Here I am, 6 weeks deep into motherhood with two children under two! I’ve had intentions of sharing Kinsley’s birth story with you way sooner, but y’all, finding time for yourself is hard to do these days! So without further ado..embrace your seats and grab a warm drink because this has turned into a small book. And fair warning, it’s graphic so move on along if you aren’t into that sort of thing. Writing down the full story in detail is special to me to have to look back on. 🖤
T H E B A C K S T O R Y:
Though there were some similarities, this pregnancy felt polar opposite to my pregnancy with Owen. I had very minimal swelling this round until the very last week or two, but with Owen I was a blimp the entire time. I never had one repeated craving with Owen, just random little cravings that would pop up – but I craved strawberries this pregnancy like it was my job (I legit ate two of the BIG boxes in one day.. multiple times). I also was sick pretty much the entire pregnancy this time which was one of the reasons I felt like it was going to be a girl. With Owen my sickness stopped around 14 weeks. Another big difference was my labor and delivery. Talk about two totally different stories! With Owen, my water broke out of no where at the end of my 36th week, and he was delivered the day he turned 37 weeks. It was a peaceful, calm labor and an easy, quick delivery. I labored naturally for about 12 hours, and then got an epidural and delivered Owen 6 hours later after a 2+ hour nap and an hour of pushing. You can read his full birth story here.
This pregnancy I had been in paaaaain for weeks. Kinsley was consistently measuring on the bigger size, mixed with an on again off again expected marginal cord insertion, which landed us with lots of Maternal Fetal Medicine visits for regular ultrasounds and non-stress tests. I started having the normal trouble breathing/walking, etc starting around 28-30 weeks. I started having contractions right around the same time, and they started to feel less like Braxton hicks and more like the real deal around 34/35 weeks. Since I delivered Owen at 37 weeks, my OB was expecting me to deliver around the same time with this pregnancy. So the entire time I had 37 weeks in my head as my “just get to this date” marker.
For weeks, I had my bags packed and was prepared to go into labor at any moment. I had contractions that would get down to 5-6 minutes apart, sometimes even 4 minutes apart, and last for 40 seconds to a minute long but after 20-30 minutes they would fizzle out and go to 10 minutes apart. Often if I’d lay down in bed they would slow down/stop (even though my body was still aching and completely uncomfortable). The contractions were coming but just not strongly enough. I kept making sure to drink a ton of water in case I was just dehydrated but no matter how much I would drink, the contractions would keep coming off and on. Every time I would go to an OB appt a nurse or office assistant would say “YOU’RE HERE!?”, “I can’t believe you haven’t had her yet!”.. etc. Friends would always ask “do you feel like it’s going to be soon?” and I’d always say “I literally feel like it could be any day now, I’m just waiting on her..” – every day was a guessing/waiting game. With Owen, I was having Braxton hicks but had no clue what real contractions felt like or that I would deliver him early, so it took me completely off guard when my water broke because I wasn’t feeling like I was close (though I do remember feeling ready). This time around I found myself waiting and expecting it and knowing that I was having contractions.
As we approached 37 weeks, because we had a marginal insertion that they thought healed itself but weren’t 100% sure on (mixed with baby’s expected size) they wanted to induce me between 38-39 weeks. They for sure didn’t want to let me go past 39 weeks, as long as my body was dilated and ready. Once the induction was laid out on the table, the end game got real and I started pulling out all the tricks. The birth ball, walking, cleaning, nesting, raspberry leaf tea, even sex you guys – yep. You name it, I did it. The thought of being induced was foreign to me and honestly kind of scary. My whole pregnancy I was so paranoid that she would be too big to push out and worried that she would get stuck or that I’d end up in an emergency c-section. I just wanted my body to do it’s thing on it’s own because I loved my experience with Owen’s birth and I wanted to let this girl come on her own timing – even though I was begging the good Lord to let her timing be earlier rather than later.
The weekend that we hit 37 weeks, I thought my water might’ve broken that Sunday because it felt different from the typical “oops, I wet myself again” moments. When my water broke with Owen, I had a small trickle and then a huge gush so there was no denying that my water had broken with him. But I heard that it can be different every pregnancy and might not be a huge gush again, so after an hour of debating, Caleb and I decided to head into triage and just have them check so that I could rest easy and know either way. Well.. turns out I just peed myself. BUT. While in triage I was having contractions and the nurse wanted to monitor them for a bit. After an hour of being on the monitor’s, she told me she definitely didn’t think I’d be making it to 39 weeks, but that I needed to get the contractions more consistently intense. So, home we went! I walked and cleaned and was on my feet as much as possible. I bounced on that dang birth ball every chance I got! When 37 weeks came and went, I began to feel super bummed that our little miss hadn’t come yet. My OB told me they would be checking my cervix at 38 weeks, so I was eager to get to that appointment. I hit a new week every Saturday, and my upcoming 38 week appointment was set for Wednesday.
The weekend I hit 38 weeks, I honestly did not think anything was going to happen that weekend. I’d been having all the same symptoms and contractions that I’d been having and nothing seemed to want to intensify, so Caleb and I made plans for Sunday to do some moving. Oh yeah, in case you didn’t already know, we did an addition/renovation on our home this Summer and wound up moving in with my parents September 1st because our basement (which is what we’d been living out of) flooded! Beginning of October we began to approach the end of our house renovations and needed to start making plans for moving back. I started feeling so stressed out over which would come first – the move or the baby. Initially I wanted to be moved back home before the baby came, but pretty quickly God changed my attitude and heart on that and I REALLY wanted to have her before we moved back home. Here’s why: 1) I didn’t want to even try to tackle moving and organizing and all that jazz with my huge bump and breathless body; 2) Owen had already been through so many adjustments with the renovations and moving, I didn’t want to move again just as he finally got settled into living at my parents and then spring a new baby on him all within a weeks time; 3) our home is about 35-40 minutes from the hospital and our OB when there is traffic, but it’s only like 10 minutes from my parents. So for all of the weekly visits we were having this wound up being such a life saver. And 4) living at my parents was SUCH a blessing for Owen and this mama. All the extra helping hands when it came to needing babysitters, cooking, laundry and people to play with and love on Owen so I could easily grab showers and rest. I knew that this would be such a big help when we brought baby sister home, so he wouldn’t go from having constant attention in a full house to little/no attention at times back at home with just me and Caleb and a newborn.
So anyway, since things were getting down to the wire, and things weren’t really happening with the pregnancy, we thought we might be making the move home before we’d welcome our sweet girl into the world. We got together a list of helpers/friends and coordinated a schedule for Sunday the 14th to move some things back home out of storage. We also needed to clear out our living room/kitchen area so that the cleaners could come and clean so that we could make the big move back home. Saturday night we went out to dinner with Caleb’s family, and his sister Danielle joked and said “watch you have her this weekend while I’m traveling”.. (she was going on a work trip to Las Vegas the 14th-17th). I assured her that nothing was going to happen with how I was feeling. After we got home to my parents, we watched a movie with my family and decided to let Owen stay up late for a movie night. We ate popcorn and enjoyed watching him run around excitedly to Jurassic World (I know, great movie choice for a 22 month old – but thankfully he loved it). We’d been making it a point to spend as much time as possible with him, doing special little things since we never knew when our last night as just the three of us would be. I started to feel super uncomfortable and worn out from the day, so I laid out on my side on the couch. Owen was climbing and playing and wound up falling on top of me. It wasn’t hard enough to scare me about any trauma to the baby or anything, but it got me thinking about the last time I had even felt any fetal movement that day. When I came to think of it, I couldn’t remember feeling any movement that day at all. It was 10pm, and I started feeling a little freaked out, especially after reading some horror stories on google (ohhh, google). I decided to do some at home tricks to try and get our girl moving again. Jumping jacks, laying in certain positions, drinking orange juice and eating all the sugary things. But nothing was working! We started to debate if we should go into triage or not. I kept putting it off because I had a feeling she would move eventually, but then the thought of “but what if” kept creeping in. Finally around 12am we decided to jump in the van and head over to Womens and Babies triage. As we pulled into the parking lot I felt a roll/turn in my tummy. The lil stinker moved. But we decided to go in anyway since we were already there just to make sure everything was alright. I got two super energetic, bubbly nurses who were about my age, and I remember telling Caleb they were just a little too much for me that night. I was so over being pregnant and sore and tired and irritable and was still having inconsistent but annoying contractions. But the nurses were seriously the sweetest things and kept telling me that I made the right decision to come in and after monitoring me they assured me that my baby was healthy and happy and that we were good to head home. We got home around 1:30am, and to bed around 2am.
L A B O R / D E L I V E R Y:
I woke up at 4am to sharp pain in my back and in my stomach. All over. I can still feel my eyes popping open wide and my brain racing, wondering if I just had to poop really bad or if these were the real deal. I tried to ignore them and fall back asleep since that’s what had been happening with any other contractions I’d had in the weeks leading up to this. Nope. I couldn’t fall back asleep. Because right off the bat, the pain was coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting 30 seconds to 1:37 seconds. I got up and went to the bathroom and my body started to detox itself. I quickly knew these were contractions, but was hesitant to believe I was in labor. I got back into bed and started tracking the contractions at 4:36am, and was unable to talk or walk through the contractions right away.
