Birth Stories, Uncategorized

“I Led the Whole Way” – Brittney’s Second Birth Story

About You – Brittney Melton. Mom of 2. This will be about my second child. A much different birthing experience. This time I wanted a VBAC.

 
How did you find out you were pregnant? It was a surprise. I planned. We went on a vacation and I suspected we were. Took a test along and everything. Negative… came back from trip still thinking I may be. Waited and knew my cycle should’ve surely started. Took a test. Positive. I didn’t know if was quite ready for another. My first was only 19-20 months old. God had other plans. And I’m so glad.

 
What was your birth philosophy before you gave birth? How were you expecting it to be? I knew I wanted different this go around. Having had an emergency csection – completely unaware about csection and thought I’d never have one – I was determined for a VBAC.

 
How did you approach planning your birth? Did you take classes, read books, meditate, or seek out guidance from someone in particular? We actually took a class! We hadn’t the first time because my doctor told me we’d prob not need it because she’s be there telling me what to do. Well, she wasn’t there and baby wasn’t doing well so c-section it was. This time I asked to try for a VBAC and it was denied by my doctor who said her practice wouldn’t perform one. So, I sought out a new doctor. Bye old doctor. Changing doctors was scary but in the end such the right choice! He listened to what I wanted. Gave me the risks, looked over previous medical history from my first birth and said I’d be a great candidate. I trusted him fully with the plan. I wouldn’t have changed a thing and loved my second doctor.

 
How did you plan to deliver? VBAC with my OB. For precaution we would have an epidural in case things went south quickly. Otherwise they’d have to be me out to perform [a c-section] and I did not want that.

 
What were the most important goals or areas of focus for you in respect to your birth? I just wanted the vaginal birth I’d dreamed of. I wanted to actually experience and “do it” myself. I felt that was taken away from me. And I am in no way saying it’s not real birth… c-section IS birth – with scars to prove. I just wanted a chance at what my heart desired. This doctor gave me that chance.

 
And now for the good stuff…Here’s Brittney’s second birth story! Just like my firstborn… my secondborn was late. Her due date was 2/12. I had one false labor on 2/8. Doctor even though it was go time and admited me overnight. Being a VBAC patient he wanted to insure that we were super cautious. So any intense contractions for longer than a few hours he wanted me in to be checked in case of an emergency.

 

They were strong alright. Strong enough to not talk, shhh, close my eyes strong. And I couldn’t walk. Sometime from being admitted at 5, eating dinner with friends and watching the super bowl… the high intensity wore off around 3 in the morning. I was no longer struggling through them, and by morning they weren’t there. I was so sad. I thought this was it. My doctor did too. But I also hadn’t progressed any.

 

My doctor gave me three options. 1. Stay, hope they came back (highly unlikely), 2. Have a c-section (not ready for that yet) 3. Go home ( and I was slightly scared to because I was afraid something bad may happen. We chose 3. And the following day had a check up. My doctor said to go ahead and schedule the c-section. He wouldn’t let me go a week past being a VBAC patient. I respected that protocol. So we scheduled for 2/18. He joked that sometimes when you give the baby an eviction date – they’ll choose to come on their own.

 

2/14, false labor #2. Intense contractions but something I now realize I could’ve probably labored at home with. I mean geez, I’d labored for like a week already. But I was anxious and DID not want 2/18 to come. I think I was mentally trying to will it – again – just like my firstborn. We were admitted for safety reasons and … sent home again.

 

12/15 evening it changed. There was some strong ones but this was something else. I was hunched over the couch and my mom was like uhhhh yea it’s time – go. Such a painful car ride to the hospital. We get there and I’m at a 4! Praise Jesus. They gave me a medication to wear off the top end of the contractions to which I was so grateful for. Anesthesiologist came in to administer epidural and MISSED 3x…. urregggh. 4th time finally. And I felt relief. I’m thankful to my doctor that he asked to have a certain dosage administered so I could still feel low end of contractions. I could still feel and labor along with them.

