There is no way to express the mountain of gratitude for families willing to share their birth story with me and with you. This is Aurora's birth as written by her mom <3
It was a morning just like any other, but of course, I woke up thinking, maybe today is the day! I had my breakfast and ran off to the gym to do 100 squats and a few miles of walking - midwife's orders. At this point my thighs were more than ready to birth this baby girl - I could do these squats without breaking a sweat. I wanted to keep moving, so I went to the mall after my workout, just to finish up some Christmas shopping.
I found myself at a children's store, shopping for my nieces. It was a quiet day, not many holiday crowds yet. I decided to check out before I could buy out the clearance section, and as I was swiping my card, I could have sworn I peed myself. I found it odd, because I had no urge to go, but there were definitely a few dribbles on the floor.
Then, it hit me - "Oh, sh*t... Oh, sh*t..." I couldn't stop saying, "oh, sh*t." At that point, the poor cashier kept repeating, "What? What?!" Then I finally mustered out, "I think my water just broke," to which she replied, "OH, SH*T!" It was quite the comical exchange, and as I casually left the store, I promised I'd return with the new babe, since I had single handedly made this girl's day ten times more exciting.
I ran over to Embrace Birth Center to get confirmation of my water breaking and get things moving, as I was GBS positive and thus, had to get this baby out within a specific time frame. It was confirmed and I went home with castor oil and plenty of other instructions to get things rolling. Well, things began to roll rather quickly, because I had no chance to nap as the castor oil had already taken over. I was tied to the bathroom. But as it turned out, this wasn't the Friday night to have my baby, since the waves faded away the more tired I got, and practically subsided the following morning.
I made another trip out to Embrace to get more antibiotics, and then found myself at the gym again, squatting and walking until The Cheesecake Factory opened up, and I enjoyed my last meal all alone, soaking in all the feelings of excitement, anticipation and the unknown, preparing myself of what was to come. Little did I know that I was in for far more than I had fathomed, because of course, I thought my birth plan would go according to plan. What I hadn't prepared myself for, was the change in course, change in environment that was coming my way.
I returned again to the birth center with little progress, so another dose of orange julep castor oil yumminess was given to me, and I was allowed to stay at the center to nap. The nap was neglected yet again, as the waves (and diarrhea) came rolling in. They got intense rather quickly, and I mustered up the energy to call my husband and ask him to meet me at the center, and I asked Amy at the front desk to call my amazing doula, Diana, for me.
Everyone arrived in time for the waves to intensify and for the next few hours, everything from hypnobirth breathing, relaxation, squatting, repositioning and napping was tried, into the night.
The waves did worsen, but seemed stuck at a specific intensity, with a very odd pattern to them. I was only at 5cm and wasn't progressing very well. Then Linsey, my wonderful midwife, began to monitor the baby's heart rate more closely. Things were beginning to get a but worrisome, but we continued on with our antibiotics, relaxation and some tub time in the water. Diana gracefully forced me into positions that I was reluctant to try, but did seem to keep the waves rolling through. Suddenly, things didn't seem to be working well for baby, as the heart rate didn't bounce back well after each contraction, and Linsey made the ultimate decision to get transferred to the hospital.
At this point, I broke down into hysterics, disappointed in myself and my body, that had failed to deliver me my baby as I wanted. The sudden change in urgency, change in atmosphere and the idea of leaving the birth center was overwhelming, and I found that all my preparation and progress with eliminating fears went out the window. I had indeed prepared, but for my ideal birth, and not the twists and turns this birth was taking.
The car ride was hazy, but I remember the bumps in the road being so unbearable. Upon arrival, I was immediately hooked up to monitors, still in hysterics, poked and prodded in every way. Thankfully my doula and my midwife stuck with me, as I was incredibly uncomfortable with the new faces surrounding me, and they advocated for me since they were familiar with my situation and my birth plan.
