Maybe this blog will one day once again be restored to its former glory of being the place in which I regularly record the events of our family for all of posterity...or perhaps the next time it will just be where I store the birth stories of our children...the second option seeming to be the most likely.
Jane Felicity Sabbah 11/30/15 7:47 PM 8lb 15.9oz
Here is the birth story of our second sweet daughter, Jane. The pictures I have included from our wonderful birth photographer (Shannon Williams Photography) are at the bottom. They tell a story of their very own that is just absolutely pure and beautiful. I couldn't bear to break them up with words...so they have a flow of their very own.
Ok..I will start out with a little bit of a DISCLAIMER. You are about to read a birth story. Straight up. I have done my best to keep things generally readable for all but remember that it IS a birth story...so that being said...you may...nay....WILL... find yourself spending some time in the merry land of TMI... I may or may not warn you before you approach the gates of said land... If this scares you not, then pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable.
Also...it is important to know before we begin... that I had been preparing for an unmedicated labor/birth using a self-hypnosis technique called Hypnobabies. The program helps you to train your mind to have positive feelings towards labor and birth so that you don’t fight the contractions...which makes them more painful and less effective. The program also teaches you how to create your own anesthesia within your own body and to use visualization and other techniques to help you relax. It can seem hokey to some, but it is really effective for a lot of people. I was successful in my unmedicated birth with Ruby and I have family members and friends that have also had great success using it...so while it may seem a little “out there” to some of you, it really is a powerful tool. Please note that as part of that program, we use the term “pressure wave” for contraction so don’t be confused if I use those terms interchangeably.
Now with business aside, shall we continue?
I was due November 22...4 days before Thanksgiving... when all of my family would be in town. We all waited anxiously for any sign of labor... Noor and I began taking long (curb) walks in the evenings and all such sorts of natural “labor induction” methods...to no avail. I bounced, walked swang (Is that a word? Swinged sounds even less like a word...swing....swung in a swing...say THAT 10 times fast. I digress). We did lots of things (except for castor oil. I drew the line at castor oil. Yuck.) Yet, the 22nd came and went...and the day after that...and 6 days after that. I had mentally prepared myself a little better this time around. If you remember...RUBY was comfy cozy in my womb too. We ended up evicting her a day shy of 42 weeks and let me tell ya....being “late” or going “overdue” even when you THINK you have prepared to do so, is no easy task. It can really wear on you emotionally. I’m pretty sure I cried every day I went “over” with Ruby.... I did better this time around though. I’m pretty sure I didn’t cry until at least a few days past my “due date” and even then..while I truly felt like I would be pregnant forever (its a true though....the psychology of a 40 week pregnant woman is not to be questioned. The feeling that the baby will literally be in there forever is so real. No reassuring words about the fact that “the baby HAS to come out eventually” will fix this...it is strictly a “here, have some chocolate” situation. Now..moving on..)
So I really was feeling patient for the most part...while still trying to coax her out. The holiday weekend served as a decent distraction which was a blessing. I had an appointment for Monday morning at 41 weeks and 1 day. I remember making that appointment at the counter before leaving my previous apoointment and thinking..Ha! No way I’ll make it to this appointment. Ha. Ya.
Monday morning came. Disappointing. But I knew I’d go to this appointment and we would be talking options and plans of how we would want to proceed if this babe didn’t get moving soon...so there was some light to be seen at the end of this tunnel. (I had a great experience with inducing Ruby at 42 weeks and I didn’t have a problem with repeating that route if it came to that..but I had been really hoping and praying that things would move on their own this time around.)
I started to get ready to go and started feeling some back pain/cramps around 7:30 or 8. They came and went pretty regularly. I wasn’t going to count that chicken before it hatched though.... I’d been having cramps on and off all week that obviously led no where.... so I went to my appointment as normal. (TMI WARNING...I also had been losing a considerable amount of mucus plug. I thought I had lost it already throughout the week...but it turns out there is WAYYYYY more than you would expect. Like insane more. ).
We did a quick ultrasound to a check fluid levels and then met with one of our sweet midwives. I also got checked for the first time and was a really soft 3 1/2. We set a induction for Wednesday at 9pm.... 2 1/2 days from then....but I had a feeling that we wouldn't make it that far. I’d really HOPED we wouldn’t make it that far.
My cramps were pretty regular and getting stronger by the end of my appointment.
