It’s been nearly four months since I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, Mila. During this time, I’ve learned to appreciate being truly present and slowing down. Having a baby has been the hardest transition I’ve experienced in my life. It’s also the most amazing blessing.
My pregnancy journey was an exhausting one. I was incorrectly told at 7 weeks that I would miscarry, again, due to a blighted ovum. I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum, placenta previa, restless legs, episodes with my Neurocardiogenic syncope condition, insomnia, major acid reflux, and the general aches and pains with my body growing and changing. Truth be told, I disliked being pregnant more than I enjoyed it. I loved seeing and hearing her heartbeat and watching her grow via ultrasound, and I loved when I began to feel the flutters, kicks and movements. Aside from those moments, I was counting down the days until it was time to have her in my arms.
Labor and delivery has been one of the reasons why I was afraid of becoming a mom. When I say I was terrified, I am not exaggerating. I. Was. Terrified. So many things can go wrong, I do not have a high pain tolerance, I have a heart condition, I was completely drained from being pregnant, yet I somehow reached the point of feeling ready. With having placenta previa, the initial plan was to schedule a C-section which was something I thought I wanted. Having a set plan and not having to labor for hours sounded ideal to me. However, around 24 weeks my placenta shifted as did the scheduled C-section plan. Even having a due date, you never know when the baby will decide to make their entrance. With Mila measuring large and other factors considered, we scheduled an induction two days after my due date to be safe.
My induction was scheduled for January 4th at 5:00pm. The plan was to begin Cytotec that evening and if labor was slow and steady through the night then they would administer Pitocin in the morning when my OB arrived. Surprisingly, that morning I woke up and noticed a puddle on our sheets while I was making the bed. It completely caught me off guard and then I realized “my water broke!” I called my OB’s office and they advised me to make my way to the hospital. Unsure if I was having contractions, I wasn’t in pain or unable to speak like people described so I decided to have THE shower. You know – exfoliation, hair washing, facial mask, shaving – the whole nine. Bryan was getting nervous and thought I was going to start laboring while I was blow drying my hair. Ha. We eventually packed up the car, but I was hungry of course so we grabbed Chick-fil-A on the way.
We arrived at the hospital at 2:00pm, checked in, I changed into my gown, and when the nurse came in to check if I was dilated I was already measuring 3cm and 80% effaced. Our nurse told me that I was in active labor on my own, and that the induction plan was no longer needed! My body was doing everything naturally. She attached the fetal monitor and contraction monitor and little did I know, I was indeed contracting. What I thought were Braxton hicks or Mila’s movements were actually contractions, I just didn’t think they were strong like I’d been warned. But, then… they became more intense. I really wanted to have my nails done, so I literally painted my nails to try to distract myself from the contractions. Our nurse was amazing and continued to check on me as labor began to progress. She encouraged me that I would have this baby tonight! That’s when reality really hit. I labored naturally for a few hours and then decided it was time for the epidural. I was nervous to wait too long and that I would be unable to sit still for the anesthesiologist to administer it. Around 6:30pm I received the epidural and they gave me a small dose of Pitocin to keep labor in motion.
Receiving an epidural is a hot topic, but it’s a personal choice. I felt prepared because I conducted a lot of research and talked to many women that had experienced labor with and without one. I continued to dilate and my contractions were staying steady. Once the epidural kicked in, you’re basically numb from the waist down. I was using the peanut in between my legs to eliminate pressure so the nurses would periodically come to help reposition my body from side to side. It was now 8:45pm and I was tired. Bryan and I decided we would try to take a nap, but suddenly the nurses came flying into our room. They are able to monitor everything from the nurses station in the hallway and were alerted that my blood pressure had dropped significantly. My BP was 73/51 and dropping so they paged the doctor and it was like a scene from Grey’s Anatomy. He charged into my room, pulled the blankets off of me and gave me a shot of Ephedrine in my thigh. My fear with laboring was that I would have to have an emergency C-section if my heart became too weak and I would lose consciousness too many times. Of course my main concern was Mila’s health and delivering her in the safest possible manner. This was the first time I cried during the entire process and I told Bryan to please advocate for me in case my fears would become reality. I never lost consciousness, but I have a history of fainting and experienced blackouts so many times during the third trimester. Thankfully, my BP elevated and remained at healthy levels.
