We absolutely love this detailed birth story from Sara!
Our little Penny arrived on Friday November 17th. We are all SO in love with her. She is such a precious gift to complete our family. After our 4th, we thought we were done. At least for a few years. I started to think I may not get a 5th baby (even though I was hoping and praying) so to have this sweet caboose after 5 years is just so wonderful. We are so thankful.
First of all, I should start with a little bit of back story. When I had my first baby over twelve years ago, I had a very specific opinion about giving birth in general. I chose to have my first two babies without an epidural or any sort of pain meds. I had a great experience with those first two births, even though they were difficult. I had read books and took childbirth classes, and was certain that was what was best for me. But I probably would have told you it was the only way I would ever consider, and probably thought the same for others. I’m sure I rolled my eyes at those who opted for different types of births. I realize now that I was probably a bit judgmental and closed-minded. I can admit this now, because over the years I have really changed my way of thinking. Hopefully for the better. On my 3rd and 4th babies, I ended up choosing an epidural during delivery. And both times, it was AWESOME. My eyes have been opened to see that every single birth is a miracle. The act of bringing life into this world is beyond words.
I truly believe that every pregnant woman does what she feels is right. We’re all just doing our best in this whole motherhood journey. Birth stories are so varied, but all beautiful. Whether you choose (or it is chosen for you, beyond your control) hospital or home, medicated or not, vaginal or c-section, plus any other variety of options … they are all amazing. And sacred! And being that they are sacred experiences, it is sometimes hard to share our stories. I feel a bit vulnerable even now, as I put my story out there. But I also LOVE giving birth, and I was so excited during the pregnancy, that I got to do it all one more time. Penny is in every sense our “just one more” baby.
Going into it, I knew I wanted an epidural. I planned the whole time to have an epidural. After doing it 2x unmedicated, and 2x with epidurals, I decided I would go the epidural route again. They worked perfectly with Simon and Greta’s births. So that’s what I was expecting. This was also the first time that I decided to be induced. I won’t go into my reasoning why, but long story short, I was induced right at 40 weeks (my due date). I was ready! And really calm going into it. David, too. We both felt good about the decision.
We got to the hospital around 7:30 a.m. and at that point I was dilated to 3cm. Which is where I had been for about 2 weeks already. I needed a dose of antibiotics, as I was positive for Group B strep (happened every pregnancy, so I wasn’t surprised). We got settled into our room, got the IV in my hand, and started the antibiotics. It was just David and I most of the morning, as the nurse and doctor came and went occasionally. It was actually really nice and calm. We had big windows in our room, looking out to the stormy and rainy day. My favorite weather! It made the day even better, as I love the feeling that rain brings. We listened to the baby’s heartbeat on the monitors and just relaxed for a bit.
Around 11am, they started the pitocin drip in my IV. The doc said he would break my water around 1 or 1:30. So for a couple hours, the contractions were manageable. I wanted to dilate a bit more before getting the epidural. I held off til about noon and then asked for the epidural. At that point the contractions were getting painful. And I knew once my water was broken, that things would likely go more quickly. And I wanted to get the epidural before that point. The anesthesiologist, a silver-haired soft spoken man, came in and placed the epidural. He asked me a few questions about what I was feeling, and determined that it was not in the correct spot. So, he had to place it a second time. It seemed to be working after that. I didn’t particularly love getting poked twice, but it wasn’t so bad. For the next hour or so, the epidural meds seemed to be working great. They took the edge off the contractions and I was feeling calm.
My mom and Amanda (my sister-in-law) came to the hospital around 1:00, maybe earlier. The timeline is a little blurry for me but I know they were lingering in the hall, and came in the room a few times to see how I was doing. The doctor (Dr. Drewes) came in around 1:30 to check me and break my water. I was dilated to 4cm at this point, and I remember thinking, oh this is going to take awhile. Even the doctor thought it could be several more hours. But that is where I was wrong. Once he broke my water, things really picked up quickly.
