Little Josie is now 10 days old and as we have started settling into our new life as a family of four, I’m so excited to share Josie’s birth story. I’ll preface this by saying Josie ultimately arrived via csection and I’m sharing some graphic photos of the surgery. I’m not sharing this for shock factor, but because I truly look at our entire birth experience and think it was beautiful. And these photos remind me of how beautiful it is when new life is born, no matter how it happens.
Josie was scheduled to arrive on Friday, October 13th, but late Thursday the 12th, I actually went into labor. While Isla was at day care on Thursday, I had been busting my butt cleaning the house and doing every last bit of laundry that I could. I vaccumed, mopped, dusted, and when the pipe that runs from the dryer to outside came undone, I climbed on top of the dryer three times with a screwdriver to place and tighten the clamp. I had planned on working out, but at almost 41 weeks pregnant and having barely sat still all day, I opted to say my cleaning frenzy was enough.
Earlier in the day I had a stress test to make sure the baby was okay and was assured we could make it another 24 hours. Baby was good, though super active and still kicking momma’s butt from the inside! When I finally sat down at the end of the day, I had a PB&J in hand. It was about 9 p.m. and with surgery scheduled for the next day, I couldn’t eat past midnight and this sandwich was critical. Since the baby was always punching and kicking me so hard, and since I was eating and this normally woke the baby up, the first labor pains I felt I thought were just the baby up to her regular tricks. I joked with Chris, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I actually went into labor?” The third time I felt this “pressure” shooting through my pelvis and into my legs (and lasting about one minute each time, hmm…), I knew I actually was in labor. Holy crap! When I pieced all of this together, I started laughing and was so excited. I was actually going to get to try the VBAC!
At this point, contractions were about 10 minutes apart. We called my mom and we decided she could wait to come over since I couldn’t go to the hospital until contractions were 5 minutes apart. However, within another 45 minutes they were 5-7 minutes apart so our plans changed. By midnight we were in the car and driving to the hospital. Still in early labor, but scheduled for a csection anyways, they said–either way you’re staying and having this baby!
Upon arrival, I was still only 1 cm dilated, which I had been for weeks. I labored throughout the night, but around 11 a.m. the contractions began to space out again and fizzled out. It was declared more prodromal labor. However, my midwife assured me this is pretty normal and gave me a couple hours to see how things went. At this point they had cancelled the csection.
Prior to this break, I had the most regular contractions in the entire labor unit and had progressed to 3 cm. Labor was working, it was just slow. Around 2:30 p.m., contractions were still irregular, so another hour and a half later (at 4 p.m.), we made the decision to break my water.
Once my water was broken, contractions started back up and this time stronger than ever. I thought what I had felt when we first arrived at the hospital had been strong, but I was about to learn what I’m really made of.Thank goodness for all those lifting sessions I logged while pregnant. No stranger to pain, the hours blended together, with some specific stand out moments.
I remember after one contraction seeing that it was 12:00:37. 37 seconds into a new day–our baby had chosen her own birthday. I joked with Chris that she apparently didn’t want to be born on Friday the 13th.
I remember when the nurse and midwife thought I was in transition. However, upon checking me realized not only that I was only at 6 cm, like I had been hours before, but that my cervix was still in a posterior position. Apparently it needs to come forward, but mine wasn’t. All of the labor I had been feeling had been putting pressure on the wrong part of my cervix, which wasn’t allowing it to open. The thought was that I had scar tissue from my csection which was holding it in place and without getting into the nitty gritty details, my midwife literally broke up that tissue and worked the cervix into the right position.
I remember finally deciding to get an epidural. Hours later, I still hadn’t progressed. We made the decision to get an epidural and try the smallest amount of pitocin. They couldn’t induce my labor with pitocin, but they could try to help me along a bit. And if that didn’t work, we decided a csection was the answer. I had asked for an epidural hours earlier that night, and then sent the anesthesiologist away. I could do this! However, before they began pitocin and with a csection a big reality, I felt ready this time.
Now I had been awake for almost 48 hours. I knew I didn’t want to completely exhaust my body with the pitocin contractions. Since I had a csection last year, and having labored for so long, the doctor was genuinely concerned about uterine rupture. I wanted a few hours to try and rest and just prepare for whatever the outcome. I dozed on and off and tried to come to peace with what had transgressed and what would be.
