The birth story- part 1

That’s exactly how it went down!

The end.

Ok, it was slightly different.

I still can’t believe I’m writing this story. It’s so surreal to me that it actually happened and I was so present yet totally gone at the same time.

So here’s the first part of the birth… and I’m going to lay it all out there, so if childbirth TMI isn’t your cup of tea, I’ll be back with other Family updates this week 😉

After the midwife stripped my membranes on Friday, I still had the feeling I’d need at least one more acupuncture appointment to get things going and didn’t want to be too optimistic. I was crampy all day, and woke up during the night with severe cramps. I really didn’t think too much of it, until they became extremely strong and regular the next morning. For everyone, labor feels different. For me, early first stage made menstrual cramps feel like a tickle. The was a lot of deep cramping along with sharp pains in my back and hips. The only position that felt good would be to get onto my hands and knees and breathe deeply…in through my nose and out through my mouth, like we were taught to do in class. 

Then my family called to see if we wanted to meet for breakfast.

We told them we were pretty sure I was in the beginning stages of labor, but went anyway, since we were both hungry (and we knew the extra movement would get the ball rolling). We got there a little late and in between conversation, I’d have to put my head down and breathe. It was awkward, but I was so glad I went, because it ended up being the only full meal I ate on Saturday.

We got back to the house, and by this time the contractions were 4 -5 minutes apart – it was difficult to speak. As I’d feel it coming on, I’d beg Tom to press on my back as I’d collapse to my hands and knees, and he helped me remember to take long, slow breaths with how much pain I was feeling. At this point, I was still able to to move around, and was quiet during the contractions, which were each about 50 seconds long. We knew it was time to head to the hospital, so we called my mom to pick up Bella, and met our doula, Tricia, at Triage.

When the nurses talked to us, they immediately wanted to check my cervix to see how far dilated I was. I wasn’t ready to be checked since the contractions were still about 4-5 minutes apart and didn’t want to risk being sent home, and the nurses and our midwife was cool with waiting, so they gave us a Triage room to use if we needed it, a birthing ball, and told us to walk around the hospital to see if it sped things along.

We walked down the labor and delivery ward and passed the lobby, where my entire family was already waiting. At 2pm, it was like a hospital family party, and different family members stayed camped out until the baby was born, 10 hours later. They couldn’t believe I was up and walking around, but our doula wanted me to try to walk through the contractions instead of stopping to help the process. When the contractions became stronger and felt unbearable, we went back to Triage, were checked by the midwife and found that I was 5-6cm dilated and 90% effaced- time to be checked in!

We went to our labor and delivery room –a pic of what the room looked like is here– and that’s where I pretty much went into another world. We turned the lights down, Tom put the Spa station on Pandora, and Tricia and Tom helped me through each contraction. The nurses were in and out –and were all fantastic- and our midwife would periodically check on us to see how we were doing. The contractions became closer together, eventually to the point where Tom stopped timing them, and Tricia would use heat compresses on my back during each one. For me, the heat compresses were something that really seemed to help since my back would hurt so badly. I couldn’t speak during the contractions, and the pain completely overtook my body. I don’t want to scare you guys, but it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life. It would slowly rise up, slam into me, and stay there while I breathed through it. The more frantic I became, the worse they felt, so all I could do was breathe.. which eventually turned into loud moaning.

We tried pretty much every position in the book (including a warm bath, shower, birth ball, birthing stool, squat bar) and the only one that really seemed to work was having the bed slanted up, draping my body over the back of the bed, warm compresses on my lower back and cold wash clothes on my back from Tricia, and Tom in front of me, coaching me along, comforting me and telling me he was proud of me. For every single contraction, and there were hundreds of them, he talked me through it. He encouraged me to exhale in the low moan we learned in class, and reminded me to set a breathing tempo that provided a minute degree of control. I knew I couldn’t fight the contraction, so I gave in to them while focusing on how they would help us meet our baby.

One of the hardest parts of the labor process was the fetal monitoring. I was monitored intermittently, and every hour for about 20 minutes. They had to watch the baby’s heart rate to make sure she was responding well to each contraction. It was really difficult to stay in a position where they could monitor while the contractions slammed into me. The nurses were amazing, and often held the monitor to my belly instead of strapping it down so I could move around freely. I also didn’t have an IV since I was well-hydrated, so I could get around as I liked without having to worry about cords. I drank ice water the entire time I was laboring, with a sip or two in between each contraction.

