Our birth story: introducing Poppy Duke

Hi everyone! It's been quite some time since I've done a blog post. It feels good to be back! One of my goals while I'm out on maternity leave is to do more posts. I really enjoy writing and sharing home decor & projects. We have a few home projects coming up that I want to try to blog about as well! But today's post is going to be a little different. For those of you who don't know, we welcomed our second daughter on April 28th. When I wrote my birth story for Tatum, I received so many comments and messages telling me how helpful it was and that meant the world to me. I have been very fortunate to have two positive birth experiences even though both were so different! Tatum came early so I was certain that Poppy would be early too. Well baby girl had different plans and I ended up being induced. I'm excited to share our story today and if you have any questions about anything mentioned below, I'm always more than happy to answer them. Some things might be a little TMI but I've learned that when you have a baby, all modesty goes out the window. I also just want to note that every labor is unique and no one labor will be exactly the same. It's a very personal thing to go through. Also I am NOT a medical professional and everything mentioned below is my personal story, not medical advice. I hope this is able to help someone this time around as well. Let's get into it!


All my love,

Annemarie



To adequately start this story, I think we need to rewind to my 36 week appointment. My belly had been measuring a little ahead so my doctor ordered a growth ultrasound at 36 weeks. I was so excited because I didn't get to have an extra ultrasound with Tatum. While I was laying there getting my ultrasound done, I could tell the tech was trying to measure something but was being pretty quiet. At my doctors office you can see the ultrasound up on a TV screen. I asked her what she was trying to measure and her response was "her stomach but every measurement I take has her over the 100th percentile." I already knew she'd probably be on the big size due to my belly measurements so I wasn't too surprised. What she said next was the biggest surprise... "I have her measuring at 8lbs 2oz." Duke was sitting in a chair next me and all of the sudden he blurted out "right now?!". The tech chuckled and said yes and I think Duke and I were both in shock because Tatum weighed 8lbs 3oz when she was BORN. I knew ultrasounds this late in pregnancy could be about a pound off but I was still shocked she was measuring that big. After the ultrasound I met with my doctor and we put a plan in place. I really did not want to be induced but my doctor recommended that if I made it to 39 weeks, we should induce due to her size. I thought that was a good plan since I knew in my head I'd never make it to 39 weeks. I mean Tatum came at 38 weeks 6 days and I had read that subsequent pregnancies usually come earlier. I wasn't worried, I knew I'd never make it to my induction date.


Well with each passing week there was still no baby and no real signs that labor was anywhere close. I had some contractions but nothing consistent. At my 37 week appointment I was 3cm dilated which gave me some hope but at 38 and 39 weeks I had only progressed to 4. The other thing my doctor started talking to me about was the plan when delivering a larger baby. One thing being shoulder dystocia. My doctor talked to me about the risks of a large baby getting stuck in the birth canal and what the course of action would be if that were to happen. We also talked about the increased probability of a C section due to 1. being induced and 2. having a large baby. My doctor also told me she was not going to let me labor very long and that if I was not progressing or if I was having to push for over an hour we'd move forward with a C section. Since I only pushed with Tatum for 30 minutes, she said that if I was pushing for a long time and nothing was happening, that meant something was not quite right and a C section would be the safest route. All of this made me very anxious and I just kept hoping I'd go into labor ASAP.


Well my induction date rolled around and we went to the hospital the morning of April 28th to bring our little girl into the world. It was SO weird waking up that morning, taking a shower, getting ready and driving to the hospital in absolutely no pain. With Tatum the drive to the hospital was hectic and excruciating due to contractions. Talk about polar opposites. Duke and I talked and listened to music on the way there - we placed bets on what time we thought she'd arrive and how much she'd weigh. Oh and we also talked about her name because we STILL had not decided on her name. Anyone else feel a huge weight when it comes to naming a human being?

Last bump pic

Once we got to the hospital, we got settled into our room, met our nurse, Chelsey (the best), and answered some questions. I think I mentioned in my labor post about Tatum that I answered questions for what felt like hours. This time around, I answered all these questions the week before over the phone with a nurse so it was a very quick process once we got to the hospital.


Let's talk about a birth plan real quick. With both of my deliveries, I never really went into it with a birth plan. I told my nurse and my doctor my only birth plan was safe baby, safe mama and getting an epidural for pain management. Other than that, I defer to the expert opinions of the hospital staff to keep my baby and me safe. However, I think the most important thing for a woman in labor is to have a safe and comforting environment. So if creating a detailed birth plan will make you feel safe and more comfortable in your labor and delivery, I highly encourage you to do that!