 

We went into the next day. 2/16. When I was at an 8 they broke my water. Talk about a weird relief. I got to a 9 and stalled. Checking baby with both hand and u/s they determined her head was turned into my hip. Stubborn thing. The nurse went in and flipped baby’s head – owwwwwwwww. She said you’ll immediately start to feel pressure on this next contraction. Ummmm yes ma’am you are correct. She said, well, it’s time, I’ll call the doctor back in. And I’m like REALLY!?!!! The VBAC is gonna work!? And she said yea, baby is already passed the scar line. She’s coming. BEST news ever.

 

Doctor came in. Told me push when I felt contraction… I led the whole way. I felt all the stretching. I don’t know what I was thinking but I honestly thought – isn’t the epidural supposed to help me feel ummm nothing? So yea, I felt it all. They said it was too late for the epidural to do anything… so didn’t feel full contraction but felt everything else. Which now, looking back, I’m glad to have had that experience. Feeling it all felt so miraculous. And that my body was working. An hour of pushing and she was finally here!!! Such an amazing feeling that I will never ever forget.

 

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What was the advice that you found to be most helpful in preparing to give birth? Keep asking questions. Always get a second opinion.

 
What was the most surprising thing about birth for you? That it worked! I thought it wouldn’t have! I was proud to have a VBAC.

 
What was the most challenging part of birth for you? Waiting and the unknown. Would the VBAC work or was I head for another c-section?

 
What was your favorite part of your birth? Feeling it all. Strangely enough if I ever have another that’s what I’d desire. Pain – yes. But an amazing experience. Feeling her head and shoulders and hips all coming. My baby placed on me. Miracle.

 

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What do you wish someone had told you before you gave birth? Honestly I felt more prepared this time around than ever. And it was a whole new experience. And also – someone to tell me my babies just like to be stubborn and late. (This one 4 days late)

 
How did your perception of birth change after you experienced this birth? I desire more kiddos. I hope that happens someday. A prayer of mine. But also not to fear the pain. The pain helps you know what to do.

 

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Birth photography by Janeane Marie Photography.

Birth Stories, Uncategorized

C-Section – Brittney’s First Birth Story

About You – Brittney Melton. I have 2 kiddos, but this is the birth story of my firstborn. Logan, who is now 4.

 

 

How did you find out you were pregnant? Felt suuppper tired and was wanting to take a test but waited til my husband and I were together as I was out of town. Took a test. Positive. Took another because let’s face it – we all do. Also positive. And then I bawled.

 
What was your birth philosophy before you gave birth? How were you expecting it to be? I thought it’d be easy to know when I was in labor (for me – false). I knew I’d have a hospital birth and would probably get an epidural. That was it.

 

 

How did you approach planning your birth? I took no classes and only asked my OB various questions. I did ask a few friends but really went in mostly naive and not wanting to know a lot.

 
How did you plan to deliver? Hospital with OB and I knew I wanted an epidural

 
What were the most important goals or areas of focus for you in respect to your birth? We were away from all family so I really just wanted my doctor (didn’t happen) and my husband. I didn’t know honestly when to go in except timing contractions and calling the doctor. I had no other knowledge or didn’t really see myself laboring long at home. I was super nervous.

 
And now for the good stuff…Here’s Brittney’s birth story! I was due 9/28 and here it was October. I bawled thinking OH MY GOSH!! A whole other month!!! It was definitely a mind trick. We had one false alarm on 10/1 where I thought my water broke. Using the bathroom and liquid just kept slowly trickling… but it was not pee. Went in and did a test – at this point ink Braxton Hicks the week prior and no real contractions. It wasn’t amniotic fluid so they sent us home. I think I was SO anxious about KNOWing when and how and what that I just felt on alert. My OB saw me a few days later. We went ahead and scheduled an induction for 10/7… a whole 9 days past my due date and it felt like forever. She wouldn’t deliver on weekends because she didn’t work then (not my favorite). Low and behold, I go into labor the day before. Sunday, 10/6. Labored all night with contractions getting closer and more intense.

