On February 7th, we welcomed little H into the world at 2:42 PM. The sun was shining in the windows as he was placed on my belly and we all met for the very first time. Just over a month later and it still feels just as fresh as that moment. I debated whether or not to share our story. So much of this journey has felt so intimate, private, and personal that I haven’t been sure how or which way to share it. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could, but I also know that these moments in life are what make life the beautiful thing it is. As I sit here next to our little one sleeping in his bassinet at 1 month old, I am thinking about the steps it took to get him right there: safe and sound, and perfect in every way. I think about the emotions we went through, the blessing of health we had along the way, the care we were given to bring him into our lives, and what we learned along the way. Everyone’s story in this moment is different and I won’t be an oversharer of our birth experience, but I wanted to share what did happen, what it taught us, and even more importantly, what life was like leading up to the moment we met our little one 4 weeks ago.
The Tuesday before he was born I went in for my normal midwife appointment. The weeks leading up to that Tuesday, I had been struggling with some erratic blood pressure and was coming in twice a week for monitoring at this point. Their concern was the possibility for me developing pre-eclampsia and whether my body was supplying the proper nutrients to him due to the high blood pressure. Having a very healthy and active pregnancy up to that point it was slightly alarming to be dealing with these appointments twice a week. I had believed myself invinsible in some way becaues of how I cared for myself before and during pregnancy. Oh the naivety we have in life, am I right? Come to find out high blood pressure has no connection at the end to how healthy you lifestyle choices are or were. It is simply just how your body is handling the amount of blood you now have in you and the life that is growing inside you, especially at the very end. At this appointment they decided that the following Friday when I came in they wanted to do a full fetal stress test, ultrasound to measure fluid levels, and blood work again. Though this was all pretty scary, we were happy that I was receiving such good care and they were being conservative and respectful of my wishes and desires.
Throughout our pregnancy we had been seeing a practice with doctors and midwives, but we had been seeing the midwives in particular since my pregnancy was healthy and low risk even with the blood pressure issues at the end. This kind of practice made me feel good and safe as I am someone who gets pretty anxious about anything potentially medically related, but I beleived I could have a positive and low-intervention birth even within a hospital if I chose the right team to take care of us during this time. We loved our midwives we saw and felt they walked the line of medical and holistic on everything very well. So, I knew if they had concerns than there really was something for us to begin to consider.
When that Friday appointment came and after going through all of the tests that day, we found out that my blood pressure was affecting the function of my placenta as they had been concerned about and my fluid levels were on the low side. To top it off he hadn’t grown much in a few weeks and in fact I had lost nearly 4 pounds in just a few days. Both of these indicators were signs that his health in the womb had peaked and he needed to be born in the next couple of days if we wanted to avoid any complications. Though he was still healthy and active their fear was that as we approached 40 weeks his strength would begin declining since he was at the end of his thriving time in the womb. What this meant was that the longer we waited the less strength he would have to make it through natural labor and he would quickly go into distress, which would result in a c-section, thus not offering me the opportunity to have a low-intervention birth as I had wanted. Our midwife also shared that she herself went through a similar situation with her first and held out too long and her son went into distress and wasn’t able to have the birth she had hoped for. She wanted to give me the most positive and close to my ideal birth as possible.
Our midwife wanted me to come back in on Sunday to be checked out and do more blood work, but she also offered to plan an induction. She felt after checking me in my nether region that I was ready to hit the ground running and she felt I could have a successful labor the earlier we did it and the stronger he was. She left us to discuss as she tied up some loose ends of our appointment and it felt like one of the most important 15 minutes in our life. In the grand scheme of things it really was major looking back. It most likely was the deciding factor of whether or not we would have a healthy and non-stressful delivery or not. Sitting in that room we felt like we were making one of the first major decisions as parents. We weighed both what our ultimate goal (healthy me and him with low-interventions) and what our gut told us. We both looked at each other and knew we would be meeting our son Sunday and my hunches of having a Super Bowl Baby was a real possibility.
The last few weeks of pregnancy is a pretty untalked about and difficult time. As women I think we want to move inward and not share about it, because it is instinct. There are some serious concerns that can arise and I never realized this till I went through it myself. Then as I shared my difficulties I began hearing from other moms their experiences. Sometimes dreams of specific goals have to be let go. It doesn’t make you a failure and unfortunately society makes you think that maybe you are because you aren’t fighting anymore for whatever perfect vision you had. This in-between time is only preparation of what life will be like in that 4th trimester I am convinced now finishing up our first month with him. Those final days and weeks are hard already with the discomfort, the waiting, and the feeling as if your body has been taken over completely. You then top it off with the onset of weekly reminders you are something of a ticking time bomb both from a “I could give birth anytime” to “something is not working anymore.” During this time our doula sent me this article as I walked through the last few weeks. It was so helpful and made me feel not so alone as I felt fearful of all the things that could go wrong in this process, especially now knowing I would be hooked up to an IV and have constant monitoring of me and him during labor. More importantly, it reminded me that this time is fleeting, short, and though monumental it would be leading us into the greatest journey all 3 of us would experience. Not that that makes the waiting, discomforts, and unknown any easier, but it did make me feel it was more possible.
