Take a deep breath. Maybe put in some eye drops. Here's Part Two.
After we arrived at the hospital, we were quickly taken to our room. They called it Lucky Number 13. I changed into my hospital gown and felt that it was slightly less hideous than the gown I wore at Baylor Grapevine. Nurse Cassandra immediately hooked me up to the fetal monitors, which were two big sensors strapped to my tummy. Those things were terribly annoying because they shifted and caused blips on the monitor screen if I moved too much. Plus, they made it hard to feel the baby move. I made sure to take in her last kicks from the inside. Truly, it is the most wonderful part of pregnancy and it's something I will be sad not to experience again.
Then I got my IV, which was even more annoying than the monitors. My nurse complimented me on my "beautiful veins" - something only a nurse would say! Then she put some crazy painkiller in my IV that knocked me out immediately. For the next hour I had the wildest dreams. I was seeing these weird scenes in my mind for five minutes at a time. Then I would open my eyes and study the monitor and see how we were doing. As soon as I closed my eyes, I got a new scene. It was so bizarre! I don't think I ever truly slept, but I was as relaxed as could be and that was better than being scared at home in my bed.
I cannot forget to say that I did get a good back rub from Curtis while I labored. For the past three years I've given him a hard time about not getting the back rub he was trained for in our birthing class with Jackson. In fact, in that birth class he made me rub his back in return, which our instructor was horrified by. That's my man! He is a very selfless person except when it comes to back rubs. And he'll readily admit it. So I have to give him credit for initiating and executing a good labor massage.
At 7 a.m. Cassandra started me on the pitocin drip. I was supposed to start at 6:00, but the baby's heart rate had suddenly dropped when I changed positions and she wanted to observe her before getting things started. Our sweet nurse clocked out shortly after and we got our new nurse who was with us until Annabeth came. They could not have been more different in personality. Our new nurse was very down to business and not the kind of person you could butter up, but she was great at her job. We heard she was one of the best nurses in the hospital. We were very blessed.
Our nurse turned up the pitocin every time she came in and I could definitely feel it. I had a one track mind about getting my epidural and didn't wait long to ask for it. We'd been told that there were c-sections scheduled all morning and the anesthesiologist would be really busy. When the nurse left the room to go put me on the waiting list, I asked Curt to hand me my Daily Light devotional. As eager as I was to get the epi, I was freaked out by it. The thought of having a needle in my spine almost puts me over the edge. I needed some encouragement. In Daily Light, each entry is a collection of verses that have a theme. Some lines from that morning's reading were:
"'Be strong...and work; for I am with you,' says the Lord of hosts. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. [Be] strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Strengthen weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong and do not fear!' The Lord turned to him and said, 'Go in this might of yours.' Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Childbirth is amazing but there's a lot that can go wrong. You walk pretty close to the valley of the shadow of death to bring a new life into the world. Those verses were just what I needed.
The anesthesiologist came to our room about 15 minutes later and put me out of my misery before I was even miserable. They told Curt to leave the room for 20 minutes. The nurse held my hand while the doctor did his thing. Shortly after I was blessedly numb. They had me lay flat on my back and I immediately started to black out. I said, "I don't feel very good. I think I'm going to pass out." The nurse gave me an oxygen mask and that helped. I remember telling the nurse I didn't mean to be so high need. I felt embarrassed. I kept the oxygen for the rest of the time. The mask was not as uncomfortable and annoying as the one I had to wear with Jackson, which I was constantly getting in trouble for trying to take off.
I distinctly remember thinking that I, with my epidural tube taped to my back and numb from the waist down, a blood pressure cuff attached to one arm, an IV attached to the other arm, four plastic hospital bracelets, a catheter, and an oxygen mask, was as far from natural labor as it gets. It was utterly ridiculous to think about myself in comparison to how Eve must have given birth. Still, I would not have chosen to do it any other way.
At about 9:00, my OB came in and broke my water. It didn't hurt, but I could feel the pressure and was very, very glad I had already gotten my epidural. Thank You, Lord. It was not as dramatic as when it happened with Jackson. By then I think I was dilated to a 5.
