Penelope’s Birth Story- Part 2

Part 1 of the birth story is here.

P’s little heart, which had remained strong and steady, had started to slightly dip with each contraction. Thankfully, the midwife and nurses were on top of it, and brought me an oxygen mask. It helped to elevate her heart rate, and they tilted my hips to the right, which seemed to put her in an ideal position, as her heart rate remained stable.

I was starting to get uncomfortable from lying down for hours -the lower half of my body was immobile, and if I sit still for more than an hour without walking around, I start to go crazy- but the concerning part was that P hadn’t descended enough. I was worried about her heart rate, my cervix was inflamed, and the thought of an emergency C-section was lingering in my head. I didn’t know how long they would give me.

Sign 2

Our new midwife, Pam, (who was an absolute angel) came in to check me and see how we were going. When she checked my cervix, I felt the pressure of the bag of waters finally release.

“Your water is finally breaking, and I’m just going to let it happen slowly. I don’t feel a cord anywhere.”

By this point, I was at 8cm, so she left the room for a couple of hours in the hopes that P would drop. She told us to get some rest, and she’d be back soon to check on us. The problem was that P wasn’t dropping at a significant rate. In fact, at times, she wasn’t dropping at all. Pam informed us that if that it could be a natural response if the body and baby “knew” that P wouldn’t fit safely through the birth canal. On top of that, my contractions weren’t strong enough. That was slightly concerning and could lead to a dose of Pitocin to get things moving along which I was hoping to avoid. I tried to stay positive, but I wondered if a C-section was imminent. Each subsequent check produced little progress and more uncertainty as we were continually told to wait “just another couple hours.”

Thankfully, Pam was sure that more time was the key, so I put my trust in her experience and knowledge. I watched the monitor for P’s heart rate like a hawk until my eyes eventually drifted shut.  I woke up when contractions were 1 minute apart. The brilliant thing about the epidural was that while the pain was removed, I could still feel the pressure of the contractions. I’d watch my belly harden and expand with each one, but without the pain. I could tell that things finally felt different without the bag of water in the way, and was hoping we’d get to meet P soon after such a long day/night.

I started to feel serious pressure in my pelvis. A few minutes later, Pam came back into the room along with a couple of nurses. She checked me at about 1:50am, I was FINALLY fully dilated to 10cm, and it was pushing time.

“Are you ready to meet your baby?” Her confidence despite everything to come was motivating.

From then on, the room became flooded with doctors and pediatric medical teams. Because of P’s estimated size, shoulder dystocia is a significant concern. If the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the birth canal, it can be a frightening emergency for the baby and mama. I knew this was a concern going into labor, but Pam assured me that she had some tricks up her sleeve to help the baby make it out safely. Worst case scenario, all of the emergency teams were in place if she were to become stuck. There were at least 15 people in the delivery room, including the emergency teams, cardiologists (because of the VSD), residents, and nurses. While we were about to venture into a potentially scary situation, Pam remained so encouraging throughout. 

“I don’t want them to wheel you out of here, so let’s get this baby out fast. Are you ready, mama?”

When I heard “wheel you out of here,” I knew it was go time. The epidural had given me rest from the pain, and I felt strong and energized to do what I needed to do.

I pushed P out in 4 minutes (with just as many contractions) with Pam, Tom, our doula, and so many of the doctors and nurses cheering for me. 

Baby p

Her head was born, and Pam twisted and corkscrewed her body out of mine to assure that she wouldn’t get stuck. Thank you God for the epidural, because if I would have felt that sans drugs, I probably would have passed out. The rest of her body squeezed out, and I could not believe that my “toddler” had been born from my body. She cried immediately, as the pediatric team whisked her to the side table to check her shoulders, heart rate, and perform her Apgar test (7, and 9). I could see the look on everyone’s face, and they could not believe her size. Their eyes were like “Holy sh*t, that is a big baby.”

The birth 4

As they were checking her, I kept asking, “Is she ok? Is she ok?” and everyone promised that she was. I couldn’t believe it until she was finally placed on my chest, and I started to cry.

“You’re here. You made it. You’re finally here.”