We went home and started packing up our bags and getting a few last minute things ready...just as kind of a test to see if things were going to fizzle out. They didn’t. We got the carseat installed and I started the dishwasher, got my floors vacuumed, and washed a few walls. (Nesting Much? Haha!) I called my mom to come take Ruby for us and Noor and I went to get lunch.
My cramps and back pain were certainly uncomfortable by then but I could still walk and most talk through them.
We ate at Cane’s Chicken for lunch...though “ate” is a loose term for what I did. I’m pretty sure I had all of a single piece of chicken...maybe a piece and a half...before I was done. I didn’t even finish my toast. I know. Crazy. Things were getting real.
Wall washing - no toast finishing - real.
We walked back to the car with plans to head to San Tan Mall...you know..walk around...progress some..things like that.
We ended up at walmart first...to buy pads...because remember?? Early labor is messy. Really messy. And I didn’t pack any extra pads because I was over here like,
“Oh hey..the hospital has all that. Simplify.”
THEN we went to San Tan. I had called the on call number to check with my midwife about when to come in. I was a second time mom...but I had never gone into labor on my own before...so I really had no idea what I was looking for in terms of timing or any of that. I apparently called the wrong number or was transferred to the wrong person because I ended up talking to an OB. I asked her if I could talk to Diane (the midwife on call that day) and I swear I could hear her roll her eyes as she said, “Well I could leave a note that you want her to call you..” and I hope she heard me roll my eyes at her right back. I wasn’t about to eave a “note” in hopes that I get a call back. Sorry.
So I asked her when is best for me to come in...and she said in her most condescending apathetic voice as though the question I asked was the stupidest question I could have had...and I quote, “Well, whenever you start to feel ready for pain medication is when you should come in.”
Double eye roll. Nothing against pain medication... I just felt like her measuring stick was a bit immature....not to mention a tad bit assuming...with a few dashes of super negative. But enough of that. That is a whole different conversation.
The short story is, the OB we spoke to was less than successful in helping me to achieve my goals for this birth. I didn’t want to be in a hospital longer than I needed to be...but after our brief conversation, she told me it would be a good idea to come in. Not really sure how to proceed at this point, we walked around Best Buy to decide if we agreed with the oh-so-unhelpful OB. This is where things got stronger. I was having Noor apply counter pressure on my back as I leaned on the shelves. It was to the point where I was ready to be walking the halls of the hospital instead of being out. I knew I’d be able to focus better there...probably even better than my own home as I probably would have mopped my floors a few times if I were to go home. Haha.
So we went. Got checked. 4 cm 90+ % effaced.
Not really admitting material but my contractions were strong and regular so Diane was paged and Noor and I took to the halls for a little over an hour to see how things progressed from there. They were coming pretty quickly and I had to stop for each one..brace on the side rail..and breath. I really focused on my breathing and relaxing EVERY. SINGLE. MUSCLE. in my body during each wave. I pictured the numbers appearing and disappearing as I counted up and down through each breath.
Noor would push on my lower back and that helped a lot. Then it was over and we would keep walking. We passed open rooms with big, beautiful tubs in the corner and I knew I wanted me one of those. I labored in an inflatable tub with Ruby and it was AMAZING. I couldn’t wait to get into the water...every time we’d pass those rooms with the huge beautiful built-in tubs, I’d pause and daydream a bit. Just a little longer and it will be allll mine.
We got back to triage to talk with Diane around 3:45. I was still at a 4-4 1/2. Still in that gray area in terms of admitting just because things could still fizzle out. But, being a second time mom, she felt it would be best to get me a room as things can move pretty quickly the second time around and didn’t want to risk sending me home and then have me not being able to make it back in time....I mentioned that I lived off of Higley road and that kind of sealed the deal...construction for dayyyys. Ha. Once it had been decided that I would stay, I wasted not a moment in asking for one of the dreamy rooms with the big corner tubs. Of course. Diane made it happen. Bless her sweet, sweet beautiful, midwife soul.
We got set up in our room by about 4:45.
Ok pause....why the HECK is it necessary to keep hospitals akin to a frozen tundra??...seriously. Polar Bears. Penguins. Santa Clause. Seriously. So. Cold. That was one of my first orders of business in that room...getting it properly climated for human inhabitation.
