April, 11th 2018. The day we met our daughter, Della. The thing about this story is that everything up until this day was preparing us for the moment of her birth. We didn’t know it at the time, but our whole journey had been a preparation for the scary, empowering, emotional, soulful story that was about to become ours. The most important takeaway from our birth story, in the end, is that it is…OURS. Not one single birth story will ever be exactly the same and the beauty of each woman’s story is that it’s theirs. A memory that can never be taken away.
Here it goes…
I woke up around 3:30 am on the morning of the 11th with a ton of sinus pressure and a stuffy nose. I got out of bed and decided to seek relief with a Neti Pot and some essential oils. I was past due and I kept thinking to myself that I couldn’t possibly be having this baby until I felt completely well. I went back to sleep and was jolted awake by an intense contraction around 5ish in the morning. Contractions are one of those things that you wish you could describe, but it is unlike any other physical sensation on earth so I think that is why women have such a hard time explaining it. If you’ve had them, you know what I am talking about.
Anyways, at this point in the morning, I was feeling like my sinus symptoms had almost completely gone away. I started to time my contractions which were averaging about 12-15 minutes apart. I bounced on the ball, walked around and rocked back and forth for a couple of hours. It was still very mild and manageable. I decided to wake up Doug and tell him that I was pretty sure today was the day. I was still uncertain because I didn’t go into labor on my own with the boys. That’s a story for a whole other blog post. Doug got the kids ready and took them off to school. While he was gone, I decided to draw myself a bath to help relax. I texted my family to let them know that this might be the day. I was also in contact with my Doula, Brittany. A Doula is an awesome pregnancy and labor support person. Look it up. You won’t be sorry you did.
When I got into the bath, I stood up in the water testing the temperature. It was too hot, so I decided to adjust it. Right as I was standing over the water, MY water broke. It was kind of comical. I mean, whose water breaks over the bathtub? The whole thing was kind of crazy. It started out like a small stream. I did question whether or not I was peeing and just didn’t know it. It’s such a foreign feeling that I was so confused until I realized this was definitely not pee. It started to gush and I sure was glad that I was still standing over the bath. HA! I laughed as I called Brittany and I remember feeling so much adrenaline that I was almost giddy. She told me to continue timing things and if my contractions got closer together I should let her know.
I decided to wait until Doug got home to tell him that my water had broken. He walked through the door about 10 minutes later. I did call him to see where he was just to be sure that I could wait to tell him. He was getting coconut water at the store for me for during labor. Looking back, we both laughed at this moment and you’ll see why in a minute.
As soon as he walked in the door, I told him that my water broke and he had the most surprised reaction I had ever seen. He started to grab the bags and was like, “Let’s go!”. Something you see in the movies. I told him to wait and let me get ready. Right as I said that, my contractions picked up. I’m talking crazy intense and about 4 minutes apart. It went from 0 to 60 just like that. I was again, shocked. We scrambled. I mean really scrambled. We were mostly packed, but we thought we would have so much more time. Early labor was supposed to take hours and hours. I actually imagined having time to leisurely do my hair, put on make-up and eat a good breakfast. Reality= throwing my makeup bag and straighter in my bag (like I would even touch that for days), Doug throwing waters, coconut water, fruit and random things in a bag, and making me a piece of toast with peanut butter. All of this took about 3 minutes because like I said, we were scrambling. I think we were both thinking that I might have the baby in the truck. We had a 45-minute drive ahead of us and my contractions were getting closer together.
I got into the truck and by this point, I could bearly talk. I was trying to breathe through them, but the contractions were so intense. I stopped timing them by now because they were 2 minutes apart consistently. I asked Doug to call Brittany and the hospital. And then, we hit traffic. Oh my gosh, of course. I remember getting out of my seatbelt and making the craziest noises while climbing around the front seat of the truck, taking off my shoes, and taking tiny bites of toast in between the madness. I am sure Doug was terrified, but he got us to the hospital by maneuvering his way through the side streets of downtown Houston.
When we arrived, we pulled up to the front and the valet came and opened my door. I reluctantly slipped my shoes back on. He got a wheelchair for me and I was so mad. I wanted to walk, but at the same time, I was moving at turtle speed, stopping every 2 minutes with each contraction. We would never make it, so I compromised and got in the wheelchair. The guy had the nerve to ask me how my day was going so far and I just looked at him with a death stare. He smirked. Doug thought I was going to punch this guy. In all fairness, never hold a woman responsible for what she does or says while in labor. It’s like an alternate universe. I am usually not prone to wanting to punch people.
