Well hello there!
Wow where do I even start!?
I guess first and foremost I should say happy 2018 everyone… Now that we’re over 3 months into the year! It makes me sad that I was so very MIA last year here on the blog after starting out the year so strong. It was just about a year ago that my all day “morning sickness” was in full swing and I was learning that for me pregnancy is not a breeze!
In all honesty, the whole time I was pregnant I just felt like I had nothing to give or contribute. I really didn't feel like myself pretty much the entire time except for maybe like one month of my third trimester and at the very very beginning before the nausea set in.
But that's not the story you came here for!
I do however, want to say sorry for disappearing last year and I want to say that I'm going to do better this year. But I also make no promises because everyday is filled with new surprises. I'm a mom now! (I know, DUH) and even separate from that I’m insanely busy. If I use my time wisely I can make it work though because I’ve SO missed all of you!
The good news is that I at least feel like myself again except more whole than ever because I gave birth to the love of my life in the form of my son. I literally love him so much it hurts you guys! I mean it’s just wild! I'm getting ahead of myself! I've been promising this here birthing story of mine (or is it my son’s birth story? Whatever!) for awhile now and I finally feel like I can take the time to sit down and write!
TRUE STORY: I wrote this post months ago and now at almost 5 months postpartum I’m coming back to edit and finally post it! It’s really long so I apologize in advance.
Blogging has just felt HARD recently. I’m out of practice and I’ve lost my confidence in some areas including writing.
Often when I come to my laptop I'm bombarded by my other job, the one I took LAST January in order to pay the bills. And although I still have that job, I also know that I can't put my passions off to the side anymore and that's a huge part of where this blog and YOU come in! Without pushing and challenging myself and putting myself out there I'm just stagnating my own life and my own goals. PLUS I know that the work I do here is important, because YOU are important to me and I really want to refocus this year now that I feel like ME again.
So with all that being said here goes my birthing story!
I knew years before I got pregnant that I wanted to have a home water birth. I wish I could give you some beautiful philosophical reason for this but honestly once I heard about it I just knew that it was something I wanted to do. It sounded badass and exactly the way I’d want to bring a human into this world. Ultimately I didn't actually give birth IN the water but I surely did labor in the water, I give birth at home, and it was 100% unmedicated and 100% insane! I also knew once I heard about this thing called hypnobirthing a few years back that I wanted to give it a shot! The potential of a painless birth free from fear and medication sounded too good to pass up! Plus the whole philosophy behind it just really resonated with me. Gosh I have just so much to share here but let's start from the beginning of the end of my pregnancy….
At around 36 weeks pregnant (standard pregnancy lasts 40 weeks total) I started getting really impatient and eager for my little boy to arrive. Like I was so anxious to meet this little guy! I kept seeing people give birth on my fb feed and I was soooo jelly! I mean I was still teaching group fitness classes 3x a week (LifeBarre & PiYo and I did through 38w before stopping at 39w) but my body really was hurting and uncomfortable.
From the endless heartburn, to the bruised ribs, the bad lower back pain the JOYS of waddling around everywhere and feeling huge - I was so over it. Because of this I decided to do everything in my power to help this baby get into optimal birthing position and get the ball rolling on the whole labor thing. Some might call these “natural induction methods” but really these won’t send you into labor if your baby isn’t ready to come out (unfortunately). Baby boy was sitting REALLY high, hence the rib bruising and heartburn discomfort. My ribs are STILL jacked up! Keep in mind I didn't actually go into labor and have him until I was 40 weeks and 3 days. Regardless I am so happy I put in the work leading up to having him because things ultimately went well and I didn’t go very long overdue! Here's what I started doing to get into the birthing zone my last few weeks of pregnancy:
- I started bouncing on my "birthing" ball (which is really just a big exercise ball) all the time. I also did hip circles and other exercises on the ball to encourage the babe to get into optimal birthing position. It also a decent workout when you're pregnant!
- I started going on long walks. spinningbabies.com recommends going for a 3 mile walk daily at a consistent and moderate pace in order to encourage the baby to drop into position. I swear it helped him drop a ton!
- I started listening back to my hypnobirthing audiobook on repeat while I walked. This helped soothe my anxiety and calm my impatient self immensely. Because babies come when they're ready, and really you have to surrender to the whole process because YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL. And there's just no getting around that naturally.
All of this helped me both mentally and physically prepare for labor... Or at least as much as you can for something you have no frame of reference for.
