Ann Julia, she’s named after her two grandmothers. My mom’s middle name is Ann and Ryan’s mom’s name is Julia. I just can’t get away from family names. I figure if they’re named after someone in the family, the chances of them talking about that person will be a bit higher, thus keeping his/her memory alive. It’s silly, but I can’t help it. I should’ve just named her Gertrude Leitta Mary Margaret Vivian Julia Patricia Collier and be done with it. Instead it’s just Ann Julia. Or Annie if you want to get cute.
It’s taken me until today to not call her Ruth or It, so things are looking up.
But let’s talk about her arrival, shall we? It may get too detailed, so avert your reading eyes. This is mostly for her when she’s older, so you have to bear with it in the interim.
She was due on Saturday May 25th and arrived one week later on Saturday June 1st just after 3:30am. By Friday May 31st I’d convinced myself that I was actually an elephant and would carry her for another two years. As I said in my previous post, Dana came by on Friday to sweep my membranes for the second time in hopes of starting something. I had very mild cramping as soon as she left, but after researching on Dr. Google, that appeared to be par for the course. So I sat on the couch and felt sorry for myself.
And then I got a text that a friend who was due two weeks after me had her baby that day. While I was happy for her, I sighed and continued planning a life in which I would be forever carrying mine: waddling up bleachers at Ruth’s soccer games, convincing the airline that it is indeed safe for me to fly 10 months pregnant because I will always be 10 months pregnant, looking for maternity mother-of-the-bride dresses for Ruth’s wedding. It would be physically uncomfortable, but I was already preparing myself for this lifetime of baby carrying.
That evening I had some stronger cramps and decided to text Lucy and Dana and let them know. I asked them to just ignore me if my texts were obviously not an indication of labor, because I was going to keep texting with every pain felt. With Ruth my water broke, so I’ve never ramped up to a birth and was hesitant to make judgement calls for fear of it just being Braxton Hicks or something.
They asked me to keep them in the loop on everything. So I cramped a bit more and took a shower.
As I was drying off, I heard Ruth cry, so I used that as an excuse to sleep with her. We cuddled in the bed and I fell asleep around 10:30pm. After an awesome dream in which two girls and I went to a British nightclub and danced danced danced, I woke up at 1am.
Wide awake. A storm was thundering outside, maybe that’s what woke me up? All I know is that I needed to text those girls about the dream immediately. I have no idea why. Ryan says I don’t have texting etiquette for sending those messages in the middle of the night. It was just so much fun, I had to let them know.
After probably waking them up, I laid there in bed and read some blogs until about 1:30.
And then I had a cramp. Woah, I thought, that was a good one. Some few minutes later, another one. Woah, I thought, that was a better one. They made me tense up next to Ruth and hold my breath.
So I decided to commit another social etiquette faux pas and text Lucy and Dana too.
Not gonna lie. Dana’s winkie smiley face scared the crap out of me. I had already planned out my pregnant life, didn’t she know this??
But the cramps kept coming…
Dana asking me to actually call them a contraction also scared the crap out of me. If I didn’t call them by name, then surely it wasn’t happening, right?
Friends, as much as I wanted to have this baby, I was so scared. See previous post. I didn’t want to do this alone and laying in the dark next to Ruthie with bad weather swirling around us, I never felt more alone then I did just then.
So I went into the bedroom and woke up Ryan, who I’m pretty sure had just barely gone to sleep. After waking him, I had another contraction/cramp that had me bending over my knees. He hopped up and immediately started getting the pool blown up.
I had told myself that this time I was going to be nicer to him and I was. But I think it’s because he learned to not talk to me, which he didn’t. He just went right to work and that made me feel comforted. He was calm and focused which helped me be the same.
Yes, I was nervous about wasting their time. I was sure these weren’t real and if they arrived I’d be relaxing in front of the tv with a plate of cheese and crackers watching Tabatha Takes Over.
But I took a deep breath and finally admitted they might be contractions.
Ah, my favorite laboring phrase: the mucus plug. You don’t know how many times I loved to drop that line in conversations just to watch people scrunch their faces up. It sounds disgusting, and you know what, I was disgusted when I saw it. And it also made me feel a bit weak in the knees knowing that this is probably for real.
Yep, still in denial, but maybe less so.
And here comes the moaning.
Holy moly am I a moaner. (Side note, I say Holy Moly about three billion times a day apparently. To the point that Ruth will say Moly to finish off my Holy.) I was not saying Holy Moly during the contractions however. I really wasn’t saying anything except moaning. After changing out the sheets and putting a mattress cover on, I leaned over the bed and buried my face into it through each one.
Literally two days earlier, our next door townhome neighbors moved out. I wonder if my body held out until I knew I could moan to my heart’s content. Who knows, but I sure let loose.
Oh yeah, Ruth is still sleeping soundly in the big bed by herself. Amazing.
The fact that I had to give one last ditch effort to give them an out makes me laugh. I knew that going #2 was a sign of labor, but still I had to pretend otherwise.
Dana arrived not long after that and I actually smiled when she arrived. And then immediately asked why she wasn’t wearing her Grey’s Anatomy scrubs. You know from a conversation we had, oh, about 8 months prior. You mean you didn’t remember I’d requested that you wear your least favorite scrubs just to make me laugh? Luckily another contraction came before I could launch into a tirade.
So I leaned over the bed and moaned through it while listening to her and Ryan discuss the best way to fill up the pool. This was probably the closest I got to getting snappy. I don’t know why that conversation annoyed me so much, but it did. Maybe because I wanted them to focus on me, I don’t know. Amazingly, I held it all in my head and reasoned to myself. I feel like I was much more aware of myself this time around. Much more in control of what I wanted to do, say, etc.
Another contraction. Dana came over and massaged my back. I managed to thank her afterwards.
She asked to check me and I was at a 7. The same number that I was with Ruth when they arrived, but this time instead of laboring for 9 hours beforehand, it was probably 30-45 minutes.
I continued to moan and contract and be massaged while Ryan filled up the pool.
At some point Lucy arrived. I don’t think the pool was ready before she had, because I think she was there when I got in. Yes, I do remember. She was there when I climbed in. And it immediately felt awesome. The contractions were coming one after another after another after another. I remember whimpering at one point (something I’d told myself I would NOT do) and saying, I just wanna cry. As it was coming out of my mouth, it made me mad. But a contraction would come too soon for me to dwell on it.
Throughout it all, I remember getting massaged, having water poured down my back, and getting kissed on the head. It was exactly what I wanted, and needed. I needed to be touched and comforted.
Ryan still had not spoken. Words of Affirmation are not my Love Language. Him being silent apparently is. He really loves me, that man.
Then all of a sudden I was having a couple minutes in between contractions where I could talk. Lucy said that this sometimes happens when you’re fully dilated as a way to give your body a break before pushing.
And what do ya know, I started to feel the urge to push during the next one and managed to say so during it. Lucy said that they could check me if I needed confirmation, or I could just do it. I asked for confirmation.
Dana checked me and I wasn’t quite at a ten, but I knew that I wanted to push. So Lucy said, Trust your body, Carolyn. If you need to push, it should open up to the ten. Or something along those lines. All I really remember was her saying:
Trust. Your. Body.
So I did.
And I started pushing.
Holy (say it Ruthie, Moly). I’ve never actually birthed a bowling ball, but now I think I know what it must feel like. With Ruth I remember the pushing phase as, dare I say it, delightful? I don’t remember pain.
But I can assure you, I’ve never felt pain like I had with Annie ever in my life. It felt like she filled my entire body and there was absolutely no way she was exiting without putting me into a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
And then, Pop!
I felt my water break underwater. And the next contraction stung like the dickens. The next one stung even worse.
Someone said Ring of Fire and I just couldn’t believe I was that close to the end. So thank you whoever said that, because it gave me so much hope.