The first few contractions came and I thought, huh … I’m really feeling those now. But they were still just pressure and I figured the epidural would continue to kick in. I remember rolling to my left side, away from where David was sitting. I closed my eyes to try and relax and just then a powerful contraction hit. I opened my eyes quick enough to see the monitor screen and it was the largest spike yet. A wild wave of pressure hit me at once and I felt it. That pressure is nearly indescribable unless you have given birth, then you know what I’m talking about. I told David, “I don’t think my epidural is working anymore. I felt that one.” The doc came in at some point and gave me a higher dose of meds and assured me it would kick in quickly. Everyone was so kind and helpful, but inside I was starting to panic. I could feel my body working to move the baby downward. I will be honest, I was not mentally prepared to work through the pain.
I closed my eyes again, still rolled on my side, and without saying anything, just started to sob. It was just David and me in the room at that point. Once he realized I was crying, I could see in his face that he knew. I don’t think was so overcome by emotion and pain in my previous births. Especially to the point of tears. Over the next hour and a half, my body went from 4cm to 10cm dilated. The contractions were coming quickly and powerfully. The nurse and doctors were great, and did the best they could to get the epidural working, but I am convinced now that it must have slipped out of place as I was laboring. I was rolling from side to side in an attempt to find a comfortable position, but nothing seemed to work. I remember crying to David, “I don’t know what to do!” It was really intense. In fact, I don’t even know if the word “intense” is even adequate. What is worse than intense? Well, that’s what it was. If I think of the appropriate word, I will come back and edit.
It lasted about an hour and a half, yet it felt like forever. David did his best to reassure me. I told him many times, “I can’t do this” or “I don’t want to do this” (meaning, I didn’t want to do it without the epidural). I’m telling you, I was not mentally prepared. With My first two “natural” births, I went in PLANNING on going without meds, and that seemed to make all the difference. If you’re reading this and you’re pregnant (or will be someday), that should be the takeaway lesson. Be prepared for anything when giving birth. I should have mentally prepared myself for any possibility. David was right by my side as I moaned and groaned for the last hour. I wasn’t watching the clock, but I know just before 3pm, my doctor came in and I was just about to 10cm. I even tried to sit up on the edge of the bed when the anesthesiologist came in, to check on the epidural placement.
At that point, I knew it was time. I couldn’t even sit up because baby was right there. Dr. Drewes checked and sure enough, baby was starting to crown. That is when I knew it would feel better to give a little push with the next contraction. I was ready for baby to be out! I was in my own world, and it felt like an out of body experience. I could feel the nurse and doctor moving quickly into place when I said I wanted (needed!) to push. When the next contraction hit, I decided to push a little. And when I say “little”, it must have been not so little, because I pushed baby out in one quick/intense/crazy push. So quick that the doctor said, “ok wait a second as the baby’s slides out.” (or something like that) I couldn’t believe it! Baby was out?!
And then one second later, I look down to see my baby being placed on my chest. Slimy, gooey, eyes opened and beautiful. And, at that same moment, I look at the baby and realize: A GIRL. We have a girl. I was overcome with emotion. I said “a girl” and “that hurt so bad” all in the same breath, I think. It was the most beautiful moment. So relieved to have endured the delivery, and thankful to be holding my baby. My baby girl! I looked at David and he was leaning on the bed with tears in his eyes. And it felt like the world stood still, if even just for a few seconds. We just took it all in, as we admired our new baby girl. I will never forget it.
My friend Terese came to take photos and I will be forever thankful that she captured these real and raw emotions right as we met our baby for the first time. (She arrived literally right as Penny was born). Of course at this time, we didn’t know yet that her name was Penny. It took us about 24 hours to decide her name.
About an hour later, the kids came to meet their sibling. They didn’t know until this moment if it was a brother or a sister! They were so excited. I know all four of them cried when they saw her. Especially sweet Ruby.
Our family of seven:
I am so thankful to my Father in Heaven