The birth 11

The birth 8

She looked up to me with her enormous eyes, and quickly latched on to breastfeed. I gazed down at her, absolutely in awe of how perfect she was, and immediately fell in love. I didn’t even notice when the placenta was born (which apparently was the biggest one my midwife had ever seen), and being stitched up. (Surprisingly, I only had a second degree tear; the same I had with Liv.) I was too fixated on our little girl, whom I’d waited so long to meet. 

Me and p2

It’s funny because I had a hard time imagining what P would look like when she was in my belly. Would she look like Liv, Tom, or myself? I had no idea. I just pictured this sweet baby with dark hair and big eyes. In that instant, she felt so fresh and new, but also like she’d been a part of us, and a part of our family this entire time. I’d been waiting to meet her, yet had known her forever.

Me and p

I also fell in love with this guy all over again. There’s something truly magical about watching your best friend become a daddy for the second time. 

The birth 10

This birth experience was a tough one, but without Tom and our amazing doula by my side, I’m not sure I’d be able to do it. 

The rest of the evening (morning?) was a blur as they wheeled us to our recovery room, where we’d spend the next 3 days. A sweet touch: as you go through the double doors to labor and delivery recovery, the hospital has a button which plays a snippet of Brahm’s lullaby throughout the hospital, to indicate that a baby has been born. I heard it a lot while we were there, and each time, it made my heart so full and happy to know that another family had been given this same gift.

Tom and p

I was really looking forward to Livi meeting her little sister, and felt all of the feels when Tom brought her by after preschool the next day. The pure joy on her face and how sweet she was to P is something that I will never forget.

Livi meeting p

“Penelope, it’s me. I’m your big sister, Olivia. I will always protect you and take you to Disneyland.”

Liv and p2

P still responds to Liv entirely differently than anyone else. It’s like she always knows when her big sister is nearby. 

Liv and p

(Livi is so proud holding her. P was 1 week old in this pic)

So that’s the birth story! The end, and the beginning, at the same time. <3 We’re so happy you made it here safely, P. My heart, and our family, feel complete with you in it. 


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  1. Kelly @ Femme Fitale on November 8, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Oh my goodness! My eyes welled up reading this!

    What a crazy day+ you had!!! But so incredibly worth it 🙂 Congratulations on the safe arrival of Penelope. She is beautiful!

  2. Wendy Heath on November 8, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Blessings to you all! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  3. Marisa on November 9, 2015 at 3:55 am

    As a fellow birther of a big baby — my “little” guy was 10 lbs — I’m sending all the applause your way!! I ended up w a c-section and thankfully everything was great. Congrats to your family!

  4. on November 9, 2015 at 4:00 am

    Thank you for sharing your story! I’m so glad it all went well and you are both healthy!! 🙂

  5. Brandy H. on November 9, 2015 at 5:49 am

    I should have not read this while at work! Such a beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes! Thank goodness everything went well! Having a great medical staff truly is key! When my first and third were born (my two preemies!) having an awesome team helping me made it easier and almost stress-free!
    Congrats to you and your fam she is beautiful!

  6. kyla on November 9, 2015 at 6:35 am

    I’m chopping onions now…. what a sweet story. I’m so happy for all of you 🙂

  7. Britt@MyOwnBalance on November 9, 2015 at 7:46 am

    First of all, even though you post photos of Liv a lot…holy wow! She looks so much like you and so much older all of a sudden!

    Second of all, baby P is beyond adorable! I can’t believe you were able to give birth to her but I’m so happy that you didn’t end up with an emergency C-section. That is wonderful.

    Congrats on such a great little family!

  8. whitney on November 9, 2015 at 9:26 am

    That comment from Liv about protecting Penelope and taking her to Disneyland is just too much! I hope you put that in a baby book or next to a picture of them. It’s definitely one to remember. Congratulations on giving birth and hello to Miss Penelope! <3 <3

    • Fitnessista on November 9, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      i love that idea- i definitely will!

  9. Teri on November 9, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Congrats again, and I loved P’s birth story! It sounds like you had an incredible team with you as well. 🙂

  10. Bonnie on November 9, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Congratulations!! Beautiful story.

  11. Erika S. on November 9, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Livi is just too adorable…”take you to Disneyland”…! So sweet!

