Here is Bella's birth story...
(warning: It's crazy long because I want to remember every detail of my children's birth. Also, there may be some references to bodily fluids. But you're reading a birth story, so you should expect that!)
Austin’s birth was slow and frustrating. So when I was pregnant with McKenna, I prayed for the exact opposite experience and boy did I get it! McKenna’s birth was fast and chaotic, but oh, so much better than Austin’s! Since God apparently answers my prayers literally in this regard, this time around I prayed for something in between, but closer to McKenna’s. I was hoping to get to the hospital far enough along in labor that I wouldn’t have to be there too long, but early enough that I wouldn’t have to go through transition in the car again.
Because McKenna’s birth went so fast and we now live an additional 20 minutes or so away from the hospital, our plan was to labor at my parents’ house (less than 5 minutes away from the hospital) until we felt it was time to actually go to the hospital. Friday morning, two days after my due date, I woke up with contractions that were distinctly different from previous days. I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions fairly infrequently for a few weeks, with a few stronger ones thrown in most evenings for good measure. But they always went away shortly after I got in bed. Thursday night (7th), I had contractions that were actually timeable, about 8-9 minutes apart. They went away again, though, when I went to bed. But I’d never had contractions in the morning, so I knew this day was different. I was excited that I might get to meet my little girl that day!
My mom had slept over, just in case we needed to get up quick in the middle of the night. We got up and all got going down to her house. By the time we got there, my contractions had picked up from 7-8 minutes apart to about 5-6 minutes apart. I started to get pretty excited but nervous that this labor would be short and intense like McKenna’s. They say you forget the pain of labor, but I remember very clearly how much her labor hurt! But I was also confused because my contractions were only about 20-30 seconds long and not getting any longer. I knew that it was probably the day we’d get to meet our sweet Bella, but we still had a ways to go. I knew that things could get interesting quick though, if my water broke, so I was thankful to be close to the hospital! The four of us and my mom hung out and played all morning and I timed contractions on my iTouch. They got as close as 4 minutes apart but still were never longer than 30 seconds, which was frustrating. They were increasing in intensity, so I knew I was at least making some progress and tried not to be too frustrated. By lunchtime I had a hard time talking through them but they were still very manageable. But for the most part, nothing was happening. It was getting boring! I was all pumped up for an exciting day! I even resorted to walking laps around the family room to try to speed things up. Nothing changed. 4-5 minutes apart, 30 seconds long. By the kids’ naptime, I was tired of walking, tired of timing and figured if it was going to be a long night, I’d need some sleep myself. My contractions more or less stopped when I did that.
After my nap, we kinda called off the dogs. Things just didn’t seem like they were going to kick in and I felt bad that I’d messed up everyone’s plans! My mom, Susan and Robin were supposed to be hanging out in Yorba Linda for a family girls’ weekend, but instead of going, Mom was helping to entertain my kiddos (who were being absolute angels all day, by the way!) , Susan was anxiously waiting at home for updates that hardly ever came cuz nothing had changed, and Robin, Scott and the kids were heading up to LA to be here for the blessed event! My mom needed to deliver food for the breakfast in Yorba Linda, so after a walk around the block did nothing to spur things along for me, she decided to do a hopefully quick turn-around trip to drop it off. Robin, Scott & the kids decided to turn back to San Diego. And Suz decided to go out to Yorba Linda for the fun and would come back if things picked up. My dad was in Palm Springs for a golf weekend and was on standby to drive back if things changed.
And of course, pretty soon after everyone scattered, things picked up! While on my walk, I decided to call the Bradley coach we had with Austin to ask for advice. I knew Bella was mostly positioned correctly, but I was having some back labor and was afraid her head wasn’t positioned quite right and that was causing my labor to stall. Our coach confirmed what I was thinking and suggested I do some pelvic tilts (get down on hands and knees) and try to get her up and out of my pelvis to allow her to reposition properly. She also said she’d seen labors like this last for a few days, which is why we felt it was okay to let people off the hook for the night. But about 15 minutes or so after I did the pelvic tilts, things started to pick up a little. (6:00ish) And then a little more. My contractions were back to about 6-7 minutes apart, but were getting longer and definitely stronger. I remember one that felt like she did a full somersault. Wow did that hurt! But it must have been her getting into a better position. I was thankful she only did that once!