My mom and Curt's parents arrived sometime around 10:00. Mom had taken Jackson to mother's day out, the timing of which was a very big blessing. By this time my labor was well underway and I could even feel some cramping on one side from the contractions. The nurse put a pillow under my hip to even things out. Then I started to feel cramping in the middle of my stomach. It wasn't horrible, but I was a little concerned about what it would feel like at the end if it didn't get fixed. My nurse was hesitant to mess with it since I nearly passed out before. As time wore on, I was definitely in pain and had to breathe through the contractions. Luckily, things went pretty fast. Soon I was dilated to 9 cm. At that point I sent my mom scurrying for my hair brush and makeup bag and Curtis scurrying to get the cameras ready. I put on some lipstick and Benetint cheek stain (best stuff ever) and mascara.
I started feeling pressure a little after 11 and the nurse checked me again. I was dilated to 10 cm. Our parents left the room and the nurse went to call my doctor.
Alone for a minute, Curt and I took the chance to pray together. I don't remember exactly what Curt said, but he prayed for a safe delivery and a healthy baby. He thanked God for our new baby and for our son. When he did, his voice quivered. That moment will stick out in my mind as one of my favorites in our marriage.
Our nurse came back in and said the office staff had tried to put her on hold when she called the doc. She'd told them, "No, you cannot put me on hold!" We were more than ready to go. The doctor arrived quickly and baby girl was ready to make her entrance. At this point it went very fast. I was already having a contraction when everyone got into place, so they told me to push. I pushed maybe five times through that one long contraction and Annabeth was born! Curtis and I couldn't believe how quickly she came. He didn't even have to do any counting!
The doctor put the baby in front of me and Curtis and I both leaned in to make sure she was a girl. She was. Thank God! I heard them say something about the cord being around her neck, so I was eager to hear her cry or see evidence of her taking a breath. The doctor clamped the cord and said, "Let's get you crying for your mommy." She did start to make some noise at that point and I was relieved. They wiped her off quickly and laid her on my lap. Curt cut the cord. Her whole body was purplish. I literally watched her skin turn pink over the next few minutes. It was awesome to see the process of a new life entering the world. I watched as she started blinking her eyelids and squinting. I was literally looking at her eyes when they opened for the first time. A very blurry image of me - if she could even see that far - had to have been the first thing she saw. They put a blanket around her and I held her for the first time. I felt bad because she was really crying, but I couldn't soothe her very well while I was just laying there.
Curt and I leaned in and spoke to our little girl and told her how pretty and tiny she was. Her head was perfectly shaped, unlike poor Jackson's. He definitely made the way for his sister's easier delivery. Bless his heart. He bounced back quickly though. Initially, we didn't think she looked very much like her brother. But as the day wore on we changed our minds.
Soon we had our first attempt at nursing. It did not go as well as it had with Jackson after he was born. She was not that interested in nursing for her first 24 hours of life. We came to find out that she had a lot of gunk in her tummy and once she had coughed it all up, she was finally ready to eat. I was very eager for Annabeth to get hungry because she was just so small! I didn't want her to lose a lot of weight.
Curtis quickly sent a text message to our parents that said, "Baby girl!" They later told us how shocked they were that it happened so fast. With Jackson, Curtis got in trouble for not notifying our families for an hour after he was born. We would not make that mistake again. Eventually we summoned our parents in and they got to meet their granddaughter for the first time. My dad had also arrived by this time. Curtis took some pictures of everyone taking turns with her while I videotaped it from the hospital bed. We were all so full of joy. It happened to be my father-in-law's birthday and that made it extra special. I love that we have a picture of the birthday boy and the birthday girl together.
We were so thankful for God's perfect timing for our daughter's birth. The fact that we were able to have both sets of our parents there with us, as well as my sister later that day, was absolutely wonderful. Since we had not planned on having a scheduled birth this time, we knew we were taking a chance that we could be alone when she was born. We were at peace with that possibility and trusting the Lord with it, but we were obviously hoping that they could all be there. Curt's parents live 12 hours away and my mom had a conference in El Paso the following weekend. My dad as well as my mom's BFF Johnnie were on call to be with Jackson in the event that Bibby and Nana weren't nearby. It could not have been better timing, except for the fact that mom had to teach Bible study THAT NIGHT! But the Lord even took care of that. She'd already done all her preparations and, mercifully, Annabeth was born early in the day. It was actually really fun knowing that she was going to get to announce the baby's birth to all our Bible study girls that night. We were even able to get them some pictures to show on the screens.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for us during this pregnancy and during my labor. I know that God heard your prayers and that a thousand things probably turned out better than they would have otherwise because you all prayed. That is huge to me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
We are thrilled to have our sweet Annabeth here with us. She has been a delight. I have much more to say about our princess and now that I've gotten this birth novel out of the way, I can do that!