While laying in bed I began texting my doula (Meghan of village birth collective) to let her know that I thought I was in labor and was probably going to go into triage in the morning. She encouraged me to try laying in different positions and to drink a tall glass of water to ensure that the contractions wouldn’t fizzle out. I remember things getting more and more intense just minutes apart, and each response back to her saying “I think I might be in labor” to “I’m definitely in labor” and eventually “my water broke!”. I went from questioning if I was going to go into triage, to deciding when I would go into triage, all within a matter of minutes. I was so worried that this baby was going to come quick and that I wouldn’t get a chance to have the epidural. Everyone tells you the second comes way quicker and easier! And judging by the labor I was having, they weren’t kidding. With Owen it took me hours to get into the type of contractions I woke up to this time around, right off the bat. We made a plan for me to try and stick it out at home and head in around 6/7am. Caleb was sleeping beside me but quickly realized I was in labor and jumped up into action. Around 5am I leaned over the bed and had Caleb start massaging my back and pressing/holding my hips together and up (something our doula taught us through my labor with Owen). We called up to my mom and let them know what was happening, and by the time she came downstairs to help us get our bags and last minute things together I was yelling through contractions and hunched over anything I could lean against, trying to breath and stay calm. This was something I just wasn’t used to! In my labor with Owen, my water broke first and then I had to work for hours to get contractions to start and get consistent. It felt so exciting for my labor to have just started so easily/out of no where.
I also started calling/texting a list of friends who are photographers that I had on call to photograph my labor and delivery for me. One of my great friends Andrea was the go to for this as long as we didn’t go into labor on a day that she was photographing a wedding. I remember feeling SO excited because she had a wedding that Friday and Saturday, but it was now Sunday AM and I knew she would be free and make it in! I couldn’t get ahold of her, so I kept asking Caleb to make sure to keep trying her husband, Brent. Here’s the thing, you’d think being a photographer myself it would be easy to lock in a birth photographer. But being that most all my connections in the business shoot weddings, it was close to impossible to guarantee that someone would be there. It all just depended on when I would go into labor and if they were working a wedding or not. So I had a list of 7 “back ups” on call.
Around 5:30 or 6:00am as I was contracting and packing, my water broke with a big gush. I was crying and saying “my water broke, my water broke” and shook with excitement and nervousness. It was so surreal how quickly it all came on. My sister helped me change my underwear and got me a huge pad. My mom grabbed beach towels for my seat for our drive into the hospital. Things just got even more intense and I remember hearing my moms sense of emergency and hearing Caleb and my family saying things like “she isn’t going to make it to the hospital! What if the baby comes here!? You need to get to the hospital!.. Meg, there’s no time for that!” as I was trying to fix my hair and makeup through contractions – HA. I was just so head strong that I needed to make sure I had all of my necessities like my shower things and makeup up, etc packed and everything in order. I was so out of it. My family got all of our bags out the door as my mom and Caleb each held onto an arm and helped “carry” me up the stairs and to the front door. On our way out, I just remember grabbing my hot irons and laughing/crying telling my mom that I needed them and begging her to bring them with her in her bag and to not forget them. I honestly have no clue why because I didn’t use them once, HAHA. I had one last contraction standing in the front door of my parents house, leaning against my dad as he embraced me with a hug and a kiss on the forehead and he said “you can do this sweetie”. (I’m not sobbing, you’re sobbing).
Caleb was awesome and got my labor playlist on in the car right away. He drove like a man on a mission and I was so thankful. He rubbed my legs and back through contractions and encouraged me with sweet words. He prayed over me and the baby and for our labor and delivery. I kept asking him to call Brent and to make sure he got ahold of someone for photos. I forget when, but we would up getting ahold of Brent and it sounded like Andrea would be heading in! When we got to the hospital, I was crouched over waddling in, leaning onto Caleb and yelling/moaning in pain. The front desk waved us to keep going and didn’t want to make us stop to sign in – bless them. They took me straight to a room in triage and got me into a gown (sometime around 7am). They checked my cervix as soon as I was able to get up on to the table in between contractions (laying down was the worst – all I wanted to do was stand/lean over). The nurse couldn’t find my cervix at first and I remember thinking “it HAS to be there”. She said it was up higher than most (something that was never an issue with my pregnancy with Owen). She excitedly announced to the room that I was 5cm and that I’d probably have this baby by lunch! I just remember thinking “holy smokes, it’s only been 3 hours in labor and I’m already at 5cm!?”… I was so worried I wouldn’t get the epidural in time. But I was determined to hold off until a photographer got there so that I could get some laboring photos. My doula got there as we were in triage and walked over to our labor and delivery room with us. I had 1 or 2 contractions in the wheelchair on the way over. My family (dad, mom and sister) were there waiting and came back to our room as soon as we got admitted/settled. I had prepped my sister with my camera gear a few days prior in case my list of birth photographers failed me (having a baby during peak wedding season proved to be quite difficult because most all the photographers were busy or out of town). Breanna started photographing for us right away and my stress over the photographer situation immediately felt at ease. Caleb got ahold of Brent again and we learned that Andrea wouldn’t be able to make it in after all, but another photographer friend Kari was available and willing to come in for us. At this point, my body was shot. I was running on 2 hours of poor sleep and having crazy intense contractions. I bounced on the birth ball for a little and labored around the room as I had an internal battle about when to get the epidural and if I should have Kari come in or just have Bre continue to ride it out.
My doula Meghan is so stinking amazing. I could sing her praises from the rooftops. And if you’re curious as to why a doula makes a difference, read on and you will see why.
I got in the shower to try and hold myself off from the epidural a little longer. I washed my body in the stuff they give you to sterilize in case you’d need a c-section, and then sat on the seat for the rest of the shower while Caleb ran the hose over my back, boobs, lower stomach and “down there” region through contractions. That water pressure y’all. Nothing beats it.
After my shower, we were guessing I was at least 6cm by this point, maybe more and since it was close to 9-10am, being told I’d most likely not go past lunch without having this baby, I decided to get the epidural. I felt bad because I wanted to labor naturally as much as possible, but also thought I was basically at the end of the journey and was just so beat. I was ready for some rest before it came time to push. I also decided to have Breanna remain the birth photographer since she was doing such a good job with it and was going to be there anyway! Since I thought I was so close to the end, I didn’t want to pay all the $$$ for the tail end of things when I already had someone there getting professional photos. I honestly thought things were progressing so quickly and worried it would all be over by the time Kari could get in to us. They called to let the anesthesiologist know I was ready and had me get back on the table to check me one more time. The first nurse who tried to check my cervix this time once again couldn’t find it. She also acted kind of off and weird about something and said she wanted to get another nurse with longer fingers in to check. The nurse she got was super nice but also pretty “hard” looking and had a brash personality. She also had long fake finger nails which is super unpleasant for the mama whose cervix you’re checking. -_-
She checked my cervix (super intrusively) and said “yeah.. you’re only 2-3cm” and walked away just like that. My stomach sunk. Like.. WUT. They told me that because my cervix was up so high with this baby the initial nurse must’ve mis-felt how far I was dilated. I think I cried. Now I wanted to continue to labor naturally but was so done and was already in the head space that rest was only moments away. Physically and emotionally I just couldn’t get myself back to where I needed to be to tackle hours more of natural labor. The nurse assured me that things were progressing nicely and kept saying I was going to meet this baby before it was dark outside. My OB came in and encouraged me to get some pitocin to help move things along. My water had only been broken for a couple of hours at this piont so there was no rush or need for pitocin. I’ve heard way too many stories of pitocin having ill effects on the outcome of a delivery and I was too paranoid about an emergency c section. I also refused the pitocin during my labor with Owen and had my ideal outcome all thanks to the help and knowledge of my doula. So, I declined the pitocin and stuck to my birth plan and let my body do it’s work. I decided to go through with the epidural after they assured me it wouldn’t slow things down at this point.
I got the epidural and man, what a relief. I felt like a total new women. I was able to talk and laugh and joke and BREATHE. The guy who gave me my epidural was also amazing and so great to work with. He was so skilled and calmed every worry of mine. After probably 30 minutes or so of talking and watching TV, I decided to have my doula and family leave the room for a bit so Caleb and I could take a nap. They had me sleep on my side to let the epidural drain and work its way out evenly, with a peanut ball in between my legs to open my pelvic region. We probably slept for 2 or more hours, and then I woke up and had everyone come back in. It was just after lunch. It was a calm, chill vibe in the room. We watched TV, and I ate gross jello while Caleb ate delicious smelling french fries. I remember my body was shaking intensely from the epidural which they say is super normal. They call them the labor shakes. I continued to rotate which side I laid on to keep the epidural even throughout my body. It’s funny because at this point any care as to what I looked like had gone out the window. I missed Owen dearly, who spent the day with my sister’s boyfriend, Skyler. We had originally planned to take Owen to Oregon Dairy for their pumpkin patch and hayride for some family time Sunday morning but our sweet girl changed those plans! I was bummed that didn’t pan out, but Sky came to the rescue and still took Owen with our neighbor friends Jeff, Darcy and Addie and they sent us the cutest photos of Owen + Addie kissing on a hay bail. I kept asking how Owen was doing because this was his first time spending a full day (from the time he woke up to the time he went to bed) without any one of my family members present. Sky and him are buddies though and had a great day together and Owen didn’t seem affected by things going on. Such an answer to prayer.
