A lot of you know I was really hesitant to deliver in a hospital. I wanted a natural childbirth (I mean all birth is natural, but no medications or interventions for me please!). Personally, I felt like if I was in a hospital that just wouldn't happen. We shared a lot about the decision that led to our birth team on this podcast episode. I honestly couldn't have been happier with our birth team and we talk in loads more detail about the hospital experience in this week's podcast episode. With that said, let's rewind a couple of weeks and get honest about the days leading up to our daughter's arrival.
Not into reading? You can listen to our birth story here:
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Before she arrived…
Monday morning I woke up and my stomach fell. How was I still pregnant with no signs of going into labor?! E was convinced all day Sunday it would happen. He thought she'd be a full moon baby (no pun intended with her middle name). I didn't think she was coming Sunday, but secretly prayed it was Monday.
Our due date(s)
You see, we had gotten the due date of 1/9 at my very first appointment. My next appointment we got the due date of 1/15 but it was by a doctor I had never met before and had rubbed me the wrong way. I personally thought she was coming on 1/12 or at least between 1/12-1/14 when Saturn was at 0 degrees in my birth chart. I had waited and waited for all these dates to roll around, and I'd be lying if I said when 1/12 came and went with no signs of labor I wasn't a little crushed. That day though 1/21 popped in my head. So the days went on, people kept calling and asking if she was here, and I stayed calm. It was going to be 1/21; I knew it.
Well I woke up the morning of 1/21 and felt crushed. Once again, no signs of labor. If the Super Wolf Blood Moon didn't kick something up in the middle of the night, would I ever go into labor?! I cried that morning for the first time, just wanting our daughter to come into the world already. E messaged Shaman Durek and who asked if I was holding onto some form of anxiety or stress, he told me to lay down and put my hands on the right side of my stomach and send emotional signals of how I'm ready to be a mom and part of this spirit's birth.
So that's what I did.
And I cried and cried during it. I didn't realize I was holding onto anything, and then I beat myself up that she was probably ready all those dates we'd hoped for her, but I wasn't. I was holding her back (yup, #momguilt is real even before you've had your baby). Then I texted my friend Natalie what was going on so she went into surrogation for us. When I say “surrogation” I don't mean in the birth sense, but in the spiritual sense where she taps into someone else's subconscious mind.
NOTE: Natalie is a Psych-K facilitator; what that means is she specializes in working with the subconscious and balancing it. For example, we had tested whether or not I truly believed that labor could be easy and quick. It tested weak, so we did a Psych-K balance for it that shifted my subconscious to actually integrate that belief. It's basically like doing years of therapy in a matter of minutes. We had done so many balances around giving birth, postpartum, etc. but I had never thought about whether or not I was ready (she had already tested the baby for her readiness so we knew since before 1/9 that our little girl was ready). She went into my subconscious and tested and sure enough, Shaman was right, my subconscious wasn't ready. Natalie balanced for it.
While in bed…
E and I were lying in bed through this all and he had his hands on my stomach too and he said “that's a contraction.” I was so confused and said, “really?!” Starting to feel excited and hopeful for the first time in days. We laid there as we felt these tiny contractions happening. I wasn't sure if they were Braxton Hicks or the real deal but either way I was so relieved! My body was working! I hadn't had any Braxton Hicks that I'd felt before so when I felt one without having my hands on my stomach it was magical.
Googling: is this labor?
Afterwards, I felt better. We went about our day as usual. Working, cleaning, packing for our upcoming move. Around 10 I was tired so we went to bed. Until I was jolted awake out of the blue at 11:00. It was a different type of jolt then when you wake up from feeling like you were falling, but the same type in the sense that I was deeply sleeping and jaunted awake.
I went back to sleep… only I woke up again in the 12 o'clock hour, and the 1 o'clock hour… By the time it was 2:30 I had woken up three or four times. I decided it was just anxiety or pregnancy insomnia and I needed to go downstairs, eat a bowl of cereal and watch some TV. While downstairs I realized I wasn't just waking up randomly, but possibly having contractions. Now if they were real or Braxton Hicks still remained so I spent the next hour googling signs of early labor. Other than possible contractions and lower back pain I didn't have any.
Around 3:30 or 4 I went back to sleep. But this time I started waking up every 15, 20, or 30 minutes. By 8 o' clock I got up for the day and kind of knew I was in labor, but still hadn't fully admitted it to myself. After all, I'd never experienced any Braxton Hicks and that's all this could be. I told E what was going on and then sat on my yoga ball to do some work for the day.
About an hour into doing work I started realizing this may be the real deal. By 9 o'clock I couldn't focus on what I was reading or doing. I texted our doula, Samara from The Orchid Nest telling her what was going on and decided to move my chiropractor appointment from 10:30 to right when they open at 10:00. The contractions were becoming more frequent at about every 10-15 minutes and a little more intense and I didn't want to have to sit in a waiting room.
“I think, I may be in labor?”
