Today, my third daughter, Remi Elizabeth, is 40 weeks and 3 days old. Why is this significant you ask? Well, because that is the exact amount of time she spent inside my belly. I figured this would be a great time to finally share her birth story on the blog. Even though it has already been 9+ months since she was born, her labor & delivery still feel so fresh in my mind. I’m really excited to finally get this written out! (edited to add: i began writing this on October 21st and had to stop to process it all before finishing this post.)
A little backstory
As I said above, Remi is our third baby & in order to fully appreciate this birth story & for some context, you should know about my first two labors. My older two daughters are 5 and 3 years old now but I can still remember both of their entrances into this world like they were yesterday. I shared my first daughter’s birth story HERE and my second daughter’s HERE. I recommend reading those first since I’ll probably reference these stories several times as I share Remi’s birth story! I promise they are interesting. 😉
When I got pregnant with Aria (my first) I read all the books, blogs, & articles about natural birth, took the classes and prepared myself for a completely drug-free labor & delivery. I’m “crunchy” and very into health & wellness so this was the obvious decision for me, Not to say there is anything wrong with those who choose to get an epidural (no judgement here!). After researching, reading and learning, I thought I had this thing in the bag. But the books and classes don’t prepare you for when your labor doesn’t go the way you expected. Looking back, I was pretty naive. Nothing about birth is black & white. At least not mine!
In short, my first two births did not go as planned, and I didn’t have either baby naturally (without drugs). I was devastated for a long time after my first daughter’s birth because i felt like such a failure (crazy, i know!). My second labor was completely natural and I didn’t need to get meds until I was pushing because my cervix had swelled & that was literally my only option short of having a c-section. I felt proud of the fact that I was able to go through the whole labor naturally, at least! At the end of the day, I was just thankful to have healthy babies! That’s really all that matters to me!
Trying Something New
When we got pregnant again, my goal remained the same: a healthy baby. But I also really wanted to have a natural labor & delivery this time (there are so many benefits to having a natural delivery!). Even though I hadn’t been able to do it the first two times, I was hopeful that this one would be different! Third time’s a charm, right? Plus I was SO close with my second that I just felt like it would happen this time.
We had used the Vanderbilt Midwives for our first two babies and while we liked them and our experiences there, we wanted to try something different for our third. A new birth center called Baby+Co had just opened in Nashville the year before and I really wanted to deliver there. The concern was that medicine of any kind was not an option at the birth center, so if my 3rd labor went like my first two and i NEEDED meds, I’d have to be transferred to the hospital. Not ideal. We went for a tour and got to talk to the midwives about my previous labors and how my cervix had given me issues each time. They assured us that they had techniques and tools to help and that my issue was actually common. They were confident that being in the labor tub would be helpful if my cervix did swell again, They put our fears at ease & made me feel confident. After that, we decided to give Baby+Co a shot for our third birth!
This birth center is a BEAUTIFUL place with big birth suites that look more like hotel rooms than delivery rooms. It’s peaceful and doesn’t feel sterile like hospitals do. I loved the prenatal care i received there and how personalized it was compared to my last two experiences. Every prenatal visit is done in one of the birth suites on their nice big beds, so that you get comfortable in the room to prepare for labor. Every midwife I met was kind and knowledgeable, and I felt comfortable with whoever was on call to deliver our baby. We also hired our favorite doula, who was our childbirth class instructor during my first pregnancy! I felt so prepared this time around.
My pregnancy with Remi was pretty amazing, uneventful & easy, much like my first two. The varicose vein that developed during my second pregnancy got worse, so that was annoying but overall i felt great and continued working out & teaching Barre classes throughout my pregnancy! However, I was definitely more tired being pregnant this time with a 4 and 2 year old to take care. We also had our house on the market as well so all the showings wore me out! My husband is an amazing father though and is all about taking care of his girls (including me!). So i got a lot of breaks when possible!
At around 37 weeks pregnant you are tested for Group B Strep, and i tested positive this time (i was positive with my first, negative with my second). At Baby+Co they require you to be given antibiotics while in labor, which is a bummer and something i really worried about. We try to avoid antibiotics as a family. They wreak havoc on my body when i do have to take them and destroy the good bacteria that was going to be passed to my baby when she was born. I was bummed about this but in the grand scheme of things, I knew it would be okay.
