Adria's Birth Story
Every birth is unique and magical in it's own way. Take a peak inside for Christy's second, yet just as humbling birth of Adria. Born on June 16th 2:32PM at 9 lbs. 7 ounces.
And the story begins. Both of my births have been the most humbling experiences of my life. I have spent some time processing and journaling on the experience, because it took a turn I wasn’t anticipating. I do however believe that each hard trial or challenge I go through is here to teach me something. Here to refine who I am and make me a better version of myself, whether it makes sense in the moment or not. I believe that it all is part of something much bigger than I can understand and is preparing me for what is to come.
As some of you may know or maybe assumed, I wanted to go into labor spontaneously. With Kaila, I was induced at 41 + 5 days and it took two rounds of Pitocin and I was in the hospital for 48 hours, including induction and labor. Plus 1 day outpatient with the foley balloon, making it a 3 day process, plus one day in recovery. When the weeks continued to pass, I kept a positive mindset, but was realistic that at 42 weeks I would need to be induced again. I had a break down the day I was getting the foley balloon put in (outpatient, meaning I could go home after getting it placed), at 41 weeks + 5 days. It was the same approach we took with Kaila, so a cascade of emotions overcame me as I didn’t understand why my body just couldn’t go into labor naturally. I had done so much research and was doing ALL the things to get my body ready, but sometimes fate has a different plan.
On Tuesday June 15th, the day I would start induction, I went to the gym around 12PM to give it one more go on the stair master, plus I wanted to get my mind right before induction the next day. I did side steps on the stair master to try and get the baby into a better position and potentially drop, which would hopefully put more pressure on my cervix and start labor. I listened to the two songs I had put on my labor playlist (yup, meant to add more), which included the song Kaila was born to, “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles and the song Kaila coined “the mommy song”, which is “Best Part (feat H.E.R.)” by Daniel Caesar. I felt so many strong emotions and was in tears during my workout as I pushed my body and continued to affirm that I could do this, no matter what was ahead. I then headed to my first appointment which was a covid test, followed by a second appointment which was a stress test, and finally a ultrasound to check that my placenta and fluids were still good. I did ask if they knew how big the baby was, but they never ordered that test as I was measuring accurately and they didn’t think the baby was abnormally big. I then had about an hour to kill before I would get the foley balloon placed in my uterus, so I went to my car and looked at my IG highlights of Kaila from when she was a newborn... this definitely did some things to me, emotionally. The combination of working out, listening to those two songs, and watching my version of home videos of Kaila put me in happy, euphoric tears and oddly enough, right before I walked into the midwifery office, I had a painful contraction. I mentioned it to the midwives and they said, “Well that’s great maybe this will get things going.” I had many contractions those two weeks leading up to my induction especially in the middle of the night, but nothing super painful, so to feel a painful contraction was a shock. I also had another (my fourth at this point) membrane sweep and they then placed the foley balloon in. They said my cervix was very soft, which wasn’t the case the day before and they would be surprise if the foley stayed in all night, but I was still only at 1 ½ centimeters. My induction was scheduled for 8AM the next day and as I left the office I felt another contraction coming on, but I almost didn’t believe it could be true.
I called Rob in tears because I was anticipating another very hard and long labor tomorrow, not thinking twice about the contraction... I just kept saying “I think I am having some contractions," but didn't' fully believe it as I didn't want to get my hopes up. Rob’s mom had just arrived in town and he was at her Airbnb with her, with Kaila, and our good friend Kirsten. Since I needed a second to process what was about to happen, Rob came home, and Kaila stayed with Gigi (Rob’s mom) and Kirsten at her Airbnb down the street, while Rob and I made dinner. It was a beautiful night and we started grilling chicken as I started to make our med chop salad and contractions continued, and they were getting more intense. I continued to chop peppers and feta cheese for the salad and really couldn’t believe that this was LABOR just yet. But there was no denying it as they continued to get more intense and closer together (30-45 seconds, but at times 5 minutes apart and not super consistent). I decided to take a shower and the foley balloon fell out around 7:30PM. I know the time because Kaila was dropped off for bedtime and she came into the bathroom with Rob to say goodnight to me. This meant that I had dilated to 3 centimeters. I told Rob and I we were both SO excited!
