After over two months, I am finally writing Madelyn’s birth story! I wanted to write this because while I was pregnant I listened to/ read so many birth stories and they were incredibly helpful in allowing me to visualize what kind of birth I hoped to experience. For months prior to her birth, I listened to The Birth Hour podcast and The Birthful podcast, and I made sure I listened to all different types of births. I listened to C-section stories, un-medicated births, epidural births, homebirths, birth center births, etc. because I know that even if you “plan” for a particular type of birth, the baby might have their own ideas about how they want to come out and so I wanted to be prepared for any type of circumstance. I also didn’t want to feel any sort of disappointment no matter what type of birth I had. While my plan was to have an un-medicated birth, sometimes the baby has other ideas and I believe that all births are beautiful and happen the way they are intended. So let’s get to the story!
Maddie’s birth started on Thursday, July 19th when I woke up around 3 in the morning and potentially thought my water had broken. I could hardly get back to sleep because I was so excited. I also started experiencing very mild contractions and had some light bleeding. I checked in with my doula, Vanessa, and my doctor, and they decided I should come in to check things out. Up until that point, both Erik and I thought I would probably go past my due date (which was July 23rd) so this was a big wake up call for both of us! We packed up the car as if we were checking in to the hospital and drove on over that afternoon. However, it turned out that my water had not broken and I was only about ½ cm dilated and 50% effaced.
I was disappointed, but went home to relax and then went out for a lovely prenatal massage. I got to bed relatively early but then woke up around 1am starting to experience more intense contractions. I finally got out of bed around 4am and tried to do various exercises/ movements to get them closer together. At that point they were all over the place between 8-15 minutes apart.
I ended up working that day (and having some contractions between conference calls!) and then I went to acupuncture. Acupuncture really started speeding things up, and it was NOT a relaxing session having to just lay there during each contraction! When I left there my contractions were around 5-7 minutes apart. Erik and I ran over to Whole Foods to pick up some last minute items like electrolyte drinks, coconut water, Perfect Bars, and the hot bar macaroni and cheese (my one true pregnancy craving!) and then I checked in with my doula when I got home. She said based on how I sounded, I still had a ways to go and I should try and rest and take a bath. She also said I should try and eat, but at that point the pain was intensifying and I was not hungry at all.
The bath felt nice and soothing, but I was still getting pretty strong contractions and they seemed to be coming closer together, about every 4-5 minutes. At this point it was around 7pm on Friday, July 20th. I started to get a little nervous that we should be getting to the hospital soon but wanted to wait until Vanessa got to the house to assess my state. She arrived around 8:15pm and we chatted while I was in between contractions and she could tell I wasn’t ready yet.I was still feeling fine in between contractions and could focus/ hold a conversation. I ended up laying on the couch while she massaged my back through contractions while listening to a meditation for about an hour. It was super hard to rest/ relax though. I was both so excited and also the contractions were getting really painful. I started moaning through them- first I kept saying “ooooooooookay” and then it moved on to low moans that Vanessa coached me through.
After being on the couch for a while, we decided to get things moving. I remember going to the bathroom and that picked things up quite a bit. I also started experiencing some more bleeding. I then spent some time bouncing on the ball, then being on the couch with the ball, then leaning on Erik, then moving in childs pose on the floor, etc. etc. Contractions really started picking up and I no longer could do anything but concentrate on getting through them. Things got even more intense around 10:15pm and I asked Vanessa when we should go to the hospital. She said after about 5-10 more contractions we would go. I remember thinking that seemed like an eternity and I wasn’t sure if I could keep going with them. But after about five more I had one of my strongest contractions yet and my water broke! It was this big pop and gush that totally caught me off guard- but I was super excited because Vanessa was like “okay- now it’s time to go to the hospital!”
We threw our last minute things in the car and I got in the back seat with a towel. Between contractions I was still coherent but they were crazy intense. Erik called the hospital and it took a while for them to call back- we were only about five minutes away when they finally returned our call. Thankfully there was no traffic going in because it was so late! As soon as we arrived at the hospital and walked into the emergency room doors I had a strong contraction. Once that passed they got me in a wheelchair and wheeled me as quickly as possible to the labor and delivery floor. When we checked in at the nurses station they asked me if I was wanting an epidural to which I very forcefully said “no” but at the same time I remember in the back of my mind also thinking “but wouldn’t that be so nice?”. But I had gotten so far already and while I was in a lot of pain, I felt like I was able to keep going.
They quickly got me in a room and hooked me up to a monitor right away. I didn’t love our nurse at first because she hardly said two words to me and just watched the monitor for about 20 minutes or so. I was so thankful for Erik and Vanessa being there and coaching me through the contractions and providing me the encouragement I needed.
My doctor came in soon after to check me and announced I was 8cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it when she said that and then I knew I was going to be able to get through the rest of the birth. Vanessa told me that I was in the transition period and this was the shortest part of birth, so I knew I just needed to hold out a little longer. This part is very blurry to me as the contractions were constant but I started to push during them. It was just an automatic reflex that I couldn’t control. I also threw up a tiny bit which is a very normal occurrence during transition.
My doctor had a few other patients in labor as well, so while we were waiting for her to come back we were trying to slow down the contractions. They were getting so intense though and I was definitely getting a little panicked as I was starting to push and my doctor wasn’t there yet. But she finally came back in and checked me and announced that I was 10cm and it was go time!
Pushing was intense, but my body also was just doing it on its own. After only a few pushes my doctor said that she could start to see the baby’s head which made me think that the baby would be there in a matter of minutes- however we still had a while to go. It was hard though because I felt like the baby was so close to coming out but then the contraction would end and I would have to stop pushing and wait. They ended up giving me some oxygen at that point as well because I was holding my breath a lot and the baby’s heart rate was decreasing a bit.
After about 45 minutes there were a couple final pushes and Madelyn finally came out at 1:23am on July 21st. She was bright pink and crying and just so perfect. The first time I saw her I just couldn’t believe it- I couldn’t believe she was my baby and she had been growing inside of me all this time. I also couldn’t believe what I had just done and gone through. It was interesting because half of me was in this incredibly primal place- I couldn’t have cared less what I looked like or sounded like but the other half of me was still aware of what was going on and just amazed about everything that had just happened. I kept wondering if there was going to be a breaking point but I just kept trying to think that we were taking it one contraction at a time and tried not to get too overwhelmed about how long it could take.
As soon as the birth was over all of the pain just disappeared and then we just laid there quietly and enjoyed those first few moments with our baby girl. The whole experience felt so surreal and it ended up moving so quickly, which I am so thankful for. I really do not know how I would have felt if we had showed up at the hospital and I had only been about 1 or 2 cm dilated. I think I would have gotten really overwhelmed and definitely would have contemplated getting medication.
My birth experience ended up being absolutely amazing, but most importantly I am so thankful to have delivered a healthy baby. I can understand how hard it must be for those who did not get the birth they wanted or how overwhelming it must feel to have some complications with mom or baby post birth. My heart truly goes out to anyone who experiences that. This post is just meant to provide my experience and it is only one way that birth can possibly go- every single way is beautiful. And as empowering and great as the birth was, having this little baby at the other end of it has been a million times better.
Hope you enjoyed reading this! If you have any questions or comments I would love to chat more about my experience.