Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Meeting Isabella

This story has been swirling in my head for over 4 months now- our story of meeting Isabella. I thought I would write it out right away, but it seemed like too much at that time. And now I feel I better write it before the freshness of it is even more gone than it is now. Let me give fair warning...this is long, over detailed, and will be boring to some. Turn away now if you like- I will never know! :)

As explained here, we checked into the hospital to be induced on September 23rd. Ann (our midwife) explained what would happen going forward and a nurse came and put in my IV about 7:00 AM. Then a Dr. came in to apply some medicine that would "jump start" the induction process before they started the pitocin. This part was incredibly painful, and I think my screams traumatized her as she came back later to make sure I was OK and apologize again. About 30 minutes after that my nurse came back to start a fluid drip, the pitocin, and to put on a heart rate monitor for me and one for Isabella. I was hoping to avoid continuously having to wear a fetal monitor, but due to my high blood pressure and being on pit then I had to. Ann promised us they would do the pit slowly and humanely as possibly in an attempt to mimic natural labor. The pit was started at level one. And then my labor began.
Ann told us to just do whatever we had planned to do at home and we were left alone. There were several things we had been taught in our childbirth classes with Karen to do during labor so we began our cycle of walk around, drink water, rest, eat, walk, rest, eat, etc. I had brought grapes, fiber one bars, dried apricots, dried peaches, trail mix, naked juice, smart water, and of course some ghiradelli caramel chocolate. I was having contractions every few minutes, but they were not very intense.The nurse came by every once and awhile to check on us and raise or lower the pit level. They never put it above a level 4.
After a couple of hours I started having some painful back labor, and when Ann came to check on me she said Isabella had her body turned backwards. She explained some movements or exercises I needed to do to work on moving her. I began doing those on a large exercise ball, having a contraction, resting, and repeating. Overall the pain was still not too bad at this point.

I was still walking around, texting, and smiling! We played music, listened to my hypnobirthing CD, watched some of the today show, and Michael played silly youtube videos for me.
My sister and David came by to visit us. My sister stayed with me to relieve Michael to get some lunch in the cafeteria with David. We talked, I had contractions, and we waited.
In the early afternoon, my contractions began getting stronger and I was ready to get in the tub for some relief.

My monitors were all water safe, so in I went. The warm water was a relief and being in water helped relieve some of the pressure. The shower head detached, so we could turn the water up hot and spray it on my lower back. It really helped relieve some of the back labor pain. After a while I got out and continued the walk, rest, drink water cycle.
I continued doing the exercises Ann had instructed and eventually felt a huge flip in my belly where Isabella turned her body around. This was good as it relieved the pain in my back, but not long after I began having more painful contractions in the front. Karen had taught the three C's which are: compliment, cool drink, and comfort measure which were to be given to me by Michael after each contraction. Comfort measures could be back rub/massage, chapstick, etc. This is attention a girl could get used to! (I wished sometimes during those early weeks that I would get the three C's for each night feeding I did!)
Ann came by to check me and I was dilated to a 5. I was getting uncomfortable and called my friend for some encouragement. She shared with me in preparing for her natural birth she thought about imagery of Christ suffering on the cross and how His suffering and pain brought new life for us and how her pain would bring forth new life to their family. She spoke confidently that I could do this.
I got out of the tub, for the last time in the late afternoon, and from then on pretty much had no contact with anyone outside the room and had to begin to focus. All day I kept thinking 'how much worse than this is it going to get?' 'I can handle this...but how much more'. I used to run a lot, which requires a lot of endurance. I had thought about labor like a race. But the thing I kept getting hung up on is in a race you know how far to the finish. I had no idea how long labor would go on and how much pain I would feel. Which mentally made it hard for me. I kept saying 'I'm scared about the part when she has to come out'. Ann assured me, regardless of that fear, she would be coming out at some point.
The pain from this point was on a steady incline from not too bad, somewhat bad, to BAD, intense, and really really bad! We moved to the bathroom to get in a position Karen had taught where Michael sat on the edge of the tub and I squatted between his legs with my back to him. We would stand up between contractions and then when one would come he would sit and hold me while I squatted. Weird- I know. I'm not sure why, but it really helped with the pain. The contraction would end and we would stand again. It was during this time I felt a huge gushing and wondered if I had peed on the floor or if my water had broken. Again, this was all new to me. Michael called the nurse in who confirmed it was my water. After my water broke things got even more intense.
I moved to the bed because it was too painful to stand. We moved the head of the bed up and vertical and I faced the bed, on my knees, hanging my arms over the top. Ann had said when she drops down all the way, it will feel like a ring of fire burning, and that is when I would know to push. From then on I heard Johnny Cash singing 'and it burns burns burns the ring of fire'. :)
A couple of times during these intense contractions I would lock eyes with Michael, attempting to connect my brain to something other than pain. Those were moments were incredible. He never left my side and continuously supported me. I yelled at him once this day and it was during this time. I yelled "TALK LOUDER". This confused him, but I needed to hear his voice louder than the pain I was experiencing. I had to focus on my breathing to stay calm and get through each contraction. That became the goal. Just get through this one, now this one, I can make it to the next one...
About 8:00PM I felt what I thought was a ring of fire (how should I know- never having birthed a baby and all) and told Michael to go get Ann. He said she was sitting at the nurses station knitting, just patiently waiting for me to have a baby. She came and checked me and said it still wasn't quite time, but very close. She called in the other nurses and they began prepping the room for delivery. She told me I could start pushing if that was what my body was telling me to do. I moved into a position that seemed comfortable, although my body was extremely uncomfortable.
At about 8:45 with Michael, Ann, and two other nurses gathered around me, I began intently pushing. There was a clock on the wall, dead in front of me, that I stared at thinking, by 9:15 I will meet my girl. 9:15 came and went. By 9:45 I will have a baby...The pushing was worse than I had ever imagined. Searing pain that was slightly relieved during a push, a minute rest, followed by another incredibly painful contraction.
Ann was a champion coach. She was stern, but kind, encouraging and strong. She never offered me medication, I never felt pressure that we were running out of time, and she never insinuated I couldn't do this. And my love for him grew in those moments as he held my body, whispered in my ear, and encouraged me along.
Around 10:00PM I began feeling frantic. Was this ever going to end? I asked to go home many times. I screamed. I yelled. I tried to grasp onto a book I had read about "quietly breathing out your baby". Riiiight. They kept saying they could see her head, her hair, she was coming. It felt like it was all lies. Ann instructed, instead of screaming, to use my energy to push. I tried. But I kept screaming all the while. I felt like crazy woman.

