Mandie's Birth Story

Dear Zoe,

Your birth story begins on a Wednesday at 41 weeks. You were quite comfortable and had zero interest in joining us earthside so we went for a Biophysical Profile (BPP) fetal test to ensure that my oven was still safe for you to continue cooking. You aced your test with flying colors and I was excited to find out how active you were! See I wasn’t a very lucky mama in that I barely got to feel you wiggle around during pregnancy. Your big kicks and punches felt like small gentle pokes and I maybe got to feel those a few times a day. So it was really amazing to watch you wiggle around! After your BPP test, we went to the Birth Center for your Non-Stress Test (NST) and you passed that one as well! Your father and I decided to try a membrane sweep and see if we could coax you out. We were hoping you would arrive on a Thursday or Friday so that your father could make the most of his week off of work to hang out with you and I. I personally was also really worried you were going to hang out longer and I really wanted to be at the birth center and have Kayla catch you. So we did the membrane sweep! 

Thursday came and I had mild cramping and spotting, which was to be expected given the sweep. So I cleaned the house and continued organizing your space. I started cooking dinner and then I realized that I wasn’t having cramps anymore… I was having contractions! I remember constantly asking Kayla, “What do they feel like? How will I know?”. She assured me that I was not going to miss labor and that I would know. Well sure enough… I knew. You decided you were ready. Of course I start to panic, your father was at your grandparents getting some things and I had no idea how long it would be until I met you. I’ll be really honest.. I was 100% scared shitless for the labor and delivery aspect and how to care for you once you arrived! I read and read and read as much as I could about everything but it’s not the same as the experience. So of course panic set it because it was finally happening! EEK!! I called Kayla to let her know what was happening and she said her mantra, “Eat a big meal and go to sleep”. Perfect timing since I was in the middle of cooking a big meal! So I did exactly that. And let me tell you, trying to sleep while having contractions and being simultaneously nervous, anxious, scared, and very slightly excited makes sleeping really difficult!

I woke up around 4am on Friday and called Kayla: contractions were slightly more intense but I just couldn’t sleep anymore! She confirmed I was indeed in labor and that I would be meeting you soon!  Contractions were sporadic and not consistent all night and morning. They even calmed down when the sun came up and picked back up in the afternoon. I tried to lay in bed and rest as much as I could. Around 3pm we decided to go to the Birth Center and get checked. I think that was the hardest part of labor was going through all the contractions and everything and having no idea where we were at! I was 5cm dilated and 100% at this check-up. We had the choice to stay and continue laboring there or go home. We opted to go home and continue laboring there. Around 4pm I was finally getting to the point where I needed some extra help and called my doula, Kelli. I drained my water heater tank standing in the shower with the hot water on my back. That felt amazing until my water heater tapped out. Who in their right mind thought a 40 gallon tank was an adequate amount?! Kelli suggested a walk so we walked around the block. That was rough… walking during contractions?!! Oh geez, that was brutal. I tried to eat dinner, but it didn’t stick around long. It was such a weird feeling getting sweaty and feeling nauseous and then, well there goes dinner! I do have to say, it tasted way better the first time. 

Your father, Kelli, and I all made the decision to head to the Birth Center around 6:30pm. So we packed up and told the grandparents that I was officially in labor and that we were headed to the Birth Center. I was super excited to hop in the giant tub! I completely forgot about it until Kelli said something so that was why we went. I wanted the big tub and the giant hot water heater tank. Shortly after we arrived I was checked and I was 7cm dilated. Okay, not bad… 3cm left to go. We were getting close to show time! I could not manage a comfortable temperature. I kept switching between sweating hot and freezing cold so your father kept ice cold wash cloths on my head and we’d drain some water and refill to make me warmer or cooler. I felt like I belonged in a Katy Perry song because I was so hot, then cold, then hot again! Around 9cm dilated I needed to get out of the tub. Not sure how my legs were already wiped out but they were exhausted. I tried the shower but I just couldn’t stand so I moved to the bed. I tried my side for a while with a peanut ball. 

