Enough time has passed where I feel like I can finally talk about the day Annabel was born. Every time I’ve tried to write about it I haven’t been able to find the words, or the emotions were too overwhelming to work through. But I fear as more time passes I will forget things, and I don’t want that either.
As Mike said, we went in to Labor and Delivery that day because I wasn’t feeling right. It wasn’t anything in particular but a collection of symptoms: a sudden and awful headache, belly tenderness, decreased fetal movement, and just a general unease in my head that I needed to be seen by a doctor. When we arrived at the hospital we were whisked away into a room and tended to immediately. Mike was really certain that we were going to be there for a couple hours and then be sent home. I was less certain but didn’t want to jinx anything either way.
I had a non-stress test that showed Annie was fine, and my urine check didn’t indicate pre-eclampsia. My contractions were minor and irregular, and it was looking like Mike was right, and we’d be heading home. The resident checking on me went to go talk to Dr. Risky, and I sent my parents a text saying everything checked out fine and we’d probably be going home. As soon as I hit send, the resident walked back in with a scrub cap on and said, “So, what do you think about having your c-section this afternoon?”
Everything kicked into high-gear at that point. I called my parents, my cousin, my brother. I tried to send texts to all my friends, but the c-section prep made it impossible. My amazing nurse Helen inserted my IV, did a blood draw, and asked me 1,001 questions while Mike gave me this weird wipe down with sterile wipes. The wipes were FREEZING. Helen checked my blood sugar and it was really low, so she gave me a bag of cold fluid via my new IV. Between the fluids, the wipes, and my nerves, I was shaking badly. And then things got funny.
I started to feel nauseous, so I told Helen as much thinking she could put something in my IV to help with that. She told me to sit back and take some deep breaths. Not hard to do since I was, you know, already laying in bed. This is where things get fuzzy. I THOUGHT I said to Helen that I felt like I was going to pass out, but Mike and my cousin Leah (who had arrived by then) said I didn’t. According to everyone else, I was unresponsive and making guttural noises. The crazier thing is that I don’t remember passing out. I have fainted plenty of times and I remember losing consciousness, but not this time. I have some fuzziness, but as far as I remember, I said I was going to pass out and then I was OK. But, no. Thinking back now, I realize that the room was jammed with people. I remember hearing the doctors and nurses saying my blood pressure (70/40) and that the baby’s heart rate was decreasing. I remember seeing the frightened faces of Mike and Leah, the serious faces of the medical staff, and trying to assure the anesthesiologist that “I’m a fainter, it’s noooooo big deal” while he looking at me like I was a little bit crazy.
The decision was made to move me to the operating room immediately in case I lost consciousness again. In there, the anesthesiologist told me that he wanted to put me under general anesthesia for my c-section. That meant I’d be sleeping and Mike wouldn’t be allowed in the operating room. His reasoning was that he was worried I’d pass out again and he didn’t want to wait to get the results of my blood tests – blood tests that would indicate the safety of being awake for the surgery. Mike and I had always known this was a possibility, but when it was presented to me I looked at Dr. Risky and pleaded with her not to let it happen. If I needed to be put under for the surgery, that was one thing, but if there was a possibility I didn’t, I really wanted to wait and see. She agreed, not only for our sake, but also because general anesthesia complicates things. Luckily, the blood work came back in my favor, and I was allowed to be awake.
I had a lot of time on the operating table while I waited for things to be determined – time where I was alone, since Mike wasn’t brought into the room until moments before the surgery began. I tried to stay calm – Annie’s heart rate was extremely elevated because of the drugs they’d given me when I’d passed out – so I knew I had to keep mine under control to not make things worse. While I laid there, I was greeted with a friendly face. My friend Staci, a nurse and one of my sorority sisters from college, received a text from my cousin telling her I was going into surgery. She hightailed it down to the hospital and made it in time to be there. I was so happy to see her smiling eyes behind her surgical mask. I can’t tell you how much calmer I felt knowing she was there.
The surgery went off without a hitch, and soon the anesthesiologist was telling Mike to stand up and watch our baby be born. I felt all the tugging and pressure, and then a lightness. There was a commotion from all the people in the room, and then I heard a tiny but powerful sound – Annabel’s cry announcing she was here. She sounded exactly like her sister the day she was born. There is nothing – nothing – like hearing your child’s cry, because that means they can breathe. Memories from Madeline’s birth came flooding back, and I realized I was crying. I badly wanted to see my baby, to touch her, and confirm that she was here and she was OK. When Staci brought her over to me, it was magical.
That first touch was so amazing.
Even now, 27 days later, I am having a hard time writing more than the blow by blow of the day. I want Annabel to know how great a day it was. I had been so scared that the emotions would be overwhelming, but they weren’t. I was scared I would be overcome with sadness, but I wasn’t. Not that day. The day of her birth was just joy and love and happiness. The staff at the hospital took such amazing care of all of us. They knew about Madeline, and they wanted to hear about her while they met Annabel. They made an effort to include Maddie in the day and it meant so much to me. At the hospital, we enjoyed the newness of our daughter. We reveled in her birth and specialness.
At home, we continue to do so.
Someday, I’ll find the words to express just how special she is.