Friday, April 13, 2012

a birth story: willow ever worrell

on tuesday the 27th, i woke up at 3:00 am to make some coffee and breakfast for my husband, who was leaving to drive up to dublin to collect my dad and sister from the airport. after i sent him off, i went back to bed but couldn't really get back to a good sleep because of some (menstrual-like) cramps and pains. i didn't think much of it, because i had been feeling that way for the previous week or so. although, this time they were different, coming on a bit stronger i guess.

anyway, they all got to the house around 7:30. we all drank some coffee, had some breakfast, and just sat around catching up and talking about the days to come. after a while, we were all feeling tired, so we got them settled into their house just around the corner and went about our showers and naps.
around 2:00 we all went into town to run some errands, get some necessities and use the internet at the church so my sister and dad could ring home and tell their families that they made it safe and sound.

clay left to take a few guys to the diy to get some paint for their new house, so my sister, my dad and i went to the grocery store in town to get some pineapple (meant to bring on labour!), baby food (for that sweet little guy above!), shampoo, and other goodies. while in the shop, the cramps started coming on stronger and i noticed them every time and wasn't able to just brush them off. it felt like it was that time of the month, but extra angry! i told my sister that i thought something was up. so we finished our shop, and i rang clay and told him that we should start heading home. i started to time the cramps/contractions and they were averaging 3 and a half minutes apart.

so we get home, its about 5:00pm at this stage, and i get about my chores (this was it, and everything must be in its place! laundry! sweeping! clean bathroom!), clay makes some green curry for dinner, my dad is in charge of timing contractions, and my sister is my coach! there is a fire going in the stove, its starting to get dark, everything is in its place, its all going just as i had imagined!

at around 6:30 my water broke (WEIRDEST feeling in the world, btw. much laughter ensued!). and thats when it all started to go NOT how i imagined it. the midwives were on their way, and when they got here, they confirmed my suspicion. there was meconium (thats baby poo!) in my water. which means they have to get her out as soon as possible, because if she ingested it, she could get all sorts of lung problems. not good! so they rang the hospital, they sent out an ambulance, and we were on our way out. (and can i just say how uncomfortable an ambulance is? especially speeding down a country road, being jolted all around while having a contraction!? ouch.)

i had always said from the beginning, that if anything happened that made us have to go into the hospital to deliver this baby, i would go. if it was anything that i couldn't help, if it was for the health of our child or myself, i wouldn't question it. and i can honestly say, that when they told me it was meconium and we needed to go in, i didn't think twice. let's get this baby out, as healthy as can be.

we got to the hospital around 9 and i labored there in a room with three other women for a few hours. they put me on synthetic oxytocin (pitocin) to speed up labor (which also made the contractions more painful!) to get this little girl out. i remember only thinking once, not too long after we got to the hospital, can i really do this? am i really as strong as i thought i was? and of course, my wonderful clay was right next to me, telling me that i could, and that i was. and so i did.

when i was far enough progressed they moved us into the delivery room and, even though i think it was against policy, they let my sister in to be there for the birth! (meanwhile, my poor dad was at our house with little micah, and the last thing he knew was me being carted away in the ambulance. he had no phone, therefore no updates to know what was going on!)

now, the only form of pain relief i had was an entonox (50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen) mouthpiece. it was a life-saver. although i felt every pain, every contraction, every push, every millimeter of my little (big!) girl, it was like my mind was far away from it. like my brain didn't process the pain as quick as it was happening, therefore lessening it. if that makes any sense? but let me just say, that i couldn't have gotten through without it!

around 1:00am on wednesday the 28th, it was time to start pushing. oh, the pushing! oh, the pain! my goodness gracious. it hurts even thinking about it! (shudder). its a good thing the hour passed quickly, because the only thing getting me through it was knowing that soon i would see my baby and hearing my lovely husband and sister cheering me on. also, the entonox! 