I was on my hands and knees leaning over the pool this whole time and after hearing Ring of Fire, I remember saying to myself: Try to remember this Carolyn. This will be your last experience. Stay in the moment and remember….
On my next contraction after Ring of Fire, Dana checked me.
Then Lucy said, On your next contraction, you will most likely deliver your baby.
Again, in complete shock that we were at that point after only 2 hours. I do remember getting super excited for the next contraction, which seemed to last forever. I remember thinking that she was wrong. That it’s not coming out and then there was one last burst of pain and then swoosh, out came baby.
Into the water and quickly up into my arms. As she was being handed to me, I saw that it was a girl and remember not being surprised. I was mostly surprised that I’d had a water birth. Something I didn’t want to have, but things moved so quickly that there was no way I was getting out.
But I was holding my baby and that was all that mattered.
Hair and facial expressions did not matter. Once again, just like with Ruth, I managed to make the sweetest motherly expression to my child after they were born. Seriously, why can’t I smile?
And once again, I have to reassure you Annie, just like I had to reassure Ruth, that I really did love you in this photo.
After checking to make sure the cord had stopped pulsing, Ryan came over to cut it.
He was so happy. Probably because I didn’t tell him to shut up this time (in much more colorful language) like during Ruth’s birth.
I was helped out of the pool and into my bed with fresh sheets and new pajamas. That was worth the pain right there. There’s nothing like snuggling into fresh sheets. It’s one of my favorite moments in life.
Annie and I hung out together for awhile as Lucy and Dana finished up paperwork and then they checked her vitals.
The official stats were 8 lbs, 9 oz and 20 inches long. If I hadn’t seen her, I would’ve sworn 8 lbs of that were just in her head.
I drank some orange juice and then went to the bathroom. While in there, I took an opportunity to fix my face. Without shame.
You all remember when I talked about my first photo with Ruth:
Especially when I compared it to my beautiful cousin Katie’s first photo. So I was bound and determined to make up for it this time around. If I could’ve shalacked my face to be like Ru Paul, I would’ve. But my knees were shaky and ended up with this:
See how clean sheets can make us smile? Annie does too.
Lucy and Dana, thank you for seeing through my “cramps”!
Unbelievably, Ruth slept through everything. And this is the girl that will wake up if Ryan and I whisper to each other in the other room. That’s gotta be the Holy Spirit. While she slept and after the midwives left, Ryan, Annie, and I laid in our bed, snuggled our new friend, and watched the sun rise. This was such a special and intimate few hours for us. The light was low, our spirits were high, and smiles never left our faces.
But eventually Ruthie did wake up, at her normal time. By this time, however, my parents had arrived. We called them around 6am to tell them the news. Ryan’s parents had come down the day prior to wait it out. My parents had come the weekend prior after an especially crampy night in which I thought for sure I’d go into labor. It didn’t happen, but that only put the “But what will we do with Ruthie when it does happen” on high alert.
Apparently all we needed to do with Ruthie was lay in her a big girl bed for the night.
Once my parents arrived they saw Annie’s pink hat (we didn’t tell them the sex or name, partly because dad was half asleep and quickly got off the phone after hearing the news). Mom said for a split second she thought I put a pink hat on our baby boy to trick them.
But no, it was a girl and she was about to be introduced to her older sister.
After plopping down and saying, Boom Boom Boom, in reference to the thunder storms the night before, she finally looked at this new baby.
And never cracked a smile.
She was mostly concerned….
And out came her bottom lip as she sat on the edge of tears.
But then Papaw and Grandma scooped her up and loved on her, leaving us alone with our new baby girl for a little while longer.
And thus begins our first week with two children.
We’ve had so much help, so it’s hard to gauge how hard it will be, but I’m not thinking of that. I’m just thinking of how fun it is this time around. How smitten I am with my girls as I watch them literally grow in front of me. And how blessed I am for this happy family that had become my own little world and sanctuary.
Thank you to my family, to Ryan’s family, to Ryan, and my midwives for making this experience and transition a treasured one.