September 29th will be a day for my history book. It actually began the day before, and if I’m being honest, I’ve been in some philosophical form of pre-labor since the day I found out I was pregnant. I wasn’t the girl who dreamed of someday marrying prince charming. I didn’t fantasize about raising a family. Don’t get me wrong, I always wanted these things, but I definitely didn’t see them as my life’s mission and I certainly did not expect to achieve both by the time I was 28. I just trusted that they would come when it was time. I had no idea that my husband would be that charmingly annoying boy (I mean this in the most endearing way babe!) I met when I was 17 or that he would become the most amazing father of my child. I was unaware that all of this would come to be, but I followed my instincts, my heart, and my surroundings to this amazing day. I couldn’t be more in love with Chad, Beyah, or the shape that my life has taken.
I can’t say that I loved being pregnant. I loved knowing that I was growing my baby girl and that I would soon get to meet her soon, but I’m not afraid to say that I did not love all of the annoying side effects. The nausea, fatigue, heartburn, fat feet and hands, more heartburn, not being able to carrying things or do any kind of physical activity for any extended length of time, and a few other tmi tidbits. I could skip all of that and be much happier. There were times that I pushed through it with ease and times I cried over the small stuff. Looking back, I can say however, that it was all worth it and I’m sure I’ll do it again.
The week before Beyah was born, I had been having more obvious contractions but nothing regular or too painful. I was starting to get nervous as each day rolled by with no signs of the real thing because I was dead set on not being induced. I won’t go into too much of the “business of being born” but I will say that I have learned so much about childbirthing along this journey. Whether it was reading, Googling! or my constant source of information, Whitney Norko, I am happy with the decisions I made and the outcome that came from them. Chad and I also highly recommend Teresa Bradshaw’s class (check her out on facebook HERE).
*Just a heads up, I might say a few things that some may rather not read, so be warned that this will be an honest account of my experience.*
Hands down, the best decision I made during my pregnancy was to leave the comforts of my Outer Banks doctor and seek a midwife elsewhere. I’ll keep the doctor name out of it on here (feel free to ask me privately), but I quickly learned that I would benefit far more from making the drive to Northeastern OBGYN in Elizabeth City to see two outstanding midwives and keep my chances of a caesarean as low as possible. I absolutely adored Ashley Williams and Donna Waterman and can’t recommend them more highly.
To get back on track, I had my membranes swept a little over a week before Beyah was born. If you don’t know what this means, Google it (or not, tmi alert), but it is an attempt to bring on labor if your body is ready. Mine was not. This is probably something that I would not do again, but at the same time, I don’t think it had any negative effects. I experienced a good bit of cramping afterward and what I thought might be labor contractions, but all of this came and went with no baby. With a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the 27th to do an ultrasound and NST, I decided to reschedule for the following Tuesday (October 2nd) to buy myself some more time. I considered lots of “ways to induce labor at home” and tried several. We walked, and then walked some more…and then walked more. For lack of a more polite way to say it, we tried re-enacting how I got pregnant in the first place. I passed on the castor oil! The last thing I tried was acupuncture. I went twice (the Wednesday and Thursday before B was born) and have to say that I loved it. I can’t say for sure whether or not any of this helped put me into labor, but acupuncture was one of the most relaxing and fulfilling experiences I have ever tried. It felt like a cross between meditation and hypnosis (or what I think hypnosis would be like…never actually been hypnotized). A big shout out to Cheryl Blankenship and Island Acupuncture!
