Rob & I are so excited to announce that our sweet Gemma Leigh was born on September 3, 2019 at 4:03am. She was 5 lbs 11 oz and 18.25 inches long. She has the most perfect little face we’ve ever seen! Even though she arrived four weeks early (her due date was October 2), she is super healthy and we’re doing great!
So now for the fun part, her birth story. If you read my 35 week update, you’ll know that I mentioned some extra leakage that was going on down there, one of the not so fun parts about pregnancy. At first it was just discharge, but after a few days of it being more on the watery side, I said to Rob, I don’t think this is normal maybe I should call and see what they say. So, on Sunday night around 9pm (Sept 1), I called the doctor on call and she said the only way to determine if my water had ruptured or if it was just normal discharge would be to go in and get checked. So, off we went, thinking we were just going to be sent right back home. Little did we know, Gemma had other plans.
After being checked, the doctor said my water had ruptured and it was time to get the process started aka they were going to induce me. I immediately started crying and just looked over at Rob thinking about how not prepared I felt. I think what I was most upset about was having to be induced. I didn’t have a birth plan per-say, but I did have the goal of doing things as natural and non medicated as possible. After asking a bunch of questions, it was our only option so I put my brave face on and went with it.
They started the induction process by having me take one dose of cytotec which is a pill that will soften the cervix in hopes to induce labor. I felt a little better starting this way rather than getting pitocin through an IV right off the bat (spoiler alert: I ended up not needing pitocin anyway, yay!) I don’t remember what time I took the first pill, but if I had to guess I would say early Monday morning after we were settled in the room. The timeframe on the pill was 6 hours and they could give up to four doses. After one dose, I was still only around 1cm, so they gave me another dose.
Around 2:30 in the afternoon on Monday, my water officially broke. I got up to go pee and as soon as I stood up it started pouring out all over the floor. Sorry if that’s a little graphic lol, but just keeping it real. I looked over at Rob and felt so relieved because this meant the pill was working. We called in the nurse and she called in the midwife. When she checked me, I was 6cm and it was time to move to a labor and delivery room. I opted for a room with a tub since I did not want an epidural. This was definitely a good decision because I was feeling the contractions at this point. They were bearable, but I knew they would only get stronger.
Once we were settled in the labor and delivery room, I had to be on the monitor for 20 min and then could be off for an hour, and then repeat. For the hours I was off, Rob and I walked around a ton. Between walking, going in the tub, and bouncing on a birth ball, I was doing pretty good for the level of pain at the time. If I had to rank them from most helpful to least, I would saying walking, birth ball, then tub.
Hours went by and I was really starting to feel exhausted. At one point, I was bouncing on the ball, leaning over the bed and legit was falling asleep in between contractions. Around 11pm I asked for my midwife to come check me. When she said I was between 7-8cm I asked about getting an epidural. I wasn’t able to sleep through the contractions any longer and I also wasn’t sure how long it would take for me to get to 10cm. The one thing I did know was that I was tired and if I wanted to push this baby out to the best of my ability, I needed to rest. I sucked up my pride and got the epidural. There is 100% nothing wrong with getting an epidural, I just had in my mind from the beginning of this pregnancy that I wanted to do everything as natural as possible. If this is your mindset as well, all I can say is be open to other options because you never know how it’s going to go!
After getting the epidural, I was able to sleep for about three hours. With the epidural, I still felt the pressure of the contractions but they weren't nearly as painful. Around 3am, I woke up to super strong contractions. I looked over at the monitor and when I saw them on there I knew it was time! We called in the nurse and she checked me since my midwife was finishing up someone else’s delivery. She said I was 10cm and would have the midwife come in as soon as possible, but if I felt like I needed to start pushing in the mean time then call her back in.
Once I started pushing, at first everyone in the room was still chill because she was just making her way through the birth canal. BUT, I could tell when she was getting close to coming out because everyone’s demeanor changed. I don’t know how to describe it, but between Rob & my midwife, I knew she would be here soon. One thing my midwife did to help me realize how much progress we were making was take my hand and have me reach down to feel Gemma’s head actually coming out. Talk about CRAZYYYY. That made it so real you guys and I knew I had to try my best since she was so close. They did ask me if I wanted them to get a mirror so I could see what was going on down there but I passed. I think next time I’ll opt for the mirror just because it is such an amazing thing that we are doing and don’t actually get to see!
