Where to begin telling Annabelle’s birth story. I guess that it was the most genuinely beautiful experience of our lives would be a good place. The way Matt proposed over five years ago or how he asked me to be his girlfriend when we first started dating almost nine years ago were both beautiful but each of those experiences were both planned. And everything about our wedding day was absolutely stunning in my opinion, from the flowers, to my dress, to our church where we said our vows and to, of course our vows that were so beautiful that I literally sobbed tears of joy as Matt read them to me, but again every last detail of that day was planned for months and months in advance. Annabelle’s birth however was something that even though we had spent the entire nine months of our pregnancy preparing for we both could have never planned how absolutely beautiful it would be. Only God, the creator of all life could do that. And it was absolutely, breathtakingly, stunningly, raw, real, pure beauty in it’s most true life giving form!
A SWEET BEGINNING
So it was around 8:00pm on Thursday, December 10, 2015 when I had decided to take a bath and Matt was on his way home from work. He had called me, like usual, to tell me that he was on his way home, ask if there was anything I needed him to pick up from the store and tell me about his day when I had my first contraction that I actually had to focus to get through. Before that point I had been having false labor off and on since the Saturday after Thanksgiving when we went to pick out our Christmas Tree, but that’s another story for another time lol. I had been having these false contractions for about two week. They weren’t really that bad. I could continue whatever it was I was doing at the time while they were going on and they were super sporadic. I would have a couple that were 5 minutes apart and then I wouldn’t have any for an hour or so. But as soon as I would go to sleep it would completely stop. My mother in law had even come over earlier that evening to visit and we had a whole conversation about how my due date was the next day and she had no idea I was having what, I thought was more of those false labor contractions. I never let on about them, that’s how minor they were. Until that first one in the bath tub while I was on the phone with Matt. On a side note, we’ve heard that women have subconsciously made up there minds, and there bodies, to wait for their partner to be home with them until they will allow their selves to go into labor. Part of me wonders if that is what I was doing because the moment I knew Matt was on his way home it’s like everything changed. lol So as I was having that first contraction Matt coached me through it telling me to breath, that I was doing a great job and that he was on his way home and would be by my side in less than 10 minutes. After he got home we decided it would be a good idea to text our doctor and our doula to let them know what was going on, but at the same time not to worry them because we were so certain that we weren’t going to have our daughter on her due date and that as soon as I went to sleep everything would stop just like it had before. I was so certain that I even told Matt as we went to bed that I wasn’t letting myself get too excited because it was all going to end as soon as my head hit the pillow… well I couldn’t have been more wrong! lol
The contractions never stopped..they just got stronger. Matt and I literally didn’t get any sleep that night because as soon as we would start to drift off to sleep I would have a contraction and Matt would wake up to time it on the labor log app that he had going as well as coach me through it by whispering sweet words of encouragement to me, praying over me and tenderly rubbing my hair and back. And even though it felt awful to lay down on my side while a contraction was going on, I stubbornly kept trying to stay in that position because I truly believed with my whole heart that if I could just go to sleep everything would stop. lol
Just as I was starting to drift off to sleep around 4 am, based on what Matt said because I had no recollection of time and was in total labor land, I had this horrible contraction that jolted me out of my sleep, and to make it worse I was still laying on my side which felt terrible! It was so uncomfortable that Matt actually helped me get up onto my hands and knees while I was in the middle of the contraction, which moving is something that we were told never to do while in the middle of a contraction, but I was so uncomfortable I literally just couldn’t lay on my side anymore and I felt like my body was telling me that once I was off my side this contraction would be much more manageable.. and it was. It was so much better once I wasn’t laying down anymore. From that moment forward though I knew we weren’t going to bed that night.
A PEACEFUL EARLY MORNING IN LABOR LAND
As soon as that contraction was finished Matt called our doula and doctor to let them know what was happening. Our Doctor Kim Vormbrock listened to me have a contraction over the phone and then confirmed that we were in first stage labor and to watch for a significant change in my demeanor and when that change happened to then come into the hospital. She also said that taking a shower or warm bath would help ease some of the discomfort I was feeling and to plan for Friday morning rush hour traffic because her guess was that we would be coming into the hospital around 8:00am. On a side note, there are so many reasons why I absolutely love Annabelle’s pediatrician and our family Doctor Kim! Seriously she is the best! I was so impressed by her estimation because she thought we would be heading into the hospital at 8:00am and we got there at around 8:30am! And she could tell all that by just listening to me on the phone! Simply amazing!