Watching movies and TV, even the documentaries about labor or legit videos of people giving birth, or reading ALL of the things cannot possibly prepare you for what it's actually like. It's different for everyone but I found labor and giving birth to be the most insane, intense, animalistic experience ever. I mean really nothing compares and it's just crazy! Like damn I can’t even believe I did that!
Because I opted for a home birth with midwives I had a lot of prepping to do before the big day. For WEEKS leading up to his birth I had to buy supplies from so many different stores, order a birthing kit, we had home visits with the midwives where we set up trays and equipment, I was cleaning constantly because I wanted him to come into a clean environment, I bought and blew up THIS BIRTHING POOL and it was honestly awesome!
Plus the cute little fishies made me happy! My to do list was a mile long and I slowly chipped away at it daily although it felt like I would never finish! It’s so great to have something to keep you so occupied at the end though, I can’t imagine how I would’ve survived if I hadn’t had so much to do. Plus nesting is SO REAL you guys. I donated close to 12 bags of clothes, accessories, shoes, and more to goodwill. It was glorious!
For about the last two weeks of my pregnancy I had a lot of "pre labor pains" meaning I had braxton hicks (practice contractions where your tummy tightens) contractions almost nonstop, I had regular contractions here and there fairly often, and I even lost my mucous plug an entire week before going into labor. That’s a sneaky one too because it regrows. Essentially my body was just practicing and preparing for the actual thing. All this prep stuff was SO not fun at the time. I was like OMG when am I actually just going to go into real labor and stop being teased!? I WANT TO HAVE THIS BABY! I was frustrated and ready for him to arrive!
Apparently all the shopping for nursery and birthing supplies ultimately paid off, and I had a busy day on Sunday October 15th - I went to an anniversary brunch with friends to celebrate our mutual wedding anniversaries, (if your local to Northern VA you have to check out Founding Farmers! They’re amazing!) then I went to Ikea with my sister in law and nephew Jack (who's only 5 months older than my babe btw!). Throughout the day I had the usual all day braxton hicks I had grown accustomed to and while we were at Ikea I was having some more real contractions but far apart and I had totally grown accustomed to those too, so I really didn’t think much of it at the time.
Anyway I got home and it wasn't until around 10pm that I realized okay, these contractions are a bit more intense than any I've had in the past, and they are still coming pretty consistently. They were between 10-8mins apart at this point. From the get go I literally jut breathed through all of them using the hypnobirthing techniques I had practiced SO many times, and it was totally fine! I mean don't get me wrong, they were intense, but really not bad! Breath is just amazing! I was even able to sleep for an hour or so until they were a bit too intense to sleep through. I told my husband to call out of work at this point because I knew it was finally the real thing. YIPPIEE!!!
I can't even explain, I was so happy and excited but in a calm sort of way. I felt good! I was managing the contractions well, I was finally in labor and going to meet my baby, I was happy! I started doing the last bit of prepping and had my husband running around helping clean and prepare the space of course. Contractions progressed to about 4-3minutes apart, and I was vacuuming our room! Every time a contraction would hit I would promptly drop the vacuum, lean my upper body over the bed, BREATHE and SWAY my hips. Thats how I got through them. I also pooped multiple times throughout the late night/early morning, and eventually lost my mucous plug again but this time WITH the bloody show. Once I was done with the vacuuming, and things were looking clean I decided to take a break, bounce on my birthing ball, and really concentrate on my breathing and relaxation. Every time a contraction came I would lean over the bed and sway my hips on the ball and take BIG breaths. My husband brought up coconut oil popcorn for me, made me some labor-aide (coconut water, lemon juice, and Himalayan pink salt) per my instructions, and even got me some gluten free donut holes to munch on for the occasion. He was just running all over doing my bidding and being an amazing support. He was awesome! I had spoken to the midwife about 2 times on the phone at this point, and they (there are two midwives in the practice) were at another birth all night while I had been laboring at home.
I told them about the vacuuming and that I was excited etc even though my contractions had been lasting a minute or more, and were 4-3 minutes apart for over an hour. Since I was still talking through the contractions they decided to wait a little while longer and finish up where they were before coming. Unfortunately because they were at a birth all night that night only one of them attended my birth along with a midwife assistant, but we made do and it worked out just fine!
Part of the reason I wanted a home birth was for the comfort and privacy aspect. I wanted to be in control of my experience and not feel judged or pressured by doctors or a hospital. I didn’t want to feel watched - I wanted the opposite. And that’s exactly what I got!