We got up to check in and I think I scared everyone in the waiting room. I was moaning and wailing like an animal. It was insane. These contractions were indescribable and so close together. It hadn’t even been an hour yet since active labor began and I thought I was going to die. The check-in process took forever, but we finally made our way into the triage room. I was begging Doug for Brittany and he told me she was on the way. The nurse that checked me in and took my vitals was less than pleasant. She had a judgy way about her and just made me feel very uneasy. She checked my progress and smugly told us that I was ONLY 2 centimeters dilated. I couldn’t have been more discouraged. I was a 2 yesterday at my doctor’s appointment. How could I not be making progress with all of this pain? Since my water had broken they were working on getting me into a labor and delivery room. I was working through each contraction trying to breathe and focus, but this was very challenging. I remember getting really quiet, which is unlike me if you know me at all. Doug was so great and supportive. Asking me what I needed and just being there for me. My Doula arrived and I found so much relief in her just being there. She was such a support for both Doug and I. Her words of encouragement were like waves of relief to me. She made me feel like I was making progress and that I could do this. A new nurse had also joined us. Her name was Jamie and she was AMAZING. She would stay with us through it all and turn out to be a very important character in our story as well.
We finally got moved to a labor and delivery room. This room was much bigger and had all of the items needed to help with labor. A tub, birth ball, peanut ball, etc. Walking to the room from triage was interesting. I held onto the edge of the hallway walls every minute and a half during contractions. I saw nothing around me. I was in full blown labor land and nothing else mattered. Somehow, when we arrived at the room with the help of Doug, Brittany, and the nurse I changed into my labor gown. I opted for a black labor gown that I purchased on Amazon instead of the bed sheet that they try and put you in. They got me hooked up to the monitors for both baby and I and all I could think about was getting in the tub. We wheeled all of the “stuff” over to the tub and I got in. With as much pain as I was feeling, the water offered some relief.
During this time, both Doug and Brittany were asking me how I would like the room set up and different questions about essential oils, temperature, and lighting. I literally could not answer them. The only thing I could do was breathe. Brittany kept reminding me to breathe through each contraction and to relax my face. This was extremely helpful. I could feel my face wanting to tense up every time. Doug and Brittany were so great and just continued to make the room into a wonderful space even without me answering them. The lights were low, the calming oils were diffusing, and the bath was so nice. I honestly wish I would have been able to pay more attention to all of their hard work, but I was deep in it. So focused on what I was feeling.
I am told that I was in the tub for over an hour. This actually felt like 5 minutes to me. Labor land time is so weird. Again, it’s like an alternate universe. The Doctor who was on call came and checked me while I was in the tub. She was so kind and had a very nurturing manner about her. We will call the Doctor in my birth story, Dr. D. She was truly an angel. I had been at the hospital for a little under 2 hours and I went from 2 centimeters to 6 centimeters dilated. This was just the news that I needed. My hard work had been doing something for us. I got out of the bath shortly after this news. I felt like I needed to change my scenery so I got on the ball. This honestly did not feel good to me which was surprising, but I knew it was good for the baby so I stayed on. Doug was so wonderful during this time. Putting pressure on my back and helping me through each wave.
Jamie, my miracle nurse, had continued to check on me and I decided to ask her if there was anything I could take for relief. Let me say, I went into this whole thing thinking I would do it without any pain medication. Ha! But my main goal was for Della and me to be safe and healthy. Another main goal was for my entire experience to feel empowered. I was given options and made each decision for me. This felt really good. My first big decision was to have her put something in my IV for pain. I honestly can’t remember what it was called, but it was supposed to take the edge off and last a couple of hours all while being safe for both me and Della. Jamie and others that came in and out of the room kept telling me that I was so peaceful and zen, but I felt far from it.
I can’t forget to mention that things didn’t slow down at all. Looking back, I was going through “transition”. Labor is no joke. The contraction monitor was validating the fact that my contractions were coming every minute. I was hardly getting a rest in between. I even started to have double peaking contractions which I am convinced should not even exist. Those suckers are evil. They “peak” twice with no break in between and the word “peak” refers to the highest most intense level of pain in the contraction. This continued even through the “relief” medicine and I actually did not feel any relief. Maybe it relaxed my mind a bit, but that is all the credit I will give it.
