Annabelle's Birth Story
I had been having prodromal labor throughout the week leading up to Annabelle's due date. I would have contractions that got decently strong and close together and then they would stop, usually when I went to bed. There were a couple days when I really thought I was in early labor, consistently having contractions 10-12 minutes apart for hours. It felt just like early labor with Camden. There were even two nights when they got down to 5-6 minutes apart! But, without fail, the contractions would slow down and eventually stop altogether when I went to bed. So when I went to bed with contractions on Saturday night, I didn't think they would last (after all, I had been having contractions steadily throughout the day but they weren't getting longer, stronger, and closer together). In an attempt to encourage labor, I had Jake massage my ankles with clary sage essential oil and then I spent half an hour on the elliptical before I went to bed. When I woke up at 3:30am to contractions that were too strong to sleep through, I felt like this was it! I stayed in bed, trying to rest while I timed them at 8-9 minutes apart for an hour. At that point, I decided to get up, have a snack, and sit on my exercise ball to see if that brought them on stronger. By 6:30am my contractions were down to 5-6 minutes apart and too strong for me to really walk and talk through. I called my doctor's office and woke up Jake. I was told to head to the hospital to be checked so we took our time, got things together, and got ready to go. I had a little breakdown at this point- I felt really sad to be leaving Camden (even though I knew he was in good hands with my parents), and just overwhelmed about the huge change happening! I gave Cam lots of kisses and we were on our way. My contractions were coming every 4 minutes at this point, and felt really awful sitting in the car. We got to the hospital around 7:30am, checked in, and were brought right into a triage room. I had my cervix checked- at this point and found out that I was 90% effaced and 6cm dilated! (That was huge progress considering I was "more than 1cm" on Friday morning when I had a prenatal appointment and got my membranes stripped). We were officially admitted at 8:50am, got into our room and things progressed quickly! I had an IV of penicillin (since I tested GBS+ again) my contractions were strong and close together; Jake was my superhero at this point, helping me get comfortable and reminding me to take deep breaths through each contraction. We worked so well together, it was perfect. I wanted to have another natural, unmedicated birth so it helped a lot to have Jake there to apply counter pressure and help me find good positions for working through the pain. He also remembered to use the various essential oils I packed to help with different aspects of my labor. I spent a lot of time laboring on all fours, hoping to encourage Annabelle to move from face front to face back (the doctor told us she was facing forward when she checked my cervix). My contractions got really close together after I spent some time in a hot shower, so we decided to be checked again. I was at 8cm with a bulging amniotic sac so we decided to have the doctor rupture my waters. That got me right up to 9cm and made my contractions extremely intense... At this point, it felt like my contractions were right on top of each other, with double-peaks. It was certainly intense and I started to really struggle getting through them. I kept moving and finding different positions that helped me work through the pain. I labored through maybe 10 more contractions and felt ready to push. The doctor came back to check me and told me that I had a small anterior lip and needed to work through a few more contractions before I could start pushing. It was really tough to be in that limbo where my body felt ready to push but I had to wait. Those contractions were the hardest ones to work through, but it was only a couple before the doctor checked again and said that baby's head was already moving over the lip so I was good to start pushing. Now, I've got to say, I don't like pushing. I know a lot of woman say it's so good to be able to do something with the contractions, and obviously at that point you know baby is almost in your arms which is amazing... But pushing hurts like crazy and scares me. Jake diffused some Valor essential oil and applied some to my chest to help me with that apprehension. Pushing was much harder with Annabelle than it was with Camden. And we found out why pretty quickly- baby girl was face up and presenting face first! They had me push from a reclined position, then moved me to my left side. It felt better to push from my side (laying on my back was the most painful position throughout my labor), but Annabelle's heart rate dropped a bit in that position so I was moved to my back again. I pushed for a few contractions that way then moved to my right side. I had bad nausea at this point and thought I was going to throw up. Jake gave me some peppermint essential oil to smell and that helped quell the nausea and stopped me from throwing up. I think it was at this point that my oxygen level tanked and they put an oxygen mask on me. The smell of the mask made my nausea worse and I tried to take it off but the concerned look on Jake's face told me that I needed it. I started to make some good progress on my right side, so they moved me to my back to get ready for delivery. Even though it hurt the most, I made the best progress on my back. I remember the doctor saying that they could see Annabelle's eyes around this time! All of the doctors/nurses in the room seemed kind of excited about her face-first presentation but there was also a sense of urgency. Everyone kept telling me to push harder and I was struggling to push any harder than I already was! I literally pushed so hard that I ruptured a bunch of blood vessels around my eyes (Jake told me to relax my face but I couldn't even process it at that point). At the end, I was pushing nonstop even without contractions. It was brutal but after about 30 minutes of pushing, at 12:50pm, our baby girl arrived! Her face was extremely purple from bruising and her eyes were very swollen, but she was immediately placed on my chest and scored an 8 on her first APGAR (she scored 9 on her second). All things considered, she handled birth very well! I was able to hold Annabelle skin-to-skin for about an hour and a half, and it was amazing. She nursed and snuggled and made the cutest little squeaky newborn noises. It was instant love! When I finally let the nurse take baby girl, she weighed in at 6lbs 11oz and measured 18.5 inches long (exactly 1oz and 1 inch less than Camden at birth). I also faired well with the birth. The doctor told me afterwards that a face-first birth is very rare, and she was impressed that we were able to make it happen naturally without any tearing. I felt like I was tearing wide open pushing so it was a relief to find out I didn't tear at all! Throughout our time in the hospital, Annabelle was the talk of the nurses and doctors. We even had a few ask if we recorded the birth so they could see her facial presentation (no, we didn't). Our little girl is certainly a rarity between that and being born on her actual due date! We had a sign that said "my face is bruised" taped to her bassinet so no one would panic over her purpleish hue. The bruise has been fading well, and now the only concern is her bilirubin level as her body works to break down the healing bruise. Her level hasn't gone too high but it's still being monitored regularly by her pediatrician. Other than that, we are both perfectly healthy! I'm so unbelievably thrilled that we had another amazing, natural birthing experience! During my pregnancy I prayed for another natural birth, just faster. And that prayer was certainly answered! Annabelle was born just four hours after we were admitted! From the time I was first awake with contractions to her being in arms was a little over 9 hours. Amazing. (I labored for about 15 hours with Camden, 11 of that being in the hospital and 1.25hrs spent pushing). Annabelle's birth was much more intense but I'm so happy with how it all turned out! We're head over heels in love with our baby girl! She's the perfect addition to our family.