My Birth Story
As my fourth trimester has came to a close, I began to write my birth story. Now I decided it is time for me to share it! So here it goes.
(Just so you know who is who, this was my team!
Devin- obviously! Whitney-my doula, Sherri-my midwife, Lauren and Emma- my photographer + best friend and her daughter, Shelby- my other bestie!)
My first real contractions started Friday night while watching Stranger Things at Lauren’s house, but I was still unsure if those few were even real! After having a few more through the night, I woke up Saturday morning so excited- I knew it was really happening! I knew I would need some energy, so we headed to get a big breakfast at my favorite Mexican breakfast place- Yellowbird. Lauren and Emma had been at the farmers market, so they walked over and met us there. Through breakfast, I was having pretty inconsistent contractions about every 5-8 minutes. I would just put my head down or lean into Devin sitting next to me to breath through them.
From there, we went over to our Pastors’ house. I knew I wanted to just sit in their big bath tub. I kept my head down on the side of the tub during contractions while Devin held me. They were definitely getting stronger at that point but still not very consistent. After we were there for a while, I decided I wanted to go to my Dad’s house in Baton Rouge to be closer to the Birth Center. Lauren and Emma had stayed with us the whole time. Emma was such a sweet little champion all day. She asked if she could be there for the birth, and after she watched a few birth videos and we talked about it, we decided she could. She ended up being SO supportive.
We were at my dad’s for like an hour before I decided I wanted to go into the birth center to get checked. I knew that if I wasn’t 4 cm, they would send me home. I honestly had no clue how I was progressing and just wanted to know where I was. Before we left, I had several contractions pretty close together which really made me want to go in. I was only 2 cm when we got there, so my midwife sent us back to Hammond to try to get some rest. She told me to drink two glasses of red wine and try to sleep. I drank one and was still having so much trouble getting comfortable.At this point I was in the tub, and sent Devin to bed to get some rest because I knew I would need him. After about an hour, I drank the second glass, and decided I would just lay down and make myself rest. I finally laid down next to him and closed my eyes. This is when my most intense contractions happened. They would come in waves. I would have one that lasted for what I think was over two minutes. (I wasn’t timing them because I was trying to sleep.) It would have three waves to it- one that was the most mild, another increasing in intensity, and then the most INTENSE ONE. The next one would be one steady mild contraction for about a minute. And then repeat. It was SO STRANGE! In my head I was imaging myself leaning over the kitchen countertop in the airstream as they came. I just had my eyes closed, breathing through each one until it passed. After about 2 hours, I got up to go to the bathroom and I passed my mucus plug! I shouted from the bathroom to Devin I was so excited, haha! I texted my midwife and told her. She told me to start timing my contractions. Sure enough, they were about three minutes apart, so we called Lauren and Emma and headed out. They actually beat us there!
Once we got to the birth center, my midwife Sherri checked me.
She said, “well it looks like your complete.”
I think we were all shocked. In disbelief Devin said, “um what does that mean? Complete?“
“She is 10cm, fully dilated! Time to start pushing!”
We were all so excited!!! It turns out I did all my active labor (and I think even transition) next to a sleeping Devin with my eyes closed! I still can’t believe it. When I was on the way to the birth center, I had already started feeling the desire to push. Although I didn’t really know what it was yet. It was just this visceral gut wrenching feeling. I don’t really know how to describe it, haha!
They started filling up the tub, and I’m telling ya-It felt like it took forever to fill up! It was around 4:00 I the morning. We had my worship music playing and Devin, Whitney, and Emma were all around me. Loving on me. I sat on the edge of the bed and sang, “goodness of God” by Jen Johnson through my contractions. That would end up being the song playing when she was born.
I finally got in the tub and started to push. Now I know they say you can’t help it, but the urge to push and actually doing it are two different things. Maybe for some women it is stronger or more instinctual. But Sherri and Whitney really coached me through how to use my breath, where to tighten, where to relax. One thing I really remember having to learn was how to use my breath and voice to push. It’s something I don’t feel like I really could have prepared for beforehand. For me, it was something I had to learn how to do as I went.
I had been pushing for about an hour when Sherri told me that because my water had not broken yet, my pushes were not as effective as they could be. She told me we could keep going like we were or she offered to break my water. She reassured me that we were not in any rush, and that it was totally my choice. She just wanted me to know my options.