The only other hiccup I experienced were full body shakes. They started shortly after the epidural and lasted for seven hours. I continued to dilate over the next few hours, became 9cm dilated, and then finally 10cm around 12:45am. Bryan was right beside me the entire time and our nurse sat on the bed as she coached me through the contractions. Luckily, I could feel the contractions and knew when to push. However, with this being my first, I didn’t really understand HOW to push! Especially with the feeling minimized due to the epidural, it didn’t quite make sense to me for awhile. I had my feet in the stirrups, chin to chest, inhaling and holding my breath for 10 seconds as I pushed, but it didn’t feel like I was making progress because I could still feel Mila moving high in my abdomen. And then, the nurse told me she could see her hair. I became so emotional and asked what color it was and she said “it’s brown.” In that moment, it was like I suddenly knew what to do. I remember watching the clock and suddenly an hour had passed. I was completely drained and knew I wouldn’t be able to do this for hours. A few more nurses came in the room, followed by my OB, and 15 minutes later, Mila was born. I pushed for 75 minutes, knowing anything could happen during this time, but determined to deliver my girl and hold her as soon as I could.
I will NEVER forget when the doctor pulled her up and I saw her eyes for the first time. Crying as I type this, it is the most spiritual, moving, life-changing moment and I felt as if I was standing next to myself witnessing this miracle and seeing my baby come to life. The nurses were so positive and cheering for us, singing “Happy Birthday” to our girl. It was pure magic. She began to cry, they placed her on my chest, and Bryan cut the umbilical cord. There are no words to describe the euphoria, but I could not have asked for a better experience. I was saying all during my pregnancy that she was going to be strong. She was only a few minutes old, raised her tiny head and looked right into my eyes as if she was saying “hi mom!” Everything changed then. Everything. I knew I would never be the same as I had been before. I was so proud of myself. In complete amazement, I knew that my heart would forever be living on the outside of my body.
We stayed in the delivery room for about an hour and half. I had first degree tearing in a few locations and received stitches as the nurses cleaned Mila. She latched on her own and began breastfeeding during the sweet golden hour. They transferred us to the Mother Baby unit around 4:00am. The exhaustion and fatigue reached a new level and I was desperate to sleep. Mila slept in her bassinet for about an hour before people started coming into our room. No one shares in detail about the constant interruptions. Between the nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, pediatricians, and other staff it was impossible to sleep. To add to the increasing pain I was feeling physically, I was consistently low on iron and obviously bleeding heavily. The thermostat in our room was malfunctioning and the temperature continued to increase to 79° regardless of how low we would set it. I was sweating and miserable at this point.
Mila was doing well although she was initially jaundiced and we were told we may need to stay one more night. They needed us to finalize the paperwork with her full name before we were discharged. We had chosen her first name just days prior to being born, but I was still not certain on her middle name. Bryan and I were disagreeing and this caused my first emotional breakdown. The nurse came in as I was leaned over the railing of my bed, sobbing, and asked if there was anything she could help with. She was so sweet and conducted a poll with the nurses to help me decide between the two middle names we were considering. Most nurses are so empathetic and we were thankful to have great care the entire time. She reminded me that crying is a release and I needed to let it out no matter what the reasoning. I finally completed the social security paperwork, but my iron levels were once again low. At this point I just wanted to go home, but I was required to stay to receive an iron treatment via IV. Around 5:00pm we were discharged and on our way home by 6:00pm.
Every pregnancy, every birth story, every woman and baby are all unique. I feel incredibly blessed to have such an incredibly supportive husband by my side through every single moment of this journey. It’s changed our relationship in many ways, challenged us both individually and as a couple, but I could not have chosen a better father for our daughter. I would do it all over again and endure every difficult phase to have our precious daughter. We are so in love with her and will always share these memories together.
I would love to hear about your birth story and if you experienced any similarities! If you have any questions at all, please reach out to me. As always, thank you so much for being here and allowing me the space to share my story!
♡ ♡ ♡ ♡