Penelope’s Birth Story – part 1

Alternate titles:

“Dates did me wrong.” So very wrong. And

“I cook big babies.”

When I’m asked about Penelope’s birth story, everyone seems to be curious if it went “how I wanted it to go.” I know what they mean. I was definitely hoping for an unmedicated birth, since I’d already done it with Liv and was hoping the second time would be easier, and possibly faster.

This isn’t what happened, at all. 

Did we get the result we wanted?

Absolutely. Our girl arrived here safely. 

Was the path to her arrival how I’d imagined it? Definitely not.

The gentle induction:

As you guys know, I was starting to get a little anxious to meet P since I’d passed our due date (which I calculated was an additional week late from charting my cycle for so long). I was hoping to avoid medical induction. if possible. I’d read that Pitocin can make the contractions unnaturally painful, so you’d most likely need an epidural to cope with them. Many of you kindly let me know that it isn’t always the case. Even so, there was a little bit of fear instilled in my heart from the doctor who told me we’d be birthing a 10-pounder. I totally poo-pooed everything he said, which is hilarious now that we know Miss P was a dainty 10 lb 13 oz. (just shy of 11 lbs!).

To get the ball rolling, I did a lot of the old wives’ tales, and also had my membranes stripped. Twice. It was’t very fun, as I spent both of those nights in pain and pretty crampy, and less fun because they didn’t seem to do the trick. As a last resort, I called an acupuncturist who specializes in labor induction. She did the same points that my acupuncturist had used to get the ball rolling, and also included heat through moxibustion, and electricity. At the end, she massaged my neck and traps (a labor induction pressure point), which felt amazing.

The next day was Tom’s birthday. We joked that he could have a birthday twin, and we had a small celebration with dinner at Stone Brewing and dump cake at home.

Livi and tom

Oh, and a piñata that has yet to be smashed. We’ll probably take it to Tucson with us.

Burger pinata

We went to bed early, as I was feeling a little off and crampy, and Tom said, “Tomorrow is the day. I can just feel it.” I told him I seriously thought I’d never go into labor, especially after everything I’d tried. I pictured myself heading to the midwives again that Tuesday, and learning of my induction fate. It just seemed like it was never going to happen. 

At 2am, I woke up slammed with a contraction. I was convinced it was just another Braxton-Hicks, so I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. About 10 minutes later, it hit again. This one felt more intense than the last, so I glanced at the clock and figured I should start timing them, but I couldn’t go back to sleep.

All of a sudden, I was feeling pretty frantic, like there was so much I needed to do if it was the real deal.  “Should I call Livi’s person and give them the heads up? I need to pack dog food and leave the key out. My hospital bag is in the other car. I need to take a shower.” Luckily, we created a pretty thorough checklist that covered everything. The Pilot woke up while I was blitzing around the house, and I had to drop onto all fours to moan through the pain. For the first hour, the contractions were 10 minutes apart. Within the next hour, they went down to 7. An hour later, I asked the Pilot to call the midwife. At this point, they were 5 minutes apart, and they told me to call when the contractions were that close as second babies tend to arrive quickly. He called the midwife, and she could hear me moaning in the background.

“I think you need to come in right now.”

Candles for nurses

(vegan chocolate macaroons and a bag of BBW candles for the L&D nurses)

Tom packed up Livi’s stuff, and Liv was wide awake, since she usually comes into our room at some point during the night. She was being so sweet, and was so excited for her first slumber party. While he loaded the car, I was on the floor moaning through the pain. Livi rubbed my back, and it was a memory from the night/morning that is etched in my heart. When we left for the hospital at 4am, contractions were 3 minutes apart, and I felt like P would be here SOON.

Wishful thinking.

In labor

When we arrived at the hospital, we were greeted by our awesome doula, who accompanied us upstairs to Labor and Delivery. We met with our first nurse (the L&D nurses were above and beyond incredible), and went into our first room. The midwife insisted on checking me because the contractions were so close together, and were starting to become unbearably painful.


