Our Birth Story

 
 photo by  Katie Souris

photo by Katie Souris

 

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My water broke around 1:20 am on the 5th of July about two weeks before our due date. I had spent all day in a funk, sad that I wasn't participating in the Fourth of July festivities and just overall miserable with the state that my body was in. I had had intense pressure that entire week. Since this is my first time around, I just thought that was normal. But the thought of living like that for two more weeks literally made me depressed. Somewhere down the line I developed high blood pressure, which basically meant any freedom I was exercising out of the house in the 100+ temps, was no longer. I was stuck inside, with high blood pressure, chronic foot pain, and pelvic pressure like a mother! I was also not sleeping and constantly peeing myself. I was about to lose it. I realize this is NOT a pretty picture. But this is my story. I was negative nancy to the tenth degree. 

 
 photo by  Katie Souris

photo by Katie Souris

 

 

It was becoming increasingly difficult to focus on the the miracle that was happening inside of me, except she would remind me with a swift kick to the ribs or the bladder, every once in a while that she was still thriving. Since being born Kevin has made several comments about how strong she is and how he can't believe she was doing that just a short time ago inside of my body! Yea, dude...  tell me about it.

 
candice-mathis-birth-story
 

 

The night my water broke I spent sitting on the couch cuddled up with my pup. Kevin went out to photograph the fireworks with some friends and around 10pm I decided I'd take a shower and attempt to go to bed. Showering was an EVENT. The shower floor felt like gravel on my feet and any type of bending/moving just took a lot of energy. So I showered and skipped the shaving this time around (btw, I shave every single day when I'm not pregnant... so this was a big deal for me). I just did not see the point. I got out of the shower and was about to lay down when Kevin texted and said his buddies are going to come by and visit with us for a bit (I was tired but also SUPER excited for visitors). So I put on regular clothes and hung out a little longer.. I was so uncomfortable that I didn't even get up to hug them. When they left Kevin and I decided to watch a movie. We stayed up until around 1 and finally went to bed. I WAS BEYOND EXHAUSTED at this point. Had I known what the day would entail, I would've went to bed earlier. Damn.

 
 photo by  Katie Souris

photo by Katie Souris

 

 

We get in bed, I turn on my hypnobirthing audio (just like every other night) and close my eyes. Twenty minutes later I turned over in bed and had a small gush... of water... in the pelvic region. It felt odd and not like pee at all... but since I had been peeing on myself some I thought I'd wait to wake Kevin up (he's one of those that falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow and he and Hemingway were already snoring). So I googled it and decided to lay on my side for 30 minutes and see if it happened again. Thirty minutes later I attempt to stand up and MORE WATER... I made a run for the bathroom while yelling at Kevin (he can hear the splatters all the way to the bathroom)...   at this point, I'm still in disbelief but I call my doula and she confirms that my waters, have in fact, BROKE! She tells me I have a couple of options, one is to go into the hospital right away as the hospital will admit you if your water has broke and it doesn't matter how far you've dilated. Or I could try to get some rest since I wasn't having contractions yet and I could labor at home for a while. I decided to labor at home and call her if anything changed. About an hour later (I never slept BTW, I contemplated getting up and shaving but didn't) as I was lying in bed I heard/felt a huge painful POP and then the real water came. It was very uncomfortable! Following that were those nice contractions... at about ten minutes a part. 

 
 first attempt at nursing

first attempt at nursing

 

 

We were awake at that point (I was already awake, but Kevin and Hemingway attempted to wake at this point). Decided we should probably pack the remaining items in our bags (there was no way I was sleeping with contractions and the sheer excitement) and get Hemingway's sitter over. At some point the contractions got a lot closer together so we decided it was time to head to the hospital, just incase. 

 
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On the way to the hospital I listened to my "when your water breaks" hypnobirthing audio. I had been listening to these audios for months leading up to my birth. They truly helped me feel happy about the experience and most importantly, relaxed. I also truly feel like they assisted my body in the natural start of labor. I never once felt panicked or anxious, which is TOTALLY unlike me. Especially given the state that I was already in with my pregnancy. 

 
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We met our sweet doula Katie in triage where they checked my cervix and I was only dilated 2cm. I couldn't believe it (I believe my response was, "you're joking, right?" like it was the nurses fault -- I literally almost asked to see her fingers as I wanted to determine whether they were on the plumper side or not, like, I'll be the judge of how far I'm dilated, thanks...yikes the sass is in full swing)! So we did some walking around and eventually moved into our labor and delivery room. There, we did some different positions on the ball but I was having such intense back contractions that I wanted to lay on my side (it honestly didn't feel any better, but it was nice to lay down). There we practiced our breathing techniques and I got into my hypnobirthing state... while Katie rubbed my back and helped me through each contraction. I was at ease until the exhaustion set in. We missed an entire night's sleep on top of all the other nights I wasn't sleeping. We roughed through a few pretty (ok, REALLY) intense hours like that. At one point I sent Kevin for coffee because his dozing off was really getting to me. LOL. He came back with chips and the scent of them almost sent me into a heart attack. He put them away. :D But managed to stop dozing off after that. He was tired and was doing everything he could to stay awake but I'm sure time was passing very slowly for him and Katie. 

