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A Birth Story: Karis Ansleigh Williamson

14 July 2013

Since the birth of our Baby Boy is hopefully just around the corner, I thought I would take a minute and look back at the birth of our Baby Girl. I actually never got to share this story on this blog, despite my best efforts to do so. Many of you gave me much guilt for my lack of posting when Karis was a wee little one, but I started back to work SO soon, that she was my number one priority in my other time and the blog fell to the back burner. I promise to try much harder when Jack comes around...and I'm pretty sure I can guarantee that I will at least do marginally better than I did with Karis. :) 

While I feel like the events surrounding her birth are permanently etched in my mind, I did journal all the details pretty immediately after we had her. So, I can assure you that this story is accurate and not just my foggy-memory-pregnant-brain working hard to come up with details. Also, I am going to include pictures throughout this story rather than waiting until the end for all of them. I like to break things up like that...makes it more interesting. 

Our sweet girl was due (although we all know that is a very loose term) to come in to this world on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. Well, August 23 came and went with no baby in sight. I had a doctor's appointment that day and was dilated 1-2cm. Not a full 2, but more than a 1. I was a little discouraged by this news, but my doctor did a membrane sweep and sent me home and we just hoped and prayed for a baby to come soon. 

On Thursday, August 25 John and I were sitting on the couch in the living room before work. He was considered 'extra' at work that week since we knew that there would be a baby at some point, so while he would normally be at work at that time, he was not yet. I was still working as well and would soon start getting ready for the day. At 6:55am, I had my first contraction. I knew immediately that this was nothing false, nothing fake, that this was the start of the real deal. We decided that John should go ahead and go to work for a while, since there were a few things he really felt like he needed to get done. I also knew it was going to be a VERY long day.
I stayed home and at first my contractions were 12-15 minutes apart...yeah, like I said, we still had  a LONG ways to go. But, they were consistent. Pretty soon they were 7-10 minutes apart. They were definitely tolerable so I kept myself busy. I took MANY walks around the neighborhood that day. I vacuumed the house, cleaned out the refrigerator, did some laundry, and made sure everything was ready for the arrival of my Baby Girl. I showered and got ready too.
By lunch time my contractions were about 5 minutes apart. I let John know that things were ok, and still progressing, but that it would probably be a good idea if he made it home by about 2 or 2:30.
It ended up being 3 or just past when John got home. I called the doctor and they asked us to come in for a check (this was the policy for our ob/gyn and was not at all surprising to hear). It was about 4pm when we saw the doctor. My contractions had been about 4 minutes apart for a couple hours at this point. She confirmed that I was most definitely in labor. (Duh!) But, I was only dilated to 2cm. Are you kidding me?!?
I knew (way before this point, but at this point in our story we were in agreement and still felt the same) that I did not just want to go sit in a hospital bed and labor away forever and ever. I wanted to do whatever I could to help things along, which meant continuing to walk. The doctor gave us the option to go ahead and get admitted to the hospital at that point or to keep walking and check in later.
Well, John pipes up and says, 'ok, we will go home and walk.' I gave him a look and the doctor said, 'why don't I give you two a minute to talk?' Ha! Like I said, I had no opposition to not going to the hospital at that point, but let me remind you that it was August 25...which means, super hot. And, I had been walking outside ALL day long. We decided that we would go to the mall to walk. It was air conditioned - check. Had plenty of room for walking - check. And was close-ish to the hospital - check. So, we went to the mall and walked some more.
We used our phones to continue to time contractions for length and distance between contractions. At this point things were definitely progressing and on occasion I just had to sit and people watch to work through it all. They remained at 4 minutes apart, but were definitely building up in intensity and in length of time. Woo hoo! I knew this was a good thing.

I distinctly remember running in to a couple different people that we knew from church who just wanted to shoot the breeze. All I could think was, "can't you see I'm in labor?!? I can't concentrate on a single thing you are saying!" It was somewhat humorous...but then again, why would someone in labor be walking around the mall. I know, I know.
After a couple hours John was hungry and wanted to eat before we checked in at the hospital, so we went to Moe's. I didn't have much of an surprise there. I hadn't eaten a thing all day actually. So, there I sat, laboring in Moe's watching my husband eat a burrito. :) We then called the doctor and let her know we would be heading to the hospital (which was basically right next door the restaurant).

We arrived at the hospital at 7:30pm. I was only 3cm dilated at this point. Again, are you kidding me?!? But, my contractions were still very regular at 4 minutes apart - they continued to get stronger in intensity and longer in length. John and I had to wait in the maternity triage for 3 hours before we got a room because so many babies were born that night - 17 - and there were no rooms available. At around 10:30pm we finally got a room. The doctor came in shortly after and I was still just 3cm dilated. My mom and Tony stopped in to see us. I had to lay in bed for a while so they could get a good read on the fetal heart monitor. Sometime around 11:45-12:00ish my water broke. The doctor checked me again and we were at 4cm. I had the nurse help me get ready and cleaned up so that I could start walking the hallways to help my labor along. Unfortunately, when my water broke the pain became MUCH worse and my back labor was intense.
Oh, back labor, you are such a different beast than contractions. I was actually unable to walk more than one lap around the floor because my back hurt so badly. We went back to our room and I got in to a warm bath to try to alleviate some of the pain. The bath helped a little bit, but my goodness I was hurting. John sat next to me and with each contraction he would pour warm water over my belly to help soothe some of the discomfort. Eventually the nurse needed me to move back to the bed so that they could monitor Karis again.

