Things get busy and time stops for no one.
Baby Muffin’s due date was July 10, 2022, but Baby Muffin had 0 interest in evacuating from their very comfortable accommodations or participating in their birth. Actually, they decided to stay in their nest for an additional week. To everyone’s surprise, I had not had any signs of impending labor despite this being our second baby. As I often chose to remind people, I was induced with Big Sis Muffin at 39 weeks. And after 9-10 hours of unmedicated laboring, they performed a c-section because Muffin’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction. So my body never went into labor on its own nor did it get to finish the process. So I gave myself grace despite my exhaustion from being so pregnant in the middle of an Arizona summer.
Naturally, at 40 weeks pregnant, I am now much more willing to do whatever needs to be done to kickstart labor. Our baby was not having it. All of the safe recommendations for evicting babies, we tried them. Baby Muff refused to acknowledge any of them.
Journey to Baby Birth!
Very late on July 15th, I finally started to have contractions and some cramping. These mild contractions and cramping eventually progressed into the loss of my mucous plug. I was so excited! These early labor pains would wax and wane for the next 24 hours.
Taking naps through early labor.
On July 16th, we went for a walk around the neighborhood as we had done for the last several weeks. After this walk, my contractions became much stronger and much more consistent. After a few hours of these more painful contractions, we decided to call our doula & head to the hospital! Big Sis Muffin was dropped off at her friend’s house and we checked into the hospital. The timing was perfect because I had just been scheduled for an induction on the 17th; so I was thrilled to not need it!
Laboring in the Hospital
I felt so unheard and out of control of my own birth experience when I had Lariah. In addition to my OBGYN being unavailable, decisions were made for me instead of WITH me and it left me with a LOT of trauma. This is why I hired a doula to help me advocate for myself, but I also had an OBGYN group who seemed very supportive of my desire to have a TOLAC (Trial of Labor After Cesarean) leading to a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). After getting settled in our room, I was immediately brought a peanut ball & a yoga ball to manage my pain.
The vast majority of my labor was very fun & light-hearted! I felt in charge and empowered! Every time a nurse came in, they asked what I wanted rather than telling me what they needed to do first and every step was a collaborative effort.
It wasn’t long before the fetal monitor was causing my contractions to be more painful, so the staff switched me to a mobile monitor that allowed me much more flexibility! This came with a cost: the equipment was very sensitive and had to be adjusted frequently, but with it, I walked around my room, ate, sang, danced, showered, & labored in the tub.
It was all good until it wasn’t..
It was late afternoon/early evening when we checked my progress and found that I was stuck at 5-6 centimeters. This broke my spirit: I had been such a champion and I was DOING IT! I was laboring unmedicated and had been doing so since before midnight on the 15th! This was my dream, and I started to feel it crumble from beneath me following this cervical check. My doctor provided me with a few options of how to proceed: start Pitocin, break my water, or continue as a have been for a little longer before needing some sort of intervention for the sake of the baby.
I felt strongly that if I started Pitocin, I would end up having another c-section and I did not want that. I KNEW I could push out this baby! But my doctor was very upfront about how much more intense my contractions would be if we broke my water. After some deliberation: I decided to let her break my water. It was one of the most excruciating, horrible feelings I had had this entire labor; and that was just the beginning.
I slowly felt myself losing my ability to focus and losing my confidence as the pain intensified without the cushion of the fluid. I labored in the shower & in the tub again, but right before midnight on July 17th, I broke.
Change of birth plans..
A little after 48 hours into continuous contractions, I felt defeated. I couldn’t think long enough to breathe through my contractions. The pain was unbearable! My medical team saw that I was struggling and offered me pain management options. I briefly tried nitrous oxide, but the difficult part about that is that you have to breathe it in during your contractions and I was exhausted. I was no longer able to manage my pain and this broke my heart. In addition to dealing with labor pains, I felt like a failure.
After some intense back and forth, I requested an epidural and my medical team supported me in doing so. My mind and my body were exhausted. I had been going at this for two days. I needed a break and that didn’t make me weak. It made me stronger because I had to put my pride and ego aside and make a decision that would best benefit myself and my baby. I was not in a headspace that I would deem favorable for welcoming a baby into the world.
I had to take a liter of fluids before they could perform the epidural, and I was beside myself. In retrospect, I can laugh about it, but at the moment, I was frantic and hopeless. I was in so much pain that I wanted to throw myself on the floor, knowing that it wouldn’t help, but rational thinking was out the window.
I’m told that it was about 20 minutes to run those fluids and maybe another 20 to get the epidural.
I wasn’t the LEAST bit bothered by the needle being placed in my back, I just wanted the pain to stop. Because it was imperative that I was still for the procedure, I opted to just scream. What else could I do? These contractions were coming at what felt like every 1-2 minutes: there wasn’t enough time between them to place the epidural. It had to happen. And it did. And I screamed.
Afterward, there was about a ~20-minute window of progressive numbness that took over my body. A few adjustments were needed, but I no longer felt like I was being ripped open from the inside. I could rest. And I did. Almost immediately.
I was finally back in control. Not in the way I had planned, but true resilience is adapting in the midst of chaos. I adapted and I was proud of that.
It’s Go Time!
Around 5 am, I awoke to one of my nurses asking if she could check me because the baby’s heart rate had dipped a little and she just wanted to make sure everything was okay. I had done it. I was 10 centimeters! It was GO TIME! Ironically, my doula had just left, so we called her to come back.
Naturally, the anticipation of the birth of our second child made my husband have to go to the bathroom. So he did. He & my doula got back right in time!
Pushing was a very surreal experience for me. They told me to push as hard as I could. “Push like your pooping.” But when I’m pooping, I can feel that. I couldn’t feel ANYTHING down there; so how would I know if I was pushing right? Nevertheless, I pushed.
Several pushes in, I asked what time it was. It was 6:12 am. I asked, “Could this be done with this by 6:14?” Big Sis was born at 6:14 pm. I knew she would be so happy if her sibling was born at the same time. My medical team was happy to oblige!
A few “big” pushes later & it was 6:14 am on July 18, 2022.
Laíla Brooke Herod made her debut: 8lbs 2oz of pure love and anticipation.
The After Math
We had our golden hour of skin-to-skin & her 1st nursing session; it was perfect. You never know exactly how you’re going to feel when you first hold that baby that you’ve been carrying and protecting for so long, but when you do, you’re forever changed!
During my golden hour, I heard my doctor clinking her surgical instruments at the bottom of my bed. I asked her if I tore and she said, “Just a little bit, but you did an AMAZING job!” I cannot emphasize enough how phenomenal this woman made me feel every step of my labor. Between her and my nurses, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better experience!
We stayed in the hospital for another day or so and then we were discharged to go start our new lives as a family of 4. Two daughters, a mother, & a father. And we have never felt more complete.
Thank you for reading our birth story and gender reveal! Our sweet baby did end up having some latch issues and refused to let the tech perform her hearing exam. So there was definitely some more excitement in the recovery room after her arrival, but we can save those stories for another day! Check out our other posts here & watch our family grow in real time on Instagram & TikTok!