Monthly Archives: September 2015

The NICU

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The NICU. I never in a million years thought that I would experience it. My kids are all born huge, healthy, and pink. I always (subconsciously) had a false sense of security that because my babies are born big, they’d be safe from the NICU. I never even realized that this was my thought process until Mae ended up in the NICU.

She was born at 12:41 pm on a Wednesday. 9 lbs 3 oz, 20.5 inches long. BIG baby girl! ❤ She didn’t say much when she entered the world, but she “pinked up” just fine. She was quiet and observant. Benji and I actually didn’t even know what she sounded like for about 24 hours after her birth.

Her first night with us was interesting. She didn’t wake me up by crying. Instead, she would wake me up in 30-90 minute intervals by choking. I would quickly pick her up and then she would gag and subsequently projectile vomit (I guess you would call it vomiting?) clear fluid.  I had never experienced this with H or E, but I didn’t panic. I just figured she had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid in the womb and it was working its way out of her.

The day after her birth, we finally heard her cry for the first time. She was really fussy, unlike the day before. I thought maybe she was waking up and this was going to be her normal disposition. I kept her at the breast as much as I could, but she still fussed. Sometime around mid day, I noticed she was breathing rapidly. Her nurse came in for one of her checkups, and I shared my concerns with her, but she told me she thought it was just because Mae had recently been crying.

Later that afternoon, the nurse came in again for another checkup. This time, she noticed the rapid breathing for herself and told us that she needed to take Mae to Well Baby so that the pediatrician could examine her. Still in the “my babies don’t go to the NICU” mindset, I let her leave the room without much pomp and circumstance. I assumed that all would be well and they would return Mae within an hour.

Well…that didn’t happen. We were told a little while later that Mae was being sent to NICU for tachypnea (a fancy word for rapid breathing) and she would be getting a chest x-ray. They didn’t really tell us much beyond that, saying the doctor would fill us in later. At this point, I internally freaked out a bit. I actually type the neonatal chest x-rays for this particular hospital, and I knew that Mae would be getting crap-ton of x-rays if she were to stay in the NICU. Hello, radiation.

The doctor didn’t officially come to speak with me until about 11 PM. Once again, he didn’t give me any specific diagnosis…it was just a “she might have this, but we’re not sure so we’re monitoring her” kind of thing. He did tell me that they had taken blood cultures and had started antibiotics to go ahead and start fighting off any infection that might be there. He said her breathing was already headed in the right direction.

Having never had a NICU baby before, I kept waiting for them to call me to say I could come see her. By 8AM the next morning, I realized that obviously wasn’t going to happen. It had been about 14 hours since I had seen her so I started making calls myself <– apparently this is how the NICU works. You tell them when you want to go see the baby, not the other way around. No one ever communicated this to me, so I was clueless. I was pretty upset when I realized that I could have been in to see her all throughout the night.

The NICU told me I could come see her in about 30 minutes. I was still unable to walk at this point, and Benji had to work on this particular morning (you can read about that Here), so I had to call a nurse to wheel me down. That was real fun.

When I finally arrived, Mae was screaming. She hadn’t had anything to eat since the afternoon before. They had her on IV fluids, and at one point had had a feeding tube in her, but she had gotten mad and ripped it out. Though she was getting fluids, she was still hungry. A nurse was at her incubator with both arms inside trying to pat her down and calm her. Mae was on her belly, with her head to the side and she was violently kicking and flailing around. She was very hangry and was letting everyone know about it. She had a million wires coming out of her and she had a cannula in as well. As soon as I saw her, I fell apart and started sobbing. Every fiber of my being wanted to grab her up and hold her, but there was a giant plastic box and a nurse standing between us. Though I was staring right at her, it felt like she was a million miles away. It was a horrible, gut-wrenching feeling.

The nurse eventually put some sugar water on a pacifier and calmed her that way.  She told me I could put my hands through the arm holes of the incubator and touch her that way if I wanted. She left after that, and I just sat and cried. Every time I’d try to pull myself together, I’d start back up again. At some point, another nurse came over and just hugged me. She didn’t say a thing…she just hugged me while I cried. She eventually brought me a baby blanket to wipe my face with – she said they don’t even bother with Kleenex for the NICU parents. It made me laugh. It was such a kind gesture…and I feel horrible because I don’t even remember what she looked like, but I’ll still remember her forever.