I forgot to mention I was SUPER anal about tracking my contractions like even before I was in labor. Because I would get contractions randomly all the time but I knew I needed to be patient and wait to legit be in labor before getting my hopes up. I tracked my contractions in the Ovia Pregnancy app. I mean I tracked every single one because I refused to be one of those people who "cries wolf" so to speak. I really did not want to call them, say I was in labor, and have them come all the way out for it to be a false alarm or too early. So I made sure to wait for the 4-1-1 rule to apply - contractions 4 mins apart, lasting at least 1 minute, for at least 1 hour before I contacted them with updates.
By around 10:30am I had been on the steady contraction train for a long time and I was starting to get a bit tired (I mean didn’t really sleep much the night before) so I decided to take a bath. While I was in the bath my contractions slowed down to about consistent 6 minutes apart and I was honestly so disheartened to see the time decrease. I figured they were right and it was good that we waited to have them come... I was like damn, my labor is slowing down!
But when I got out of the bath everything changed.
I was NOT sure what had happened or WHAT had changed but the contractions felt different. Suddenly it was just SUPER intense PRESSURE. I was on my hand and knees on our bedroom floor at this point and had my husband use the rebozo and do some rebozo sifting for me when the contractions hit and it was insanely helpful. Contractions were still anywhere from 4mins to 2mins apart but I just couldn't understand why it had suddenly changed so drastically and why I was suddenly NOT handling them very well.
My husband called the midwife at this point because I was being stubborn and had no freaking idea if this warranted a call or not, I mean I figured we had time! He told them it was time for them to come like ASAP. Of course they were leaving the other birth, had an hour long drive ahead of them, they hadn’t eaten, slept, or showered, and with me being a first time mom I think they honestly assumed I wasn’t as far along as I seemed to be. So that's when I put some clothes back on and headed down to the living room to the birthing tub AKA my adorable blow up fishy pool.
I just have to take a second here and tell you how freaking awesome my husband was as a birthing partner. He was freaking amazing which I did not expect! My darling doula had surgery not long before I gave birth for a thyroid tumor (she’s fine btw!) and just like that a few weeks before birth my birth support plan went out the window! In hindsight that was probably for the best because I never FULLY knew how amazing my husband was until he HAD to be my birth partner! No doula meant my husband had to take the mantle as my primary birth support person. I was so worried about it before birth but he was honestly phenomenal, like seriously. I was surprised.
That sounds mean and don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy - but he’s a little oblivious when it comes to birth related things as I think is to be expected. So imagine my surprise when he was a freaking ROCKSTAR of a human being.
OKAY sorry back to the story-
The tub had been blown up for weeks, but our stupid hose attachment for the faucet broke while Ernest was trying to attach it so this poor man had to go back and forth from the sink to the tub with a bucket in order to fill it up with warm water all while I was in some serious labor. On top of that every time I had a contraction I would DESPERATELY yell for him to "PLEASE COME HELP ME! PLEASE!!!“ as if I was dying (I mean, so dramatic makes me laugh now) and he would come hold my hands or let me brace, squeeze, and push against him during the contractions.
At this point I was NOT handling the contractions well at all. In case you hadn't picked up on that from what I just described above. I just didn't understand the pressure I was feeling, it was just so uncomfortable and I felt like I had lost control of the entire situation. I was in pain and Ernest was freaking out that the midwives weren't there yet. I was in the tub and despite the fact that the water should've helped, everything just felt terrible. Ernest was convinced something was wrong because I was in so much pain, he wanted to take me to the hospital but I of course said no, being the stubborn woman that I am. SO instead he called the midwives to get an ETA and they were about 15 minutes away.
When my midwife arrived she said that I was doing great! HAH she asked how I felt and I responded "I feel terrible, and this is awful." Just a few minutes after she arrived she had me get out of the pool so she could check baby's heartbeat and see how far along I was.
Turns out I was fully dilated and effaced and ready to push.
For reference, (as my doula later told me) women usually frantically call their midwives to come when they’re about 2 cm dilated - NOT 10 cm.
At this point it was about 1pm and I was confused because I was told that I would feel an urge to push when the time came, but that never happened for me. All I felt was this terrible pressure I had been feeling for a few hours. My water still hadn't broken, and I got back in the tub and started pushing during the contractions. They also told Ernest to give me counter pressure on my back during the contractions which helped so much!
