Last year I submitted a request with the Make A Wish Foundation for our dining room to be converted into a bedroom for Miss Karis. The wish was granted and last week we were able to celebrate with some friends from Make a Wish Mississippi. Karis has truly seemed to enjoy having a space of her own!
Our Make A Wish friends came just in time because Saturday, February 8, 2014, I gave birth to Karis’ brother, Ander Christian Almy. Born one day before his due date, Ander was 9lbs 5oz and 21.5 inches long.
THE BIRTH STORY
-Warning: This is a story only for those who desire to know a realistic depiction of the birthing experience. It’s going to to be a little clinical and a little graphic.-
My children don’t like to be born. It’s not their favorite thing. They require much encouragement. They tease with timed, intensifying contractions and then fizzle out. Ander is very much an Almy child. I’d had increased, intensifying contractions from 2-5am every night for about five nights. The morning of Friday, February 7th, I finally decided that I wasn’t interested in doing it for another night. My mom was due to come in the morning and I called my dear friend Mary White, who was planning on attending the birth with me, to come on up from Florida.
By the evening of the 7th, everyone was in place but my contractions weren’t as regular or as intense as I thought they should be. We all caught up on an episode of Downton Abbey and went to bed around midnight. As usual, my contractions began around 2am and I took little naps in between. We headed for the hospital around 8am and I called on our way there. They instructed me to go to a different hospital than the one I was registered at because that was the location of the doctor on call. I explained I’d never set foot in that hospital before, but they weren’t very sympathetic.
Once we got to the hospital, Mary and I found the cafeteria and enjoyed some coffee through contractions to avoid the hustle of shift change. By the grace of God, my contractions kept coming, though at extremely varying times, and didn’t fizzle out. We got registered and settled into a room. I quickly realized that the Lord had PLANNED for me to be at this hospital that I had NOT planned to be at (Gasp! He PLANS things? Yes-yes He does, folks, despite my brilliant pre-registration and everything) My nurse informed me that none of them were taking me on as a patient because they were saving me for the midwife-in-training who was coming on shift at 9am. Ms. Karin. I heart Ms. Karin.
They put me on a monitor to watch the baby during my contractions and noticed that his heart rate was decelerating during a few of the contractions. We decided it might be best to keep an eye on him, but agreed that I should be allowed to go for walks and to the bathroom between monitoring. They checked for dilation and found that I was a whole 6cm dilated ON MY OWN. Unprecedented!
We walked the halls, watched some Netflix, did lots of squats, at some popcorn (shhh..don’t tell) and I dilated another centimeter. I still wasn’t making it to transition, so when my doctor checked me around 2pm I asked him to go ahead and break my water (it pretty much happened on its own by the time he checked me) and strip my membranes. Within a few minutes we were in transition (yay?). Unfortunately, all my hard work in transition still wasn’t getting me dilated enough to push that baby out! Since I know my babies and I know my body, I agreed that a little pitocin was probably called for at this point. (boo, hiss!) Pitocin brought me to what I call the Zen-Whisper contractions. My eyes were closed the whole time and I spoke in whispers between contractions. Here’s what went down as extremely intense contractions came closer and closer together:
Whisperer: Trevor. I need you to call the nurse.
Trevor: Okay honey, is it time to push, you think?
Whisperer: No, dear. It’s time for an epidural.
Mary: We can get the nurse…
Karin: Okay, time to get going here?!
Trevor: She’s asking for an epidural
-Mary and Trevor exchange winks and shake their heads and feel sorry for the poor Whisperer who will NOT be getting anything resembling an epidural-
Karin: Oh you don’t want an epidural sweetie. Let’s check how dilated you are.
Whisperer to self: Manipulation.
It turned out that I was still only dilated 8cm, but that information was wisely withheld from me. Karin knew her little patient was giving out quickly, so instead of discouraging me with news that it wasn’t time to push, she felt the baby’s head and pushed the cervix over his head, holding it there so I could push him out (This is not fabricated, people. This is a true story.) She didn’t have to tell me what just happened. I started pushing and wasn’t interested in stopping, even to breathe. With Karin’s hand opening the cervix, making way for baby’s huge head, I was sure I’d just pop him out quickly. I was proud of myself for maintaining pushes and low, guttural moans, but once I realized my plan wasn’t working and I was STILL PUSHING, I screamed (somethin fierce). Just then, the doctor on call (who happens to be pro-Let-The-Woman’s-Body-Birth-Without-Drugs) came in with a, “Well hey there! I was just waiting on Karin to call me, but I got the message.” Karin later said my screaming was divinely appointed because she couldn’t reach the call light to ask for help, what with her hand on my child’s head.
As the dear doctor is calmly suiting up, I plead with him, “Out! OUT OUT OUT! Get it OUT!” He explains that that’s my job but would be more than happy to come over and catch him for me. As he approaches I continue my pleading, sure that there is some little trick he can do to just pull the baby out. In the mean time, sweet Mary is encouraging me to take the force I’m using to pull her and Trevor down with my arms to push the baby out. I simply told her, “No.” I was wondering why my biceps were so sore today until I remembered Mary’s gentle urgings for me to redirect my muscle contractions. Mary- I hope you’re okay and that I didn’t disconnect your shoulder. That would not be a polite way to show my gratitude.
By this time I could feel Ander’s head emerging and I was about to bolt to the door to leave the craziness that was going on in that room. I so desperately wanted to give up, but my cheerleaders were SO enthusiastic that I was “ALMOST DONE! 2 MORE PUSHES! GO GO GO! GREAT JOB MAMA!” I was sure that my absence would be a HUGE disappointment to them, so I opted to stay there and pushed on. With a few more pushes, I felt an incredible, overwhelming release and knew that the toddler’s head was out. One more big push and…VICTORY! Dr. Awesome held up my beautiful baby and let the cord stop pulsing before Trevor cut it. Ander was place on my chest immediately and stayed there until I asked for his weight. It turned out that the cord had wrapped around him twice (hence the decelerations during contractions), but he pinked up nicely.
I’ll spare you the story of my continuing recovery Thank you for all of your prayers, gift cards, and meals! You are a blessing!