One big blessing that came out of my “injury” was that they allowed me to stay in the hospital for one day longer. While I was in the hospital, I visited Mae as often as I could. By Friday, mid day, they had started allowing us to hold and bottle feed her. She was improving and they had removed her cannula. It left a horrible mark though:

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Being able to finally hold her was amazing!

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I was discharged on Saturday. The doctor who discharged me said that the room was mine until midnight, so I could stay as long as I needed to even though I had been discharged. I decided to stay until 5pm, so that I could feed her one last time before going home.

That last feeding was pretty terrible. I cried and cried and cried. Leaving her at the hospital just felt so wrong, and I felt very guilty. It may have helped if we had known when she’d be coming home with us, but the NICU was absolutely horrible about communicating with us. We still didn’t even have a diagnosis for her at this point and when we’d ask when she might come home, they’d basically just repeat their standards and procedures to us. The only time we got close to having an answer was when one nurse told us “Maybe by Wednesday” but even that wasn’t encouraging with the “maybe” in front of it.

The next two nights were difficult and lonely, to say the least. There should have been a sweet little baby right next to me at night, but instead, her bed was empty. I would sit and pat my flattened belly, while looking over to where she should have been, and I would play back all the times I had ever complained about being pregnant, my heart heavy with regret. I may have been uncomfortable, but at least she had been safe then. Now she wasn’t with us at all, and it just sucked.

Thanks to some amazing friends of ours who watched H & E for us practically all day on Sunday, we were able to spend a good portion of our day with her the next day. It was the best medicine! I got to breastfeed her for the first time since Thursday afternoon. She took right to it, like we had never been apart. I was relieved. There was a part of me that believed she wouldn’t know me anymore after all of this was over.

When we came back on Monday, they informed us that we could “room in” with Mae that night. This was music to my ears. Though they still hadn’t told us when she would be discharged, this was the step right before they discharge a baby from the NICU so we had a pretty good feeling it would be the next day!

I had originally planned on just doing the room in alone, but some of the nurses were treating me like an invalid since I had a catheter in and had to use a walker to get around. One had even hinted at Mae not being able to go home until I got well. This statement didn’t sit well with me. Not wanting anything to interfere with her coming home, I asked my friend Bekah if the kids could stay with her overnight so that Benji could come with me. I just wanted the nurses to see with their own eyes that we are a two person team, and Mae would be well cared for, in spite of my injury. So H & E had their first ever slumber party! Thanks Bekah!! ❤

The NICU “room in” closet (I won’t even call it a room) was apparently designed to only have one parent stay with the baby – why??? Who knows.

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It had one twin size bed, and then a crappy fold out chair across from it that was totally nonfunctional. Poor Benji got the worst night of sleep ever that night, I believe. He was a good sport about it, giving me the bed, and not letting me trade out with him, even though I offered to. He’s so sweet.

Mae did splendidly that night! She woke up at her feeding times, ate well, and went back to sleep. The last time that we had spent time with her alone (on Thursday), she had been extremely fussy so I assumed she would scream this night as well, but she didn’t.

The next morning, we were officially told that she could go home. We were so happy! Our family was finally going to be together. The doctor came by to discharge her around 11am. He informed us that she had really been kept “too long.” Yes…he admitted that. After three chest x-rays, one abdominal x-ray, and a round of antibiotics, it turned out that she never had an infection in the first place. All of her x-rays were clear. All of her blood work was negative. “Sometimes babies just do this” he told us. Nice. So my baby just went through hell – being poked and prodded constantly, exposed to radiation, not to mention being separated from her parents – all for nothing? Awesome. Thank you, Doctor. Given my stance on modern medicine, the overuse of antibiotics, and the horrible damage they can do to your body, etc. this honestly just pissed me off, but I decided not to focus on it. I decided to instead focus on the fact that we were finally going home and it was OVER.

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My friend Alexa made this for me to go with one of my birth affirmation cards ❤ RTR, y’all.