If you read my second daughter’s birth story, then you know that toward the end of my pregnancy my belly started measuring way behind. Well the same thing happened this time. At my 38 week prenatal appointment I measured at 32/33 weeks, and they had to send me for an ultrasound to check on baby to make sure she was growing and getting proper nutrients from the placenta. I also hadn’t gained any weight from 28 weeks on so that was a concern. But i was very active, and ate well (and a lot in my opnion haha) so i wasn’t concerned about that. At the ultrasound baby Remi checked out perfectly fine and was a great size… again, she was just REALLY low and hiding somewhere in my hips!
The truth about pregnancy is that we have very little control over the changes our bodies make and how we carry our babies. It’s a constant letting go of the reigns, and boy does that prepare you for parenting! We just have to trust the process and allow our bodies to lead the way. Each time I have been pregnant i’ve been AMAZED at my body. I’ve never felt stronger or more beautiful than when I was growing life inside of my belly. Which is probably why i love being pregnant so much haha! Women are such superheroes for what our bodies do during pregnancy, labor & postpartum. High five to ALL of you mamas out there!
My due date was January 8th and about 5 days before that I started having contractions every single night. Since this wasn’t my first rodeo I knew the difference between braxton hicks & real contractions… and let me tell you, these felt REAL. They were 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long and consistent. Until i went to sleep. So every night i’d stay awake till 2, 3, 4, 5am thinking my contractions would lead to a baby… but nope. This is called Prodromal Labor – some people call it false labor but I like the other word better lol!
It was exhausting and mentally draining. Every night the contractions got my hopes up! I had to remind myself that all of these “fake” contractions weren’t completely useless but productive and maybe i was dilating/effacing more each night. I never dilate much before my due date so that was a long shot, but at my 39 week appointment i was 1cm dilated, and at my 40 week I was 2-2.5cm. That’s a big deal for me! Yay for false labor… almost.
The day i went in for my 40 week appointment I had been having contractions ALL day, had bloody show and had lost my mucous plug already. I felt like baby girl was coming soon. She HAD to be! The midwife stripped my membranes and said she thought I’d be having a baby within 48 hours! I loved being pregnant but these false alarms were wearing me out. That night (it was a monday, go figure) was awful. I was in so much pain with contractions, and was sure it was happening. The tub was where I stayed until around 5am. My poor husband was SO sick with some kind of stomach bug. I thought, dear God please do not let me go into real labor tonight… it would not have been good! As much as I wanted to do this thing & meet our baby i knew Justin would have had to stay at home, and I could NOT do labor (especially labor without drugs lol) without him!!
Around 5am, I went to sleep and woke up a few hours later still pregnant, and i was VERY thankful! We hoped Justin just had a 24 hour bug & at least he would have a day to recover. The next day i had ZERO contractions. That night, nothing. God is SO good. I needed that night and a break from the staying up all night false labor nonsense, and He knew it. I slept amazing that night and woke up the next day (wednesday) a new person…. buuuut i started having contractions as soon as i got out of bed. These felt a little different as they were radiating into my back (pleeaaseee no back labor!!) and as the day progressed i had to stop and breathe through them. I didn’t want to get my hopes up though!
I went about my day like normal, ran all the last minute errands & got my lashes filled (i have extensions and LOVE them!). My lash girl, Hannah, had been jokingly saying throughout my pregnancy “you are not allowed to give birth on my table!”, so you can imagine the look on her face when i walked in and told her i might be in labor! Haha! To this day she tells people that one of her clients almost gave birth in her room… I’m famous. 😉 I wasn’t timing them at all throughout the day but i knew they were consistent and started feeling more and more legit. However, around dinner/bedtime for my kiddos they started to die down. I thought “great, another night just like the others!”.
Could This Be It?
After we got our kids to bed the contractions came back and my husband started rubbing my pressure points with essential oils on my hands and ankles, and i bounced on the birth ball while we watched tv. He had been working on my pressure points that whole week and i truly think it helped! Around 10pm, the contractions returned and started to pick up in intensity. I remember Justin kept asking me “are you having contractions?” and i played it off like it wasn’t a big deal because i was so afraid it would be another false alarm.
Around 11pm, I started thinking, okay this might be the real deal! It became hard for me to hide my discomfort & not make any noises during contractions at this point. Justin filled up our tub for me, got the birthing playlist on, scripture board out and lights dim so i could relax. Around 11:30, we texted Jeannie, our doula, to come over. By the way, she was so amazing throughout the week before during all of my prodromal labor… encouraging me, suggesting things for me to try, helping me relax, and supporting me. Hiring a doula is the best decision we made for sure. I highly recommend it!