Now, let me just say, pushing out a baby is no joke. And Gemma was only 5 lbs! I can’t imagine pushing out a much bigger baby than that lol. I pushed with Gemma for just under an hour. It was difficult to tell how hard I was actually pushing because of the epidural, which is one reason why I didn’t want to get it. It almost made me feel like I couldn’t push her out because I couldn’t tell if we were making much progress or not. I also wasn’t sure if I was pushing correctly (we didn’t have any time to take any birth classes so not sure if this is something I would have at least learned about if we did). One thing my nurse did tell me was: don’t be afraid to poop because if you are this baby will never come out. The muscles you use to push out a baby are the same muscles you use to poop. SO that’s just a fun fact for anyone who didn’t know.
The actual process of pushing is also tough. Basically, when you’re having a contraction you breath in deep, hold your breath, and push for ten seconds. You do that three times during each contraction. Of course my contractions were lasting a little bit longer than normal so I ended up doing four, sometimes five pushes per contraction. Talk about WORK. After the fact, Rob was like I didn’t want to tell you in the moment but your first push every time would be so good and then the next couple wouldn’t be as strong. I’m like yeah because how am I supposed to keep holding my breath for that long!!! LOL.
I will say, once I pushed and her head came out, her body came out super easily. It was such a surreal feeling you guys. After she was out and laying on my chest, I literally could not believe she was in me for all those weeks! It is such a magical thing!
Because she wasn’t 36 weeks yet (she missed it by a day!), she did have to go to the NICU right away for a minimum of 24 hours to be monitored. Like I said above, I did get to hold her on my chest for a few minutes before they took her but I was super sad we didn’t get to do skin to skin for the first hour. I also didn’t get to nurse her right away which was a bummer & I feel like it put us a little behind, but we’re working on it! After the 24 hours, she was able to come in our room with us because she was breathing, eating and maintaining her temperature without a problem.
Now I am going to answer your birth related questions that you sent in on Instagram! If I don’t get to yours here, that means there will be a dedicated blog post for it coming in the next week or so! (what I packed in my hospital bag, postpartum recovery/essentials, newborn essentials, etc).
Q + A from Instagram
Q: any reason why you delivered early? A: as I said above, my water was ruptured so I had to be induced at this point! not what I would have preferred but all that matters is that baby & I are both healthy! my number one piece of advice related to this is whatever questions you have, ASK your doctor/midwife. if you feel like something isn’t right or you’re truly just not sure if what you’re experiencing is normal, it can’t hurt to ask.
Q: epidural or natural? A: again, goal was natural but I was so exhausted that I needed rest so I ended up getting the epidural and may or may not have cried upon making this decision. there is 100% nothing wrong with getting an epidural, but for me I felt like I was failing at a goal I set for myself.
Q: did you tear? A: unfortunately yes, I had a second degree tear, but I will talk more about this in my postpartum recovery blog post!
Q: I need to know about the pain! A: the pain isn’t that bad you guys! yeah once the contractions got pretty strong I was cursing and being dramatic, but it’s definitely mind over matter. I highly recommend taking birth classes/breathing classes because during contractions it really is all about your breathing. I also went in with the mindset that our bodies are made to do this and the birth process wouldn’t last forever so I could get through it. again, I got the epidural because I was so exhausted after being there for 24+ hours. if it was a quick birth, i’m 100% confident I could have done it without the epidural! but like I said, there’s nothing wrong with getting the epidural, and with that you can do anything, you only feel pressure, not pain.
Q: what did you do with your dogs? A: thankfully rob’s parents live right down the street so they were able to feed them and let them out throughout the day(s)!
Q: how long did you have to stay in the hospital for? A: we were admitted Sunday night, had the baby Tuesday morning, and then we got two days in the hospital after her delivery so we left Thursday around noon. talk about a long stay lol.
Q: how long was the actual labor? A: my water officially broke on Monday around 2:30pm. I was 6cm dilated and feeling the contractions at this point but they were bearable. had her on Tuesday at 4:03am, so around 14 hours if my math is correct.
Q: did you have a mirror at the end of the bed to watch? A: they offered but I declined. I think i’ll go for it next time though!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! If you have any additional questions, drop a comment and i’ll be sure to answer!