I meant to write this out awhile ago, but I’ve been a little busy…..haha – Let’s see what I remember, I haven’t slept much since then. Can you believe it’s been 6 weeks?!
I’d been having some uncomfortable braxton hick contractions for a couple weeks. Sometimes I thought they could be going somewhere and then they would just stop. Since both boys were a full 3 weeks early, I was expecting this one to be also and just praying that she wouldn’t be 2 weeks late. I had gestational diabetes, so we were doing weekly ultrasounds to make sure she was happy and healthy in my womb and not getting too big.
On Tuesday night (about a week and a half before my due date), the braxton hicks were more intense and a little more consistent than they had been previously. I debated calling my mom to come up in case it was the real deal, since she would have an hour and a half drive. I was able to hold off and she decided to come up the next afternoon no matter what since the weather was supposed to get bad. Thank you momma!!!
It started snowing that evening and I wasn’t really able to sleep, still wondering if the contractions were going anywhere. I watched the snow get thicker on the cars outside and panicked a little bit. Jason still wasn’t home from work and the snow kept falling. My prayers shifted and became- Lord, please don’t let this baby come tonight. I imagine Him laughing and responding with, “How bout this afternoon?” But I think he blessed me with a little sign that I needed to be ready.
(CAUTION! If you are sensitive to certain “gross” pregnancy terms, consider skipping this. This is your last warning!) I was up and down all night. I took a bath and was going to the toilet every 15 minutes it seemed. Around 5, I lost a decent amount of blood tinged mucus plug (this was my sign). Sorry if that’s TMI. My husband always gags, but I seriously love mucus plugs! Haha They were a sure sign with all 4 of my babies that labor was near. I had been losing small clear pieces for about a week prior to this. I know sometimes they will regenerate weeks before labor or some women in labor will never even notice that they lost it. But I think they’re awesome! So if you want to talk mucus plugs, I’m your gal. Did you notice when you lost yours? If so, how long after losing it did you go into labor?
At this point, my contractions were still only 7-10 minutes apart, but the pain was pretty intense. I was scared to wait too long (this being my 4th and the hospital was a good 30 min. away, plus the snow and morning traffic). I reluctantly decided to wake my husband up around 6:30am. It was a Thursday. I apologized (since he had just gone to bed 4 hrs. earlier) and said that I thought we should head to the hospital in the next hour.
He took a shower and I paced back and forth around the house, gathering everything I thought I’d need for the hospital. Then he went out and cleared the snow off the car and shoveled part of the driveway and then we took off.Because of the snow and morning traffic, the drive took almost an hour and a half, triple what it normally would. When contractions would hit, they hurt and I can only imagine what the people in the cars around me thought when they looked over and saw me crying out in pain in the car next to them. At one point on our drive, this song came on the radio Beautiful Day by Joshua Radin. When Jason and I were dating (10 years ago), he gave me a mix cd that introduced me to Joshua Radin and I really liked this song. It was calming and so hopeful. So I decided that this would be Annika’s birthday song….assuming she would be born that day. Take a listen!
We stopped and grabbed some breakfast because I was starving and knew that it would be awhile before I got to eat. We ate it in the car at the hospital. Contractions were anywhere from 3-7 minutes apart. We got in to triage around 9:30 and a nurse checked me. I was dilated to a 3/4 and 80% effaced. I was a little disappointed because I’d been at a 2 earlier that week and 70% effaced so this didn’t seem like much further. The nurse said that routine was to monitor me for an hour and see if I was progressing and if I wasn’t, they’d send me home. Thankfully, since this was my 4th baby and the weather was bad, she said she would keep me for 2 hours.She got me hooked up to monitor and I laid down on a “Stryker” bed (the inspiration for my 3rd’s name). Then NOTHING. Seriously! Contractions seemed to completely stop. I didn’t feel anything and the computer was not showing much either. I was so frustrated! Jason teased that I had a low pain tolerance and I apologized thinking that we were going to be sent home for sure. At the end of an hour, she unhooked me to let me use the restroom and as soon as I was up walking, the painful contractions started again, then I’d lay down and they’d stop. The nurse came in to let me know that my Dr. had called about another patient and so she told her what was going on with me and my Dr. said to go ahead and monitor me for a third hour. Thank you Jason for capturing this real moment of, “Man, I should’ve really painted my nails” moment. At the end of 3 hours, the nurse checked me again. I could tell she was being generous saying, “Welllllllll, I can say that you’re dilated to a 4/5 and 90% effaced. That’s a little progress.” I was relieved, but also nervous that maybe this was going to be a long labor. They went ahead and took me to a delivery room and got me hooked up to the monitors again. They had put down to break my water and give me pitocin to get things moving quicker, but I loved that the new nurse was vocal in saying that she wasn’t going to give me pitocin because I didn’t need it. She was right. I had already moved to a 6 on the way over and we could finally see my contractions showing up on the screen. They were big, but for some reason, while I was laying down, they were not extremely painful (no complaining, just weird). I got a beautiful epidural, but my blood pressure was going a little low so they kept having me turn from side to side. Then I felt a warm gush. I said “I think my water broke…..or I just peed. I’m sorry, I really don’t know which.” I was relieved when they confirmed that it was my water. The next time the nurse checked me, I was at a rim and quickly went to a 10. They called the Doctor in. It was time!
The nurse said “Okay, push!” so I did. Then she said 1 more…..and I thought she meant 1 more push until that contraction was over. But nope, 1 more push and Annika was born! It was literally SO quick! Praise the Lord! I always tear up with awe and joy and maybe a little relief, but there is something so amazing about the birth of a child. And look at all that beautiful hair! My heartburn was not in vain!They put her on my chest and asked Jason if he wanted to cut the umbilical cord. He didn’t. He is a little weird with all that, so I got to! It was a lot sturdier than I expected. If your partner doesn’t want to cut the cord, I recommend taking the initiative. It was neat. Annika Lee Courtney was born at 2:53, weighing in at a petite 5 lbs. 15 oz. and was 19 1/4 inches long. It is crazy to think that they were concerned that she would be big and she was my smallest.Because of my gestational diabetes, they had to check her blood sugar right away and it was low. To prevent her from having to go to the NICU, we had to get that up to a normal level. That meant that we did a little supplemental feeding (since my milk wasn’t fully in), even though she latched great. She also couldn’t have a bath (because temperature changes can lower blood sugar) and Jason and I were the only ones that could hold her (doing skin to skin) for over 24 hrs until she had several good blood sugar levels in a row.
Mine was back to normal so I was enjoying donuts and Dr. Pepper and all the sweet stuff I couldn’t have before. Some friends suprised me with a Tigers Blood snow cone that had vanilla custard in it! I didn’t even know that beauty existed! Annika’s levels got back to where they needed the next afternoon and she was able to have her first bath. We stayed 1 more night and were able to head out the next morning.We were now a family of 6. People have told me over and over again that 4 kids is easier than 3…..I’m still waiting for that to be true. What I can say is that our love has expanded more than I ever thought possible. It truly was a beautiful day. Happy Birthday Annika!