As you may have heard, every pregnancy, every baby, and every birth are different, but I’d like to add that the same goes for mothers both first-time and repeat moms.
The early days go by so fast. I didn’t realize it last time. Being a first time mom was like being thrust into a tornado of all things beautiful and difficult led by every emotion felt all at once with postpartum depression and anxiety in the driver’s seat. Understatedly, it was rough.
This time is different. Or maybe I’m still too sleep deprived to notice. But I’m soaking it in. I feel impossibly tired but happy and content. I actually feel like I was made for this. I’m much more confident in myself this time. I’m not allowing myself to be swayed by an unrealistic perception of motherhood. And, I have a little insight; a lay of the land, though the terrain is a bit different.
I don’t want to just survive or get through the day the way I did before. I realize a lot of that was beyond my control, but I didn’t know that in the moment. It’s hard to see straight when you’re in the thick of it. I’m letting myself enjoy this limited time. I’m not wishing to speed through it. Although, during those late night feedings I want nothing more than to get back to “sleep,” I’m still thankful to be able to experience this again.
I’m not sayin it’s easy. I’m not a pro, despite the doctors and nurses telling me during recovery “but you’ve done this so you already know.” Tell me again. Remind me how to do it again because I need to hear it. Coach me on how to do this or that. I’m a new mama to two little ones now. It’s new. I want your guidance and your words of wisdom. I need your encouragement.
Things new moms always appreciate hearing especially when we’re not expecting it, “I don’t know if you’ve heard this today but you’re doing so well. Keep it up mama. You’re doing great.” Followed by, “how are YOU?”
The Birth Story
On August 15 I got the call that my bed was finally ready and waiting for us. I had an induction scheduled for the 12th, but with covid restrictions and a crowded labor and delivery unit, there simply wasn’t space. An induction wasn’t initially something I planned on, but if I’ve learned anything from being a mama and a yoga teacher, it’s to be flexible.
Anyway, little did I know I was actually already in labor, for days in fact. Which is to say, I apparently am one of those people who doesn’t know they’re in labor even though people always say “you’ll know,” I didn’t lol.
I was 2cm dilated when we arrived at the hospital at 1:30pm. I was given medicine to help my cervix dilate a bit more and then I was given a very low dose of pitocin to encourage my contractions. And I didn’t need much to get things going. I made great progress and the process was much quicker this time. My water was broke and then I entered active labor. I breathed through each surge allowing my body to relax and do what it needed to do. I felt proud of myself that I went into this labor prepared. I practiced my breathing while pregnant as well as different positions. My cervix dilated 2 more cm in a very short period of time. A few hours after that I entered transition and switched breathing techniques to distract myself from the intense surges. I was totally tuned in and it was a powerful feeling. Trusting my body to do what it is designed to do. I put on my labor playlist, I swayed my hips and circled them. I followed my body’s cues.
At 7 cm I felt the immense need to push. After spending the last several hours reminding my body to relax I now needed to straddle the line between relaxing baby into the birth canal while also holding her in place and breathing through pain I didn’t know was humanly possible to feel. I opted for nitrous gas in an effort to take the edge off, but it only made me feel light headed and offered no relief.
At 8cm I needed to push badly, the need became greater. My breath was escaping me and I could feel myself losing control. I was clenching up. Drawing in air was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to push. So, the doctor came in and checked my cervix again. “We’re just not there yet and I need you to hold on, we need to protect your cervix. You can’t push now.” It felt impossible, ignoring what my body wanted and accepting what I was being asked to do. My contractions were stacked on top of the other. If there were breaks in between surges, I didn’t notice. My mind fixated on this. The incoming wave, a loud moan, the wave drifting away; the whole process without pause. I communicated in quick, fragmented sentences, sometimes spread between surges. I needed to push. My body begged me to. But I can’t. We’re not there yet.
The anesthesiologist came in with the epidural I ordered. This process took so long, it felt like an eternity. In my head I recited “just one wave at a time, just one wave closer” as I begged for the drugs. I squeezed the nurse’s hands as they asked my husband to wait outside. I couldn’t hold in my baby, I thought to myself. I couldn’t breathe with control. I felt her drop lower into my pelvis. Finally, my feet tingled but I still felt the powerful surges. By the time I laid down to catch my breath the doctor checked my cervix. I was 9.5cm, just a ridge of cervix left. The epidural still hadn’t set in completely and I was nearly fully dilated. I started to feel like a failure but I essentially had done it. And my husband was so supportive as was my nurse who both told me I was a rockstar and that all the epidural meant was that I needed to rest and that’s okay. My contractions nearly all but stopped, so we waited another hour before my body was ready. I was started again on a small boost of pitocin. Still, I wouldn’t do anything different. My body seemed to prefer no epidural, it was able to progress through labor quickly, but it also needed the break. As my heart calmed and my body felt more at ease I realized that I had no regrets about anything. I felt that in that exact moment, not after my baby was born.
I called the shots.
Nobody influenced me.
I was in control of my entire experience and that was extremely empowering to me.
Shortly after that, within 3 contractions I pushed my beautiful baby girl out and I sobbed. I felt her leave my body in one moment and on my chest in the next. We both cried. We prayed for this baby for 13 months. And then another 9 months while my body grew her. Every tear that fell from my eyes carried 22 months worth of hope, gratitude and pure joy.
We did it.
She’s here and she’s perfect and we’re both healthy.
My little Leo babe was born August 16 at 8:25am. 7lbs 13 oz, dark hair, a lanky 21.5 inches long and more beautiful than I could ever describe.
My body did that and I’ve never been more proud.
I want my birth story to inspire hope and provide encouragement. It is worth saying that however you birth your baby is the story that was meant for you. Embrace it. For me, with my first baby, Jade, I went in and let labor happen to me; I didn’t research or practice anything and even though I didn’t want an epidural with that birth either, I received one and had a less than ideal experience. Plus, I had a feeling that it wasn’t a great match for my body. With Juniper, I planned, prepared, and practiced, and it paid off. I followed my intuition and had a completely different experience, one that I love. In regard to my description of what contractions felt like, I don’t want that to scare you. Labor is extraordinary, and it’s helpful to be realistic about it. That being said, how intense each woman’s contractions are varies and is determined by how many nerve endings are on your uterus. Beyond your control babe, so embrace where you are.