Friday rolled around. Whitney and I met for coffee and talked about everything. I was anxious but calm at the same time. Later Chad, Chad’s mom, and I decided to go walk around the outlet shops in Nags Head for a while which is where it all began. Contractions started back up with slightly more noticeable intensity and frequency. I remember saying, “I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I think this might be it.” It was. Contractions continued to speed up and get stronger through dinner, and by 8pm I knew this was it. Chad and I began to pack things up and get ready to leave although I planned on staying home as long as possible. By about 10pm, contractions were as close as 3 minutes apart and taking my breath away, so we decided it was time to make the hour+ drive to Elizabeth City and make a decision to either go to the hospital or get a hotel room. We never got that hotel room. I stopped to lean against hospital walls and my husband until we made it up to L&D. I was 3cm dilated upon arrival, ate some cafeteria food and came back up to quickly have made it to 6cm. Donna was my midwife, and I cannot thank her enough for numerous things. She gave me several back massages that were amazing. With her help and the support of Chad, I labored for hours in silence, simply controlling and focusing on my breathing. Eventually, I opted for some IV meds which helped me relax and even doze off between contractions. Time seemed to move rather quickly, and before I knew it, I was feeling the urge to push. With no more IV meds in my system and sticking to my guns about no epidural, I began pushing for what would be close to 4 hours of the most intense pain of my life. Pushing was painful, yes, but I also dealt with some extreme hip and leg pain that was unexpected by me at least. This pain in between contractions was unbearable to the point that I remember saying that I can’t take it anymore. I was to the point of giving up. Chad had tears in his eyes, and I really can’t understand how helpless he must have felt. Have I mentioned how much I love this man? Talk of options came up and amongst them were the use of a vacuum and the dreaded c-section. I quickly rejected the later, but have to say that I was considering giving into the vacuum. I didn’t know what else to do. I felt like I was hyperventilating and that my efforts were not producing results. I did receive a very small dose of pitocin towards the very end to hopefully help move things along. Somewhere along the way though (and I remember this vividly), Donna leaned down close to my face and softly spoke, “Genevieve, calm yourself down. You CAN do this. Push this baby out.” I really have no idea how I did it, but with Chad by my side encouraging me with every push, I somehow pushed that baby out. I suffered only a second degree tear. Beyah Rose was born at 11:43am on Saturday, September 29th.
I’ll forever be indebted to Whitney for driving to Elizabeth City, walking into the delivery room a mere 15 minutes before birth, and capturing my sweet girl being placed on my chest for the very first time. I cry just thinking about it. All of this is engraved in my memory, but how amazing to have photographs as well.
There are a few important important choices I made that I’d like to share. When I say “I,” this is not to diminish Chad’s role or input in any of this. One thing I love about Chad is that he is always open to and supportive of my wishes. He may have given me a few funny looks here and there, but ultimately, he wanted whatever I wanted. I opted not to have an epidural. I did this not to show how tough I am or even because I wanted to be an empowered woman. I simply avoided it because I did not want to run the risk of it slowing down my labor or to be chained to the bed, and because I felt that my immediate and longterm recovery would be better if I could avoid it. While it had been an option in the back of my head throughout my pregnancy, I never considered it during labor. I also chose to take charge of Beyah’s first hour of life. It was extremely important to me that she be placed skin to skin on my chest immediately and with no time limit. I attempted to nurse (unsuccessfully), but could not be happier with our first moments with our little girl. We had the clamping of the umbilical cord delayed until after it stopped pulsating so that B would receive the extra goodies it provides. We skipped the eye ointment, Hep B vaccine (will get this later), and waited a while before doing any tests or her weigh in. There is one last thing I’m going to get brave and divulge (maybe I’m just hormonal and feel like sharing?!) because I feel that it is something more women and people in general should be aware of as an option. *This is a TMI warning!* I had my placenta encapsulated and am taking these herb-looking pills in small doses each day. Yes, I know that many if not most people will think this is crazy and/or gross, but I knew it was something I had to try when I read about it. After childbirth, the mother suffers a quick drop-off in hormones which can be a bit of a shock on the body and emotions. Taking back in what you have just lost is an attempt to avoid any postpartum depression that one may experience. It can also help with milk production. As someone who goes through a bit of seasonal depression in the wintertime and as someone who is committed to breastfeeding, it seemed like a no-brainer to me. While I don’t have anything else to compare it to, I do feel a lot more energized one week later than I thought I would and breastfeeding could not be going any better. I used Erin Reece.
Yesterday Beyah turned one week old and I couldn’t be more in love or in awe. I could use some more sleep, but we’ll work on that later, right?
Please head over to Whitney’s blog to see the amazing moments that she captured for us: