Ellie Rae Sabbah 9/10/18 9:20am 10lb 4oz 20.5in
Ok..I will start out with the same little DISCLAIMER that I usually do… In case you were unaware….You are about to read a birth story. I will do my best to keep things generally readable but even still…you can expect to find yourself spending some time aboard the S.S. TMI. It’s a thing. If this scares you not, then welcome aboard. If you're just here for the pictures...they are at the bottom. Shannon Williams is a magical human. We are so grateful to have been able to have her with us again to capture the precious moments of Ellie's birth.
Also…I should note before we begin...that I had prepared and planned for an unmedicated delivery again using a self-hypnosis technique called Hypnobabies. Basically…it trains your mind to use visualization and other techniques to help you relax through contractions instead of fighting against them. Probably good to be noted also is that contractions in this program are referred to was waves. If I switch between the two terms, just know they are the same. “Pressure wave” provides much more positive imagery and feelings than “contraction”. I’d rather ride a wave than have a massive muscle contraction…wouldn’t you? Haha..Cowabunga.
It is probably best to start a few weeks back at my 34 week appointment….Let me explain. No…there is too much. Let me sum up. (Name that movie and I may just love you ever more fiercely) It was discovered at one of my 3rd trimester appointments that not only was baby measuring large (large even for me…who already tends to make big babes), but that my fluid was also very high. Too much fluid can cause issues during delivery and remember my history of hemorrhage post partum from a boggy (soft) uterus post delivery with Jane? Ya…likely from a distended (basically over stretched) uterus from growing such yummy rolly babies…so add in the excess fluid to an already very large baby and we had ourselves some things to consider. At 39 weeks I saw an MFM (maternal fetal medicine) doctor for a more accurate scan and a second opinion where it was determined that, all things considered, an induction was the best course of action…”as soon as possible”.
*Cue stomach churning internal panic…maybe some heart palpitations and a few…a lot…of deep breaths*
I had known for a few weeks that induction could be a possibility and I had been praying that I would know what was best to do when the time came to decide. I prayed that I would feel the peace I’d need in abundance to feel good about whatever our decision was. That peace came soon after the stomach turning internal panic set in and it was overwhelming. I knew that this was right.
My induction was scheduled for just 2 days later at 7am (39 weeks and 2 days). We woke up at 5:30am, got dressed, woke the girls, got them dressed and ready to go….and thennnnnn we got the call from the hospital. It was PACKED. Full. They had no rooms. They would call when they had one for me…but there was no way to know when that would be.
*Cue hormonal pregnancy tears*
…and I even said thank you at the end of that call…
…right….…because that makes sense…
Thank you…for the terrible news…haha..ok………
With no estimate of when we would get called back… I did what any hormonal pregnant woman would do…I went out to eat and shop. I couldn’t just sit around at home. I knew I would go crazy waiting for that phone call…
I called that night around 9 to see if I could get any inkling of an idea of when they expected to maybe-possibly-by-any-chance have a room and the charge nurse said that I should go to bed as a call would not likely come that night…So we went about our night as usual only to get a call at 12:30am saying that we could come in...of courrrssseee. I was already completely exhausted….and by the time we’d get our kids packed up, to my moms, and then get to the hospital, checked in, settled in, and an induction method actually started it would be like 3:30am… So I would have been starting labor after having only 2 hours of sleep in nearly 24 hours. I felt completely insane as I turned it down after waiting all day for that call…but I couldn’t imagine going into labor voluntarily on such little sleep.
Sunday I was so sure I’d be getting a call mid-day…you know…after all the morning discharging emptied some rooms…..but alas. Twas not so. We went to my parents’ for dinner and right as we were starting to eat at (about 5pm), the hospital called!!! They had a room for me! I nearly cried.
It’s a thing.
