The Birth Story of Ayla Faith
This is the birth story of Ayla Faith, as told by her strong, courageous mother. This story may be difficult for some to read, but it's very important for Ayla's mama to share it.
Monday, I never thought I would still be pregnant. How much red raspberry leaf tea and walking can a uterus take before it does it's thing? By my estimated due date, I was 9 days past due. By the ultrasound date, which my midwives were using, I was about 5 days over. My first was born the day before my due date and I had felt sure this baby would follow suit. But now it was Monday.
I had shed a lot of tears over the weekend, between bouncing on an exercise ball and the walking all over the neighborhood, but I felt peaceful now. The baby had to come this week and I felt certain by the weekend, I would have my baby. I slept until 11 that morning because I had absolutely no plans that week, except to have a baby. When I woke up I was noticing some light contractions. They weren't painful, but noticeable and often. I wasn't going to get my hopes up because I had been experiencing these for the last week and they would go away.
Monday afternoon I had an appointment at the birthing center. I loved that place and every person that worked there and I was so incredibly excited about birthing there.
Right before I left, I grabbed my birthing center bag and the baby's bag, just in case. We live an hour from the birthing center and I thought I should have them just in case labor would suddenly kick in while we were down there. I had not packed everything in there, but it had the basic things.
When we got to the birthing center the midwife took my blood pressure and it was higher than my normal reading. She did the other routine prenatal things and she said she would retest. I had high blood pressure at the end of my first pregnancy, so I wasn't surprised. I was measuring 44 weeks and they estimated the baby to be 9 pounds.
I was huge and miserable.
Then the midwife took my blood pressure again and it was the same as before. She calmly sat beside me on the bed and told me that I need to go over to the hospital to be monitored and they would probably induce me. WHAT?!?!?! I have Sebastian, my two year old, with me, Its 3 pm and I haven't even eaten lunch, yet. I only have half of what I wanted to bring for the birth. I'm not prepared. But I was beyond ready to have this baby that in that moment I was happy even if I was losing my dream birth.
We left the birthing center and I called my doula, my mom, my grandma (who was going to keep Sebastian) and texted my photographer and all my sisters and friends. I was distracted, scared, nervous and excited. I was a mess. We stopped and got lunch and went to the park to eat it. Then we headed to the hospital. We didn't know for sure at this point if I was going to be kept at the hospital, but I was hoping we wouldn't have to go hone without having this baby. The hospital is huge and we walked all over trying to find the labor and delivery. They put me in a bed in triage and hooked me up to monitors. The monitor registered my contractions as real, and my blood pressure stayed up. The midwife cam in to talk to me and I loved her instantly. She was older and motherly and had that midwife vibe. She said that I had that over due look and she saw no reason to treat the high blood pressure when I was already overdue. Because I was already in early labor, she didn't feel like Pitocin was the way to go and told me about the Foley bulb. It sounded good to me. I told the midwife that my first birth had been incredibly long. She said that she didn't want this one to be so long that I was overly tired by the end and she wanted to get labor picked up and over with. That was what I wanted to hear. David had left to take Sebastian to stay with my Grandma and he was going to run home and pick up everything I needed. He was as nervous and excited as I was and he forgot to take the diaper bag. I couldn't believe that I had a packed bag for him, for weeks, with everything he needed and when it came down to it he was dropped off with no diapers and no clothes. I was so stressed out and the nurses were trying to get an IV in and I was calling my family trying to get clothes and diapers for my toddler. The midwife came in and said she wanted to put the Foley bulb in and David should stay close. I called him and told him not to go home just come straight back to the hospital.
I asked him to stop and get snacks because by this time it was 7pm and I wanted to keep up my energy. I told him to pick up some yogurt, fruit and my favorite protein bars. My incredibly generous husband came back with 10 yogurts, 3 boxes of granola bars and tons of fruit. He was doing everything and anything in his power to make me feel comfortable.
There was a shift change and the new midwife had a completely different point of view. She said that the Foley bylb could take up to 9 hours to dilate me to 4cm. I was determined though, this was not going to last that long. They put the Foley bulb in about 9pm and the contractions immediately got painful, but they were still bearable. I tried to settle in, but felt so scattered and unprepared. We went for a walk around the ward and the contractions were definitely picking up. I tried to lay down and rest but it made the worse and I was too nervous to rest. David laid down and fell asleep. Around 1am I started feeling really sleepy but the contractions were painful enough that I couldn't rest and it made me feel panicked because I knew there was no rest for me until after the birth, I asked my doula to come and she headed out. Right before she got there, I threw up. I had thrown up for 12 hours with my last birth and I was really hoping I would do that again this time. But I knew then what I was in for.