I remember this next part pretty vividly except some of the details are a bit hazy. Doug went to get something from the truck for me. We had left a few things in a hurry. It might have been the coconut water or one of the many bags we brought. He’s fuzzy on the details too. He was a true saint in this process. He hadn’t eaten a single thing, no coffee at this point and was sitting there supporting me and watching everything happen. While Doug was gone, I spoke to Brittany about my options. I was getting zero breaks. I kept saying this over and over in the 30 seconds between each contraction. All I could think about in my head during each contraction was getting more relief. I decided to be bold and ask the nurse about an epidural. I wanted to be checked first to make sure I had progressed. I was telling Brittany that I thought Doug was going to be mad at me for getting an epidural. HA! She assured me that he would never be mad at me for that. Remember how I said that a laboring woman does not make sense. This was an absurd thought of mine. He would never be mad at me for that. This was indeed my way of working it out for myself though. I had to be completely sure that I wanted the epidural and that I felt 100% empowered to make that decision on my own. After being checked, I was 8 centimeters dilated. I knew my body was making progress and opted for the epidural.
I almost forgot to mention that my sister, Sara, was on her way right around the time that I made the decision about the epidural. I chose her to be there as my support person because she is such a calming and positive human being. She is also pregnant and we have bonded over our pregnancies and birth stories in general. I was so so happy when she arrived. Seeing her there with Doug filled my heart with such love. We have always been close, but in our adult years have gotten even closer. I was honored that she agreed to be there for me that day.
I had just gotten the epidural and let me tell you, I was like a new woman. I was laughing, talking, and smiling again. Not to mention, I could MOVE! I was shocked because I expected to be numb from the chest down, but I could actually feel every contraction in a good way now. Instead of pain, I felt pressure. It was AMAZING. I felt present which is exactly what I wanted. I sat there joking with Doug, Sara, and Brittany and it truly was wonderful. Doug gave me sips of coconut water and the room just felt so full of love. Della would be here soon and we were all getting excited.
Things kind of took a turn here after a couple of hours. All of the sudden a whole team of people started to flood the room. I was a little confused because I couldn’t see the monitors from where I was. It was Della’s heart rate. It started to decelerate. They call this fetal d-cells. It went back up, but the team of doctors talked to us about not wanting to see that again. They would continue to monitor us closely. I changed positions with the help of my birth team and tried to get Della to change positions. Maybe this would help. Dr. D came to check me and mentioned that Della was posterior. This was the reason for those crazy double peaking, no break in between contractions. We kept changing positions, but Della continued to have d-cells. I didn’t feel fearful or scared at all. I did start looking around the room and realizing that this situation was concerning to everyone. Even my super positive nurse, Jamie, was intently staring at the monitor. The whole room kind of changed gears. That being said, it was never frantic or crazy at all. They did a wonderful job of keeping me positive and in the moment. That and maybe the drugs helped too.
We had a decision to make. The d-cells meant that Della was not responding well to something. We had no way of knowing what was exactly going on. Only enough time to put our faith in the whole situation and make an empowered decision. I looked at Doug and very calmly told everyone that we needed to get her out. Surgery was the answer. After all, I was no stranger to the operating room (OR) when it came to babies. My first two were brought into the world that way so I knew exactly what to expect. Things moved pretty quickly after I made that call. The nurses and doctors all worked fast to get everyone into place. Doug scrubbed up and they prepped me to be moved. I had asked the nurse and doctors if Brittany would be allowed to come into the OR and take pictures. It was our plan all along to capture Della’s birth on film so it was really important to us. Now more than ever did I want to see this moment for years to come. It was definitely not allowed for anyone other than spouses to enter into the OR, but they agreed to ask. To my surprise, when I was being wheeled back, they allowed Brittany to scrub up as well and come into the OR. I was so grateful that she was able to take these amazing pictures.
Doug and Brittany were held behind while they got me completely prepped. My time in the OR before they entered was so encouraging. First of all, it was ALL women. Even the anesthesiologist was a woman. This is pretty rare. I just felt such care and for lack of better words…girl power in the room. I said this out loud to them and they all smiled and we laughed. I was in good, no not good, GREAT hands. We joked as the assisting doctor entered since he and my husband would be the only men in the room. He was a nice guy but we proceeded to give him a hard time. I appreciated him even though he was a little intense since he was the one that first came into the labor room when Della began having d-cells.
Doug came into the OR and they started the operation. My arms were to my side but free to move around. The lights were bright. I shook. I’m talking the kind of shaking that you get when you are freezing cold. The OR is already cold to begin with and something about the medicine given to you for the operation always gives me the shakes. Even though Doug remembered that from before he was asking me if I was ok. I am sure that is a scary sight to see. They gave me a warm blanket to help a little bit with that.
It wasn’t long at all before she was born. That moment of pure joy and anticipation was finally here.
