• Morgan Ruggiero-Hunt (A Doula Client)

{Birth Story} And Then There Were Three

This doula client wrote her birth story in a letter to her daughter. We love how she wrote it - just beautiful!


Mila,


I write this story as you lay so sweetly next to me. You are one month old and time is flying by. I want to remember the details of how you came into our family, so I better get writing.


April 24th, 2020: my life changed forever. I have always been in tune with changes in my body so when I noticed a fleeting moment or two of nausea, had PMS symptoms a week earlier than I should, and just overall felt a little “off”, I began to question what was going on. I had taken a few pregnancy tests and they came back negative the week before. I decided on that day, after work, I would go get another test just in case. It was a Friday and I left work a few minutes early to stop by the closest CVS. Your dad and I planned to have dinner with my parents that evening and needed to run some errands beforehand. I had just learned how to make really delicious strawberry margaritas so I needed to stop to get the ingredients. When I got home, your dad was already there cleaning up the house to make it presentable for your grandparents. I quickly rushed my CVS bag into the bathroom and came back out to give your dad a hug and a kiss. I told him I needed to freshen up and then I would help him with dinner. I made a bee line for the bathroom and locked the door quickly behind me. I had taken several tests before this one, but this test felt different. I was anxious and nervous. Earlier in the day, I started to feel nauseous and light headed, and then a headache came on. I had already decided to get a pregnancy test so maybe I was having phantom symptoms or overthinking, “am I carrying precious cargo?” I rip open the box, tear the wrapper, and unbutton my pants. Lucky for your mom, she always has to pee! I impatiently wait as the liquid goes down the stick and starts to head towards the opening that will show one line or two. I am not the kind of person that could look away and wait it out. I wanted to watch as the line appeared on the pregnancy test.


There it was! This time, for the first time, the test showed two lines. For a moment, I forgot to breathe. I lived in a state of shock for almost 5 minutes. Staring at the test, seeing if the second line was going to somehow disappear. I snapped out of my shock when your dad knocked on the door, checking to see if I was OK in the bathroom. I quickly finished up, opened the bathroom door, whipped by your dad, and headed out the door saying I need to run to the grocery store before dinner. I had to quickly get out of the house. My mind was racing and I am not a great liar. Your dad is pretty good at reading my face and if he asked me what was wrong, I would have burst with tears of joy in that moment. I had been thinking of a special way to tell your dad that you were coming into our lives and fulfilling our hearts. I raced to Target to pick out a cute outfit. This allowed me time to calm down and process my thoughts. Before I got out of the car, I recorded my feelings for you and for the changes that were to come. I wanted you to know that from the moment I found out about you, I loved you then, I love you now, and I will love you forever.


Pregnancy was long, and yet so short. The first trimester, I was so sick I thought I would never make it the full 40 weeks. Then, the second and third trimester was over before I really knew it began. Looking back, I do wish I had spent more time making memories with you in my belly. Life is short. Take time to have mementos of the precious memories that fulfill your heart.


Once I hit 37 weeks, I waited your arrival impatiently. Every day I would think, is today the day my sweet baby girl makes her arrival? Once I hit 40 weeks, I was getting nervous you enjoyed it too much in your mom’s belly and never wanted to come out. Oh Mila, you sure were making your mom stir crazy, waiting to meet you.


At 5:00am, on the third day of my 40th week I woke up, still hazy, to light period-like cramps. I had this feeling before and usually it was the result of me needing to use the bathroom, if you know what I mean. I didn’t think much of it and went back to sleep.

At 5:45am, the cramping woke me up again. I decided to get up. It was only 15 minutes before my alarm would go off the for the day. Once I was fully awake, I noticed, unlike before, these cramps came and went in waves and were about 10 minutes apart. This was something different. In the past, it was constant cramping with no relief between. It’s true, women are very in tune to their bodies. We have many natural instincts, and this morning my instinct was saying, “Today is the day!”.