So at the recommendation of our doctor we decided to get into the shower and then later on we switched over to the bath tub to save water. And she was so right! The warm water completely took the edge off of the contractions and really helped me relax and let my body do what God had designed it to. Around this time is when our Bradley Method Instructor, Doula and friend Jessica came over to watch me have a contraction for herself because she wasn’t sure how far along I was based on what she was hearing through the phone since my contractions were really funky. You see your supposed to have contractions lasting 1 minute and their supposed to be about 5 minutes apart when you are in first stage labor. I say supposed to because that is not what my body was doing. I was having contractions that would last for 30-45 seconds long, on the rare occasion they would be a full minute or longer, and they were somewhere between 6-4 minutes apart. Also my demeanor really wasn’t that of early first stage labor. I wasn’t talking or laughing between contractions but instead I was completely focused the entire time on getting through the contraction that was going on or resting and gearing up for the next one to come, which is much more of a late first stage emotional signpost. So Jessica said she was going to come over and if she thought she needed to stay she would stay and if she thought she could leave she would leave and come back in a couple hours.. which I guess is the benefit to having your doula only live 5 minutes away. Well, she never left. lol
For the remainder of the time that we labored at home we went between the bath tub and laying over a birth ball in Annabelle’s nursery, and it was all so peacefully perfect. The whole thing, after I gave up the idea of falling asleep that night, “let go and let God” that is. During Annabelle’s entire birth I felt completely fearless and completely safe, taken care of and at peace with however things would go. I spent that really sweet time awaiting our Annabelle’s arrival focused on my Jesus. I wouldn’t say my prayers out loud (although I have been told that every now and then I would utter His name under my breath) but the entire time I was praying to Him asking for His strength and peace to get us through her birth and that His loving, joy filled spirit would rest over the entire event, and it so did. I was so ready to meet our baby girl that morning and completely trusted in my God’s design for my body and Annabelles body and how He had created them to work together to bring her into the world. I completely trusted that He would bring me, Matt and Annabelle through the entire event healthy, happy and so full of love and joy for each other.
I also have to say that being in Annabelle’s nursery was such an inspiring atmosphere to labor in. With her chandelier dimmed low, my sweet husband continuing to lovingly pray over and encourage me through each contraction, our wonderful friend Jessica’s soft, reassuring voice telling Matt and I that everything was going normally and naturally and the beautiful playlist that we had thoughtfully put together for this very occasion, and had listened to every night leading up to this special moment, that was a blend of worship music, soft piano music, a few Christmas songs and Annabelle’s lullabies. I just felt so at peace, loved and so completely safe and taken care of. Then in between the contractions all I needed to do for a little motivation and reminder as to what an amazing gift Matt and I were about to be given on that warm December morning was open my eyes and glance around her room. There I could see her rocking chair where I envisioned rocking her to sleep each night and reading her stories when she is older. I could see her crib that was completely put together and ready for her arrival, where we would say her night time prayers. I could see her sweet little glass and gold vanity table where a beautiful cream, peach and gold mirror sat next to her bundles of bows that I would put in her hair one day. Those thoughts were a simple gift from The Lord that brought so much anticipation to my spirit for what the future would hold, for why Matt and I were doing this, for our sweet, beautiful Annabelle Jane!
AN EXHILERATING TURN OF EVENTS
As the sun began to rise that morning so did the strength of my contractions lol After calling our Doctor and having her confirm that we should start making our way to the hospital, Matt assisted me to the car and we were on our way! It wasn’t until we were pulling out of our driveway and onto the street that I realized that sun was coming up and it was around 7:30am in the morning! Right before we left the house my contractions had been getting pretty difficult to handle and I was starting to have a really hard time breathing through each one. They felt like they were coming so close together that I wasn’t getting any time between them to come back to center before the next one would hit. I remember thinking that I really hoped we would get to the hospital and that they would tell us we were pretty far along because if they didn’t I wasn’t sure how much longer I could handle these super strong, close together contractions. They were just so different from what I had been experiencing earlier in labor where they would come and go like, kind of like waves cresting on the shore of a beach, and I would have some time between each one to emotionally come back down to zero. Then all of the sudden, as we were driving down our street, my contractions started to space out again and I began getting the reprieve in between each one that I was used to. I remember Matt having one hand on the steering wheel and one hand holding my hand as he drove and I remember him telling me in a super soothing, yet excited tone “We’re almost there! We’re on our way to meet Annabelle!” It was so encouraging and sweet to hear how excited he was!