We ate dinner (kind of…my family ate…and I picked a little at my plate as my stomach was all of a sudden full of knots and butterflies. I guess butterflies don’t like spaghetti…Who knew….), left the girls at my mom’s, stopped at home for our hospital bags and the carseat, then headed for the hospital. We got there around 6ish and found out Ramona was still on call! 3 fist pumps and a leg kick for rad midwives that make you want to do happy dances at the check in desk. (Note:I would have been happy with almost any of the midwives…but I had hoped from very early in my pregnancy that Ramona would be the one supporting us on delivery day). We got all settled into our room. You know…changed into the super cute and completely concealing robe… mesh panties and fatty pad on (labor is messy)…blood draws…hep lock placed…all that super awesome stuff. I also got set up with some warmed blankets (the bessstttt… since the hospital is still stuck on that whole frozen icy tundra thing) and apple juice (also the best…because apparently I’m 6 years old). Seriously though…those last 2 things are on repeat for me when I’m in the hospital. Warmed blankets and apple juice. All. Day. Long. Living my best life, obvs.
We opted to start with the prostaglandin gels as our method of induction. They essentially soften the cervix, allowing it to open and give the body a little jump start to get contractions going on it’s own. It was what we used to induce my labor with Ruby and they worked great. So I got a dose of gels at 7pm, sat in the room for 40 minutes and then we walked the halls for an hour before coming back for 20 minutes of monitoring and the next dose…as is the way with the gels. We had 3 total doses throughout the night. My contractions kind of started, but they were weak and not as consistent as I would have hoped. By the time the last dose was given, we didn’t even get up to walk around when the 40 minutes was up. It was 2am and I had fallen asleep…so I lost out on having the walking maybe make the difference in my labor progression…but the sleep was SO good. I needed it. When I woke up, my contractions (glorified menstrual cramps really) were even weaker than before. I did dilate another 1-1.5cm which was good….but without consistent and intensifying contractions….it wasn’t good enough to get this baby here……booooooo.
The next step was to break my water. With having as much extra fluid as I did, my water was basically acting as a cushion against my cervix…keeping my contractions from effectively dilating my cervix and getting the labor ball rolling. I was nervous…usually my water breaks at the very end of my labors and it makes things really intense. I’ve never had my water break in early labor so this was new for me. Fear. Peace. Onward we went.
At 5am, we broke my water.
Oh my goodness….there was so much water….
You know Niagra Falls?
Ya…the ones that have been around for like…ever…
I’m pretty sure they got that idea from me.
I mean…at first it was more like…huh..maybe we were wrong about having so much extra fluid…as things just sort of trickled along…
There is was.
The flood gates were opened.
SO. MUCH. WATER.
Contractions didn’t get started right away…..PS….Why is it that movies and TV shows so often portray a woman’s water breaking and then she has approximately a minute and a half exactly to get to a hospital before she has to have a baby in a cab, a veterinary office, or insert-any-other-unfortunate-place-to-birth-a-baby-here….not saying it CAN’T happen that way….but to go from no sign of labor, to delivering a baby in exactly a minute and half seems a bit….over the top…does it not? It does. I digress.
I sat on the birthing ball for a while and had a few ok ish contractions over the course of that first hour. Not baby producing contractions…but they were definitely headed in that direction.
Then over the next hour I had 2-3 contractions that felt “real”…
…the physically and mentally consuming ones…
I had to use my hypnobabies to “turn off” for them and I knew it was the beginning of active labor…they were baby-having waves. WAHOOO!
So Noor got the tub starting to fill. Oh my goodness. THOSE TUBS. They take a bit of time to fill because they are a deep and wonderful and perfect and are the things happy labors are made of. They take so much pressure off and they make changing positions between or during waves so smooth and easy. If you’ve never been 40 weeks pregnant…moving in general is not an often easy or comfortable task…Things pop and stretch and ache…not to mention you have a decently sized bowling ball on the front of you…Anyways…Being in that tub is my favorite part of my labors. I feel most “in my zone”. I get in as soon as I can and I park it until it’s time to push. They are my happy place.
