Sunday, 10 November 2013

Meeting Sally-Pink *Airdrie Abileen Anderson* Part 1

 It's been a while...Mark and I have lived several months in the past few weeks!
This post will be extensive, but full of pictures for those who enjoy the break in my ramblings! Also, I'm including birth details using words like "cervix, dilation" and "birth canal." If this doesn't suit your taste exit while you still can and visit our FaceBook page for the benign details of the past weeks. :)

Monday, and Tuesday October 14-15 my parents along with my sisters, Jillian and Catlin flew in to Aberdeen so they could be a part of what we thought was birth week! I was scheduled to be induced at 4pm on Wednesday, October 16th.

There was general shenanigans and fun as the aunts and grandma and papa revealed they had all packed in their carry-on luggage and all other suitcases were FILLED with presents from America! We had cake mixes, candy, Pumpkin spice---everything, maple syrup, Italian and Ranch dressing packets, and Halloween goodies.

Grandma also brought over a tin filled with buttons for the girls. They love this and love to scatter buttons ALL over the house!

This was the first week of "Tattie Holidays" a solid 2 weeks of vacation from school! Caedmon was at home and I was able to enjoy Wednesday morning with ALL my babies. Sadly, when I was finally released from hospital it was Sunday night, the final day of the holiday!

Me at hospital, excited to meet our baby girl!

Mark and I took mom and dad with us to Aberdeen to check into the hospital. My *original* plan was to have Mark and mom there to be with me through labour (I've needed both for all 3 previous labours--relaxation breathing for me takes at least 2 labour coaches!).  Upon check-in we found our first of many differences with what we were used to with the American health care system and NHS (National HealthCare) here in the UK. I was checked into the Westburn Ward: a ward in every sense of the word. I had a bed in a room with 5 other women. I was allowed only one person to go with me (!) and that person had to leave by 9pm and was not allowed in the next day until 9am. 

In Westburn they do nothing but inductions and I was briefed on this procedure. I'll admit that I did cry...a lot. Especially when the midwife sat me down and told me an induction could take 1-2, even up to 4 days. WHAT?! I wasn't prepared for this and hadn't been informed about it at all, so it was quite a shock to hear. 
They have a system where the first "pessary" (cervical ripener) is put into place and then you wait 24 hours. If you do not go into labour within that first 24 hour period they then take the pessary out and check to see if there is any dilation. 

This is what they began with me when I was finally seen at 1am Thursday morning. 
When they first checked they found that I wasn't dilated and Miss Sally-Pink's head was not in my pelvis, but "bobbing" when they felt for her. (sorry, I did say it would be a bit detailed!) So the wait began. 

I will say that even with 3 previous natural births under my belt (HA! no pun intended!) I was never extremely comfortable with this for Sally Pink as the safest way for her to come into the world. Especially in light of a risk of her having hydrocephalus and with her cyst in her skull. We were assured it wasn't an issue and I didn't have a lot of say in the matter so Mark and I left this completely up to God--no matter how hard we or anyone else tried to do otherwise that if she needed to come via c-section then God would make that happen.

We were sure (according to what we were used to in the USA) that Sally Pink would be here on Thursday 17 October, so mom and dad ran home and left Mark to stay the night at a hotel in case I went into labour. Nope. I was left as I was to be put on the "tracings" every 6 hours to monitor Sally Pink's heart rate and any contractions I was having. Between this method and women randomly going into labour at all hours of the night in the ward any prospects of sleep WILL be gone! 
On a side note: I heard somewhere between 6-8 women go into labour when I was there. I can now pinpoint by the breathing/screaming/moaning exactly how far a woman is dilated. :)

Friday morning at nearly 2 am they checked me again only to find I was not dilated...the pessary had not done it's work. I had to "rest" for 6 hours then get the second prostaglandin to try and work. I was sad this day because my daddy had to get back to the USA. He wasn't going to get to meet his new granddaughter--a first for him to miss.
After 6 hours we found the prostaglandin (round 2) did not work. So they put in a 3rd and final one on Friday afternoon.

Breakfast my first morning: 2 pieces of toast with some butter and jam, a pot of tea with milk to pour in (I just horked the milk down, I'm loving me some milk!) and OJ.
Breakfast was the exact same everyday.