We got to St. Elizabeths Family Birth Center at around 8:30am. I don’t remember much about that ride down the hallway to the birth center except for I was wearing a bathing suit underneath my house robe and I had no shoes on. Thank goodness Annabelle was born on the warmest December day to be recorded in history yet or else I probably would have been a little chilly lol On a side note because of that fact that she was born on such a warm day in December we like to say she brought the sunshine and warmth with her into the world that day, and she’s been filling our world and our lives with that same sunshine and warmth in her personality ever since. She’s our little sunshine baby. 🙂
Matt checked us in and before we knew it we were being taken to triage. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason the triage nurse had me stand and try to walk to the triage room…. and I can assure you it was the slowest walk of my life! Matt was pretty irked by this nurse because not only did she make me walk but she insisted on a urine sample, which I tried way too long and too hard to try to give her, and it took him a good five minutes or so to convince me that it was okay if there was nothing there to give lol. And finally once I had given up on giving the nurse her sample we had to walk into the triage room… which again a herd of turtles could move faster than I could at this moment. lol Once we were in there though and finally on the bed the nurse checked me, which I don’t really remember because I was focusing on Matt distracting me and telling me about how we were about to meet Annabelle!
Then all of a sudden, without saying a word to anyone, the nurse quickly ran across the hall picked up the phone and frantically called Doctor Kim and said “I have Pomeroy here and she’s 10 +2!” I knew what 10cm meant but I wasn’t sure about the +2. I remembered there was a +2 and a -2 and that one meant the baby was super high and the other meant the baby was super low, so low that it was about to be born, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember which one was which. So I asked Matt to remind me what the +2 meant and that’s when the nurse answered me and said “O honey, you’re 10 centimeters, fully effaced, +2 station, which means I see a head and this baby is about to be here!”
“HOLY MOLY!! THANK YOU DEAR SWEET JESUS!!” is literally the exact thought I had! lol I didn’t expect us to be that far along and I was nervous about getting to the hospital and not having had the progress that we were pretty sure we were having. So to hear that we were about to meet our Annabelle was such an exhilerating feeling!
The nurse then asked as another contraction started if I wanted to roll or walk to the room…
I’m pretty sure I just looked at her completely confused.. It’s like I couldn’t assemble what she was saying because I had went back into a state of focus. Thank God for my husband who did such a great job taking care of me and spoke up for me and said “We’re rolling!” lol And with that we were in our room ready to meet our daughter within seconds! And within minutes Kim came running in our room, confirmed that I was indeed ready to start pushing and ready to deliver our baby!
THE BEAUTIFUL BIRTH OF OUR ANNABELLE JANE
All in all we pushed for around 2 hours! We tried a few different positions until we found “the one”. That process took about 30 minutes or so. We went from hands and knees, to standing and squatting and eventually ended up in the classic position on the bed because my body was getting so physically tired from working so hard and I really needed to be able to lay down between each push and rest. That position was like magic though because the moment we got into it things really started moving!
I have to take a minute and say it really is amazing how God designed our bodies to work during labor. It was so fasinating to me. I would feel the urge to push and as long as I listened to my body and pushed to the point of comfort any discomfort I felt would completely go away, but if I didn’t push the contraction would go from being not just uncomfortable to down-right painful. So I obviously decided to go with what my body was telling me to do and pushed because then I felt no pain.. I actually would go as far to say I felt comfortable as long as I pushed lol. 🙂 Then when I was finished pushing I had about 10 minutes or so until the next contraction/urge to push would hit and I could literally just rest. I even took little mini cat-naps in between each pushing session, which I think really helped me to regain my strength and be able to give each push my all because I was getting really restorative rest between each push.
While all this was going on I realized that what we had hoped and prayed for was actually becoming a reality. Matt and I were having a completely natural, un-intervened birth. We were so far along that when we got to the hospital the staff didn’t even have time to put a hep-lock in my arm just incase I might have needed medicine! Matt even got to give me sips of water when I asked for something to drink (not just crushed ice) thanks to Kim telling the nurse that we were going to forego that protocol because we were already too far along.. that Annabelle was practically here. lol And since we got to take our time while pushing Annabelle was born without anyone tugging on her. She literally just came out all on her own! Again, can I say just how much I love our Doctor Kim! She’s seriously the best! And that was the most refreshing water I have ever had in my entire life! It was so restorative and just what I needed at the time.
