On Thursday April 2nd, 2020 we welcomed a baby girl to the Wonder Forest family. Lily Reese decided to arrive eighteen days early weighing in at 7lbs 14oz. Her birth was thankfully quick and went so smoothly for a first timer like myself.
I had always been terrified of giving birth. When I became pregnant, my first thought was how I would handle all of the changes that were going to happen to my body and how I would deal with labor when the time came. It turns out I was more of a warrior than I realized and had nothing to worry about at all.
Lily’s Birth Story
I was 37 weeks and a few days pregnant. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I somehow knew that she would make an early arrival. Despite others telling me that I had lots of time left and that first time mothers usually pass their due date, my instincts said otherwise. Because of this, I made sure to have everything ready for her arrival and my hospital bags pretty well ready to go.
On the Tuesday night before her arrival, I was getting ready to take a shower before nestling into bed. Upon using the toilet, I noticed that I was still leaking a little bit. I decided to call my midwife to find out if this was normal for 37 weeks or if it was my water breaking. Because I had no other symptoms and the leak was small and not constant, she didn’t seem too concerned as it was apparently normal around this time to experience a little extra discharge. She also assured me that light cramping could happen at this stage in pregnancy and if it did, that’s totally normal too. I went to bed that night feeling confident that I wasn’t in labor.
The next day I was still experiencing some minor leakage, usually when I would stand up or change positions while laying down. I went about my day as usual.
I woke up a few times that night with consistent light cramping, which I had been told could happen so I wasn’t concerned. After all, these are normal signs that my body was getting ready for those final couple of weeks and prepping to have a baby!
That morning there seemed to be a little more leaking that usual and my cramping turned into intermittent pains instead of a constant pressure. I decided to download a contraction counting app to see if there was any pattern to the cramps. They seemed to be happening every 10-15 minutes or so and for various amounts of time and were pretty mild. I wrote them off as Braxton Hicks but decided to call the midwife again to find out what was going on.
We set up an appointment for 3:30pm that day so she could check to see if it was indeed discharge I was experiencing or amniotic fluid leaking.
I told my husband to cancel his plans and said that I think we should be going to the hospital. The cramping was becoming more consistent now and although I had never experienced contractions before in my life, I was pretty sure that these were legit contractions. He immediately started rushing around the house tidying up and getting his hospital bag packed. I finished packing mine as well — just in case. We had no idea what was going to happen but I wanted to be prepared.
3:30 came around and I entered the midwife clinic. Due to the Covid pandemic that is happening right now, I had to go into the clinic alone while he sat in the car. I was still having tolerable contractions at this point, but they were happening every 4-5 minutes now.
The midwife checked me with a swab that turns black if the substance is indeed amniotic fluid. That q-tip was as black as night! She told me I definitely had a small rupture and then proceeded to check my cervix. To our surprise, she exclaimed “Oh wow… You’re 4-5 cm dilated!” and then confirmed I was indeed in early labor. Despite the rupture, my water sack was still in place and full, so we decided that it would be best to head to the hospital now and get the rest of the water sack broken. We weren’t exactly sure when the rupture had happened, so the risk of infection for the baby was unknown and we wanted to get her out safely as soon as possible.
As I exited the clinic and sat down beside my husband in the car, I asked him if he felt like having a baby today. “Really?!?” he said, kind of excited and kind of nervous at the same time. I told him what had happened and that we were to meet my other midwife, also named Lilly, at the hospital in one hour.
By now the contractions were getting stronger. They were the kind that make you stop what you’re doing for a minute and breathe deeply. We arrived at the hospital at 4:30pm and were taken to our private birthing room.
We chatted about some options that we could take regarding antibiotics, pain options, and what was and wasn’t available during this Covid mess. I had only taken my routine Strep B test a day before, so we didn’t have my results back yet to know if I was positive or negative. If I was positive, I would need to be administered antibiotics through an IV as common practice. Since we were unsure, I was given the option to get the antibiotics anyways as a precaution and also since we didn’t know how long ago this rupture had happened. At the time, I decided against the IV because (honestly) I am needle phobic and didn’t want to over-medicate myself if I didn’t need to (this would later change…)
I changed into my hospital gown and at around 5:00pm she checked me again. I was 5-6cm dilated now and it was time to break my water to get things moving. I didn’t feel it happen, just a strong gush of fluid afterwards.
Once that was done, I sat on a birthing ball for a little while and dealt with the now “kind of” painful contractions. Everyone seemed so surprised at how well I was handling the contractions and I was pretty sure at this point that I wouldn’t need an epidural, although I had requested to have the option on hand just in case. A few more bounces on that ball and even more fluid gushed out all over the floor.
My contractions started getting really bad shortly after. They were one after another and the pain was too much to even bear. It was a pain that I can’t even properly explain because I’ve never felt something like that before. I couldn’t think straight and I felt like I might actually die. Or throw up. Or both at the same time.
At 7:00pm I was 7cm dilated and told the midwife to get me the epidural ASAP. I couldn’t do it anymore. I tapped out. It took about 15 minutes for them to set me up and place an IV. Because of the epidural, they require you to have an IV placed. I didn’t even care about needles at this point because I just wanted the pain to go away. Since the IV was in place, they were also able to give me those antibiotics as a precaution, so in the end it all worked out best for baby.
A man came in to place my epidural. Being totally afraid of needles didn’t even cross my mind. I was just trying to deal with the pain of each contraction through my breathing as they came and went. He mentioned how my chart said that I had an extreme needle phobia and told me “I call bullshit on that one!”. We all had a laugh and after a few minutes, my contractions slowly started becoming bearable until I couldn’t feel them at all. I just felt the pressure of them.
Immediately, I transformed from miserable and unable to speak into my normal self who was able to carry on conversations with my husband and not even be nervous about what was happening. I felt good! I wasn’t scared at all. I entered the mindset that there was a job to do and I was going to get it done.
I felt completely at ease during the birth (despite the painful contractions from earlier). Not at all like I had expected! I am pretty sure my primal and maternal instincts kicked in and I handled everything thrown at me calmly and without anxiety.
The next time I was checked I was ready to start pushing. My midwife could already feel the head! Everything was progressing so naturally and quickly.
I started pushing sometime after 9:00pm. It was a strange feeling because I was told to push during contractions, but I couldn’t feel them very well at first. As time went on, I was able to feel the pressure of them much better and knew just what I had to do.
I pushed for about an hour and a half and out came my precious little girl. She was placed on my chest and we were overcome with emotions. It was so surreal seeing her there after she had just been in my belly. She actually lifted her head right off my chest and looked right at her daddy. We were both shocked because newborns aren’t supposed to be able to do that, are they!?
We stayed the night at the hospital and the next afternoon we were able to go home. It was such a whirlwind of a day that seemed to fly by so quickly. 5 hours in active labor and there she was. Our perfect little creation.
We can’t stop looking at her and admiring all of her perfect features. This tiny little thing helped me transition into motherhood and eased my fears. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth, nursing and midwife team, and supportive husband who was there pushing alongside me as if something was going to come out of his belly too.
Welcome to the world, Lily Reese.