(Probably the last smile I flashed for a while.)

Labor with Liv was the worst pain of my life, until I went through my second labor. Somewhere between Thursday afternoon and Sunday morning when active labor began, P had turned sunny-side up- not good. Each contraction was like a lightning bolt into my back, which wrapped around to my torso, which felt like it was trying to split in half from the inside out. 

She checked me, and I was 5cm. She said that “the baby was still high, and that I had a very firm and full bag of waters.”


I couldn’t help but feel a little discouraged, but knew things could progress quickly from there. We were checked in, and headed to our delivery room.

Tom snapped this picture of the sunrise, which was absolutely breathtaking. We would ended up seeing the sun rise, and set, in the same room before no real progress was made. 


Laboring 2 

Just like last time, the Pilot coached me through each contraction, while our doula held a hot pack to my back. Unlike last time, I couldn’t keep it together. I would start to breathe deeply and moan through the contraction, but by the time it was over, I couldn’t help the fact that the pitch in my voice became hysterical, just trying to get through the pain. I tried visualization techniques, breathing strategies, trying to imagine that each contraction was a wave, hitting me as I rose above it, and I felt like each one was a fight to live through the torture.

This continued, 3 minutes apart, for another 4 hours, until the midwife came in to check me again.

6cm, and the baby was still high. My bag of waters was very full, and very in the way, preventing the baby from dropping down onto the cervix to dilate it. During pregnancy, I ate dates like crazy because I’d read that they can help labor occur without induction, and also that they give you a “strong bag of waters.” Apparently I overdid it, because mine refused to break and were preventing P from descending.

At this point, I started sobbing, and begged her to break my water. This is what helped kickstart the next stage of labor with Liv. She told me that they’d have to wait to do that, because the baby was so high. If you break the water and the baby hasn’t descended enough, the head can drop onto the cord and cause cord prolapse, which would be an emergency C-section. When I heard that, I decided to fight it out, even though I had reached a point where I wasn’t sure how much longer I could tolerate it.

I tried every possible position: squatting (which made it so much worse), draped over the bed, on all fours, and the only thing that seemed to work was on the birth ball, hugging Tom and breathing, until my voice was shrill and quivering.

The only good part about this stage of labor: I got a lot of hugs.

Hugs 4

Despite the fact the contractions were consistent and intense, P’s heart rate remained strong. I’d started to worry that she’d eventually tire from doing such hard work for such a long time, and without fail, her strong little heart kept accelerating with each contraction. 

The midwife left us to do our own thing, occasionally dropping by to see how things were going. I was convinced that I was dying, which is usually the sign that you’re in transition and about to reach the pushing stage. I hit my “I’m really dying” phase and was only 7cm, 13 hours after we’d checked in. Everyone in the room could see me crumbling, and I asked the midwife if there was anything we could do to get things moving because I was in so much pain. 

Hot pack

(the much-needed hot pack on the back.)

She told me that the doctor could break my water using an ultrasound, so he could see if the cord was in the way of the baby’s head. He was “pretty good” at moving the cord out of the way, but she said there was still a risk of cord prolapse. I asked her what would happen in the case that I would need an emergency C-section, and she said that in my current state (without any pain medication) I would receive general anesthesia (aka be knocked out) for the surgery. If I had an epidural, they could perform the surgery with the epidural and I’d be awake to see our baby be born. At this point, I already found myself venturing into emergency C-section land, and I was determined to be awake if that were to occur.

I made my decision right then.

“Give me the epidural.”

Our doula and Tom both knew that this was one of the last things I wanted, as the needle scares me to death. They knew to remind me and suggest options that would help us stay on our birth plan to have an unmedicated birth. At this point, they both knew that I needed the epidural. Not only in case of an emergency, but something to relieve me of the consistent and torturous pain from a sunny-side up baby in a full bag of waters. They called the anesthesiologist, and about an hour later, he arrived to bring me sweet relief.

