Since I posted the story of Emmett's birth a while ago, I thought I'd also share with you the story of Annika's birth. And since it's her birthday next week, it seemed to be a good time for it! I actually wrote this shortly after Annika was born. Reading it now, I'm amazed at the amount of detail I included. Of course, back then I only had one little baby to look after so I must've had much more time! :)
On Friday, April 11, 2008 I had my weekly appointment with the obstetrician. Carey took time off work that afternoon to come with me. My due date was April 16, so I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant. The doctor examined me, and found that the baby was very low, but I was not dilated at all yet. However, my blood pressure was slightly elevated, which caused him to recommend an induction. He sent us to the hospital that afternoon for some tests, to see if my blood pressure was affecting any other bodily functions. The tests all came back normal, so it was not urgent that I be induced. They sent us home, telling us that they would call in the next 72 hours to tell us when we could come in to be induced. I wished they would have told us a time right away – I didn’t want to wait for the call all weekend!
Saturday morning, April 12, I was up before Carey because I had been having trouble sleeping past 6 or 7 for the past few weeks already. Around 8:00am the phone rang, and it was the hospital, asking if I could come in for 10 for the induction. I said yes (of course) and was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to wait any longer for the call. The woman from the hospital had misread something on my file, and thought that I was having twins. I told her that was news to me, and that I was pretty sure there was only one baby in there. Sure enough, she had misread “term” and thought it said “twins.” I went to wake up Carey, and asked him if he was ready to be a daddy. We finished packing up my bags, and went to the hospital for 10:00.
When we got to the hospital, we left the bags in the car, since we figured we would be going back home fairly shortly, and wouldn’t need them yet. At the hospital, I got a bed in the maternity triage fairly quickly, and then had to wait until almost noon to receive the Prostin gel (which is supposed to start dilating the cervix and begin contractions). We had to wait for so long because they were busy; however, we were lucky. We heard of someone else who was told to come in for 10:00am for an induction, and they didn’t even get a bed until almost noon – and we had arrived just moments before them. After they inserted the gel, they hooked me up to a fetal monitor and said that we would have to stay for an hour for observation (just to make sure that labour didn’t progress too quickly with the gel). However, we had to stay at the hospital until 3:15pm, because the baby’s heart rate was high (170-180 beats per minute). Finally we got to go home (we were wishing we had brought in something to do – we were pretty bored!), and told to come back at 6:00pm to be assessed. Carey took a nap at home, but I was too anxious/excited to sleep (even though I should have). I was also a bit uncomfortable because I had had IV fluids, and they left the IV in my arm. Also, I was starting to feel little contractions every now and then (not regularly, though).
By 6:00pm we were back at the hospital, and back in a bed in the maternity triage. I had to wait until 7:00pm until someone finally came to check me, and my cervix was dilated 1-2 cm and 75% thinned. The contractions were coming every 2-4 minutes, but were not very painful yet - sometimes I only knew they were happening because I could see it on the fetal monitor. I was a bit disappointed that I was only 1-2 cm dilated, and thought for sure they would just give me more Prostin and send me home again. However, the doctor thought I was making good progress, and they sent us to Labour and Delivery (L&D) to start the oxytocin (which really gets the contractions going). By 7:15 pm we were in the L&D room. I was a bit disappointed to be in the L&D side, because I was hoping to get one of the “good” rooms in the LDRP (labour, delivery, recovery and post partum) or “low-risk” side. I was told those rooms were bigger, nicer and you could stay in the same room for the whole time (and no roommate). However, I guess because of my blood pressure, I was considered “high-risk” or maybe the other side was full – they never said anything to us about it.
The oxytocin drip only got started at 9:20 pm, because everyone was busy with a set of twins that were being down the hall. The nurses brought in a TV and VCR and some movies for us to watch. We watched “Air Force One”, which I had never seen before, and can’t remember now how it ends. Just after 10:00pm my water broke on its own, which they told us was a good thing. It meant my body was ready to go into labour, even though I was being induced. I was quite glad that my water broke in the hospital and not at home or while out, because it was quite a mess. It was a very strange sensation. At 11:00pm I was assessed again, and was still only dilated 1-2 cm. I was quite disappointed at how slow things seemed to be going.
I was starting to get quite uncomfortable with the contractions, so I asked for an epidural. I was told that the anaesthetist was busy, as the woman next door was having an emergency c-section, and I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural for another hour. This was one of my biggest fears going in to labour – not being able to get an epidural. It happened to a friend of ours, and she had to give birth without any drugs. They offered me morphine, which I accepted, even though I had heard that it didn’t always work very well. I got the morphine by IV at 12:25 am, and it made me very sleepy and my head kind of fuzzy, but didn’t help too much with the pain. Around 12:45 am Carey called Stephanie, our doula, to come. Just after 1:00am I was told that the anaesthetist was available, if I still wanted the epidural. I said yes, and it was set up fairly quickly and easily. Relief from the pain came fairly quickly, and they showed me the “happy” button to push if I wanted an extra shot, if things started getting painful. I was still able to get up and go to the bathroom, which Stephanie said was a good thing.
I tried to get some sleep after getting the epidural, but after a little while, I could feel pain again. I felt it in my back and in my bottom, and it didn’t go away even when I pushed the “happy” button. Around 3:00am the nurses checked me again, and I was fully dilated, which came as quite a shock to me, since things had been going so slowly so far. When they told me that it was time to start pushing, I was quite scared, and I couldn’t stop shaking. All along, I couldn’t believe that it was really happening, and now it seemed so close. I started pushing at 3:15 am.
Stephanie and the nurses were very verbally encouraging while I was pushing. Carey was fairly quiet, but gave me water or Gatorade between contractions. I had brought along Fruit Punch Gatorade, to help keep my energy up, but I didn’t drink very much of it, since it reminded me of the time I had the stomach flu and threw up the same flavour of Gatorade. Pushing was extremely exhausting and I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. However, if I didn’t push during a contraction, it was way more painful (the epidural wasn't working anymore). I had prepared a bunch of stuff to focus on during labour (music, pictures, a Bible verse), but I didn’t use any of it. I remember focusing on the logo on Carey’s shirt. I also remember looking at my toes a lot – I had gotten a pedicure a few days before, and they were painted red with a daisy on each big toe. The Bible verse I had memorized to focus on was Philippians 4:13 – “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” However, while I was pushing there was only one thought going through my head – GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!!!! Even though I was screaming this in my head, I was very quiet throughout the pushing. I think I didn’t have any energy left over for screaming or yelling.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, at 5:35am on Sunday, April 13th, Annika Beth was born. It was the strangest sensation, feeling her come out of me, and I was just so relieved that it was finally over. After she was born, they took her to be checked over (she had to be checked out by a paediatrician since I had had morphine), and the doctor stitched me up. She had given me an episiotomy without telling me (which irritated me slightly, even though I didn’t feel a thing – I just would’ve liked to be informed). It took a few minutes before I got to hold Annika and see her up close. Everything was a bit of a blur during this time. I just remember being in awe of this little creature that had lived and grown inside of me and now was a real person. She weighed 7 lbs and was 19 inches long.