23 May A’s Birth Story // A Natural, Hospital Birth
Today, I’m sharing a story that is near and dear to my heart – Baby A’s birth story. When I was pregnant with both of my babes, I read birth stories over and over again in preparation of my delivery day. While sharing these moments seems a little bit intimate for the internet, I found that reading these stories was extremely helpful to me and that, by writing my birth story with B, I was able to immortalize the day and revisit my words over and over again to remember that life-changing day! I delivered A naturally in a hospital, which is different from how I delivered B, so I think it’s fun to read the two of them! Every pregnancy, birth and baby is different and my stories are no exception! So, here it is… Baby A’s birth story. Her story is a little bit long, as I want to remember every detail, so grab a glass of water [or wine] and get cozy.
disclaimer: there are photos in this post that are rather… unflattering. nothing graphic. no body parts showing. i’m wearing pants in all of them. nonetheless, they’re not fashion-forward. this is labor and i’m proud of it.
Now, to truly understand this birth story, you have to travel back with me to 2015. I gave birth to my beautiful, baby boy after 12 days of prodromal labor. You can read all about that experience in-depth here, but the gist of it is this: Prodromal Labor, or false labor is when a woman experiences consistent, time-able contractions for a long time before they fizzle out and, often times, start over again a few hours later. It’s also called false labor because the contractions don’t cause any cervical change. However, any woman who has experienced Prodromal Labor will tell you that the term “false labor” is almost offensive, as the contractions are VERY real and VERY painful. So you can imagine that those 12 days of the end of my last pregnancy were rather terrible. While I had originally planned for a natural delivery with B, between the prodromal labor and an induction with pitocin, I decided to get the epidural and get some rest, and my sweet baby boy was in my arms in no time.
Fast forward to 2018. This pregnancy was incredibly different than the first, so I knew that my labor and delivery experience would be, too! I decided to really commit to a natural delivery and I hired the most amazing doula to help me do so. I also made sure I went to consistent chiropractic appointments, which made my entire pregnancy experience more bearable! The first half was wonderfully easy, but the 2nd half was muddled with random symptoms that I know aren’t the norm for most pregnancies – low blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances, decreased appetite… etc. Thank God that all the symptoms were only uncomfortable for me and that my precious baby was just fine!
I was 33 weeks and 4 days when the prodromal labor started this time. That’s right – a little over 6 weeks before my due date. This go-round, the prodromal contractions were much stronger than the last time and they lasted a long time, usually about 3-6 hours, before fizzling out. At one point, when I was about 34.5 weeks, they were so strong and consistent that I went to the hospital and they admitted me and told me to mentally prepare for a c-section [since baby girl was breech]. After 24 hours of contractions and no cervical change, I was allowed to go home [did I mention we were in Austin?] to Dallas, where I was on modified bedrest until I was full term.
You can imagine, then, why I cried at every single, weekly exam where my doctor told me I was 0% effaced and only dilated to a 1. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that those contractions weren’t getting me any closer to a baby. Despite my frustration, every week closer to 40 I’d thank God that my sweet baby was one week closer to her due date and that I was able to carry her to full term, when so many women spend weeks in the NICU with their precious preemies.
On Wednesday, March 7th, I was 38 weeks and 5 days. I went in for my 39 week checkup and got the same answer – 0% effaced and dilated to a 1. I was nowhere near having a baby. Surprise, surprise. My doctor offered to sweep my membranes, but I said “no,” since my mom and sister were in Colorado.
It was almost immediately after leaving the doctor that I began to feel very nauseous… the kind of nausea that also makes you jittery, like an anxiety nausea or what you get when you have too much caffeine. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it. F kept asking me what was wrong and I just told him that I didn’t feel like myself. We went to B’s soccer practice and out to eat Mexican food and the prodromal labor started up again on the car ride home. I tried to get them to stop with a hot bath… nothing. So I tried a glass of wine… nothing. I even tried the muscle relaxer that my doctor prescribed me… nothing. I had some of the strongest contractions to date all night long – they’d average ten minutes apart…. then 6 minutes apart…. 3 minutes apart… 7 minutes apart… 10 minutes apart… 4 minutes apart… still inconsistent. I walked around the house and tried to lay in bed…. took another bath… it was miserable. They stopped around 10am, leaving me utterly exhausted.