At 7:30am, I wake your dad and break the news that we finally would get to meet you very soon. I began reaching out to my job, parents, and friends. Today is the day! Today is the day! I was so nervous, excited, and relieved that you were going to make an appearance on your own, and I wouldn’t have to be induced. Your dad had already prepared me that he was going to be a nervous nelly when you decided to come. He wanted me to feel fully supported throughout the labor and delivery. Knowing he might not be able to give me the support I needed, he wanted a professional to tell him how to support me the best during labor. So, we made sure prior to your arrival to have a Doula to help guide your dad and I through so many unknowns. I reached out to my Doula group (Natural Baby Doulas) at 7:15am to say, “Good morning, ladies! I am SO excited to say, I think I am in labor. Yippee!! Contractions every 8-10 minutes the past 2 hours.” Our Doula would be Jessica, and I didn’t know it then, but she would play an important role in preparing me to meet you, in the way I always planned.


At 8:00am, my contractions were steadily coming faster and faster. I spoke with our Doula Jessica and she listened to me through a contraction on the phone. I can still talk through them, so I know I am not there yet. I didn’t know it then, but your dad was timing my contractions as he hastily went through the house grabbing out bags and throwing them in the car. I was telling him all the last-minute items to pack: a toothbrush, phone chargers, snacks, snacks and more snacks! Oh yeah, let me add this cute blanket. Then, contraction! Oooff! Gotta stop and breathe through it. Within 45 minutes, contractions had gone from 10 minutes to 5 minutes apart and coming strong. It was getting harder to talk through them.


At 8:30am, your Dad calls Jessica. At this point, he has the car started and is trying to put my shoes on. He is terrified of the idea of having you at home. He wants to make sure you and I are both safe and within reach of medical help if needed. He believes it is time to go to the hospital. Contractions are less than 5 minutes apart. Our Doula, Jessica, knew that part of the birth plan was to stay at home and labor as long as possible. As your Dad is putting on my shoes, she asks to start a bath and see if this speeds up labor or slows it down. It would be a test to know if I was truly progressing this quickly. Your dad hates this idea. He is ready to go to the hospital NOW. I gently remind him, that I want to stay home as long as possible and so he agrees to start a bath. After so much effort dressing me through contractions, he begins to help me undress. Into the tub I go. Within minutes, my contractions become stronger and more frequent. I agree with your Dad, it is time to go to the hospital. Your dad quickly dries me off and helps me get dressed between contractions. I slowly make my way out to the car. I open the car door and splash, my water breaks. Your dad runs into the house to grab a towel, there is no time in his mind to change.


At 9:30am, we finally reached Baptist Hospital. We are greeted by a friendly staff member who is ready and waiting with a wheelchair to escort us to the 9th floor: Labor and Delivery. I scoot gently into the wheelchair as your dad grabs all of our bags. As we enter on the elevator, I apologize to our escort, explaining that my water has been continuing to break as I sit in his chair. He says, "that’s no problem, don’t you worry”. Hopefully, I am not the first woman to create a bit of a mess coming into the hospital. The gentleman gets us safe and sound to the front desk. I remind my husband to please ask for the alternative room. This is a room in the hospital designated for natural births, filled with a large tub, birthing balls, and a large comfy bed compared to a hospital bed. After we wait for a few minutes, breathing through contractions, a nurse comes to guide us to triage. My husband again asks for an alternative room. Then my heart sank. She advises that unfortunately the room cannot be used. They have an active COVID case next door and are not allowed to use the room. I knew it was always a possibility that the 2 alternative rooms would be unavailable. I could feel my birth plan start to unravel. I barely labored at home, and now my alternative room is unavailable. I didn’t have much time to think before I was greeted by multiple nurses and doctors. As soon as you enter the hospital, your body and your privacy are no longer yours to keep. However, it is the one time in your life, you simply don’t care. I was almost 7 cm dilated in triage. As the team continues to prepare my room, the doctor comes in and, by standard protocol, recommends I get an IV placed. I advised I did not want an IV placed, but they were pretty insistent. I was in so much pain, I agreed. After a few sticks, they couldn’t get the IV placed. Usually have no problem with my veins but I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since waking up that day. When my doula, Jessica, arrived she reminded me I wanted a midwife instead of a doctor and questioned my birth plan about an IV placement. This is why we needed a doula! An advocate for our wants and desires during a time when you may just give in and go with the flow of the chaos around you. Brittany, the midwife on call, was in our room within just a few minutes. Jessica advised that we wanted an alternative room and Brittany stated, “no problem.” I was beginning to feel relieved; I was getting the birth plan I always wanted. I did decide to move forward with the IV as much as I didn’t want to. Since I had already been stuck multiple times by 2 nursing staff, they recruited the anesthesiologist.