By 7:30 they were around 45 seconds long and to the spot that I needed Brian to start helping me relax through them. Brian was awesome this whole day! I married the most wonderful man! He was everything that I needed and we worked so good together! I’d call him right as a contraction would start and he’d come over and gently rub my shoulders and help me breath and relax and tell me what a great job I was doing. It’s amazing what an impact a few words of encouragement make! Somewhere around there I went to the bathroom and lost the rest of my plug, so I knew I was making good progress.
By 8:30, I was ready for the kids to go to bed! The kids were really so so good all day, but they tend to get a little crazy as they get tired and they were wanting attention that I just couldn’t give them, which made me sad. And I was having a hard time not being distracted by their sleepy-induced craziness. Our plan all day was that if labor got to the point that I was having a hard time staying calm, we’d send the kids over to Suz’s house. I didn’t want to freak them out! Especially since I had a tendency to get a little hysterical (read: screaming) during transition. Thankfully I’d been able to handle the contractions well enough and the kids were occupied enough that they hardly knew anything was happening all. Austin asked me a few times what was the matter and was satisfied with the answer that “Bella was coming soon and I had a bit of a tummy ache.” But as bedtime approached they started to lose it. Brian did a great job of getting them ready inbetween contractions and then zipping back to my side when I needed him. He was going to have to abandon me for a couple contractions to actually get them in bed, but thankfully my mom walked in the door exactly when we needed her to!
It could not have been more perfect timing! I was just starting to get a little panicky that she wouldn’t make it. I had just started getting into the 1 minute long range and about 5 minutes apart and started getting a little nauseous. We still had a bit to go since I was hoping to get closer to 3 minutes apart but I finally knew that things were actually moving along and we were getting close. I texted Susan and of course she had just walked in the door of my Aunt’s house! But since we figured we’d still have a good amount of time once we actually got to the hospital, she decided to stay until we gave word that we were leaving. We also let Scott & Robin know and they started making the trip up to LA. And my dad started to head back from Palm Springs.
About 9:30 my contractions were about 4 minutes apart. Brian decided it was time to get going. I was nervous we were leaving too early but he could tell that my contractions were strong enough that we were at least getting close to transition and it was better safe than sorry water breaking in the car. We carefully got me in the car and I said to myself “I can do this!” And then I laughed and thought “Well, we’re going early enough this time. I’m not in transition yet, cuz if I were I’d be thinking that I can’t do it!” Even on the way to the hospital Brian and I were joking in between contractions. I think the excitement of everything helped me handle the contractions better, although I was again soooo thankful we were close to the hospital. Riding in a car while in labor is not at all fun!
A whole 4 minutes later, we pulled up into the ER. Brian double parked, went and got an orderly with a wheelchair. Then he went to park the car while I got wheeled up to L&D. Sidebar - I don’t understand having to preregister at the hospital. The whole point is to save time during check-in. And yet, when I got to the L&D desk, I had to sit there while the nurse very slowly entered my name and tried to get me checked in. The head triage nurse (Margaret) could tell I was having a pretty hard time with the contractions, took over and took me to a room. Margaret was awesome! What kind of nurse I would get was one of my big concerns after having such a crummy experience at Austin’s birth. She patiently waited for a break in my contractions and then checked to see how far along I was. I was still in a pretty good mood and not at all freaking out, so I guessed I was about a 6, maybe 7.
There was an awful pause as she checked me and I started to get scared we came too early. So you can imagine my absolute shock and amazement when she said I was 9cm, fully effaced and waters bulging! I couldn’t believe it – I felt waaaay too good to be that far along. I was pretty dang proud of myself though! I was so close and had done so good holding it together. So far no screaming hysterically! =D She also commented that Bella’s head was not presenting exactly right. That made me a little worried because I know people who’ve had c-sections for that reason alone, but there was a good chance that Bella would correct her position herself.
That last centimeter turned out to be harder than the 1st 9 though. I don’t know if it was because I knew how far along I was, or if it was because I had to answer a ridiculous number of questions that either already had been answered or could have been answered during “preregistering” or if it was not being in my comfort bubble with Brian, but I had a really really hard time with every contraction. (Seriously, I came very close to refusing to answer any more questions. If Margaret hadn’t been so nice, I probably would have!)