I was then set up with my first round of antibiotics as I was Group B Strep Positive (for those that are confused, GBS is a common bacteria found on our bodies...more specifically our southern regions... but can be dangerous to a newborn if they contract it. It’s not all that common for the baby to catch, but it is scary and common enough that precautions are taken to help ensure the health of the new little. Just a few rounds of Iv antibiotics takes care of a lot of the risk and...while annoying...they are not really a big deal.)
Hooked up to the monitor and IV for the first chunk of time in the room was not my favorite. It is so much easier to relax through the waves when I am able to move around. But, being monitored there for the first half an hour really showed how close together my waves were. Nurses and my midwife commented that my waves were off the charts in strength and were coming right after the other. These comments were music to my ears. I was feeling so great still at this point. Sure, the waves took considerable focus to get through and they certainly weren’t comfortable...but they were strong, baby-producing, active labor, contractions and those are exactly what I wanted. Bring on the waves!!! Let’s have this baby!!!
I was still managing really well at this point and I felt so powerful because of that. Managing well helped me to look FORWARD to the next wave..which in turn helped me to keep positive and to keep my focus and relaxation consistent. Positivity and confidence bred more positivity and confidence. Seriously...Hypnobabies is amazing..
My nurses were awesome. Patti was the first nurse with me. She mentioned my sense of humor and said that I would probably not be allowed into the tub until I’d lost my sense of humor...that is when you know that labor is for real. I laughed and told her I wouldn’t lose my sense of humor. This was going to be fun...she had no idea what a party it was going to be. (She unfortunately missed Jane’s birth by only an hour. I had another awesome nurse..Laura..Lauri? I can’t remember...which is sad because she was great too).
This was about the point at which our photographer, Shannon Williams, showed up.
We were extremely blessed to have had this experience photographed by the talented Shannon Williams Photography. She was the most perfect fly on the wall I could have asked for. I kind of found her by accident on facebook and after viewing her work, knew instantly that she was the right choice. Having these images now...even just 4 weeks after Jane's birth...is such a blessing. We already cherish them so much. Shannon will be at all of our future birth experiences.
(When pregnant with Ruby, I wasn't sure if I felt comfortable having a photographer in the room..so I opted to not hire anyone. I wish I knew then when I know now. If you are on the fence about having someone photograph your birth...you will not ever regret having precious images like these...but there is a real chance you will regret NOT having them.)
I had never actually met her before but I had such an amazing feeling hiring her. I just knew we were going to click. Something told me we would....and we totally did. She ended up contributing greatly to the fun and light vibe in the room. I didn’t even notice her taking pictures. It was beyond perfect.
We got the tub filling and I got changed. Oh the sweet sting of that warm water....I loooooove me a warm bath. Instant happy. I had to have my left hand wrapped up in a glove because it had my hep lock that needed to stay dry..so that was kind of a drag... but I was able to work around it.
I was brought dinner...pork roast and gravy, potatoes, carrots, chocolate pudding, salad, and apple juice...if I remember right. I sat it right at the edge of the tub and picked at it in between waves. It just felt so smooth and natural...the flow of it all. I felt the rhythm of my body and I went with it...totally listening to what it was telling me. I was able to feel each wave coming, turn off, focus through until it peaked and fell, and then come back for another bite of chocolate pudding. I felt completely normal and energized between waves...almost as if I had MORE energy after the wave than I’d had before it. I would be carrying a conversation with Noor, Shannon, and Diane...leave it momentarily to address the wave...and then return without a skipped beat. I’m telling you, this Hypnobabies stuff is no joke. Our minds are incredibly powerful!
Noor was a wonderful help...reminding me of my hypnosis cues and rubbing my arms and shoulders. Knowing he believed in me 100% and knowing that he also believed in and supported my use of the Hypnobabies program was so huge in my success. He knows just what to say to remind me how strong I really am.
This was the way things went for about an hour and a half. (In the room 4:45. Monitored and finished a dose of antibiotics and in the tub by about 5:45.)
Now 7:15 ish.
I had mentioned I wanted a Jimmy Johns sandwich as my post delivery meal. With Ruby, I delivered in the middle of the night so I was given a sack lunch that was pretty dang sad...I will not lie. I looked at the clock and saw that Jimmy Johns was going to close in only 3 more hours. At what seemed to be this same point in labor with Ruby, I still had about 6 hours to go...things were still too smooth and I felt I was coping too well to be less than 3 hours from delivery. But I still hoped.
