My baby girl is already 10 weeks old and her birth seems like just yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. It feels a little strange to reflect on it and try to piece it all together as the experience still feels like a blur to me. With that said, here is my sweet Bea’s birthstory:
I have always known that I wanted to be a momma so as the weeks and months passed during my pregnancy, I became more and more anxious to meet our little lady. Her due date was on a Monday so my husband took the entire week off from work in anticipation. Monday came and went. I went into the gym to do a few sets of light squats to hopefully get the ball rolling. We went on a date to the Botanical Gardens to walk around for a couple hours. Nada. Tuesday. Nothing. Wednesday. Nothing. I remember thinking how funny it was that a day seemed like forever after carrying her around for all those months. Just after midnight on Thursday morning, I felt my water break. Just a trickle but after a false alarm earlier in the week, I knew that this was it. I got up to check things out but felt nothing else so I crawled back into bed. My husband woke up to go to the gym around 6 and I debated telling him about my water breaking because I figured it would be good for him to get a good workout in before our big day got started. I shared the news but sent him off anyway because I still wasn’t feeling any sign of contractions. At this point, I figured we would head to the hospital around 9am so I started gathering things together. Nothing. No contractions. Not even an inkling of labor. I called our doulas. I called the midwives at the hospital. They told me to wait it out for a bit. After several back and forth phone calls, we finally went to the hospital at five that evening even though I still wasn’t having any real contractions. I felt crampy, but nothing more. They didn’t have a room ready for us when we got there so we left to get some dinner and I was officially admitted at 6pm. From there out, things are a blur and I don’t have any real sense of time looking back on it. My body still wasn’t contracting on its own so after using a hand held breast pump for a while with no real success, they gave me a dose of Cytotec to start contractions. While I knew that I was going for an all-natural birth, I was also comfortable with the reality that I may need some additional help. I spent the early hours of the morning with very intense contractions that came one immediately after the other from the medication. I was exhausted but knew that we were getting closer and closer to meeting our little one. My husband was able to catch a couple minutes of sleep but both him and our doula were by my side the entire time trying their best to make me feel comfortable. Unfortunately, my body never got the message that we were having a baby, so I was given another dose around 11am the next morning. This resulted in several more hours of painful and rapid-fire contractions for I’m-not-sure-how-long. At some point around midday, they checked for the first time to see how dilated I was. I was 6cm. Thankfully I didn’t realize how measly that was at the time or I probably would have had a hard time keeping my spirits up. I was completely exhausted from a lack of sleep and hours of back-to-back contractions with no relief. I have definitely never felt exhaustion like that before. I finally reached the point of pushing around 5pm and after trying lots of different positions, breast pump stimulation, tears, self doubt, and a looming threat of Pitocin, our baby girl was born at 6:20pm, 41 hours after my water broke and 24 hours after labor started.
While all our hours in the hospital blur together, there were a few things that stand out in my memory as I look back on the experience. One is our wonderful doula team that showered me with massages, cold washcloths and positive words and energy. We hesitated to hire them because we were already nervous about the money flying out of our bank account, but the added support was priceless and I cannot imagine going through the experience without them. Another clear point was the look of concern on my husband’s face. He is a provider and I know that it was difficult for him to not be able to take away my pain. There is no way to adequately prepare for giving birth and the same goes for the husbands. It is an overwhelming experience for them too, and I think that it is important to acknowledge that. During my nearly 24 hour labor, I remember listening to the Gregory Alan Isakov radio station on Pandora. It was so comforting to have familiar music playing and serve as a minor distraction. When I listen to that station now, it definitely brings me back to that night and all the emotion associated with meeting our daughter. The last clear memory was a stunning lightening storm that lit up the dark sky. It was quite a show to watch through the giant hospital windows. My husband says that the storm happened in the evening just before Bea was born. How very fitting to have a long labor end with a giant storm of energy resulting in the birth of our baby girl.
There were moments (hours!) that the pain was absolutely unbearable, but snuggling with my little girl now puts it all into perspective. Welcome to the planet Bea Lynn!
How did the difficulty level meet your expectations?
I was prepared for the pain of delivery, but I was not prepared for labor to last so long nor for my body to not initiate contractions on it’s own. In the end, I (mostly) got the natural birth that I wanted, it just took a lot longer to get there than I expected.
What was the best thing you did to prepare?
I ate a clean diet and exercised throughout the entire pregnancy. While I had hoped that was enough to give me the birth that I hoped for, I have to be thankful that I had the health and stamina to get through such a long labor. I can’t imagine getting through it if I came into the situation already feeling fatigued and not at my best.
What was your most effective form of pain control?
I suppose keeping calm and focusing on steady even breaths helped me get through the pain but I wouldn’t say that it controlled the pain!
Would you do anything differently?
No. It didn’t turn out how I had imagined but I am thankful that ultimately I was able to have a natural birth for my baby. We’re just happy to have little Bea with us!
Do you have any advice for pregnant moms?
Take care of yourself. The healthier you are during pregnancy, the faster you will recover after the birth. And if your birth is anything like mine, you’ll appreciate every little bit of relief possible. Giving birth is no joke but postpartum healing is no walk in the park either! Hire a doula. Mine were lifesavers. And don’t rush. Some ladies don’t like to be pregnant or are just anxious to meet their baby as I was. But once it is over your life will never be the same. Enjoy the quiet time and freedom before your little one turns your world upside-down (in the best way possible of course!)!