I got so hot at one point so I had the nurse turn down the temperature in the room. Everyone in the room was freezing except for me. #sorrynotsorry
At some point I got on instagram, saw an ad for a phone case I really wanted, asked Caleb if he got me a phone case for my birthday yet (which was 3 days away), he laughed and said no and agreed that I could get the case I was looking at. HAHAHAH. I can’t with myself. Like, who online shops during their labor!? Looking back I crack up over how out of it I was. We face timed Owen and got to talk to him a little bit while he was eating lunch. Mid face time the peanut ball between my legs began to become extremely uncomfortable and I started to feel a lot of pressure EVERYWHERE. I told Caleb to take the phone away because I didn’t want Owen to see me in pain.
I started to feel contractions more intensely, I felt pressure in my nether regions, and out of no where I got an unexplainably awful pain in my back. It was like a charley-horse and a knife stabbing/twisting all at once. And guys, it wouldn’t go away. It took my breath away. I immediately felt like I was back in labor and not on an epidural. My nurse didn’t want to let me press the epidural button for a little boost because she was worried I wouldn’t be able to push effectively since they thought I was nearing time to push. I think they thought this because of the pain I was in + because I kept saying I felt a lot of pressure and like I had to poop.
Because baby K was measuring bigger, they wanted to make sure I was able to feel the pressure to push effectively + steer clear of a c section or bad tearing. They kept reassuring me that it was good I was feeling pressure and that the epidural isn’t supposed to take away ALL of the feelings, because you need to be able to listen to your body and know when to push. But I’d been through a birth and an epidural before, and I knew something wasn’t right. It got so intense that I started crying that I couldn’t breath. I knew my body was in an amount of pain that it shouldn’t be in and that it wasn’t going to help me push better. If anything, it felt like it was going to hinder me.
Somewhere in there, I had my cervix checked again and was told I was at 6cm. YAAAS. It felt so amazing to hear I had much progress and was that much closer to meeting my baby girl and being done with this labor. My OB again tried to offer me pitocin to help move things along because of the pain that I was in. My body was doing what it needed to do, it was progressing perfectly. But pitocin would create extremely consistent contractions that might’ve sped up the process. I was so annoyed because it felt like my victory of getting to 6cm was being robbed! I declined, again.
Finally after what felt like hours of laboring through terrible contractions and back pain, they let me start hitting my epidural button. It didn’t provide relief at all. They called in the anesthesiologist to give me a bolus (a second little booster to my epidural). He checked my back and found that the pain in my back was surrounding the epidural site, so I began to worry that something was going wrong with it. I’ve read google you guys; I’ve heard the horror stories of girls going paralyzed. I was determined to be proactive. This pain was debilitating. So much so that I was sobbing through it, and having to breath and rely on my doula and family to help coach me and pull me through. After the bolus the pain went away for maybe an hour. But that bolus wore off so much quicker than it had when I first got the epidural. The anesthesiologist was very proactive on keeping a close eye on it for me and assured me that everything looked normal but that all he could do from here was remove the epidural if I’d like him to. He and the nurses thought that maybe our baby girl was facing the wrong way and causing extreme back labor. He explained to me that an epidural cannot wear off, otherwise there is no way I would be laying on that bed with the intense contractions that were showing up on the monitor. When they give you the epidural, they add a bolus on top of it so you feel like you’re floating on cloud 9 and don’t feel a freaking thing. Once that bolus wears off, you plateau and thats where they like to leave you so that you can still feel pressure when it comes time to push. Typically with this, you will still feel things, but it’s still masking the extremity of it. I got to the point were I could feel and move my legs and was so paranoid that the epidural had worn off. The nurse routinely checked and assured me that the epidural was still doing it’s job. She’d wipe my legs with a cold, wet towel at different spots from my belly down to my toes. And even though I could “feel” and move my legs, when she’d touch past a certain point on my belly I could feel the cloth, but I couldn’t feel the temperature of it. So this meant the epidural indeed hadn’t worn off. The thought of pushing without the epidural or experiencing any higher amount of labor pain than I was currently experiencing terrified me so I decided to let the epidural in as long as they thought it all looked okay. I think maybe I was in so much more pain with this epidural because baby K was bigger than Owen was, so everything felt different and more intense. I went into it expecting to feel exactly like I had with Owen during that epidural.
(I’m still to this day unsure of WHY I experienced the extreme pain I did from that point on in my labor. Maybe it’s because baby K was way bigger than Owen was, maybe it’s because I was only on the epidural for like half the time during my labor with Owen, and being on it so much longer this time had a weird effect on me? Who knows. She did twist when she came out so she was kind of facing the wrong way which definitely gave me terrible back labor. But still to this day, certain times and ways that I bend over I am experiencing a sharp, throbbing/shooting pain at the exact spot that gave me issues during labor which was right on top of where the epidural was. I also am still having some pressure sensations from the catheter. I have my follow up visit next week and will definitely be looking into this!)
Around 3/3:30pm, my nurse who I’d been with since I was admitted was ending her shift. Low and behold, the new nurse duo I got were the two energetic nurses I had in triage the night before. I definitely did an internal eye roll. What are the odds! Granted, it was kind of neat having them there, following me through the entire journey of this birth and they wound up being super great.
I think I begged for my OB to come in and check my cervix once or twice, determined to be at the end of this labor. My mom fed me an ice pop in between contractions. When my OB did come in around 5pm or so, she said I was about 10cm but that a tiny bit of my cervix was still left. She said she doesn’t normally have people do this, but she offered to let me “trial push” to see if that would get the rest of the cervix moved out of the way. We did that for maybe 5 minutes and she said it wasn’t moving the cervix and again, tried to get me to take pitocin. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. I’m freaking here, at the end of my labor, 10cm and practice pushing, and you want to give me pitocin. Thank you, nexxxxt.
She told me to give it another 30 minutes and that she’d be back to check again. At this point in my labor, I lost all chill. I was crying, screaming, moaning.. the works. My OB came back and had me trail push again for another 3-5 minutes but that little bit of cervix wasn’t budging. I was pushing with all my dang might. I felt so determined. I felt her head RIGHT there. In all of it’s massive, pressure filled glory. I kept saying that I felt like I had to poop. Literally, it felt like I had to take the biggest dump of my life. But nothing was happening and I think I went delirious. When I declined the pitocin (yep, again) through tears my OB got kind of short with me and said something to the extent of “well Meagan, there’s nothing else we can do .. if you won’t take the pitocin we’re going to have to give it another hour..” and thats all that I heard before she left the room. An HOUR. There was no way. I felt like I was dying. There was absolutely no way I could’ve waited another hour.
By this point I was rolling around in pain and gasping for air. I kind of started to panic. I was getting MAYBE a couple of seconds of rest in between contractions, and even during that rest the pain in my back was absolutely horrifying. I yelled out and begged for a c section. I just remember feeling like I was looking outside of my body and heard myself saying “I can’t do this..I need a c section.. please give me a c section.. I can’t breath.. something isn’t right..” – The nurses, bless their hearts, kept telling me to breath through it, but that was a sick joke. I felt my mom lean in with her hand on my head, tears running down her face and praying into my ear. My mama; she just gets me. My body impulsively and uncontrollably started pushing. There was no holding it back. Her head was there with force and it felt huge. The nurses kept saying “stop pushing! Breath through it!” but I couldn’t. It’s like this little girl was involuntarily coming. I felt her coming out. I told them she was coming out and they wouldn’t listen. They didn’t want me to push because of the cervix that was left, they were scared I would tear badly. I heard them whispering and debating if it looked like the cervix had moved at all. It had only been a few minutes since my OB had left and gave me the dooming one hour wait. I remember looking up and seeing Caleb through slitted eyes as I half pushed, half breathed through the hell that was happening to me. I heard the nurse say “good job” when I managed to breath through 1 or 2 of the contractions instead of pushing. I truly felt like I didn’t know how I was going to make it through.
My doula and nurses asked if I would turn onto all fours. I didn’t know this, but my sister informed me afterwards that apparently in the background, my doula was encouraging my nurses to turn me onto all fours to let gravity do it’s thing so that I wouldn’t have to wait an hour to have this baby. She was telling them that the gravity would most likely move the cervix out of the way. They were hesitant and not fully listening, but my sister took charge and went up to them and said “we’re turning her”.. ha! Thank God for my family and doula. They got me on all fours and simultaneously I felt my baby girl coming. The pushing took over and within minutes of kneeling on all fours on the bed everyone started screaming and crying with excitement because they could see her crowning. At some point I laid on my side and held onto my leg and after a push I felt my nurse slap her hand on my vagina and say “MEAGAN! DON’T PUSH! HER HEAD IS OUT!” .. they all started assuring me that her head was crowning and that they needed to get the OB.