Is what the email to my chiropractor said about rescheduling ??♀️. At the chiropractor I met the sweetest woman who let me take her appointment time. She talked with me all about labor and it was around this time I knew for sure I was having our baby that day. I went in for my adjustment, everything looked good and was aligned for a great delivery thanks to Dr. Ian Shtulman. I went home and had a smoothie before my induction masseuse arrived. Yep, an induction massage.
An induction massage while in labor…
I hadn't planned on doing an induction massage unless I was still pregnant by 1/23. But on 1/21 when I was feeling crushed I decided to call her. My muscles were aching, I was scared I would never have our daughter, and wanted to be able to report some change to my midwife at my appointment on 1/22. I called her to let her know before hand that I thought I was in labor and she said that the massage would be great actually. For first time moms with no signs of labor the massage can take 1-2 days to kick things into gear. So if you're already in labor, it helps release muscles and speeds things up.
She came and we did the 90 minute massage. I hadn't been tracking my contractions at this point, just guestimating them. I guessed they were about 5-10 min apart when she got there, so she started tracking them during the massage and they were 6-9 minutes apart in the beginning. The massage felt amazing and allowed me to finally relax. Having her massage while I was going through the contractions took my mind off of them and really made things so much more manageable.
Afterwards she had my walk through some of the contractions since they were now 4-5 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds. The general rule is you go to the hospital when you're having contractions every 4 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute, for at least an hour. I wasn't quite there yet.
About 15 minutes after the massage, I started to lose my cool. It was becoming harder to walk through the contractions and stay focused. Our lovely landlords (sarcasm if you've been keeping up with that journey) were coming by that day in about an hour or so with a stranger to do something. I was stressed about laboring while they poked around our house and didn't know if I should go to the hospital. I called my doula and she offered to come labor with me at home and suggested I take a bath until she got there. The bath felt amazing between contractions (jacuzzi tub for the win!), but being in the confined space during contractions wasn't working for me.
I got out, showered, and that's when I finally lost my mucous plug. My contractions were about every 3 and a half minutes, still only for 45 seconds and this had been going on for about 20 minutes. At this point no pattern was lasting for an hour either, and I felt like things were just going to keep picking up. My doula said she was on her way around this time, but I told her not to come. I had a feeling that by the time she got to my place, we'd be heading right back to where she came from. She suggested I call my midwife and ask for a labor check appointment before going to the hospital and she'd meet me there.
Heading to my midwife
On the way to my midwife's office I threw up four times. Cute, I know – but hey, that's what they don't tell you about labor! We live about 20-30 minutes from her office and the hospital. I was having to lift myself up during contractions at this point in the car because the pressure from the seat was too much. Around this point is when I asked the husband why I didn't want an epidural again. He reminded me why and I was beyond impressed with how calm and cool he was and how well he remembered my wishes for this birthing experience. Once we got off the highway, I called an audible and said go straight to the hospital. There was no way I'd be able to get in and out of a car a second time. I told my doula what was happening and she met us there.
At the hospital
We got to the hospital around 3:15, I continued walking through my contractions which were probably only 2-3 minutes apart at this point. We went up to our assigned room which was right across from the nurses station. As if I wasn't in labor, my true diva self came out and I asked if we could switch rooms to something quieter; I was nervous about the heavy foot traffic in front of the room and wanted a tranquil hypnobirth ?. Literally when E reminded me that I did that I died laughing so hard.
Our doula arrived around this time, we got into our new room, and everyone was setting everything up. At this point, I was bending over the window sill while my doula and E applied counter pressure to my hips during contractions. I moved to bouncing on my ball while they did they same.
At this point, I still had no idea how “far along” I was. I had only done one cervix check about two weeks prior and I was 1 cm then. At this point, my water still hadn't broken and I didn't know if the baby was going to be here in an hour or 10 hours. Things definitely felt like they were picking up quickly and I was starting to really want some sort of comfort management intervention and was dying for some insight into how much longer this was going to last. The nurse estimated I was 4 cm dilated when not contracting and 6 cm dilated during contractions but was having a hard time telling because my sacs were so full.
I thought there was no way this baby would be coming in the next hour if that's how little I was dilated. At this point I started to really want an epidural. During contractions I was asking for one but between contractions my doula and E reminded me I could try the nitrous oxide since I was okay between contractions, and see if that took the edge off, I'd agree, and then a contraction would hit and I'd ask for the epidural, and then it would pass and I'd ask for the laughing gas.
Yes, I'm still wearing my normal tank top and sports bra, I didn't have time to ever change into the hospital gown!
My water finally breaking
While bouncing on my ball, I all of the sudden stood up with an urge I'd never felt so intensely before in my life and just shouted, “I have to pooooopppp” and my doula said it's okay that's normal. I bent over the bed and like a scene out of a movie my water gushed all over the floor (and my doula's feet, sorry!).