As we walked, slowly but surely to the alternative room, I left a trail of fluid along the halls. Occasionally, I needed to stop and grab hold of your dad who would rock and sway with me through each contraction. As I entered the alternative room, I was guided onto the bed. The team needed to verify you were not stressed in mom’s tummy and that you were doing okay. I needed to get my IV and Brittany, the midwife, needed to educate me on the process and my wants and desires through birth. Our doula Jessica, was on top of keeping me hydrated. She immediately got me a drink upon entering our room, and kept encouraging me to take sips. I wanted water but she offered a juice. The added sugar would be needed through labor. I went for apple juice that was diluted with water.

At 10:30am, my foot dipped into the warm water and I feel sweet relief. I traded my hospital gown for a black sports bra and submerged my whole body into the water. Contractions were strong and about 60 seconds apart. The intensity of contractions flowed through my lower back – something I was surprised about. Prior to labor, my doulas would ask how I would want your dad to support me through contractions and I wasn’t sure what the right answer would was. Yet my body knew exactly what it needed during active labor. I requested him to rub my back in clockwise motions along my lower back through each contraction. He never failed; he rubbed my back through every single contraction without hesitation. As each contraction intensified, I used the motion of his rub and the sound of my low “hums” to focus on, taking my attention off the intense lower back pain. It was working, I was making it through each contraction and felt good during the “downtime”. Jessica kept me hydrated between contractions, talked with me to keep my mind of things, and would ask the mid-wife questions. My midwife commented how calm and clear I was able to be. Little did she know, how much things would change at 9cm dilated.

At 12:00pm: “I can’t do this anymore”, “I need to discharge from this room and I need an epidural”, “why do women choose to do this naturally”, “what was I thinking?” “I should have known I wasn’t strong enough for this”. My breathing was no longer slow and controlled. My “hums” were no longer low, but rather high-pitched whining as each contraction came and went. Ten seconds was not enough time to recover. Jessica and Brittany kept talking me through, their voices soft, even in tone, and calming. Yet, I still couldn’t remain calm. At the start of each contraction, I would try to stay zoned into a low hum, then the climax of the contraction would come and I would whine in intense pain. I would comment how I couldn’t make it through and then yell, “rub harder” to your dad. The rubbing motion and the humming were not working to relieve the intense pressure like they did once before. I was screaming in my head about how I needed my body to stop. I couldn’t handle the pain. Please give me relief, please stop laboring so I can discharge from the alternative room; I needed an epidural. My aura went from positive, calm contractions to my mind screaming “fight or flight mode”. I definitely was choosing flight. I needed to get away from this intense pain. It was through silent prayer during each contraction that helped me get through the most intense hour of pain I have ever experienced in my life.


At 1:15pm, it was time to push. I hadn’t felt the urge to push quite yet. However, Brittany checked my cervix and I was 10 cm. Rising out of the tub, gravity took over and contractions felt unbearable while standing tall. I was now cold, wet, and walking from the tub to the bed. I was sure I couldn’t make it the 10 feet to the bed. I debated forcing myself to stay in the tub. I would be rebellious and just deliver in the water against hospital policy. I mean, why would they make a woman feel this much pain? I needed the water to get through each contraction. At this time, there was not rest between contractions. How sweet 10 seconds would be now when previously they felt so fleeting.