My doula got there. I probably called her too soon because there wasn't much she could do at that point but I felt relaxed knowing that she was there if I needed her. David was still sleeping, so I decided to take a shower. I sat in the shower and dozed between contractions. The next couple hours I alternated between the birthing ball, the bed and pacing the floor. I threw up every single bit of food or liquid that I took . Towards morning, I got back in the shower and was able to doze between the contractions. I was feeling dehydrated and weak from all the vomiting and so so tired and discouraged that the Foley bulb still hadn't fallen out, which meant I wasn't even dilated to 4cm after 9 hours of it being in. When I got out of the shower, I told my doula that I want this thing out. I need a break and if I'm not progressing, this is pointless. We called for the midwives and I told them that I just want the Foley bulb out. She took it out and found that I was 6cm dilated and the bulb had been stuck and not fallen out. I was beyond happy. With my previous birth, I started pushing 30 minutes after I was 6cm so I felt like I was close to the end. I had a brief moment of panic, because I was planning to tell Samantha, my birth photographer, when the bulb came out and suddenly I had progressed farther than I realized. My doula called her and she said she was heading our way. I got in the tub and expected it to feel amazing as it had with my first birth, but it didn't. I was hot and uncomfortable and soon got out.
As time got on, I started feeling like the contractions were unmanageable. Somebody mentioned nitrous oxide and I said, bring it. It took FOREVER for it to come but FINALLY it was ready. I was sitting on the birth ball and the person that was hooking it up handed me the mask and told me to take 3 deep breaths. It instantly made me woozy. I got into bed and kept that mask right by me. The contractions were still so painful but they felt distant and manageable. I was able to sleep and relax. I could hear others in the room, but I could hardly open my eyes and if I tried to talk it came out so slow. I felt fuzzy and sleepy and it was the break I had been praying for. I also agreed to anti nausea medicine in my IV. I'm not sure if it worked or if it was the nitrous but after 12 hours of throwing up, it finally stopped.
I don't know how long I laid there, my doula kept telling me I should try to go to the bathroom and I knew I should, but I didn't feel like getting up and I just wanted to sleep. David came over to me and said, "The photographer is here." and I felt relief that my whole team was there and ready to go. The contractions got more intense and the nitrous was starting to take less of the edge off. I started feeling kind of pushy.
The midwives came in and I was dilated to 8. It was around noon on Tuesday, now.
The head midwife came in and said, "We need to have a serious talk, and you are going to have to open your eyes and talk to me" I opened my eyes but I really didn't care what she had to say in my woozy state of mind. She said that I was progressing slowly and that she was worried I was going to be too tired to push if it was much longer. She said that they could give me a low dose of Pitocin to make the contractions stronger.
"Nope," I said, "I won't be able to handle stronger".
We discussed breaking my water and thought that might help labor progress so I agreed to that. When my water broke, they told me that there was meconium in the water. I felt so scared suddenly, but they said that baby wasn't in any danger until she was born and breathing. I still had fear and felt even more urgency to get her out. They gave me fluids in my IV to help me get some strength.
Everybody was telling me that I needed to get up and change positions. Even Samantha came over and whispered to me that I should get up so this baby will come. I remember thinking that if she was telling me, I should probably get up. But I just didn't want to move because I was afraid. Afraid of the pain getting worse and getting in a position that I couldn't handle the pain. I felt like I was barely handling the contractions and I was scared of them getting worse.
I was really feeling like I needed to push but the midwives kept saying I couldn't, that I might tear something since I wasn't completely dilated.
At that point, I didn't care if I tore in half. I wanted this baby out so I could sleep. I was so so so tired.
The midwife came to talk again and said that this baby needs to come out soon because I wasn't progressing, possibly because I was so tired. They offered an epidural and I asked how long it would take to get it here. They said 30-45 minutes. I said no. There's no way I'm going through 45 minutes of more of this and then get the epidural. I'm going to get this baby out before then. I had been trying to not push but I tuned everybody out and started pushing with every contraction. Things happened fast after that.
The room filled up with people but I was completely focused on getting this baby out. I pushed for 10 minutes and there she was.