Sitting still for the epidural insertion was nearly impossible with the contractions, but I was so afraid of something going awry, I forced myself to sit still as I was groaning, tears streaming down my face. Surprisingly, the epidural didn’t hurt -it just stung where I received the shot to numb the location- but it took him two tries to get it in my back! He was like, “Your ligaments are really tight” and Tom said he retrieved a BENT needle from my back. After a second try, I was numbed up and finally feeling like I could tackle the rest of our birth experience.  

Sweet relief

(I don’t remember the hairnet, but I do remember the gown that looks like a Lacroix can.)

Since I had the epidural in place, I asked the midwife if the doctor would be able to break my water. There was a C-section occurring in the OR, and she said that they’d need the room to be free just in case of emergency. 4 hours later, I was still waiting for my water to be ruptured (or break on its own), and started to worry that the entire process was taking too long. The midwife said my cervix was getting inflamed and swollen, and then she checked out for her shift when our new midwife and nurse checked in.

By this time, it was 7pm, and although I didn’t know it, I still had 7 long hours ahead of me. The good news is that I was feeling GREAT from the epidural, and said, “Let’s watch Sex and the City!” before taking a catnap. Not too long after, P’s heart rate began to slightly dip, and they brought me an oxygen mask.

I’ll have part 2 up later this week <3

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  1. Erin Motz on November 4, 2015 at 9:16 am

    RIVETED! Literally had to remind myself to close my mouth after being in a permanent “OMFG” state while reading this, haha. You’re a friggin’ trooper! Can’t wait for part II.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      hahah! xoxo

  2. Nicole on November 4, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Awwwww, Gina, I have all the tears reading this. I am looking forward to reading part 2. You are amazing!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      thank you, friend <3

  3. Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian on November 4, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Wow, what a crazy ride already! I can’t wait to read the rest of the parts. You are amazingly strong!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      thank you <3

  4. Grace on November 4, 2015 at 9:26 am

    What an intense birth story! I can’t wait to hear read part two!
    I also had a “sunny-side up” baby with an unbroken amniotic sac (the L&D nurse broke it manually with her fingers less than an hour before my daughter was born, which was as much fun as it sounds, ha), so I can totally sympathize. I also had a really long, intense labor because of it; nearly 60 hours of painful contractions every 5 minutes. I’m kind of stubborn about things like that 🙂 so I managed to make it through without any interventions and I had a natural birth, but I can SO see why you got an epidural; those contractions were no joke! And pushing with a partially broken sac + lots of amniotic fluid behind the baby was so insane, I felt like I was ripped in two and I ended up with nearly 4th degree tears (they were actually debating surgery because the bleeding wouldn’t stop due to the intense tearing). I hope it wasn’t as bad for you!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      60 hours. you are a warrior

  5. Ali on November 4, 2015 at 9:29 am

    I have no words, except that you are my HERO. I’m so glad P is here safely and that you never have to experience this agonizing pain again! Much love to you, I sure hope you are recovering well <3

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      thank you so much, friend! and yes, i feel great (surprisingly). just tired 😉

  6. mary on November 4, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I’ve been checking in like 10 times a day, dying to read it, now I’m dying to hear the rest! I figured with a nearly-11-lb. baby and 4 days in the hospital, it wasn’t going to be uneventful and smooth.

    Good for you for getting the epidural. I’m a huge fan. Many believe they’re the greatest medical advance of the last century. Some women pay out of pocket for them!

    That’s so sad you had to wait an hour for the anesthesiologist. I asked for mine and she came up in 10 minutes or so. I was so relieved. That pain is a lot to bear.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      10 minutes. AHHHH. the epidural set me free <3

  7. Helen on November 4, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Oh Gina, that story brings me to tears because it’s so like my own. I desperately didn’t want an epidural but was in so much pain that I needed one. Afterwards (and still) I feel the need to defend my actions – “no really, I tried”, “contractions were never less than 30 seconds apart”, “I tried so many positions”. I hope you know that you did something amazing and that all women who give birth are crazy warriors. You did what you needed to do to get that baby out, and that was having an epidural. Don’t ever defend your actions – you’re the only person who knows what you need.