 
 Yep, I took all these props to the hospital.

Yep, I took all these props to the hospital.

 

 

I've never experienced pain at that level. I was thoroughly exhausted. Drained. There were points where I was just looking at Kevin asking him to help me.... even though I knew there was nothing he could do (it was pretty sad, LOL). There was lots of gagging/breathing into the barf bag happening. And I was shaking uncontrollably. I told myself, I can do this for one more hour. I have a pretty high pain tolerance with chronic foot pain, surgeries, tattoo removal, migraines, cortisone shots (oh you know about these if you've ever had one) etc... this type of pain in the state that I was in was becoming unbearable. The option of pain relief started making its way into my focus.

 
candice-mathis-birth-story
 

 

When I found out that I probably had at least 5-6 more hours of that plus pushing (which could have been 3+ hours) we decided to revisit the pain management conversation. Since the hospital didn't offer nitrous oxide, my options were opioids or epidural. I decided opioids weren't right for me, so I opted for the epidural while I still had the option. I was worried this would slow down my birth, but as long as I had some relief and Nixon was healthy, I didn't mind. This allowed me to sleep for a few hours!! I even talked on the phone with my best friend. Drugs, man.

 
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I knew my body was still in intense pain because I still had the shakes, only worse than ever. I could feel the contraction pressure, but not the pain. I remember thinking... there's no way I could've done this without help. Those who do, I'm completely blown away. Maybe in different circumstances I could've powered through, but I didn't have it in me that day. 

 
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When the nurse came in to check my cervix, I was dilated to 9 cm!! I've never felt so happy. They got me ready for the pushing stage and about an hour later my amazing doctor (Dr. Newman at Paradise Valley OBGYN) entered the room. I was telling jokes and being my old self... LOL. The nurse informed me that I had a giant hole in my sock to which I told her the story of how I just can't find good socks these days. It was a ten minute coversation about all the different brands I've tried and how much money i've spent on said socks. These are the only ones I like and I just cannot accept the fact that they're falling apart. I don't exactly know how many people were our room, it felt like 20... but all modesty goes out the window when you're in that position (I'm not exactly Modest Mary anyway, ya got it flaunt it.. lol). I asked for a mirror (weird or no?) so that I could see the birth (do it, it's nuts). I honestly think this helped me focus on pushing the baby out instead of just pushing into the unknown). Kevin grabbed a leg and Katie grabbed the other and about 9 pushes (3 sets of 3) later we had a baby. I remember the first push (her head popped out), Kevin yelled, "babe she has so much hair!!!" and all I could think about was the level of heartburn I experienced with her (like, she BETTER.. we earned it.. don't have the audacity to come out with no hair after I had to say no to chocolate and tomatoes my whole pregnancy).  Around push NINE, Dr. Newman says "stop pushing" and I see him pull out a precious little tan baby!! I hear a shrill little cry! Kevin goes, "babe she's sooooo cute"... they hand her to me for immediate skin on skin contact. Apparently this was at 12:43pm, almost 12 hours after my water broke. I cannot believe my eyes at this point. I honestly felt like I was dreaming and I kept waiting to wake up. A little while later we attempted our first nursing session and it was successful. Phew! I couldn't believe how sweet she was. Just so perfect in every single way.

 
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We delayed the cord clamping for about a minute and then Kevin got to do the honors. We didn't bank our cord blood, mostly because I tasked Kevin with this and we thought we had two more weeks to get it done. She came early.

 
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I had some minor tearing so while we soaked up those few magical moments, Dr. Newman was delivering my placenta and sewing me up... neither of which I felt, thanks to the epidural I got to enjoy this precious time with my new family. They took her for a bit across the room to run some tests (Kevin tagged along to talk her through it because she was responding so well to his voice. She would always wiggle around in the womb when she would hear him talking) and everything checked out perfectly. She aced her first test, obviously! We were truly blessed. I've never felt a high like that before. All of a sudden all life's doubts or that feeling of a "missing purpose" were over. I've never felt more alive or content in a moment. That feeling like "this is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now" has only happened to me a handful of times in my 32 years on this planet. It's a good feeling and it hasn't gone away.

 

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I kept a very open mind about labor and delivery. I never wanted to go in expecting to manage my pain unnaturally if I didn't need to. I wanted to try to do everything as naturally as possible until it no longer made sense for me. I did my homework. I studied every single part of labor. I took classes and learned everything I could. And I had the best labor experience possible thanks to my husband, my hypnobirthing audios, my amazing doula, my doctor and the incredible nurses at Honorhealth.... and my epidural. Oh, and the classes at Modern Milk. I will approach each new birth the same way if we get blessed with another one. 

 

Birth is truly magical no matter your approach. To me, getting my baby out happy and healthy was my only goal. 

 

My lifesavers?

 

hiring a **nurse** doula

 

hypnobirthing audios

 

having the breathing tactics down

 

perineal massage leading up to birth

 

pilates/yoga before and during pregnancy (pushing purposes)

 


I'll dig in a little deeper to why I wanted a hospital birth, why I hired a doula and why I chose to do hypnobirthing in some later posts. 

 

 

I would LOVE to hear your birthing stories!! Please please leave them in the comments below.