“Monday, October 17th at 9:00 p.m. I started having contractions. I was sure this was the REAL DEAL as I had just thrown up my dinner of eggplant parm from Olive Garden. I laid in bed for an hour counting the minutes in between contractions. They were painful but manageable, and around 10 p.m. we went into the hospital.
I don’t remember every nurse’s name but I remember my triage nurse. She was kind, soothing, gentle and her name was Susan. I wasn’t as dilated as she would have wanted, so Ben and I walked around the hospital for an hour. It was painful and with every contraction I stopped and squatted, then kept on moving. Thanks to my amazing doula Sarah! (Side note: I had walked about 7 miles earlier that day, so I was already sore and tired). We came back and Susan checked me again. I dilated a bit further but still not where we had wanted. My contractions were regular and painful, and the plan was to pop my water to get things moving. So I was admitted to L&D, and I waited.
I was hoping for an all-natural delivery, free of pain meds and Pitocin. I wanted to have a vaginal delivery as well, this was the most important part to me for reasons I don’t want to discuss in public. I thought this was going to be hard but doable, and I was ready for the pain… I thought.
Enter the OB at 4 a.m. who popped my water. I thought, ‘YES!! Things are starting to move now and soon we will meet our baby girl.’ (This would be the part of the movie where the Narrator would say, ‘unfortunately for them, it would not be soon.’)
The contractions came quicker and more forcefully after my water had been broken. I was in extreme pain, but holding on to my ideals of no pain meds. I still was only dilated to a 6ish at this time. Fast forward through hours of contractions and pain, using the labor ball and sitting in the tub. It was about 11 a.m. the next day. For those keeping count, 13 hours from when I first started labor. I was so tired, drenched in sweat and unable to move. I felt like my pelvic bones were breaking apart. I didn’t even have the energy to cry, tears just streamed down my face. My heart rate was higher than Scarlett’s and my L&D nurse was worried.
At this point I had my whole family in the room with me, and my Doula at my side asking if I could wait another 5 minutes before asking for pain meds. The scenario that was running through my brain was, I am exhausted, I didn’t sleep at all the night before, I’m still not dilating as fast as we wanted, and I am in the most pain I have ever been in my life, and I have been in that pain since 4 a.m. I was scared I would not have the energy to push my baby out and would need a c-section. (Another Side Note: there is NOTHING wrong with having a c-section, they often save lives if not performed. I am pro delivering the baby safely. If I was told I needed a C-section I would have signed consent in a heartbeat. This was a personal goal to deliver vaginally.) So with all of that running through my mind, I caved and asked for an epidural.
I don’t remember what time it was placed but I can tell you it was absolute bliss. All at once, my pain went away and I could sleep! They must not have given me a large dose because I could still move my legs, and position myself in bed with a ‘birthing peanut,’ or on my knees facing the bed for more efficient positions than laying flat in bed. Before I knew it, I was dilated to 10! This was the point where I thought, ‘Yes! This is it! We will get to meet her soon!’ This was about 3 in the afternoon (I think) and this again would be the point where the Narrator would say, ‘Poor sweet Anna had no idea how much longer this would take.’ At this point my contractions had slowed WAY down and pushing would be worthless with my contractions now being 5-7 minutes apart. So once more I caved on my birth intentions and let them start Pitocin. Well the Pitocin had strengthened the contractions and my epidural had started to wear off just in time to push at 8 p.m.-ish.
All I remember from this time was my sweet, beautiful family surrounding the head of my bed. I am talking my WHOLE family! 8 family members plus my Doula! It made me so happy. I remember Ben’s encouraging words and him helping me with pushing. I remember my Mom wiping my forehead, and my dad’s face was pure love. My mother-in-law was giving me massages and was basically another doula. And my Stepmom was keeping me hydrate. My whole family was amazing.
It felt like no time at all had passed and there she was, my beautiful baby girl had been placed in my arms at last. At 9:20 p.m. Scarlett was here. I looked at her and a sort of familiarity came over me. As I studied her face, I thought, ‘Yes, it’s you! I know you!’ It felt like we had been reunited. Everything about her had been so familiar.
24 hours of labor was completely worth this bright ray of sunshine that had entered my life. In that 24 hours, I learned that being a parent wasn’t always what you had planned or expected, and that sometimes you have to do things you didn’t intent to, to get the results you wanted.
She passed away January 24, 2018, at 15 months old. She had an inflammatory response to the common cold. Her lungs filled with fluid and her heart was enlarged. She was placed on ECMO but her heart stopped on the operating table which left her brain dead. ECMO was turned off and she passed away peacefully in our arms.
Today my angel baby, Scarlett Cecilia Marie , turns 2 years old in heaven. I cannot tell you how broken my heart feels right now. 2 years ago, she made me a momma. 2 years ago, I learned that being a momma was nothing like I expected, it was better, and freeing, and chaos, and pure love.
Dear Scarlett, Thank you for making me a momma. Thank you for being in my life, if even for 15 short months. You brought me a love so deep and powerful that even in death it remains. I will always cherish you and our wonderful memories, and one day, I will hold you in Heaven.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Anna-Marie Elizabeth Jenks of Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can follow her journey on Instagram and on her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
Read Anna-Marie’s backstory on her beautiful daughter Scarlett:
‘This is the last piece of Scarlett we have. A tiny bit if her hair. Her hair was so matted and goopy from the ultrasound gel. The nurse snipped this small bit, and gave it to us right before we left.’
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