It was the hardest, most incredible thing I've ever done. Holding my newborn daughter made it all worth it. We transformed our hospital room into a peaceful and joy-filled space to welcome our baby into the world.
April 14th I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I had a doctor’s appointment and was hoping that I would be more dilated and that we could do a membrane sweep to get things going. The whole week I had been impatient and having a hard time staying mentally positive and ready for baby girl to come. When the doctor’s office called to cancel my appointment for scheduling purposes I was fighting back tears. Usually I would have gone along with the changed appointment but I advocated for myself saying I would be 41 weeks tomorrow and really thought I needed to be seen. She called back an hour later saying the midwife was willing to run back to the office in between births.
This was my first time meeting this midwife. My regular OBGYN, had just left the practice to move to El Paso the week prior. I immediately liked my midwife when I was telling her all about my natural birth plan. I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced. My midwife noticed baby’s heart rate was being weird (poor variability with not enough accelerations). We did an ultrasound and the tech couldn’t get baby to show her breathing reflex for her biophysical evaluation so she was scoring a 6/8. My midwife told me that she was a little concerned and told me to call Jon, go home to grab our bags, eat lunch, and meet her at the hospital in an hour. She told us that we were going to do a longer non stress test and if the findings were the same we would induce. We were excited and a little nervous, but mostly eager to meet our little girl. We said a family prayer before we left the driveway.
Keep in mind, this was not what we had planned at all. I had planned on laboring at home until my contractions were 4+1+1. I was going to go on a hike, bounce on the ball, labor in the tub with my paintings, watch The Office and was even going to bake our baby a birthday cake during early labor. On the way to the hospital my husband and I were excited and talking about how it’s ok even if it’s not going exactly as planned. We knew that God’s timing is best and we trust Him in this process. We walked into the hospital smiling and chatting with the receptionists, completely opposite of the movies with the screaming mamma in the wheelchair. My husband was carrying all of our bags and our own pillows from home.
They checked us in downstairs and then brought us up to Labor and Delivery to room 213. Everyone we chatted with was so nice and excited for us. It was a cute little room with a beautiful view of the sunset. We hung up our birth affirmations I painted in front of our bed. The nurses and doctors that cared for us loved them! We noticed that the room didn’t have a clock, which later on, I ended up loving not knowing what time it was and just being present in the moment. On the white board facing my bed our nurse wrote “Goal” and I thought oh good she’s going to write out the most important steps in my plan. She wrote “have a baby!” That brought everything into perspective. We were here to have a safe and healthy delivery. When chatting and getting to know our nurse, she told us that she was born in this very room!
At 6pm we decided to do the least invasive induction: cervadil. It’s like a tampon that goes up within to soften the cervix. They told us it takes about 12 hours for a full dose and that first time mammas usually have 2 rounds before they are ready to start labor. My husband and I were camping out in our room calling family and chatting. We brought snacks and felt giddy with anticipation! I was feeling hyper, with lots of energy. They attached a wireless fetal monitor that allowed me to move around so I was doing squats and my stretches. The monitor showed I was having contractions but I wasn’t feeling anything. It also showed her heart rate was decelerating during the contractions rather than accelerating. It was good we were inducing and we felt calm and safe that we were in the hospital. Baby’s heart rate (around 140 bpm) was the soundtrack in the background of our room. The staff recommended a sleeping pill for me joking that this was probably the last night of full sleep I would have in quite some time! Easily convinced, I took the sleeping pill and my husband took one of his prescription sleeping pills we brought from home. We ate a hospital dinner and were just hanging out!
At 9pm, only 3 hours after getting the cervadil, I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. My husband was helping me out of bed and I felt lots of water come out! I said “Oh my heck I think my water just broke!” My husband called the nurses who checked and said “nope! You just peed the bed.” Haha woopsie! I got to the bathroom and the cervadil fell out! I was shocked and a little worried! My husband called the nurses again who brought our midwife in. She checked me and I was 2 cm dilated! My body was going into labor all on its own! We remembered we had taken the sleeping pills 3 hours earlier. Also, my poor husband had been at his surgery rotation since 5 am that morning! We were so excited that it was starting and we sent out a text to our friends and family. The nurse brought me a peanut ball to put between my legs and we both rested. Unsurprisingly, my husband fell asleep on the partner bed and I started to labor on my own for a few hours. It felt like bad period cramps at this point so I was able to breathe through them and doze off in-between. My contractions were already 1 minute apart but I wasn’t aware of that.
At some point the nurses came in saying I needed to switch sides because baby’s heart rate didn’t like me laying on my left side. I switched to my right side with the peanut ball still helping keep my hips open and pelvis relaxed. I had to go to the bathroom again but when they checked me I was already 5 cm dilated! At this point they had placed me on the monitor attached to the bed so I couldn’t get up and they gave me a bed pan. The contractions started getting more intense. I was visualizing them like a wave, slowly coming on, peaking, then receding. I would tell my husband “Ok one is coming” and I would breathe through it and do my deep moaning or horse lips while he pushed on my pressure points. I had a comb I would squeeze to get the pressure points on my palm too. When I started to feel nauseous, I put peppermint oil on my wrist to smell. Each contraction my husband would repeat one of my mantras to me. “Women all over the world are giving birth with you” “You can do anything for one minute” “Relax, Release, Open” “Each contraction is bringing me closer to my baby” “My body was perfectly designed to birth this baby” He would keep reminding me that God was with us in that room, at that moment. It was such a relief to have his support and I know I couldn’t have done it without him. He confessed to me a few days later that after each contraction, he would lay his head down on my bed and try to rest. He was praying “Lord please don’t let me fall asleep during my wife’s labor” while fighting off his xanax. About an hour later my husband said that his prayer changed to “Lord if I do fall asleep, don’t let Carly notice!” My poor husband was so tired! The nurse kept asking me if I was in pain, (which I was) but she couldn’t believe it because I was so calm.
