The day our daughter was born was perhaps the most exhilarating , exhausting, and astonishing days of our lives. It was a mind blowing experience. So many emotions. It was May 5, 2016 ( yes Cinco De Mayo) we joked the whole time if she was born on Cinco de Mayo, to bring margaritas into the delivery room for me & everyone! She was born at 9:40 pm weighing 7lbs 5ozs, and measured 19 inches long with a full head of hair. I just knew my whole pregnancy she would come early, but I actually went to 41 weeks!
I woke up that morning feeling great. I actually had a great pregnancy, I worked out 4-5 times a week and didn’t let myself over eat! I gained right at 20 pounds. My water broke early that morning, while I was editing wedding images from a previous wedding I had shot. I was actually bouncing on a birthing ball. I spent hours on that ball almost every night trying to get her to come out! I stood up thinking, “did I just pee my pants?” I knew that was out of the ordinary so I called Cody and told him “I’m positive this time, my water just broke.” We had a false alarm the week before so I knew this was it. I walked to the bathroom and liquid literally flowed out, I said ” ok ok yup my water just broke for sure.” He was at work so he finished up and headed home. He got home and looked at me and said “This is it, we are going to meet our daughter shortly!” We were both so excited.
Contractions had not started yet, so I started getting things ready and getting the house ready to be gone for a few days. I actually went and cleaned out the dogs swimming pool and re-filled it for them! haha I made sure to eat a good meal, because I have always heard labor was like running a marathon, you need to fuel your body for the biggest day of your life! My parents were actually in town for a doctors appointment and already had their bags packed in the car so they were already ready! We waited around for contractions to start, it took them a couple of hours to actually start and they were small and not too painful to start with, just cramp-y feeling. Around 9pm the contractions were consistent, about 10-12 minutes apart but still bearable. We decided to try and get some sleep until they got closer together. We laid down but never could go to sleep, because we wanted to keep timing them.
Around 2pm Cody made the call to head to the hospital. Contractions were closer together and more painful at this point. We arrived and the nurses examined me and said I was about 2cm dilated and admitted us right away due to my water breaking. They did not want to risk infection. She suggested I go for a walk down the hallway to get things moving. So Cody and I walked and walked, I tried bouncing on a birthing ball, but sadly contractions had stopped at this point.
My birth plan was to have an unmedicated birth (all natural). I had my heart set on this from day one and met with our doula frequently about natural births. Due to the length of time between my water breaking and the time I’ve been in the hospital, they advised they get me going on Pitocin to increase my contractions, this was around 8am. I was so upset and just knew if I had to get on Pitocin, that it would be extremely hard to go without any pain meds. I told Cody to ask everyone to leave the room, and I just broke down. I knew I would be hooked up to all kinds of monitors, and cords, and IV’s, which made it so much harder to move around freely and labor how I wanted. My doula was right by my side encouraging me the whole way through that I could do this. So of course, I tried. Shortly after, I started to feel very intense labor contractions and active labor had officially begun. The contractions were very consistent and intense, still I was not dilating. They had to up my Pitocin 3-4 times. At this point I was hanging onto Cody’s neck bearing all my weight on him moaning/ grunting and heavy deep breathing and Alice, my doula was behind me coaching me on how to handle each contraction. I stood up the whole time because laying hurt so much worse and actually slowed the process of her coming down. Our parents and family members were in and out of the room. My dad could hardly stand to see me hurt so bad so he came in and kissed me and went to the waiting room.
The contractions kept getting more painful, but somehow I was still able to manage the pain. With each passing contraction, I allowed my body to surrender to the pain and envisioned my baby dropping lower. I thought, “If I get through this contraction, the closer I am to meeting my baby.” I rode each contraction like a wave – breathing deeper, lower, and heavier the stronger the contraction. I understood from Alice how much breathing plays a huge role in relaxing muscles and allowing the baby to drop during a contraction. My body was giving out. I was so weak, exhausted, so dehydrated and I was getting delirious. At one point, I think I remember asking Cody where I was. My body was so extremely tense that it couldn’t dilate on it’s own. I couldn’t form words, my vision became blurry and I began to doubt if I’d even be conscious by the time they were ready for me to push. My contractions were off the charts, I could see them on the monitor and remember Alice telling me each time, that was the strongest one yet, you’re doing great! All I could think is how can I keep doing this if they are going to get stronger with little rest in between. I was fading in and out between each contraction. Poor Cody was exhausted from holding me up for so long and grabbing him so tightly.
I remember the exact contraction that made my body just surrender and felt I could not go on any longer. I fell onto the side of the bed and said “I can’t do this anymore”. Alice got the nurse to check me and see how far we were. The nurse said around 4 centimeters. I felt so defeated. I asked for the epidural around 3 pm. I labored for 20 hours with no epidural. Whenever they came into my room and gave me the epidural I was at 5 centimeters. Once they gave it to me, I felt a flood of relief. The medicine made my body shake uncontrollably and was extremely nauseous. I remember vaguely after getting the epidural, I passed out. I was so exhausted that I literally went to sleep. I went from 5 cm to 9 cm but it still took a couple of hours. I was so nauseous that I vomitted the entire rest of my labor. The nurses kept saying that’s a good thing because it was pushing the baby down. I remember at one point looking at Cody,unable to speak, I was so scared and so exhausted. He held my hands and kissed my forehead and whispered that everything would be okay. I was so sick and was so ready for everything to be over. I would fall asleep, wake up, throw up, fall back asleep and do it all over again. I did this for hours. I still could feel my legs and I could still move my entire left leg so I did have some feeling.
Once I finally got to 10cm it was time to push. I pushed for 3 hours (yes, I know it was a long time) and in between pushes, I was falling asleep and throwing up. It felt like 10 hours I was pushing. The doctor kept telling me she could see her head and how much hair she had. The doctor, nurses, my doula, both our moms, and Cody encouraged me to keep pushing. At some point the whole room was counting down for me to push! Everyone was my cheerleaders! I pushed for an hour with my doctor, then she had to leave the room to deliver another baby, then kept pushing with the nurses for another hour, and my doctor finally walked back in the room and said ” Let’s have a baby”. That got me pumped so we pushed for another hour and finally, I could feel her head, and then the rest of her body, then the doctor slowly pulled the rest of her out and there she was.
My child. My Daughter.
My doctor put her on my chest and I have never felt more alive in my life. There she laid, all 7.5lbs of her on my chest.
She was perfection.
The nurses cleaned her up and my mom and Cody’s mom rushed over to examine how perfect she was and they cried and cried. Soon after, they put her directly onto my chest for skin-to-skin. I held her so tight I didn’t want anyone to take her away from me. I just stared at her. We never went to sleep that night.
It’s amazing what a woman’s body can endure- what it’s made to do.
For 41 weeks, I nurtured and cared for a growing baby inside of me and now I get to hold her everyday.
My life is now complete.
-Arielle Alexandra Bailey-