  8. Megan B. on November 4, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Oh my goodness! This is one of my biggest fears with kiddo #2 – a harder labor than with #1! My first was 48 hours and very similar to you – sunny side up and most of it with a full bag of waters (it broke, but just a little leaked out and then something blocked the leak so it stayed mostly full). I am anxiously waiting to hear the rest of your story! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  9. Tiffany on November 4, 2015 at 9:38 am

    When you said dates did me wrong, I thought you meant because they miscalculated P’s due date..until I got to the bag of waters! Haha! What a crazy story! And, I remember when you first said you were worried about a big baby and I told you that my second was 9lb 9 oz and I totally pushed her out without medication, but whoa…I am stunned that Miss P was so big! Can’t wait to hear the next installment of the story.

  10. Jen on November 4, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Gah! I love birth stories!!!!

  11. Angie on November 4, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I had a baby born sunny side up, and it was by far my worst labor, even though she was my smallest (of 4) babies at a very petite 8 pounds even. it was incredibly painful for me, even with an epidural.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      i was shocked by how much it hurt

      • Angie on November 5, 2015 at 4:23 am

        She was my 2nd baby, and my 3rd and largest (9.5 pounds) was super-easy compared to her. 2 mini-pushes and he was out!

  12. Lindsey G. on November 4, 2015 at 9:42 am

    I’m so amazed by modern technology and so grateful! The epidural for me was so wonderful and made my birthing experience so much more pleasant. I’m someone who passes out when getting a shot but with the level of pain I was at before getting an epidural I could care less how big that needle was going to be. I think its worse for the people who are watching because my husband totally had to sit down while it was being inserted. It’s amazing to be in so.much.pain and then in a matter of minutes you can sleep through it! Can’t wait to hear the rest!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      that is so true. i think the experience would have traumatized me if i didn’t get relief. thank goodness for the epi 😉

  13. Erica {} on November 4, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Your labor sounds similar to mine! I had high hopes for a natural birth, but baby boy was sunny side up and I made it to 4 cm before getting the epidural. It felt AMAZING. Babies heart rate started to drop so I was on oxygen the remaining 12 hours and ended up pushing for two. Hopefully you didn’t tear as bad as I did!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      <3 so sorry you had to go through that, too

  14. Tracey on November 4, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Oh my! I too am RIVETED! Gina you are so incredible, strong and brave and I can’t wait for Part 2!!! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad P is here safe and can’t wait to meet her and see you and Liv again!
    Thinking of you!!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      thank you so much, friend! miss you and excited to see you around the gym again soon 🙂

  15. Blair on November 4, 2015 at 10:16 am

    oh my. You are a trooper and I am never eating another date while pregnant again:-) I also laughed out loud at the getting lots of hugs part. What a positive thing to say through such a painful experience. My first labor was fast (especially for a first time – 4 hours) my second 40 minutes I delivered as soon as we walked into triage. Currently I am pregnant with #3 and very concerned we will be delivering a baby in the car (we live 45 minutes from the hospital). But these birth stories are such wonderful memories (even if they are a bit painful). These babies are gifts from God. You are amazing! She was a petite 10lbs 13oz, seems so tiny next to big sister:)

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      haha! watch out for those dates 🙂
      and i love hugs, so at least that part made me happy 😉
      sending you lots of love for your pregnancy and that you make it to the hospital. you will.

  16. Robin on November 4, 2015 at 10:18 am

    Brought tears to my eyes as I can only imagine the turmoil you had with the decision. Glad P made it into the world safely! Can’t wait to read part 2

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      thank you, robin!