I talked to my doctor and doula – both of them thought it sounded “pre-laborish”, although I had technically been feeling “pre-laborish” for 6 weeks, so there was no way to tell for sure. My doctor told me to come in on Friday morning to get checked again before the weekend just in case. My doula told me to do whatever I could to get some rest, and I did. It’s like God knew I would need it because I slept that night from 6:30pm until the contractions woke me up at 5am… they had fizzled out again by 7, and I was feeling great from a full night’s sleep…
march 9, 2018
… So I did what anyone would do. I booked a bike for a 10am SoulCycle class after my 8:30am doctor’s appointment and I headed to get checked, knowing that nothing would have changed in those two days. I was completely shocked when my doctor told me that I was 3 centimeters dilated and headed downstairs to labor and delivery. Seriously. SO SHOCKED. I told her I had a spin class to get to and she laughed. “No, really… you’re having a baby today.” The words didn’t quite sink in. While she arranged for me to go downstairs, I started making phone calls – first my husband, who wanted to tidy up the house and get the car washed first [which was such a help because we weren’t in a hurry… labor takes a while] – and then my mom who was in Colorado with my sister. Then, my dad, who had just boarded a plan to Charlotte, NC, to visit family. [The flight attendants allowed him to de-board the plane seconds before closing the door!] Then, my sweet, amazing doula, who started making arrangements to get to the hospital ASAP.
I got downstairs and all checked into my delivery room. It was calm, relaxed and quiet and I had about an hour to myself. I turned on my music and decided to get things moving with some dance moves! [I really jammed out to “Perm” by Bruno Mars – pat, pat, pat ’til it’s flat!] The contractions started picking up again, but weren’t too bad.
Nikki arrived first and began what I like to call Baby Bootcamp. She had me lunging and squatting up and down the halls. Within 30 minutes, she had those contractions going good – about every 3 minutes apart and bad enough that I had to stop and breathe through them. My active labor was in full force around 12:30, which is when I’d say my labor [for the day] began. My husband arrive somewhere around then. He and Nikki created such a fun, encouraging and FUNNY dynamic. We were laughing – the three of us – between each contraction. We decided to get back into the room and labor there. She put me on the ball, then on the toilet – the contractions were manageable, but not easy at this point, and every 2 minutes apart. At 1:30 the nurse checked me and I was only a 4. With my contractions so close together, they couldn’t give me pitocin, so my doctor wanted to break my water to get baby girl’s head to engage and create pressure on the cervix – she was still high up there.
Around 2:00pm, my water was broken and the contractions intensified. I remember sitting on the ball and, in an attempt to put things in perspective for myself, telling Nikki how glad I was to be laboring in a world-class hospital, in the United States in 2018. She reminded me that women around the world don’t have it so easy – some have to walk hundreds of miles just to get to a hospital – some have to stop working in the fields, birth their child and keep going… In that moment, I felt immediately connected to all the women in the world, and I was reminded that, by just being a woman, I had an inner strength in my genetic makeup – I could do it.