Contractions continued to get more intense and I tried to eat some dinner, which at this point Rob made, but I couldn’t get much down. Since I had never gone into labor naturally, we didn’t know when to head to the hospital. As we started to time the contractions, they were starting to become 1 minute apart and lasted 45 seconds to a minute. This part of labor truly felt magical and so beautiful, it was painful but it was what I had wanted. To labor at home, breath through the contractions using the techniques I had been practicing, and trusting my body to do the work. We called the hospital around 9:30PM since my contractions were 1-2 min apart and lasting for 45 seconds-1 minute. They told us to come in, especially since I was scheduled for an induction the next day anyways. When we checked into triage, I was at 4cm and 90% effaced (this is how soft the cervix is). This was super exciting to me, but as soon as I got to the hospital they asked me A LOT of questions and the vibe just turned, it threw off my focus or maybe labor was just naturally slowing, I really don’t know. My doula arrived as contractions felt very intense even on the car ride to the hospital, but with triage check in and what felt like the million questions the nurse asked during check in, I progressed to 5 centimeters pretty slowly... as in pretty much the entire night. As my contractions slowed down and were further apart, I had my doula head out until it got more intense, as I felt like I needed to get back into the zone and felt the need to simply do it on my own. I chose to do intermittent heart rate monitoring and wait to have an IV put in until it was needed, so I could just labor. From about 10:30PM-6AM I had only dilated from 4-5 Centimeters. I felt a little defeated but knew that I still had energy left in me as my contractions hadn’t been super intense and this is when we decided to break my water to get things moving. Things started to get VERY real and by real I mean INTSENSE again. I progressed from 5-7 centimeters with intense contractions, using my breathing techniques (which I can do another blog post on, but essentially did a slow breath in and out and was present in every moment for a count of 10, knowing that I only had 10 breaths was SO helpful for me to get through the pain). I had also written down affirmations at the house that I was repeating in my head, which included :
My body was meant to do this.
I am present.
I will lean into this.
Birth is the ultimate act of LOVE.
I’ve done this before.
As I was laboring in the shower my doula kept coming in and out and helping with positions, while also applying acupressure. Then the nurse came in to tell me I needed to get out of the shower, as the baby’s heart rate was dropping significantly, and it was not coming back to a healthy rate quick enough, which potentially had something to do with the positions I was in. Which were on my hands and knees with the peanut ball in front of my chest for support, putting one leg up on the bath tub edge and rocking back and forth, as well as in a deep squat position. At this point, I was checked and found out I dilated from 5-7, but I needed to adjust how I was laboring. The nurse had me get on all fours on the hospital bed, with my head at the feet of the bed and she lowered the feet of the bed so that my head was lower than the rest of my body. CONTRACTIONS were intense as HELL in this position, unbearable and very hard for me to get through. I stayed here for 3 contractions and looking back this did help her heart rate but I was in a different place mentally and couldn't withstand the pain in this position. I labored a little longer in an upright position, leaning against a birthing ball on the hospital bed. After an hour or so, I wanted to know if I was progressing at all. This is when I found out I was still at 7 centimeters. I continued to have intense contractions for another 30 minutes, continuing to lean forward on a propped up birth ball, but I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go without an epidural as it was around 11:30AM at this point and the baby’s heart rate still wasn’t rebounding quick enough. I asked to get checked and I was still at 7 centimeters, I knew something was wrong at this point and knew this was going to be long/the baby’s head was not putting enough pressure on my cervix because again transition is usually the quickest. I knew that if I wasn't progressing I needed some relief and had a mama intuition that this wasn't going to go as perfectly as it may have seemed. I asked for the epidural since I hadn't progressed, which took about 30 minutes to get. Once I got it, it only worked partially on one side of my body.
