Just a warning: I know this is going to be a really long post. Please do not feel like you have to read all of it. I’m putting my story out there for anyone who is interested. But, I talk A LOT and quite a bit happened. That can never be a good combination … right?? Another warning: This might get a bit graphic. Heck, it will be graphic. Take your queasy stomachs elsewhere!!
Saturday evening I took an Ambien to help me sleep. Well, so much for that because I kept waking up every hour with INTENSE lower back pain. Nothing I tried would get rid of it until it went away on its own. I was having contractions with the pain, but they did not hurt at all. I figured it was Braxton-Hicks contractions again. I kept asking the nurse for heating pads to help with the pain and it got to the point that she was concerned I was in labor. She called the doctor around 5:30am to let her know of my discomfort. I writhed in pain and sobbed to Alex for the next couple of hours. I kept telling Alex that there wasn’t any way I could keep this up. At this point I didn’t know I was in labor and thought they might ask me to stay like that for several more days. It was a helpless feeling, like I had lost my fight. So, I guess I cracked somewhat under pressure there. Alex was great about helping me through the pain until the doctor showed up at 7:30. She did a visual exam and her exact words were “You are definitely dilated and I can see the baby’s hair. There’s a ton of hair.” She measured me and I was 4cm and 90% effaced. I was in active labor – no turning back now. She made it clear that we were having this baby today and I immediately asked for my epidural. I was having back labor and it was UGLY.
I instantly became an emotional basket case. More so than I normally am. I was terrified that she was going to be too premature. I wasn’t nervous about laboring and delivering (although it turns out that I should have been). It was the unknown for my little girl. I was terrified for her wellbeing. I think I went through an entire box of tissue… I would try and talk to my family (they were doing their best Dale Earnhardt, Jr impression and racing up here) and couldn’t get words out.
I was moved to a labor and delivery room. Once there, they put in an IV. (My IV from the day before had infiltrated. AHHHHH) They pushed quite a bit of fluid in before they called anesthesia. After 30 minutes of waiting and writhing in pain, an angel with an anesthesia cart showed up. Literally, she had a glow about her and I swear I saw wings and a halo. I could have just been delirious with pain though… It took about 10 minutes to get the epidural. While I wouldn’t pick getting an epidural as like a fun ‘date-night’ activity, it wasn’t that bad. I was in so much pain that I would have walked on broken glass if they would have told me it would help. They started a pitosin drip to help make my contractions more effective. My contractions never did show up on the monitor. They placed an internal monitor to see my contractions. She put in a catheter (I have to say it was nice to not have to get up to pee for a while) and checked me again. It was about 8:30am and I was 5cm.
I was laying there taking it all in and loving the fact that I couldn’t feel my back labor when my entourage showed up! My mom, dad, and sister arrived for the show and were really excited. They drove 3 different cars up to St. Louis and at one point, my mom passed my sister going about 90 miles an hour. My sister freaked out thinking that something was happening and started going about 90 to catch up. I’m pretty sure they broke the land speed record on I-55. Look for their names in the record books! Jen started primping because she wanted to look good for pictures. I looked like death warmed over, but that’s alright… 🙂 I wasn’t having any pain, but I did have this pressure in my poo shoot every time I had a contraction. It would get pretty intense at times. I kept saying that it felt like I needed to poop. The nurse checked me around 10:00am and I was at 7cm. My cousin Rita and Alex’s mom and sister arrived. Funny story at this point. We hear a knock at the door, so we tell them to come in. In walks this husband and wife with all these balloons. I don’t know who they are, but I figured that it was someone Alex worked with. Apparently Alex thought it was someone I worked with. Everyone was saying hi to them like they knew them, just waiting for someone to say who the heck it was. Well the guy gets this funny look on his face and starts to back pedal. It’s at this point that I notice the balloons say “It’s a Boy!”. They obviously had the wrong room and felt horrible. They backed out of the room and we all broke into laughter, which only made me have that gotta poo feeling even worse.
I forced Alex to eat at this point. My dad was sent to the cafeteria and came back with grub. Alex was excited to meet our girl, to say the least. I think he was a bit nervous, but he didn’t show it too much. The pediatrician, Dr. Seville, that would be present at delivery stopped by to talk to us. He explained the procedure and some ‘what-ifs’. He didn’t act super concerned that she was 6.5 weeks early. Even though I felt a little better talking to him, I started bawling again. That set off Alex (yes, big men cry too) and my sister. The nurse came in and increased my pitosin. I started having pretty intense poo pressure, but it wasn’t constant. I was told to let my nurse know when I felt constant pressure all over and the urge to push. Around 11:30am it hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed to push, and I needed to push NOW. We called the nurse in and she checked me. I was 10cm. The OB was called and everyone but Alex, my mom, and my sister were kicked out. She had me push a couple times and could see the baby’s head. She had Alex look down there and he could see the baby’s head. Then the nurse vanished for a bit. I was having pretty bad pain in my lady parts when they would check me while pushing. My anesthesia angel flew down from heaven and increased my epidural dose to make sure I was good and numb. They called it a perineum dose. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.