Did I mention Margaret was awesome?! She could tell from how we described labor and that we were excited to be coming in so far along rather than being freaked out, that we had intended to do this naturally without drugs. I never told her that, but I remember hearing her give instructions to other nurses that we preferred no pain medication. She automatically ordered a heplock rather than an IV too, which was helpful. Unfortunately the nurse that tried to put the heplock in sucked at finding a vein and I’m not actually sure she spoke English because she didn’t understand that I wanted her to wait for a contraction to be over before trying to put it in. She kept trying to put it in while I was in the middle of contractions despite my protests. Then she burst a vein and tried to fix it with a little bandaid. So during my next contraction, I looked down at my hand to see it and the bed completely covered in blood! At that point, Margaret kicked her out of the way and did it herself.
Margaret finished her barrage of questions and helped me relax while Brian literally sprinted back to the car for the camera. He had brought everything but the camera up with him after parking! After not having a camera at McKenna’s birth I was willing to suffer through contractions by myself to make him go back for it. He told people I was pissed that he forgot it, but I really wasn’t! When I’m in an incredible amount of pain, trying incredibly hard to hold it together, I think pretty much everything I said sounded like I was pissed off! He must have been hauling because he was only gone for two contractions.
I think I did a few more contractions sitting up on the edge of the bed but about that time, Bella’s heart rate started dropping. They had me lay down on my side and that’s when I kinda lost my control. I still did much better than McKenna’s birth, but the contractions were no longer manageable or tolerable. I had one or two contractions on my side and then my water burst. (And just like with McKenna’s birth, my water didn’t just break, it exploded! Brian was so happy that didn’t happen in his house or his car! Yay for someone else having to clean it up!!) I have no idea why it hurts so badly when your water breaks! I thought I had lost control before that point, but I really really lost it after that. I distinctly remember yelling incredibly loudly during that contraction!
I did one or two more contractions on my side after my water broke and they asked me if I felt like pushing. Pushing was the most frustrating part of this labor. With McKenna’s I had a distinct change in labor and actually had the urge to push. The hard part of pushing during her labor was figuring out the right muscles. This time I had no urge whatsoever and still couldn’t figure out the right muscles. I think Dr. Ishimaru had me push a little early though - after Bella was born they told me there was a bunch of meconium in my water and I think that coupled with her low heart rate made them make me move things along a little earlier than my body preferred. So there was no relief in pushing. It just hurt!! I did one push on my side and couldn’t handle that pain, so we moved me to a sitting position. I pushed for two more frustrating contractions where I felt like I barely made any progress. And then her heart rate got really low and Dr Ishimaru told me to give it all I had to get her out on the next push and somehow I was able to figure it out on that one push. I also screamed like a bloody banshee and I’m pretty sure that’s what made all the difference! I probably scared some poor first times moms in the rooms nearby but, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Brian said I was really loud!
So at 10:43pm, my sweet Bella Susan entered this world! I think it’s amazing that you can love someone so instantly! She was just perfect. She’s a good combination of both of the other kids. (I also think it’s amazing that even after 3 kids, it’s so surreal to have them put a baby up on my chest. I mean, I know where she came from but there’s still that initial thought of “holy crap, where did this baby from?!) I got to hold her for just a few seconds and then they whisked her away. There was so much meconium in the water, she wasn’t crying and didn’t have very good color. They got her crying and did a quick cleanup and weighed her. 8 lbs 12 ounces. Just like her big sister! But she was 21 inches long, ½ inch longer than McKenna, so she didn’t look quite as chubby.
I got to hold her for a few minutes after that and then they took her to the nursery to make sure she hadn’t swallowed any meconium. Brian said there she chunked up a bunch of fluid and then instantly pinked up and looked good. I think they were only gone from the room for about 10-15 minutes. During that time I delivered the placenta and got all cleaned up. (No tears! Hallelujah! I was surprised since I had to push her out so quickly.) It was a big priority for me to nurse her before visitors came in, otherwise I knew it would be a long time before that first feeding and I wanted to get a good start! So after what probably seemed like a lifetime, I’m sure, for the people in the waiting room, the family got to come in one or two at a time to meet the newest member!
I was amazed how easy recovery was. I guess after #2, they just slide right out! Within an hour or so, I honestly didn’t feel like I’d just had a baby. Even the after cramps were hardly anything. I was expecting those to be awful since they get worse with each kid and they were pretty bad with McKenna.
By far, the best labor and delivery out of the three! It’s kinda like Goldilocks and the three labors – the first one was too slow, the second one was too fast, and this one was just right!
McKenna's Birth Story