My family was jumping up and down and for the first time I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. What my OB told me would take an hour, took only 20 minutes thanks to my doula’s help and knowledge.
My OB came flying in nearly right away (although it felt like so much longer as I kneeled on the bed with my babies head coming out), and she had me push once, then asked me if I could lay on my back. As soon as I was on my back, I pushed for maybe 2-3 minutes then felt a huge release of relief and heard the sweet cry of my baby girl. Kinlsey Mae Keller was born at 6:46pm, just after dark. She weighed in at 8lbs, 3oz and 20inches long. They laid her on my chest and I felt a mixture of awe, relief, disbelief, and exhaustion.Minutes after I gave one long, good push and my placenta was delivered. With Owen, my placenta got stuck for an hour and I was minutes away from needing to have it surgically removed. So as soon as my placenta came out, I let out a cry of joy! My Jesus. He had me in His hands. Through tears of happiness and a flood of photos and excitement, my OB told me she was going to check around down there for tearing/stitches. She excitedly announced that I did not tear, I only had a few “brush burns” and that I did not need stitches. I exclaimed “THANK YOU JESUS!!! AMEN!”…followed with “I am so glad that I never have to do this again”. HA. I had never felt so thankful in my life. They joked that I didn’t tear because she came flying out so quickly. Though my labor was grueling, the delivery was AMAZING. A three minute delivery, no complications with my placenta and no stitches or tears. Oh Jesus, you’re so good.
They got the epidural out of me right away and that felt so amazing. My OB inspected the placenta and said that she had never seen such pronounced veins (the “tree of life”) in a placenta before. This was a huge testament because we had so many prayer warriors speaking life and praying for an abundance of blood flow and oxygen over our precious girl when we got the news of the marginal cord insertion and the potential risks that come with it. While looking over the placenta, they told us that it turned out that we actually DID have a marginal cord insertion (which is when the umbilical cord is attached to the placenta off center). It was fascinating to see and hear since they were sure it had resolved itself at our recent ultrasounds. Talk about the goodness of God’s grace and protection.
The wives tale rang true – my second DID come quicker then my first. Though I definitely wouldn’t say it was easier. The labor was cut down by 4 or so hours and my delivery was cut down by basically 55 minutes.
My nurses told me that they didn’t want to say anything the night before in triage for fear of getting my hopes up, but often times low fetal movement that close to the due date can be a sign that you’re about to go into labor because the baby is lodged that far down, so you start to feel less. Who knew!
The nurse wanted to cath me again (I’d had the catheter all through out the day and was so over it). I could tell I had to pee and practically begged for her to let me stand up and go myself. After some debating, she agreed and I was ecstatic. They had to keep me waiting to take care of precautionary measures in case of falling (from the epidural) and I had to go so bad I thought I was going to pee myself. I practically ran to the bathroom and all the nurses were laughing and making comments that I was right about knowing I could do it on my own.
Caleb’s parents came just after she was born and we spent the rest of the evening surrounded by both of our families and soaking in our little girl. I was starving so my dad and sister ran and got me a sub from subway just before they closed. It felt like the best meal of my life. Our families helped Caleb unload our car and get things to our room and then we spent the rest of the night just the three of us.
Owen met his sister the next morning and went up and gave her a kiss right away. We had them exchange gifts to one another (a stuffed animal from him to her, and a tractor toy from her to him). He did so well with it! As soon as he decided he was done sharing the attention though he laid flat on the floor and wanted nothing more to do with Kinlsey for the rest of the visit. Little turkey.
And now, here we are! It’s a beautiful, messy journey that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Kinsley is now 11lbs and is already in 3-6 month clothing and size 2 diapers. She’s a great nurser and sleeper, eating every 3 hours and giving us 3-4 hour stretches at night (sometimes more!). She truly only lets out big cries if she’s hungry or as of today, when she has a crazy big blow out. Owen is adapting to being a big brother so well and loves checking in on Kins; he’s constantly kissing her and helping her find her paci. I love watching their bond grow. I’ve been healing well and feel like I bounced back physically/emotionally pretty quickly. Though that could be because I’ve got a speedy toddler on my hands that I’ve got to keep up with. But so far, adjusting to life with two has been all sorts magical and feels pretty natural. I am so blessed to have my arms and heart so full. We are officially moved back into our own home and loving life as a family of four.
Now that I’ve finally gotten this published, I’m planning to not be so silent in the blogging world! I’ve got some super fun collaborations coming up that I’ll be sharing on here as well as a house tour of our renovations/addition and other fun lifestyle things! Stay tuned friends. 🙂
XO | Meagan
*PS – A huge shout out and thank you to my sister Breanna for taking these images. She freaking rocked it and I am so impressed + in love with these photographs.
I am so excited to be sharing this birth with you all. Birth photography is something I am going to be sharing more and more of here. I fell in love with as I was pregnant with my son, Owen. I began following a lot of mama blogs + IG accounts and the realness that mother’s were showing encaptured me. Women often say to me, “why would I want to look back and remember that!?”… I think what I love about it is that it’s REAL. It’s not posed. It can’t be! Each story is it’s own and is completely perfect in it’s own way because it cannot be imitated or re-created. It’s YOUR story. A lot of moms will say that they don’t even remember half of their labor because they were so out of it and that I captured moments they wouldn’t have even knew had happened, especially as the years go past. This is such a huge event in your life! Whether you keep it for your own eyes or choose to share it with others close to you. People are often worried that it’ll ruin the intimacy of the labor or take away from their privacy or experience. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Your labor and delivery will always remain sacred and intimate as my goal is just to be a fly on the wall and non-intrusive. You don’t even know I’m there. 🙂
People have been asking me why I chose to pursue this and the truth is I just love it all – the faces, the blood of a miracle coming into this earth, the stretch marks, the undone hair, the sweat, the way a women conquers something she never knew she could, the nurses/family/team that cheer you on, the honest embraces and euphqorical moments. You guys, there is beauty in the real. In the untouched, un-posed and un-styled. Coming from photographing weddings were everything is about perfection and trends and being styled with expectations, which don’t get me wrong, I still do love! But there is just something about the honesty there is in birth photography.
I immediately knew I wanted my own labor and birth photographed. There is something so beautiful in those raw, empowering moments. The female body you guys – it’s no joke. It deserves a freaking medal! After giving birth to our first child Owen, over the course of the late nights + long, sleepy days, I often went back to our birth photos to relive that best moment of my life. The hours that I conquered, the moment I heard Owen’s sweet little cry for the first time and saw his scrunched up, cute little face; when his skin touched mine and his little finger wrapped around my husband’s hand. That moment in time that my husband and I had never felt so connected and in love. To this day I take trips down memory lane with our birth images, and they take me right back to those moments that I never want to forget. Especially the ones that I was too out of it to even realize had happened – like my husbands face as I labored, his hands supporting me, my mom reading scripture over me, the time on the clock as I approached each stage of labor, my doula coaching us and praying over us, the steam from the oils diffusing across the dimmed lights and worship music playing. Each image takes me right back and I love that I’ll have those forever as my baby grows and becomes a man. I love that I have those images to share with him and his babies some day.
I am so honored that Austin and Sarah allowed me to document their birth story for them and share some of it with all of you. I’ve been building my portfolio this year with 4 birth’s (two photographed, two to come). I’m slowly working on getting together a pricing package + adding a portfolio on this site of mine! My plan is to book 1-2 births a month in 2019 once I am off of maternity leave. I cannot wait to see where this journey goes!
Sarah is wonder women. In fact, I think I told her that multiple times through her labor! She smiled, laughed, and embodied patience, strength and serenity through out the entire natural labor and delivery. Even once she hit transition and was into the thick of it, she seemed so peaceful! Austin was the best support, constantly encouraging her, running water over her back through the contractions, holding her tight or helping her stand, whatever she needed he was there. The two created such a beautiful, spiritual, love filled environment kissing one another and holding onto one another through the early morning. Sarah’s mother also was there so help her through labor and rub her back and help the couple however they needed. Sarah labored in the water for most of her time, but she was able to catch some rest in the bed for a little bit, as well as use the shower for some water pressure and rock on a birthing ball. After all of her hard work, she delivered a precious little girl – Austynn Serene, who has the fullest head of brown hair.
XO | Meagan
* I do not share anything without permission and am selective about what I share publicly out of respect for my clients. There are no obligations to share your birth images through my contract.