 

Up until this point I was measuring like 1… 1.5 because my doctor wanted to be generous. The week before I wasn’t measuring at all. I was so tired and just wanted this baby here! So we headed into hospital per staff instructions after calling in and I was at a 3. Whomp. Really? A whole night of pain and a 3!? They hook me up and tell me I’m staying since I’m inducing the following day anyways, baby could come tonight.

 

So, I labor. And I move to like a 4/5. I’m so tired an anxious I just say yes to the epidural, not having enough knowledge to know it could slow things down. I’m stuck at a 5/6 and for an hour baby’s heart rate plummets over and over with each contraction. I’m beside myself. What’s wrong with him!? Is he ok? They’re having me turn side to side with each contraction. The on call doctor comes in and tells us, “We are prepping you for a c-section. We do not think this baby will last or be strong enough for delivery if his heart rate drop continues. You still have 6+ hours before we’d maybe even get to pushing.”

 

With tears for my baby, and fear for me.. we go ahead with it. I was so fearful. Anesthesiologist changes the epidural for csection and I’m shaking terrified on that table. I felt the pressure of the cut – not the pain… felt all organs move and baby removed. Again, just pressure – no pain. And I finally hear the cry.

 

💙

He was ok.

 

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I threw up on the table, and they wiped my face and handed him to me, only to take him a few minutes later and I was left alone with doctors while I was stitched up. Husband and baby gone.

 

I was relieved he was ok, but felt something was taken from me. I knew I wanted it done differently the next time around.

 

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What was the advice that you found to be most helpful in preparing to give birth?Learn! Take a class (even if is your second and you want more info). Ask questions. Get what you want if you can.

 
What was the most surprising thing about birth for you? It was completely outside my control. I wanted to weirdly WILL it into action. Baby comes when baby comes (and I hate that saying by the way)

 
What was the most challenging part of birth for you? Being overdue!!!! It felt like forever. And also being helpless thinking something was happening to my baby and he wasn’t ok.

 
What was your favorite part of your birth? Well. I didn’t love it to be honest. But the moment he cried I felt SUCH relief. And seeing his little face look at mine under that curtain. I’ll never forget it.

 
What do you wish someone had told you before you gave birth? C-section is still birth. For me it was scary. But it is birth, a hard birth at that. Birth is not just physical pain or stamina. It’s mental and very much spiritual too.

 
How did your perception of birth change after you experienced this birth? I knew the next go around I’d fight for something different. I’d be aware of what I wanted and seek out the answers.

 

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Birth photography by Captured Simplicity Family Photography.

Birth Stories, Uncategorized

Open to Change – Lindsey’s Birth Story

About You – Hi, I’m Lindsey Deringer and I stay home with my two girls, Ruthie and Laurel. I’m writing about my first birth with Ruthie. We were told at our 18 week check up that something was wrong with her brain and heart but two weeks later, we saw a specialist and everything was normal!

 
How did you find out you were pregnant? My husband said, “I think you might be pregnant,” because he thought my body looked different. Haha low and behold I took a test and he was right!

 
What was your birth philosophy before you gave birth? How were you expecting it to be? I wanted to doing things all natural with no drugs at the hospital with my midwife. I knew it would be painful but thought with different exercises and breathing techniques that I could manage it and get through.

 
How did you approach planning your birth? I took a natural birthing class with my husband, read a few books, and talked with other moms who had chosen to birth without drugs.

 
How did you plan to deliver? In a hospital with a midwife.

 
What were the most important goals or areas of focus for you in respect to your birth? I wanted my husband by my side and to labor at home as long as possible. I also thought a calm environment was important and was hoping to labor in a tub.