  17. Jill on November 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I can’t wait to read part 2! The best part is knowing that this is all behind you and you are home with your sweet family. The part about Liv rubbing your back is so sweet and made me tear up. What a sweet girl you are raising.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      she is such a love <3

  18. meghan premuda on November 4, 2015 at 10:23 am

    oh gina!!! my baby (first) was sunny side up as well and it was TORTUROUS! your analogy of it feeling like being torn in half is SO accurate. luckily my baby was only 5 lb 11oz but i still opted for an epi as it immediately made me (and the rest of the room) calm, which made things progress quickly. so sorry you had to go through that!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      ahhhhhh. so sorry you had to experience that, too!

  19. Amy S on November 4, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Aw! This is hard to read because I know it’s not how you wanted things to go, but like you say at the beginning of the post, the end result is that Penelope arrived safely, so that’s wonderful. I’m sorry that you had to deal with so much misery, though! I look forward to reading the happy ending when baby arrives!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      thank you! i’m definitely happy it’s over and she’s here safely

  20. Christina Recine on November 4, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Omgg I had tears reading this too.. U are so strong and I can’t wait to read part 2. Thank u so much for sharing 🙂

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      thank you for reading, christina!

  21. Jenn on November 4, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Thank you for sharing your story, Gina!! You’re such a trooper and I’m so proud of you. I can’t wait to hear Part 2. I’m 16 weeks and also trying to go the natural route at a birthing center. I’ve been following your blog for years and I’ve never felt so connected to you as I do now. Again, thanks for sharing all the good and the bad. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      thank you so much, and sending love to you for an awesome pregnancy and delivery

  22. Gina on November 4, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Giant hug to you and the family!! I’m so glad everything worked out. I too had tears reading this. Thank you for sharing – your writing is beautiful!!!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      thank you so much <3 hugs back to you!

  23. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on November 4, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Haha let croix can that’s hilarious! So much strength getting through all this! I cannot imagine being in that much pain. I would be crying and screaming too. I know we don’t always want the pain mess but sometimes the pain can cause huge stress on our bodies and fits worth it.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      thank you <3

  24. Tracy on November 4, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Whoa, Gina, what a story! I can’t believe you held out that long before getting the epidural. You should be really proud of yourself! I’m so glad you gave in though. Definitely sounds like it was the right answer. Anxiously awaiting part 2!

    Hope everyone is doing well!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      i’m SO glad i gave in. it wasn’t worth it, and also wasn’t worth hating the experience

  25. Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me on November 4, 2015 at 11:35 am


    Just kidding. I love reading about this, and I am thrilled you are being so vulnerable and open about it all. I cannot wait to read the second part. This was incredibly beautiful, Gina. <3

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      thank you, lovely <3

  26. Catherine @ foodiecology on November 4, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Oh man! So sorry you didn’t have an “ideal” labor/birth, but glad you and P are healthy.
    My little (6 lb 1 oz) guy was the same position: SO PAINFUL. I wanted a non medicated birth, too, but opted for an epi after a long labor and hour+ of pitocin-induced contractions (I stalled, and, yes, they were unnaturally painful). I, too, felt myself fading and feared c-section.
    Can’t wait to read part 2!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      it’s amazing what a little break from the pain can do 🙂

  27. Kate on November 4, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Sounds very similar to my first baby. Oh the pain and the forever labor!! Not fun. Grateful safe medical interventions exists when we need them.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      amen to that

  28. Ali on November 4, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Oh my goodness! You are a champion. <3

  29. Audrey on November 4, 2015 at 11:53 am you are SO tough (and have an amazing support system in The Pilot)! I have always thought so, but now there truly is NO DOUBT! Riveting post and can not wait for part two!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      thank you so much, audrey <3

  30. Maria on November 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    I love the pictures that you have of you two laboring. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story. No two labors are every the same. With the my first one, everything happened so quickly. With the second one, I have been experiencing early labor symptoms since Friday evening. I moved up my acupuncture appointment from Friday until today and she also massaged my traps (i had no idea that was a labor inducing point) and it felt amazing. If anything, I got a really great nap and no my labor contractions in my back.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      hope it happens for you soon!!