As a photographer, it was so important to me to document this time in our lives. Most of my clients know I was expecting our little bundle of joy this January, but he decided to come 3 weeks early, right on the last day of 2016!!! I thought it would be fun to post an update for those of you who have been following along. I will be on maternity leave loving on this snuggle bug through April, 2017. Until then, enjoy a bit of my personal life and our birth story! The story and images below could be considered “graphic”. You’ve been warned. 😉
The Back Story:
When Caleb and I found out we were pregnant, I immediately had a few things off hand that were important to me with labor/delivery. You could say I’d been excitedly waiting for this moment in my life! I talked to so many different people and friends and read and researched about so many different birth options and experiences, which really helped Caleb and I to confirm what we’d hope our birth experience would look like. It was super important to me to get a “natural” laboring experience. I was not against an epidural at all, however I really wanted to have the emotional/bonding moments with Caleb while I labored naturally (a birth ball, the shower/jacuzzi, walking the halls, etc). Let me start by saying I am not one to be super all organic/hollistic and new age-ish, though I do try to opt for the healthier options and have an appreciation for organics/natural lifestyles. After seeing and reviewing the differences in medicated births compared to more natural births, there was no question in Caleb or my mind what route we wanted to try for. I’ve never broken a bone and truly just had no idea what my real pain tolerance would be. The scariest thing I’ve ever done was get my nose pierced or my wisdom teeth out! I was super anxious just to see how far my body could take me and what my body could do. If the contractions were bearable, why get an epidural? I’d heard that at times that can slow labor down or even hault things, and cause a need for medical induction. Another main reason for me to put off an epidural for as long as possible was so that I wouldn’t be stuck in a bed. Once you get an epidural, you’re in that bed until you deliver your babe! The natural labor options + the baller photos I would walk away with totally motivated me in this decision and I’m not even ashamed of it, ha! I knew I had booked and paid for a great birth/support team so I wanted to take full advantage of them.
I really wanted to be able to either labor at home for as long as possible (in hopes that I could make it without the epidural for as long as possible + so that I could avoid being put on the 24 hour clock once admitted to the hospital). A lot of times, once you’re admitted, if you’re not progressing fast enough doctors will push to induce you with Pitocin or push you for a C section (sometimes it’s needed, and if my baby or my health were at risk, I planned to accept the need for medical intervention. But sometimes, there’s really no need for those interventions.) We went into this knowing full well that nothing goes as planned and we were willing to take things as they came and change our plan as needed. Being a photographer, there was no question about hiring a birth photographer to document this life story for us. I had a few friends who have used Elizabeth Parrett and had been anxiously waiting for my turn to ask her to cover my birth. I was so elated that she agreed to shooting our birth story! I also hired Liz’s sister, Meghan Hare as my doula! I can’t express enough how important of a role Meghan played in our birth experience. She filled me with so much knowledge and support. She allowed Caleb and I to plan how we wanted our birth to go without trying to change our minds on things, and made sure to have our backs during delivery when communicating with the doctors and nurses. When you’re laboring, you’re not really thinking clearly and taking time to understand what your options are so it was so helpful to have Meghan there not only as a birth coach helping me to stay calm and breathing and helping Caleb with techniques to use on me, but also because she took the time to explain things to us in terms we’d understand and helped us stick to our birth plan as much as possible. Sometimes the doctors may recommend things that really aren’t necessary and in my case Meghan helped me to not panic and to not just go with what I was told via the doctors. Another reason I hired a doula is so that Caleb would have someone to help him with things once I went into labor. Since I planned to labor at home, Meghan would be on call to help Caleb know what to do to help me while laboring + when we should head into the hospital.
We were originally told our due date would be December 23rd, 2016 but at what we thought was our 12 week ultrasound, our little man was measuring in at 8 weeks old. Our due date was changed to January 20th, 2017 and we began the countdown. God seriously blessed us with such a smooth pregnancy and such a great experience. My only main symptom was intense swelling. Towards the end, my feet, legs, ankles, hands, face, nose.. EVERYTHING was so, so swollen. But luckily everything remained super healthy! There were a few scares with a false mucus plug and high blood pressure that landed us in triage but it always turned out to be nothing. We also had a scare of not feeling a ton of fetal movement which turned out to be because I had an Anterior Placenta, which just means my placenta was placed in front of our baby, so it blocked me from feeling some of his movements. But he was as active as ever. In fact when they pulled him out and saw his umbilical cord my OB said he must have been super active because the cord was super spiraled!
Around Christmas, I began shedding my mucus plug. I could tell because every time I went to the bathroom some of it would come out. For me, this was just a thick, clear, jelly discharge. Some say that you’ll experience the “bloody show” within 2 weeks of shedding this, and go into labor within 24 hours after that, but I’d already lost some of it earlier on in the pregnancy and nothing came of it (it regenerated) so though I was hopeful this was a sign that this was the real deal and that I’d go into labor earlier then our due date, I wasn’t expecting anything too soon. Our OB had said she wouldn’t be surprised if we went 1-2 weeks earlier then our due date, so that’s what I was banking on. I was hopeful that my cervix may at least be dilated to 1cm at our next appt since you can walk around for a few weeks being dilated at 1cm. At my last OB appointment, Wednesday December 28th, my OB checked my cervix and though it was softened, I wasn’t dilated at all. I remember feeling kind of disappointed and worried that I might go to full term, or even worse, go past my due date. Don’t get me wrong I LOVED pregnancy. In fact, I find myself already missing it at times! However the bigger my bump grew, the more uncomfortable/stiff/swollen I felt. Sleeping was impossible so I began to feel pretty fed up and crumby. Especially at the end, I found myself questioning how I could possibly go “one more day like this”. Now I know that’s because I really was right at the end! My family kept saying that my bump had dropped a lot and that they didn’t think I’d make it to our due date, but I didn’t feel like our little guy had physically dropped because he loved to hang out in my rib cage and pushing out in weird oblong ways. I’m realizing now that it probably just felt this way because I literally have zero torso so there was just no where left for him to go. Just having a simple conversation with someone felt like such a challenge because I’d be having to catch my breath (through swollen lips) in between every 3 words. I must’ve been quite the sight.
The week after Christmas I began having pretty bad braxton hicks (which are practice contractions to get your body ready for labor). I’d had them since half way through the pregnancy, but they definitely began to intensify the last week of my pregnancy. My entire abdomen just felt super tight and uncomfortable. I remember having to kneel on my knees and lean over on the couch, letting my bump hang, rocking my hips back and forth while Caleb would rub my back for me at night (when they were the worst). I learned this technique in a birthing class we took at Womens + Babies Hopspital. All that week I felt this urge to get things in order that I planned to put off until the following week (taking down our christmas tree/decorations, getting my taxes in order, putting up a maternity leave auto email response for my clients, etc). I fully believe it was the Lord orchestrating it all because He knew our nugget was on his way into our world.
Thursday evening, December 30th, after visiting Caleb at work and having a totally normal day, the braxton hicks were happening again and I didn’t think much of it. We ate shepherds pie for dinner then went to bed after a few hours of watching netflix like normal. I woke up every hour to pee just like I had been having to do most of the third trimester. At 4:45am I went to the bathroom to pee and while going I felt/heard 3 little pops/cracks. I stopped and thought to myself “Hmm.. that’s odd. I don’t remember ever experiencing that before but it’s probably nothing”. As I started walking back to bed (with a very empty bladder) I felt a tiny gush come out and I stopped mid stride trying to decipher what it was and if I should wake up Caleb, and just then a tiny trickle ran down my leg. I stood there and woke up Caleb saying “Cale.. I think my water just broke!?”.. he shot straight up and said “REALLY!? How do you know??” So I explained what I’d experienced to him and we contemplated whether we should call into triage or go back to bed. FInally we decided we should call triage and talk to our OB just to see what she thought. I remember feeling a growing excitement mixed with terror mixed with complete shock while I climbed back into bed and called her. When I gave her the details, she said she thought it sounded like my water might have broke and that we should take our time, get a quick shower, gather our bags and head into triage. She told us that if it did break we would be admitted right away as there is a risk for infection once your water breaks. I hung up, told Caleb and started shaking with excitement and grinning ear to ear at the possibility. There were no contractions or labor at this point. I felt groggy yet super awake at the same time. I quickly called my mom to tell her what was happening and in between laughter and tears and shock, I stood up out of bed to do a little happy dance and all of a sudden it felt like Niagra Falls was gushing out of me. Caleb was sitting on the edge of the bed watching as water kept pouring out, smiling with excitment and I said “Well, MY WATER DEFINITELY BROKE!”. I remember thinking 1. how lucky I was that I had just stood up and only got it on our hard wood floor (heyo for easy clean up) and 2. how neat it was that it happened while Caleb was there with me and while I was on the phone with my mom. The rest of my mucus plug was laying smack dab in the middle of the puddle. For those who’ve asked, the water and plug were completely clear and scent free. I remember being told that it could be really messy and gross smelling, so I was super glad that wasn’t the case for me and my sweet husband who played the roll of Mr. Clean in this scenario.
Caleb and I immediately went into action, pacing back and forth our bed room getting our things together and stopping time to time to hug and talk about how we couldn’t believe this was happening! Luckily I had all the hospital bags packed for a few weeks, but Caleb finished getting all the last minute things packed (makeup, toiletries, pillows etc) while I got a quick shower. Caleb texted our doula + photographer, and I texted people that I had plans with for that day. Caleb packed me some snacks and gatorade/water, so that I could fuel up before I got admitted to the hospital. Normally, once you’re admitted you get put on a fluids only diet and are limited to only eating things like ice pops and jello. I was so worried my blood sugar would get too low and I’d pass out. The sur-realness and reality hit us all at once. The next time we came home, we’d be coming home with our baby boy. HEART EYES.