Anyway. Jeannie arrived around midnight and began helping me breathe, speaking truth to me & praying for me. I was feeling contractions in my back still so i was worried Remi was posterior. This was a big fear of mine since my first labor was ALL back labor and it was horrid! I got out of the tub & Jeannie helped me into this pretzel position laying on the edge of our bed to help turn Remi, which worked, i think. Around 12:30/1am when we were finally convinced that this was happening Justin called our sweet neighbor to come over since she was going to stay the night with our big girls when we went to the birth center. So thankful to have her do this for us as we don’t have any family close by!
It was getting really intense and around 1:30am the “I can’t do this” feelings started coming on. For me i know this means I’m close to or in transition and at that point i knew it was time to head to the birth center. Justin loaded the car which felt like it took forever haha, and I got in the backseat on all fours in my sweatpants, slippers and sports bra. Forgot to bring actual shoes lol!
*Sidenote: i am not a cold weather person and had been so sad about having a baby during the winter. The day Remi was born it was 72 degrees!! God knew i needed a little warmth to deliver her! 🙂 The change in barometric pressure probably helped put me into labor too!*
At 2am we were on our way to the birth center with Jeannie following us. I was on the struggle bus at this point so Justin was obviously speeding. Well, just our luck… we got pulled over. I could not believe it! Felt like i was watching a movie! The state trooper who pulled us over was ridiculous. When justin rolled down his window he said “my wife’s in labor please let us go!” #1, he didn’t even see me in the backseat, and #2 he kept saying “no, you are going by ambulance” and “why don’t you just go to Williamson?” (the hospital closest to us). Clearly this man had never had a baby! You pick what hospital ahead of time buddy, not when you’re in labor! Finally i jumped up and said “Listen, my contractions are 90 seconds long and 1 minute apart… WE HAVE TO GO!”. He finally let us go. Geesh, he could have at least escorted us so we could speed there, but nope. Looking back, this is my favorite part of the story because this WOULD happen to us, haha!
We arrived at Baby+Co at 2:30am. The two midwives on call greeted us in the parking lot and helped me into the birthing suite. I kept having to stop for contractions because they were so close together by this point. They started my IV (i hate IVs) to give me antibiotics since i was GBS+ and then checked to see how far dilated i was. Of course, i was scared that they’d say i was only 1cm or something (PTSD from my first labor experience) but to my surprise I was EIGHT!! That was such a relief. On the way there i had told my husband if i was 5cm or less we had to go to the hospital because there was no way i could go much longer without drugs! I was so so thankful.
They got me into the tub right away, even with the IV in my arm which was so nice. It was very calming and took away so much of the contraction pain. Justin did not leave my side and was pushing on my back during each contraction. It’s literally the ONLY thing that helps the pain. 30 minutes later Jasmine, one of the midwives, asked if i felt pressure/the urge to push and i said i thought i did. Before i knew it i was pushing! But i wasn’t sure i was ready and worried that if i pushed too soon my cervix would swell again and i’d have to be transferred to the hospital for an epidural. This had been my BIGGEST fear the whole time leading up to this day.
Where It Went Downhill
Since I was in a squat position in the tub they placed a mirror under me so that they could see the progress of my pushing. They could see baby’s head the first few times i pushed then less and less with every subsequent push. At this point they knew something was wrong. The midwives had me get out of the tub so they could check me. This was around 3:45/4am. They told me i was 8cm and my cervix had done it again… swelled. I was probably closer to 9cm before i started pushing immaturely, which caused my cervical edema. Again. That was the word that kept going through my mind. It happened AGAIN. My cervix obviously hates me! I was SO angry. I lost it at this point and had to be talked off the ledge. Kathleen, the other midwife there, was amazing. She got right in my tear-stained face and told me she understood how much this sucked and that we get the labors we are given and have to deal accordingly. In a way i felt like she was agreeing with me that i may have to be transferred, and strangely that was comforting.
The plan at this point was for me to try using nitrous oxide and keeping my bum up in the air while on the bed to take pressure off on my cervix and hopefully make the swelling go down. This was at 4am and they had planned to let me do this for an hour. After that we would re-evaluate and decide if i needed to transfer. The nitrous definitely helped – i tried this with my first labor and hated it, so i didn’t even attempt it with my second. This time though, they taught me how to use it and i felt more in control. You have to keep a mask on your face to breathe it in and i learned how to get my breathing under control with the mask on without feeling claustrophobic. I lost it a few times during this hour when the contractions got really bad. Justin had to talk me down. It was just me & him during this time. He is always my rock during labor!
After about 30 minutes went by Jeannie was talking to the midwives and was concerned that baby Remi had not dropped into the birth canal. When i got to the birth center i was 8cm, 100% effaced but she was still at -2 station (above my pelvis). Not ideal. Jeannie used her rebozo scarf to lift my belly and help Remi move down into the canal, which definitely helped. It always took a lot of pressure off since i was on all fours that whole time.