So I got in the blissfully warm water about 7am after having one more intense wave and we called Shannon, our birth photographer, hoping it wasn’t still to early to call…since my contractions in my previous labors were about 1-2 minutes apart before I was close to the end…and mine were still not very close….maybe as close as 15 ash minutes apart. They were more intense for sure. But by about 8ish…. I’d only had 4-5 of those really good baby producing waves. I was already nearing the end of what I felt I could handle…which again..usually doesn’t happen until it was time to push. Having my water broken early in my labor had me unsure of how to gauge where I was myself.
….then I had a wave where I felt baby move or drop or something very VERY low. I didn’t feel that “need to poop” feeling that signifies baby is really ready to come out and it’s time to push…but the feeling was so low and so distinct in more intense than anything I’d felt in any of my labors so far. I felt like labor was only getting started…but that feeling was just too different to ignore. I decided to get out of the water and see where things were at. Ramona gave me a quick check and found that I was complete! I just had a little “lip” of cervix left. I was SO surprised. I literally had had 10-15 total contractions in the 3 hours since my water was broken…and only like 8 of them were really intense to where I needed to use my hypnobabies techniques to get through them. My contractions after getting into the bed again got much less intense.... they were technically still happening....but I hardly felt that they were happening at all.
Baby had a little ways to come down still, but I pushed for about an hour. With the awesome support of Noor, my awesome nurses, and Ramona…things were mostly light and fun….it made it a fast hour. Then… I felt the pressure. THE pressure. She was right there and I reached the point I hit in every delivery when I wished I hadn’t pushed quite so far because I wasn’t prepared for that sensation. I think I may never be fully prepared….it is just always a surprise at HOW MUCH the pressure consumes me. Which then of course leads into the 2nd part that always takes me by surprise even though I think I’m ready and expecting it….crowning. Maybe I just forgot with my first 2 deliveries…(baby amnesia is totally a thing….I swear it’s the only reason anyone has more than one kid).. but this time, crowning felt like it took much longer and was much harder to cope with than before. With Ruby and Jane, I felt like the intensity of the crowning happened for just a few moments and then their heads were out and it was nothing but relief and I felt nothing of the rest of their deliveries. But this time…I feel like crowning took at least a full eternity and a half and even once her head was out, the delivery of the rest of her was just as hard. I feel like this was my hardest delivery to cope with…the labor was easy…I mean…15 contractions? I’ll take it….but her actual delivery….my hardest. But…at 9:20am on Sept 10th, she was here! All 10lb 4oz of her....And she came out without issue! Thank heavens! We were watching for shoulder dystocia due to her size...but were so happy that it wasn't a problem.
I did bleed too much again…we expected it and we were prepared. All of the medications etc were already in the room and ready to go. I did still need a catheter to make sure my bladder was indeed empty. (I swear I cursed myself when I said I wouldn’t need a catheter for my future deliveries after I had one and was miserable during Ruby’s delivery….be careful what you say, my friends….the labor and delivery gods are listening and they have a sense of humor…) There are many unfortunate things that happen when your uterus doesn’t contract down well enough on its own after you birth a baby...which are especially unfortunate when you are unmedicated..... I will spare you any further details on this part… But the bleeding did get to an acceptable range without too much of a scare (…though that could be because I was comparing it to my hemorrhage experience with Jane which was a surprise…and terrifying.)
One tender mercy (read: straight up miracle) was that though the post delivery events were seriously unpleasant…I didn’t tear from the delivery. So I didn’t need any stitches added onto all of that. Bless Ramona and her beautiful midwife self for the support she provided to all the right places while I delivered. At least that part of me would feel normal-ish during recovery while the rest of my body felt run over after the events that were about to transpire.
