Monday, June 30, 2014

Anna Michele

Sweet baby Anna Michele was born on Tuesday, May 20th at 11:42 a.m. She weighed 6 lbs, 15 oz and was 18 inches long. She is perfect. Here's her story...

Abby and Elise were an emergency c-section in July 2008. Five years later, one baby on the way, and with the support of my hubby, I made a very informed decision to pursue a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I am woman, hear me roar! My body was meant to birth a baby and that experience is one I just needed to have, or at least try and have. The hospital here in town does not perform VBACs, so that meant switching doctors and opting to deliver in Overland Park. Enter our doulas. During my first trimester, I contacted two amazing women who I had connected with through Baby Sing and Sign: Stefanie and Lindsay. "Doula" from that point forward became an integral part of everyone in this household's vocabulary. 

Artwork by Abby: "Doolis" = "Doulas"
As I mentioned on the blog before, we hit our first hiccup around 28 weeks when Baby Lawrence developed a heart arrhythmia. After much monitoring, our fears lessened as the babe continued to develop beautifully and the arrhythmia faded. Our next hiccup came at 37 weeks when my blood pressure skyrocketed. Seriously? Blood pressure? All we could think was "how could that be my issue? I have the lowest blood pressure EVER!". I spent a week on modified bed rest, checking my BP too many times at home, and crossing my fingers that my pregnancy would continue. Here's the deal: with a VBAC, I was not a candidate for any type of medical induction. That's one of the caveats - to induce before the body is ready often leads to a longer, more strenuous labor which raises possible risks and complications for a VBAC. At my 38 week check-up, while my BP was within an acceptable range, the fluid around Baby L had dropped to a level that required delivery in the near future. It was go-time.

While I still was not dilated or feeling contractions, after checking into the hospital on Monday afternoon, the midwife on duty was able to insert a Cook's Catheter. For those that like details, this is essentially a catheter for your cervix. This does not require any drugs and was our only hope to get labor started. While contractions came on fairly strong after it was inserted, they lessened and we hunkered down for the night - best case scenario was that, by morning, the cook's catheter had done it's job and I would be dilated to a 5. 

Tuesday morning, the catheter was removed. I was indeed dilated to a 5. At 8:00, my midwife, Sarah, came and broke my water and, within a half an hour, contractions started. From there on out, it was a perfect VBAC. I was able be up and about, moving through the contractions as they intensified. My mom, John, and Stefanie were awesome - keeping me company, offering support, and chatting away the morning. By 11:00 I was fully dilated and Anna was born at 11:42 a.m. Everyone was expecting a boy, except for Stefanie! Although, before even asking if she was a girl or a boy, as I reached to hold her, out of my mouth popped "Oh, I'm so sorry about your head!"... poor little head looked as though it had been squished through a small opening. Oh wait... it had been. ;) I cut the cord myself, since it wasn't a task that either my mom or John wanted and we all soaked up that moment of holding, seeing, and loving a newborn baby. It was my perfect drug-free, all-natural, birth experience. 

Until... I'll make a very long story somewhat brief... Anna didn't rotate when she was born, so her shoulders came through square. I had third degree tears that were quickly attended to. While that procedure was taking place, concerns arose that my bleeding was not slowing. There was talk that part of the placenta had not detached from the uterus or that there was a blood clot issue... regardless, the looks on everyone's faces were changing. After the tears were repaired and the nurses were doing their post-procedure utensil/material count, they discovered a mis-count: one of the sponges used was missing. So... this led to intensely painful internal checks as well as a complete emptying, spreading out, and examining of the trash receptacles that contained far more blood than anyone should have to see. I also had to be x-rayed to make sure the sponge wasn't inside, all the while my blood pressure was plummeting. John, my mom, and Stefanie paced about the room, passing Anna back and forth as we wanted her kept with us at all times. She was a peach! But honestly, the room looked like a gory scene from a murder movie and, according to John, I wasn't looking much better than death. 

Throughout the afternoon, about every 30 minutes, the nurses would have to come and "massage" my stomach/uterus to determine if the bleeding was slowing. I would birth that baby all over again rather than experience hours of that. I remember passing Anna over to someone when they would come in because I had to brace myself on the sides of the bed - the pain was horrible. By early evening, I had lost too much blood to ignore and at 9:00 that night, they started a blood transfusion. The transfusion was the first event of the day that I couldn't handle - it sounded scary and serious and I didn't want someone else's blood. John had left to see Abby and Elise and head home for some sleep; my mom stayed with me. It was a phone call to John that helped calm me down. And, throughout the night, the company of my mom that took the fears away. The toll on my body from the blood loss showed itself in two ways: I had a raging headache for about five days and my milk didn't come in. We came home on Thursday; by Friday morning I had a hungry baby and I was completely stressed out. I texted Stefanie around 6:30... she was at our door 15 minutes later, following closely by my mom. The "hiccups" continued and, as we ventured out to have Anna checked by the pediatrician and acquire a breast pump, our car died and we spent a good portion of time stranded in a parking lot with a 4 day old baby. 

Here we are, six weeks later... Anna's arrival wasn't without it's fair share of stress and complications. I am so grateful to my "team" - I will never forget John bringing me home from the hospital and promptly preparing a steak, to up my iron count, while chanting "we're gonna make some milk!", in an effort to boost my spirits about my lack of lactation ... or my mom tearing up when we told her that her we had chosen her name for Anna's middle name, a choice that came easy for us after the love and support she provided during an exciting and terrifying time... or Stefanie's calm, kind voice saying "you're doing great, Erin" through each contraction... or Sarah sitting down on the edge of the bed in such a relaxed and compassionate manner, ready to hand our baby to us.

Anna Michele - you are so loved. I can't begin to count the number of times a day Abby and Elise kiss you on the head. You are six weeks old and still sleeping with me... partly because you only get up once during the night when you're there but also because it's the most wonderful thing in the world. You weigh over 8 pounds now, wearing up to 3-month size clothes and bigger than your sisters were at almost 4 months; you grunt, squirm, and stretch ALL the time; you cannot keep your hands away from your face, much like you were in every. single. ultrasound; you're holding your head up like a boss; and a week ago you started smiling at us - and I'm not talking about a little smirk... your mouth opens up as wide as possible, your tongue sticks out, and you SMILE! Yesterday, Gran, Abby, Elise, you, and I went to see The King and I at the theater. It was over 3 hours long - you slept for the first 2 hours, nursed for a bit, and slept through the rest. At one point, you started tooting, which wasn't quiet, and I was terrified of a full-on blow out during a very quiet scene. Thank you for resisting the urge, literally. Your first outing was to the pediatrician's office, followed by Gran and Grandpa's house. At 11 days old, you went with us to the farmer's market. The sling that I wear you in is like a baby sleeping pill and you've since slept through countless outings. Your hair looks lighter than your big sisters' and your eyes are still blue. Most importantly, you complete our family. After Abby and Elise were born, I wasn't even out of the hospital and was thinking about "the next time". You fulfilled my "next time" and this time, before leaving the hospital, I was thinking "family of 5...perfect". I love you.

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