Today, my Annie turns six. And while six years can be a long time--- and mean living in 3 different houses and attending 4 different schools- it feels like only yesterday that they placed her in my arms for the very first time. I was so lucky to have my friend Theresa, the best doula in the whole wide world, there for Annie's birth. Admittedly, I was a little distracted on the day Annie was born, and had no idea Theresa was keeping notes of all of the flurry of activity until she read this letter to us on Annie's first birthday. It makes me cry every single time.
November 20, 2003
As your Mom touched the top of your head while you were being born, the room exploded with emotion. Your Mom began - "is that my baby girl? Oh, our baby girl is here! She is here!" She repeated this over and over as you were placed on her tummy. She exclaimed how beautiful you were and how much you looked like your Daddy. As you started to cry she instantly tried to calm you - "hush, hush - I know it has been a scary day". She wished you a happy birthday and said - "we have our little family". Although your Dad was not as vocal as your Mom, he was just as emotional. They were both overjoyed as they met you for the very first time.
Annie - I was asked to be present at your birth to provide support to your Mom and Dad. It was an honor to witness such a wonderful moment. I was very moved by the way your parents received you. It was a welcome like no other I have seen. I tried to express the emotion that filled the room in my first paragraph, but my words are not able to capture the amount of excitement and love that filled the tiny delivery room. Aside from your actual birth - I recorded the events that lead up to that time. The following is the chain of events as I knew them. I hope you enjoy this story and hold it as a special memory for ever and ever.
Friday November 7th, your parents and I met for lunch to discuss their wishes about your birth and what role I would take. We talked a lot about the labor process. Your mother wanted to labor at home during early labor, but your father was sure he would take your mom to the hospital as soon as there was any sign of labor. I have to say - all the knowledge your Dad has about medicine - flew out the window when it came to your birth. I reassured both of your parents that home was the best place for early labor and that your Mom would know when it was time for her to go to the hospital. Overall, the conversation was full of excitement as we were all anxiously awaiting your arrival.
Sunday November 16th, your Mom called me at noon and said that she was experiencing contractions. Both your Mom and Dad were very excited that that day would be the day they got to meet you. They were going to enjoy a walk together - maybe for the last time before having their daughter in tow. At 2pm I checked-in with your Mom and she was disappointed that the contractions had stopped.
Tuesday November 18, your Mom emailed me that she had had a doctors appointment and her cervix had not changed at all. She was disappointed as it looked liked it could be a week or so before your birth.
Thursday November 20th, your Mom phoned me at 4 am and said she had been up since 1 am with contractions. Both she and your Dad were unsure if this would turn into your birthday or not. We joked that if it were to be your birthday - you were a punctual kid because the 20th was your due date. I asked your Dad to record the contractions for the next hour and call me back. At about 5:30 am I checked in again and the contractions were 5 to 12 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. Your Mom seemed to be coping fine and both of your parents were thinking they would rest at home for awhile longer. I called again a little after 8 am and your parents were on the way to a bagel shop to get some breakfast. You must know that your house was under construction and there was no kitchen - that would be a whole different story. Anyway - your parents were still unsure if this indeed was going to be your birthday. I told them I would be very surprised if the contractions stopped at this point. I told them to call me as soon as they needed me. Your parents tell me that after breakfast they went to a park to walk around. When they arrived to the park your Mom tried to get out of the car and knew she was not going to be able to do the walk. They decided it was time to go to the hospital. They got to the hospital about 9:30ish. Your Mom was checked and found to have contracted 4 cm, she was about 50% effaced and her water bag had ruptured. She was in great spirits and was happy to have gotten so far before arriving to the hospital. Your Mom's goal was to get to 4-5 cm before having an epidural - she made it! Yeah Mom!!
I arrived to the hospital at about 10 am. To find your parents making a flurry of phone calls to let everyone know you were on your way. Now they knew this would be your birthday and they were very excited. Soon it was time for the epidural and your Mom was concerned about the procedure, but was very brave. She continued to cope with the contractions using her relaxation breathing. At 10:40 the attending anesthesiologist provided your Mom with the epidural and then she was able to rest. She called your grandma, but could not reach her as she and your grandfather were driving back from Arizona after having met your cousin John. At 11:30 am your Mom was checked again and was 5cm and 70% effaced. She was progressing well, but we still had some time. Your Dad ran out to get some lunch, your Mom and I listened to music and chatted. At 2 pm, your mother had reached 6 cm and was 100% effaced. At 2:40 pm your Mom's friend Nicola visited. Your Mom and she chatted for awhile, but soon your Mom started feeling a lot of pressure and needed to start focusing on her contractions again. At about 3 pm the nurse had begun trying to give your Mom pitocin, and at the same time the epidural began to loose its effect. The anesthesiologist was called to provide more pain medication, but the pain continued essentially until your birth.
At 3:30pm your Mom had reached 7 cm and was 0/+1 station. At 4:00 your Mom really began to feel pressure. The doctor seemed to hesitate to re-check your Mom, because it had only been a half an hour, but at 4:15 he did and found she was complete! Things started moving very quickly at that time. Your mom was really feeling pressure and had an urgent need to begin pushing. I did my best to talk her out of pushing, but she was getting vary anxious and uncomfortable. When the doctors were ready - your Mom was more than ready - she exclaimed, let's get this done! The doctors explained exactly what they needed for her to do and she listened intently and pushed exactly as they had said. Your Dad was up next to your Mom's ear - counting for her and telling her what a good job she was doing. Between several contractions your parents told each other how much they loved each other. Your Mom continued to work with ever contraction and very soon you could see the top of your head. Your Mom asked if your hair was black and when the Doctor said yes - she said she knew it. I knew your Dad was not sure about watching your actual birth, but when you were nearly here, I leaned over to him and told him it was time to look.
As he peered over your Mom, he could see the very top of your head. Within the next few seconds the room exploded with emotion. One of the doctors grabbed your mom's hand and put it on your head as you were coming out. Your Mom instantly began to talk to you. She said is that my baby girl? Oh, our baby girl is here! She repeated it over and over as you were placed on her tummy. She exclaimed how beautiful you were, how much you looked like your daddy. She began to calm you - "hush, hush - I know it has been a scary day". She wished you a happy birthday and said - we have our little family. Your Mom was so vocal and emotional, your Dad was overjoyed and taking it all in.
You were born at 4:41 pm, weighed 8 pounds 10 ounces and were 20.08 inches long.
At about 5:30 pm your mom tried to nurse for the first time. Soon after that many of your Dad's coworkers came by to visit. Again the room filled with excitement. Your Nana and Tad arrived. Your grandmother held you for the first time and her eyes began to well, she too exclaimed how much you looked like your Dad. Within the next hour you and your Mom were transferred to another room where your other grandparents had just arrived. They too were thrilled to meet you and gave you a special Raggedy Anne doll as a welcoming gift.
Annie - Thank you for the honor of sharing your first moments of life with me. It is a day that I will always hold as a special memory.
I wish for you to always have the love and excitement that filled your delivery room in your heart and in your life.