In my birth plan, I wanted to delay cord clamping and as soon as she was born they cut the cord and whisked her away. I barely saw her but she looked gray. I was so relieved for a moment that the birth was over. Then I started to panic. I kept asking, "Is she okay?" and nobody would answer, except to say that the pediatric team was with her. I had heard them say the cord had been wrapped around her neck when she was born. After what seemed like an eternity, she started crying! The midwives said if she was crying, she was ok. I told David not to leave her side and to make sure that she was okay. Samantha went over and took a picture of her and brought it over to show me. The midwives just said the baby was stunned.
They were saying I was losing a lot of blood and the nurses were hooking up pitocin for my IV. They were trying to get out the placenta and I thought briefly that my birth plan said that I wanted to deliver the placenta without Pitocin or traction on the cord. But I was losing too much blood so it must've been necessary. Suddenly I got cold and started shaking. I felt so weak. They brought my baby over but I was afraid I would drop her if I held her. I asked to smell her head.
The nurses laid my bed down and laid her in beside me. She was so soft and cuddly and the cutest thing I had ever seen. She weighed 9 pounds 1 ounce and had the chubbiest cheeks ever.
They moved me to the postpartum ward and we were there for 24 hours. I was feeling so happy until I heard one nurse reading to another nurse all they had given me through my IV. Multiple bags of antibiotics, saline, anti-nausea medicine, pitocin, more saline. I didn't remember being given half of that. Suddenly I felt like I had missed out on part of my labor. When I was dozing with the nitrous oxide, I was completely oblivious to anything happening and I felt like things had happened that I had no idea had happened.
We got cleared to leave the hospital and I got everything together to leave. We were waiting for the nurse to come take the ankle bracelet off the baby and I felt my birth high wear off. I was tired and frustrated and I wanted to get out of this place.
On the way home, I suddenly realized that my birth was nothing like I had planned. I had felt so out of control. I felt ashamed because I didn't feel like I handled it well. I felt like instead of having the calm controlled birth I had wanted, I had fought through every contraction. Me, the one who is all about natural birth, I had begged for a c-section. I felt so defeated and I didn't want to talk or think about my birth because I was so angry. I was afraid that if I faced that anger I wouldn't be able to handle it. I tried to block it out, but every night, I lay awake and cried silently. I should've done things differently. I should have gone home and got my things before we went to the hospital, so I would have been relaxed. I should have gotten a good nights sleep before we put the foley bulb in and then proceeded the next morning so I wouldn't have been so tired. I should've asked how high my blood pressure was and asked if it was an option to go home. I was angry at the midwives for missing the fact that the cord was around the baby's neck which may have contributed to why she had to be whisked away instantly. There were so many things that I thought maybe would've helped me achieve the birth I wanted. I also felt incredibly guilty for being so disappointed and angry because we were both healthy and I should've been thankful. And I was. I was so grateful that we were okay.
I talked to my doula and told her how I was feeling and we talked through the birth. She made me feel a lot better, but I still felt guilty and defeated. I knew that soon my birth pictures were going to be ready and I wasn't sure that I was ready to see them. I wanted to be able to look at them and see the birth of my healthy, beautiful daughter. I didn't want to be angry or sad. I asked Sam to give me a heads up before she sent them so that I could be prepared. She did, and I felt ready for them when she sent them. I cried as I looked through them. I got to look at my birth as an outsider and look at the moments I couldn't see when I was focused on surviving every contraction. I had so many memories of this birth but they were fragmented and blurred. I was able to piece it all together and it was so beneficial in working through the disappointment and guilt that I felt about my birth.
That wasn't the end though. As I'm writing this, my baby is 4 months old and it's still hard for me to think of her birth without feeling anger. I am so supportive of natural birth and home birth but I feel guilty talking about it because I feel like I failed my own birth. It's hard for me to think of someday having another baby. I planned this birth out, every detail and took every measure to have the perfect birth and it still didn't work out. I honestly don't know what I could have done differently in my planning and that makes me fearful.
I hope one day I can say that the anger and the disappointment goes away. It hasn't yet. But it does get a little less sharp and it's becoming possible for me to think about my birth without it ruining my day.
You can plan and practice and write the perfect birth plan. It doesn't always work out. It's okay to be disappointed and even angry. Don't let it consume you. Talk to somebody that understands and know that it will be okay.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! Your family is so beautiful!