They got closer together and so powerful I wasn’t sure how much longer I was going to be able to take it. Tom didn’t tell me until after the fact, but they were 2-3 minutes apart for about an hours, lasting a minute each or longer. There were times when all I could do was sob in between breathing through them, and all modesty went out the window. I was walking around, naked and shaking, until I’d drape myself over the bed and moan through the contraction. My water still hadn’t broken, and I had no idea how much longer it was going to ask. At one point, I told everyone I was leaving, which was a total sign that I was in transition, the part of labor where you feel like quitting, but is right before the pushing stage.

Even though I thought I was dying, I was still too scared to get an epidural (even though it wouldn’t have been an option- I was too far along). I’ve always been a huge needle-phobe, and told myself if I needed one, I would get it, but it still scared me more than anything. I just made myself focus on one contraction at a time and with Tom and Tricia there with me, I felt safe, even though the pain level was so intense.

The nurse came in to monitor the baby and it was the most difficult one yet, since the contractions were so close together. I stayed draped over the bed, she held the monitor to my belly, and Tom and Tricia helped me get through each one. During labor, the baby’s heart rate was extremely steady. She was responding so well to each contraction, but one of the things they would watch for would be a heart rate acceleration during the time period to make sure she was still working with me without getting tired (which had occurred without fail…until now). I was progressing so quickly through each labor milestone, but after transition, I was slammed by a roadblock of contractions – 2 minutes apart…for three hours. Later, Tom admitted he got pretty nervous despite his calm and encouraging demeanor. It felt like someone tagged a few extra 5Ks on top of my marathon. Even though I was in another world, I knew something wasn’t quite right.

“Honey, we haven’t seen the baby’s heart rate accelerate for a while now. We need to talk about some other options.”

Part 2 will be up later this week <3

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  1. Amy R on January 11, 2012 at 8:36 am

    This is amazing and I can’t wait to read the rest! Thank goodness we already know Miss Olivia made it in this world happy and healthy! I’ve never been pregnant, nor have any plans to be in the near future, but I appreciate you sharing this story. I’m 100% sure it’s nothing you can be prepared for, but it’s nice to read a story that doesn’t sugar coat the details. You amaze me and the number one thing I’ve learned is that I absolutely want to have an amazing man by my side if the day ever comes. 🙂

  2. Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on January 11, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Oooh, the suspense! Looking forward to reading the rest. Thanks for sharing, it’s so nice to hear a real account from someone. Good job staying strong throughout 🙂

  3. Kathy on January 11, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Gina, as others have said, this is gripping and so well written! I hope you are very proud of how you prepared and handled everything. And it sounds like Tom should write a How-to post for fathers-to-be!

  4. Megan on January 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Oh the suspense! My husband and I were just talking about how last time I wanted to run away during/after transition!

  5. Krystina (Organically Me) on January 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Oh wow…this whole post made me cringe. It’s so visceral.

  6. Bridget on January 11, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I actually felt like I was starting to breathy heavily while reading this!! I love reading birth stories, especially since we might start trying this summer. As scary as it sounds sometimes I’d rather read everything I can and just be prepared.

    So far sounds like you were a rockstar!!

  7. Ivette on January 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Gina, you are a champ, I caved in to those contractions and got an epidural, you did amazing! Can’t wait to read part 2. So glad you and baby are happy and healthy 🙂

  8. Kathleen on January 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

    You can’t leave me hanging like this! …..Wow! -You are such a great writer! I’ve had four children and you are so much stronger than I ever was. I have never posted on your site but I read it every day. I want you to know that as soon as I found out you were in labor, I was praying hard for you and your family. You have impacted so many lives-you deserve so much happiness! There is nothing better than being a mom! Looking forward to part 2!
    Kathleen in SC.

  9. Natalie on January 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I’m not yet pregnant but love reading birth stories. Thanks for sharing yours!

  10. mi-an d. on January 11, 2012 at 9:11 am

    love reading this gina! i was there when my sister gave birth and it was just exactly like yours. except she did end up getting an epidural! i learned in med school fhr accelerations are usually not something to be worried about, it’s the decelerations that should be worrisome. hmmm. anyway, thanks for sharing this and can’t wait for part 2!

  11. Beth on January 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I can’t wait to read part 2 (when I came to the end of this post, I silently said NOOOOOOO because I wanted to hear the ending so badly!) 🙂

  12. Food for Todd on January 11, 2012 at 9:19 am

    What an amazing story!! You sound like a real trooper! Can’t wait to read the rest – did you end up getting epidural?? Congrats again!