  31. Mel H on November 4, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I love this story so much. I am a future labor and delivery nurse (applying for jobs now), and stories like yours really inspires me. It is not the circumstances which dictate your life, it is how you choose to respond to those circumstances. The way that you focus on the silver linings is such a beautiful thing and it seems like you’re just getting more and more positive as time goes on. Reality can be so lovely, even if its not what we expected 🙂 You’re such a rock star!!!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      thank you so much for what you do! like i mentioned, the L&D nurses were angels. beyond wonderful <3
      and so true about what you said. it's not the situation, it's your attitude

  32. Crystal on November 4, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I was in pain just reading this. Your hubby is so sweet, it sounds like you two make a good team 🙂 I’m looking forward to the next part!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      thank you. he is amazing <3

  33. Steph on November 4, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Oh my goodness, this sounds so intense! I can’t wait to read the rest. You might be planning to cover this, but I would love to hear if your thoughts on epidurals changed at all now that you have given birth both ways? I am pregnant for the first time and while I feel somewhat compelled to try to give birth without intervention, I sometimes have to wonder if I’m putting myself through torture for no real reason. I would love to hear what you would do with baby #3 if you were giving birth again!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      if i were to get pregnant again, i would try to go without drugs, but it would be nice to know that the epidural is a great option if things got out of hand again

  34. Laura @FitMamaLove on November 4, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Isn’t the epidural amazing?? You’re bringing back all the memories of trying to power through the pain before getting one myself. Cant wait to read the rest!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      dude. it set me free

  35. Lindsay on November 4, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    I also had a 10+ pounder who was sunny-side up!

    So thankful you’re through all that now and that P is finally here, safe and sound. <3 Looking forward to reading part 2! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      thank you! big baby mamas unite 😉

  36. Liz on November 4, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    You are one tough mama! Loved the part about Liv rubbing your back, so so sweet.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      it was the best <3

  37. Holly on November 4, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Gina, my daughter Penelope was also sunny side up and the contractions were unbearable. Like you, I wanted a drug free birth ( I didn’t like the idea of drugs affecting the baby) but I asked for an epidural because I really had no way of knowing how awful the pain would be. Truthfully sometimes I look back and wish I had held out longer but in the end I got what I wanted: a healthy baby! I wish I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself to have a drug free birth and I will not do that with my next one. I don’t think you’ve said whether your baby was born c-section or vaginally and honestly it doesn’t matter, but if you had a c-section I hope you don’t beat yourself up about it like I have. Seriously, it doesn’t matter! Best wishes to you and your family.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      thank you so much, holly! great choice on the name, too 🙂

  38. Jennifer @ Tri Stuff I Like on November 4, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Holy moly! You definitely deserve a gold star for Penelope’s birth. I don’t have any children, so I can’t even imagine what you went through. I can only imagine holding her once it was over made it all so worth it!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:19 pm


  39. Suzanne @ Life is a Mix on November 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Back labor is the worst thing EVER!! The pain is indescribable and until you have it, you just can’t understand. All three of my babies were sunny side up and it caused two to be born via c section. With my 3rd, I was able to do a VBAC but only because I had the most amazing nurses who were very skilled in getting babies to turn right side up!! I will be forever grateful to them!

    I cannot wait to hear the rest of your birth story!! It’s like a sequel to a super interesting novel!

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      it was seriously the worst ever

  40. Lara on November 4, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    First of all, I just love the photo of you and Tom. Also, WELL DONE YOU. Can’t believe you can be so tiny and have such an amazingly chunky little babe! (Said with love–I love big babies and hope I get one the second time around). You’re a trooper.
    It was around the 24 hour mark that I got the epidural too (not medically necessary though, totally my request). I really wanted a natural birth but, uh, that thing was amazing. I really hope you aren’t giving yourself a hard time about the epi (doesn’t sound like you are but just in case, because I know there is all this expectation around natural birth). It’s still an experience I’d like to have if it’s possible this second time around, but my new motto, and hopefully yours too, is, if it’s good enough for Gwyneth, it’s good enough for me! 😉

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      thank you so much, friend! i love chunky babies, too. the more arm rolls, the better 😉
      and amen about the epi. it seriously saved me. i don’t think i would have had the strength to finish without it

  41. Holly @ Freshly Cut Kitchen on November 4, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I too have been checking your site religiously this week anxiously waiting to read your birth story! And wow, what a story! So glad you both are healthy an safe!

