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. Jessica on November 6, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Thank goodness everyone is safe and sound! Thank you for sharing your story; I loved reading it.

  2. Leah on November 6, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    What a birth story! You are a rockstar mama! Congrats again! I’m so happy for you. Glad she’s healthy and doing well. Enjoy all those sweet baby cuddles.

  3. Jessica C on November 6, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story!! I teared up at Oliva’s introduction–sisters are the best (I say from experience having two myself)!! 🙂 Congrats- she’s precious and way to go on the delivery!! Sounds like you were amazing!!

  4. Kate @KateMovingForward on November 6, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    You are amazing!! Sounds like you had a wonderful team in place too. P is super-sweet and I love her and Olivia as sisters. 🙂

  5. Julie on November 6, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I enjoyed reading P’s birth story so much! Thank you for sharing such a special time in your family’s life- I’m so glad she arrived safely, and you captured the whole experience beautifully in your blog. Best wishes to your entire family <3

  6. Katie O on November 6, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Fabulous birth story! I can’t believe you pushed out almost 11 lbs of baby in 4 min and 4 pushes! Rockstar status right there! Congrats on your beautiful addition! And I can’t believe how grown up Liv looks! She is totally your gorgeous little mini me. And so sweet. <3

  7. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on November 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Welcome to the world Penelope! You are beautiful and your mom is a rockstar!

  8. Lara on November 6, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    SO wonderful! Well done, Gina! You should be so very proud of your two beautiful girls! I’m so happy for you all.

  9. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on November 6, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Oh my gosh, Gina. This made me want to cry. I bet your strength and endurance helped you to get through this — what a big baby you grew inside you. And how SWEET what Liv said to P when she met her. So happy for your family of FOUR! 🙂

  10. Sue Faunt on November 6, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Just a beautiful birth story and welcome to the world Penelope! You are a rock star Gina and I’m so happy for you, you allowed P to come into the world when she was damn good & ready 🙂 Enjoy all these new precious moments with the Pilot, Livi and P. Thanks for all the feels and now off to find some kleenex…xo

  11. Giselle on November 6, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I have tears streaming down my face! Amazing! I can’t believe how big she was! You totally kicked butt mama!

  12. Shari on November 6, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Congratulations on your newest sweet baby! Thank you for sharing your birth story!

  13. jules @ wandering around on November 6, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    If I may be honest, I usually avoid reading your family posts. I have been paralyzed with fear at the thought of having a baby (due largely to a traumatic miscarriage I had years ago), but I really enjoyed reading your birth story. It made having a baby seem like something relatable, that I might want after all, no matter what happened before. Even though it didn’t go according to plan, I am so glad baby P arrived safely. Thank you for writing so candidly. Much love to you and your family <3

  14. mary on November 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Wow, you pushed out your 1.5x size baby! Amazing! How did you hide a ginormous baby and placenta in your tiny body? I’m so glad you didn’t need a c-section. I thought for sure you did.

    I’m glad you see that epidurals are not evil now. Maybe next time you’ll use pitocin and see that’s not evil, either! ; )

  15. Yaara Leve on November 6, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I’m sobbing! This is so beautiful!

  16. Amy Ramos on November 6, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    So happy for ypu.
    And yes, P is a big baby!!! Liv is going to be an awesome big sister.

  17. Ali on November 6, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    “I’ll always protect you and take you to Disneyland”……no truer words have ever been spoken! Atta girl Liv, you know wassup for little sis 🙂

  18. Sharon T on November 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Welcome, Penelope! Thank you for sharing your story. What an amazing experience. Congratulations!!

  19. Sasha on November 6, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad it all sorted out in the end and baby Penelope made it safe and sound.
    I’m neither a wife nor a mother, but your story makes me want to be both 🙂
    This is a video of toddlers meeting their baby siblings for the first time and I can easily picture Livi with Penelope 🙂

  20. Madeleine on November 6, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I completely choked up reading about Olivia and Penelope. My sister and I are four years apart and even though I’m almost 30, she’s still my baby sister and I’d be so lost without her! They’re in store for so much fun and adventure together. Congratulations to you and your beautiful family!

  21. Jess on November 6, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Wow you did so well! I have never managed to have a birth that wasn’t a C section and P was so big! Wow! Impressive work lady. You must have been exhausted. Congratulations xxx

  22. Mum of different Olivia on November 7, 2015 at 12:44 am

    This has brought tears to my eyes. So happy for all four of you. How sweet is Liv holding her little sister.

  23. Lissy on November 7, 2015 at 2:13 am

    Omg, crying, lol. Have been rethinking the whole second kid thing until Liv’s quote. Such a sweet story!

  24. Rose on November 7, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Congratulations! What an amazing birth story.

  25. Kristen on November 7, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Beautiful story! I teared up. So many congratulations!!!!

  26. Erica on November 7, 2015 at 3:42 am

    You’re a rock star!!

  27. Blair on November 7, 2015 at 4:17 am

    Oh my. What a beautiful ending. And a blessing to have such a wonderful midwife that wasn’t trying to rush you faster than your body wanted to go. Plus I’m pretty sure you are super woman to birth an almost 11 lbs baby with only a 2nd degree tear. Congratulations again!

