healing from this was extremely painful.

I also had no feeling in my legs for a long while, and I noticed they were put into a compression device that kept them constantly massaged (to keep blood flowing) for a good 24 hours after birth. After the feeling came back, I was instructed to begin walking around. It was a double-edged sword because when I would walk, my feet became so swollen that they merged with the width of my calf. Then they’d tell me to put my feet up, yet I was supposed to be walking as much as possible.

After my week at the hospital was over, I headed home with my new baby girl and began a life-changing feat that I just absolutely love. Well, sometimes.

Anani Pearl. 7 lbs. 9 oz. 20 inches long

Read more about Toki’s adventures as a new mom at

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By Toki Castro