To start the induction process, my doctor came in and checked to make sure baby was head down and see if I had progressed anymore. I was still 4cm but baby was indeed head down so the first thing she did to start the process was break my water and start me on the lowest dose of Pitocin in order to get contractions started and consistent. I was a little nervous about breaking my water because last time my water broke on it's own and I already had my epidural. It didn't hurt too bad but was a little uncomfortable. Once my water was broken my doctor said I'd be a bit "leaky". I got up to go the bathroom about an hour after they broke my water and leaky was a huge understatement try geyser. It was ALL over the floor and just kept coming. Duke and I got tickled and the more I laughed the more water came out. Duke had to clean it up (poor guy) because I was starting to have consistent contractions. Also just as a FYI water continued to leak out over the next few hours so the nurse would have to come in and change the pads that were under me. I'm not sure if that happens for everyone or if I just happened to have a lot of water.

Duke's clean up job

I wanted to try to wait as long as possible to get my epidural since getting an epidural typically slows progress down. My water was broken at 8:30am and I ended up getting my epidural around 11:30am. My contractions had gotten pretty strong to the point where I couldn't talk through them anymore and I didn't want to wait too long. (One thing that helped me during that three hour timespan was listening to music. I had created a playlist with all of my favorite songs and it really helped pass the time/get me through contractions.) I had a really smooth epidural process with Tatum and it was the same this time around. You have to sit on the edge of the bed and curl over so the doctor can see your spine. The hardest part to me about the epidural is having to try to curl over with a big belly in your way and you have to sit very still. I had two contractions during the process so sitting still was pretty difficult but I just kept telling myself that I could do it.


Speaking of, and a little off topic, but I watched a few YouTube videos about visualizing a positive birth experience and breathing techniques through labor. I am not a big meditator or anything like that but I am usually a very calm, positive person who can easily see the good in things, however I had a lot of anxiety this time around throughout pregnancy. I did not have anxiety while I was pregnant with Tatum so this was a new experience for me. I had a lot of anxious, negative thoughts throughout my pregnancy which is very unlike me so I turned to positive affirmations and meditation. Leading up to labor I would tell myself over and over different affirmations like "my body is strong", "my body is healthy", "my body is built to birth", "my baby and my body will work together for a safe and easy delivery", etc. And on the day of labor I would say those along with "I am in a safe environment", "my baby is safe", "I will have a positive labor experience", etc. Whenever I would have a contraction, I would focus on my breathing and my positive affirmations. I also talked to Duke about positive affirmations and maintaining a safe and positive environment in the room. It was so helpful to hear him say things like "you are strong" "you are safe" when I was having a contraction and when it came time to push. If this is something you think would help you, I highly recommend looking up some YouTube videos. Bridget Tyler is the one I watched the most.


Okay back to my labor. Epidural was in and took about 20-25 minutes to fully kick in. Like I mentioned in my birth story with Tatum, once you get an epidural there's obviously no more walking around and you have to lay on your side, you can't lay on your back. You also get a catheter placed since you can't get up and go to the bathroom. At this point I was 6cm dilated and a little disappointed I had only progressed 2cm in 3 hours. I was thinking we were in for a long day.

Feeling good after my epidural

Well around 1pm Chelsey came in to check me again and I was still at a 6. I was starting to get anxious about not progressing but both Chelsey and my doctor seemed happy with my progress. Chelsey and I decided it was time for the peanut ball. The peanut ball is something I had the entire time after I got my epidural with Tatum. It's a giant ball shaped like a peanut (hence the name) that they put in between your legs. It seems like it'd be really uncomfortable, but it's actually not. They also made me change sides - you have to rotate sides every so often with an epidural and it's always interesting trying to do so when you have no feeling from the waist down. Well I don't know if it was the peanut ball or rotating to my right side, but I went from 6cm to 9cm in about an hour. The only scary thing that happened during this time was I started getting uncontrollable shakes. Luckily (or maybe unluckily), this happened with Tatum as well but it didn't happen until after I delivered her. I was surprised to have them during labor this time but Chelsey said it was a normal reaction to the epidural, adrenaline in my body and lack of eating. It's definitely a scary feeling not having control over your body but I just went back to my positive affirmations to calm me down and Duke was right by my side holding my hand through them.