    Dying to read part 2, such a cliff hanger! 😉

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:18 pm


  42. K on November 4, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    There is NO wrong way to give birth! I’m happy to hear baby P is healthy and everyone is home safe 🙂 Go you!

    • Anne on November 4, 2015 at 7:54 pm

      You are so right K! Mothers of fifty plus years ago and women in Third World countries today would give anything for the access to pain relieving drugs and procedures that we have! Birth experiences shouldn’t be viewed as a competition to see who is the most amazing mother! Well done Gina for your honesty!

      • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:17 pm

        thank you so much <3 and so very true. we're lucky for the advancements that are available to us

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      thank you, k!

  43. queenoffitness on November 4, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Gina, who took all of those beautiful photos of you and tom in the hospital? just stunning. i have no idea what you mean by a “full bag of waters” (never had a baby), maybe you could explain. my crazy PMS hormones had tears streaming down my face as i read this. can’t wait to read part 2.

    • Fitnessista on November 4, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      our doula took them! she asked if we’d mind if she snapped photos, and they turned out amazingly
      it’s the sac that holds the amniotic fluid. sometimes it breaks before labor begins, during labor, or even while you’re pushing. mine was just very full and refused to break, so P couldn’t move down

  44. melissa on November 4, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    What a cliffhanger! OMG!

  45. Teniel on November 4, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing your very brave story with us.
    I can’t wait for part 2.
    Although at 22 weeks I probably should not have been reading it. I have had 1 emergency C section and 2 vaginal births. Hoping the 4th will be the best yet.

  46. Megan Cureton on November 4, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Girl, no fair to leave a cliffhanger! Congrats on Baby P, I thought I was a superhero for having a 9lb 5oz baby, Gina in for the win! I too, did not want an epidural, I too finally gave in (not knowing that I was already 9cm dilated and PROBably could have suffered it out in hindsight) and I too had to wait forever for the anesthesiologist and barely could crouch over to get the needle in my back cause my contractions were so close together. and even after all that, I too had a full bag that was ultimately preventing the doc from feeling a head (turned out fine). As sad as I was about giving in, the contrast was that I was super relaxed physically and emotionally when push time came. A healthy baby is the only necessary outcome. <3 So happy for you and can't wait for part 2!

  47. Alicia on November 5, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Wow, Gina. I am riveted and cannot wait for part 2 of Penelope’s birth. I just gave birth naturally with laughing gas to my third baby 9 weeks before you. My first birth was the most painful and i needed epidural but second and third births were epidural free with laughing gas. My second birth was so fast that I decided to have a third but my last birth lasted longer than the second one. Labours really cannot be predicted. You proved me wrong that the second labour can be worse than the first. But you did it! You are one amazing mama. 😛

  48. Britt@MyOwnBalance on November 5, 2015 at 4:27 am

    You are so brave! I can’t believe how long you were in so much pain! My son was also sunny-side up and I never dilated past 4cm the entire time I was in labor. I always new I wanted an epi so I didn’t feel any of the pain and watched House of Cards until they finally brought me in for a c-section. I can’t believe how great you did for so long!!! I would never be able to do that.

  49. Brianne on November 5, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Liv rubbing your back when you were laboring in the car…that brought tears to my eyes. So sweet. Congrats on becoming a family of 4, can’t wait to hear the rest of your story.

    • Julie on November 5, 2015 at 8:46 am

      I meant to comment on that, too. SO precious!!

  50. on November 5, 2015 at 8:15 am

    amazed by modern technology and so grateful!
    love the photo of you and Tom

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