Hmmmm, Healthcare Pure Orange Juice...
And I know what you're thinking...what in the world???

I was tired of this and decided to not sit doing my cross stitch but get moving! There is NO waiting area in the hospital or garden, or even any unlocked corridors to walk down. So my mom alternating with Mark and I walked the parking lots. I never sat, trying to use gravity to work with Sally Pink, knowing her head would help dilation as much as anything. As the afternoon wore on I began to feel something and for the first time ever I began to have contractions on my own! It was awesome! 

We then had to wait to have a Doctor, not just a midwife, check me. She finally came at 11pm and could feel Sally Pink's head engaged in my pelvis and I was dilated to 3cm! She said she could break my water, but they have to do that in the labour and delivery ward. So I was officially on the list of "favourable to be induced"! Mark went out and slept in the car and I got a quick shower and went to bed waiting for my turn!

Saturday morning at 4:54am they called me back! They called Mark on his phone and he called my mom. Our dear friend Lorraine got up and drove like crazy to get my mom there quickly! We were ready to do this!

However, once in the room (private this time to do labour and delivery--yay!) the midwife assigned to me checked me and said I was only dilated to maybe 2cm and Sally Pink's head was "bobbing." A head midwife checked me and agreed. Then a Dr came in and checked. She had to have my midwife use "fundal pressure." This means the midwife was pushing down on my stomach, HARD to push Sally Pink into place. She said she could break my water still, but it would be dangerous. Because Sally Pink's head was no longer engaged in my pelvis there was a chance that when my water broke there would be a cord prolapse. This is when the umbilical cord comes out before the baby--a very, very dangerous situation for the baby. 

The Dr said she would only break my water if I was "in theatre" (this is what the call the operating room in the UK--hearkening back to days of when the OR actually had seats for medical students to watch operations). This was for any potential cord prolapse the Dr breaking my water could "hold" the baby up off the cord until they prepped me for an immediate c-section. I was scared...I felt this was too much pushing me through to have a baby naturally who did not want to come! But Mark and I prayed and were reminded of our "fleece" with God. He would only allow to happen what was best.

So they prepped me for a 'just in case' surgery...then shift change. It was 7am, and the Dr decided to let the fresh shift do the breaking of my water in theatre. So I sat and waited an hour or so for the new Dr to come in. She came in and checked me (this was the 4th person to check me by this time and it was HIGHLY uncomfortable!) and she decided to not break my water even in theatre. She decided for me to instead have a 4th (24 hour) pessary inserted...

I cried...a lot. This was starting over from Wednesday. I hadn't seen my children in days, the longest I'd ever been away from Aberdeen, our youngest. My darling husband, after freezing all night in the car and not sleeping told me he was going to run home (nearly a 2 hour drive in the daytime!) and bring the kids up to see me. So the Dr agreed that I could leave the hospital until 1pm when I was due to have the next prostaglandin. 

That was a sweet, sweet lunch I had with my big babies, husband, mom and sisters. I also knew at this point that my dear sister Catlin would most likely not be meeting Sally Pink either as she had to fly back to the US on Sunday morning. All of our planning...gone. Once again, I had to remind myself God had a plan.

Mark sitting with me through the LONG days at first. He and my mom swapped frequently. Interestingly enough mom didn't use up all my lives in Candy Crush like Mark did.
(FYI the debit card was out for me to finish purchasing a baby swing online. 
We do NOT buy "lives" from Candy Crush no matter how many days we're stuck on a level!!!:))

Friday Night I was excited because we had some great contractions going!

 Our dear church family graciously excused Mark from preaching Sunday so he could be with me. Sunday night I was finally checked by another Dr who declared I was dilated to 2cm and I was to go back on the list to go to labour and delivery. Mark once again slept in the car (this time he brought at blanket to combat the COLD northeastern Scottish night!). This is when the true test of waiting began.

Throughout all this I wandered the hospital trying to maintain a cheerful disposition and Christian attitude. Not so hard to do until week 2 of being in the same room of the hospital! But I got to know many midwives, Dr's, auxiliary's and even cleaning personnel by name. (Please take a minute and keep a lovely lady, Agnes, in prayer as she awaits test results.) They all knew me by name, or at least by my flip-flops! Several new friends I met being induced actually had their babies and I would begin to make rounds to the post-natal wards to visit and hold new babies. It was nice and I still have contact with these lovely ladies via weekly emails. 

