Thank you for stopping by to read the next story in our Birth Story Series. My goal in creating the Birth Story Series is three things. First, to empower women, and to change how we feel about birth. For so long I felt such fear. I want other women to feel confident in their birthing abilities, especially since I know how it feels to not feel confident. Secondly, I want to let women know that they have options. When I gave birth I didn’t know what a midwife was. I had no clue what a doula was. I want that to be different for you. I want you to know that you have choices. And finally, I want you to know this: whatever your story was, or ends up being… it’s yours. I want to demonstrate through these women’s beautiful stories that each and every birth is unique. No two stories are alike.
Disclaimer: These stories are not meant to serve as medical advice. The only person that can decide what’s right for you and your birth is you, your partner, AND your health care professional. So please consult them appropriately. I do however, want you to enjoy these stories. I cry almost every time I read them, and I’m sure you will too.
Jennifer’s Birth Story
My due date was supposed to be August 15th, 2016. On this day, I was expected to welcome my baby girl into the world, or around there because let’s be honest, not many women give birth on their actual due date. At my 35th week appointment, my doctor had a concern about the size of my belly. Now, if you have seen me in person at all, you know that I am not the tallest person around. I am quite the opposite. I am 4’9 and 25 years old (24 at the time). So you can imagine what I looked like at 35 weeks pregnant. I had gained about 25 pounds, and boy was my belly big. It was mainly all stomach and hips but still big enough to be uncomfortable. Dr. Walden (my OBGYN) was hoping that baby wouldn’t be too big because then labor would be extremely hard or dangerous for both baby and me. She sent me to a specialist, where I had gone to get my first photos of the baby, to have baby measured as well as my amniotic fluid.
Visiting the specialist:
When I got there, I was so excited to find out how big my little nugget was measuring. Was Bella going to be big or tiny? How tall would she be measuring? Little did I know that I would leave feeling nervous and scared. While looking at the measurements, the doctor mentioned that she measured small for her gestational age. About 4 pounds and a few ounces. That’s a tiny baby. She reassured me that yes she was little, but she still had five weeks to keep growing. Then, she saw the size of her belly. She said that her belly was measuring small when usually a baby’s stomach is larger for their size. That was when she saw white spots in my placenta and umbilical cord.
This is referred to as calcification of the placenta. Those white spots were calcium deposits, and it means that my placenta and umbilical cord were aging. Aging is normal. However, the amount of calcification that I had was considered grade III, and normally, that is what a placenta at 40 weeks looks like, which explained Bella’s low weight. It does not allow the baby to get proper nutrient through the umbilical cord. My heart had dropped, and all I could think was what I did wrong. The doctor reassured me that sometimes it just happens and even though I was listening to what she was saying, I couldn’t help but think that my body had failed the baby and me. I was very paranoid throughout my pregnancy that something would happen. I believe that you just hear so many stories that I freaked myself out. The doctor informed me that there might be a possibility to induce early if they found that I was losing amniotic fluid or that baby’s heart rate decreased. So I was scheduled for check ups once a week with the specialist to listen to Bella’s heart rate.
July 27th, 2016:
Everything seemed to be going as planned and my nerves eased as the days went by. On the 27th of July, I had my weekly check up. At this point, I was 37 weeks and a few days. I laid in the chair, strapped my belly up to the monitors and listened to my baby’s heart rate. Listening to her heart rate was soothing and nerve racking all at the same time. Knowing her little heart was beating brought joy to my heart. But not knowing what could happen had me on edge. When the doctor came in, she noticed that I was having a lot of contractions (which just left like pressure to me) and that Bella’s heart rate had dropped during one, so she kept the machine on for another 15 minutes. Again, her heart rate dropped. That was when the doctor looked at me and said: “looks like we’re having a baby today!”
