This post is more overdue than I was with Paisley! I’m so excited to finally sit down and write this for you all. Whenever I thought about writing out my birth story I felt a sense of just being overwhelmed because truthfully, Paisley’s birth didn’t go as planned and I never want to leave out a single detail. Which is exactly why I will be posting my story in separate parts! I hope that you read my story with open hearts and that somehow you will find something meaningful from within it. Paisley’s birth was the single most incredible event of my life and I’m so grateful to share it with you.
I’m not really sure how to start this. How do you start a birth story? There is so much involved from conception to postpartum, I think as mothers we could agree that it’s a lot to experience, take in and process. For this I really wanted to take the time and basically “relive” everything I went through so I went back into my pictures, videos, emails, etc to soak it all in all over again. All I can say is now I have baby fever……
I’m going to do a separate blog post on my pregnancy with Paisley as well, but to start this off I think I’ll give you a short summary of how it went in order to lead into those few days before, during and after her birth. So here it goes.
Since this was my first baby, I held onto every part of how I imagined it would all go. A home water birth in a tub surrounded by flowers and candlelight. Inspiring affirmations sticky taped to the wall above my husband, my doula and the midwife. Breathing through the contractions while using the water to conquer the unmedicated surges that pulled through my body. Dreamy, right? Well, that’s not how it went. Not at all.
Paisley was due May 2, 2017. For a first time mom, the due date doesn’t mean a whole lot. For any mom, really. Babies arrive when they want to and for Paisley that was definitely the case. As I touched on in the earlier paragraphs, we had hired a midwife to be a part of our birth as I wanted nothing to do with a hospital. Confident in my ability to have my baby at home, we arranged a birth tub, a doula, a midwife and midwife assistant to attend the birth. But as the weeks and the days got closer to my due date and then quickly passed that date, we were informed that my plans were more than likely going to change. This scared me….a lot. I had spent the last 9 months obsessing over my planned birth and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a complete meltdown after I spoke with my midwife on the phone. It was Thursday, May 11th (41 weeks, 2 days) and still there was no sign of baby arriving anytime soon. The next day, I finally sucked it up and went in for my NST (non stress test) to make sure everything was alright and that baby had enough fluid, etc.
Since I was seeing a midwife (that was from out of town about an hour away) I had to be admitted through the ER and then sent to the OB department. They hooked me up to all the machines and after about an hour we learned that baby was great. The doctor came in and informed me that I needed to be induced and if I was his patient he would have never let me go over 41 weeks because of all the risks associated with an overdue baby. My heart sank. I thought to myself, “This isn’t how it was supposed to go”. I was barely dilated or effaced and they didn’t expect anything to change overnight.
We told the doctor that I wanted to at least see what would happen over the weekend and then if baby still wasn’t there that we would come in first thing Monday morning. The ride home was full of intense conversations with my husband and tears streaming down my face.
this. isn’t. how. it. was. supposed. to. go.
It was Friday, May 12th and we came up with a plan to spend the entire weekend trying to get that baby out. That night I called my midwife to let her know I would be trying castor oil and she freaked out. She told me that they do not recommend using it since I was hoping to have a home birth and that would still be considered an induction. Due to the lack of equipment that is used for giving birth at home there would be no safe way to monitor the baby and they extremely advised against it. We had a deep talk about my options and she basically told me that I need to enjoy my weekend and plan on having the baby on Monday AT THE HOSPITAL. I was so upset, angry, sad, confused, distraught. I hung up with her and just sat on the couch scream crying. Literally. My overdue, third trimester, crazy pregnant lady hormones were bubbling over. NO. NO. NO. This couldn’t be happening. *Side note: we had a ton of issues with our midwifery service, but I will explain all of it in another post. I never felt supported whatsoever by my midwife and barely by my doula so this just added on to the situation.*
Everything I had went through during my entire pregnancy was building and building and I just let the emotion pour out of me like a fountain. My husband held me tight and reminded me that no matter where I gave birth, all that mattered was that she was happy and healthy. In that instant I realized that I had been so focused on how I was going to have her and not on the fact that I would be giving birth to another human being. We spent the weekend relaxing, enjoying our last couple quiet nights of sleep and peace before we were scheduled to arrive at the hospital Monday morning.