Jessica advised me that pushing might be easier because now I would have a task to focus on. I thought how wrong she was during my first few pushes. I now have to feel intense pain AND push? How do you even push? Coordinating working through the pain and focusing on which muscles to use took practice. Contraction pain had changed since I started pushing. They came on less frequently, with a true start, climax, and finish. The intensity was dull compared to active labor. I could breathe through each contraction and decide not to push (a thought that ran through my head multiple times) if I chose. I would give 3-4 good pushes during each contraction. The first one was always a “practice push”. In the 60 seconds that passed, it would take one full push to remember how to push. I spent many pushes not directing my full energy to my lower half but instead, balled up the energy in my face. At some point, I had popped blood vessels in my eyes and face. My eyelids had almost swollen shut from the intense pressure I kept in my face. Jessica was right; pushing gave me something to do. Pushing was the last step, the grand finale, to a long journey to bring you into this world. I could do it!

At 2:30pm: “Am I even making any progress.” Change position. “Every time I stop pushing, I just feel her going back in.” Change position. “Does she not have enough room to come out?” Change position. “Seriously, I don’t think I have much energy left in me to push.” Change position. To keep me motivated to push, Brittany brought out a mirror so I could see you crowning. She told me to reach down and feel your full head of hair. If I could just muster up the energy, you would be here soon. Your father was behind me; a safe distance away from everything he did not want to see. He kept me held up with his hands the entire time I pushed. Through labor and now pushing, your dad never said a word. He intensely focused on providing me what I needed. He didn’t need words to encourage me. His touch and presence were exactly what I needed. His voice would have been lost among my own thoughts and the focus I had on my midwife guiding me into the correct position, telling me how long to push, and encouraging me of the progress being made. Without an epidural, I could feel you move lower and then slide back up, and then move down lower and slide back up. Brittany tried to manually turn you. You were trying to come out sideway and there wasn’t enough room. Unfortunately, you were pretty persistent on not moving, and mom had to really make grand effort to get your body past my pelvic bones.


At 3:06pm, your head is out! Brittany asks for one more big push to get your shoulders through. I push with all my might; longer, harder, and stronger than any other push before. I let out a gasp as I feel your body leave mine. I could tell you tore me as you left. I reached down to help pull you up on my chest but the cord was wrapped around your neck twice and Brittany needed to quickly get you unwrapped. You arrived earth side with your vocals blasting full force and your lungs being exercised. I was gasping in disbelief that you were here and that you were all mine. Welcome earth side baby girl!! Thank you, God, for this beautiful blessing. You laid on my chest, crying. Jessica was rubbing you down and the nurse put a hat on you with a bow. Then, you stop crying and you just rest on my chest. I cry tears of complete joy.

At 3:08pm, only a few pushes to get out the placenta. Immediately after, Brittany advises she needed to stitch me back up. Within a few seconds of examining me, she realizes the tearing is more extensive than she can do. She calls in support from a doctor named Kirby. In order to have the best access to stitch me up, I would need to get up and walk over to a stretcher, with legs in stirrups. The nurse takes you to give you to your dad. I tell him to take his shirt off for skin to skin with you to help bond. He feels a little uncomfortable, but he is willing to do whatever is best for you, babe. You lay in his arms, peacefully sleeping for over an hour, as I lay in stirrups. The midwife and doctor describe my tears as “unique” and “creative” - words I probably don’t want to hear ever again. Kirby loses count on the number of stitches, and at one point, takes out some stitches to restitch the same area. I am still filled with endorphins, so the pain feels minimal as I stare at you from across the room, cuddled in your dads' arms. At this point, I need Pitocin, so I am grateful that I changed my mind about my birth plan and received the IV placement. I would be needing 2 IV antibiotics during my stay as well. After a full hour of repairing my complex tears, I could finally be reunited with you.

We were given several hours in the alternative room to bond with you before we were discharged and moved to a standard hospital room. We stayed in the hospital 2 nights to monitor my stitching.


My heart never felt more full than the moment you were born. The intense pain, the IV’s, the stiches, and complete exhaustion were completely worth it. You, baby girl, are worth it. You make your dad and I complete. From the moment you were conceived, you changed our entire world. Here is to all the years to come. We can’t wait for all the adventures.


I Love you,


Mom


Natural Baby Doulas supports families prior to and through the birth process in hospitals, birth centers, and home births located in Greensboro, High Point, Winston Salem, Burlington, Chapel Hill, & Statesville, NC. Contact us at 336-267-5879 or contact@naturalbabydoulas.com 

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