 

 

 

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Now for the good stuff…here’s Lindsey’s birth story! I started having contractions Friday the 15th late in the afternoon. They continued to become more frequent and a little more painful. I took a shower that evening, drank a bunch of water, then about midnight called and they said to come in. I went in and was only at a 2 but my blood pressure was really high so they had me stay. They gave me pitocin around 7am on the 16th and contractions continued to get more intense. I only was at a 3 by noon so I got into the soaking tub, using the yoga ball, and walked around the hospital for a while. I was still at a 3 at around 3pm but my contractions where very painful so I finally asked for an epidural at around 4pm. They couldn’t find my spine for the epidural because apparently I have scoliosis. It took about 45 minutes for them to get it in then things progressed very quickly. I did get a fever right before she was born so they had to give me antibiotics and her as well after she was born. She made her debut at about 9pm! She was crying and had a head full of black hair!

 

I will never forget she was crying so hard on my chest then I started talking to her and she just stopped crying and looked right at me. Oh my heart! After about 30 minutes, I started feeling very ill and my blood pressure bottomed out and they rushed me back to the operating room because they thought I still had placenta inside. Thankfully everything was fine and I just had lost quite a bit of blood. Weird and scary though!

 

 

 

 

What was the advice that you found to be most helpful in preparing to give birth? Make a birth plan but be open to change. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go excactly as planned. My body didn’t do what I had wanted but I still got my perfect baby and that is what really matters!

 

 

What was the most surprising thing about birth for you? How much my modesty went out the window!

 

 

What was the most challenging part of birth for you? That it didn’t go as I had planned. The pressure from the people around me.

 

 

What was your favorite part of your birth? Sharing it with my husband and seeing our beautiful girls for the first time!

 

 

What do you wish someone had told you before you gave birth? Every birth is different and yours will be so special because it is you and your baby.

 

 

How did your perception of birth change after you experienced this birth? That sometimes even when you want something really bad, your body may have other ideas.

 

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Birth Stories, Uncategorized

Dana’s Birth Story

About You – My name is Dana Hermelin, I’m married to Michael and we live in Seattle, WA. We have one 9-month-old baby girl, hers was our first birth.

 

How did you find out you were pregnant? The millionth pregnancy test I took, which finally gave me the faintest second pink line. We called her “maybe baby” for several days before the line got solid enough to be sure!

 
What was your birth philosophy before you gave birth? How were you expecting it to be? I wanted balance. I loved reading stories about natural births, but wanted to have realistic expectations when it came to my own pain tolerance. My husband is a doctor, so we are extremely comfortable in medical settings and wanted to have a hospital birth. I had friends who had great experiences with natural births, all levels of pain management, and c-sections; I also had friends whose births were difficult or scary in all the same scenarios. We chose to educate ourselves as much as possible, then make the best choices we could manage.

 

How did you approach planning your birth? Did you take classes, read books, meditate, or seek out guidance from someone in particular? We took a birthing class through our hospital– we are lucky to live in a progressive metro area with a wonderful, mom-empowering hospital. Our birthing class was really informative, balanced, and supportive.

 

How did you plan to deliver? In a hospital with an OB.
What were the most important goals or areas of focus for you in respect to your birth? I wanted to labor naturally as long as I could, but eventually planned to have an epidural. I wanted my husband and my friend Nicole to be the only non-medical people in the room.

 

Now for the good stuff…here’s Dana’s birth story!

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It was Sunday night, May 21st. My due date was Wednesday, and I SO did not want to go to work the next day… being determined to maximize my maternity leave, I had decided to work until I was in labor. My tired, huge body fell asleep that night, resigned to the fact that this baby was probably going to stay put. Then around 2:00 in the morning, I woke up with a start, wide awake, as a tiny gush happened somewhere down there in the nether regions. I got up and went to the bathroom… a little, not a lot of fluid was present. I waddled back to bed, resisting the urge to wake my husband, and focused all my attention on my lower abdomen, where something that felt EXACTLY like period cramps was occurring. (Why had no one told me they felt like period cramps?) Was I imagining it? I tried to remember what my birthing class said. I got a huge glass of water. I lay perfectly still. Definitely still cramping, in what felt like waves over my belly, I finally got out my contraction-timing app. (Contractions! I let myself think the word. It’s happening!) Every 5-10 minutes, another wave. I timed for an hour. I rolled over and woke Michael with a whisper.