Things were quiet. Baby got measured. My stomach got pushed on approximately 1048562 times. I was still bleeding a little on the “too much” side of things…but not technically in the zone of “too much”. I passed a couple of apple-sized clots… concern was rising… but things were still within normal range. My stomach got pushed on another bunch of times over the next half hour…I was still doing fine….until I wasn’t anymore. My nurse pushed again on my stomach and it full-on gushed. Twice. You guys…..it felt like my water had broken again…I wish I was exaggerating. My rockstar nurse called for the hemorrhage cart and for whatever else you call for when this happens…I don’t remember because I was busy in my own head trying to take deep breaths and prepare myself for what would be happening next. Within a minute, my room was filled with nurses and doctors.
*Cue more of the unfortunate and super uncomfortable (read: painful) things that happen when your uterus doesn’t contract down well enough on its own after you birth a baby*
Meanwhile….as the many unfortunate and super uncomfortable (read: painful) things were happening…the anesthesiologist was introducing himself… “I’m here just in case,” he said. I knew better. The likelihood that we would be fixing this issue without him was low. The nurses were prepping and poking and pushing…but they were also so sweet and encouraging…keeping what positive vibes in that room that they could. Noor was doing his best to keep cool for the both of us and was rocking it (at least on the outside)….as my initial cool had since been lost and I was starting to get sad and discouraged that this was all happening again. An ultrasound was done right there in my room and it was discovered that I had a lot of clotting happening and the best course of action would be to head to the OR for a D&C.
I was struggling a lot at this point. Emotionally and physically. I just wanted to sit in recovery and snuggle my sweet baby. Instead I was being rolled away from her and my sweet husband and into an operating room…losing those precious hours of my baby’s first day… I couldn’t keep the tears from flowing. I was just so sad.
I got back to the OR….so sad, so exhausted, so in pain…I was beyond ready to be done with all of it… I sat on that table and reached a point where my tears just stopped. I started to feel almost numb from it all. I’m hugging a pillow while the epidural is being prepped and I look up to find my other midwife, Tiffany, leaning on the foot of the operating table… holding my hand and keeping things light… She was really a tender mercy for me in that OR. I was feeling so alone even in the room full of wonderful people giving me the best care… To look up and see her familiar face…with a kind smile and a light-hearted comment…she was a light in that room and was everything I didn’t know I needed in that moment.
I was given the epidural and a relaxing medication. I don’t remember anything of the procedure (hello, tender mercy) except my legs going numb and being laid down. The next thing I remember was being wheeled into recovery. It was a piece of retained placenta that gave me the problem. A fluke issue that could really happen to anyone…it just unfortunately happened to happen to me after I already have an issue bleeding too much...bringing me to this post partum hemorrhage double feature.
Things went pretty smoothly from there though. I was pale as pale can be… as you might imagine……I looked like death. I mean…I don’t have a lot of color to begin with…but then to lose as much blood as I did right after delivery…and then more so with the second issue…it wasn’t pretty. I did receive a blood transfusion the following day (Tuesday) when my blood tests confirmed my levels were too low. That was a little less scary and intimidating as it was when I had one after Jane’s delivery and I knew it was going to help me feel much better….and it did. I regained a little color and I definitely felt some energy return. I was WAY swollen from all the fluids and meds they gave me over the course of it all. More swollen than I was before delivery…which was kind of a drag because I was WAY swollen my whole 3rd trimester. Despite the rougher recovery, I was still able to go home 48 hours after delivery.
This pregnancy and delivery were different...they were far more emotional, anxiety filled, and bumpy...but they were also so beautiful, strengthening, and filled with tender mercies... the little lights and blessings in my path that remind me that my Heavenly Father is mindful me even when things are hard. When I think of all of the little (and big) things that went right and the little pieces of light, happiness, and peace that surrounded me during all of this, I am overwhelmed at the love that my Father in Heaven has for me.
He is mindful of me.
I have been richly blessed.
He is mindful of me.
I have been richly blessed.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,