They started getting the room set up and me prepped. I was just hanging out (literally) in the stirrups and everyone was buzzing around. I thought I would care more about my vag just out there on parade, but I didn’t. Not that I could have done anything about it if I did. My legs were so numb from the epidural increase that I was stuck in whatever position they left me. Every contraction I was having at this point I had to just breathe through without pushing. That was horrible. I was moaning from being so uncomfortable. Anna’s heart rate had fallen off the monitor at this point, so the nurse was trying to find it while we waited on the doctor. They knew her heart rate was dropping when I pushed. I was put on oxygen. The OB (Dr. Jennifer Smith) finally shows up and gowns up. The pediatrician arrived with a few nurses from Special Care Nursery. Dr. Smith had me push through one contraction (finally some pressure relief). She became really concerned with Anna’s heart rate decels while I was pushing. I heard her say something about forceps – I closed my eyes. The next thing I know, she’s telling me that we have to get the baby out on this next push because Anna’s in danger. They brought in the forceps – huge midevil-looking salad tongs things. Alex watched the doctor quickly put them in and me wince in pain. They didn’t feel nice, I will say. At that point, I was trying to summon every ounce of bad-assness I had in me. I knew it was now or nothing and that my daughter’s health depended on my abilty to get her out. I’m not sure what kind of place I went to in my mind but I went there. And I went there fast. At the next contraction I got pissed off at the pressure and pushed like I’ve never pushed before. I pushed about 4 or 5 times in that contraction moaning in pain the entire time. With one last push and a primal yell that could be heard by my family in the hallway (they were asked to leave, but didn’t) Anna’s head came out. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, so that was removed. They had me push again and she slid out at 11:46am.
Dr. Smith immediately cut the umbilical cord and passed Anna over to the pediatrician. I could see her head while she was being passed. She wasn’t breathing. Petrified doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I’m not even sure it could be put into words how scared I was at that moment. The pediatrician stuck a tube down her throat and sucked out amniotic fluid from her lungs. I kept yelling and asking if she’s ok. Alex was standing there in fear. My mom was trying to watch and tell me, but she couldn’t even really speak. I guess my mom heard her whimper and yelled out asking if I had heard it. I had not. I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing at that point. It felt like 40 years had gone by and that I had aged about 15 years. I know Alex has a few more grey hairs on his head. About 2 minutes after she was born, she finally let out a big cry. I just melted onto the bed and started sobbing. My sister and Alex were sobbing too. It was such a relief. My mom (apparently has steel running through her veins) never cried but was elated along with everyone else. While the pediatrician and nurses worked to stabilize Anna for transport to the Special Care Nursery, Dr. Smith collected cord blood for donation and delivered the placenta. I was officially no longer pregnant. I had a small tear and needed one stitch. Not too bad seeing as I had the world’s biggest set of salad tongs shoved up there and yanked out with a baby.
They worked on Anna for about 10 minutes. Alex was allowed to see her and give her a kiss. My mom and sister took some pictures. Anna was put in an incubator rushed away. I did not get to hold her or see her for about 3 hours while I recovered and the epidural wore off. The nurse cleaned up the room and eventually took my legs out of the stirrups. My peep show was over! About 30 minutes later the pediatrician came down to give us a report. The tube was taken out of her airway and she had been placed on a CPAP machine to help with breathing. They did not have to give her any medicine to open up her lungs, but they might eventually. They were going to do a chest x-ray and get an IV started. She would be getting antibiotics for a day or so to prevent any possible infection due to my water being broken for so long. She was also given sugar water for nutrition. A tube had to be placed in her belly to help get rid of gas that the CPAP created. The CPAP was taken off a couple hours later and she was breathing room air on her own. He explained the APGAR test system but said he doesn’t like to focus on the numbers. He doesn’t give them much credit, but he is required to report it. It’s a scale (0-10) that measures the baby’s health at 1, 3, and 5 minutes after birth. A score of 10 is the best you can be. Anna’s first score was a 1. At 3 minutes she was a 5. At 5 minutes she was a 7. I’m hoping that’s the only time in her life that she scores so low on a test! I asked about the possibility of brain damage from lack of oxygen. They assured me that her oxygen saturation was high enough even when she wasn’t breathing that she was fine. The nurse later told me that if we would have had to do a c-section at the end. She would have had brain damage from the lack of oxygen. I thank God that I was able to push her out.
