I’ve spent the past month enjoying all the changes to our lives as new parents and thinking back on pregnancy and birth. I’ve also seen many people share their crazy and amazing birth stories and some of them are exactly as planned while others don’t go like the mother has imagined and end up being a scary thing for first time mom’s to hear about. One of the most important things that I did in the months leading up to birthing day was to fill my mind and soul with positivity and happy birth stories to remind myself that this is what my body was created to do and that it was possible to have a joy-filled birth experience. I even had a sort of mantra to go along with this mindset: If a woman in Uganda can birth a child in a mud hut with no drugs or epidurals or all the stuff, than I can do the same in a hospital! So for those of you looking for another positive story to put in your mental folder, read on future mama!
I’ll be super honest, I was over being pregnant around 34 weeks and it took a lot of self-control to not try all the things to get labor started early (not that it would have worked since my body and my baby were not ready but….whatever). I had OB check-ups scheduled up to the calculated due date and starting at 36 week, I had weekly appointments until our girl was born. Because of a planned vacation, I got to see a different doctor for my 36 and 37 week visits, which kind of bummed me out since I had been working with one OB since the beginning of the pregnancy. This ended up being a blessing, but I didn’t know it yet.
So we made it to my 40 week appointment (39 weeks and 4 days), and we scheduled one more appointment the following week to talk about induction options. I was at 4 cm at this point and so close to labor. My doctor did a membrane sweep to hopefully kickstart something. The nurse also suggested that I go to Chipotle and get a meal with barbacoa since she has seen multiple people go into labor within days after eating that combination of spices. So I left the doctor and got my Chipotle and went home. The Chipotle (in my mind) wasn’t really that spicy, but since the nurse “prescribed” it, I figured I would give it a shot, plus I really like Chipotle. 😀
The next few days I had a few little cramps and thinking that something was starting and then getting disappointed when there was no consistency or progression so we just kept living through life and waiting.
We finally make it to the due date: March 21, 2021. I woke up that morning determined to try everything. It was a beautiful Sunday, so we talked about having a campfire that night. I then started do everything I possibly could that might start labor: I ate pineapple, I went for long walks, we tried the the ol’ “if it got her in there, it will get her out” method, everything. I’ve never really been a fan of spicy food, but I decided to be brave and try it as a celebration of making it to the 40 week mark. We ordered some spicy chicken wings from Wing Stop and Sean left to go pick them up. About 20 minutes before he got home, around 4pm, I had my first contraction. It was different, it had a pattern and it had a peak of intensity, like a wave. When he got home, I had another one and they quickly went from 20 minutes apart, then 15, then 12, then 8 and they hovered around 8 for a while. When we finished eating the wings, we decided it was time to start the campfire. If we got to relax and enjoy it, we would, and if not, we would invite our neighbor over to enjoy it while we took off. We called my mom and she hit the road to watch our house and our dog while we were at the hospital.
The next couple hours were rather relaxing. I kept timing and we agreed that if they started to get really close or really intense, then we would leave. We got down to about 5 minutes apart as my mom got close and the fire dwindled to a few embers. I had been listening to hypnosis audio tracks over the past few weeks and they teach you to fill your body with orange light as a sort of mental anesthesia to keep the discomfort level low. I rode through a couple more contractions as I watched the embers and Sean started loading up our car. I went inside and decided to eat a bowl of cereal since I didn’t know when I was going to be able to eat again while I called the hospital around 10pm. They called me back pretty quickly and after reviewing my chart and asking how I was doing with labor, I was told that I should come in as soon as possible. I was still super relaxed and calm at this point and told her I would be there after I finished my cereal. A girl has her priorities!
My mom showed up as I finished eating and we hugged and told here we would be back in the next couple of days with her granddaughter. The ride to the hospital was surprisingly peaceful. It was close to 11pm at this point and there was no one on the roads. It was a clear and peaceful night and we both chatted and laughed and enjoyed the drive.
I got checked in and was so relieved when they hooked me up to monitors and I was, in fact, having contractions. As we arrived at the hospital, there was still a small part of my brain that was worried it was going to be false labor or maybe I was imagining the contractions and I was going to have to go home, but nope, we were in it for real this time and I was up to 5.5 cm!!! YAY!!!
Finally got check into our labor room and the nurses wrestled with the walking monitor so that I could move around and be mobile as labor progressed. I put on a YouTube playlist of Critical Role Mighty Vibes lo-fi music since it was relaxing and made me happy and gave me something to meditate and focus on. The contractions were still pretty mild so we decided to lay down and have me rest as much as I could. I had a hard time getting comfortable, but managed to shut my eyes for a bit and just focus on the music until they came to check on me about around 4am. The nurse asked if I wanted another cervical check and I agreed. I was still sitting around 6 cm and they said that they would like to help me kickstart the next stage of labor and gave me the options of breaking my water and/or starting me on Pitocin. I had really wanted everything to be natural including my water breaking, but we also didn’t want to stall so long that we needed to take more invasive measures. After taking some time to chat with Sean, we decided to have them break my water. They had the doctor come in it was the doctor that I had met for my two appointments while my normal doctor was on vacation. This made me feel a little more relaxed and we got my water broken shortly after 5am.