Time stood still and we held our breath as we waited for her to take her first breath. It took Della a little bit longer to cry out. We asked if everything was ok. Not hearing any noise coming from her was utterly terrifying. Our baby had to be ok. The doctors and nurses kept saying she was fine and that it was a good sign that she was pooping and peeing. That was great and all, but where was her cry? Was she breathing? It seemed like an eternity. After a little bit of oxygen and some help from the nurses, she cried! It was like hearing angels sing. Tears streamed down as we looked at each other and knew that our daughter was ok.
The “plan” was to place her on my chest after she was born. This did not happen. I knew in my heart that it was NOT simply because they forgot or that anything was wrong with her. Her Apgar and vitals were totally normal after they got her to cry and breathe. I am told this only took about 90 seconds or so, but again, to Doug and I, it felt way longer. We started to hear some chatter from behind the curtain. It was me. Something was going on with…me. Uh oh, change gears. Dr. D and the assisting doctor were conversing about me and what was going on with my uterus. Simultaneously while this was going on, they handed Della to Doug. She was all bundled up and as cute as could be.
I was able to see her from the corner of my eye. I started to feel a little weird and out of it. The anesthesiologist was shoving medicine into my mouth. Come to find out later, this was to help my uterus to contract. It wasn’t happening on its own like it should have. Dr. D asked us questions like, “do you guys want more kids?” and said things like, “she’s only 29 years old.” Doug and I just looked at each other and answered her that in fact, we did want more children. What was wrong? Why were they talking like this? Was I going to die? These were all of the real thoughts that went through my head.
A normal c-section closure takes about 15-30 minutes on average. They worked on me for about an hour and a half. The whole time, Doug stood by my side, holding my hand and holding our daughter. He would alternate between snuggling her up to him and holding her near my face so that our cheeks would touch.
Meanwhile, I was shaking, cold, exhausted and in and out of closing my eyes. I couldn’t help, but imagine for a split second what it would be like for Doug if I wasn’t there anymore. That sounds morbid, but it was unclear what was happening. I guess everyone in the room could sense my fear and started to comfort me. Brittany and the pediatric nurses would take turns holding my hand as well. I vividly remember one of them telling me that I was going to be ok. I believed her. It gave me the strength that I needed at the very exact moment that I needed it. A calm cascaded over me and I felt strong. I gotta tell you, I was truly blessed in that operating room on April 11th. I never felt alone. Thanks to my husband, my doula and all the amazing doctors and nurses. Of course, God had his hand in all of it and in all of us that day.
I was finally finished with surgery and being wheeled out while Della was carefully given to me. Our first moment truly being skin to skin. It was like magic. She started to try and eat right away. Typical Roses kid. We were together at last.
I looked up at Doug in the conclusion to what felt like a wild ride. I would remain in the labor and delivery room to recover for a while before they released me to a postpartum room. They were cautiously watching over me to make sure everything returned to complete normalcy. Don’t worry it did.
What I didn’t find out until much later, even though we all had the suspicion in the OR, was that my uterus had what they call a “window” meaning they could see Della through it when they got inside. It was dangerously thin. Paper thin, I think is the term they used. On top of that, it wouldn’t contract like normal so I had hemorrhaged and lost a lot of blood in the OR. Dr. D truly saved my uterus. She could have easily just performed a hysterectomy and left me without a uterus at 29 years old. But in asking those questions to us in the heat of the moment, she worked tirelessly to save me. Now, I am not a doctor so when I say things like she saved me I don’t mean to make it sound like I was flat-lining on the operating table. I certainly was not. But what she did for me was unimaginably kind and caring. She looked at me as a woman, a person, and as a mother and not just a patient. Not all doctors would have done that. I am forever grateful for her.
Had we continued to labor down and deliver her vaginally, my uterus would have ruptured. This is 100% a fact. It would have been an emergent situation instead of a choice that I made in the end. God only knows if Della or I would have made it through a rupture. My uterus certainly would not have. What I do know is that Della was looking out for me on her birthday. She knew we had to get in there and get her out via surgery for both of our sakes. She too saved me. None of this was an accident and for reasons unknown to me, I was given this path. Everything seemed so surreal after overcoming that. Seeing our boys meet their sister was even sweeter than we could have dreamt of.
I know that some that read my story might be terrified or worried about what childbirth might/could be like for them or others that they know. Let me tell you that having experienced it, I would do it over and over again. This story is how our daughter came into this world. It is a story of incredible emotional and physical pain, but also one of infinite love and compassion from an utterly amazing God. No matter how you give birth, you become a mother. And one last thing to anyone out there that needs to hear it, you ARE strong and incredibly BRAVE!
I do not yet know for certain if future kids are in the cards for us. What’s important right now is our beautiful family, the gift that is our lives and being thankful for what God has given to us.