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I’m excited to share my birth story with you! This is my full story that I wrote for my own memories and that I am happy to share with you all. If it helps even one person feel empowered and hopeful going into their birth, then sharing is totally worth it! Here it is!
Welcoming Our Second Baby Girl
My second daughter Livy was born 9 days ago. Ever since her birth, I’ve been on cloud nine and soaking up all the little baby grunts, snuggles, and coos. I had a rough breastfeeding start with my first, Kaia, so I had frequently found myself wishing I could snuggle with her more- but unfortunately I was tied to a breast pump a large majority of the day in the first few weeks.
Birth is such a beautiful thing. So I wanted to sit down and cherish the memory of Miss Livy’s birth. It was magical to say the least, and I keep replaying the day in my head with fond memories. Thus, I wanted to write this down for myself and for my girls to read someday when they’re curious about childbirth and having kids of their own- and to share with your guys! 🙂
My First Birth vs. The Second
While I stuck to my birth plan and stayed medication free with my first birth, I will admit it was far from easy. It was only thanks to my extreme stubbornness and unrelenting support of my husband that I somehow muscled my way through. I was tense, writhing, and oh so very sore in every muscle in my body following that first birth, yet I was proud of myself for accomplishing what I had wanted!
However, this second birth was much different. Did I still have moments of pain? Of course. But I felt in control of (almost) each contraction and it made such a huge difference. I had learned a lot from my first birth and from taking a few more online birth classes with my second pregnancy. I was also very clear on what I didn’t want- if possible, this time around:
- No antibiotics for Strep B (this led to a bad case of thrush while breastfeeding my first and it sucked!)- I took probiotics in my third trimester after reading that it could help, since I was strep B positive the first pregnancy- and it worked!
- No induction or medications just like the first
- Getting a better handle on my relaxation techniques- I really sucked at this on the first go, tensing my whole body- especially my hands- during each contraction
- Going hand in hand with the above, staying tuned into my body better and moving into positions that were comfortable
Starting at the Beginning
I would say my birth story actually starts a little over a week before I had Livy. I was a little worried about her still being breech at 39 weeks and after weighing our options and not wanting to wait too long and have her “stuck”- I opted for a version (external cephalic version- ECV) at the hospital.
My mom had a VERY traumatic experience with an ECV with her first born son when he died in the womb on his due date the day after a version. So she was terrified of my decision and kept asking if I would get induced right away. However, I was able to clearly rationalize that I am not my mom and that she had some very extenuating circumstances. Nowadays, they monitor the baby via ultrasound after a version. Plus, it was discovered that my mom had an extra wall in her uterus that must have pinched the umbilical cord- something I did not have. Thus, I made a decision with my that the small risks were worth it to avoid a C-section, something I wanted to obviously avoid if possible.
Learning point #1
Ask people to keep their horror stories to themselves. They are not your story and can give you unnecessary anxiety. If you find yourself down a rabbit hole of stories or your friend/family member/acquaintance just can’t keep a story to themselves, just always remember to take it with a grain of salt. On the other hand, soak up all those positive stories around you! Let them give you the confidence you need going into birth 🙂
Going in for a Version (EVC)
We went to our version appointment bright and early on a Sunday morning- leaving my daughter with my parents for the night. I was feeling hopeful and my OB came in ready to get it done. Turns out, I had a hard time relaxing while she was pushing the baby’s body into my bladder and twisting. She muscled as hard as she could and managed to get the baby maybe 1/3rd of the way flipped before she settled right back into her breech position.
My OB tried a couple of times and then asked if I wanted her to keep trying since I was clearly uncomfortable. I remembered reading about a drug that could be used to help the uterus relax and the nurse that had taken over for day shift had mentioned it as an option as well during my intake. So I asked about it and we decided to give it a try.
The drug made me super jittery but it was totally worth it because it worked. After a few more vain attempts, suddenly I could tell it was going to work when I felt some sharp stretching sensations in both my sides (I’m guessing she must have been transverse at this point for a moment!) before she settled herself head down. Hooray!
Unfortunately, her heart rate dropped significantly so I was moving around in different positions trying to get her to stabilize. Everyone was hovering around me and a nurse had slipped away to alert an anesthesiologist in case I needed to be whisked away in the next few minutes. Thankfully, she hung in there and her heart rate stabilized as she adjusted to her new head down position. Phew!
The whole situation was strange, I was never nervous even when her heart rate tanked because I knew I had a capable staff around me that would do what needed to be done if necessary. That made it easier to focus on deep breaths and staying relaxed so that I didn’t exacerbate the issues with my own anxiety. All went as planned and I just had an extra sore stomach for a couple days.
Learning Point # 2
Be your own advocate. I absolutely love my OB, but I don’t think she would have suggested use of the drug that we ended up using for the version. Asking what my other options were and having my own idea of what to expect helped me get the results I wanted. I know we tend to rely on our healthcare professionals to know best, but they have so many people to care for that it can be hard for them to keep track. Thus- always at least have a slight understanding of what’s going on. Plus, they are used to the standard status quo. In fact, my nurse was telling me about her unsuccessful version right before I had mine (thankfully these things do not discourage me!).