The time passed so quickly in that last stage of labor. Even though we pushed for 2 hours it felt like it went by much quicker than that. On a funny side note one of the main reasons it took so long to push Annabelle out and a bit of a blessing in disguise is because she was born with her arm in front of her head! lol So therefore I didn’t just have to push her head out but her shoulder and forearm along with her head all at the same time! But the silver lining to this is that her position is most likely the reason we didn’t have her in the car on the way to the hospital since we were so far along. lol The atmosphere in our delivery room was so peaceful and encouraging too. One of the nurses had written on the plan board for our room underneath the plan section “Happy Birthday Annabelle Jane!” which we thought was really sweet. And while we were waiting in between each push I would hear the sound of laughter and smiles coming from the people in our room as Matt would give me sips of water and tell me what a great job I was doing while I rested. There really was just so much joy, love and excitement in that room about the birth of our Annabelle Jane.
And before I knew it our doula Jessica was telling me to open my eyes (because I had them closed since that really helped me to focus on my body and give each push as much as I possibly could) because my baby was here! And just like that my eyes met Annabelle’s as I heard her let out the most beautiful sound my ears have honestly ever heard, the most strong, loud cry and my hands immediately wrapped around her warm, slippery perfect little body and brought her straight onto my chest, tucked right underneath my chin where Matt and I sat there with her just starring at her, and each other, in amazement for the first several hours of her life.
Every part of Annabelle’s birth was all we had hoped, prayed and dreamed it would be. There wasn’t one single second where either Matt or I felt anything short of pure peace, love, joy and excitement over meeting her. The whole experience was covered with a sense of calm and capability that truly could have only come from the fact that we had both surrendered it all over to God and we were now determined to birth with love and faith instead of fear. I know for a fact I would not have been nearly as successful at giving birth to Annabelle if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of my loving husband and Annabelle’s daddy coaching me through the entire thing. It’s not often talked about but I have to shine a light on what an incredible role my husband played in the birth of our daughter. He was literally the hands and feet of Jesus to me that entire day. It’s because I felt so safe and so loved and so taken care of by him that I was able to trust the process and let my body do what it needed to. It’s because Matt did such an incredible job at his role as my husband, Annabelle’s daddy and our birth coach that Annabelle’s birth was truly a serene, joyful and love-filled experience. His tenderness towards me, positive attitude of love and the belief that he had in God’s design and our ability to do this set the whole tone for Annabelle’s birth.
The moment that I first met our Annabelle Jane at 11:05 am on Friday, December 11, 2015 is a memory that will forever remain clear as day in my mind. I can literally close my eyes and I still see the whole seen, and her face, so vividly, like it was happening right now, right in front of me. I can still feel that instantly “in-love” sensation I got when Matt and I first met her sweep over me just like it did that day. It’s a moment I know I will never ever forget. And now it’s a time in my life that is a reminder of my God’s love for me and a monument to His faithfulness. That my God is faithful to finish what He has begun in each season of my life, whether that be pregnancy, birth or now each step in the journey of parenting. It is a very tangible reminder that He is always with me. That He always has been with me and will never leave my side, not for one second. All I have to do is think back on that moment. All I have to do is look at Annabelle’s sweet face. She is an instant reminder of God’s love, grace and enduring faithfulness in my life.
A Few Special Visitors & A Whole Room Full of Love
We took the first couple hours after Annabelle was born to just hangout, establish breastfeeding, do a few routine hospital procedures and just bond as a family of three with our brand new, sweet baby daughter. It was such a sacred time and space during that first morning Annabelle was born and we really wanted to do our best to soak it all in. So we didn’t rush any step of the process. We took as much time as we needed, and wanted, for just the two of us to be with her, starring at her every little feature, watching her every little sleepy movement and just in general be together with our baby girl before inviting any family back to meet her.
It was really nice to know that we had so many loved ones who were praying for Annabelle, Matt and I during that morning and to go back and read all their encouraging text messages that they had been sending in while she was being born was such a blessing. Once we were ready for visitors Annabelle’s Grandma, Mimi and Great-Gram/Mor-Mor (which is Swedish for Great-grandmother and is was Matt called his grandmother so the tradition lives on through Annabelle) were the first to welcome her into the world and our family that afternoon. 🙂 It was such a special moment to watch each of these amazing women in our live whom we love dearly beam with such joy and pride over the birth of their first grand-baby and great grand-baby. ❤
There have only been a handful of times that I have ever experienced that much love and joy in a room that you could literally just feel the presence of God.
The day we got engaged. On our wedding day when we pledged our lives to each other and to serving our God side by side. The night that I told Matt we were pregnant. The day we told our families that we were expecting. And Annabelle’s birthday.
Much love & prayer,
Matt & Blair