The weekend came and went. I found myself packing a hospital bag (I waited last minute because I was holding onto the idea that I would miraculously spring into labor on Saturday or Sunday). I filled it to the brim with baby clothes, pajamas, nursing bras and anything else my OCD brain thought I might possibly need. I was so anxious. I was so nervous. I didn’t know whether to throw up or poop my pants. I spent months and months watching every documentary, reading every book. Most of which were so educational and informative but all of which told the readers to beware of hospitals and yet, here I was. Getting ready to deliver a baby at the one place I tried to avoid more than the plague.
We arrived at the hospital, checked in through the ER, went through a ridiculously confusing and irritating process of getting passed around because one extremely rude person working in the ER didn’t want to let me in (such a long story there) but finally after an hour I was admitted. I walked through the OB department doors and felt something very strange. The nurses at the desk greeted me with a friendly smile and one nurse in particular (Tammy) took me to my room. As we were walking, I felt myself just divulge how I was feeling (scared, in shock, nervous) and it was met with the most amazing response. She told me that Michelle (the Director of OB) had already explained the entire situation to her and that she was so sorry that my home birth hadn’t worked out. I handed her my birth plan and with the utmost confidence and surety she said “Everything on this is absolutely possible! We already do a lot of what you have listed and I don’t see any reason why any of it would be a problem for the nurses or the doctor. I know you didn’t get to have the birth you had planned on, but we are all going to make sure it’s as close as possible to what you would have envisioned for at home”. I didn’t know what to say or feel or how to respond besides “oh my god thank you so much”. I hadn’t been in my room for 5 minutes at that point and I already suddenly felt every pound of anxiety I held felt the entire time I was pregnant instantly released from my body. The weight of experiencing HG (hyperemesis gravidarum), awful midwifery care, a rude doctor and just the normal stuff that comes along with carrying a baby immediately fell from my chest and shoulders.
I could breathe.
I looked over at Marty and we both smiled at each other. For the first time ever we both felt that I was in the right place. This is where I was meant to be. She needed to be delivered here and I didn’t even know it. There was only one other mom in the entire OB department there to have a baby and she was a scheduled C-Section. We had the place to ourselves and with a staff of nurses siting up front we were waited on hand and foot. It was about 10:30 am when I got checked into my room. I had another NST and baby girl was still doing really great. The doctor on call came into our room and told me that he thought my dates were messed up because she was measuring small (7 pounds, 11 oz). He told me to just come back in a week if I wanted to and I would be induced. My anxiety came back and I felt shaky. I called my midwife and for the first time ever we actually agreed on something. She said “you’re already there, just hold your baby”. I told my nurse Tammy what they said and she reassured me that some babies are just small. “All of my babies were full term and never weighed more than 8 pounds. Everything is going to be alright, honey. Don’t worry. I’m glad you’re going to stay because I was going to tell you the same thing. Let’s have this baby!!”. And just as quick as the anxiousness came, it immediately went. We’re doing this. We’re really doing this.
They waited until about 2:30 pm before they even put an IV in and that really surprised me. I got to spend a few hours just siting in bed, watching TV. I remembered that I had left a few things at home (like my Depends, which are an absolute must-have BTW) so around 4 pm Marty headed to the house (which was only a few minutes away) to pick everything up. Right before he left, Tammy placed the Cervadil smack dab on my cervix. I asked how long it would take to work and she said usually it’s a couple hours. Around 4:30 pm I felt this deep surge across my belly. Woah. It was my very first contraction and it hurt. I texted Marty and told him they started and to hurry up. All my practice and meditating and whatever else I had done to prepare for this moment needed to go into effect like ASAP. I kept watching TV to distract myself but I realized that these things were more painful than I had imagined. And it was only the beginning! I started to doubt my ability to do this but I didn’t let it control my mind. I had spent a lot of time on my yoga ball while I was pregnant and during each sway and circle I made with my hips, I would breathe and close my eyes. Focusing on each breath and motion. I would envision how to distract myself from the pain. My husband finally arrived with my yoga ball, my Young Living oil diffuser, my oils and anything else we forgot.
