Nicki & Marc | Labor of Love Birth Center

Nicki & Marc

Dear Annabella,

You were our surprise child. One afternoon while I was at work, I suddenly felt a little clammy, hungry and slightly nauseous. In that instant, I knew I was pregnant. When I left work that afternoon I stopped by the pharmacy, picked up a pregnancy test and bee-lined it for the bathroom. When the word, “PREGNANT,” appeared on the test, I left the bathroom and told your father, “Think Pink?”

We called Labor of Love that afternoon to schedule my first appointment. To my shock and amazement they recognized by voice. Our first appointment was with Bea, the midwife who caught your brother, which was exciting. It was almost like a reunion.

The pregnancy was fairly uneventful, which is the way I like it. We learned you were a girl shortly before Christmas. In our Christmas cards that year we put a lovely photo of your brother meeting Santa for the first time. Santa is holding a sign that said, “I asked Santa for a baby sister,” and a picture from the ultrasound. Your brother is crying hysterically. It’s really a lovely photo.

The full diagnostic ultrasound showed you were healthy as could be. 10 fingers, 10 toes, all important internal organs in the correct places.

We were incredibly anxious for you to come. It was super difficult to work full time, and take care of your brother when I got home. He didn’t understand what was happening. I was 37 weeks on May 5th – full term. We had henna done on my belly to honor you and I was optimistic that it would be visible when I went into labor. I just knew you were going to be born before your due date. My tummy was huge! There was no way you had enough space in there.Each night I would go to sleep, and every morning I woke and wasn’t in labor was a disappointment. I just knew I was going to wake up in labor.

On Friday, May 24th, I lost my mucus plug. I was ecstatic. When I lost my plug with Vincenzo, he was born the next day. That weekend was a full moon, a holiday weekend and one of the midwives was out of town – clearly you were going to be born that weekend. Spoiler alert: you were not born that weekend.

Saturday was a huge letdown. I wasn’t in labor. Sunday (40 weeks!) came and went – no sign of you. Monday, surely Monday, Memorial Day – would be perfect. Surely you would want to crash someone’s BBQ plans. Nope. At this point, I just had to accept that nature knew better than I did, and trust that you would come when you were ready to be Earthside.

Tuesday morning I woke up at 4:00am, on the couch, and I couldn’t tell if my water broke, or I might have peed a little bit. More importantly, I had a contraction that caught my attention. I tried not to get too excited. But then there was another one, and a third. I was definitely in labor.

I hung out on the couch for awhile watching, “White Collar,” until around 6:00am. Contractions were harder at that point, so I decided to go wake your dad up. I didn’t want to wake him too early, it was going to be a long day after all, but these contractions were starting to really require attention. I rubbed his back a little and then said, “We’re having a baby today.”

Your brother woke up around 6:30am. He came and sat on the couch with me, drinking his milk while your dad made breakfast. Dad made German pancakes. It was around 7:00am when we realized that contractions were approximately 3 minutes apart and lasting around a minute. Dad called Labor of Love, while I called Mary Catherine, the birth photographer. We found out Andrea was on call. He called Andrea who advised to skip the shower I was planning to take and head in. Needless to say, breakfast was a bit rushed. We left with food still on our plates, plates still on the table and the lights throughout the house on.

Your dad was in a panic packing the last minute items for our trip and the cooler, and then loading the car. As we were getting in the car I told him, “We have what we have, if we don’t have it, they probably do, and if they don’t, well then we don’t need it.” I’m fairly certain he was still concerned about having to catch you in the car, but he calmed down after realizing he was prepared to do that.

We dropped Vincenzo off with our neighbors and then headed to Labor of Love. We arrived around 8:30. Bea greeted us as we pulled up and teased me about it not being her call. Andrea was already there and filling up the tub. Sady, the birth assistant, and Karla, the student midwife, were on their way in. We got settled. Andrea checked me at my request. We were 7 cm, 100% effaced and my water was intact.

I hopped in the tub. It was sooooo relaxing.  I was concerned that my contractions were going to start spacing out. Mary Catherine, Sady and Karla all arrived. We hunkered down in the waterbirth room and labored. We told stories, and jokes. Everyone who arrived was greeted with a cheerful “Good Morning,” from me, and the question of “how are you?” was answered with, “I’m having a baby today! I’m great.” Your birth was filled with laughter and smiles – we even have the pictures to prove it. Every 3-3.5 minutes I would take a minute or so break from the conversation and then pick up where we left off once the contraction had passed. Sometimes your dad would let me know when I could expect a contraction to taper off, but most of the time he would just rub my shoulders and whisper sweetness in my ear.

Eventually your dad got in the tub with me. He would rub my shoulders and my back. When we were both ready, I kindly informed our birth team that, “I think I’m ready to push now.” According to your dad, everyone was slightly shocked by the matter-of-fact nature in which I told them this. I then began to push with my contractions.

This time around, pushing was a very conscious and simultaneously primal thing. I knew to take a deep breath, exhale, deep breath, exhale, deep breath and push – and I followed that pattern this time. I held my own legs back this time instead of trying to brace against the tub. I felt my water break during one of the pushes. Karla would check on you after each push with the doppler. You were handling it very well.

Your dad would squeeze on my hips because it made everything feel so much better. I believe I told him at one point to not stop squeezing.

I was able to reach down and feel the top of your head. It didn’t scare me this time. In fact I was able to feel your head be born. It was incredible. Your shoulder was a little, “sticky,” and while not a full dystocia, Karla needed to help you rotate a bit. I moved into a squatting position and you were born shortly after. You were covered in vernix and placed immediately on my chest.

You cried right away and then quieted to look around. You were perfect, and amazing, and here! We double checked that you were still a girl, since Dad’s side of the family isn’t really known for having daughters. Your cord didn’t pulse for too long. We clamped it when it was done and your dad cut the cord. I tried to nurse you right away but you were far too distracted looking around. You went with dad while the placenta was delivered and I got cleaned up. With some help I made my way into bed and you were placed with me.

We got to nurse. You had an incredibly strong but shallow latch. You nursed easily for an hour or so. Beyond basic vitals checks, we were fairly undisturbed. It was incredible. Karla showed me your placenta, and gave what she called, “the placenta tour.” She showed me the separate sides of the amniotic sac, how big it was, how she was able to tell whether it was complete or not. It was pretty cool. Your dad, however, didn’t stick around for it. Your newborn exam was done right on the bed. We all took guesses on how much you were going to weigh. You came in at 9 pounds, 3 ounces, 19.5 inches long. Most of us were shocked at how big you were! Sady, the birth assistant, nailed your weight right on the head though.

We toasted your arrivals with the entire birth team with a bottle of Spumante – the same sparkling wine we drank at our wedding. Andrea gave a toast, which truth be told, I remember being incredibly sweet and touching, but I can’t really remember what she said for the life of me. We also joked that it was liquid courage since I was going to need stitches.

We returned home that afternoon. You met your brother, who immediately saw you and said, “BABY!” He gave you lots of “gentles,” and pet you on the head.

And that, sweet baby girl, is how in seven very fast, hours, you made your way into the world.

Love,

Mom

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