This is a long one because it’s the story of how our son got here. It’s detailed and some of the pictures at the end are “graphic” (no nudity or “gross” pictures I promise). I hope this helps someone somehow and that other moms can relate and share in reading this.
Well, it has only taken me three months to finally sit down and write our Ryder’s birth story. This for some reason has been really hard for me to do. I have spent countless nights going over what I would write, how I wanted it to come across, making sure I didn’t miss any of the details and, to be honest, it’s been kind of daunting. I wanted so badly to tell the full story and not skip anything. I will do my best and hope that, for some future mom out there, this helps you or you can relate in some way.
I want to start off with the fact that this pregnancy was not easy for me mentally. I had always had a perfect picture idea of what I thought it would be like. I thought I would be able to workout the entire time, have a quick birth, and get back at it no problem. Well, none of that was the case. I was really ready to be done being pregnant at around 6 months. Not because I didn’t like it but because one: I wanted to meet our son so bad; two: I was already extremely uncomfortable; and three: I was ready to not be pregnant. I was terrified of being one or two weeks overdue and had decided to do anything I could to get him here on time.
I remember throughout all of our birthing classes they would say baby will come when you’re ready; so at 37 weeks I had my nails done, the nursery done, his first outfit picked out, the diaper bag stocked, and was ready to go. In my head I thought that by being ready and telling him I was ready would magically make him show up as soon as I was in the green zone. Well another week passed and at 38 weeks he still wasn’t here. I had talked to my nurse midwives and decided to try acupuncture. The gentleman doing it had said normally one treatment does the trick, but new moms sometimes need two to three treatments. Knowing this, I went ahead and set up all three. I did my first session and didn’t feel a thing but I thought, “Hey, I’m a new mom so I’ll go back tomorrow and get another one.” I went back and after the second treatment I had what I thought were some contractions but then nothing. I had my 39 week appointment the next day so I figured I would do that then get my last treatment in. I had also decided at that appointment I would ask if they could sweep my membranes so that he would hopefully come soon. Sadly though, I was told I wasn’t even dilated one centimeter so they couldn’t sweep my membranes. My midwife tried to be upbeat and said this doesn’t mean anything you could still go into labor tonight. Well, needless to say, I was very upset and canceled my last acupuncture treatment. I know I hadn’t even hit my due date yet but for some reason I was so disheartened. I wanted to meet him so bad and I was so uncomfortable I remember just wanting to move on to the new phase of life. I let a couple of days go by with some random contractions here and there but nothing that caught my attention. I was walking every day for some peace and exercise and in hopes that it would help labor come along. I even bought a big yoga ball that I started sitting and bouncing on while I watched TV. I’m not sure why I was so anxious for him to get here so soon but I know I was. I think it’s because I was honestly worried that we had come so far that if I didn’t have him soon something could go wrong and we could lose him. This was a big test of my trust in God and the plans He has for our family. It’s funny how when you try and take control of something God should have control over, you just become more anxious about it.
At this point another day went by and my dad came over and said you’re gonna have him on the 7th (of July). I remember asking him why he thought that and he just said I don’t know I’ve got a feeling. Well I woke up on Saturday morning July 7th and nothing! I got up went in to teach class at the gym and was still pregnant (mind you my due date was July 12th so I still had 5 days to go). I walked into class that day and a friend told me she thought that something was going to happen that day. That I looked different. I remember thinking whatever I probably will be 2 weeks past due with this guy because I have been trying to hard to have him quickly. The day went on like normal and that night another friend invited me out to dinner. She offered to buy it for me and just help me get out of the house. I ate SO MUCH at dinner that night, which I thought was funny because I hadn’t had an appetite up til that point (Ryder had been sitting on my stomach making me incredibly nauseous). I went home, showered, got snuggled up and was ready for the normal night routine of sitting on the couch with the dogs and watching TV until I fell asleep. Marc (my husband) was working nights at the time and I never slept well when he was on shift, so I would fall asleep on the couch. It was about 10:30 pm and I could not fall asleep to save my life. Sleep was not coming easy to me, especially at the end of my pregnancy. I remember thinking I’ll just watch one more show. I sat down, hit “continue watching” on Netflix and at 11:00 pm felt my first contraction.
