Anja’s Birth Story

This is an excerpt from a book I wrote to Anja about my pregnancy and her birth. I’ve been inspired by Jenni sharing her eleven birth stories (yes, 11, and she has #12 on the way any day now) the past few weeks, and thought I would post mine. Again, it is written TO Anja, which explains the strange voice.


My dear Anja,

Here is the amazing story of your BIRTH! It all started Sunday, August 26At Bible study that evening, Marianne prayed that my labor would start on the way home. While it didn’t, I had my first contraction within minutes of arriving home, about 9:30 p.m., while I was on the phone with Uncle. I had my second about 7 minutes later while on the phone with Grandma.

Daddy and I went for a 20-minute walk and returned home, the contractions still coming about 7-10 minutes apart. This continued until about 2:30 a.m., when they started getting closer and closer together. (Side note: your daddy, ever computer-wise, made an Excel spreadsheet for me to time contractions so I just had to press a “start” button and a “stop” button.)

The next morning I was having them about a minute long and every 3-4 minutes, so we went to my midwife appointment a little early. Called Grandma and told her to come, and she was upset with me, saying she probably wouldn’t make it in time. Linda (my midwife) checked my cervix, which had FINALLY effaced and was dilated to between 3 and 4 cm. She said I’d probably be more comfortable laboring at home, so Daddy and I drove back, where the contractions continued to become more intense as the day rolled on.

Grandma arrived mid-afternoon, and by 6:00 the contractions were almost on top of one another, and Daddy was worn out from pushing on my back (you were turned a bit sideways, so I had back labor). So after waiting and waiting for a call back from the hospital to “see if they had room” (Mom was pretty ticked and said, “They BETTER have room! I am having this baby!”), we just packed up and left. Again.

I was admitted and shown to a room. The nurse checked my cervix again and I was only at 5 cm. I was pretty depressed about all that work for one centimeter, but the nurse reassured me that it’s often the hardest and longest work to get to 5 cm. So…Daddy and I worked together for a few more hours to get to 8 cm. I labored in the tub off and on. The position that seemed to help the best were me standing bent over with Daddy either pressing down on my lower back or squeezing my hips together.

Once I was dilated to an 8, they moved me to the waterbirth suite. Being in that big tub sure helped me relax. In fact, I relaxed a bit too much! My contractions were farther apart, and even though I had the urge to push, it was pretty weak. Also, being in the warm water (even though it was only about 98 or 99 degrees) made me feel a bit woozy and weak.

After pushing a while in the water, we decided to forgo the waterbirth we had planned and do the rest of the pushing in a bed. Daddy and Grandma each held one of my legs while I worked with my weak contractions to push you out. I ended up doing quite a bit of pushing without any contractions for help. It was the HARDEST thing I’ve ever endured physically. With each push I felt weaker and weaker. Eventually I started blacking out and they had to put me on oxygen. I started getting scared for you when I could hear the nurses muttering things like, “Her heart rate is dropping…” I remember getting teary (not wanting an episiotomy) and asking, “You’re not going to cut me, are you?” They assured me they wouldn’t do anything without my permission. Soon afterward (at 1:30 a.m.), you came out.

Daddy said he could see about an inch of the top of your head, then there was this big squishing noise and you came out all at once. You were on my chest crying and being rubbed by nurses before anyone could even look what gender you were. So I held you up for Daddy and he said, “It’s a girl!”

I started crying with excitement and relief (that I didn’t have to have any emergency procedures). You laid on me for awhile, then they wrapped you in blankets and gave you to Daddy. They gave you a checkup later and things looked good: no jaundice, not much head molding, good muscle tone. Unfortunately, because of your like for having your arms up by your face, one of your arms came out with your head and made me tear. I waited quite awhile for the surgeon to get there, and then he stitched me up for an hour and 45 minutes. It hurt quite a bit sitting on my tailbone for that long, and my blood pressure was quite low, as well.

They brought us all back to the room around 4:00. I didn’t sleep and didn’t sleep, even though you and Daddy dropped off right away. I had the nurse go get Grandma and she came as the midwife was talking to me about my low blood pressure (51/30 at one point). Grandma got woozy thinking that HER baby (me) was in trouble and had to climb in bed with me. Ha! She stroked my head for a bit (I still didn’t sleep, though) to help me calm down. They had to catheterize me later that morning because I was too weak to get to the bathroom. But around 9 or 10 a.m. I was able to make it to the tub for a soak. They gave me ice packs and drugs and witch hazel pads for all the pain. You had just a few visitors while we were in the hospital (thankfully—Mom didn’t feel or look her best), and we took you home on Thursday, August 30.


11 thoughts on “Anja’s Birth Story

  1. Husband, you were there, and should therefore KNOW that no one should see nor should have interest in seeing those pics. Also, if I might be so bold as to ask, don’t questions generally end in a question mark?

  2. Yikes! Sounded a bit scary near the end when you were blacking out and Anja’s heart rate was dropping–and it sounds like you had a pretty traumatic time of it postpartum. Glad you and Anja made it through OK and are healthy and happy! Very sweet birth story; One day she’ll love that you took the time to write to her when she still a wee thing. 🙂

    BTW, I never liked having hospital visitors either, wanting to retain what shreds of dignity I had left. Heh.

  3. oh how wonderful! I am jelous your hosptial will let you do waterbirths…mine wont. I would have loved too.
    It makes me sad to think I am done writing my babies birth stories, as I have no plans of having any more! =(

    My husband would have more…maybe I should rethink it! =)
    Oh, how many hours was the labor actually??

  4. It sure was scary! I literally thought I was going to die for awhile. I’m sure many women have had it much worse, though.

    The labor was, from start to finish, 28 hours. I didn’t sleep for two nights (other than an hour nap the morning after she was born). It was torturous. I had what I would call “easy labor” for the first 9 hours or so, but it was still intense enough that I couldn’t sleep through it. Then after my midwife visit I was at home for an additional 9 hours, and it got so bad that I couldn’t do anything during contractions. After we got back to the hospital I was in labor 7 1/2 more hours before she was born, and that was the HARD stuff (though the water slowed down the contractions to about 5-6 minutes apart sometimes).

  5. Wow, such an amazing story to read, especially knowing it’s true! I love that this is a book for Anja, that’s such a great idea! My mom didn’t even write in the pre-made baby book she got for me and still can’t recall my first words or anything like that… her excuse is that she was two busy taking care of two toddlers AND a newborn once I came around. I guess I can understand… 😉 But still, I hope to do something like this for when/if we have kids. She’s going to love it when she grows up!

  6. Aww, what a lovely birth story and a far cry from my first birth. Things have changed so much, and it’s only been (almost) eleven years.

    I am giggling at the comments exchanged between you and your husband.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. 51 over 30!! Yikes! I *guess* you were woozy!

    Cracking up over the spreadsheet…if I tell DH he’s sure to want to top it somehow…

    This is a wonderful story of strength and celebration; what a neat idea to write it for Anja herself! Thank you for sharing!!

  8. What a special heritage story to share with your daughter, and with us.

    I think all women are brave when they give birth.

    How was the photo shoot earlier this week? Will we get to see some photos?

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