So we made it home. I told Benji when we left the hospital that I officially felt like Mae was ours. It just didn’t seem like she was while in the hospital. Anytime we tried to do “normal parenting” stuff, we had a nurse or doctor hovering over us…watching. It always felt like we were being judged on whether or not we were fit parents. Super weird experience.

And just because I have to document EVERYTHING. This is what Mae looked like when she got home:

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Seven sticks in her right foot

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Seven sticks in her left foot

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One stick in each hand

So many boo-boos 😦 And she had another heel stick at the doctor last week, and SCREAMED…so now I can only imagine that she did the same for each of these 16 sticks. Breaks my heart.

But she’s home now…thank God. THANK GOD. And given her start to life, I’m finding it very hard not to spoil her. She’s going to get everything she wants from here on out. Mark my words 😉

Stanky Leg

Hi there! You probably guessed by the title that this post is about my birth injury. Or maybe you thought this post would actually be about me doing the stanky legg…for real. I hate to disappoint you if you thought it was the latter. Maybe some other time, friend?

Like with my birth story, I’m giving you a warning with this post. It will have details and pictures that are probably gross, and TMI, but I’m sharing anyways! It’s my story, and I’ve been laughing through it. It’s just how I deal. So here we go.

A lot of people have been asking about my foot so I thought I’d give a few details here to clear it up for everyone. Well…clear it up as much as I can. It’s still not technically clear to me OR the doctors.

Basically, after Mae was born, and the epidural was wearing off, I realized that my right foot was completely numb. We were told that the epidural sometimes just takes a while to wear off and that what I was experiencing was normal. We were told that within 24 hours, my leg and foot would be back to normal. My gut told me that this wasn’t going to be the case for me, but I ignored that feeling and decided to just enjoy the first 24 hours with my new baby girl. I didn’t want to worry those precious first hours away.

After 24 hours had passed though, my foot was still completely numb. The right side of my leg below the knee was also numb, but the left was not. I couldn’t move my toes, or flex my foot up or down. It just sort of….hung there. The doctors and nurses were perplexed and no one had any answers. I was sent in for an MRI to make sure that the epidural had not somehow injured my spine. While I did have two disc bulges and some facet hypertrophy, there was nothing from the epidural, and nothing that would cause me to to lose the use of my right foot.

A physical therapist was sent to my room and she was absolutely no help whatsoever. She just made a bunch of confused noises and left abruptly, offering to bring some ice packs by later on, in case I had an inflamed nerve. I began to feel rather hopeless at this point. My nurse had taught me how to walk by locking my bones into place, but I had to hold onto things as I crossed the room or I couldn’t make it. I eventually requested that my doctor order me a walker. Yes…a freaking walker.

On top of my leg/foot not working, my bladder was out of commission too. I could not pee on my own. I had the urge to go, but I couldn’t get it to leave my body. And we tried everything. Grape juice with sweet-n-low in it (I’m still confused on this one?), medication, tons of water, ammonia packs under me while I was actively trying to go, sniffing nail polish remover while trying to go (again…what?), sucking on a straw while I tried to go…NOTHING WORKED. I thought maybe I was experiencing performance anxiety and that’s why I couldn’t go. But then…my family came to visit. I was feeling like I needed to go when they got there, and that sensation quickly turned into severe pain. I called my nurse and told her I needed a catheter put in ASAP. I seriously thought I was going to burst. When they got the catheter in, they drained nearly one and a half liters from my bladder. Umm..there is no way that was performance anxiety!

At this point, they decided to put a Foley catheter in and just leave it. It stayed in for 24 hours, was removed, and once again, I couldn’t go and I had to have another one placed. Damn. I was beginning to feel pretty desperate. Everyone began to verbalize what I had feared the most – that it might be related to my leg. HOLY MOLY. Please…no. I couldn’t have a catheter in for forever. This was worse than my right leg not working in my book – maybe I’m crazy, but that’s just how I felt. My nurse came in to find me crying over it one night, and assured me that all would be okay and that my bladder would “wake up” soon. I didn’t believe her.

Long story short, I ended up being sent home with that stupid thing. I find this a little hilarious (now), because right before Mae was born, I informed my friend Amanda that getting the Foley catheter was one of my favorite parts of labor! You spend nine months peeing all the time, and finally get a break from it. Needless to say, I ate my words, and I am not a fan of the Foley anymore! Haha.

