February 6, 2020
*First, I want to start by giving everyone a heads up that I am sharing photos from my labor and delivery; however, I am not sharing any graphic images. I’m fairly private, so I’m keeping the photos pretty neutral and un-graphic for this blog, don’t worry ;-)
I’ve been so excited and eager to see and share the photos of Hope’s delivery from Lauren Tomasella Photography! Little miss Hope is currently napping peacefully and so I have a little bit of time to share some photos as well as her birth story… it only took me 2 months to do. Haha! I’ll be sharing how the first two months with our sweet girl have been pretty soon, but first things first, I’m sharing my labor and delivery story! I’m sharing it just as much for me and my memory as I am sharing it for you guys. My blog is somewhat of a journal for me, especially when I share stories like this one!
*Disclaimer: My labor and delivery preferences/choices are just that — MY preferences and choices. Please know that just because I made certain choices for my labor and delivery, I have ZERO judgement of other moms who have preferences/choices that are different from mine. I love that we can all decide what we want our labors to look like and I love that I got to decide what felt right for me. I am one of the lucky ones who can honestly say that I have nothing but positive memories of every part of my labor and delivery. It went exactly how I hoped and dreamed it would go. I am so thankful!
My goal/hope/dream was to do early laboring at home for awhile before going to the hospital. I wanted to keep things as calm, peaceful, and quiet during labor and delivery as possible and then to go as long as I could without medication, though I was not opposed to getting pain relief if it came to that. I didn’t want to feel disappointed in myself if I went into labor determined to go without medication, but then later choose to get an epidural. I know myself pretty well and I knew that I would likely feel like I “failed” if things didn’t go exactly as planned. So I went into labor without any expectations or pressures put on myself. I am SO glad I did that. It allowed me to just be in the moment and make decisions based on what I felt was right in the moment without any pressure from anyone… not even myself.
The evening of Friday, December 6th, Will and I were watching a Christmas movie (The Nativity Story) and I started feeling more intense Braxton Hicks than I usually felt. I had felt Braxton Hicks for a few months and they never felt uncomfortable, but that evening they started to feel uncomfortable, so I paid extra close attention.
My Braxton Hicks kept coming all evening and they woke me up around 1am on Saturday, December 7th, because they were getting more uncomfortable. So I decided to time them. They came consistently every 7-8 minutes lasting about a minute each time. Finally, at around 4:30am, I woke Will up and told him that I think I might be in labor. We called my doula, Hannah, to keep her up to speed. I spent the morning laying on the couch in the living room timing my contractions that were still consistent (every 5-7 minutes, lasting about a minute each). It was so peaceful and calm and everything I had hoped for. As the day wore on, the contractions became more intense, but bearable, and closer together. They tapered off a few times throughout the day, but always picked back up. During some of the down time, I did my hair and makeup (why not?), did a gel manicure (again, why not?), and made gingerbread cookies for the hospital staff.
Finally, around 5pm, my contractions were more intense and about 3-4 minutes apart, so we decided to head to the hospital! My mom was able to fly in from Virginia and arrived literally minutes before we left the house. Perfect timing!
When we arrived at the hospital at around 6pm, I was 5 centimeters and about 80% effaced. I was so happy to hear that! Because it was a weekend, the hospital was pretty empty and I felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. It was peaceful and quiet, just like I had hoped it would be. I got to walk the hallways during contractions and I never saw another patient all night. I really did have the place to myself, I guess :) Our labor and delivery nurses were phenomenal! Seriously… THE best. Special shout out to our nurse, Jerrica! I also got to have one of my super sweet past clients from years ago, Chelsie, as one of our nurses too! That was so special! Tiffany, the midwife at our OB’s office, stopped by to say hi too and that was so fun! We have gotten to have a few appointments with her when my doctor was out of the office, so it was special to see her!
Once we got checked in to our room, I spent about 4 more (very quick) hours laboring before things started to get really painful and intense. I was getting so tired/exhausted. I had about 30-45 minutes of intense contractions lasting about a minute each and coming every 30 seconds. It wasn’t fun ;-) But aside from the pain, my exhaustion was really intense too and I felt like I needed some sleep in order to have energy to push later on. At this point, I had been awake and in labor for almost 24 hours and was starting to get a pretty intense “tired headache” too. So at about 11:40pm, I decided to get an epidural. The decision was right for me and I am so glad I decided to get it when I did.
I was 7cm and 90% effaced when I got the epidural. And I have to say that the actual “getting the epidural” part was the worst part of the whole experience, but afterwards it was magical heaven. Haha! It took about 15 minutes to get the epidural all while still having super intense contractions every 30 seconds. It was the longest, most painful 15 minutes ever, but worth it!
Once the epidural started working a few minutes later, I felt such a rush of relief and joy and calm and all the things. That’s when the tears started flowing :) Happy tears. I was able to “enjoy” the moments and get some rest. Again, like I said at the start of this blog, this was the right decision for me and what I wanted for my labor and delivery, but I know that others may have different preferences and may feel a different decision is right for them and that is awesome! No judgement from me, so I hope to receive no judgement in return ;-)
After the epidural, I was able to sleep (praise the Lord!), then woke up to my water breaking and I was then at 9cm and 100% effaced! 30 minutes later, it was time to push! It was peaceful and quiet and calm and perfect in the room. I am so grateful to my doula, Hannah, all of the nurses, and to my doctor for keeping the room calm in that way. That was a big desire of mine. I really wanted a quiet, peaceful room so that I could focus and enjoy the process. And that was exactly what my experience was. The pushing process honestly felt so quick (and painless). I pushed for about 45mins to an hour, but you could’ve told me it was 10 minutes and I would’ve believed you. I was amazed when Hope was finally born! I couldn’t believe it!
Hope was born at 3:49am. She was a tiny 17.5 inches and 6lbs 2 oz. She was happy and healthy and perfect. She started crying almost immediately and watching our iphone video back, her cry sounded exactly how her cry sounds now :) I just love that! They put her on my chest and I got to hold Hope and nurse her for quite awhile. It was perfect. I couldn’t really see Hope’s face for the first little bit though just due to her angle on my chest, so it was wonderful when I finally did get to see her little face and kiss her little nose for the first time :)
My doula, Hannah, from Happy Helper Doula Services was phenomenal and helped keep me calm and focused. I just love her! I also hired my friend and talented photographer, Lauren Tomasella Photography, to document everything for us. I highly recommend hiring a doula (Hannah especially!) and hiring a photographer (Lauren especially!) for labor and delivery. And finally, my hubby, Will, was absolutely amazing. He was so calm and supportive. He was my rock. They all played a huge part in making the experience as perfect as it was. I am so thankful for them.
By the time we got into our postpartum room around 7am, our parents had been waiting at the hospital for over 12 hours (and in the early morning hours, no less)! I felt terrible for them! They were so patient and I know that they were all so eager to meet Hope! I can’t imagine waiting that long in the cold hospital. It was wonderful to finally get to introduce Hope to them. They were the first of our family and friends to know her name too! That was so special!
The rest of our time at the hospital was a blur and exhausting. Needless to say, we were happy to be discharged to go home. About 5 minutes after we walked into our home, snow started falling. It was magical! I couldn’t believe it! That made me so, so happy! The next couple of weeks would end up being very rough, as most new parents can attest. But looking back, it’s just a blip in the grand scheme of things. Hope is almost 2 months old now and that’s hard to believe! Looking at the photos from her birthday bring back so many wonderful memories. I am so thankful that my memories are as wonderful as they are.
We finally got our precious Hope. She was and is perfect. Thank you, Jesus.