Writing the final piece to Arbor’s Birth Story is a cathartic and healing process, as well as a celebration of my labor and delivery. Make sure to read Part One before Part Two.
Arbor’s Birth Story Part Two
Once I received the epidural, things become a little bit foggy. My midwife, Jemime, and OB, Dr. Pringle, came to talk about our labor and delivery plan. Basically we would allow my labor to progress naturally for a bit and then they’d come to break my water. Once the water breaks, things usually start to pick up. They told me I was able to remove my mask after I tested negative for Covid and I settled in to my bed.
The epidural made me feel very calm and comfortable. I felt a bit drowsy but wasn’t able to doze off. Most of the time I waited for the midwife was spent relaxing and watching Christmas movies. I also had Brandon checking the monitor for updates on my contractions: size, frequency, etc.
An hour and a half after I received my epidural, Jemime came to break my water. It is an easy procedure and completely painless – performed with something that looks like a long knitting needle . Thankfully there was no sign of meconium in the fluids (as there was with Ailey). I felt a huge sigh of relief thinking there wouldn’t be a need for the NICU during delivery (or so I thought).
More About My Labor
My contractions began to pick up almost immediately after my water broke. At one point the nurses came running into the room to check on me, since the frequency of my contractions were causing the baby’s heart rate to increase. Jemime was called to check the progress of my cervical dilation, but I wasn’t as far along as they thought I might be. the nurses brought in a peanut ball to encourage my pelvis to open, ultimately inviting the baby farther down the birth canal (read about it here).
I laid on my side with the ball between my legs and instantly felt a big contraction. The nurses said it was a sign the peanut was working! The ball also helped take off some of the pressure in my tailbone as I was experiencing a bit of lower back pain.
Preparing for Delivery
By 7:45pm, almost 5 hours after receiving the epidural, I was dilated to 9cm and 100% effaced. I remember learning with Annabelle’s birth you must be 10 centimeters dilated before starting to push during a vaginal delivery. Jemime said she’d come back in thirty minutes to check my progress.
I started feeling a ton of pressure and pain in my butt, as well as aching in my legs with each contraction after Jemime left the room. Having never been in this stage of labor and delivery without pitocin before, I didn’t know that it meant I was close to pushing. Contractions were rolling in one after another without any downtime to regain my composure. The pain level wasn’t so bad I couldn’t handle it, but I was definitely unable to talk anymore. The baby was rapidly descending the birth canal and ready to come out!
No more than fifteen minutes after Jemime left the room did I have Brandon go find a nurse to say I felt an insanely strong feeling the baby was about to be born. The midwife came into the room quickly with my OB to prep for the delivery of our baby girl.
Let’s do this. Finally, Arbor’s Birth!
A lot had to happen before I was allowed to start pushing – even though I literally felt like I was holding the baby in every time I had a contraction. The midwife dropped out the edge of the bed and pulled up a stool. She put on a head lamp and my OB did the same. There were labor and delivery tools carted over on a table and the baby’s station was made sure it was all ready to go!
The nurses helped me scoot to the end of the bed and put my legs up in stirrups. Brandon was asked to help me grab my legs behind my knees and I was told to bear down as hard as I could with the next contraction. I pushed hard (and loudly) through three contractions – stopping once to feel the baby’s head! (It was so crazy that she was on the outside!).
Just when I thought she was about to slide out – the midwife shouted, “SHOULDER!!!”
Things started happening really quickly – I’m not sure if an alarm was sounded, but people were definitely yelling. There was a flurry of activity as NICU rushed into our room. My OB made Brandon move away while she pulled a stool next to my left side and literally climbed on top of me. I started screaming, “What’s happening?!” but they were all too busy to explain anything other than the baby was stuck in my pelvis.
Jemime and Dr. Pringle worked together to push my pelvis down while pulling the baby out from inside me. In the moment I had no idea how serious of a situation we could have possible been in. Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury when one or two shoulders get stuck in the mother’s pelvis. It can occur when the baby is too big for the mother’s pelvis.
THANKFULLY the team was able to pull the baby out while I pushed at the same time and our sweet girl was born.
Arbor Brynley was born at 8:34pm. From the moment she was placed on my chest she found me, and grabbed my finger. They say a newborn can recognize her parents’ voices, but it’s like she recognized my touch. I rubbed my belly (and her little limbs poking out) for months and months, just waiting until I could finally touch her in real life.
I was only able to hold her for a brief moment. Arbor was whisked away to be examined by the NICU team to make sure she didn’t have any injuries or trouble breathing. You can see her coloring is a bit off in the above photo – which was only a result of her quick descent down the birth canal. She didn’t cry immediately and that was rather scary – but she ultimately let out a shriek to let us know she was okay. My midwife worked on delivering my placenta while I waited to find out how much she weighed – she looked a lot bigger than her sisters did! Arbor is a whopping 8lbs 13 oz, almost 2lbs heavier than Annabelle was and 1lbs heavier than Ailey. She measured 20 1/4 inches long too!
Once Arbor was cleared by the NICU team I was able to spend time with her on my chest. Skin to skin contact is so amazing – and even more so when your brand new baby somehow finds her way to your breast and begins nursing. I’ll never forget that amazing moment, finally meeting my tiny little friend who I sang to for 9 months while she kicked me from the inside out.