My contractions seemed to get a bit worse, I thought, due to my hysterics and an oxygen mask swallowing my face. I lost most of my vision; everything went blurry as I lost the sense of time. The only sense that hadn't fully failed me was my hearing. It felt like I was present, but maybe in another dimension.
The next wave was different, far more intense, making me more vocal, and I remember screaming, "what is happening?!" No one seemed concerned over this contraction; I'm not even sure anyone answered my question, but something was changing, I just didn't know what I was experiencing. I remember overhearing the staff planning out my emergency c-section, stating it was too late for an epidural, which leaves me with general anaesthesia... For me, this seemed to be my worst nightmare, mostly because I'd miss the crucial "golden hour" of my baby's birth. I was already panicked, as hospitals aren't my absolute favorite places to be (white coat syndrome?), but I know that panic and fear began to set in, and all my relaxation and hypnobirthing techniques were long gone; I had not prepared myself for what I thought for me, was the worst possible scenario.
The next wave was life-changing and out of this world. I remember giving up, saying that I couldn't do this anymore, tears streaming down my face. At the end of this wave, I began to grunt and push, very confused, and a voice, that didn't feel like my own, a voice I had never heard before, began to wail, "she's coming out!" The staff thought I was joking and checked. Baby was indeed coming, and my OB had not even seen me yet.
What seemed like seconds later, my OB showed, introducing herself as Dr. Rankins, her voice so calming and inviting. In a room full of clouds, haze and blurry faces, her face was the clearest, sharpest image I could see. She held out her hand to shake mine, and I grabbed onto her without letting go. I felt safer. The next wave wasn't exactly a wave, but my baby's head crowning. Three more pushes with Dr. Rankins and my little girl was out - floppy, blue and quiet. I was in such shock that I couldn't grab her at first, so she was handed to my husband. I saw her open eyes looking around the room, and my shock faded as pure awe set in. She was here, safe, alive and well. I had done it. It may not have been as I had planned, but Linsey had pointed out that I still got my unmedicated birth, the top of the list on my birth plan. Diana was mesmerized by the event that just took place in front of her eyes, and and I saw a wave of relief and the deepest love sweep over my husband. In that moment, I knew that this was how our birth was meant to take place, with an angel in the form of Dr. Rankins watching over us, and my other angels, Linsey, Diana and my husband, all of whom never left my side. The doctor allowed for delayed cord clamping, as my baby had issues getting oxygen while still inside, and my baby had regained her pink hue, still observing the new world around her. We later reminisced how our OB had single handedly avoided the NICU for our little girl, by allowing to wait for her cord to be clamped.
In hindsight, I can see where I faltered, I can see where fears crept in, fears I didn't know I had, that tainted my ideal birth experience. I had the pressure of a timeframe to give birth in. I practiced hypnobirthing, and participated in fear eliminating exercises, and they did it's job for the fears I focused on. One of my greatest was tearing, which I was able to avoid, also fearing a large baby - she came at 6lbs. 2oz! I was afraid for an unhealthy baby or issues after birth, and we seemed to escape that one too! Looking back, I wish I had focused more on being ready for a change in course, on accepting things that are out of my control - but that may be more of an anxiety issue.
It's taken me a few months to write our story, to fully come to terms with the outcome. I've come to realize that this was exactly how it was meant to be, for me to become more aware of my anxiety and my fears not only for future births, but also for becoming a mother. New chapters in life don't come easily, and this was something I had to endure to earn my new role in motherhood.
Every story is different, every person has their own battles to fight. In the end, we persevered, despite all the obstacles we faced. And although it wasn't the perfect birth according to my birth plan, it was perfect for us according to God's plan, with so many lessons taught and learned. And the gift? A perfectly sized, strong-willed little girl, named Aurora Luna, our Sleeping Beauty. Whether she came via c-section or vaginal birth doesn't matter to me anymore, because she's here, safe and sound in our arms.
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