It was almost immediately that that the waves started to increase in strength..they were harder to get through...and I remember saying to my midwife, Diane, that I felt like I must be getting somewhere near the end because I’m starting to feel like I can’t do much more. She smiled a smile that said I was closer than I thought I was...and she was right. My water soon broke and a few waves later I started to feel that pressure...My waves at that point were all one long wave...at least a few at a time before I got a rest. Things get so real when your water breaks. My sense of humor may have taken a lunch break during this time...but it wasn’t gone gone. I still managed a few laughs in between waves. When I was sure that the pressure I was feeling wasn’t going to go away, I got out of the tub...not an easy task at 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant and being only minutes away from birth. It was seriously quite the task and took at least 2 if not 3 people helping me to do it. I did finally make it to the bed and pushed with every wave that came... after a couple of pushes I realized I could make this happen or I could drag this on....so I decided to make it happen and proceeded with full abandon...letting all worries/thoughts/fears go completely and I felt my pushes become more effective. I could feel progress being made so much faster.
Crowning was still completely more than I anticipated...even though I had experienced it before. It still caught me 100% off guard. I felt everything moving and stretching and I thought to myself, Holy Crap...I’m going to tear so badly this time....but in the interest of letting my fears go completely....I just pushed right through it and her head was out.
I pushed before the next wave came so that it could be done...and there she was. Only 15-20 total minutes of pushing and there she was! They helped me turn over and lay down since I was on my hands and knees for the birth and they laid her right on my chest. It’s so amazing how instantly all the discomfort that you have just been through just immediately ends and you feel SO good when that baby is placed onto you. During that last stage of labor, you kind of start to feel like it’s going to be forever...and then it ends. It is not forever. And now you have a perfect sweet baby on your chest and it’s all completely worth it. You did it! You did something amazing and wonderfully hard!!
After the placenta came out, I was curious what the damage was. I was SURE that I had torn in a big way. I got lucky with Ruby and didn’t need any stitches (and she was 9 1/2 lbs!) ..I was certainly not going to count on that happening again. But it DID! I had NO TEARS... I had nothing to stitch! What a huge relief!!
So here was our sweet Jane. Labor was done. Baby was healthy. We had decided on a name. And Jimmy Johns was on the way. Everything was seriously heavenly.
Except for one thing. The nurses pressing on my stomach every 10 seconds. Not a pleasant feeling. And unfortunately, my uterus was not cooperating. I was still bleeding too much. This happened with Ruby too. What happened was my bladder was full and my body wasn’t telling me such facts...so it was keeping my uterus from being able to do it’s thing..contracting...and ceasing to bleed copious amounts...which is important. SO they gave me a catheter to empty my bladder to let my uterus get to it’s thing. While extremely uncomfortable, it worked like a charm to fix the problem.
Well...here I was after my second delivery and I was AGAIN bleeding too much. I all but beggggged them not to give me a catheter (it was seriously the ONE thing I wanted to go differently this time around)...but it just wasn’t going to work out that way. I was starting to feel really icky and I knew that it needed to happen so I changed my tune and asked for it. So they gave me a shot of pitocin in my leg and gave me a catheter to empty my bladder and things seemed to resolve. I was able to sit up and eat and chat and while the nurses came and pushed on my stomach 100 more times, my uterus seemed to be behaving.
I would be moving to recovery shortly. My wheelchair was on it’s way over. My two sweet nurses started to help me sit up. I had previously warned them that I have a tendency to get lightheaded easily...even when I haven’t just had a baby and lost a bunch of blood....so we were all taking things nice and slowly. Like REALLY slowly. I had barely sat up in the bed before starting to feel lightheaded. I of course mentioned this to my nurses and then I started to black out and shake. When I had woken moments later there were already 10+ nurses and doctors in the room pushing on my stomach, hooking up new Iv bags to my line and using words like seizing and hemorrhage. It was definitely unsettling and completely scary. One of the nurses pushed what seemed to be all of her weight onto my stomach and 2 massive clots came out. The on call physician had her hand reaching in to be sure there weren’t any retained pieces of placenta to blame. There was nothing. They had hooked me up to another 2 bags of pitocin...one right after the other, catheterized me AGAIN (Of course...the ONE thing I was really hoping to avoid this time around had to happen not once but TWICE. Ha. Right? ) to make sure my bladder was indeed empty...and gave me a dose of cytotec to get my uterus to stop bleeding. The physician was talking to us about what would happen if it didn’t stop and let me tell you..those were scary words. We were actually warned about this particular physician...that she is very thorough in her explanations and comes off as a little doomsday/scary....but that it was just kind of who she was. Knowing that helped us a little bit..but even still..having someone come and talk worst case scenario as your body won’t stop bleeding and they don’t have a reason WHY is flat out scary. I asked Noor for a couple of priesthood blessings during this time and they really helped me to feel comforted..even though I didn’t really get a feeling of peace or knowledge that everything would be ok....I did feel the comfort of the spirit and knowing that my Heavenly Father was mindful of me and that I was not alone.