A mixture of emotions washed over me as I labored that night. I felt fierce and strong, and then humbled moments later. I was beyond excited to meet our baby and kept visualizing what I knew my body could do. Chris was my rock and I felt closer to him with every contraction he helped me through. There were moments I felt like I just couldn’t keep going and he was there to encourage me and advocate for me. I remember feeling like I had trained for a marathon I might not finish when I got the epidural and started the pitocin.
Yet, when my pitocin drip finally finished and my midwife checked me and I was still 6 cm dilated, my midwife looked defeated and I felt peaceful. I cried with a smile and told her, “It’s okay. We’re going to meet our baby today!” While earlier that night I felt torn that I had allowed my labor to be augmented, something I never wanted to do, in that final moment, I felt content knowing I had done everything I could to deliver our baby on my own. And now a decision was made.
We joined a list of women waiting for a csection. I steeled myself to be pregnant until 2’o’clock that afternoon. We texted our parents to let them know the baby would be coming sometime that day, but we didn’t know when. However, things changed quickly again. As the shift changed at 8 a.m. (and my doctor who delivered Isla last year came in to start his day), the nurses quickly came into the room and began prepping me for surgery. Surprise! We would be the first csection of the day. Apparently I had labored long enough and they didn’t want to keep putting pressure on my scar. Before I knew it we were in the OR.
This csection didn’t feel as euphoric for me as last year’s. Last year I was well rested and had eaten just over 12 hours earlier. This time I was literally exhausted, very hungry, yet still so excited. The anesthesiologists marveled that I could keep such a high heart rate when I would get excited, yet still be okay. A reminder even in the last moments before our daughter joined us that my exercise came in handy.
Surgery was underway. Chris held my hand. I tried to stop shaking–both from nerves and medication. I fought each wave of nausea in between smiles and meditation. We played one of our favorite albums, Thomas Rhett’s “Life Changes” and I began to cry when the song, “Life Changes” actually came on the moment our daughter was born. This song really resonated with me since his album came out. Rhett and his wife have two kids under two and he sings, “You make your plans and you hear god laughing. Life changes, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.” These lyrics bring life to our journey to parenthood from the very beginning.
Josie was born just after 9:15 a.m.. We had requested a clear curtain, so a minute before her birth they dropped the blue drape so we could see our girl enter this world. They quickly asked us, “Mom and dad, boy or girl?” Chris and I both yelled that we thought we were having a boy, and then they exclaimed, “It’s a girl!” I remember bursting into tears and just feeling relieved that our baby was here. My doctor let me know the cord was around her neck, twice, and I cried again. I knew Josie had arrived the way she needed to and I was so grateful she was healthy. Her cry was strong, she was alert and so full of life.
The rest of the experience is a blur. They got Josie cleaned up, measured and weighed her. Chris cuddled Josie close while surgery wrapped up and eventually we loved our time together, just the three of us, in recovery.
Many people feel bad for me when they hear I labored for 36 hours before having a csection, but I can honestly say I’m grateful for the experience. If we have more children (we don’t know for those already asking!), I can no longer VBAC. So, even though I didn’t deliver Josie, I got to experience labor. Which for some reason was really important to me.
Just over a week later, I’m so happy to say I feel almost like my usual self. My incision is a little tender, but that’s it. While I’m still trying to take it easy, I’m grateful I feel capable of taking care of both my girls, while still keeping up around the house a little. I felt so crummy after my csection last year. I don’t know why this experience has been so different. Maybe its the differences in how I exercised, maybe it’s because I was always keeping up with Isla, or maybe it’s just that I’ve already been through this and my body knows what it’s doing. No matter the reason, I won’t complain!
As I continue to heal and am not sharing workouts, I plan to share about our infertility journey. It sounds odd to say we struggled with infertility since we now have two children 15 months apart, but there was a time we never knew if we would have one child. Knowing how isolating and painful that journey can be, I want to share about some of the procedures we went through, with hope that our stories can offer answers and hope to others facing similar trials.
For now, enjoy these photos of Josie’s birth. Many thanks for our midwife for capturing these images. We’ll treasure them forever. Welcome to the world Josie! We’re excited for every adventure that lies ahead.