Afterwards, I climbed in bed and was kind of squatting with my arms and face over the top of the bed and within a few minutes my midwife arrived and everyone in the room said they saw the baby's hair! I was SHOCKED. My water had broken like 5 minutes ago. They had to put me on an antibiotic drip because I was GBS positive and they didn't even make it through the dose before baby arrived.
Not believing that everyone actually saw hair, I reached down and touched it! I couldn't believe this was happening so fast. Not even 15 minutes prior I was asking for an epidural, and now she was basically here. Leaning over the bed stopped working since I was moving into pushing and couldn't get the arch I needed in my back. They put up a squat bar and rebozo (a material you basically hold onto to lift yourself during contractions so you're doing a crunch to move the baby out).
That red and black thing is the rebozo.
Reagan started moving out and I could see her when I looked down during contractions! Then I panicked a little and she got stuck kind of half in half out for a couple of contractions. I couldn't figure out my breath quite right at first. In hypnobirthing they teach you to breathe in and out through your nose. But when I was in the push phase I needed to exhale like I was working out and thankfully my doula told me to just blow it out through my mouth. I also full on panicked that she was stuck and it was my fault which took me a contraction to get my head back in the game for.
Once I switched my breathing and refocused, she was here in just a few pushes. I saw her little body shoot out. And with that, she was born less than two hours after we arrived at the hospital.
Holding her for the first time
I honestly don't have words for this, I just couldn't believe she was here and in my arms. She looked beautiful and I couldn't believe it. I thought she'd be covered in the cheesy vernix or more blue or yellow or something but she was perfectly pink and alert and beautiful. She pooped, then pooped in my hand two more times, and then peed in my hand all in the first 10 minutes! It was definitely a moment of “Welcome to Motherhood!” I had to laugh at. The first hour was honestly strange though. I was so relieved and happy to hold her, but also couldn't believe she was here and mine.
She was post term and didn't have that loud cry that you hear in movies when babies are born. We had to jostle her around a bit to get her to cry and a nurse was suctioning stuff out of her mouth. Then I got nervous that something was wrong so the first bit felt a little disconnected as I was trying to process it all. That night talking to E, I felt a little guilty because I didn't have that moment where I felt like my entire world shifted.
Don't get me wrong, I was in absolute awe of her and totally in love, but it didn't feel an overwhelming shift compared to how I felt about her while pregnant. Once the guilt passed I realized that I had already felt that shift happen while I was pregnant and we heard her little heart beat irregularly (more on that here). And then there were so many moments after that day that I felt my entire world shift and heart grow as her mom while I was pregnant. Once we got her home, I had another one of those moments (and many more after that).
I just wanted to put that in here in case you're in a similar boat because I had never heard anyone say it before and thought something was wrong with me until I realized I had already had that moment before she was born and had more of them once we were home. You see, after you deliver there's a ton of adrenaline and at the hospital people are buzzing around. I just wanted to be home with my new little family so I had a more delayed reaction where I didn't feel that overwhelming “my entire world shifted and heart grew 10 million sizes” moment until we were actually home. That's when it hit me that she was really ours and no one was coming in to check on us.
I had a second degree tear which was the most uncomfortable part of recovery. It was uncomfortable to get in and out of bed or sit on it for the first almost week. Then I thought I accidentally popped a stitch while it was healing because I could feel everything. The day that happened, was also the day that my hormones and emotions hit a breaking point and I almost fainted at the pediatrician's office because the appointment was during lunch and I hadn't eaten enough that day. So day six was definitely the roughest. After day 6, my hormones and emotions just flooded out for about a week then balanced out again thankfully.
The next day I went to my midwife and she actually took out what was left of the sutures and thinks I was just having a reaction to the material. After that, everything felt as you'd expect down there. Like I'd done the most intense workout of my life. Some days I've felt nothing, other days I felt the soreness of a really hard workout or being punched down there 100 times. The physical healing hasn't been bad at all though.
Looking back on it all…
It was exactly what I wanted (read how it compares to my birth plan here) but not how I envisioned it. In many ways, I wanted the more tranquil hypnobirth, where I was in a super calm trance – but at the same time, I wanted her to be born within 2 hours of getting to the hospital and for things to still be calm (it was the latter). During labor, especially those final pushes, there were definitely some “primal” moments, but everything really was so calm. Our daughter was born without medications or interventions, in a room full of love which is all I could really ask for.
I can't stress the importance of choosing a birth team that you feel 100% supported by. Around the time my water broke, I remember saying to the nurse (who I had really wanted as our L&D nurse), “I have my birth plan in the top pocket of the suitcase,” she and my doula looked at each other and laughed and said, “this is your birth plan, we all know exactly what you want.” And I truly felt so supported. I never worried about when our midwife would arrive because I knew everyone was on the same page, and when she did arrive her presence was so calming. When I had my mini melt-down while pushing that Reagan was stuck, I could just hear my midwife so clearly saying, “let go of the fear,” and with that Reagan was born within the next push or two.