Willa & Wakely’s Birth Story

My daughter was born June 16th, 2020 at 3:35pm weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces. She is everything I could’ve ever hoped for. As is typical of every major life event, I began jotting down the story of her arrival within a few days of her earth landing. Below is our story.

[Originally posted to Instagram and copied here.]

I got my wisdom teeth taken out when I was a teenager. My first thought after the very minor procedure? “Welp. First big fear done. Next up? Childbirth.” I’ve been terrified of labor since I was a kid, so you can imagine the incredible relief I have now that I’ve done it, it was successful, and all my questions have been answered. Rather than read about all the insane things that can happen to you (because we all know what happens the moment you type literally anything into Google), I’ve preferred the personal birth stories of nearly every woman I’ve ever felt comfortable asking the intimate details of their nether regions (which for me, is a lot). So if you’re in any way similar or you just love hearing all the ways one can bring a baby into this world, I give you my birth story:

Laboring at home: 17 hours
After going into the doc for my 40 week appointment, I had decided to get my membrane swept and to schedule an induction if things didn’t progress naturally. We chose Tuesday, June 16th, her 41st week in the womb. I kept hearing stories of women who went into labor on the way to their induction and figured we’d give her this little [psychological and] physical push.

To our huge surprise (and relief), on Monday at around 2am (the day before our induction date), I woke up with contractions. They were pretty mild but strong enough to FEEL them in my dream (thanks, brain). These continued consistently until around 9am when they got farther apart and plateaued in strength. A bit restless, we spent the day cleaning and just putzing around the house. We desperately wanted there to be something to accomplish but all tasks seemed too great for me and Luke didn’t want to leave my side. By early evening I had accepted the fact that the contractions must’ve been Braxton Hicks. While I was a bit bummed that we’d begin this process with Pitocin, I reminded myself we were still one day closer to meeting our girl.

As fate would have it, Luke’s parents swung by the house around 7pm and within a few minutes of their visit, my water broke 😳. It had been the real deal the whole time! In true TV dad fashion, Luke began running around the house, gathering last minute items for our hospital bag. We bid his folks adieu, called Kaiser Oakland to make sure they had room for us, and we were off.

Laboring at the hospital: 17 hours
At one point in the evening I had asked Luke to remind me about water consumption during labor. We remembered there was SOMETHING about hydration during contractions but we couldn’t recall what. (For those wondering, it’s that you need to drink at least a cup of water every hour you’re in labor.) So what do we do? Forget to consume water at all. They hooked me up to all the monitors in the triage room and discovered I had a slight fever and Wakely had an elevated heart rate. Despite my contractions still being pretty far apart, they decided to admit us for monitoring.

I think this was my first and real only scared cry. I had expected a lot but not for there to be any kind of fetal distress out the gate. Plus, it became very real, very quickly, that one way or another, this baby was coming out of me before we left the hospital. They gave me an IV of fluids and I let them know there was no birth plan aside from the request that if a c-section may be imminent, I wanted to know so I had the choice to opt in rather than wait for it to be a true emergency.

Fortunately within 30 minutes, the fluid worked its magic and we were both back to our healthy selves. We ended up in the triage room for about three hours where we did nothing but breathe through contractions and try to figure out the best positions when one came on.

By 10:30pm a labor and delivery room had opened up so off we went! The L&D rooms at Kaiser Oakland are beautiful (you know, hospital beautiful) so it was incredible to be in the spot I’d hoped my baby would be born. For the next six or seven hours I attempted to labor through contractions naturally while being hooked up to about four different wires monitoring our heart rates and contractions.

Luke was a dream and with each show of discomfort he would hop off the couch, rub my back, move the wires, and add a pillow here or there. Getting comfortable proved to be IMPOSSIBLE and by this point I had been awake and laboring for 24 hours. I asked the doc to come in to check my dilation and sure enough I was only at 4cm. If I was going to push this baby out I needed rest. From the time I put in the request for the epidural to our night nurse Victoria (waddup girl, you’re a dime), to when I was appropriately numbed in my pelvic region, it was 5am. The epidural itself was fast and pretty painless (but seriously you may take anything at this level of exhaustion). It was bliss. It was around this time we also opted for Pitocin to speed things up a bit. I fell asleep almost immediately and was reminded to rotate every hour to ensure I gave the lower leg a much needed rest from the all the dead weight.

Go time: 3.5 hours
Luke and I both drifted in and out of sleep for the next several hours, waking at 10:30am to find I was 8.5 centimeters and then again at noon where I was fully dilated. It was around the 10:30am mark my sweet angel of a human, Kelsey, a traveling nurse from Bozeman, Montana flew into our lives and stayed by our side for the entirety of our delivery. Kelsey was accompanied by the midwife who came by to check baby’s positioning as well. With the flick of a wrist she could tell Wakely was sunny side up. A totally doable position for baby to come through the birth canal but challenging. We started to push and hoped for the best.

After little progress, the midwife realized her little head couldn’t clear my pelvis. She offered to go in manually and attempt to turn her. After listing the possible negative outcomes this procedure can have, she assured me they are very rare and recommended we give it a try. Long story short, it didn’t work. I was just going to have to push even harder. Now PUSHING was a surprise. This required every inch of my energy from the moment I took my first breath in to the third push in a set. I got naked real early on and requested a couple cold compresses for the forehead. Hot flashes are definitely a thing. At one point I thought about telling Luke not to take any photos of me for fear all the blood vessels in my eyeballs had popped (they didn’t).

After about three hours and 15 minutes the midwife came back in and gave me my options: it might be time to start talkin’ cesarean or try a vacuum. Again came the potential risks which I’ll spare you but they did include the possibility of an emergency c-section. (Classsssic.)

This was the moment I had thought about for decades. I can’t say I was calm by any means but a powerful resolve had come over me. We were getting this little one out and if a vaginal delivery was what I wanted, it sounds like I was going to have to work for it. The ob and the midwife agreed I was a good candidate for the suction and gave their recommendation. I confirmed- and boom- queue the reinforcements. Within moments we had about eight medical professionals around us ready with various instruments and was overhearing them alerting the surgical team to be on standby just in case.

Luke was an incredible partner the entire delivery, giving words of support and encouragement, but it was at this point it got a bit nerve-wracking. He stood by my head looking on with both panic and admiration. We locked eyes, he squeezed my hand, and it was go time. I saw him reach out his phone and take a selfie of the entire crew- something I took note of to ask why commemorate THAT exact moment 😂. They placed the suction on Wakely’s little head and within two sets of pushes she was passed my pelvis. By the third push the ob told me I would need an episiotomy (yeah apparently they still do these). I would’ve laughed if I had more of my sanity but instead just told her to do what she needed to do. Two pushes, one midwife helping a sister out, and one ob pulling Wakely from my body later, there she was.

They went to plop her on my chest but alas, short umbilical cord (again yes apparently this is a thing) so she rested on my stomach for her initial minutes of life while Luke and I cried. First thing I said after my daughter popped out? “This is the craziest sh*t ever.” Sorry, Wakely. Mom swears and is honest to a fault.

In the end I had a second degree tear (all things considered, I call this a win) and far surpassing any of the delivery details was the fact that we left that room with a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Despite this not being the perfectly smooth delivery we all hope to have, this is my positive birth story. I loved my delivery team, felt taken care of the entire ride, was well informed by every decision, and felt I had options every step of the way.

They say you don’t know your strength until you are forced to flex and in the case of little Wakely’s arrival, I couldn’t agree more. We did it, baby girl!

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