I really didn’t want any interventions at all, so I decided to keep pushing for a while. Well, about 15 minutes later I felt a pop! It was like a water balloon had burst! I was so relieved. There was vernix floating in the water afterwards and Mrs Sherri even commented that she didn’t think it was a 41 1/5 week baby. Looking back, I think my due date was actually July 3rd- so I was only 4 days over!
I pushed for another hour in the tub, but I wasn’t the best position to be pushing in. I got two charlie horses in my leg- one during a contraction. That may have been the worst part! haha! My midwife suggested we move to the bed and use the peanut ball so I could get a little rest in between contractions. They were still about 4-5 minutes apart at this point and would remain that way until she came! I didn’t even realize how much time was in between, but I am thankful for it.
The sun was starting to come up and light was peaking through the windows. I remember telling them to open the curtains because I wanted to let it in. It was perfect timing. I was so tired by the time I got to the bed, so I really needed those little mini breaks and sunlight. I never had a point when I felt like the pain was too much and I couldn’t handle it, but when I laid down in the bed- exhaustion hit me. I thought to myself, its too late to do anything else… HOW am I going to do this? I was SO tired that the idea of how much work was ahead of me felt overwhelming. I drank some coconut water and ate some watermelon which I think helped give me a little pep! Devin just held me, whispering in my ear, as we waited for the next contraction. When one would come I would say, its time! And Devin and Whitney would help hold my legs while I pushed. Sherri and Amy, the nurse, continued to give me instructions as I pushed which helped me so much! I felt like I was still learning how to push and relax other muscles at the same time. It took so much concentration for me. I don’t know if this is more instinctual for other women, but I really had to listen to them and concentrate through each push. One of my most vidid memories of birth is hearing Amy’s voice, so strong and certain- “YES GIRL. KEEP GOING. YOU GOT IT.” She was so direct and encouraging. It really helped me to keep pushing. Once I started to progress a little more, they held a mirror so that Devin and I could see any progress. I wasn’t sure if I would want to look, but it really helped me to know if what I was doing was working.
At this point, at was around 8:00. The room was filled with sunshine, and worship music was still playing. I remember the first time we saw even just a little of her little wrinkly head. Devin started crying and just held me tightly. Sherri also took out a small bottle of olive oil and pour it on my skin to help it stretch and to anoint the baby when it came out. This is when Sherri started really coaching me so that I wouldn’t tear. She would tell me to keep pushing or ease off. Once I started bleeding a little, I could not watch in the mirror anymore, so they turned it so that just Devin could see. Looking back, I don’t feel like the desire to push was as overwhelming as others describe it. I really had to work myself up for each push. People talk alot about the feeling of NOT being able to NOT push. There was only one time when I felt that, and it was as her head was coming out and Sherri was trying to tell me to slow down, but I really couldn’t. That was really the most painful part, different from the rest of the birth- I think it may have been the ring of fire. Whitney said to me, “Look at your baby!” When I looked, I saw her entire little head, and yelled with joy! You can see that exact moment in the video. It was so awesome. Sherri told me to bring my hands down and feel for her. It was honestly such a blur but right after that. I felt her little shoulders come out and as they did I put my hands under her arms. One final short push, and I felt her come loose in my hands. Words cannot describe how glorious and beautiful that moment was, being able to catch her as she was born. I have never felt so strong and in control. As I pulled her up to my chest, me and Devin both saw that she was a girl! I didn’t realize that no one else was able to see, and after just holding her for a few moments, I said to Devin in awe, “Its a baby girl, Devin!” When they heard, everyone in the room broke out into excitement!
After a few moments of taking it all in with Devin, my eyes turned to the foot of my bed where Lauren and Shelby stood. I will never forget the starry look in their eyes. The wonder and knowing of all we had just experienced together. There are no other words other than, I felt seen. Time truly sat still for that moment while we just looked into each others eyes and cried. There was this holy weight in the air.
My mom and dad had been waiting outside the door, so as soon as I was covered up they were brought it. You can hear in the video me saying, “dad…..mom…..its a baby girl!” As soon as my mom walked in I felt the overwhelming desire or my mom to come over and hold me. It is so sweet to think about that even as a grown woman, having just birthed my own daughter, at my most vulnerable state I just wanted to be in my moms arms.
Soon after that, my nurse helped me get her latched on- which Diana did so easily! After four and a half hours, we were sent on home! What a surreal feeling taking our baby girl home from the birth center. It has been a glorious whirlwind since then.
Diana Rey is our greatest gift! Thank you so much for all of your love and encouragement. We love you guys!!