The pain from the back labor got SO much worse when I got out of the bath. I laid on my side in the bed and John would push on my back with lots of pressure to help with the pain. But, there was lots of groaning and moaning. It was something I've never experienced before.

At some point our very sweet nurse, Judy, who was my advocate there called the doctor back early to see if I was far enough along for an epidural. She knew that I was fading and exhausting every bit of energy on the pain...and it was only getting worse.
Dr. Chitour came in and checked me, I was 5cm dilated, so she gave the ok for me to get an epidural. Within a few minutes I had the anesthesiologists in my room and ready with the epidural. It took about 15 minutes for it to take, but oh the sweet relief it brought! Hallelujah! I was SO thankful for that epidural...I am pretty sure that for the next 30 minutes I just kept singing the praises of whoever invented such a wonderful thing. At that point it was time to rest a bit to try to get some energy back for the delivery.

At some point my room was flooded with nurses who started rotating me back and forth because Karis' heart rate had slowed WAY down. After a few minutes they got things regulated again, but it made both John and I quite nervous. However, they assured us she was stabilized, so we went back to waiting.
Well, not too much later the same thing happened again. All of a sudden a room full of nurses and doctors. I was given an oxygen mask, they were rotating me all over, trying every trick in the book. It took more than twice as long to get things under control this time. It was THE scariest thing I have ever been through. I was terrified that something bad was going to happen to my baby.

All that they were able to confirm at this time was that there was a problem with the umbilical cord. As I would have contractions, the cord would get pinched and put Karis in danger. She was unable to properly move down because of this as well. The doctor said that we really only had one option because of this and that was an emergency c-section. She assured me that this problem would continue to happen...and we were afraid we may lose our baby.
We had not hoped or planned on having a cesarean birth, but there was absolutely nothing in the world that was more important to us at that point than to have Karis be healthy and safe.  We gave the ok, and they start prepping me for surgery.
Oh, I was SO scared. And, I had the shakes...bad. I have never heard that before from anyone. But, I was shaking uncontrollably. The anesthesiologist said it was because of all the adrenaline running through my body. It was crazy. They wheeled me in to the operating room where they were prepping me and everyone was moving SO fast. There was just so much going on, and John was not with me, as they were prepping him elsewhere. I just kept shaking and all I wanted in the world was to meet my Baby Girl and to have my husband with me. My anesthesiologist was sitting right next to my head and he was so kind to me. I'm not even entirely sure what he was saying, but he was speaking calmly and reassuring me in the midst of all the chaos.
Right before the surgery John came in...whew. He rushed right up next to my head and immediately started praying for us. It was exactly what I needed in that moment. The next thing we knew the doctor said, "here come the shoulders." We couldn't believe how fast it was! They lifted Karis over the sheet so we could see her, then John got to go to the other side of the room to be with her while they checked her out.

They continued to work on me for a while, but they had a huge TV just a few feet away from me on the wall that had a live video feed of where Karis was. I was able to lay there and watch her while the nurses and John were tending to her. It was awesome!
I can remember staring at the tv watching the greatest miracle I had ever witnessed in my life. I was still shaking (that lasted a couple hours, it was terrible). But, I knew everything was going to be alright at that point.

The very first thing I noticed about Karis were her feet. I just laid there saying, 'she has her Daddy's toes!' Ha! The anesthesiologist just laughed. I suppose other people have more profound first words regarding their babies.

So, at 5:18am on Friday, August 26, 2011, after 22 hours of labor and an emergency c-section, our precious Baby Girl came in to the world. She weighed 8lb. 4oz. and was 21in. long.  It was among the happiest moments of my entire life!
 After everything checked out with Karis, John was able to bring her over near me while they finished sewing me up, etc. It felt like it took a really long time for that part, but I had my family right there with me. I just could not wait until I could hold Karis myself!
We then got wheeled in to recovery where I was able to hold my Baby Girl. I also was able to nurse her as soon as we got in there, this was extremely important to me. She took to nursing so well and right away, I was so happy. I was just so happy to be able to hold her.
At some point we got moved to a room and just got to enjoy the new precious gift of life that we were given.
I am forever thankful for my first-born, precious Baby Girl. I adore her more than words can say and I love her with the deepest, most sincere love imaginable...a love that overwhelms me to the core of my being. I feel blessed beyond measure to call her my own. She is truly a miracle...and a gift. 
I can hardly believe we are about to do it again. Who knows what the story will be like this time, but we are so excited to meet our precious son. I'd be happy to have him come in a less-dramatic fashion, but I will take him any way I can get him.

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