I had it in for a week. I deal with things by being stupid and cracking jokes. So to cope with this awful contraption, I nicknamed it my postpartum penis and my pee purse and tried to make light of it.

And speaking of laughing about my situation, Benji also started singing this to me anytime I’d hobble somewhere:

LOL!!! God, I love him.

Okay…back to the pee purse. Being in public with it was absolutely humiliating. I felt like I had mastered walking around with my stanky leg, but since I was always carrying a bag of my pee around, I felt tied to my walker. I had to have something to hang the bag on that kept it below my waist line (to prevent urine from going backing up into my bladder once it was in the bag). Seriously…it was awful and people treated me like I was so so fragile and incapable. The NICU nurses were the worst about looking at me with that pity look, and one even hinted to not letting Mae go home until I didn’t have the catheter in anymore.

On top of all that, I couldn’t take a bath with it in – I had to shower. As you can imagine, that’s a little difficult when you can’t use one of your legs properly. And…dude…when things fall apart around me, I just want to hop into the bathtub and SOAK sometimes. It sucked not being able to do that. I also couldn’t wear pants while I had it in. I had to wear a dress, and you could see the tube (aka postpartum penis) coming out from underneath my dress, and from my nether regions. People stared and it was annoying.

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Yep. That’s my pee…in the pee purse. Isn’t it beautiful?

After being at home with that thing for a week, I finally got the chance to try peeing again. I went in to my OB’s office expecting to be sent home with another catheter. I had actually even asked JLo before going in to teach me how to self cath if I couldn’t pee so I could just get rid of that nasty bag. I got there early in the morning and had that “I’m about to burst” sensation. I sat down, prayed, and then…peed. I PEED!!!! I’ve never prayed over my peeing efforts before, but I definitely give God the glory for being able to go – that’s a weird statement. I cried and cried and cried. It was the best feeling in the world! I tell you what…I will never take being able to pee for granted again! Haha.

Once that was all settled, I felt so much better about my leg. My friend Danielle had loaned me a brace earlier in the week to tie me over until I could get an actual AFO brace. Her brace helped me tremendously! I’ve been using it around the house, and once when we took the kids to the zoo. It helps me walk and prevents me from unknowingly spraining my ankle. It’s awesome – thank you, Danielle!! ❤

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I forgot to mention that the OB that discharged me told me that what I have is called drop foot. It’s basically the result of nerve damage. So we know WHAT it is…we just don’t know why it happened unfortunately.

I found a group of moms on FB that suffered the same type of injury during their births and recovery time for all of them was anywhere from 6 weeks to a year. I’m hopeful that my foot will slowly began to heal on it’s own.

A couple of times, I’ve caught myself looking forward to the day when I’ll be all better and fully functional again. I’m trying really hard not to have that mindset though – you know…looking forward to a time when my present trouble is gone. Who knows if that day will even come for me. Mae will only be this little once, and since she’s my last baby, I’m trying so hard to be present NOW and to just enjoy her, in spite of my foot. Some days are harder than others, and I don’t always make that choice…especially with all the postpartum hormones and what not going on. Some days I have multiple pity parties over it. But I’m realizing that in some ways, this has been a blessing. When Mae was being released from the NICU, I was praying over her and I started praying that God would make this time go slower for me. That he would slow ME down, so that I could just enjoy it all. I immediately saw a picture of my foot as the words left my mouth. It was like God was saying I’m one step ahead of you, Ash (see what I did there?).

Because of this injury, I’ve had to settle into a new place that I’m not really comfortable being in – a place where I let people help me. That has probably been the hardest part because I don’t really love asking for help. But through that, I’ve found that people really and truly love us…so much. It’s kind of incredible and extremely humbling. God has been so generous towards me, and our family, through all of this.

So that’s where we are now. Hopefully within a week or two I’ll have my AFO brace. I’m also planning to see a physical therapist and neurologist to help me with my recovery. I’m excited about that and hopeful they can give me even more answers.