 

“Something’s happening. I think this is it.”
“What?”
“I think I’m in labor.”
“What?!”

 

We reviewed all our notes from birthing class. Googled. Was it a gush? A trickle? Had my water broken? Probably not, but maybe? So we called the hospital, and they said to come in. Better to check, just in case, so we would know what we were dealing with. Michael let his program know he wouldn’t be in, signed out all his patients… I checked and double-checked my hospital bag. Away we went! I took a blurry picture of Michael in the car.

 

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We got to triage and it was completely empty. A triage nurse hooked me up to the monitor—definitely contractions! I wasn’t making it up! They checked the fluid. Not amniotic fluid. They checked my cervix. Still at 1.5 centimeters, like it had been for a week. Since my water hadn’t broken and I wasn’t at risk of infection, they sent us home. I was still having contractions, every 12-15 minutes, and they were debilitating enough that I didn’t think I could work. So I texted my boss, and my friend Nicole, who would be my second labor partner, to let them know.
Michael fell asleep on the couch with the dog. 10C38F43-4172-4631-A951-D44AFE179836I did not. I tried. I paced. I cleaned. Played games on my phone. Tried to believe this was actually happening. The contractions kept coming, every 12-15 minutes, maddeningly the same—never intensifying. I could still talk through them, mostly walk through them. The whole day passed like this. Nicole and her husband came over and ate dinner with us; Nicole and I walked 15 minutes to the grocery store and back for cupcake ingredients, willing the walk to get things moving. We (read: mostly Nicole) made cupcakes for the nurses. 9:30 pm rolled around, then 10:00; contractions still coming every 15 minutes. Nicole and Luke finally went home. A little while later I gave up, too, and got in bed.

 

 

Then my back began to ache. I shifted positions. I invited our dog into the bed (a huge breach of protocol) to lie against my back. Michael, who was still awake on the couch, called over when I started making noise… not frustrated, trying-to-sleep noises, but “hey, this actually hurts” noises. Nauseated all of a sudden, I went to the bathroom, but nothing happened. I lay down on the bathroom floor, leaned against the counter, still timing my contractions, petrified of going to the hospital just to be sent home again. Finally, an hour had passed with these stronger, more frequent contractions happening every 3-5 minutes. We called the hospital, and it was my Ob-Gyn on call! “For an hour,” Michael told him. “Yes—she’s crying.” I hadn’t realized I was crying. He told us to come on in.

 
I did not take a picture of Michael in the car on this trip. Being buckled into a car on the move is probably the worst place for a woman in labor. Thankfully, we were only five minutes from the hospital. When we entered triage this time again in the wee hours of the morning, the same nurse was there—she had gone home and returned again for the same overnight shift! We were shown to the same triage room. Lots of women had gone into labor that Monday night—the triage rooms were almost full. There were so many noises going on… We heard the nurses talking about one particularly loud woman, who was laboring naturally with a breech baby. My baby had been breech, too, but was turned down successfully with an external cephalic version two and a half weeks previous. I was terrified that she would flip back. The other woman’s groanings quickened my heart a little. We heard the nurses again, this time talking about me… saying that it was my first, and things would move slowly. Essentially, that I was low priority, with their busy service. No one came to see me for a long time. Thankfully, that was the only poor experience I had at the hospital—and they were right! My baby wasn’t coming anytime soon.

 

 
My contractions were, though! Now, unable to talk through the pain, we watched them happening on the monitor. Long, tall mounds that resembled Mt. Rainier on the horizon. We had called Nicole, who hadn’t gotten much sleep. She showed up to the hospital around 3:00 am, and we were still in triage. BFE93C83-F37D-49B2-87C2-263139A43318She and Michael each held either of my hands as I struggled to breathe through each contraction, my back aching like it would break in two. A nurse offered a heat pack for me, which I accepted gratefully. It helped so much, I barely noticed that the pack was too hot—later we’d discover it left second-degree burns on the skin on my lower back—I still have scars, but at the moment I didn’t care at all. When they finally checked my progress, I was at 5, almost 6 centimeters, and was admitted.