And then about 10:55 after all of that pushing, in an instant she slipped out. I couldn't believe it. I had imagined the part when she would come out being slower, more drawn out. But really it was one push and she was entirely out. It was a surreal.

Immediately, they placed her on me while they set about doing the things they do post delivery. I checked over my beautiful red baby, looking for 10 fingers, 10 toes- everything was there. She was screaming and screaming- I guess we had traded places. (I love this picture with her newness and vernix still covering parts of her.)
Women that have said "the moment you hold your baby- you forget all the pain" are either liars or had a different experience than me. While holding my sweet baby was definitely a distraction, my body and mind hadn't forgotten. While stitching me up, (yes, you read that right) Ann instructed "focus on your baby". I did, but I still could feel the tugging of her needle and the stitches.
I held Isabella close to me for about 45 minutes until I let her go to have her check up and bath. Michael stayed by her side and helped the nurses.

She did not like her bath.

Nor the check up.

But finally, she was dressed, swaddled, and cozy and calm. We were ready to share our joy with our friends and family. But it was so late.

(Cappy and Isabella)
We were glad to find out Michael's dad was in the hospital waiting for our announcement. He came back to meet our Isabella Grace. He was the first family member to hold her.

Michael called my parents, and they came. Joining us in the late hours of the night to share our joy and meet their newest grandchild.

Mimi and Isabella (How beautiful is my mom at 1AM!)

Her dark, alert eyes- being held by my Mom while I detailed what our day had been like and finished off my entire bag of grapes.

Finally around 3:00AM we were taken from our birthing room upstairs to our "recovery" room. As we were moving through the hallway our nurse didn't know how to work the new security system and the alarm for Isabella was set off. This means to the staff that a baby is being stolen. In a matter of seconds nurses came running, quickly followed by police. Once that was settled we were able to move along to our room.
Isabella was taken to the nursery for some other checks while I was situated.

Her daddy was by her side for the first time she was taken out of the room from me.

In the moments and days following, we began to learn our girl, I began to try to figure out nursing, and we were immersed in parenthood. We loved having our family and friends come see us in the hospital and meet our girl that next day. Sharing her with my siblings, her great grandparents, my best friends- it was so special.

Parts of her birth did not go exactly how I had hoped/planned/envisioned and other parts did. But that is life, right? I get things in my mind, I want them to be a certain way, and things don't always work out how I plan. But usually God surprises me with a "better than you planned outcome". Isn't He great that way? Even though I had to be induced, ended up having some medical complications that kept us in the hospital another day and me a tearful wreck, and I wasn't able to "calmly breathe down my baby"- the parts that really mattered were still present.

Our girl was born, she was healthy, and we became a family of three.


  1. ah I love reading that,again I am amazed and you are such a rock star for staying the course and having her pain med free, just as you planned! Your story reminds me as we've talked about the journey of Motherhood is so much giving of ourselves and that starts from the very begining, they help us grow in selflessness at every level, body, mind and spirit and sometimes that is literally pain filled but we come out on the other side changed, transformed and being more deeply connected to ourselves, our relationships and most important our Lord. Our sweet girls are truly that gift that keeps giving!

  2. I love birth stories. They are all so different and amazing and they make me get all nervous and teary even though I usually know how they end....with a healthy perfect blessing! Thanks for sharing!