The last few weeks before our little babe was born, I had a feeling she was coming early. Around 36 weeks, I felt my hips begin to spread and she had been positioned low throughout my entire pregnancy. At my baby shower (when I was 35 weeks) I told people I thought she was coming early. Some people told me not to become obsessed with the idea, in case she decided to come late. I told them I wasn’t, but in my head I just knew. Three weeks later (when I was 38 weeks) and we had our last prenatal meeting with our doulas - Mari and Sammi. They asked how I was feeling and I told them I felt good overall - I was able to remain active throughout my pregnancy (specifically getting our dogs out for walks) every day. We went over a variety of comfort measures for while I was in labor so Justin could see what they looked like and practice with me. We had already practiced some prior to this. Swaying and putting my hands on his shoulders was one of my favorites, along with sitting on the birth ball. I did mention to them that I had a feeling she would be here soon. One of our doulas, Mari is also a Reiki practitioner. (If you’re interested in learning more about what Reiki is, let me know so I can tell you more!) She asked if she could read her energy and of course I said yes. She said that our little babe did in fact have some crazy energy, which I had been feeling. Before they left, they told us to call or text them with ANY changes we noticed, as baby could literally make her debut any day at this point.
Fast forward to the next day, a Thursday afternoon. I went about my day like usual - took the pups out for a nice long walk that morning, followed by running some errands. The only things that were different were a visit with my grandmother and going to my chiropractor, Jacqueline (Live Well Chiropractic) to get adjusted. She didn’t touch any labor induction points while I was there, but after leaving my appointment is when I noticed some changes in my body. I walked over to Magic Beans afterwards just to browse all the baby goodies, when I felt a small gush of fluid. At first I thought it might have been my water breaking, but it wasn’t a big gush and I didn’t feel any leaking after that. I went over to my Dad’s house to walk his pups since he was working late. Once I got to his house, I wanted to take some pictures of my bump for some reason. While I was walking them, I began to feel a bit crampy. This was definitely a change, since I hadn’t felt crampy since the last time I had my period. I had a feeling that things may be moving along, so I had a little conversation with our babe. I asked her to work with me if I was in fact going to go into labor soon. That we would work together to bring her into the world. After walking the dogs, I decided it would be a good idea to mention these changes to Justin and our doulas. I texted them both but still went about my day since nothing else was happening. This was around 3:30-4:00. Mari told me that they would check in with me again in about an hour. When they checked in again, I was back home and still feeling a little crampy. Being a doula, I know that cramps can last for days or some times even weeks before your body actually goes into labor. When Mari checked in again around 5:00, I told her I felt the same, to which she said they would check in around 8:00, but to keep them updated on any other changes.
Sure enough, changes began to happen within the next few hours. When Justin got home around 6, I told him we should install the other car seat base in his car as we were planning on driving his to the birth center whenever I did go into labor. Once I told him that, I think it put him into “oh shit, this is really happening” mode. He went and got gas and finished packing his hospital bag before we sat down to eat dinner. I was attempting to eat a sandwich around 7:30-7:45, while sitting on the birth ball at the dining room table when I realized the cramping was getting more uncomfortable. I tried walking around and even laying down in our room with the lights off to see if that changed anything - it didn’t. I decided to call Mari again before her scheduled check in at 8:00. We discussed calling the midwives to check in and see about heading in to the birth center. There’s always the chance that they will tell you to go back home if you’re not in true, active labor. I didn’t want that to happen, so I gave them a call. They were taking a bit to call me back, so I decided to hop in the shower in the mean time. I gave Justin my phone and asked him to come in the bathroom with it if they called. As I was showering, I talked to our babe again - asking her to work with me. Sure enough, 30 seconds before Justin walked into the bathroom with the midwives on the phone, my water broke. And while I was updating them on all of the changes I was feeling, my mucus plug came out as well. After chatting with them, we decided to put our bags in the car and head to the birth center. This was around 9:00.
This is when my labor really started to pick up and holy crap did it pick up fast. I started timing my contractions with the contraction timer on my phone while I got dressed and tried to make sure we had everything we’d need. At first, my contractions were a bit sporadic - ranging from 3-5 minutes in between - none that were too consistent. By the time we got into the car (around 9:30-9:45), my contractions were getting more intense and closer together. Sitting down, in a car, working through contractions was definitely not my favorite thing. I learned quickly that movement was key for me during labor. (When we talk about our birth story, Justin always likes to mention that despite having contractions - I was still giving him directions to make sure that he knew where he was going). We had to go through the emergency entrance once we arrived to the birth center, since it was later at night. When we drove into the parking garage, there weren’t any spots near the door so we just parked and put the flashers on while we ran inside.
At this point, my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. We got up to the labor and delivery floor and went right into triage. A few minutes after we got up there, they called to tell us that Justin needed to go move his car. While he was doing that, I was laboring in triage and ended up throwing up what I had eaten for dinner. Again, as a doula I was wondering if I was moving into transition but thought it would be too soon for that. (Also, of note, I really HATE throwing up and just wanted Justin after that happened). Luckily, he was back with me in no time. And a few minutes after that, Mari arrived as well. Despite going through intense contractions, I realized and informed Justin that we needed to call our birth photographer. Luckily, she doesn’t live too far away! While in triage, they wanted to monitor our babe for at least 20 minutes to make sure she was doing okay. The thing that sucked about the monitoring was that they wanted me to be in bed during the contractions. Like I said earlier, movement was key during my labor - so this part of it was very unpleasant for me. They also checked me while we were still in triage to see how I was progressing. I was 2 cm dilated, 80% effaced and our babe was at -2 station. So my body was definitely making things happen, but I needed to dilate before we could even talk about pushing.