I started feeling pressure in my pelvis during every contraction so I called Chelsey. She came in and told me I was at a 9 and Duke and I were both in shock. At this point it was about 2pm and Chelsey told me that when I started feeling constant pressure, not just during contractions, that I'd need to call her back. This part makes me nervous. It made me nervous with Tatum too. Would I know when to call? What if I called her back in too early? The best way to try to describe it is it basically feels like something is pressing down on your lady parts/bum. At first you'll only feel it during contractions and it will then shift to a constant pressure pushing down on you. That pressure is coming from the baby's head getting pushed down in the birth canal. It might be nerve-racking knowing whether or not you'll know the right time to call but never feel like you're bothering your nurse if you feel the need to call, call. Also don't worry, you will know when you're feeling constant pressure even with an epidural.


I called Chelsey and she had my doctor come in and check me. As soon as my doctor checked, she said "oh yea baby's head is right there." She went out to get an additional mask and gown on and told me to start my practice pushes with Chelsey. At that point it was 2:35pm. I pushed for one round - 10 second pushes with a breath in between three times. Chelsey was holding one leg and Duke was holding the other. All of the sudden Chelsey said she could see the baby's head. When the next contraction came I started pushing and Chelsey immediately told me to stop. She said the baby would more than likely come out during my next push. I was shocked. She quickly called for my doctor but she had stepped off the unit so she had to push an alarm button to try to get any doctor on the floor in my room. The hospitalist came in and said it was time to get the baby out. I pushed one more time and at 2:40pm, our daughter was born. I'm not sure if I was in a different position or maybe I had my eyes closed with Tatum but this time I saw her be delivered and put on my stomach. I immediately started crying. I was in shock it happened so quickly, relieved she was here safely, and just overwhelmed with emotions. Just like with Tatum, she wasn't crying so I asked over and over if she was okay. I always thought babies were basically delivered already crying due to TV shows and movies. All was perfectly fine - her color looked good and she was breathing normally.


My doctor came in and was like "so sorry I stepped off really quickly I didn't know you'd be ready so quick." While she was saying this, she hadn't realized that Poppy was already here. When she saw her on my chest I thought she was going to faint. Everyone in the room started cracking up. My doctor took over for the hospitalist and delivered the placenta and stitched me up. I'm not sure if I talked about delivering the placenta last time, but you honestly are so wrapped up looking at your baby that you don't even notice when it happens. It's not painful they just might be pressing on your belly/ask you to do a small push. I had a very minor second degree tear which is what I had with Tatum as well. Duke then cut the umbilical cord and we did skin to skin for the next hour.

Let's talk about pushing for a second. I'm not saying I'm an expert by any means but I've been fortunate to have had both of my daughters after 33 minutes and 4 minutes of pushing. Pushing was the thing I was most nervous about especially this time around knowing Poppy was probably going to be big. There were three things I read before my labor with Tatum in regards to pushing and I went back to these three things again:

  • Focus on something in the room while you're pushing

  • Concentrate all your energy to the place where you're feeling pressure

  • Relax the rest of your body (don't strain your face too hard, and breathe through your pushes)

If you're someone who is nervous about pushing like I was, just know you can do it. Stay positive and have confidence in yourself and your body.


After skin to skin a tech came in to get baby girl's vitals. While she was doing that I was able to eat a Jimmy John's sub. I had to throw that in there because it was amazing. Poppy was 10lbs, 21 inches long.

Our 10lb chunk

We got to the mother/infant unit around 5:30pm on the 28th. I will talk a little bit more about that in my postpartum post which I'll be doing in a week or so. I like to give myself about 2 weeks before talking about postpartum. Both baby and me were healthy and recovering well during our time on mother/infant so we were discharged the morning of April 30th. I am so happy that Poppy girl is finally here and healthy. Although she seemed like she wanted to stay in my belly forever once it was time to make her debut she didn't waste any time. We are doing well and adjusting to becoming a family of four. Tatum is so amazing with her and loves seeing "baby Poppy".


I hope this post is able to help someone going through labor or if you just like reading labor stories like I do, I hope you enjoyed hearing about our story. Even though I delivered at a different hospital this time, we loved all of our nurses and had a great experience. We feel extremely blessed. As I mentioned above, if you have any questions about my personal experience I'm always happy to answer them.

Poppy Lea Duke

Here is a link to my birth story with Tatum: https://www.annemarieduke.com/post/our-birth-story-introducing-tatum-duke


Thanks for reading!

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