Although pushing was generally awful for me, it gave me something to do which I liked! At least that felt like progress! I literally just pushed like I was trying to take the biggest poop of my life, I never actually felt the urge to push, I just felt horrible pressure in my lower back AKA back labor. OH and PS I actually did NOT poop while pushing since I had cleared out system earlier in the day while I was in early labor! SO it is possible to have a poop free childbirth, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
I pushed in the tub for the vast majority of the time in multiple positions. All in all I pushed for 5 HOURS you guys because my freaking water would NOT break! I guess I ate a few TOO many dates while pregnant. Lesson learned, don't eat more than 6 a day or your amniotic sack will be way too strong and it will not break, and you will push for your entire life. After pushing for a few hours I was beyond exhausted, my voice was hoarse from all the insane animalistic sounds I had been making, and I was hungry. I moved and changed positions a lot in the pool taking my midwives guidance, and of course i was screaming a ton of profanities and being my delightful self amplified times 1000. At one point for instance, she suggested some kind of position change that I tried and she asked how that was to which I screamed "that feels fucking terrible!" and so we progressed forward in a similar fashion, and I mostly leaned over the tub while on my knees. But I did also do some sitting on my butt and pushing while hugging my knees against myself. I always NEEDED to be gripping or pushing against something for leverage - it was usually Ernest's hands. That’s helped a lot.
As a side note, the whole pushing for 5 hours thing doesn't happen too often for various reasons I don’t care to go into at this point because you don’t need to know all that.
After about 4 hours of pushing in the tub I made myself a starfish in the pool by propping up my feet on either end, laying my head back, and I had my arms splayed out as well. I. Was. So. Exhausted from pushing my brains out so hard for so long that I was literally falling asleep between contractions now.
Keep in mind I still hadn't even managed to break my water yet! That this was STRONG.
I then ate a beef stick, ate some Jackson's sweet potato chips in the pool, and then we moved out of the pool to pick things up again since I had gotten "too relaxed" while being in there, HAH!
One of the most frustrating things about my water not breaking is that I could FEEL the amniotic sack coming out me every time I pushed. So I thought it was his head every time but it was actually just the damn bag of water that would. not. break. I thought I was making so much more progress than I actually was until I realized it was the sack and not the head which frustrated and disappointed me so much because I was working so hard! After about 30 more minutes of pushing outside of the tub I was finally just like over it. So I asked if there was anything else we can do to move things along, and lord have mercy - with my next contraction my midwife ruptured my water for me using an amnio-hook even though I know she really did not want to, THANK GOD. And if you’re reading this - thank you Desiree!
The rush of relief I felt when my water broke was euphoric. I swear my water finally breaking and that pressure relieving felt better than after I actually pushed my child out. It was a pure blissful magical release!
And then came the REALLY fun part.... Pushing out my baby!
Pushing him out without the damn sack took maybe 20 minutes, but I was gassed you guys. I mean I was 100% exhausted from pushing with all my muscles and might and willpower for the past 4.5 hrs and I hadn't even gotten the baby out yet. And pushing him out was the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life.
How I did it? I have no freaking idea, I just DID. That’s kind of how parenthood is too - you just get shit done someway somehow. It’s beautiful CHOAS.
I never once considered having pain management or going to the hospital, but I thought many times that I couldn't do it. The moment that was the worst was after I got a portion of his head out but not the whole thing. I was sitting there on one knee, with my other leg propped up, leaning against my birthing pool and I genuinely 100% did not think I could do it anymore. I had nothing left. I was just done. I was literally SHAKING violently, my legs and muscles were depleted beyond comprehension, I was sobbing, exhausted doesn't begin to cover how I felt, and I honestly just didn't think it was possible. I didn’t think I was capable. I told them I didn't think I could, I REALLY did not believe I could at this point. But then another contraction came and I pushed with everything I had and everything I didn't have. Because I needed to do this, I had to get my baby here safely and nothing else mattered.
I have never experienced anything even moderately close to this in my life. I don't think anything could ever compare.