I was asked very nonchalantly at least 3 times if I was going to have a C-section that day if the version wasn’t successful. I never had an answer because I honestly didn’t want to consider it unless I needed to- so I kept saying let’s just see how everything goes and make a decision then. They say your thoughts create your reality- so I stayed focused on the reality I wanted, which was a head down baby that came into this world when she was ready- not when I forced her to! And that’s exactly what I focused my energy, visions, and time on to give myself the best chance.
It didn’t mean I was unaware of my other options, and I was actually quite at peace with whatever happened as long as I gave it my best shot- something I struggled with during my first pregnancy when they started discussing induction and I got so anxious over the entire matter. Bottom line- focus on what you want and deal with the rest in stride as needed!
Related read: How to Have a Confident Birth
Feeling Nervous as I Waited for Labor
As I was being monitored for 1.5 hours at the hospital after the version, I swear that the familiar pressure of her head returned to my ribcage and I was feeling totally discouraged. Thankfully, it turned out that her butt was just hard and moving around 🙂 I had a few moments of anxiety over the next week of whether she was still head down, but I tried to trust that she would stay (especially since it took so much effort to get her there I had a feeling she didn’t really have any room to move on her own anyways!). Plus, I got familiar with the new pressure and sensations from her head being down with more pain in my SI joints and low back than before. At my last two OB visits, she was head down both times and I was happy to hear it.
Now it was time to wait for her to initiate labor! 🙂
In the last month of pregnancy, I had quite a few Braxton Hicks contractions- especially in the evenings when I had been busy all day or was a tad dehydrated. I was wondering if I would go into labor the night after my version when I had consistent contractions for a couple hours, but they never got intense or closer than 10 minutes together.
On a Sunday night though, when I settled in to sleep I could tell the contractions were different. While they weren’t very close together (maybe 20-30 minutes), I could feel the difference in their strength. I found myself waking up every time I had one, which was my first sign of labor with my first daughter too. I had a feeling these were it and that I better rest as best I could for the day or two ahead. So I lay there getting little stretches of sleep and even laid in bed for an extra hour in the morning.
Staying Busy and Distracted
When I did get up, I figured I might as well stay on my feet to get gravity to help labor move along and do a few last minute things I wanted to do around the house. So I enjoyed a quiet morning with my daughter baking banana bread, making some pumpkin soup for lunch (and enough for a first meal when we got home from the hospital), organizing the baby’s clothes, going through our hospital bag one last time, packing snacks for my husband, and cleaning up a few items around our house that we had just moved into two weeks before.
I actually had a doc appointment scheduled for 4 that afternoon, when I got there my contractions were 8-10 minutes apart and uncomfortable but totally bearable. I was 3 cm dilated, 90% effaced and the baby was still head down! Hooray! I figured we’d have a baby within the next day. So we headed to my parents for the evening to get my daughter settled in and spend the night in case we needed to head off to the hospital at some point.
It was very helpful to be with my parents and daughter as contractions got stronger. We went for a walk and I talked to my parents and youngest brother for a while. Having them around, I did my best to breathe and stay relaxed so that they didn’t see that my contractions were starting to get stronger and closer together- about 6-8 minutes apart by the later evening. Having them there as a distraction was a big help.
Waiting to Go to the Hospital
Once my daughter went to bed at 9, my husband and I decided to go home and see what happened. I figured I should try to get some rest, so I took a hot shower that felt AMAZING, did some nipple stimulation to see if I could get my contractions revved up (they’d been at 6 minutes apart for what felt like quite a while now), and got dressed. I grabbed a heating pad and planned to lie down for a while, making mu hubby lie down with me to get some rest too even though he said he felt “ready to go.” 🙂
But when I laid down, my contractions felt nearly impossible to manage- it was like a flip of a switch that made it impossible to relax when I was lying down. So after two miserable contractions, I got back up. My husband had fallen asleep within a few minutes so he got a cat nap while I paced the hallway (go figure).
Managing My Contractions at Home
I found the best thing for pain relief was marching slowly down the hall while holding my back and repeating affirmations I had been reviewing throughout the third trimester. I also had a small sign in my bathroom that said “go with the flow” that seemed to be helping too (ha).
After my shower and lying down, I could feel the contractions were getting stronger but they were still about 6 minutes apart. I had this nagging feeling that I should just go to the hospital because I could feel so much pressure in my pelvis and I had this feeling that everything would happen fast once I got settled in. I had heard so many stories lately about my friends’ second births going extremely fast and I did NOT want to have a baby at home or in the car if I could manage 🙂 So I gave myself another 30 minutes to pace and see how I felt. Even though my doc has said to wait until contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for at least an hour, I decided I would listen to my body (and mind) more so than these numbers.