A few hours later, I felt a shift in my body. My body was having the urge to push. We called the nurses and my Midwife came to check on me and I was 8 cm dilated. I told my Midwife my body was trying to push and she said resist the urge because the baby’s head was not engaged yet. She was worried the umbilical cord could come out first which would lead to an emergency c-section, or if I pushed now I could possibly get a cervical lip. I knew I really didn’t want either of those things. This was the hardest hour of my labor because instead of relaxing and accepting my body’s contractions, I now had to fight against my body. For an hour, it was excruciatingly painful. Each contraction wanted to push.
At one point I just couldn’t hold back and pushed. My water sprayed all over the peanut ball and the bed! The nurses came in and I told them I thought my water broke. They also said that the water looked meconium stained. Having my water break was what we needed for her head to descend and start applying pressure on my cervix.
My midwife came in soon after and said I was 10 cm dilated! Wow! I was so excited but knew this was the final stretch of my marathon. I vividly remember waiting for the next contraction and looking at the bottom of the bed. My midwife was there chatting with my husband as he put gloves on. The NICU staff came in and started setting up a little station to the right of me. All of the sudden there were so many people in our room but it still felt so intimate. I had my worship playlist playing on shuffle the whole time. We were all ready to go but were just waiting on my next contraction. The song “You Make Me Brave” came on. It was the perfect song for this moment. I started singing along “you make me brave, you make me brave, you call me out among the storm and in the waves.” My husband started singing it with me then the midwife joined in so pretty soon we were all worshiping together. It was such a beautiful moment and one I will never forget. God’s presence was so powerful and peaceful. Then I looked up and said, “ok a contraction is coming” and my midwife said “You guys ready to have a baby?” We looked at each other and smiled and said, "Yes!"
They let me lay on my right side for pushing. The next 4 contractions, the nurse would count down from 10, three times. I would push the whole 10 seconds, push again, push again, and then rest. It was physically very hard! I knew baby was close though! They could see me stretching open and baby’s head would almost be visible then it would recede back in. On the 5th contraction, my husband said “ok this is the one you got this!” Instead of pushing 3 rounds of 10 seconds I persevered and did a 4th. I felt her head and the ring of fire. Then I felt her shoulders. Ouchy! Then the rest of her slid out! I looked down and saw my husband catch our daughter! The midwife grabbed her and started unwinding the umbilical cord from around her neck. It was wrapped 5 times around her neck. No wonder her heart had been acting weird.
Our daughter was born April 15th 2021 at 5:31am and was 6 pounds 12 ounces and was 20.25 inches long. They placed her on my chest. The joy and love I felt in that one moment is hard to describe. It’s so overwhelming and amazing to finally get to hold this little life that had been growing inside me. My husband was helping rub her back and saying “Give daddy a big cry” and she did. Just one big cry and she was content and happy. I said “I love you so much baby girl” and kissed her slimy head. He cut the umbilical cord then they brought her over to the NICU station. He went with her and I was watching from the bed. She looked so tiny on the table surrounded by all these doctors checking her out. Her APGAR scores were great - an 8 and 9. The nurse started my pitocin to get the placenta out. She was tugging on the cord but noticed it got thinner as it went up inside. While we were waiting she stitched up a first degree tear. When the placenta wasn’t coming out, she told me she would either have to stick her hand up there to get it out or I could push it out. I had forgot about having to birth the placenta! I pushed it out in 2 contractions. After that they put baby back on my chest and she latched right away! I was so proud of us. She ate for a full hour! I was so glad that our hormones were in sync and she had the adrenaline to be able to breastfeed right away. It felt amazing! The oxytocin was flowing. It was finally just the 3 of us, our new family. They gave us 2 whole golden hours uninterrupted.
It was so apparent that God had timed all this out so perfectly. Since the cord was around her neck, she needed to come sooner than later so we felt grateful to be induced. We felt that God had hand-picked each person on our delivery team and we felt so loved by each of them. Never once did I feel that the pain was too great or that I couldn’t do it. I felt God’s presence with me during the whole 11 and a half hours of labor. He gave me strength and blessed me with the best birth partner and moula ever. He was such a calm encouraging presence the whole time. The nurse was saying that our birth was the most calm, beautiful birth she had ever seen. It was the hardest most incredible thing I’ve ever done and I’m so honored to be her mamma. I can’t wait to tell her this story over and over again; of the amazing adventure we had where we worked together as a team (Mommy, Baby, Daddy, and God) to bring her into the world.
~ Carly Crowther