It was around 6am when we left the house and the contractions started. I could easily talk/laugh through them but I practiced breathing through them for the harder ones to come. I remembered Meghan telling me how crucial it is to keep your body calm and loose. I turned on worship music and Caleb + I sang together to the playlist, praying over this amazing opportunity we were about to experience. We stopped at my parents house on the way into the hospital to drop off our dog, Kemma. My mom, dad and sister were all awake, waiting for us with excitement waving out the door to grab Kemma so we could be on our way. A contraction hit while I was there and then I had to use the bathroom really bad. A few more gushes of water/amniotic fluid came out. I remember being so confused because I thought that when your water broke it was a once and done thing. I kept saying “it just keeps coming out! Is this normal??”. I was assured it was very normal. Thank goodness for those maxi pads I’d stocked up on for post birth. Around 6:30am we re-started our trek into the hospital. We got admitted to triage sometime around 7:00am, and one of our OB’s came to check me and make sure my water broke. I hadn’t had anymore water leak out yet once I’d arrived in triage, so they swabbed me to test if the fluids were in fact amniotic fluid. Right when she set the test aside to show it’s results (which takes bout 5 minutes), she checked to see if I was dilated and told me I was at 1cm. Immediately another huge gush came out. The OB and nurse began laughing and said “well, I guess we don’t need to wait for the test results anymore.. you’re in fact having this baby!”. I remember being nervous that I’d gross them out and I kept apologizing and they just laughed and said how sweet I was. Caleb and I couldn’t stop beaming from ear to ear. The OB then began to explain the process of how things were going to work over our stay. She explained that if I wouldn’t progress into active labor on my own, we would likely be induced with pitocin because there is a risk of infection once you’re opened up and there is nothing left to protect your baby (typically, you’d go into labor first and then your water would break or you’d have to get your water broken. I remember learning in our birth class of the rarity and odds that your water would break on it’s own, let alone break before you even start contractions/labor). We went over my birth plan, and I asked the OB if they could tell me when my “last call” would be for an epidural. She assured me that there’s really not a last call for it, and that as long as I’m not pushing then I could get one. This helped me feel some comfort about focusing on laboring natural until I just couldn’t handle it anymore, unless I could handle it and stay natural the whole way through. The nurse then took some blood and put an IV port in my arm which made me get faint (not a good sign, I know, haha). There’s just something about needles that get to me! Our doula arrived while we were in triage, and we were lucky enough that they let her come sit back in triage with us. Usually no one can be with you (other then the daddio or your one support person) until you’re admitted into the delivery unit.
Sometime around 8:00am we were admitted to the delivery unit and introduced to our room. I wasn’t put on a liquids diet at first, so my nurse and doula and family encouraged me to eat as much as possible while I still could. I made sure to order things that I knew would be easy on my stomach. Caleb laughs that as my “final meal” I chose bacon. I also got a yogurt parfait and blueberry muffin. Mmm. Our nurse was super nice and went over ground rules with us about the room/where everything was/what everything was, etc. She hooked me up to monitors to get the babies heart rate and monitor my contractions. They hook you up to these monitors intermittently to see how things are progressing (unless you have an epidural then you will be on these monitors the entire time). My contractions were coming sporadically, anywhere from 6-2 minutes apart, and about lasted about 30 seconds to 3 minutes long. Because of the time frame we were put on to get these contractions kicked into high gear (so that things would progress naturally and to avoid induction) I had to get up and moving. Anytime I would lay down in the bed the contractions would kind of fade and not be as strong. I remember feeling so sluggish and tired from being up so early and just wanting to sleep. My dad, mom and sister arrived and sat with us in our room talking and praying and learning about what to expect during our stay. Meghan suggested we start walking to get the contractions moving. Meghan, Caleb and I went for a walk around the hospital halls. Meghan set a goal of 4-5 laps around the delivery unit. We’d make it about half way down a hall and then I would have to stop and lean against the wall to breathe through a contraction. They were definitely getting stronger and more uncomfortable. Caleb + Meghan were so great at soothing and calming me. Caleb would rub my back through the contractions and give me uplifting encouragement while Meghan would keep me focused on breathing by reminding me to relax my eyebrows, then my shoulders, then my butt, then my legs, and work her way down a list, each time adding in a new/different body part or muscle to relax. This was SO HELPFUL. As she’d say a body part I’d literally feel myself let that muscle go loose and continue to breathe “1-2-3-4” in and out. It kept me so calm and s focused. Once I’d feel the contraction lessen, we’d continue on our walk. My photographer Liz arrived when we were on our last lap around the unit, and walked with us back to our room.
The OB who would be with us through deliver came in to check me for the first time since I’d been admitted. Since I’d had to lay down in the bed to get hooked up to the monitors, the contractions seemed to fade out slightly again. My OB said she was concerned that I wasn’t looking uncomfortable enough, so I had yet to hit active labor. Introducing anything into the vagina once your water breaks can cause a risk of infection so they try not to check your cervix too often to keep the risk of infection low. This is why she judged where I was at in labor based off of my comfort level and how I was carrying myself. She was worried that things weren’t progressing and began to “push” the option of pitocin on us. She wanted to get things moving. But we wanted to let it happen naturally as long as things were still looking healthy. My doula ensured me that we were okay to remain on course of our original birth plan, and definitely not at risk for infection yet. She encouraged us to let it go for a few more hours and try some of the techniques I’d wanted to try to see if that got me into active labor. The OB agreed and said she’d be back in about 4 hours to check my progress. We went for a few more laps around the unit, and the contractions began to feel more consistent. When we got back to the room, I used the bathroom (which was the last time I went to the bathroom comfortably). Then I used the birth ball for the first time. Meghan had me bounce up and down on the ball, which helps the babies head to push down on your cervix and continue to loosen it, which should help you dilate. I did this off and on all afternoon until it got too uncomfortable to sit. My family left sometime around lunch soon after I started the birth ball. Shortly after they left, we walked the halls again. After some more birth ball, my contractions began to feel consistent. The OB came back, and she again pushed her desire to start pitocin. She said she could tell I was more uncomfortable but not where she wanted me to be. We had two choices: have the OB check my cervix to see if I’d progressed any further, and if I’d reached 3-4cm then I’d keep going natural for a few more hours and see if I progressed any further, or option two: don’t get checked to limit the risk of infection + start pitocin. Meghan could see my frustration and confusion on what to do. Caleb and I weren’t sure if we should just do what the doctor was encouraging or if we were okay to keep going with our guts. The OB was strongly recommending that I don’t get checked and start pitocin. Meghan recommended that we have the doctors step out of the room so that we could consult on our options and discuss our plan. Reason number 1,000 why I am so happy in my decision to hire a doula. Meghan broke everything down in plain english for me, and told me that since my cervix had only been checked once and since it was only 11am there was no reason to worry about getting checked at this point and recommended I have them check my cervix to see where things are at and if what we’ve been doing has been working. This made me feel so much peace. Thank the Lord for Doula’s. I completely trusted Meghan and knew she wouldn’t recommend anything that wasn’t healthy or smart for my baby and I. We had the nurse and OB come back in and told them we’d like to get checked to see where things were at and then decide if we’d start pitocin or not. Our OB was super understanding and nice and proceeded to check me. I had maybe two contractions while she got ready to check me and I remember her saying something like “Okay.. well I can see things are progressing a bit..”. I remember thinking *YES!*. She checked my cervix which is seriously probably one of the most uncomfortable feelings ever. But considering what I’d be going through with the rest of labor and delivery I sucked it up. The OB was elated to tell me that I’d progressed to somewhere between 2/3cm and that she thought I would be okay to stick to my plan of laboring naturally for another 4 hours and see where that got us. Not even kidding you guys, the minute she was done checking me another gush of water came out and I could feel a tiny shift of things. I’m guessing it was our sweet babies head moving down further. As soon as the OB walked out of the room I had the most intense contraction I’d experienced yet. It was longer and hard. And then another one came, and then another. They kept coming consistently. It got hard fast. After a few hours of this, I decided that I definitely wanted an epidural but that I wasn’t ready for one yet. The nurse explained to me that if I were to get one then, it would halt my labor and would likely end with me having to be induced. I really wanted to steer clear of pitocin because of the side effect’s I’d heard it can have and because I wanted to keep things as natural as my body could do. So onward we went into active labor. I would crunch over any high, stable surface I could find and let my bump hang down. Caleb and Meghan continued to coach me through. At times they took turns, and at times they’d both be helping me. Meghan taught Caleb to squeeze in my hips through a contraction which helped tremendously with back labor. They also took turns using a rolling pin on my back which felt so great. Through every single contraction they would be encouraging me, coaching me and soothing me. Meghan had worship music playing and her essential oil diffuser running which set such a fantastic, calm atmosphere. Caleb kept telling me how great I was doing and how proud of me he was. I picked a winner you guys!