and then, at 2:21, the most beautiful little lady saw the light of the outside world for the very first time. she was taken straight over to be checked over for any meconium inhalation but she was perfectly fine. 
then she was placed on my chest. she looked at me, i looked at her father, we all looked at each other, and here we were, a complete little family.

we had a few minutes, being that complete little family together. but after i delivered the placenta, i began to seriously haemorrhage. my uterus wouldn't contract again after the delivery of the placenta, i had a tear to my cervix (which also caused some arterial bleeding), and a third degree tear (dont google it, i warn you. there are some things you just cant un-read!). and in just minutes i lost over 2.5 liters of blood (the average adult female has 4-5 liters of blood in total.).

so they took little willow off my chest and gave her to clay, they hit all sorts of buttons which in turn made all sorts of loud noises and flashing lights go off. they stuck me with all sorts of meds to get my uterus to contract again, and after a while it did. but since they also had to stitch up the cervical tear, the third degree tear (category b), and also make sure there was no placental tissue remaining, (all majorly invasive procedures) they had to take me away to the surgical ward and be put under general anaesthetic.

but just before they took me away to the operating room, i remember turning my head and looking at my husband, standing there holding our sweet girl, and being so glad that it was me who was being wheeled away, and not her. even though all i wanted was to be sitting there next to him, admiring our precious girl. but i was comforted knowing she was in his arms, perfectly healthy and warm. and seeing my sister there, a strong support for clay and for myself.

even though all of this happened in just a few minutes, it felt like forever. i felt my body going into shock, and i started to feel all hazy and my brain wasn't really computing what was going on. i remember looking at my husband, standing there holding our sweet girl, and being so glad that it was me who was being wheeled away, and not her. i remember the look in his eyes, trying his very hardest to be strong even though he was just as helpless as the baby he held. i remember looking at my sister standing there, and being so glad that she was there for him and for willow.  i remember the midwife and nurses telling me its was going to all be ok. and i dont remember much after that.

they crossed my legs and i felt the wheels on the bed being unlocked. they pushed the bed through the double doors and down a hallway. i think i must have been slipping in and out of consciousness, because the next thing i remember is being shifted onto the operating table, with a huge circular bright light above me. there were so many masked people, all rushing around, attending to their specific duty. they all told me the things they were going to do next. they told me about the pressure i'd feel on my throat when they intubated, they told me they were sticking me with some more needles filled with more meds, they told me they were putting in an IV to pump me with fluid. they told me i'd start to feel tingly soon, they told me to breathe deeply into the mask they just put on my face...

poor clay, standing there holding his brand new little girl. the last thing he saw was his wife losing blood like someone turned on a tap. looking at her, and loving her, but wishing we were all together again, healthy and whole. he tells me about those few hours, how absolutely scared he was. how many terrible thoughts went through his head, thinking about what he would do if he lost me. how he struggled to connect with willow, loving the tiny bundle in his arms but knowing that his wife was under some bright lights in a distant room, not knowing what was happening to her. how he had to give willow to my sister just so he could gather himself. how they made them sit in that delivery room in the hours that followed, with my blood all over the floor and walls, waiting just for a word on how i was doing. and how when they finally wheeled me out, three and a half hours later, and he saw me, he felt whole again.

i cant remember much of wednesday, or even thursday for that matter. everything was a blur. everything was harder, everything was more painful. lifting my little 8 pound 12 ounce baby felt like a ton of bricks. even shuffling to the toilet was a huge undertaking, and for the first while, wasn't possible without a wheelchair. my hemoglobin levels were at a 6 (the norm being 12-16) so they encouraged a blood transfusion. it was a weird decision to make, knowing there would forever be someone else's blood pumping through me? but a natural recovery would have been very slow and painful, and i would have to be on bed rest for months. i couldn't do it. just one night and two days was torture enough. not being able to care for my girl properly, not fully functioning, my brain slow to understand everything. so i got the transfusion. and oh, those 3 glorious units of concentrated red blood cells! i went from being a human, to a zombie, to a vampire, back to a human! my levels aren't back to normal yet, but recovery will be a breeze compared to that wednesday and thursday.