  28. Jen on November 7, 2015 at 4:37 am

    Wow – that’s an amazing birth story. You are incredible! Pam sounds like the greatest midwife ever. Your story gave me chills and tears! Ina May would have been so proud of you if she were there! Your body has been through some serious stuff…let yourself heal…be kind to your body. You are a wonderful mother!!

  29. Sarah on November 7, 2015 at 4:54 am

    Reading this while pregnant brought on the ugly cry. This is so beautiful Gina! Congratulations on Sweet baby Penelope!

  30. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine on November 7, 2015 at 5:07 am

    O my gosh! So sweet! You have 2 beautiful wonderful little girls Gina! xoxoxoxo

  31. Liz @ I Heart Vegetables on November 7, 2015 at 5:27 am

    I’m so glad you’re all ok!!! And Liv definitely looks like a proud big sister 😉 This post made me get all teary! 🙂

  32. Lisa G on November 7, 2015 at 6:40 am

    This is so sweet- gives me chills. Liv looks so much like you in that picture. Can’t believe how great you did delivering a toddler-lol. She’s precious!!! You can tell her size when next to Liv & you.

  33. Meg @ A Dash of Meg on November 7, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story 🙂 I love it so much 🙂 Also, that last picture of Liv and her little baby sis <3 Oh my heart.

  34. Christina on November 7, 2015 at 8:28 am

    ur family is just beautiful 🙂

  35. Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me on November 7, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Man, I was doing so well until you mentioned how you fell in love with Tom again, and now I am in tears. What a delightful, touching story. Thank you for writing it all out Gina!

  36. Rachel S on November 7, 2015 at 10:35 am

    This is definitely my favorite birth story ever! Such a beautiful story, and I teared up several times, and especially at Liv introducing herself to her sister! Congratulations on the healthy delivery and on the expansion of your family.

  37. Jamie | The Kitchenarium on November 7, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for sharing P’s birth story. I have a Penelope myself (she is 8 now!). I love reading birth stories. 🙂 I had a 10# baby boy which we did not expect to be so big. The midwife said “congratulations you gave birth to a two month old!”

  38. Traci on November 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Congrats! I love her name.

  39. Tori on November 7, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I love reading birth stories! I’m planning to go into ObGyn and have about 1 1/2 years left. Thank you so much for sharing!! Although it was long, stressful, and difficult, the outcome is so wonderful and worthwhile! And I love what Olivia said to her- what an amazing big sister she will be 🙂

  40. Niki on November 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    This made me weep slightly! So happy for your little family and so glad that P arrived safe and sound. I hope you’re all getting settled and that you’re getting a chance to recover!

  41. Erin M. on November 7, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Holy! Nice job with the help delivery! Liv’s comment is absolutely adorable and so touching 🙂 there is truly nothing more special thanks the relationship between sisters.

  42. Justine Mckenzie on November 7, 2015 at 2:55 pm


    Baby P looks absolutely precious + beautiful.
    My hubs and I just welcomed our first little babe on October 7 ( one month ago today! Ahhhh! Times moving too fast). Im soaking in all the snuggles and glad to hear your family of 4 is settling in well!

  43. Taryn on November 7, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Gina, just wanted to wish you congratulations and thank you for sharing your birth story. I’m pregnant with my second girl, and loved reading these two posts so much. Motherhood is such an amazing and wonderful thing, and I appreciate you sharing all the ups and downs of the incredible process of childbirth so other women can connect on this forum. Warmest wishes to you and your family.

  44. Becky @ on November 7, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    This is such a fantastic story. I’m glad your birth experience was so good and that aside from the epidural, you didn’t need further intervention. You’re one strong mama for birthday such a big baby!!!

    And the part about Livi meeting her little sister gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes. So sweet and touching. I can’t wait to watch their relationship blossom as they grow. Congratulations, Gina. You’re family is just wonderful and I’m glad you share your lives with us.

  45. Alexandra on November 7, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Such an amazing story- it brought tears to my eyes! Thanks so much for sharing! You are an absolute rockstar!! Congrats to you and your gorgeous family!

  46. Pam on November 7, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Wow I’m in total awe and so happy for you!! I’ve been waiting for part 2 since the cliff hanger of part 1. I’m so happy you have no idea – this gives me hope for a successful birth in January with our first baby. No one ever tells you how long and windy the birthing process can be, thank you for sharing. All the best with your new little angel. xoxo

  47. Ali on November 7, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Welcome P! Good job mama 🙂 So happy to read that everyone is happy and healthy. There is nothing like the bond of sisters – all that protection and Disney Land 😉 <3

  48. Catherine @ foodiecology on November 7, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    So glad Penelope arrived safely…finally!

  49. Emily on November 8, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Gorgeous pics of P and Liv at the end — glad you all are safe and sound. Congrats on the new addition to your family, Gina!

  50. Kate on November 8, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Wow! Amazing! Great job, Gina!

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