The thing the tell you about breaking your water is right, it really does kickstart some things really quick. The contractions got longer, but I’m not really sure if they got any closer together. Just longer and more intense to where it took me the whole time between to get some air in my lungs and recover. I got to a point where I was overheating and started dry-heaving every drop of water I tried to drink. At this point, I allowed them to hook me up to a saline IV since I was worried about getting dehydrated. Normally, I hate getting a saline IV because it makes me use the bathroom so much, but I guess during labor, your body is using up that fluid quickly enough that I didn’t have to pee constantly.
I got to a point where even wearing a hospital gown was too much and I was so hot that I ripped the dang thing off. About 7am, the nurses came in to check on me and said that in two more hour they would like to check to see if the water breaking had worked. I was on my hands and knees on the bed breathing hard and doing everything in my power to just make it through each contraction. I told the nurse to have someone come check me now because if I hadn’t progressed, I was going to punch a hole in the wall. The nurse laughed and said “well it’s not my job to fix it so you do whatever you want, honey”.
The doctor came back to check and I was at 8 cm!! PROGRESS!!! They told me to keep going and if I felt like I needed to push, let them know and they would be ready to go. I told them I felt like I need to use the bathroom and spent a good amount of time laboring on the toilet until I couldn’t stand anymore and made my way back to the bed. I found a comfortable position on knees with my hands on the back of the elevated bed and just kept breathing. I’m pretty sure I could have blown the wall over with how hard I was blowing the air out of me. I finally got to a point where I told the two nurses in the room that I felt like I needed to push and they called in the team while I rode through a few more contractions. They had me turn over onto my back and I look up to 8 women in the room plus Sean all ready to assist and catch a baby and this is the point when I remembered that I’m basically naked.
So around 8am, they got me into position and we started the process of pushing with the rhythm of contractions. I knew that from my research and the classes that we took that pushing with contractions was way better than trying to force it. Trust your body, it knows what to do. So I did. I had a nurse holding one leg and Sean holding the other with his free arm around my shoulders helping me pull myself up and really bear down to push. At one point, one of the other doctors with another mother finished their delivery and popped into our room to see if the team needed anything and I heard someone say “NCB….wow!” I later found at that this doctor was surprised and impressed with us choosing, and succeeding, at a Natural Child Birth. WOO!!!
It took a little over an hour for me to learn how to push properly, turns out there is a technique to it. I remember having a thought that I didn’t want to deliver on my back if I didn’t have to, but at that point, I had so little energy that I didn’t think I could reposition if I wanted to. When I finally figured out pushing, or maybe my body took over and just did it correctly, Sean looked at me with tears in his eyes and said that he could see the head. Those of you who know my husband know that he is not one to show his emotions often so this moment really sticks in my mind and gave me the motivation that I needed that we were so close to meeting our baby girl.
At some point while I was pushing, someone realized they had never asked me what they should do with the cord blood after delivery. Sean and I had not talked about it or really researched it, but I told them if they have a use for it, they should take it. So a woman came in and between contraction had me sign the paperwork to donate. It was probably the worst signature I have ever written in my life, but I didn’t care. The nice part was that this woman who was there to collect the cord blood ended up taking her paperwork off the clipboard and fanning me until the birth.
At 9:07am, I heard the doctor say that they had the head and one shoulder. Contraction or not, I wasn’t going to stop pushing until I saw our baby girl. I had been visualizing and tapping into my experience of running a marathon and that final push when you see the finish line and leave it all out on the course and sprint to the finish.
At 9:07am, our baby girl was born and in my arms.
At this point, everything became a blur of joy and adrenaline and all the swirling hormones. They spent about 45 minutes doing some stitching and checking to make sure everything was okay downstairs. There was a bit of bleeding that the doctor had to go in and find that took a while and I gave them the okay for whatever drugs they wanted to give me now that our girl was out and safe so she wouldn’t be affected by the meds. These meds, whatever they were, made me super loopy for a while so that was fun.
They took her to do the post-delivery clean up and measurements and tests while I was stitched up. I got the typical post-partum shakes mostly in my legs due to the adrenalin and all the swirling hormones. Sean watched as they took care of her and held her until I was settled and resting. I asked for the Gatorade we had packed and all the snacks because I was so hungry and I couldn’t wait to get to the recovery room and get some food.
After about 45 minutes, I was holding her again and got her to start nursing. One of the nurses took a couple of photos for us and this was the moment I finally relaxed and thought “we did it”. I didn’t know until that moment that my heart had room for more love than what Sean and I had, but I fell in love with this beautiful little girl in my arms instantly.
Elizabeth, your parents love you so much and you are starting out on an amazing adventure filled with love, joy, and so much fun! We can’t wait to see you learn and grow and become the amazing woman you are destined to be. <3
Thank you to my husband and the nurses at Hillcrest for capturing all these amazing moments from the day our lives changed forever.