Feeling that first contraction was kind of a funny thing. I had been having braxton hicks contractions on and off for about a week but that one just seemed different. About 20 minutes later I had another one. I sat up and decided to try sitting on my yoga ball and bounce. I told myself, “You’re not in labor; it’s just two contractions. Just bounce and try to relax. Maybe it’s what you had for dinner.” Another 20 minutes went by and again, contraction. At this point I decided I would time them to see if they were really 20 minutes apart. Sometimes I can get over excited and decide something is happening when it’s not. I downloaded a contraction timer app and started it. This time almost on the dot at 20 minutes there was a contraction. They weren’t lasting very long or super painful but I did get a little excited. I kept the timer running and then 15 minutes later I had a contraction. This went on for about 3 hours where they were 20 then 15 minutes apart. At about 3:00 am in the morning, they became seven to ten minutes apart and they were getting more painful and lasting longer. At that point I thought, “Well, I think this might actually be it.” (I was still skeptical) From 3:00 am-3:50 am things seemed to progress faster than I thought. The contractions were becoming a lot more painful and I remember not being able to breath through them anymore. At first I could just find my breath and breath through them but then I felt like I needed to hold onto something. Marc normally got off at 4:00 am in the morning but would often get held over later, so at 3:50 AM I sent him a text saying “Are you going to get home on time"? He said “Yes, why whats up?” and I replied with “Nothing, I think I’m in labor” That prompted an immediate phone call. I told him I had been having contractions since 11:00 pm and they were getting very painful so I wanted him home right away. Needless to say he got home very quickly.
Once he got home, my contractions were about five minutes apart and were getting more and more painful. We went round and round about calling the midwife and our doula. We first called the midwife who said to wait to come in to the birth center until contractions were two minutes apart and to call our doula. I called Angelique our doula, explained what had been going on and she asked what I wanted her to do. It was a funny question to me because I wanted her to tell me what to do. She said she could come over if I needed or wait a little bit. I said she could wait a little bit but, come 5:00 am, I had Marc on the phone with her because my contractions were painful and I wanted someone who knew what they were doing.
Angelique came over around 5:30 am, brought Marc coffee (he had been awake for almost 24 hours at this point) and brought me relief. By then my contractions were getting closer and more painful. I was having terrible back labor so she suggested I get in the shower. The shower felt amazing because at this point the contractions were about three minutes apart and were very painful. I remember getting to a point where I started making noises or “moaning” just to get through the contractions. Over the next two hours, I spent time laboring on my yoga ball, holding onto the counter, having my doula wrap a heating pad on my back, having Marc squeeze my hips, the works. Around 7:00 am my doula called the midwife and they both felt it was time for me to come in and see what exactly was going on. I was strep B positive so it was important we got there in enough time for me to get the antibiotics. I remember dreading the 30 minute car ride where I would have to sit still through contractions.
For the car ride, I had Marc put on worship music and I did my best to breath and make noise through every contraction. The low noise made my body feel like it was “vibrating” and it seemed to help me manage with the pain. It was really helpful when I couldn’t walk or sway in the car. When we finally got to the birthing center, we walked in and I had a couple contractions before the midwife could check me. She had told me it sounded like we were close by the way I was laboring and I was so excited. I got all set up, she checked me, and I was only three centimeters. I was so upset. At the birth center they won’t let you stay until you are at least six centimeters. I gathered myself, decided that three centimeters was better than none and we got back in the car. Before we left, my doula had said that I needed to try and rest since we had a ways to go. At that point I had a complete mental shift. I had been up since the morning before, was contracting since 11:00 pm, and was so spent. I remember literally telling myself “you need to rest”. The crazy thing was is that I feel asleep in the car between contractions!
When we got home my doula told me to try taking a longer nap. I was so concerned that by taking a nap my labor would stop. She ensured me that it wouldn’t stop and one way or another I would be having our baby boy today. I put on a movie (I picked Ghostbusters in hopes of maybe laughing if I couldn’t sleep), got comfortable and feel asleep on and off for almost two hours. It was so cool and crazy because sometimes I would wake up through the contractions a little bit, but for the most part I slept well. I think telling myself I needed rest in order to bring our son into the world really changed what I “made” my body do.
After the nap my contractions had slowed back down to around seven minutes apart. My doula told me I needed to eat so I had fuel to give birth and that sounded terrible to me. I am not one to eat when I don’t feel good, even if I know I need it. I hadn’t eaten since 7:00 pm the night before though, so I decided to force some food down. I ended up having some lemon yogurt with granola and felt like a whole new person! About 10 minutes after eating I had a lot more energy but the contractions also started to pick up again. I got back in the shower and stayed in there for a very long time. Marc and Angelique would come check on me every 10 minutes or so. By now the contractions were back to being 5 minutes apart. I got out of the shower and decided to use the yoga ball. By this point the back labor was unreal and nothing seemed like it helped. I remember just holding on to Marc while he told me how good of a job I was doing. He was my rock and I needed him by me at all times. From that point on we did everything. We went for a walk, I baked Ryder a birthday cake between contractions (yes you read that right, I baked our son a birthday cake while in labor!), bounced on the ball more and just did everything we could to let labor progress. I think by that time it was about 4:00 pm and I was getting exhausted.