  13. Lizzie @TheWeekdayVegan on January 11, 2012 at 9:19 am

    As I’m reading this, someone is grunting in the hallway of my office building, sounding like they are giving birth. It’s all too real! Haha.

    Can’t wait to hear the rest! Congratulations! xo

  14. Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous! on January 11, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Gina, you’re so strong!! I’m so glad everthing turned out so well, and Olivia is absolutely perfect! 🙂

  15. Taran on January 11, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I’ll be in total suspense until later this week! This is amazing and you are such a strong women! It would be interesting to hear the “birth story” from the Pilot’s point of view! Maybe a guess hubby post!! 🙂 So you can take a day off from blogging and spend it with your sweet Olivia!

    • Erin on January 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      I second that – I would love to hear the Pilot’s version of Olivia’s birth as well!

  16. Amy @ purewellnessamy on January 11, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Well, that’s a cliffhanger! At least I know there’s a happy ending :). I hope you’re all doing well and having fun getting to know each other!

  17. Lauren on January 11, 2012 at 9:46 am

    You left me with chills!!! Can’t waitnto read the rest. So happy you are all safe and sound now!!

  18. Emily on January 11, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I am so glad you are sharing your birth story! I cannot wait to hear more of it. So far… sounding interesting!

  19. Susan on January 11, 2012 at 9:49 am

    This brings back so many memories! It really is a discomfort that cannot be understood until you experience it. The good news is that you really don’t remember specifics about what it felt like (maybe a little further down the road), just the general ” it hurt like hell.”. And, it didn’t deter me ( or millions of other women) doing it all over again! Congratulations!

    • Ginger on January 11, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Oh Gina thanks for sharing and it’s good you wrote your story so quickly. I didn’t write mine until 6 months after my daughter was born and Susan is right, you really do forget the specifics (they came back to me, but by that time is was like reading someone else’s story because I couldn’t imagine having gone through that – lol).

      Olivia is precious, by the way 🙂

  20. Misha on January 11, 2012 at 9:49 am

    This is so fascinating! You are a great writer, and I have been waiting impatiently for your birth story. It really is just incredible to me.

  21. Felicia on January 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

    the suspense!! cant wait to read the rest. you are amazing, and so is the pilot for being such a supportive + amazing hubby 🙂

  22. maria @ a life to bragg about on January 11, 2012 at 10:17 am

    “The more frantic I became, the worse they felt, so all I could do was breathe.. which eventually turned into loud moaning…”

    That is the PERFECT way to describe my experience. Where were you when I wrote my birth story, haha?

    Can’t wait to read the rest girl, you’re an amazing writer and so strong to fight those contractions! They’re horrible!

  23. Malorie on January 11, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I think you just convinced me to get an epidural 🙂

  24. Madeline @ Food Fitness & Family on January 11, 2012 at 10:27 am

    You are an amazing write and an amazing woman! Can’t wait to read the rest!

  25. Natalie Rae on January 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Oh wow! Thank you for being honest- I am learning… and a little scared 🙂

    • Rhiannon on January 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      Agreed, haha!! I’m glad someone isn’t afraid to give it to us straight.

  26. Krysta on January 11, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Looking forward to reading the rest!

  27. Heather on January 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

    aahh the suspense! I am not a huge fan of needles, but I am even a bigger whimp when it comes to pain, so I think I would take the epidural lol! I used to not believe that people dont care about modesty when in pain, that is until I was i the ER in November and I didn’t care who saw me, now I am a believer!

  28. TIF on January 11, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Ahhhh the suspense! Can’t wait to hear the rest… even though I’m not a mother yet or will be anytime soon. I love reading your stories on pregnancy and now labor!

  29. Melissa on January 11, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Oh my God, the suspense is killing me! 🙂

    Woman, you are a powerhouse! I salute you.

    Very much looking forward to reading the rest. Wow!

  30. Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] on January 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

    ahh, this gave me chills. chills. can’t wait for the rest. you’re one strong woman 🙂

  31. Sonia the Mexigarian on January 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

    wow. i can only imagine what you were going through. it’s an amazing story so far. we know it ended happily, but to ‘understand’ the experience of it. . . . wow. 🙂

  32. betht on January 11, 2012 at 11:09 am

    You’re a champ. Proud of you!