I’m still planning to post about the NICU stay as well as my feelings on c-section versus VBAC. My feelings on the last may surprise you, given my present situation! But more on that later 🙂

Mae’s Birth Story

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She’s here! Good Lord. I can’t believe it. A week has already passed, and what a whirlwind it was. I’ve thought about writing this story down several times over the past few days, but never got around to it. Today is the day though. I need to do it before the details get lost in the fuzziness that is new motherhood. Just a warning though. I have a million pictures, and one includes a bloody baby. I’m not sparing any details, so if birthy things gross you out, read no further, friend! 🙂

It’s hard to know where to start on this one. As most of you already know, I had a vaginal birth after two c-sections this time. I didn’t officially decide to attempt a vaginal birth until I was 37 weeks along though. I spent my entire pregnancy going back and forth on what to do.

When I had Em by csection, I knew I would never try to VBAC again. It was way too painful (both physically and emotionally) to try only to fail in the end. And if I’m being honest…trying and failing left an ugly mark on Em’s birth for me. I was thrilled that she was healthy, but part of me was also grieved by how things went down. I didn’t want that for this birth. The OB who delivered Em had also assured me that my pelvis was too small to birth my babies anyways. So once Em came by c-section, I knew that with my next pregnancy, I would simply sign up for a repeat c-section.

Only I didn’t. I got pregnant again and for some reason, that decision did not come so easily to me. Every time I thought about picking a c-section date, I felt conflicted and I had no idea why. Once again, I had a very intense longing to have a vaginal birth this time around. I was insanely frustrated with myself over it too as I had already been told it was impossible. Whhhhhyyyyyy did I want to try again?

My new OB only complicated my decision because she was pro VBAC…even after two c-sections. She had read all the studies that deemed them safe, and was on board if I wanted to try. Part of me just wanted her to tell me no and make the decision for me. I know. Insanity, right? She said we would wait until late in my pregnancy and have an ultrasound to determine whether or not I was a good candidate – she mainly just wanted to see if Mae was actually in my pelvis or not.

I’ll spare you the emotional turmoil I went through (and put my friends through) during the weeks leading up to my ultrasound. To VBAC or not to VBAC. It consumed me every. single. day. Finally, on August 8th (I remember the date), I felt God calling me to just freaking surrender to Him already. DO IT. Surrender to me, and don’t care about the ending, Ash. I’ve got this. <—it sounded more or less like that. LOL. So I did. I handed my birthy plans over to Him…the ones I had been clinging to and crying over for weeks on end. And I felt immediate peace.

Over the next ten days, as I waited for my ultrasound, “I Surrender All” was my daily song. Anytime I felt a hint of anxiety or the temptation to wonder what would happen, I started singing that song. By the time the 18th rolled around, I had convinced myself that Dr. Logan (aka JLo) would say a repeat c-section was in my best interest, and I was actually okay with it!

However, to my complete shock, Mae was engaged and ready to go at that appointment. I had never had a baby engaged in my pelvis before…not even during labor, so this was a miracle in my book! JLo told me I was a good candidate to try and said my pelvis was just fine to birth my baby. So it was decided. I would try. Again. Phew.

I started doing all the labor-y type things after that appointment. Walking like a mad woman. Drinking raspberry tea. Eating pineapple. Bouncing on my birth ball. Seeing my chiropractor weekly (I had actually already been doing this for a while). Etc. It was fun to work towards sending my body into labor on its own. I came up with a birth plan and officially asked two of my friends to doula for me.

During that week, I actually started experiencing nightly contractions…something that had never happened in any of my pregnancies before. They kept me up all. night. long. It was awful and awesome at the same time! Awful in that it exhausted me and awesome in that it assured me that my body was working towards the end goal of getting Mae here.

At my 38 week check up I was 1.5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I upped my birthing ball and pineapple game over the next week and by the time I was 39 weeks, I was 3 cm dilated.  JLo asked if she could strip my membranes at the appointment and I said “please, and thank you!” That was on Monday. I had contractions all afternoon that day, and I was kind of afraid I’d go into labor that night. I say afraid because I was exhausted from being up all night the night before. I wanted just one night of rest before I went into the real deal labor thing. Fortunately, I got what I asked for! Contractions stopped completely that night, and I had some of the best sleep I had gotten in weeks! The next morning, my friend (and doula) asked if I’d like to go walk. We loaded up all of our kids and took them to the park. They played while we made a couple of laps around the circle there. It was hot so we eventually decided to go walk around and shop at Target. While there, I started cramping.