Contractions were now back down to three minutes apart and lasting for a long time. Angelique called the midwife and she said that we were getting close but the contractions were too long. She said that the closer we got to active labor there should be a shift where they go from being 2 minutes apart and 2-3 minutes long to being 2 minutes apart and a minute or less in length. At this point I decided to get in the shower again (I spent a lot of time on a yoga ball in the shower that day). This time when I got out the contractions were killing me. I was tired, in a lot of pain, and I felt like we weren’t getting anywhere. I told my doula that I didn’t want to do it anymore. She said she would call the midwife again and see if we could go in. The midwife suggested we try shimmying my belly because he might not be in the right position to let labor progress. So Angelique got out her roboso and shimmied my belly between contractions. We did it four times I believe and after that I was done. I got up and told her I just wanted to go to the hospital and get an epidural. That I had labored long enough and the pain was too much. My back felt like it was on fire with knives being stabbed into it over and over. Nothing relieved the pain and I just wanted a break. She kindly encouraged me and suggested I lay down in bed again. I was so mad because I felt like nobody was hearing me wave my white flag and give up. I just wanted to quit and get the relief. I hesitantly decided to go along with her and lay in bed. I kid you not, I literally laid my head down took a deep breath and my water broke! It broke all over our bed and is still to this day the craziest thing I have ever felt. There was instant pain relief when my water broke and excitement because I knew that meant we would be leaving to the birth center to get the antibiotics.
As she checked to make sure the fluid was clear, and I tried to clean up is when the “ real” contractions came on. There were almost twice as intense pain wise but for me my water breaking was another mental shift. I immediately got energy and decided I knew I could do it. We got in the car again and headed off. By the time we got to the birth center the contractions were super intense but I didn’t care because I knew the end would be soon. I got there and Angelique started the tub for me while I changed and got my IV antibiotics started. At the birth center they don’t epidurals but they do offer nitrous oxide, some narcotics and water papules for back labor. While the tub was filling I told them I need something, anything to help with the pain. I got in the tub, which was amazing all on it’s own for the pain, and they gave me the nitrous oxide. Let me tell you, I couldn’t be more grateful for it! It didn’t do a single thing for the pain but it gave me something else to focus on, plus the gas helped ease anxiety.
After getting in the tub the nurse midwife checked me again and said I was at 8 centimeters and still had some cervix left in the front. She told me that if I wanted to help get him here faster I needed to get on my knees or all fours so that gravity could move it out of the way. Well let me tell you that going from my back to all fours was terrible! It was so much more painful that way but probably because things were moving faster and intensified it by a lot. I stayed in that position for a while and then went back to being on my back because it was so intense. I had a contraction on my back and kinda felt my body convulse and I remember thinking oh great now I’m going to be sick. I finished the contraction and even told the midwife I thought I was going to be sick. Well it actually turned out that was my body trying to push. I went back on to all fours and it keep happening with every contraction. My doula even asked my if I was pushing. I told her I wasn’t trying to but it was happening. The midwife checked me again and said she could feel his head. She told me I could start pushing so I went for it! It was the most wild thing because the pain stops while you push and that’s all you can focus on. She asked me if I wanted to feel him and I said no. I remember only wanting to get him here as fast as I could. I think I only pushed for about 30 minutes and before I knew it she said the head is out! I had to change positions again to catch him. I pushed and there before our eyes was our son! It’s funny because there are small things I remember like his cord was around his neck so I took it off and then he was on my chest.
That is a moment I will never ever forget. Our son was here. He was breathing, crying, and laying on my chest. He was absolutely perfect! I have never felt instant love like that before in my life. Marc was by my side and we were both shedding tears of joy. We had created this little life that we were now responsible for. We were holding the greatest miracle of all. Marc got to cut the cord and have skin to skin with him right away. I got cleaned up, out of the tub and in bed to get to hold him for the first time separate from me. After 19 hours of labor, it was all said and done and our son was here!
I went into labor with a very loose plan. I was hoping to have him naturally but was 100% okay if he came with an epidural or c-section. In all honestly, I just wanted him here happy and healthy. After the birth I doubted if I could say I did it completely natural because I used the nitrous oxide, but I did what I felt I needed. Now though, since it didn’t help with the pain, I will proudly say I did it all natural. That doesn’t make me any better than someone who had an epidural or a c-section though. Birth is a journey and it happens differently for everyone. I am blessed to have had the experience I did but if yours didn’t go the way you planned or you couldn’t take the pain and got the epidural, you hold you head up high. You brought a human into this world and you should be proud of yourself!
I look back at it all now and I can say that Marc was my rock. I needed him right by my side, holding my hand, rubbing my back, talking to me, encouraging me, anything. He never left me, he was kind, sweet, patient, and I honestly could not have done it without him. The other person I could not have done it without was Angelique my doula. She was our calm in the midst of it all. She had a peace about her that just spread in the room when she came in. We both knew that as long as she was there, we were okay. She was strong for me when I couldn’t be and she never let me give up or quit on myself. I also want to say how much I appreciate the Dar A Luz birthing center staff. They were incredible and so encouraging! Finally, I want to say thanks to our photographer Lori Martinez. We will forever treasure her photos!
This story could be a lot longer and I could go on and on about after birth all the way up until now, but that’s for another day. I just hope all you women out there know how strong you are. If you’re a new mom, embrace the change and take it one day at a time. It gets easier, your body heals, and you now have an amazing little child.