Going to the Hospital
When 30 minutes had passed, I was 5-6 minutes apart with increasing pelvic pressure and a feeling that we should go. So I woke up my husband and told him what I was thinking and we should head out. It was a very low stress arrival and it felt good! When we got to the maternity ward, they had time to check us in, do our intake, and then check my cervix- which was 5.5 cm dilated. I was estimating 5-6 so this was right on par and I was admitted. They monitored the baby for 20 minutes of each hour, but thankfully I was able to stand during these times (just not to have the monitors put on, which made it uncomfortable when I got caught in a contraction reclined on the bed).
Every time I tried to sit or lie down my contractions got too painful to manage. So I stayed on my feet, pacing and marching in place when I was stuck to the monitors periodically. My legs were getting tired after a while though, so I tried to sit down between contractions. Almost as soon as I was admitted they had dropped down to 3 minutes apart and the pelvic/rectal pressure was building too. My nurse told me that if pressure became constant or I had the urge to push to let her know.
After my 3rd round of monitoring, I decided to hop in the shower for 40 minutes to get some pain relief with the heat on my back. It felt magical and having my husband there breathing with me helped a ton. I just made sure to keep my focus on a focal point, breathing, and continued repeating mantras- my main go to’s were “I am calm, I am relaxed.” Toward the end, “I am opening, I am softening” was helping too. I also listened to a few YouTube videos from Bridget Teyler with relaxing affirmations and breathing that helped a LOT- when I wasn’t being interrupted that is 🙂
Going Through Transition
I told the nurse that the pressure was getting strong and that I was starting to feel a few faint urges to push with some of the stronger contractions at the end of my shower. She told me to let her know sooner than later if anything changed since the doc on call would be attending a C-section soon.
Literally, the moment she left the contractions started feeling a lot stronger- they were taking my breath away and my husband started reminding me to breathe. There was so much pushing pressure that it was pushing pee and a little bowel (I think- the nurses never said) out of me. Then, I suddenly felt a “pop” and a sensation of fluid and knew that my water had broken and it was game over. Now that head pressure was undeniable and I felt I needed to push NOW!
So they came in and checked my cervix and confirmed I was ready (I already knew this ha). So the nurse told me to try not to push (impossible in my opinion!) while they scrambled to get the mid-wife on call in the room. Thankfully, she was there quickly and I was ready to push.
Time to Push!
Since standing had felt the best so far, I knew I didn’t want to sit or lie down to push or I would be miserable. So I did a modified upright hands and knees position on the bed that felt pretty good (my arms were on the top of the bed at an incline).
At this point I had lost my breathing control and was having a hard time keeping myself composed. BUT, I was able to work through my contractions with the support of the nurse, midwife, and my husband. It was crazy how much I could feel that head and how quickly she was moving through my birth canal. I wanted her out but it was also stretching everything so quickly that I had a hard time focusing without tensing my body up. When I heard them say the head was crowning after just 2 contractions, I knew I’d be meeting our baby soon if I could just keep my sh*t together and focus on pushing a few last times. And it worked! Within 5-10 minutes of pushing, that sweet baby was in my arms! I was a bit shocked at how fast it went but was so happy to be sitting, resting, and snuggling my new baby girl. It was a surreal feeling.
Feeling in Control Throughout Birth
What was most surreal with this birth, was how I was able to keep myself composed and relaxed almost the entire time- something I did not do at all with my first. I was writhing in pain for the last several hours- crying, screaming, and wondering when it would be over. Plus, my pushes felt so ineffective and exhausting with my first and I had a hard time feeling where she was and whether she was moving down- making it hard to stay motivated.
Whereas, with this baby I recognized what stage I was in along the way, let my body do its job by staying relaxed, and that baby practically flew out to meet us! (Most of my specific labor techniques came from this class here). Both were amazing experiences, but I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better birth with the best possible outcomes for my second birth.
Keeping It Positive
This is a happy positive birth that I wanted to share to demonstrate just how empowering and smooth a birth can go. Was it easy? No. Did it hurt? Of course. And I totally couldn’t have done it without the preparation I did for this birth (something I didn’t do as much as I thought I did for the first). I felt confident this time, which maybe comes with having done it once. But I think it was more just having a better understanding and taking the time to “practice” my relaxation techniques so that they were easy to continue when real labor hit (instead of panicking).
I hope you take this birth story and realize that you can set your goals high for your birth. I can say that even if my birth didn’t go exactly as planned, I would have been prepared for that too thanks to all the prep I did. I would have been happy to meet our baby girl no matter what the outcome- it’s just icing on the cake that it happened the way I dreamed it would. And there’s a VERY high chance that you can have it that way too if you go in with the right mindset, support, and tools.
Have the Birth You Want
Am I special to have made it through a birth with such high spirits? I wouldn’t say so. I will admit I am quite stubborn, but that’s about all. 🙂 So set your hopes high, do the prep, and reach for the stars to have the pregnancy and birth experience you deserve!
It’s a great feeling to be able to look back on Livy’s birth with such positivity. It gives me energy to make it through these first few weeks with a newborn too as I enter recovery smoothly and with grace. Whether you are just starting your journey as a mom, expecting any day, or just found yourself reminiscing like me- I wish you all the best mama!
Want to share your birth story? You can share a snippet below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can feature it on the blog!