At 4:55am I was losing it again so Justin asked the midwives what the plan was & they said “yep it’s time to check her!”. When they did I was complete & ready to get this baby out BUT they said there was still a tiny piece of my cervix that was swollen and needed to be lifted. Ummm, excuse me?! The cervix is like a giant circle of nerves when it is stretched this wide and you want to do WHAT? This was the only way i was having a baby there without being transferred so i reluctantly said okay. Here we go!
Kathleen tried to lift the swollen piece of my cervix and through the most intense pain i have EVER felt, i pushed and Remi’s head began crowning, but as soon as i stopped she went right back in. I think my body likes to keep babies inside! Jasmine took over at this point and when she lifted my cervix i kicked her by accident! Oops. Forgive me for what i did/said during labor guys, lol! She tried again and i pushed with every ounce of strength and fury i had in me. My husband said he had never seen me so angry! I really was honestly! Why did i want to have a natural birth again?! Why does ANYONE want to do this without drugs?! CRAZY.
I probably pushed two more times and it honestly felt like a mack truck was coming out of me, like i was being torn to shreds down there 🙁 the ring of fire does not even begin to describe this feeling. (If you’re reading this and are planning a natural birth i hope i’m not scaring you. Just keepin’ it real! It hurts but if i can do it so can you!). Remi’s head never formed to a cone shape due to the fact that she was only in the birth canal for a few minutes. OUCH! I learned quickly to appreciate the ugly cone head babies are supposed to be born with. It definitely serves a purpose!
I DID IT!
FINALLY, at 5:19am on January 11th, 2018 our sweet Remi Elizabeth was born! I have never felt such relief in my entire life. The first thing i said when she was placed on my chest was “i am never doing this again!” haha! She was so beautiful & looked so much like her daddy! I could not believe i actually did it! I finally had a baby naturally and didn’t need the epidural for my stupid cervix!
I wish the story ended here.
The umbilical cord was wrapped so tightly around Remi’s neck when her head came out that they couldn’t even take it off until her whole body was delivered. Because of the umbilical cord, the fact that i basically shot her out like a rocket and that she never really dropped into the birth canal, she was having trouble breathing. She was moving her arms & legs around but she didn’t cry and was starting to turn slightly blue. I held her for maybe 20 seconds before they took her from me (all while she was still attached to me via the umbilical cord and i hadn’t even delivered the placenta!) to start trying to clear her airway. It sounded like she was choking on phlegm and couldn’t get it out.
Talk about terrifying. For some reason, I wasn’t as worried as you’d expect though, probably from all the nitrous I had inhaled. But Justin was crying and shaking so i knew it was serious. It was just us, our doula and two midwives in the building and we were 10 minutes from the hospital. They were giving Remi oxygen and trying to suction out whatever was stuck in her throat, to no avail. Not even 2 minutes later they told Jeannie to call 911. SAY WHAT? Now i was scared. This was obviously not good.
The paramedics took what seemed like forever to get to the birth center. Jasmine & Kathleen did an amazing job during the chaos keeping the oxygen on Remi and doing everything they could, but they just couldn’t risk waiting any longer. When the paramedics finally arrived, they cut the umbilical cord and Justin went with Remi in the ambulance. Jasmine rode on the stretcher with Remi holding the oxygen mask on her the whole time. If it weren’t for her doing that, our baby would have not survived.
(Just writing this out brings tears to my eyes. Here i was lying in this big comfortable bed in a beautiful birthing suite, placenta still inside me and my freshly birthed baby was being taken away from me & fighting for her life. When i considered giving birth at Baby+Co, this was not on my radar at all. I was worried i wouldn’t be able to give birth naturally but i never anticipated the possibility that something would go wrong with our baby when she was born. Our first two babies had no issues when they were born.)
Meanwhile at Baby+Co, Kathleen was taking care of me because i was bleeding uncontrollably after delivering the placenta (which BTW feels like birthing a second baby when you aren’t numb!). They had to give me a pitocin shot, pitocin in my IV and a cytotec suppository to get the bleeding under control. Oh the joys. All of those meds help the uterus contract and therefore stop it from hemorrhaging but they also made my post-birth nursing contractions HORRIFIC. I finally stopped bleeding and laid there waiting for an update from Justin. Honestly, there was a sense of calm over me. The Lord truly protected my mind and heart and gave me a peace that surpassed my understanding in those moments. Plus i was still out of it from all that had just happened in such a short time.