Because of the lack of privacy ("HIPPA" would be appalled...) I found a fellow American woman in the ward by her accent. She is married to an Irishman and is living in Aberdeen with their children while she attends medical school. "Karen," is from Virginia and was an encouragement to me as she professed to be a Christian and said she would hold us up in prayer--encouraging to hear these words!

I became well-known for my flip flops! These are my special shoes I only wear when I'm in hospital having a baby. Mom found them a long time ago in Texas and they always get rave reviews from patients and workers alike! We'll say they were a part of my "witness" to those in hospital! 

We had a nightly "hot drink" served, and I'll say I'm loving hospital hot chocolate!
I forget which day this was...but this was the first of 2 different canulas I had inserted into my hand, so I'm guessing it was in the first week.

I ate this twice. It's called "Cheese Salad" on the list. I think it's cheese and mayonnaise mixed together.
I can't lie--I ordered it for those luscious veggies that came with it! (pregnant craving!)

 This is a typical lunch in hospital. Soup and a sandwich. The soups were quite good, and Mark found out the Savoury Cheese sandwiches were pretty yummy!
Once again, my lunch was a few bites of soup then that yummy pear...Mark most often ate my meals.

By Monday afternoon when we still had heard nothing my mother got her "momma on" and had a nice chat (no sarcasm here--she was kind, promise!) with the midwife. We were approaching week 39 quickly and I had been in the hospital nearly 6 nights. The midwife had a Dr come talk to us and she assured us she knew of our situation and I was in queue for labour and delivery and I would be bumped up the list and definitely would go back in within 24 hours. At my asking she checked me and assured me I was still dilated--I wanted no repeat of Saturday morning. I was 6th on the list to go back. 

Tuesday morning I was moved to 3rd then Wednesday I was 6th again. We did hear later at AMH they delivered 48 babies in 48 hours. It was crazy. And I did understand; it made no sense to artificially start my labour if there were ladies coming in actually IN labour. But we needed to get a baby here who might be in danger if she went to full term. Wednesday night I got my "momma on" and Mark got his 'daddy on" and I began to pack my bags. Nothing was happening, I hadn't had a good night's sleep in a week and my husband was taking me home to rest.

A Dr was again called back to talk to us. She told me I had moved up on the queue again and should go back in the night sometime. I told her I would wait until morning but if I wasn't called back by then we were going to make plans for a c-section that day. My baby was in possible danger, we were going to get her here. Also, after hearing that Mark had been sleeping in the car the midwives gave him a blanket and pillow and allowed him to the patient's day lounge to sleep on a couch. We finally got to bed at midnight.

At 1am I was called to labour and delivery... I had to go wake Mark up as the phone was not adequate so comfy was he on the mini couch! We called my mom but said she didn't need to come until we were sure this was going to happen. They checked me (I had last been checked on Monday) and wonder of wonders I was barely 1cm dilated and Sally Pink's head was "bobbing" again. I nearly cried...partially in relief because I felt this was God making His way clear.

Once again a head midwife was called in. She checked me and asked for fundal pressure (argh! not fun!). With her checking my, trying to get the amnio-hook (water-breaking "utensil") into place I was almost in painful tears. This was the only point I was asked if I'd like "gas and air." Nitrous oxide--this is a pain reliever they offer here. I respectfully declined. They decided to let me up to use the toilet, to try and get Sally Pink's head down again. After about 45 minutes they tried again as the head midwife said, "I've never not been able to break someone's waters." And she did.

I was immediately started on an oxytocin drip to induce my labour and hopefully keep Sally Pink's head down. My mom came in early morning courtesy of the Aitken's--precious friends we have. It was not long before my IV drip was turned up to the highest the UK would allow-- a 12. This was insufficient to start my labour progressing well. After 11 hours I was checked by my midwife. I was dilated to 4cm but she was unable to determine what "part" of Sally Pink was pressing on my cervix. 

