It has been a few weeks now since Annie was born. I've had time to think about the whole experience and get to know this beautiful little angel better. Her whole labor and delivery was a very sweet experience for us. For this pregnancy, I switched to working with a midwife and had decided to try a fully natural labor. So when we went in for an ultrasound 2 days before my due date and were told that my fluid levels were getting too low and that they were going to induce me starting that evening, my heart sank. I cried a bit on the way home thinking that a natural labor may be out of the question, but I knew that getting our little girl safely here was the most important thing. We finished getting our hospital bags together, took the other children to Grandma's house, ate some dinner, and prepared to leave for the hospital. Marty gave me a blessing just before we left, and it was one of the most comforting blessings I have ever received. In it, I was told that Heavenly Father would still allow me to fulfill all that I desired for this experience of labor and delivery. I wasn't sure how that would play out, but I felt at peace.
We checked in to the hospital, got settled in our room, they started me on some meds, and we spent a quiet night reading and sleeping as much as possible. It was actually wonderful to have one last peaceful evening with Marty to just talk, relax, and read before any real labor began.
The next morning, I had barely progressed. The midwife thought it may even be a full day more before we were going to have this baby in our arms. So we decided to send Marty home to see the older children while they started me on a second medication. Marty's plan was to come back at dinner time. Well, the combination of the new medication and the morning exam started some regular contractions faster than anticipated. Within 2 hours I was having contractions 3 minutes apart, though still not very strong. By four hours later the contractions were less than 3 minutes apart and getting stronger. They declared me in full labor and took me off the meds, monitors, and let me start moving around the room to labor as I wished! I called Marty around lunch time to tell him he needed to get there sooner than later. When he was able to get back, around 2:15, I was having a hard time breathing through the contractions and said I needed to get in the tub. After a few contractions laying in the warm water, I threw up everything I had eaten that day. The nurses excitedly said that was great news and that they were going to call our midwife. For the next hour and a half I labored in the tub, holding Marty's hand, and having him give me ice chips and put cold cloths on my head. I had a string of really hard contractions and called the midwife over to tell her I wasn't sure how much more I could handle. She smiled and just said, "that is what you say when you are almost there. Let's check." Sure enough, I was a 9 1/2. They got me out of the tub and dried me off. The bed seemed miles away. Somehow I made it across the room, onto the bed, and was told to go ahead and push. It took me a few pushes to be able to focus through all the pain. But within about 15 minutes our sweet little girl was on my chest, and I could feel a little bit of Heaven still on her. The veil seemed so thin, and the experience was truly a sacred one for us as parents.
We had never gone to the hospital without a name picked out before, but I just never felt sure about any of the names we talked about through the pregnancy. It was such a neat experience to look down into our baby girl's eyes and know who she was. "This is Ann," I said to Marty. He looked at her and said, "I think so too." I had been reading the biography of Thomas S. Monson, and his daughter is also named Ann. Though a simple name, it stuck with me. When I mentioned it to Marty, he reminded me that his mother's middle name is Ann. We decided to invert his mother's full name, and Shirley Ann became our little Ann Shirley. Yes, I also love Anne of Green Gables and will always love that she has the literary connection as well (minus the "e").
We actually have already blessed our baby Ann, too. We decided to go ahead and do it while my mother could be here for it. Some of my favorite blessings were that her belief in Christ will be represented in everything she says and does. Also that she will bring people incredible joy, not just because she is a baby but because of her spirit. She truly is a remarkable little spirit. I love looking into her eyes. She has so much to share with me, I can tell. I will learn a lot from being her mother.