I had my eyes closed for a majority of the labor because I needed to ignore people. I felt awkward having people watch me labor and groan through contractions. I had Kelli in my ear reminding me to keep growling low and deep in my chest. She kept saying to let the contraction go and to rest.. The contraction will pass, breathe through it.. I tried really hard to focus and for me that involved closing my eyes so I stopped thinking about everyone else in the room watching. I knew in my head they weren’t judging me but I also couldn’t stop thinking that they were. I mean I sounded like a dying cow and I felt like a beach whale as my body was trying to get you out. So my eyes stayed closed so I could focus on getting through each contraction. And that was a struggle. I was hard to groan deep and low instead of scream. It was hard to breathe through a contraction when all I wanted was to hold my breath and run away. I remember having to distract myself. I kept telling myself: I fit in this tub! For once I don’t have to decide if my boobs or my knees will be warm! A rubber ducky would be great just about now, I need something to play with between contractions.  I also asked for my chapstick and water a lot! Your father tried to get me to eat but all I could manage was just a few nibbles. I only wanted cold water and my chapstick. Note to self: bring extra chapsticks because mine broke towards the end and I could not stop fixating on my dry lips. 

I started getting this crazy feeling to just push. I HAD to push, I could not ignore it. It was such a weird sensation. I remember saying, “I feel like I’ve got to push” and then I was just doing it. Then all of a sudden, my water broke. Holy cow that was a pop and gush! Time was so weird because it passed so slowly. They told me I pushed for 40 minutes but it felt like forever! My legs and body were so exhausted and I could feel your head getting so close and then I just couldn’t get you out. Like I wasn’t strong enough or I didn’t have enough energy. I could feel your head getting so close to coming out and then go back because I just couldn’t push you out. I was feeling so defeated. Like I couldn’t do it- I was too tired. I had to remind myself, I CAN do it, I AM strong enough. I had read about labor being a mental game and I didn’t understand it until all of a sudden I was at this point where I felt like I wasn’t enough and I wasn’t going to make it through. I felt exhausted so how was I going to push you out? That’s the mental game. That’s what it was about! At that point I realized the only way I was going to defeat this was to tell myself that I am stronger than I think I am and that I can do it- I WILL do it. Then I felt it, your head popped out and then the rest of you just slid out. HOLY POOP!! Man you let lose when you came out! I’m pretty sure you pooped a whole pound. 

You were put on my belly while your father cut your cord. Wow.. I felt so drained. Like I had absolutely nothing left in me. All I wanted was to know how much you weighed and how long you were. I was fixated on that for some reason. Unfortunately I had to wait until my placenta came out. And well, that was a nightmare. Here I thought you were the stubborn one but this whole time it was your placenta that was the stubborn one because after two shots of pitocin it still wasn’t budging. Just Kayla checking was so painful! I would give birth again rather then have her check the status. So we  got you and all of our stuff packed up and Kayla drove us to the hospital and Kelli followed behind. It was on our drive that your father and I officially named you- Zoe Lynn. Kayla got me into the hospital and they tried really hard to find a vein. I got poked a lot and I really hate needles. The good ‘ole anesthesiologist and I argued about an epidural until the fentanyl kicked in. I was just so exhausted and I wanted it over with so I caved to the epidural. I ended up crashing while he attempted so he had to put me under anyways and then completed the dilation and curettage to remove my placenta. Luckily there was nothing wrong, it just literally did not want to come out. 

I spent an hour in recovery before going back to my room where I got to see you again! I had heard you went on an adventure back to the birth center to get weights and measurements. I got to hold and feed you again (you latched before the surgery but I was so out of it and it was so quick that I don’t count that). So you got to latch again and man you were hungry! You did a great job and it was so amazing to hold and snuggle you. I didn’t want to put you back but your father and I needed some sleep, it had been a whirlwind of a night. By this point it was about 5am and Kelli and Kayla were leaving. We stayed at the hospital until about 5:30pm when we were finally able to go home. 

That was intense but we did it Zoe! You, me, and your father did it and I might be biased but I think we did a wonderful job. You came out perfectly healthy and quite the long skinny ZoZo Bean! Your father and I were incredibly lucky to have such an amazing birthing team. By far Kayla and Kelli were amazing and I am so grateful to have had them there by my side helping me navigate my very first birth of the most precious and cutest little baby. I’m glad Kayla doesn’t let people exchange babies for puppies because you are the best little gift ever. Happy Birth

Day, Zoe!