Welcome to the blog! I’m a small-town Florida girl and Army wife relocated to the Seattle Suburbs, documenting love from one coast to the other. I live for a good PNW mountain breeze, sweat pants, and local eats. Let's be friends!
My Mila Girl,
We survived the fourth trimester! The past three months have been everything and you are more than I could have ever hoped for. You are the happiest baby full of joy and I fully believe your birth has part to do with that! Before the memories begin to fade, I want to share your sweet birth story:
<Full Disclosure> : These are only mildly censored birth images so only proceed if you’re good with that.
There have been several times where I’ve had feelings that looking back on still give me chills. The first time was on Christmas, your PawPaw said a prayer for two healthy babies in 2019 and I couldn’t shake the feeling that was somehow directed towards you sweet girl. The intention and circumstance wasn’t there but it still sent chills down my spine and tears down my cheeks. The second, the day we found out you were a girl. I would have put money down that you would be a boy but on that morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had been wrong all along. I think it was a way of preserving my emotions had you not been a girl like I had hoped for. On the day we went into labor, I had been feeling a little off for two days but because I hadn’t any extreme changes, I tried not to overthink it fully knowing I could be pregnant for several more weeks. That night, your Papa grilled wings and we sat outside enjoying the weather. I had him take a photo of my belly saying “what if this is the last time you can take a photo of it.” It’s funny how things work as that turns out to be our last “belly photo.” I loved these little moments with just the two of us before your arrival. It felt almost surreal trying to be intentional about the little time we had left of just the two of us. We spent a lot of time mentally preparing for what to expect with birth and life with a newborn. How would we continue to nurture out marriage in addition to nurturing you? I’m so thankful that your Papa took the time with me to talk about these things.
I had been having some minor contractions all evening, nothing out of the ordinary for the past few months of consistent braxton hicks. I laid down in bed watching tv with your Papa, soaking in some cuddles. After getting up to use the restroom, I started to lay down and felt two small “pops” for a second thinking “that was really strange” and then my water began to flow. I think I was half on the bed at that point, just laying not sure what to do as Niagra falls was drenching our bed. I said to your Papa “And that’s my water. Ya my water just broke. You might want to get a bucket.” This was around 9:50-10 pm. I was a little afraid to get up after the downpour between my legs and as soon as I did, the contractions came hard and fast. It was like the entire 3rd trimester really had been early labor because these contractions, were no joke and instantly started off 1-2 minutes apart lasting over a minute long. I had full-on body shakes within a minute or two and as your Papa started slowly packing the car, I noticed him hurrying a little more with every minute as I wasn’t really walking or talking (signs of active labor) and was a little concerned about birthing you in the car. The packing list went out the window but really, it was only in case of an emergency and we had to stay a few days in the hospital. I remember thinking so many times, this isn’t normal early labor especially for first-time moms. We’re supposed to labor at home, have time to pack in-between contractions, call everyone and THEN leave.
We were in the car within about 30 minutes and arrived at St. Joes Midwifery Birth Center in Tacoma around 11:15pm. Our doula Danielle was the first to meet us there. That time in the car was pretty awful being confined and I was already feeling quite a bit of pressure since my water had broken. We checked in and were monitored for 30 minutes before being allowed to transfer to a birthing suite. I was 5cm dilated and thankful because I never expected things to escalate so quickly and was a little worried we had acted too quickly – apparently not. Shortly after, auntie Erin arrived to photograph your birth and I was SO thankful we had randomly been texting when my water broke so she had enough time to make it there!
As soon as we got into the birthing suite, I went straight into the birthing tub knowing that warm water had helped my pain throughout pregnancy. It was one of my main motivations for a birth center. All of our things were still in the car so fully unclothed I went despite my intentions but funny enough – completely me.
One of the few pain management options the birth center offers is nitris oxide. I chose to use it while in the tub and found that it didn’t feel any different but that the sound of breathing through the machine gave me something to focus on and the ability to concentrate on my breath. We labored for about an hour in the tub until they re-checked me. I was dilated at 8cm.