I went home and put the kids down for nap and the contractions started up. They were 6-8 minutes apart. I stayed in bed all afternoon and evening with contractions. Even though I had gotten a good night sleep before, I was starting to feel extremely tired again.

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I looked awesome. This is my last pregnant picture.

Around 6pm, I had bloody show (I told you…all the birthy things will be written about), and after that my contractions really started to pick up. I texted my mom and told her to go ahead and come to our house as I thought I’d be heading to the hospital later that night.

My mom and doula (Bekah) both arrived at our house around 9pm. I had taken a bath in an attempt to slow my contractions down while waiting for my mom, and it was very efficient. Once Bekah arrived, I told her I’d like to go somewhere and walk to try and bring them back on again. We decided to head off to my friend Naomi’s house as she lived close to the hospital.

We got there and walked, and bounced on my birthing ball, and walked some more. Benji and I walked around the neighborhood and held hands. It felt like a little date and my heart needed that. At some point, I burped really loudly because I do that on dates, and it scared a man that was outside that I hadn’t seen. Yes…I scared a man with my burp. Sorry, dude. I assure you all…I am a lady…sometimes.

Around midnight, Naomi told me she thought that what I was experiencing was prodromal labor. She said I was too smiley to be in real labor and suggested that we wait things out. She told me not to get my hopes up on having the baby any time soon, but offered to let me spend the night at her house just in case. I knew I was in labor, and truthfully wanted to go to the hospital right at the moment because I was in a great deal of pain, even if I was smiley. But I decided to try and lay down for a while and wait to see what happened. I lasted an hour. I was dying. DYING. My contractions were lasting anywhere from 60-90 seconds and my god…they hurt. After an hour of laying there writhing in pain, I started shaking uncontrollably. I was terrified and started to feel desperate. I needed to go to the hospital. I just felt like I’d be safe there. I woke Benji and Bekah up and told them both I needed to go now. I may have dropped a couple of eff bombs in there too. Oh and I started crying uncontrollably. Good lord. Drama.

Bekah went and told Naomi we were going, but Naomi was half asleep and misunderstood, thinking we were heading home, not to the hospital. She stayed home and we headed off.

Things get a little blurry at this point. I know we were in triage for about two hours…and I was SO tired. I was handling contractions okay, but my eyes were rolling back into my head in between them, and I started to feel a little like I was dying. For real.

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So tired.

In all the rush to leave for Naomi’s house, I had forgotten my wallet at home. It had a special “call JLo for delivery” card in it. Since I was a VBA2C patient, JLo promised to personally delivery me no matter when I went into labor. We told the nurses that JLo told me to have them call her, but I didn’t have the card to prove it. Unfortunately, the OB on call that night was not VBAC supportive and if he delivered me, it would have been by repeat c-section. I was in so much pain that I started telling Benji and Bekah that if that man came into my room and told me I had to have a c-section, I wasn’t going to fight him on it. I was too tired and didn’t want to fight. At some point, we finally convinced the nurses to call JLo. They didn’t realize that I had had two prior c-sections – they thought I’d only had one. When they found this out, their eyes got wide. JLo was called, and we were moved to labor and delivery.

I forgot to mention that while in triage, they checked me and I was 4 cm dilated. This derailed me quite a bit simply because I was so tired and had been contracting ALL afternoon, evening, and night. All I could think was…geez…hours and hours of this crap, and I’m only 1 cm more dilated. I can’t continue on like this…hours of pain and exhaustion for just 1 cm. I was also fighting the mental battle of what if I do all of this and I stall at 7 cm again and end up with a c-section anyways – I had never gotten past 7 cm in any of my births.

It was at this point that I started telling Benji and Bekah that I needed the epidural. My birth plan had been ALLLLLLLL natural. No epidural. No artificial rupture of membranes. No pitocin. Etc. So when I started talking about getting the epidural, Benji and Bekah reminded me that pre-labor Ashley didn’t want one. And let me tell you something…it was ANNOYING. They had the best of intentions, and normal rational Ashley knows that. But laboring Ashley was kind of a beast and didn’t really care.