It was nearly 2pm when Dr. Fairley (the same Dr, you may remember, who diagnosed Sally Pink with Dandy-Walker Syndrome) came in and checked me. She shook her head and said she hadn't encountered anything like it before, but Miss Sally Pink had her arm up around her head effectively blocking her exit route--the cervix and birth canal. I was immediately prepped and scheduled for an emergency c-section. Mark, my mom and I looked at one another and knew that this is what we had prayed for; God would only allow to happen what was within His plan.

One of our "false alarm" nights, Mark was tired of having to "choose between his family" and so he rented 2 hotel rooms in Aberdeen so the kids could come to town and stay with grandma and Aunt Jilly. He made sure to find a hotel with a pool so the kids were in heaven!

Another typical dinner within my curtained walls: macaroni and cheese, neeps (turnips) and carrots and potatoes. The lovely rose is from my husband! 

 The rest is a bit of a blur--being prepped for a section in theatre. This being my first time ever for any serious medical treatment I was so nervous I chattered the entire time. The. Entire. Time. I was talking about anything and everything. Cracking jokes, chatting about my eyeliner, talking about the oversight of the solar system when whomever designed the large overhead light made it reflective enough for the person being cut-into to observe the procedure...

 Right before they began the surgery Mark was let in and this was a great comfort to me--also he looks adorable in scrubs. As the Dr performing the operation looked over the drape at me I realised it was again Dr. Fairley! What a blessing to have not just any Dr on call attending me, but one who was well-accquainted with our situation and the health of our baby!

There was a point in time even in my armpit-down-numbness that there was somewhat of a problem getting this baby girl out. I would feel tugging, followed by tugging and pulling then nothing. Then it would start over again. At one point in time Mark told me the 2 Dr's performing the surgery changed places coming around the opposite sides of the table. We later found out that the entire time Sally Pink was twisting around and back and forth--the Dr's couldn't get a hold on her enough to pull her out. 

When Sally Pink did come into the world it was silent, and they did not show her to me or Mark. They took her and ran to the opposite side of the room. I caught a glimpse of lots of dark hair and that's it. I'm not sure how other c-sections go, if this is the norm, but Mark and I waited agonising seconds, minutes listening for a cry. I began to cry and Mark and I both prayed aloud, asking God to be with our baby, to make her ok...

We heard a little squeak. Tiny. Nothing again for a long time. Then a cry--just one, a squall. Then one last one and Mark turned back to me and said that the nurses had flashed a thumbs-up sign. We both cried, thanking God for His mercy and graciousness. Then they set her on my chest--a little bundled up baby, with eyes shut and a squished face! She was perfect and we were smitten.

If you're still with me after that narrative, I salute you! You're a really an aficionado for a good birth story! I wanted to just give an idea of our experience; how God's hand was moving the entire time I spent in hospital.
Airdrie Abileen Anderson
October 24, 2013
7 lbs. 61/2 oz. 
19" long

Part 2 of Meeting Sally-Pink *Airdrie Abileen Anderson* will come as soon as I can get it written out (this post took me nearly a week to compose between feedings, diapers, homework, etc!). It should be a bit shorter in length--promise! :)

A sign on first entering AMH. As I wandered the halls (I went into every part of that hospital!) I found the Rubislaw Wing. This is the wing of the hospital where ladies are admitted who are to have stillborn babies or abortions. It is separated from the regular wards of the hospital and I'll admit there is a sadness that surrounds that place. It was under construction when I was there are those patients were in part of the Westburn Ward where I was. 
Once I found out about the Rubislaw Wing I did not walk past those ladies' rooms without praying for each room. Such desperation, here are women in my situation of being induced, only to a certain outcome of heartache and loss--no matter the circumstances. Those women are still on my heart...
Please pray for those in the Rubislaw Wing of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

Click here to view Meeting Sally-Pink Part 2


  1. whew! thanks for the story. i'm so glad you had your people there to help you through :) love you!

  2. Wow, what an ordeal, you all are such troopers! And, no in the U.S. they hold the baby up over the curtain for mom and dad to see. Then, they take baby to a table only about 3 feet from mamma's head so she can watch as they get baby all cleaned up and dad is able to be right by baby but can still see mamma too!

  3. Such an amazing story ... especially that God used you to minister while you were struggling through the trial yourself. Continuing to pray for you all!