W H O A. I mean, I knew the day would come, but I was only 37 weeks and a few days. Yes, a baby is considered full term at 38 weeks, but I was still nervous. That and I wanted to take advantage of my four weeks of leave I was given before my due date. It was cut short obviously. But alas, Bella was going to come early. I was to be induced to reassure that she would be safe. I had made a deal with myself that I would do whatever it took to make sure that baby and I were both safe and if that meant a c-section, so be it. I was sent to Cedars Sinai in West Hollywood that moment, and I made my round of calls. I called my boyfriend and just remember hearing the excitement and terror in his voice. We were both scared. I was not mentally prepared to be induced. What would this mean? How are contractions going to feel? Am I going to cave and ask for an epidural? Will I need a c-sections? How long is this going to take? Will I tear? So. Many. Questions.
I arrived at Cedars at around 2 pm, got to my room and undressed into my gown which is not very comfortable by the way. After a handful of different nurses came in and out of my room, the induction process started. I was told they would put it on a low setting and then gradually up it. I remember the nurse asking if I wanted the epidural now or even at all, and I said, “I’m not sure yet. Let’s see how this plays out.” My goal was to NOT have one…pft so much for that. A few hours into it, I was checked to see how dilated I was.
OK, first off, man does that hurt. Second, it hurts. I’m not trying to scare you if you’ve never been through labor before, but I’m pretty sure we are all aware that it’s a painful process.
The nurse said, “Ok, you are 1 cm dilated.”
“Great!” I said, “How much should I be to start pushing?”
“10 cm,” said the nurse. WHAT? 10 cm? I was only 1 cm dilated, and I had already been having contractions for a few hours. Obviously, I didn’t know anything and didn’t properly prepare myself, so there I was astonished that I would have to stretch by 10 cm. I already knew this was going to be a long night. About an hour later, Dr. Walden, walked in and mentioned that I was not progressing and would potentially have a c-section. Great! Just what every new mom wants to hear. I thank my lucky stars for Dr. Walden because she tried her very best to prevent a c-section. In attempts to help the dilation process go by quicker, they put a balloon in me that would slowly expand in me. That also hurt, more than being checked for dilation. How was I going to push out this baby if this hurt that much!? I was not mentally prepared at all. Even after all those videos I saw, still, could not imagine my self-stretching that much. A few hours went by, and it was time to take out the balloon, which resembled taking out a tampon but more painful. The balloon had done its job. I was now 4 cm dilated and on my way. YAY! So they turned up the Pitocin, and I was in for the long haul.
My contractions started to get stronger and closer together. I see the term back labor being used and not sure what that means but if it means that your back is in excruciating pain during labor, then I guess I had back labor. I remember constantly moving around from how uncomfortable I was. To make matters worse, the nurse had me change positions because they noticed Bella’s heart rate drop when I was lying back or sitting up. Apparently, the only position Bella liked me being in was laying on my left side. Great. The most uncomfortable position in my opinion.
Getting my epidural:
It was 2 am, and the contractions were steady. I remember looking to my left at my boyfriend Chris and feeling extremely angry because there he was asleep on the couch. I wasn’t mad at him though; I was upset that I couldn’t sleep from the pain. Mama was tired and hungry. Thankfully I wasn’t a horrible person while in labor, at least I don’t think so. You can ask him and my mom about that. Then 6 am hit, and it was time for another check.
“You’re still at 4cm.” said the nurse. You’re kidding me. I had not progressed at all!? Remember when I said that if I needed a c-section that that’s ok? Well, it was not what I wanted, and the possibility of one was getting closer. Now, in another attempt to get me to dilate faster, I was going to have my water broken. I so innocently asked Dr. Walden, “Will this help me dilate faster?” and the look on her face was uncertainty. “Maybe. Maybe not. You may dilate quickly, or it could take hours.” she said.
That was it. I looked at the nurse and said, “I’ll take that epidural now.” Chris looked at me and asked if I was sure that that was what I wanted because he knew how I didn’t want to have one. I was sure. I was in so much pain (labor duh), and all I wanted was to feel at ease. Just to make things clear, choosing an epidural is up to the mother. I no way does it make her any less of a mother if she chooses to get one. Whatever your chose is, you are already a warrior for carrying and creating a tiny human. With that being said, the doctors later came in with their medical tools to give me that epidural. They had me sit up, which was a task with this belly in the way, and they instructed me not to move. I’m sorry what? Don’t move? But I was having strong contractions and the only thing that alleviated that pain was not staying still!