As the hours went on, the contractions got more and more painful, each one only 2-5 minutes apart. I barely had a break. The nurses checked me every couple hours to see how I had progressed, but I was only at 2 cm. It wasn’t encouraging news considering the amount of work I had done and the pain I was in. It was 8pm and I needed something to give. My contractions were so close but yet nothing was happening. I had avoided any pain medications up until that point and needed some relief. One of my nurses, Heather, removed the cervadil and gave me some NuBane for the pain. I felt so guilty, but within minutes that was washed out with dizziness and the need for sleep. At around 12am they came in and told me that I needed to get the cervadil again so that the dilation would continue. They reinserted the medicine onto my cervix once again and the contractions started. I spent the entire night working through the pain, breathing, eyes shut and squeezing my husbands hand as they passed by.
9am rolled around and I was mentally, physically and emotionally drained. It was time for Pitocin, the big dog. Only at 3cm, they wouldn’t give me the epidural even though I begged. I was fortunate enough that the hospital had just received wireless fetal monitors so I spent hours off and on in the hot shower. I squatted down each chance I got so that hopefully baby would work her way down but it was to no avail. Each birth video I had watched and everything I read made it seem like each contraction “brought my baby closer” but my confidence was shot and I felt like each time my stomach and uterus squeezed me that she was somehow getting further up rather than down. When your brain is experiencing that level of pain, you start to really think up some crazy things. Haha. But I was in my element. My mom was in the hospital room a couple times but I didn’t want her there. She was trying to be supportive but every time I had a contraction she thought it would be a great opportunity to try and have a conversation with my husband. This only made me super angry and frustrated. Each contraction needed silence, not distraction. She doesn’t handle emotion or things like this very well and I could feel her presence having a negative effect on the process of labor. I knew that even though I thought I wanted her involved, that I had to stick to my gut instinct. After noticing my unease, my husband looked at me like “she needs to leave” and we finally sent her away. It’s amazing the temporary power of telepathy that occurs with a spouse when you’re in the midst of having a baby.
My contractions had been 1-2 mins apart throughout the night before and as the hours had passed the pitocin was steadily cranked up each time the nurses came in. I could feel myself giving up. Around 1 pm the nurse (Donna) checked me and I had reached 4 cm. I remember thinking “THANK YOU JESUS!!!!!!”. I FINALLY got an epidural and it was the most magical experience. Up until that point I was fighting each contraction. I was in tears and going through maternal exhaustion. The doctor came in a couple times that day and said he wanted to break my water because he had a C-Section scheduled (the only other mama there that I previously mentioned) and wanted me to progress while he was doing that. After going back and forth with my midwife and husband I told him I’d like to at least wait until I got my epidural and took a nap because I needed to rest. I wasn’t sure how soon I would give birth after breaking my water so I just needed a chance to catch my breath. We worked closely alongside Michelle, the Director and with the nurses to make sure that I was at every moment still getting what I wanted/needed out of my birth but always putting Paisley’s needs first as well. He came in around 3pm and broke my water. I had taken a nice nap and for the first time I was relaxed and felt like I was able to do this. I was allowed to eat what I wanted until I received my epidural and even after it was administered the nurses let me eat crackers and drink juice or ginger ale. This was added to my list of surprising experiences at the hospital because I had this idea of what having a baby there was going to be like and as each hour went by it always changed– always in a positive way. I was allowed to diffuse my lavender and gentle baby YL oils in the room. The nurses would come in just because it smelled so good. I signed a waiver and could use my yoga ball throughout labor. I had a wireless fetal monitor strapped onto my bell so I could work through the contractions in the shower. And then my ability to eat throughout the entire time surprised me even more because I had heard so many stories of mothers not being able to eat. YOU NEED ENERGY FOR BIRTH, PEOPLE!