The contractions were horrible, but my husband and Nikki kept me laughing between contractions, which energized me! After a few contractions on the toilet, we decided to move to the bed. On the way there, my water broke AGAIN, which caught us by surprise since we thought it had already been completely broken, but that was NOTHING compared to the gush of water this time. I was shrieking and laughing, and so was Nikki… and my husband decided to pull out his phone and record the moment, which only made us laugh harder! We were laughing and screaming so loud, a nurse came charging in, totally freaked out, thinking a baby was being born right then and there! Looking back, I’m so glad I remember all the laughter and hilarity in the moment…
… I would need it. The contractions were unforgiving at this point. Nikki had me in positions that helped change the baby’s positioning and move labor along. Those positions [on my sides with my leg around a peanut-shaped ball] seemed unbearable. The pain was incredible. I begged at one point to get in the shower – anything to distract me from the pain. They turned on the water in the shower and I changed it to the hottest temperature possible, keeping the sprayer pointed at my belly. I just wanted the scorching water on my skin. For some reason, it felt better that way. I remember Nikki giving me a packet of honey for energy while standing in the water. [Side note… when the shower was on, the toilet made a weird noise, going “glub… glub… glub…” there was definitely more laughter because of it, but this is when it all gets blurry.] The time for laughing got slimmer and slimmer between contractions. They got harder and harder and during them I remember making noises I didn’t recognize and I said [okay, screamed] a lot of cuss words – THEY MADE ME FEEL BETTER, OKAY? Sue me.
Around 5:30, they checked me again and I was at an 8. My doctor decided to stay down there because she knew it would be pretty quick, but to me, 2 centimeters sounded like eternity! In my head I was screaming “AN EIGHT? I THOUGHT I’D HAVE A BABY BY NOW,” but I wasn’t at a place to truly communicate right then. Nikki mentioned getting back in those side-lying positions and I turned to her and asked for an epidural, more just wanting to see what she’d say. My husband stepped in and reminded me that if he allowed me to get an epidural at 8cm, I’d never forgive him… he was right. They both provided a great amount of encouragement, and back into the positions I went for 3 contractions on each side. I bartered with them that I’d do the positions again ONLY if I could get back in the shower, so that’s what we did. After the 2nd contraction in the shower, I got sick… the pain was simply unbearable.
I crawled on top of the bed on all fours and buried my head into my husband’s chest. I now felt the intense need to bear down and push, but I wasn’t quite there yet. At 6:15, my mom came in the room – she made it. She hadn’t been on board with the whole natural labor thing, so she came into the room and immediately said “Are you sure you want…” I interrupted her before she could finish saying “Mom, I’m at an 8 or a 9… you are not going to like what you see or hear! I’m cussing and screaming.” She said “I know… I heard you from down the hall.” Oops.
She only had to watch one big contraction and it was time to push. My doctor was suited up and ready to go. I pushed for one contraction. I pushed twice in the second contraction. I felt the ring of fire – baby girl was coming! My doctor told me not to push anymore and that she’d come out on her own, and on the third contraction, she did. My baby girl was here!
Someone told me that after delivering a baby naturally, there was euphoria, so that’s what I was expecting. I didn’t experience euphoria. I was mostly feeling an out-of-body experience. I was still in shock – everything from that moment my doctor told me I was having a baby to this, my sweet girl on my chest, was surreal and I couldn’t believe it was happening. I felt dreamlike, but not euphoric. I felt like I needed a moment to understand what was going on – delivering the placenta, holding my precious baby girl, seeing my mom in the room [she had made it!], experiencing skin to skin, getting an IV for pitocin… There was so much happening and I couldn’t focus on the one thing I wanted to. One the one-hand, I was in a sleepy dreamlike state, on the other, I was hyperaware. It was so strange. I say this because I was surprised by this fact.
I have two photos, taken exactly at the moment I realized it was real and that my baby was here. Here they are. I’ll never forget that feeling.
Before she left, Nikki told me something I’ll never forget. She said, “Happy birthday, Chandler. It’s your birthday… it’s baby A’s born day.” And she was right. It was our day. Every single contraction, every moment of discomfort or pain, every bit of it, we did together – my girl and I. She’s perfect. She’s beautiful. She’s here.
Her birth paints a picture, to me, of the way I hope she lives her life… she came into the world amidst strength through intense pain, laughter in the moments between, faith that she would arrive, hope that the pain would end, and an immense amount of love.
Baby girl, I pray that you evoke your god-given strength as a woman and as a child of the king in times of hardship.
I pray that your days are filled with laughter.
I pray that you walk through life with hope and that faith lights your path.
I pray that you love deeply and know just how deeply you are loved by your heavenly father… and by me.