But alas I must be still, or else I may end up paralyzed I thought. The nurse gave me a pillow to hug and her hand to squeeze. RIP hand. I squeezed that hand to death. Having a needle in your back doesn’t hurt very much when you’re having two powerful contractions back to back. Honestly, though, it just felt like tugging, and it felt weird. The epidural didn’t hurt much. The contractions hurt a lot more, and I was trying my very best not to move. Fifteen minutes in, I was starting to feel more relaxed. The epidural was making its effect and 30 minutes in I did not feel any pain. It felt fantastic. I still had to lay on my left side which made my left leg go numb, but that was the least of my worries. I was finally at peace and could get some sleep. About an hour later it was time for another check up.
Meeting the love of my life:
“OMG, you’re 9cm dilated! It looks like we have to get ready to have a baby!”
I went from being 4cm to 9cm dilated in a matter of an hour. WHAT!? Dr. Walden explained that the epidural helped me relax and in this case allowed me to open up instead of tense up. Well, I would have taken the damn epidural a long time ago had I known that! I promise I am almost done with this story.
The nurses started to prepare, and so did Dr. Walden. So now, it was time to push. Things were about to get real, and I was about to meet the love of my life. I didn’t spend much time pushing. I would say that after 20 minutes or so I was done. And into the world, Isabella Valentina Moreno came. Regardless of the epidural, it was still painful, but in my opinion, the pain felt more like pressure. The funny thing is, none of that pain matters in the end. She was so tiny and so perfect, I couldn’t believe it. My doctor wasn’t able to put her on my chest right away because the umbilical cord was short, so it had to be cut first, but after a few minutes she was put on my chest, and it was like I finally knew what my purpose was. Isabella Valentina Moreno was born on July 28th, at 11:21 am. She weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces.
My heart felt so full, and I couldn’t believe that I made her. My body made a tiny living human. Never in my life could I had prepared my heart for such a pure love. I don’t have many pictures from this moment, but the ones I do have are the ones my mom so excitedly took with her phone. I am so grateful she did because I can always look back at this moment.
Dr. Walden then told me that I would have an hour with her before they took her to the NICU. I was told that she would probably only be there for a few hours. Because she was so tiny, they wanted to make sure that she could keep her sugars up and keep herself warm. I wasn’t prepared for the week we would spend in our bay of the NICU. That’s a story for a different time. It’s a whole other experience in itself. But for now, I would like to leave you with the moment Isabella came into the world and graced us all with her presence. I would go through labor all over again for this little angel. With or without an epidural.
1. What was your favorite memory from your pregnancy?
My favorite memory from my pregnancy was when I first found out I was officially pregnant. It was such an uncertain time in my life and I went to the doctors not knowing what to expect but when they did an ultrasound and was told that the dot on the screen was my baby, I lost it and started to cry from how in love I was already.
2. Did you do anything specific to prepare for your birth?
Unfortunately, I did not do anything specific besides nest. I went into labor not knowing what to expect and that was the scariest part. Looking back, I wish I would had informed myself a little more.
3. Who served as your support system?
My sweet mom. She was by my side the entire time. She held my hand, helped me get up, brought me ice, did everything she possible could to make me comfortable. She advised me as I went through an induction and had my water broken just as she had with me. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be by my side.
4. What is your fondest memory of giving birth? (Other than the moment where you met your baby.)
My fondest memory would have to be when I was informed that I could deliver naturally. Because I was having such a hard time dilating, my doctor told me there was a big chance of a C-Section. Finally after hours of progress I was told a C-Section was not needed and I can’t even express the gratitude I felt.
5. Looking back, is there anything you wish you could change about your birthing experience?
If there was one thing I wish I could change, it would be trying to breastfed her from the get go. I was honestly so overwhelmed from labor and having been told I would only have an hour with her before she was sent to the NICU that breastfeeding her was the last thing on my mind.
6. What advice would you give to first time moms or moms who desire a natural birth?
My advise would be to go with the flow but also follow what your heart tells you. My birth story was nothing like what I had planned or imagined but it gave me the same result of meeting my sweet girl. I think that sometimes we are so preoccupied with making everything so perfect (I know I was) that we forget to take in every bit of our experiences and make the best out of them.