Alex was allowed to go see her at this point. I made him take pictures to bring back to me. He was gone for about 30 minutes and came back beaming. He proudly showed me the pictures of our daughter and was telling me about her. It was adorable to watch how proud and protective he was already! Alex is already an amazing father.
They let me order lunch at this point while the epidural wore off. Our family took turns going to the nursery to see Anna with Alex. They would all report back to me and tell me things about her. Tons of hair, really tall, long arms, long legs, long fingers and toes… Three agonizing hours later, I was recovered enough to be moved. I was wheeled directly to the nursery to meet my baby girl for the first time. Talk about waterworks. It was a magical moment. I was the first person to get to hold her. She responded to my voice and opened her eyes a bit. She even smiled. I melted into a big puddle of emotions and just wept. She was so perfect, just tiny. I think it hit me at that point. I’m a mother, this is my daughter. My husband and I created this little perfect person and we are completely responsible for her. It’s truly amazing how you can love someone so much that you just technically met. I can’t really explain it. Maybe it’s maternal instinct, but I have this need to watch over her and keep her safe. I will stop at nothing to protect her and provide for her. I guess this is what being a parent is all about. I will never forget that moment with Alex and Anna.
I was moved to an antepartum room (read: janitor’s closet). My last stop on the long road of my hospital stay. My dad headed back to Cape. My mother- and sister-in-law left to head back to Cape. We had several visitors and phone calls! Everyone is very excited about Miss Anna’s arrival! My sister and cousin left a little while later. Alex and I went down to visit with Anna again. They had moved her to an incubator at that point and she was happily sucking on a pacifier. We each held her and cried some more before going back to the room to eat dinner. My mom left at that point. She was going to stay the night, but there wasn’t really any reason because Alex was going to take off of work until I came home. I am going to be discharged on Tuesday, so she’s coming up to stay for a while then. We requested a cot for Alex to sleep on because the ‘pull-out couch’ they have for dads is about as big as one of his butt cheeks. They refused to allow a cot in that shoebox of a room, so they moved us to a bigger room and brought us a cot. We both took a shower and changed clothes/hospital gowns. We went back to see Anna for a bit. She was happily sleeping. It had been a long day for her too! Alex and I got back to the room and crashed. We were both completely drained. What a day!
I woke up every 2 hours to pump. It will take a few days for my milk to come in, but I’m doing everything I can to get it here. Anna needs it!! We were both awake around 5am, so we decided to visit our little peanut. She had a really good night! She’s been very active – even pulled off her IV board. Never had to have oxygen or the CPAP again. They took the tube out of her tummy so there’s nothing on her face. They are putting vitamins and lipids through her IV, but they warned us that there’s a good chance she will have to have a feeding tube put in once feedings start. We spoke with the neonatologist (Dr. Dawson) yesterday. He is very pleased with how Anna is doing! He will start her on feedings as soon as I am able to collect milk. Her chest x-ray looked great and she will be taken off of antibiotics. We also saw the physical therapist that did an initial evaluation on Anna. The therapist was very pleased with her movements and reflexes. She has good alignment and appears to be very strong. The therapist said that she will show us different movements to do and infant massage. I was so proud to hear the reports from the staff! She lost 2 ounces yesterday which is normal. She is allowed to lose up to 10% of her body weight before they are concerned. They have started to turn down the temp in her incubator to allow her to learn to regulate her own temperature. Alex brought in some items from home to decorate her incubator. There’s a picture of Daddy & Mommy and a picture of big fur-sister Lucy. A stuffed animal puppy, a blanket with her name for the top of the incubator, several preemie size hats, and a receiving blanket for swaddling. We also have this dog that we ask everyone to sign that visits Anna. It’s really cute and I think that she will really enjoy looking at that someday. We also got to do Kangaroo time with her today. It’s skin-to-skin contact. Anna LOVED it (and so did I!)!! She even latched on and sucked a few times!! The staff was really pleased to see that! She latched on both sides later in the day too. She really responds to the contact, even if we are just cuddling. It was amazing!
They have prepared us for the roller coaster ride that preemies take. It’s kind of a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ thing. So far, she is exceeding the expectations of the doctors and nurses. That’s my girl!!
Anna’s footprint on Daddy’s hand!
What a proud Papa Bear! Look at all of her hair!! (They had to comb it after her bath.)
Thinking about important life lessons.
Her accessorized incubator!
Anna Elizabeth Parsons
February 7, 2010
4 pounds, 10 ounces
17 3/4 inches