Shortly after they checked me, we moved into a room - labor and delivery room 8. I’m thankful we got into a room because it turns out that the rooms filled up quickly because LOTS of other people went into labor that night. Once we were in the room, it felt like my contractions intensified even more. I relied on both Justin and Mari to help me through contractions. Some of my contractions were supported by one or the other, but during most of my contractions I was supported by both of them. At this point, our birth photographer, Ashley (Document Now Photography) arrived. I was relieved she got there in time, because with how intense my contractions were, I truly had no idea when our babe was going to arrive. Like I said, my contractions were intensifying and they were getting closer together. We decided to do another check to see if I had progressed - this was about an hour and a half after we arrived at the birth center. At this point, I was 7 centimeters dilated - things were moving along and they were moving fast.
Movement felt best for me during labor. I swayed with Justin A LOT. When we practiced at home, we swayed with our heads together. Apparently, I wasn’t a fan of that when I was in labor; I literally pushed his head up so I could lean into his chest and hold onto his shoulders as I worked through the contractions. Mari provided hip squeezes and counter pressure on my back and showed Justin how to do it too. They were both there for me, throughout my entire labor. They continued to remind me to breathe, to make low sounds rather than high sounds and told me I could do it. I will openly admit, there was one point where I THOUGHT about an epidural. But then I told myself two things: 1) they don’t have those here and 2) this isn’t THAT bad and I’ve gotten this far already. My birth preference had been to have a natural childbirth and damnit I was going to do my best to do so.
At this point in my labor, I began feeling a ton of pressure - like I either had to poop or begin to push. While reflecting back on my labor, I realized that the hardest part for me was the hemorrhoids that showed up when I was getting close to pushing. Prior to being in labor, I never had hemorrhoids. I got on the bed on all fours, with head of the bed raised so I could lean on it. While I was in this position, they checked me again - I was fully dilated! I’m not sure exactly what time it was, I’d guess around 12:45 or 1:00 AM. I never thought that I would end up pushing on my back, considering movement felt so good for me and I didn’t think I would want to be confined to a bed. But I did in fact end up pushing on my back and I think the main reason was because it took the pressure off of my hemorrhoids. It felt good to be on my back and I was excited to start pushing because I knew our babe would be here soon.
I could feel our babe really low, ready to come into the world and all I wanted to do was meet her. I knew that I was in the home stretch but was also beginning to get tired because everything about my labor was fast and intense. Our labor and delivery team came in and began to get ready. Justin and Mari were on my right side supporting me through each contraction. Justin kept telling me that I was doing an amazing job and I was almost done. His words, Mari’s words and one of the nurse’s words truly helped me through the pushing phase. After pushing for a bit, I began to feel frustrated - like I wasn’t making any progress. But things had been moving quickly and all of the sudden her head was beginning to crown. I have to say it was incredible to be able to feel her head right there. Personally, I didn’t feel the “ring of fire” but I think it’s because my hemorrhoids distracted me from it. They told me that I could reach down and feel her head if I wanted to. At first I didn’t and I’m not totally sure why. But then a few minutes later, I decided to. Her head felt squishy and warm, not like a head. Feeling her head right there, coming out, motivated me to really give it my all so we could meet her. The other thing that made me want to meet her even more was when they said “look at all that hair”. I was SO excited that she had hair. I wanted her to have hair, I had a head full of hair when I was born, but Justin was bald so I wasn’t sure if she would.
Justin says that as soon as I heard that she had a head full of hair, I was even more motivated to push. There was also a nurse who came in during the pushing phase who really helped. When she first came in, I was about to ask her to leave because she smelled like cigarettes. But all of the sudden she began cheering me on like a football coach. With everyone encouraging me and supporting me, I knew that I could keep going to bring Tallulah into the world. I could feel her moving down lower and lower. I knew she was there and began pushing with all my might because I just wanted her in my arms. They asked if I wanted to reach down and help bring her into the world. Before I knew it, her head was out and then her body right after. Our midwife, Wren, helped me get my hands under her shoulders and bring her up onto my belly. My umbilical cord was short so I couldn’t fully put her up on my chest. I couldn’t believe it, our sweet girl was here. She was born at 2:14 AM on Friday July 12th. Our healthy, feisty, little babe. I’ll never forget the moment we saw her for the first time. She was so perfect, beautiful and calm. I held her until my umbilical cord stopped pulsing. While I was holding her, she was wide awake and bright eyed - looking around. She fussed a little bit but was calm and content for the most part. After holding her for awhile, I cut the cord and they brought her over to the warmer to check her out. She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 3/4 inches long; our perfect little Lula.
Justin couldn’t wait to hold her after they looked at her. I couldn’t wait to see him with her and also look at her myself. It was hard to fully see what she looked like before I cut my umbilical cord. Seeing her in his arms was another moment I’ll never forget. I couldn’t believe that she was here and we made her. Seeing the person you love with all your heart with the baby you made together makes your heart explode. We all moved to postpartum room together. It was about 4:45-5:00 AM at this point, but we were wide awake. We were so excited to soak in those first few hours as a family of three. We stared at her, snuggled her and I attempted to feed her for the first time. After a few hours, we decided we should attempt to rest. So we settled in together and slept. My labor was between 5 1/2-6 hours long. The nurses said I should consider camping out at the birth center for baby number two. It was a crazy ride, but we all did it together and I can’t wait to do everything in this life together.
Photo Credit: Ashley O’Connell (Document Now Photography)