My husband was encouraging me, telling me I was the strongest person he knew and that I COULD do this, my midwife told me that she could call an ambulance if I wanted, but at this point I would just end up just having the baby on the way to the hospital since we was already partially OUT. They reminded me that I had made it this far and this was the end, I would get to meet my baby soon. They told me to reach down and feel his head which I did, and it kinda freaked me out because it was squishy... With the next contraction and one more bloody murder screaming, pushing so hard I almost passed out, push - and his head, the biggest and hardest part was finally out.... I could do this! I was doing it! On the next contraction I pushed with everything one more time and his shoulders along with the rest of his body came out. I mean holy shit! He was born at 6:58PM and I labored for a total of 21 hours. I looked back - my midwife was holding him tummy down along her arm and rubbing his back to get him to cry, and after the longest two seconds of my life, I heard his powerful cry for the first time and that was it, he fully owned my heart. And I finally had my baby in my arms. I can’t even think about that moment without tearing up - it was just insane.
Ernest sat on the floor behind me against the couch and I sat against him with Gabe on my tummy still attached via umbilical cord. We immediately put the little guy on me for skin to skin. We were all crying, midwife included, and just like that we met our son for the first time. I was officially his mama. He cried a lot those first 30 minutes being the stubborn little boy that we've grown accustomed to, but whenever Ernest or I would talk he would stop crying and look in our direction. Blinking up at us innocently, not sure what he had just been through or where he was now. It was so sweet and I just felt whole - like our lives were complete. They checked me for tearing and I had none beyond small "skid marks" as they call them that were ‘too small to even sew up if they wanted to’. During this time Gabe latched to nurse and while he was nursing I gently pushed a few times and out came my giant 1.5lb placenta.
We kept his placenta attached to him for two hours during which we moved upstairs to the bedroom, changed into dry clothes, and just marveled at this little human we created.
After 2 hours his cord was cut, they weighed and measured him and he was a perfect 8.8lbs and 20inches. Ernest picked up Indian food and eventually my midwife and her assistant left with instructions to watch for postpartum bleeding. She said if I fill a pad with blood in an hour then I’m bleeding too much.
Well I felt a lot coming out but I waited til an hour later I went to the bathroom to check my pad because I kept feeling gushes of blood coming out. When i took off my pants multiple blood clots the size of my fist literally fell out of my body onto the bathroom floor. So much blood! The clots honestly looked like organs, it was both gross and scary. We called the midwives and ultimately decided to go to the ER.
We packed everyone up and got to the ER at around 1am then were taken to Labor and Delivery ward. I felt fine considering what I had just been through but it was 100% good that we went because I was slowly bleeding out and it wasn’t stopping on it’s own. They did an ultrasound and ultimately performed a D&C (surgical procedure where they scrape out your uterus) because they believed I had retained placenta fragments in my uterus. I was pretty freaked out because the list of complications from a surgery like this could mean trouble conceiving in the future. Luckily everything went fine and the doctor said I should see no complications from the surgery in the future.
On top of that, weeks later my midwives requested the surgical report from the hospital and turns out there actually weren't pieces of placenta left in me, but my fundus (it works like a natural turnecit) was high, and for some unknown reason it wouldn’t fully clamp down so I wouldn't stop bleeding even during the surgery. So they placed a "bakri balloon" in me and about 24hrs later they removed that and we could go home!
There are of course more details, but I tried to find the line between too much information and just enough to give you an accurate picture of the whole thing!
I do have to say that after the fact I was pretty disappointed in myself that I didn't 'handle' the whole thing better when it came to pushing and once the pain really kicked into high gear. I REALLY wanted to have a peaceful birth but now months later that insane, primal experience makes all the sense in the world. I love my little boy and our journey more than words can say.
It's like I didn't know how much love I was capable of until this little human arrived and he tests me, pushes me, and challenges me far beyond any maximum I ever thought was previously possible.
Okay this was long - if you've read this far I just want to say thank you for hanging in there and I hope that I've successful not scared you away from natural childbirth but also not sugar coated it so you'll think it's a walk in the park. Because its hard. The whole thing is hard and amazing and wild!
Being pregnant is hard.
Giving birth is hard.
Being a mom is hard!
It is also WILD and AMAZING.
Believing for years that I would never have the opportunity to have a child was HARD. I saw babies everywhere and it hurt. That was a different kind of hard - to me it was a bit empty. If you're in that boat right now I just want to say that I am here for you, and if my story and experience hurts you at all then I understand. I pray that the time will come for each of you!
Even though this journey has pushed me beyond anything I thought possible, I would not trade it or my son for anything and I am so grateful that we were blessed with our little miracle nugget. We love him SO very MUCH and I thank God and the Universe for him daily.
Okay that's all from me for now. I love you all and don't forget I have a bunch of free tools available to you in my resources library below!