Bekah is one of my best friends, and she knows my birth stories and how they wounded me. She knew my heart’s desire, and wanted to see it through. She was gracious while reminding me of my birth plan.

And Benji…God bless him. He was a bit more firm because he’s physically been there as I’ve fallen apart before each c-section, and had to recover physically and emotionally from each one. He had seen me walk through and agonize over every single decision I made during my prior births, wondering if I had done something wrong. He had sat and cried with me. He lived through those disappointments with me, and didn’t want me to go through that again…so he was a lot more stubborn about my choice to get the epidural. I love him for it…but I was still mean to him in that moment lol. Sorry, babe.

Eventually, after lots of screaming from me, and punching a table or something, everyone agreed that I should be put out of my misery. I think they were really just afraid that I’d eat them alive if I didn’t get my way. I’m still ashamed of how I behaved. Bekah says I was only mean to Benji, but I think she’s lying.

So I got the drugs. And then I was in HEAVEN. You just don’t even know. Seriously. Look at the before and after:

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I took a nap, and progressed to 7 cm. When I woke up, nice Ashley was back!

Doubting Debrah came back with her though. I was now at 7 cm. My stalling point.

Okay…this is where it happens every time. I’m going to stall again, I just know it! Just make peace with it and you won’t be so disappointed when it happens again <—- my thought process.

I want to say I was at 7 cm for three hours, when JLo came in and said we weren’t going to get discouraged over it. She was going to break my water and start pitocin. I’m glad she wasn’t getting discouraged, because I sure as hell was! I just knew I wouldn’t go any further. They cranked up the pitocin, and I started to feel more pressure. It wasn’t too bad, but I could feel it. Sometime later, JLo came in and I was at 8 cm. I kid you not, my belief was that she lied to me to make me believe in myself, so that I would stop blocking my body from progressing. I did NOT believe I was 8 cm.

The nurses came in on an hourly basis and flipped me from side to side to help Mae move further down into my pelvis (I think it’s called the epidural roll?). It took about 1 to 2 hours to progress each centimeter. It was torturous. Eventually I was told I was 9 cm. Hmm…maybe JLo isn’t lying to me? Am I really at 9cm?

Again, I stayed there for a while, until Naomi came in with her peanut ball. Google it. They’re amazing, and I wish I had used it the entire time. They put it between my legs and within five minutes I was complete.

I fell apart when JLo said I was ready to push. No really. I did. Here’s proof. Naomi took pictures of my ugly cry:

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I never in a million years thought I would hear those words. JLo asked if I was in pain and I told her no…I was just so happy. I STILL could not believe it was happening though. I kept asking “is this really happening? Does this mean I’m going to push her out?” It was just absolute shock and disbelief..the whole time.

Still being in my negative state of mind, I was expecting about 2-4 hours of pushing. Naomi turned on my labor grooves playlist which included classics like “you can do it put your back into it” and “push it”. Me, the doulas, the OB, and the nurses ALLLLLLL danced to my awesome music while I pushed my precious baby into the world. My wonderful husband, who isn’t much of a dancer (unless it’s to ska), just smiled and videoed the whole thing for me. What a gift! ❤ It was so incredible and SO much fun! Celebratory. Exactly how I had always wanted to experience birth!

I pushed for about 20 minutes, and JLo asked if I’d like to deliver her. UMM…yes, I would! So I got to pull her out. I was literally the first person to touch or hold her once she was earthside. It was pure magic, y’all.

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Seriously. It was one of the most incredible moments of my life, and I’m still in awe that it actually happened. I never once believed in myself. I was TERRIFIED of trying and failing again…so I almost didn’t even try. I can’t even believe that. I almost didn’t try! What if I hadn’t? What if I had given into fear and let it win? I would have missed out on one of the greatest moments of my life!

God was so gracious to me. He surrounded me with people who believed in me, when I couldn’t believe in myself. They encouraged me to go for it. They all helped to carry me through this. I’m so grateful to God and my support team.

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I’ll be writing a couple more posts in addition to this one. I want to write about my “birth injury”, Mae’s NICU stay, and my thoughts on VBAC vs. C-section (because people keep asking). But I’ll save that for later, because this is already hella long! 🙂

God bless you if you hung in there and read the whole thing!