My contractions did become further apart, which they said was best for the baby as contractions were already a lot of stress on the baby. They didn’t know why the baby’s heart rate wasn’t rebounding and they thought that the umbilical cord may have been wrapped around her neck. They did a liquid transfusion of sorts where they pumped liquid into my uterus vaginally, in hopes this would relieve pressure and allow the baby’s heart rate to rebound again. When this didn’t work, they suggested we start Pitocin to move things along and get the baby out, but when the midwife consulted the OB, they were skeptical about this approach as it would put much more stress on the baby, whose heart rate already wasn’t rebounding all morning. Around 2PM, the OB and midwife came in to tell me that a C-section was the only option, and this was right when Rob had run down to get coffee, thinking we were about to start Pitocin and pushing would start soon. He rushed back and I was simply in shock, just asking if we could take any other approach. But with the baby’s heart rate continuing to decrease and my labor stalling there really wasn’t as the baby could only go through so much stress/lack of oxygen for so long. I knew the risk, it was the baby's life. I was trying to prepare my mind mentally when suddenly it became an emergency as Adria’s heart rate wasn’t rebounding AT ALL. It was low and staying low, meaning she was not getting enough oxygen.
Luckily, they had already gotten ready for surgery and Rob was suited up. They rushed us to the OR and increased my epidural, so that I would be completely numb. As I could still feel my right side completely and could still feel my left side about 50%. It was the brightest room I have ever experienced and the most surreal experience with about 10 hospital staff getting ready to perform surgery. Fun note, since they couldn’t monitor the baby’s heart rate when they started surgery they had to start immediately and I could feel a sharp pain as they started cutting into me. Luckily, the epidural kicked in shortly after and I could only feel extreme pressure as they pulled Adria’s 9 lbs 7 oz body from my uterus. All I wanted to do was hold her and put her on my body to breastfeed. I asked Rob if she was okay, he said “yes” with tears in his eyes. Turns out she wasn’t breathing, but shortly after I heard her loud cry. I kept asking for skin to skin... as this was the hardest part, not being able to hold my baby immediately. Shortly after ensuring she was okay, they brought her over and laid her head next to mine as they stitched me up. It was a different experience than my first and much more chaotic, but I was extremely happy to have a healthy baby girl. I was in love yet again, but in full transparency I was still very out of it. As soon as I got back to the labor and delivery room, I immediately started breast feeding and did not want to let go of her. I wanted to make up for that lost time.
After my birth, I kept running through my head if I could have done something differently to change the outcome. But your damned if you do, damned if you don't in my situation. I spent so much time researching push prep, but didn't get to use my knowledge. Life is funny that way isn't it? I am learning to let go of control and accept the humbling experience that birth has brought into my life. Both have made me stronger. More empathic. More well-rounded in my understanding of childbirth. It’s a miraculous experience and I know that my babies are nothing short of a miracle. The midwife reminded me that it wasn't that my body couldn't do it, it could. But it was Adria's life, heart, and lack of oxygen that brought the C-section. I never wanted to be a statistic or seem like I took the easy way out, but I now know that I did what I had to do to keep my baby alive. I will continue to process this experience on my own time and am potentially going to see a therapist to get ahead of any long term issues this could play in my postpartum recovery and I hope this encourages other mamas to take care of themselves and take the time to process a traumatic birth.
I share this story not to scare you, as I actually hope to do the opposite, to build confidence in women that their bodies were made to birth (if they chose to) and it's the ultimate act of love and sacrifice. It is never easy, but there are so many parts of my birth that are absolutely beautiful and were a positive experience, but I recognize that it takes time to process if things don't go according to "plan"... Which I have also learned education is key. A plan is not. As a plan doesn't take into consideration all the variables that birth can bring. If you are pregnant or hope to give birth in the future, please know that this story is mine. Each of our bodies are so incredibly unique and more than anything I still hope and believe in positive birth experiences for all. All of the prep I did helped me stay calm during the C-section and even after it all, I am so grateful I got to labor naturally and experience that piece of birth that previously I hadn't.
As I start my postpartum recovery, which has mostly been very short flat walks and some 360 breathing so far, i will share more of the process. It will be a hard recovery in some ways, as I am not supposed to pick up anything heavier than the baby for 6 weeks, but I know that the knowledge I gain can help other c-section mamas heal and recover and get back to living life to the fullest. Stay tuned as I can't wait to share the ups and down.