 
My birth plan was loosely this: Labor naturally as long as possible. Then get an epidural. Have minimal interventions, but do what’s needed to have the safest delivery for our little one. When we got to my birthing suite and got settled in, they wrapped the wireless monitor around my belly, and I immediately asked to get in the tub. Since the heat pack had helped so much, I imagined the tub would feel amazing. So the nurse prepped the tub, Michael helped me over, and I climbed in. My back pain immediately intensified, and I wanted to throw up. I stood up, but I couldn’t move. Michael helped me out and I stood there, half bent over, through contraction after contraction—not even a minute apart, with no breaks. I couldn’t breathe or talk or move. Michael asked if I wanted to get the epidural now. I couldn’t even get enough breath to answer. I thought back to our birthing class, where the instructor told us it can take up to an hour after they put in the order for the anesthesiologist to come, depending on how busy they are. I didn’t think I could wait more than an hour if things continued as they were, so I nodded.

 
I was a little disappointed when, after I finally made it back to the bed and perched on the edge, the anesthesiologist immediately walked in. I was handling my contractions much better out of the water and back in a more comfortable position. But I was scared I wouldn’t be able to sit still later if we told her to wait, so she went ahead and explained the procedure. I held Michael’s hands, closed my eyes, and pretended to be a statue. I don’t remember being in pain at all from the numbing shot or the line placement, but I did sit through two contractions while it was happening. She didn’t realize I’d had one at all—looking back, I know I could have labored a bit longer without it, but ultimately I am glad I had an epidural, for so many reasons! The main downside, in my eyes, is that it did slow my labor down—which has a domino effect of adding one intervention after another.

 
I had hoped, and was pleasantly surprised, that I could control the pain medicine delivered through the line. I managed to keep it at a level where I could still feel and move my legs, and I felt each contraction—though they were not painful. I wanted to still feel like I was in my own body, and I did. After the epidural, the nurse encouraged me to sleep. Fat chance of that. My baby was on the way! Michael and Nicole took naps while I watched and felt my contractions, and sent messages to my sisters and close friends.

 
The shift change happened, and our wonderful labor and delivery nurse, Lauren, came on board. She was amazing, always making sure that I knew exactly what was happening and why, and that each decision was finalized with my “yes” and no one else’s. On the next check, I have no idea how many centimeters I had dilated, but they confirmed what we all suspected—baby was “sunny-side up,” pushing against my spine as she moved down—which is why my back hurt so bad. They had me lie on my side with a “peanut” (humongous, kind of phallic-shaped yoga ball) between my legs to try to encourage her to roll over.

 
My contractions had slowed to the point where labor wasn’t progressing fast enough, so they asked if they could break my water, which I agreed to. I’m glad they did this somewhat early on, because they found quite a lot of meconium (baby poop) in the amniotic fluid—knowing this, they knew baby was at risk of an infection if she was stuck in the birth canal too long, or if her airways weren’t cleared quickly after delivery. For what seemed like a long time, we were just waiting. We ordered gummy bears for me to munch on, and I drank apple juice and water. When labor still wasn’t progressing very fast, we decided to have Pitocin administered. Shortly after this, a lot of things happened…

 
I had forgotten to push my “pain” button for a long time. My back started aching, unbearable pain at a spot next to my spine. A nurse came in and pressed hard against my back. The pressure didn’t touch the pain. Michael and Nicole tried, too, I think—at this point, I’m not sure what all went on around me. I believe what happened was this: My epidural had begun to wear off, exactly at the moment I entered the transition phase of labor. I had tunnel vision. I threw up all the gummy bears. They called an anesthesiologist back, who worked on catching my pain management up with the pain I was experiencing. I DO remember him! He painstakingly and sweetly explained what was going on with my body, while I hated him with every fiber of my being for not SHUTTING UP and letting me PUKE IN PEACE. Michael also was trying to speak encouraging words to me, and while I wanted to curse him out, I managed to say something like, “I know you’re trying to help, but please don’t talk to me.”