They arrived at the ER at 5:43am (24 minutes after Remi was born – i told you it took them forever!). Justin said there was a room full of about 20 nurses & doctors waiting for her. As soon as they took her off the stretcher & placed her on the table SHE CRIED!!! It was a miracle! I guess she just needed time? Who knows. God is mysterious, isn’t he? They hooked her up to the monitors to check all her vitals and did a chest X-ray to find that she was perfectly healthy. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her. PRAISE THE LORD! Justin called me and told me everything and i was SO relieved!!!
Once everything calmed down, Justin asked them to weigh Remi and when they did they left a diaper and all the cords stuck on her! I’m still upset about this because i feel it wasn’t an accurate weight. If you know me you know i like things accurate. LOL. But I was just so thankful she was a healthy 7lb+5oz (or less) baby. My biggest baby with the biggest head! I’ll never forget how it felt coming out of me. HA.
Thinking back at how everything went, I obviously have my own opinion about giving birth at Baby+Co. I loved the care they offered me and my labor & delivery was great (hard and painful and intense and crazy and did i say painful… but great). Had Remi not struggled to breathe when she was born I think we would give birth there again if we have another baby. But now that i know what *can* go wrong, we won’t be delivering at Baby+Co again. This is not to say you shouldn’t. If you are reading this & considering Baby+Co or another birth center i don’t want to steer you away from that. I’m just sharing my experience and honest opinion. Our situation was definitely the exception, not the rule. The odds of it happening are slim. But there is ALWAYS a chance of being transferred either during labor or after, so keep that in mind!
The dilemma now was: how do we get me & my baby together? I hadn’t even nursed her yet 🙁 At Baby+Co they keep you for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 12 hours after delivery. But since Remi was released from their care, she couldn’t come back. and the hospital wanted to keep her for observation… mainly because i was GBS+ and only received one round of antibiotics in labor. You are supposed to have two rounds but my labor was too short for that. So we decided i would also have to be transferred to the hospital to be with Remi. In the ambulance i went! Finally, around 7:45am i was reunited with my baby and my husband!!! I got to hold my sweet living breathing new daughter on my chest and breastfeed her for the first time at last. And although it wasn’t ideal or how i imagined it, it all worked out the way it was supposed to. I was so happy to finally be with Remi. We had hours of skin to skin and bonding. I still remember all of her tiny noises and movements so well.
The warm weather apparently put every other pregnant woman in Nashville into labor too because they had zero rooms in the postpartum wing of the hospital. We stayed in a triage room for 7-8 hours before we were finally transferred to a room the size of a closet with a shared bathroom and no window. It was not the beautiful postpartum birth center experience i had envisioned, but again i was just so thankful Remi was alive and healthy! Remi was doing so well and had no signs of anything wrong with her so they said we could take her h0me the next afternoon. Thank the Lord we only had to stay one night in that tiny hospital room!
We planned on me delivering in the morning and staying at Baby+Co for only a few hours (I would have had to stay 12 hours for observation due to the GBS+/antibiotic situation) and be home in time for dinner ha! So we didn’t line up childcare for our older girls. Thankfully we had a village of ladies come to our rescue the day Remi was born. A huge thank you to Stacy, Suzanne, Lisa & Hannah for helping us & taking great care of our big girls! Turns out Aria, my oldest, caught the bug Justin had a few days prior and was sick the whole day. So it’s actually a good thing that we didn’t come home and stayed in the hospital for those 24 hours. Crazy how God works, huh? He protected baby Remi from catching the stomach bug in all of this!
Justin went home in the morning to get the very excited big sisters so they could come to the hospital & meet their new baby sister for the first time. They brought Remi flowers and balloons, and Remi had gifts for them too which they loved of course! What PRECIOUS moments. Words will fall short if I try to describe how i felt seeing our big babies meet our newest baby. My mama heart almost burst. It was love at first sight and they have been obsessed with their baby sis ever since! We’ve heard the question “can I hold Remi?” more than anything else in the last 9+ months. It’s SO sweet.
Remi Elizabeth, our little angel baby, you are truly a miracle and we just love you so much. We are beyond thankful that you are alive and ours. We thank God for you every single day, especially since we almost lost you. What a beautiful story of God’s goodness and kindness your life will tell. Every time i look at you it is a reminder to cherish each moment we have together because we never know when it will be our last. I hope you know how loved you are by mama, papa & your two big sisters! Welcome to the world! <3
Thank you for reading about Baby Remi’s crazy entrance into this world! I hope you enjoyed the ups & downs but mostly the happy ending. 🙂 Next time I’m hoping to have a less exciting story to tell! 😉