Around 4:30 my doula finally arrived and I started to feel a bit more comfortable. My favorite nurse (Tammy) that had been so nice to me when I had first gotten there had left around noon and she had joked that I can’t have the baby until she gets back around 6 or 7. I told her I’d probably die if I had to go that long and we all laughed. Sometime after 7pm Tammy came into the room and checked on me. She said “you know I was just joking about waiting for me, right?!” she told me she wanted to get the baby out and was going to get the “peanut” for me to put between my legs. My epidural wasn’t really working very strong on my left side so I need to lay on my side anyways so I said what the heck and went for it. I was avoiding the “peanut” because it sounded ridiculous and like it would never work. Essentially its a yoga ball (same kind of material) filled with air but it’s shaped like a peanut. You lay on your side and put it between your legs (like you would do with a pillow) and it opens everything up down there. So, I laid on my side, had the peanut between my legs and closed my eyes. As she was leaving the room she told me certain things that would indicate transition since it’s hard to really feel things when you’ve been given an epidural. I smiled and said “okay”. She left and within minutes I felt different. Something changed. I couldn’t tell what it was but I felt the need to push. I opened my eyes, smiled and looked straight at Marty. “Um I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think she’s coming”. I closed my eyes and felt a tear roll down my face. This is happening. I’m giving birth to a baby tonight. Nothing will ever be the same. I started rhythmically breathing and moaning. Each sound filled with quivering and shaking as my anxiety filled each breath. It all was just second nature to me and I began the second I closed my eyes. Marty and my doula rushed to my side to hold my hands. I was still laying on my side because it felt comfortable, but I felt the deep urge to lay on my back and push. I heard this sort of “sqqquisshhhh” sound and felt alot of warmth running down my legs. It was time. My doula called for the nurses by repeatedly pushing the button and they came into the room. Tammy checked me and said “Okayyyy, yep she’s about to have this baby. She’s fully dilated, get the doctor.” I kept my eyes closed. Having this baby was my only job and all I was focused on. I remember just listening very strongly to everything that was going on in the room. Lights being turned on and off, machines starting up and metal clanking around. The sounds of nurses talking, the doctors’ voice in the distance and my husband and doula in my ears telling me that everything is going to be great and that I can do this. I knew I could. I was ready.
Tammy told my husband that I couldn’t flip over onto my back yet because Paisley would basically come sliding out if I did. The doctor and nurses were rushing around because it was all happening so fast. Remembering back to this moment it was all a blur. A beautiful blur that I never want to forget. everyone was finally ready and it was time to push. They flipped me onto my back and I felt pressure all down in my groin. After a couple pushes they realized I had run out of my epidural and had the anesthesiologist bring in more. I didn’t really care because I didn’t really need it, but in the moment I just said yes to whatever. Nobody was going to break my laser focus. I wasn’t sure if I would want it for afterwards so I agreed. I pushed really strong and healthy, successful pushes for 10 minutes. I kept my eyes closed, gripping each leg like it was my only job in the world. My husband to the left and my doula to the right. We went through each and every wave, Tammy counted each push whenever I felt like a contraction was coming on. I don’t remember how many times I pushed, probably only a handful of times, but it felt like a century. The light above me was off and it doubled as a mirror, I only look up at it one time because I didn’t want to see no head and become discouraged. But I looked up and saw a round, dark headed bulge. A surge of confidence ripped through my body. I opened my ears to the classical music playing, took a deep breath and inhaled the smells of lavender that filled the room. Tammy grabbed my phone because she knew this was it and told me she loves taking pictures. I made one last final push, releasing my body of what it had so beautifully and lovingly cared for the last 9 months. I felt the deepest, heaviest feeling from within my entire bottom half of my body and within moments she was here. I cried. She was finally here. She didn’t make a sound, but yet it didn’t worry me. My little girl was a warrior. She was strong and I knew instantly that her silence was simply her little body taking in her new surroundings. The moment she was born I felt in my bones that this little human knew more about the world in that instance than anyone in that room. The environment around me shifted, my purpose was here. She was beautiful. My doctor cleared her throat and waited a little bit so that Marty could cut the cord. Her umbilical cord was a little bit short so he had to cut it in order for her to lay on my chest. Skin to skin. Heart to heart. I felt so much relief. I was in labor for 28 hours and she was here. She was here. She was here. It was worth it all. Everything. I cried. We all cried. All of us. This moment forever engrained in our brains, so magical and euphoric and life changing. My heart was full. Pure happiness. Bliss. Nothing would ever be the same again and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
with love, Chloe’