Within a few minutes of being checked, my body started to push and they re-checked again moving my cervix and giving me the ok to push. I started pushing in the tub, ending the nitris oxide so I had a free hand to grab my legs with. Again, my mind couldn’t grasp the fact as to how quickly things were progressing and I really didn’t feel like I should already be pushing. My body disagreed thankfully and we pushed in the tub until it was recommended to try other positions. We pushed on the toilet, we pushed in the shower and then when I felt the “ring of fire” and was fearful of delivering in the shower, we moved to the bed to push again.
I was surprised by my own willingness to move and change positions to push more effectively after seeing so many laboring moms scared to move, something I had even told Danielle before birth. I was convinced I didn’t want to push for 5 hours and end up with a c-section and it motivated me to focus on my team’s words and move when needed. Everything fades when you’re in labor except for the voices of those around you. I remember Danielle and your Papa telling me to relax my shoulders and slow my breathing giving me the ability to focus on those things. I remember the feeling of water against my back and the midwife pressing where I should focus my pushing.
After 3 hours of pushing, you fully crowned and your head was birthed. This was the only moment of birth where I felt fearful as your shoulders didn’t quickly follow and panic filled the room. After a few contractions, the birth team moved to an emergent response, flipped me from hands and knees to my back and had me push with everything, contraction or not, to get you out. We had a 3 1/2 minute shoulder dystocia with an emergency team ready to go but thankfully, you made your way naturally. The panic in the room was a little terrifying while getting you out and breathing. I truly think it distracted me from the traditional euphoric response of welcoming a baby but in the end, it doesn’t matter. What mattered was you were there despite my vision of a peaceful water entrance. You arrived at 3:43 am as a whole 19 inches long, 7lbs 10 ounces heavy and perfect with a full head of hair. I couldn’t describe it better than your Oma who said, “we made a wish list of how you would look and you were it.” After 6 hours of announcing to family and relaxation at the birth center, we were sent home and enjoyed our first evening of a family of three in our own bed.
There are so many times before birth where I feared I wasn’t enough. Wasn’t strong enough mentally or physically, wouldn’t have the pain tolerance or perseverance needed for a natural birth. These were things I felt or feared and tried to not tell myself. I mentally prepared for a 48-hour labor, 5 hours of pushing and pretty much every extreme you can have with a birth so that anything better WAS better. I hoped for the best, with every ounce of my body for months but I still mentally prepared for everything that could happen. I counteracted these fears with physical activity, research, practicing breathing, self-care, books, surrounding myself with positive birth experiences and visual words of affirmation. There was so much intention into bringing you into the world in a positive, peaceful and natural way. There is no “wrong” way to birth a baby but I truly feel so thankful for how close your arrival was to my birth plan. I think this experience and the creation of you is my most proud accomplishment.
To my husband,
Watching your care grow for our sweet Mila girl through out my pregnancy will always be some of my favorite memories. It was beyond incredible to see the small changes pregnancy slowly brought out in you and the level of care, patience and concern you had for the both of us. I am truly beyond thankful for everything you did large and small…miniscule and meaningful. I will always miss the feeling of your arm and hand around my belly, the smiles and laughs we shared watching her hiccup, roll and kick around in my belly and waking up next to you with your hand perfectly placed there. The late nights reading to her. I loved watching you nest in your own ways probably even unaware that THAT was what you were doing. These 10 months weren’t always easy or enjoyable but living and dreaming in them with you was entirely incredible and I hope those memories don’t fade too quickly. Pregnancy matured you and made you grow in ways I could never have imagined but it also made me love you in ways I couldn’t have imagined as well. Watching you become a father has brought me more joy and love than I had ever known. They say you’ll neve know true love until you have a child but I think they’ve got it a little wrong. I think I never could have known how much I could love you, until seeing you with our child. Mila has the best Papa and you are so good with her, more than I could have hoped for. Thank you for being my partner in life, in parenting and the best father to our girl.
A huge thank you to:
Erin Peck for support and capturing your story.
Danielle with Fern and Foster for helping to guide you and your momma safely.
The Birth Team at St. Joes.