After some time, Meghan recommended that I use the shower. Nipple stimulation helps to progress labor. The showers at Womens and Babies have really good water pressure so running the water over my bump + back through contractions felt really awesome. Caleb stood outside the open shower and ran the water over me while I would breathe through contractions. He was so amazing at coaching me and encouraging me. I literally could not have done it or lasted as long without him. He made me feel so beautiful and empowered. I would hear Meghan encouraging me through the bathroom door, and reminding me to loosen certain muscles. The contractions got so intense that at times nothing felt comfortable. I would try standing up, leaning forward, anything. I’d focus on the water pressure on my back/belly and breathing in and out to the count of four. I stayed sitting for most of the time in the shower, leaning forward on the rest bar. At times I’d moan or say “it hurts, it hurts, it hurts” and cry it out. Caleb, Meghan and Liz kept saying they couldn’t even believe I was in labor because of how calm I was. And bless Meghan + Liz, they sure know how to make a girl feel pretty. I don’t know how often they would compliment me and uplift me. Caleb said I was so much quieter then he expected labor to be. I just remember digging deep and feeling like I turned within myself to focus and conquer. I finally got to the point where I felt like I had enough. I remember telling Caleb I wanted the epidural, and he’d ask me if he should get the nurse to tell her, and then the minute the contraction would end I’d tell him not to get her yet. I remember having to go to the bathroom but not wanting to because I knew a contraction would come and it was so uncomfortable to be sitting through one. I also started feeling a tiny bit of pressure with things progressing down there and was nervous about the babies head being there, haha. At some point I had gotten switched to a liquids only diet, and my birth team did a fantastic job at making sure I stayed hydrated and fueled up. They ordered me some Jello but I only ate about half of the Jello cup. Eating was just the last thing on my mind while laboring.
One of my favorite positions to labor in was called the “slow dance”. I would lean into Caleb’s chest with my arms over his shoulders, allowing my bump to hang down, and swing slowly back and forth. Caleb would whisper encouragement in my ear and rub my back while he held me and rocked with me. This was one of the most special moments in laboring for me. The exact reasons laboring naturally was so important to me. I loved getting to depend on my husband, and have him coach and help me. It was such a neat way to have him involved while providing a crazy-amazing bonding experience. I used this technique all through out the day. And towards the end of my natural labor, this was the only position I used. At times it felt like my body was giving out and I was collapsing into him. I could hear conversations and comments being said around me but everything felt and sounded hazy, like I was in my own world.
I always thought it must feel like an eternity that you’re in labor, especially when you her of those stories of labor going beyond 24 hours. But time literally was lost on me. It felt like each time the nurse would come back in to check on me and the babies heart/contractions, hour’s had past by and I was amazed at how fast the day was going. I had two nurses, the first nurse ended her shift at 3:30pm, and then the second nurse was with me through delivery. They both were so, so sweet. It felt like they were long time family friends. They’d refer to me as “mama” and sit with me or talk with me and encourage me and answer any questions I had and were super respectful of our doula. My first nurse even called in towards the end of the night to check in on how I was doing. I have only great things to say about the facility + employees at Womens and Babies Hospital!
At 3:30pm, I told Caleb I was done with the shower and ready for an epidural. Those contractions were legit! I had asked about using the jacuzzi earlier in the day but the nurse was was worried it would halt my progress, so she wanted me to hold off and stick with the shower. I just thought I wouldn’t get to experience the jacuzzi. I remember feeling so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get the epidural yet either, because earlier in the day they said it would halt my progress as well. I didn’t want to let all my hard work go for nothing! You guys, it was like music to my ears when I heard the nurse and Meghan through the bathroom door asking Caleb if I’d like to try the jacuzzi. I had made it far enough along that I could use this option! YAAAS! Through horrible contractions I remember thinking, “I can do this”. I remember telling myself that before I succumb to the epidural I should use all of the other sources available to me to help subside the pain and get me further along naturally. As soon as Caleb told them that I wanted to try the jacuzzi we heard Meghan + Liz shout out “YESSS! GO MEAGAN!!! WOHOOO!!! WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!”. It actually made me smile in the midst of a contraction which I did not think would be possible. These girls are so awesome. It was like I had my own cheerleading squad! I couldn’t have done this without their uplifting conversation and encouragement.
The nurse started getting the jacuzzi ready for me with warm water, and Meghan moved her worship music into the bathroom and also dropped some lavender essential oil into the jacuzzi. Laying out in the tub felt a little uncomfortable at first, but then when I tried moving into different positions (kneeling, sitting, squatting) I realized every position felt uncomfortable and it was just because I’d hit the point in labor where nothing was going to feel comfortable. Laying down definitely felt the most relaxing, so I laid, breathing through contractions and focusing on the music and warmth of the water. Caleb ran a soaked wash cloth over my bump with fresh water while Meghan gave my hand a massage through each contraction. Focusing on the pressure of the hand massage and the water running over me really helped to keep me focused and got me through another hour of labor. I remember thinking, I just need to last long enough for my sister to get back so she can get some of this in her film. My sister Breanna dabbles in videography and had been filming parts of our birth story. Since she had left with my parents and missed the shower and most of the afternoon labor, I really wanted to have some of the natural laboring in her film before I got an epidural. I remember feeling such a relief when I heard my mom, dad and sister back in our room. My mom and sister immediately came into the bathroom and helped me through another few minutes of contractions. I was right at the tail end of what I could endure so it was perfect timing when they arrived to help me through those last few minutes. It got to the point where I couldn’t hold myself up through contractions. I literally felt like I couldn’t move or breathe. I felt like I was losing my focus and breathing technique and was beginning to feel like I couldn’t make it through one more contraction. We told the nurse to order the epidural. Caleb, Meghan and my mom helped me out of the jacuzzi and back into my hospital gown. Both the nurse and OB and Meghan were saying I was definitely progressed far. We all thought I was for sure at least at 6cm. The OB was super happy with my progression into active labor and checked my cervix (which would have been the third time total) and said I was at 4cm. When your water breaks first, it can make your contractions a lot more intense, so my nurse explained to me that the contractions I was experiencing were comparable to the contractions a women would feel at 6cm. My OB was very pleased with my progress and said I no longer needed pitocin because of how consistent and close together my contractions were coming.
The only way I can think to explain the contractions is that my entire torso got so tight and hard, mixed with intense cramping in a ring around the base of my torso. Everything felt so tight, like it knocked the wind out of you. Eventually the pain just wore me out and all I wanted was to be able to lay down and rest. Around 6:30pm I got my epidural. I was so pleased with myself that I labored naturally for just about 12 hours. And I was so relieved that I lasted long enough that getting an epidural would not effect things negatively or halt my progress. Everyone had to clear the room but Caleb. Caleb sat in front of me and held my hands. The anesthesiologist put the bed up super high and had me sitting on the edge of the bed, crunched over with my legs dangling down, feet resting in Caleb’s lap. All I wanted was to set my arms down along side my waist and stretch out my torso through a contraction because that’s what felt most comfortable, but I wasn’t allowed because anything behind me was considered a sterile environment. He made sure not to do a thing unless I was crunched over, hands in front of me. The first shot was to numb the area, which felt like a stinging sensation. It hurt, but it didn’t last long. Then I could feel pressure which just felt super uncomfortable and weird which I said felt painful at the time. I think it was just because it was a sensation I’d never experienced before. I squeezed Caleb’s hands hella tight, and later he said he thought I broke them, haha. It was the only time in labor that I let out a few choice words. The epidural was painful, but I got to the point in loabor were the thought of going countless more hours with the contractions I was having made the pain of an epidural SO worth it. Within 10-15 minutes after the epidural, all the pain was gone and I felt like the queen of the world.
The nurse helped me lay back into a comfortable position and hooked me up to the monitors. A few family members came back to visit and say hi (my nana, aunt Kim and cousin Danielle, as well as my parents and sister), and then around 7pm everyone went out to the waiting room so Caleb and I could catch some shut eye. Around 9pm, the OB came in to check my cervix and said I was 7-8cm dilated. Within two hours I’d progressed from 4cm to 8cm. WHAT. They said my body had been working so hard that when I gave it some rest it helped it progress. The nurse would tell me when I was having a contraction from the monitor and it was so strange because I couldn’t feel a thing. It felt marvelous. Epidurals are such a gift. I felt so talkative and excited. Everyone gave us another 2 hour break and we napped some more. It felt so great to rest. But at the same time I felt restless knowing we were so close to meeting our son. The nurse thought I might be minutes away from pushing, so I couldn’t get over the shock of everything happening, and that this was real life. Things had moved along so smoothly and quickly that everyone thought we might have this baby on December 30th!
