Annie’s Birth Story
After weeks of thinking that I would be pregnant forever and feeling like I would probably go post-term (having had no early labor changes), I was shocked on Tuesday’s appointment to learn that my amniotic fluid level was dangerously low and she needed to be delivered quickly. I was worried, but she still looked very stable and still was the feisty little mover she’s been my entire pregnancy. My doctor gave me the option of going straight for a c-section because my cervix had not really started to make any changes and induction would be very difficult. I felt that because the baby was so stable, induction with a cervical ripening agent was worth a try so we went across the street and checked into Kennestone.
When they put me on the monitors as I was being admitted, I was very surprised to learn that I was already contracting every 1-2minutes because I wasn’t feeling anything yet. The trouble was that obviously with their strength, these contractions were not being productive, but they couldn’t augment my labor with anything because I was contracting too close together. Their solution was a very rough exam that ramped up my contractions to the ouch zone so that they could get my cervix open enough to break my water. After laboring for the rest of the afternoon, I was 2cm by the evening and was gaining hope for a natural delivery.
Dr. Street came over to the hospital when her office hours and tried to break my water, but it was extremely painful with the contractions and my cervix still very posterior. I accepted a dose of IV pain meds to try and that relaxed me enough that they were able to break my water after several attempts, and my contractions slowed enough to allow them to start some pitocin to get things really going. I’ve heard from so many people that pitocin contractions are significantly worse than natural contractions, but wow. I was coping with the pain pretty well, but not getting much breaks in between contractions. Those hours all blur together now, but time seemed to move very slowly and I was all over the place just trying to cope with the pain. I labored without meds until Dr. Street came back around midnight to check my progress. I was still contracting every minute despite them lowering the pitocin and had made it to 6cm. I really wanted to go without an epidural, but I knew it was time. Holding still through mind-rocking contractions while it was being inserted was THE hardest thing I have ever done. After it was in, I could relax and cope with the contractions until about 3am when I had pain just as bad if not worse than before the epidural was placed. I had made a lot of progress, but was back-laboring. No sleep for the weary.
By 7am I had spiked a fever but was 9 and ½ cm. Dr. Street had spent the night at the hospital checking in on me regularly. I cannot say enough good things about this doctor- she went above and beyond to give us great care and keep our baby girl safe. They started amp & gent and gave me a couple hours and by 9am, I still could not push the baby out because she was positioned face up and my cervix was too swollen from interventions to dilate any further. It was hard to accept after so many painful hours of laboring that this delivery would end in a c-section, but I knew it was the right thing for the baby. Her heart rate was still normal despite my increasing fever as they wheeled us to the OR. Regardless, I was very fearful that she would be born septic or depressed, but not my Annie girl.
The First of Many Firsts
That first night with her proved to be very challenging. After all the visitors had left, Kenneth and I throbbed with love over this perfect baby girl we had been given. We decided on her name: Anna Quinn McGinnis (Anna Quinn was my great grandma who went by Annie). One of the sweetest moments was getting to call my grandma in the morning to let her know what we had named the baby and hearing the joy and surprise in her voice. Annie comes from a line of pretty incredible, strong, and feisty women. To prove her namesake, she passed her pediatrician exam with flying colors. Dr. Strauss was amazed at her alertness, tone, and strength. He had turned his back to her bassinette with her unwrapped and jumped as she kicked against the wall of it with a resounding thunk. Yes, I told him, I was well aware of just how strong she was after months of similar antics while I was carrying her.
During the night, she had some trouble latching and I couldn’t get her or myself positioned right because of my pain and movement limitations. Poor Kenneth was so tired he could not be roused so Annie and I both wept tears of frustration. Her cry hurts me so deep and after hours of no sleep, no food, and still only ice chips, I found it very difficult to cope. I take care of hundreds of babies and consider myself very good at soothing babies, but it felt like I was failing her as a mother. This was the first of several meltdowns. That seems like a distant memory now- just four days later- as I have developed such an intense trusting bond with my baby. It’s a deeper connection already than I could have ever imagined. We survived the first night.
May the Circle Be Unbroken
Mom brought a picture from when I was born- check out these photos:
I loved this baby more than words before she was born, but I cannot even explain the crazy love now. I spend my every hour feeding/gazing/adoring her and she looks back at me with that same power. I have been with Kenneth for ten years now and didn’t think I could love him anymore, but to see him with our daughter has brought so much love I could have never imagined. I don’t even know why I’m trying to explain any of it, because I know that I can’t- but I now understand. Annie was born knowing her father. Even in utero, he had an amazing ability to calm her and she responds to his voice as soon as he enters into the room. Seeing their bond develop is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.
Eileen told me that having a child is like leaving your heart out in the open walking around where someone could hurt it- it is extremely scary. I felt like this immediately and then unfortunately had to come to terms with the reality of the fact that there are people in this world that would try and harm my precious little baby, my heart.
I had just finished nursing her and my mom was sitting in the postpartum room with me- there was some talk about possible discharge but I still had to finish my course of IV antibiotics. We heard a knock at the door and I said to come in (expecting the pediatrician/OB/tech/nurse/lactation consultant or any of the various visitors that were constantly knocking at the door). The door opened and a strange woman in street clothes pulled the curtain to the side and said she was here to see the baby. My heart started pounding and I told her she had the wrong room (my mom was not sure if this was Kenneth’s family or a friend she did not know). The woman continued into our room saying that there was no nursery and she was here to see the baby. I was not even covered and my mom got up to guide her out as I pushed the call button frantically. My mom had pushed her out the door, but I had already given the nursing station a description of her and security apprehended her as she and the woman she was with got on the elevators.
While she certainly had mental health issues, it seemed as though she and her friend were in the hospital for a husband’s surgery and genuinely just wanted to see the babies in the nursery and after learning that there was not one, did not see what was wrong with just knocking on a random door. Her story, however, was not consistent with what happened: she told security that someone had pointed to my room and told her it was okay to go inside (which would have never happened) and that we never told her to leave the room. She was not arrested, but guarded by security in the day surgery area and forbidden to go anywhere else in the hospital. I felt as though she should have at least be detained for a psych eval.
After the immediate panic, I broke down big time. ‘What if I had been asleep and alone?’ ‘What if she wants my baby and knows where we live?’ There is a world full of bad people and bad things and the thought of any harm to my child tore at my heart with a pain I have never known. Nothing like this had happened in the past 20 years at Kennestone, but by the end of the month, the unit will be on lockdown where visitation can be more tightly controlled. We were visited by endless nursing supervisors/hospital administrators/security directors/etc to check in on us and apologize for what had happened. It was all a bit much and I finally had our amazing nurse, Sara (who cared for us the whole time we were in postpartum), fend off any more visitors. It was Sara that called our doctors and arranged for early discharge knowing that I would follow up with any issues that might develop at home. My sympathies to everyone with children- the fear that we live with and the deepest love that is so vulnerable. I cannot even imagine the depth of pain our families at Egleston must feel.
Thank you everyone for all of your well wishes and welcomings to our little girl. I will never take her for granted. I will never be the same.