we had to stay in the hospital until at least friday. they had to monitor how i took to the blood, how i was healing up, and also how she took to breastfeeding because considering the amount of blood loss, my milk was slow to come in. just as they were discharging us, the last thing they had to do was weigh her. they told us that she had lost more than 10% of her birth weight, so we had to stay another night. oh man, that was rough to hear, i was so looking forward to going home, itching to get out of that stuffy hospital. but i guess that made saturday afternoon all that more wonderful. they topped her up with formula throughout the night and next morning, as my milk was still struggling. and when they weighed her again (after much convincing from us!) she had gained 50 grams. which was barely enough to bring her back under the 10%, so they (reluctantly) let us go! 

oh, saturday afternoon! it was a glorious day. it felt amazing to finally be back home. back to where i wanted to be all along. penelope met the new addition, willow had a look at her new room, we unpacked our hospital bags (and promptly washed everything in them!!), had a celebratory glass of wine and got all settled in. our new little family.


its hard to explain just how i feel about all that happened. i can't think about it much without breaking down, to be honest. but i can say that it was all worth it, for this little one to be here. and i can say too, that God knew best. i thought i did everything right, i did all the exercises, stretches, yoga poses, breathing, massages, etc. but there was nothing i could've done that would have prevented what happened. i do know though, that if miss willow didn't poo in her water, we would have gone ahead with the home birth, and the hemorrhage would have happened miles away from the hospital (you can do the math there). and now, because of the hemorrhage and the severity of the tears, i'm considered a high-risk pregnancy for the next time (which i don't want to come close to think about anytime soon), and will never be allowed a home birth. but again, God knew best. 
willow coming into this world was the most painful and traumatic experience we have ever endured, both physically and emotionally. but if something so truly good and precious and wonderful can come out of that, well then, so be it.


  1. There is little that is as impactful and as beautiful than hearing a woman share her journey into motherhood! Praise God for baby poop! Ha!
    Britain pooped on his way out, so when he finally popped out the NICU nurses had to take him right away and I didn't get that moment where they just plop him on your chest, but I remember be just so overwhelmed at his cries that nothing mattered except for his complete health. Thinking of it all still makes me cry!

    Congrats, again, love!
    Take it as easy as you can! Let your wonderful, fearfully-made body heal. PS: did the hospital give you numbing spray? I tore in quite a few places too and that stuff saved my life!

  2. I'm in bits just reading about your journey, Jannelle! How brave you were for your little girl, and what a great attitude you have about all that happened in those few hours. You're such a treasure and a blessing. Can't wait to see you soon xx

  3. wow! Our God is so gracious to do things outside of our "perfect" plan. I am so glad you are doing all right. Sorry about all the pain. :(

  4. I have never met you, but my husband was Clay's roommate in college.

    I'm so sorry things didn't go according to your plan, but it really is OK for you to grieve that things didn't go according to that plan.

    I had all three of our kids at home. Our last was the easiest, but ended in a way that was not at all in our plans. I fainted a few hours after giving birth because of the afterbirth pains. My husband had no idea what was happening, called 911 and then next thing we knew we had huge firemen and emergency personnel in our bedroom!

    I, too, was whisked away in an ambulance and my poor husband had to stay behind with our other two until he could get them to a babysitter. I wasn't allowed to hold our baby when I arrived and I just remember breaking down and being so upset that I had become the poster child for anti-homebirth advocates.

    Turns out I was just in a lot of pain and the only way my body could cope was fainting. Maybe you are predisposed for hemorrhage, maybe it was the speeding up of your labor that caused it, who knows, right? But I just want you to know that it is OK to grieve your experience. I think sometimes we as Christians tend to think our emotions are not justified or mean that we don't trust God, or I don't know. Just know that it is OK to "break down" as you put it when you do think about it.

  5. Love you guys, thanks for sharing your intimate story with us! So encouraging to hear your thoughts, and so blessed to have you as a friend!!