Around 10pm, the epidural began to wear off and I started feeling more of my contractions. The nurse told me that I was having about 5-6 contractions per minute. She said they were super intense contractions and I wasn’t even feeling the half of them; but it was still more than I wanted to be feeling. They gave me a boost in my epidural, and about 10 minutes later I felt good again. My legs got suuuper tingly, and I couldn’t move them myself anymore. That sensation lasted through until I was in recovery (after delivery). About 20 minutes later my blood pressure dropped from it and I began to feel super nauseas and light headed. Caleb got the nurse just in time for her to bring me a doggie bag and I vomited a few times. That felt so terrible. It was something I’d been scared of all day, haha. I don’t know why but throwing up is one of my worst fears. Don’t judge me. But once I was done the nurse gave me something through my IV to bring my blood pressure back up and I felt so much better. The nurse told me that she thought we were super close to pushing so she began to ask me if I was feeling any pressure from my babies head making his way down. I started feeling some pressure before she’d even asked but I was scared to admit it because for some reason I was feeling super anxious about pushing and kept second guessing myself on what I was feeling. Around 11:30pm the OB came back in to check my cervix and told us I was at 10cm!! FINALLY! I actually couldn’t believe how fast it had gone. I had been preparing myself for a two day event. The pressure I felt was growing stronger and stronger and I felt a tiny urge to push. While getting me prepped to push, the nurse told me that for first time moms it usually takes about 3-3.5 hours of pushing. She also informed me that in my previous ultrasound our babies head measured in the 90th percentile. WHAT. I know. This would mean he’d have a huge head. Hello Stewy from Family Guy! She sweetly told me not to panic or feel alarmed if a ton of nurses ran into the room to help me get him out and flip me on my side. Noooot the best thing to tell an already nervous pregnant women about to push. It took the nurse, my mom, Caleb, Meghan and Liz a good 5 or so minutes to convince me to start pushing in between fits of laughter. I was terrified! I’m not even sure why because I had an epidural so it’s not like I felt any pain, I just felt a ton of pressure. But I think I was just nervous for the unknown and what it would feel like. The big moment! The one we’d been waiting for.
The nurse called our OB and had someone come in to set up the delivery table. It was such a surreal feeling knowing that we were so close to meeting our baby boy. The epidural started wearing off a tiny bit again and I started feeling some of the contractions which helped me know when to push. I asked the nurse about getting another boost, but didn’t want it to make me sick again. She told me it was good that I was feeling thing again because she wanted my body to feel involved in the delivery. I wasn’t feeling pain, just pressure which was really great so that I could still be physically/emotionally involved in the process. The nurse had me start out practice pushing, laying flat on my back, with my mom and Meghan holding up my feet while I grabbed onto my legs and leaned forward to push. I pushed by taking in a deep breath, then pushing while Caleb counted up to 10. At 10 I would relax, take another deep breath and do it again. We pushed in intervals of three I switched back and forth between holding my breath in and letting it out while I pushed. After only a few practice pushes everyone started exclaiming that they could see his head and saw hair! This really motivated me. And with each push that was pain free, I was able to relax and push harder and longer. Caleb switched with Meghan and held my leg while I continued pushing. Meghan made sure to diffuse more oils which helped keep the room smelling good and also set a great calming presence mixed with the worship music playing. Everyone kept making sure I had enough chapstick and water and offered to help me with putting my hair up. I later realized this was my mom/sisters nice way of saying “girl, your hair looks wack, put it up in a bun”.. HA! The nurse offered me a mirror so that I could witness my progress but I was worried that seeing things but freak me out so I opted out of the mirror. Thinking back, it would have been neat to watch but I just knew for my personality since I was doing so well, I should just stick with what was working. The nurse had me try a new position laying on my side, while my mom helped support my leg in the air. We only did this for one or two pushed before the nurse had me lay on my back again and use the birth bar. I rested my feet against the bar while tugging/pulling against a sheet wrapped around the bar. Caleb and my mom still held my legs as support. This position provided great friction and immediately gave me all the strength I needed. It was like some inner strength I didn’t know that I had kicked in and I was determined to push out my little man. The contractions kept coming on closer together, so I began pushing for 4 – 5 times in a row instead of 3 and I held my push’s past 10 seconds at times. The closer I got to having his head out the louder and more excited everyone got with encouragement. Our OB came in to check my progress and was surprised/impressed at how good of a “pusher” I was. I think she planned to pop in and then go check on other patients until we were at the point were our baby was crowning because when she saw how good we were doing and how close we were already, she immediately got gowned up and stayed to cheer me on. Before I knew it, I heard the nurse inform me that they were going to start using the mineral oil (they load you up with mineral oil and then rub their hands around the sides of your opening/the babies head to help with tearing). It was really happening! All of a sudden, I heard my OB tell me to give her a really big push, then everyone said “HIS HEAD!!!”. I remember asking something like “he’s here!? Is he out?!?!” and they told me his head was out! I felt the pressure of it coming out, but no pain at all. I kept pushing really hard to get the rest of him out because I thought she wanted me to keep going but the OB quickly told me to stop pushing. I got so worried something was wrong and started asking her why, and they told me they had to get the cord off from around his neck but that everything was okay. My OB told me to start pushing again and I felt the release of my babies tiny body come out. This all happened within seconds. It all was such a whirlwind, and then I heard my baby boy cry for the first time as they raised him up and placed him on my belly/chest. Immediately tears flooded my eyes and I couldn’t stop saying “my baby!” .. “baby baby baby”.. and other random, sappy things that probably made no sense but I was on such a high and had no sense of the world around me. His perfect, tiny face and wide open, alert eyes were looking right at us.
On December 31st, 2016 at 1:22am, after just over an hour of pushing, our son Owen Davis Keller was born. He was exactly at 37 weeks to the day. He weighed in at 5lbs and 12oz, 19 inches long and so perfect in every way. He scored a 9.5 out of 10 on his Apgar test and I remember thinking how perfect his soft, tan coloring was. I couldn’t stop rubbing his soft skin and kissing the top of his head. I looked over to see Caleb smiling bigger then he’s ever smiled before and crying along with me. Our first few minutes as a new family of three were beyond beautiful. Kisses, hugs, skin to skin, smiles, tears, photos, I love you’s. I find myself reminiscing those sweet memories multiple times a day. My heart grew to depths I never knew it could. Hearing everyone in the room cry and say how cute he was and how tiny he was made my heart burst. I seriously had the best birth team on planet earth. After a few minutes of keeping the umbilical cord clamped, Caleb cut it. He said it felt like cutting through a lawn hose.
Though we had such a smooth birthing process, we did have one hiccup. My placenta got stuck! Like, whose placenta gets stuck!? Isn’t that supposed to be like, the easiest part?? Oye. My umbilical cord was one of the longest my OB had ever seen, so she thinks that may have contributed to it. For an hour, I had to lay there and wait as she tried to get this placenta out while the nurses poked and prodded at me. I tried my best to just focus on my baby boy and ignore what was going on, but it gets to a point when you just cant ignore the pain and discomfort you’re feeling. My OB told me we had about 10 minutes left and one more option to try and get it out before she would take me to the OR to get it surgically removed. I was so ready to get this thing out of me and enjoy my sweet newborn baby so I told her to do what she had to do to get it out now. I was not going to go through surgery for a placenta after getting through everything else naturally. So, she stuck her arm elbow deep inside of me and pulled out the placenta! It was pretty painful, but the relief I felt as soon as it plopped out of me was immediate. Getting to see the sac + placenta that my little man was living in and getting life through for the last 9 months was CRAZY! I’m so glad we got it captured on film. The nurses had to keep pushing on my stomach through out the placenta ordeal and through out the first day post delivery to make sure my bleeding was okay + to monitor my uterus. I remember getting to annoyed because I was so over being poked and messed with but the nurses were super sweet and kind about it. Because the nurse propped me towards whatever side I was feeling more contractions on right before delivery (which happened to be my left side) for about 2 days after my left leg would fall asleep super easily. That was my only symptom of getting an epidural. I walked away with a second degree tear but added it to my list of things to be thankful for because somehow the placement of my tear and stitches wound up being at just the right spot that I barely had pain. I had a few days of recovery and adjustment to minimal pain, but I definitely think it was one of the luckier recovery stories.
I labored for 12 hours naturally and around 6 hours on the epidural and I got to stick to my birth plan which is such a blessing and wouldn’t have been possible without my amazing Doula, Meghan. 24 hours from the time my water broke, we were placed in our recovery/visiting room and spent our first night with our new love bug. There were doctors coming in and out all through out our first night/morning checking on me and on Owen. I requested to have the epidural IV removed asap, so the anesthesiologist came to remove it early that morning, about 2-3 hours after delivery. Normally they wait until the next day. The most painful part really is getting that tape pulled off! haha! I spent hours doing skin to skin with my freshly bathed peanut, and soaking in everything that had just happened. Life knocked me off my feet and blew me away in the best of ways.
I am so, so thankful for a good + faithful Lord who held us in His hands through out our entire process and provided us with such a positive experience. And I am so thankful for my simply amazing husband Caleb who stood by my side and supported me however I needed, our Doula Meghan who helped us have such a calm, peaceful labor experience, our photographer Liz who documented it better then I could have ever imagined, my sister for capturing it on a video that makes me cry happy tears every time I watch it, and my parents for encouraging me through the entire day and filling our room and hearts with so much love.
Caleb and I are LOVING our son, Owen. I can’t believe how quickly everything happened. Our birth experience was here and gone before we even knew it. But we couldn’t be happier with how things went and life with our baby. We are daily amazed at how good God is and how much this little babe changed our whole world in the best of ways.