  33. MMiller on January 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

    In can’t wait to read the rest! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all! I had to laugh when you said you were leaving! You wouldn’t have made it very far!! And I am so glad I already know Olivia is home and healthy already! As hard as it all was…it was so worth it!

  34. Julie (A Case of the Runs) on January 11, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Don’t be sorry for scaring us… I don’t want sugar-coating! =P

  35. Maddy on January 11, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I will be checking here for the next post. You really capture the experience well. I admire you for going the natural childbirth route, but I have to admit reading this makes me feel better about having an epidural. I used to feel guilty about it. While I’ve handled beginning labor and even kidney stones, this sounds like more than I could do.

    I must tell you that photo of your brother and Olivia in the main section is the cutest thing ever. I love her mouse outfit and she just looks like a sweet and pretty little love bug!

  36. Suzi @ Confessions of a Fitness Instructor on January 11, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Yes, cutting us off like that would be really cruel if we didn’t know that everything turned out fine in the end, but since we do – we’ll give you a break. 😉 I mean, you’ve got a cute little baby to snuggle, who wants to blog when you can be staring at her <3

  37. aj on January 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

    So suspenseful! You are a rockstar! Can’t wait to hear the rest!

  38. Destini on January 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

    WOW thank you for sharing this in a full tell all, you are a fighter! Can’t wait for the rest….and I am okay with the split because I have already seen beautiful photos of both you and ur lovely daughter to know you are both okay!

  39. Laura @ Backstage Balance on January 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

    This sounds super intense! Thank you for sharing your birth story. I feel like nobody ever tells you what childbirth is *really, truly* like, and I appreciate your sharing the honest to goodness truth here.
    This freaks me out, though! “I don’t want to scare you guys, but it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life.”
    You’re a BAMF, Gina 😀

  40. Ashley B on January 11, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I didn’t even know going without an IV during labor was an option.

    I’m also needle-phobic. It’s so bad I pass out cold during a simple shot. When I was hospitalized with a raging blood infection, it got used to the needles, but not enough to cure me completely. I don’t know how I will survive children one day! Pain medication isn’t an option as I have violent reactions too it.

    Can’t wait to read the rest of the story! You sound like a real trooper!

  41. Cynthia on January 11, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family.

    I don’t think I ever truly got how every birth is truly a miracle until I went through it myself.

    Many blessings!!!

  42. Julie on January 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Wow!! What a great post, and can’t wait to hear(read) the rest! Loved how great the Pilot was and he offered support 🙂 The most amazing part is how you didn’t use the epidural! I’ve thought about doing that when I have kids (in like 10 yrs 😉 ) but everyone always says the pain is unbearable. I love that you went with the natural way, and shared all the details! Also, putting on the spa station on Pandora was a great idea, I’ll need to remember that for later in life!

  43. Amanda on January 11, 2012 at 11:53 am

    The suspense!!!!

    What a great story so far! This is so helpful for me – your description of the contractions. I really appreciate the openness. Can’t wait to keep reading!

  44. RachelG on January 11, 2012 at 11:57 am

    There was a woman in my yoga class this morning who is due on SUNDAY! You and she are my idols and I hope that I can be as strong as you both when I’m in that position. 🙂

  45. char @ char on a mission on January 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Wow…it felt like I was reading an intense novel; you just don’t want to put it down…err, stop scrolling in this case! I can’t wait for part 2, but I must admit, even though I have ‘baby mind’ right now…this does scare me a bit! hahah

  46. Ashley on January 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    So sweet and amazing! Can’t wait for part II!

  47. LeeAnn on January 11, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Cant wait for Part 2!!!

  48. Lauren A. on January 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I just became teary eyed reading reading about how supportive Tom was being. What a great husband. And good for you for enduring such great pain for so long! Congratulations.

    • Fitnessista on January 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      i have no words for how amazing he is. since saturday, i look at him and get tears in my eyes… i’m very lucky

  49. Heather Eats Almond Butter on January 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Oh wow Gina, I got chills reading this. Thank you so much for sharing, and I’m anxious to read part 2. You sounded like a total trooper for part 1. Three hours of 2-minute apart contractions…ugh, I can’t even think about it. I have never in my life felt pain like that, and I tell people it felt like someone was punching me over and over right above my pubic bone for one minute straight. They say you forget the pain, but it still makes me cringe. That being said, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat! 🙂

  50. Lizzie on January 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Oh my gosh, Gina – thanks for sharing Part 1! This is seriously written like a James Patterson novel ha. Very anxiously awaiting Part 2.

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