 
After the extreme nausea faded and I was a little more coherent, they checked my progress again, and I was ready! Ten centimeters, okay to push! The Ob-Gyn on call (no longer mine, but really wonderful) and a fantastic resident physician came to deliver the baby. A team of nurses stood by to clear baby’s airways and intervene quickly if she had breathed any meconium. Lauren, Michael, and Nicole stood by my side. On the next contraction, I pushed! And pushed. And pushed.

 
And pushed.

 
I was grateful again that I could feel my legs, and my contractions. I could feel each push, and I could feel my baby getting closer. But towards the end, I kept pushing, and pushing, and baby wasn’t moving at all. They could see her head (“She has hair!” Michael said. “Of course she does!” I answered—I knew she’d have hair; I had a ton when I was born) but I just couldn’t push her past the pubic bone. My coaches and doctors were fantastic, cheering me and encouraging at each push, but later Michael said he thought I could have pushed for several more hours and not have moved her a millimeter. After almost two hours of pushing, the doctor asked if she might try vacuum extraction, only because of the presence of meconium. Baby wasn’t distressed, but the chance of infection grew the longer she spent right there at the end of the birth canal. I consented—the vacuum extractor is not nearly as scary as it sounds, a small contraption that honestly looks like a little plunger with a handle on the end. She got ready, and with one push… then two, I felt something baby-shaped come out with amazing ease.

 

9AF0B762-D533-43ED-B9FE-7D609D96BEFAShe was born with an extra-large head, just like her dad and me, and had decided to stick her arm up behind her head to boot—which was why I had such a hard time at the end of pushing. They held her up and in the split second before they went to clean out her mouth and nose, I saw my daughter for the first time, purple and wet, and super angry! And extremely beautiful. I couldn’t believe that tiny human had just, seconds ago, been inside me. Her little arm was still up by her ear; she looked like Superman. Before I knew it, they had the meconium cleaned out from around her nose and mouth, and had confirmed she didn’t breath it in. She was back on my chest. “I know you,” I told her.

 
And that’s how Frances Jo was born, at 5:23 on 5/23.


What was the advice that you found to be most helpful in preparing to give birth? When my baby was breech, and I was struggling to come to terms with the possibility of having a c-section when I had badly desired to have a natural birth, my sister’s friend who’d had the same experience wrote these words to me: “… this is your path to a baby, and it’s such a wonderful path because it’s the path to you becoming a mom.” That has stuck with me… All births, all ways of entering parenthood, are beautiful and wonderful paths. I think my experience having a baby that was stubbornly breech allowed me to let go of any control I thought I had over my birth experience and just let it happen how God intended.

 

What was the most surprising thing about birth for you? Looking back now, probably how separate it feels from pregnancy. Pregnancy was about me. Labor and birth were about my baby. That’s an oversimplification, but hopefully you get what I mean!

 
What was the most challenging part of birth for you? The most challenging part was timing. I didn’t know how my body would react to different parts of the process, and I think we could have timed different steps better.

 
What was your favorite part of your birth? The whole process was so peaceful and positive. I think the people I had with me made it that way. My husband, who is super chill; my friend Nicole, who could not have been more supportive; and my wonderful nurse.

 
What do you wish someone had told you before you gave birth? I don’t have an answer for this. When I got married, my cousin told me, “You will get lots of advice, but only you know your marriage. Take what works. Leave what doesn’t.” I think the same applies to birth and parenthood.

 
How did your perception of birth change after you experienced this birth? I think, and hope, I am far less judgmental of moms. It’s impossible to step into someone’s shoes and experience their pain.