    Initially, I thought P looked like Livi…but she totally looks like your mom and Kyle…! Although she is a big baby…who doesn’t love the extra chubbs…so cute!

    Congrats…she is such a doll and it’s nice to hear how you managed through all of the changes to your original birth plan…

  12. reenielou on November 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Gosh…..tears in my eyes. And oh my ~~ what Livi said to her baby sis. <3

  13. Diane on November 9, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Totally made me cry! Congratulations on your little girl!

  14. Nikki on November 10, 2015 at 4:17 am

    When I gave birth, my son was 3 pounds less. I have no idea how you plopped her out. You are amazing!

  15. Tracy on November 10, 2015 at 7:50 am

    So much LOVE!!!

    Oh my heart… going to Disneyland! <3

    God bless all of you!!!


  16. Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life on November 10, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Birth stories…get me every time. <3
    So so happy for you, my friend!

  17. Mary Jane on November 10, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. Brought tears to my eyes this morning. 🙂 Birth is so amazing!! I’ve been through it once, which was my first and last, but am looking forward to seeing it from the other side as I progress through nursing school. All the best to you and your family!
    Mary Jane

  18. Cara on November 10, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I didn’t hit waterworks til I read the promise of Disney. So precious!!!

  19. Kelly on November 10, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    OMGoodness, how sweet, that made me bout want to cry! It almost made me want another baby!….almost;)

  20. Cathy on November 10, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Such a beautiful story – congratulations to you all! The last picture of the sisters together is just adorable!

  21. Tavolini on November 10, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Congratulations Gina, Tom and Livi! She is just beautiful 🙂 What a great story!

  22. Lauren @ Oh Hey! I Like That! on November 10, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    This is the most suspenseful story I’ve ever read! I’m so proud of you! And I’m so so so happy for your amazing family! <3

  23. Kate on November 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    This is an absolutely beautiful story–it brought tears to my eyes. thank you for sharing. And you have such a beautiful family! Congratulations!!!

  24. Tianna on November 12, 2015 at 6:22 am

    These girls are just stunners! I cannot get over Liv’s eyelashes.

    So happy for you guys!

  25. Krystal on November 12, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Congratulations!!! I’m 27 weeks pregnant with my second and this post just moved me to tears. I’m so hoping for an easier birth this time but every scan shows that baby is BIG. Thanks for sharing your story. It just goes to show that you should always expect the unexpected!

  26. Shaina Anderson on November 12, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    oh I just love this story. and Livi!! Sweet girl.

    Tripp was in AWE of 2 week old twins at a birthday party last week and asked to hold one. He sat there for a good 20 minutes just holding and staring. I couldn’t handle it!!! My BIL came up and goes “are those your ovaries glowing through your shirt?!” haha

  27. Megan on November 12, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    This is beautiful! What a beautiful family you have. God bless and fist bump from another Air Force wife married to a man in a flight suit. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on November 12, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      fist bump to you!! thank you so much for what you and your hubby do. xoxo

  28. Jacqueline on November 27, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Finally got to sit down and read this. SOBBING! 🙂

  29. Brenda on April 1, 2016 at 7:20 am

    I just read your story and I cried! I had a sunny side up baby with no epidural and boy was that the worst pain I’ve ever been through! And she was only 7lbs and it was my first chil and took 24 hrs to get to 10cm…. when I got to the hospital I was at a 4 and at that point contractions were every 3 mins! Anywho! Yiuare an amazing woman toughing it out for your baby,how is her vsd? My son was born with a chd (d-transposition of the great arteries ) and he had open heart surgery when he was 9 days old. Ironically if he would’ve had a vsd along with his congenital heart defect it would’ve helped him mix his blood and not look blue. He also had terrible reflux for a while. I’m so happy for you and your family. God bless

    • Fitnessista on April 1, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      oh man. i can’t believe you went through something similar! sunny side up is NO JOKE.
      i hope your little guy is doing much better! thankfully the vsd was resolved on its own for us. the reflux has been intense, but we are on the ups

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