My bleeding did stop..at least enough to make the nurses and my midwife happy...and I made it to the recovery room by around 2-3am where I spent the rest of the night snuggling on my sweet baby girl because I hadn’t been able to snuggle her much in the 2 hours previous as I was feeling woozy and such. I got the heavenly few hours right after her birth of her right on my chest..but missing out on the 2 hours during my hemorrhage made me miss her so much. I knew I should have slept...and that I would probably feel it in a big way come morning...but I just needed her. After all that happened, I needed her to be close to me. It was incredibly healing to have that time with her. Completely quiet. Just her and I and no one else. I couldn’t hardly think about what had just happened..about how in the midst of it all I looked at my sweet husband standing by my side holding our brand new baby girl while I thought...please Heavenly Father...I need to be a mother to my girls. I cannot leave them. I was extremely grateful to be in that recovery room with my perfect baby girl and to focus on only that...the journey that we had made together and how we were finally able to meet and be in this perfect calm together.
My wonderful photographer also had the most perfect timing...as I was settling into recovery, she sent me a few previews of the images she had taken during the delivery. (YES....at 2 am!) They were incredibly touching and it was such blessing to have them as a reminder of the absolutely beautiful and perfect birth that had just happened...and to further forget about the rest. It is amazing how healing such seemingly small things like a few pictures can be.
I had been admitted to the hospital with a hemoglobin level of 12. After the hemorrhage, my blood was drawn again and I was at an 8. In the morning, it was drawn again and I was at a 7 ( a dip they had anticipated ) and they mentioned they I may need to consider having blood given to me before leaving the hospital...but that we would wait and see how I felt. Well...the following morning, my blood was drawn again and I was at a 6.4. They more strongly advised blood this time..but said it was still up to me...but they did say that if I was at a 6, they wouldn’t be offering blood to me...they would pretty much be telling me I needed to take it. I was pretty close to that number. But I wasn’t there yet..and I really felt fine.. but there was the worry about my levels dipping further...especially since I was set to be discharged that night and would be at home...up and moving more and not 100% resting like I was in the hospital. After many tears of confusion, some prayer, an angel of a physician that came in at precisely the moment that we needed her to (literally...we had prayed for guidance to know what we should do and I was in tears...and all of 2 minutes later, this beautiful angel of a dr came in specifically to help me decide what was best for me...after talking with her, more prayer, and a few more tears...we decided it would be best to take the blood. So I got a blood transfusion before we left. Which was a little bit of a bummer....because I got to sport it in our “Fresh 48” session that Shannon came to do for us...but she did a beautiful job of hiding it and really....looking back..it really was such a blessing that we took it. Recovery was a little harder and a little slower and I know it would have been so much harder on my body had I not taken the blood.
In all seriousness...I had a completely wonderful and beautiful birthing. I trusted my body and worked with it..which made my labour so much easier and so much more relaxing. I had beautiful people in the room with me the whole time... Chatting it up with me and keeping the mood casual and light...we were all laughing and having such a great time. Baby came completely healthy in less than 20 minutes of pushing and I needed no stitches. Sure...post delivery was a bit more eventful than I would care to experience again...but up until that point...it was a dream of a delivery. I consider it a huge blessing to have had such a beautiful experience..one that was certainly hard..and definitely trying...but 100% rewarding...knowing that I was able to overcome each wave...to do something hard just for the sake of knowing I could.... and feeling empowered when all was said and done. Like running a marathon...I had trained and prepared for 9 months for this “race” and I ran it...dare I say I rocked it. The whole thing. And I feel absolutely powerful because of it. And to me..that is exactly what ANY birth experience should do...no matter what it may look like.