The rest of that weekend we focused on eating well, doing all the things to see if labor may just happen on its own. We did a lot of walking, “medicinal sex” as we dubbed it, acupuncture, massage, red raspberry leaf tea, eating dates, evening primrose, you name it we tried it! I figured at the least it would progress me further along to be more prepared for the induction or it would get things started and I could avoid the medical kick start.
The Saturday night before going in for our induction, I was a bundle of nerves. It felt like the night before a battle or a huge marathon. I had gone through a Hypnobabies class and spent the night listening to all the tracks I could whenever my anxiety would creep in. I didn’t sleep as much as I would have liked, but by the time we woke up I felt ready both emotionally and physically. I was having early signs of labor and I knew this was the right thing we were doing.
As we drove in, it wasn’t anything like we had anticipated or expected. The roads were clear, we weren’t in a rush, I was calm, and I didn’t have any contractions. There was a calm to the drive as the lights of the highway flickered before the sun rose. We talked about how perfect it was he would be born a week before Mike’s birthday and that he was smack dab between our birthdays. We knew he would be an Aquarius and that we were getting an extra week we never expected with him. It was a far different and significant drive than we ever believed we would have or had prepared for, but it felt very right for us.
Arriving at the hospital, it was simple and we got settled quickly. They prepped me for the induction and for the first time in my life experienced being hooked to all sorts of chords. It wasn’t how I wanted to labor by any means, but I knew this was the train we were on and I needed to embrace the experience. I was trusting that my body would take over and do what it knew how to do. It wasn’t long after our doula arrived at about 9 AM things began starting and my drip was very low. By 10 AM I was in active labor. I knew contractions with the induction would be intense and less natural and they were, but with the help of Mike, our doula, and an amazing staff from our practice in 3.5 hours we met our little one for the first time. My fears of an induced labor were all smashed. Though intense, I went without an epidural (frankly it scared me more than labor itself) and I know it was from the practice of something such as Hypnobabies that I was able to remain as close to my birth plan as possible. It helped me see past each wave, not lose sight of my goals of bringing him to us, bring me ease, remind me to relax and not fight, and most importantly to trust my body. Learning that my mind was my greatest obstacle kept me focusing on letting go with every wave that would come. It was fast and wild, hard and beautiful, and no words could tell you how it all felt in the moment as I watched Mike’s face as we held our child for the first time or how I felt as a woman in that moment. It literally has taken me weeks to figure out how to share this part of our life here. It was a powerful, raw, and deeply human moment that if it is an experience you choose as a woman it will forever change you in so many ways.
That time being in our labor room as they did some stitching, they showed us how my placenta was not functioning properly and aged it at 42 weeks not even 40 weeks (even though I delivered just after my 39th week). That was when I knew we had made the right decision. He was ready and my body was more than ready.
Now being nearly a month postpartum I plan to share about the first few weeks, but I want to tell you that I also have realized being both near and far from my own experience that it has taught me that when we are able to set aside expectations for what will be we are more capable of allowing life to flow through us. It allows pain, exhaustion, love, frustration, joy, and everything else to exist as it is with nothing else in its way. I found that when I do that I can more easily let the hard things pass by and more deeply feel the good. Labor showed me this. As each deep wave came and went I focused beyond them. I didn’t think about the peak, I thought about the otherside of the relief and the good. It reminded me each time that nothing good in life comes without pain or discomfort. This was one of those moments in the most mortal way possible. More than ever this lesson is important as a new parent.
The truth is that I could have been disappointed by being induced, but the moment I set aside my expectations I was able to accept and move forward into the reality of what was intended to come. I learned then that, expectations can rob us of the real experience we are meant to have. Looking back none of this would be what I could have expected in all the good and the bad ways, but I know without a doubt this is how it was meant to be for us. This is our story and if I was far more focused on what didn’t meet my expectation I would be losing out on the beauty of what has been placed before us: health, a son, a sweet life, a gift, joy, and a new perspective on humanity. Things would feel harder and more impossible. Instead breathing through those exhausting times and the pain both then and now as new parents has opened more room for us to see how beautiful this time is and how it is forming us into more present and discplined humans, thus making us better for our son who is now the only thing we want to be our best selves for.
I never intended to share our story of birth or what happened in those final weeks, because honestly I didn’t feel it would be something worth sharing. I refused to read other stories because I didn’t want to place things in my head and I felt I was sneaking into someone’s life in a way that I didn’t feel okay about because of how personal these times and decisions are. But after the time has passed I see that there was something worth telling and sharing not because of how things went but because of how it changed us.
Most importantly, Our story is our story and I have the utmost respect for any woman who bears and births a child no matter how it happens. Women are amazing and no matter how each woman has or chooses to bring their little one into the world is a very personal and individual decision and journey. Now more than ever I understand that so feel free to share your own stories or if you are in the final weeks I hope you find some comfort from our story. Life is a precious and beautiful thing worth sharing there is no doubt in whatever form it comes into our path.
Thanks for being so kind and excited for us during this time. I am happy to answer any questions or expand further on certain topics as well or if you would like to see a specific post about anything let me know!
The above photos were from our first morning at home after being at the hospital and from the moments after birth itself.