(TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses my feelings through loss and our rainbow baby.)
Birth Story of Our Rainbow
I have found it difficult to convey the feelings that go into that one day, the birth story of our rainbow. But I came to the realization that the emotions felt that day started long before we walked into the hospital. The joy I felt while meeting my son, holding his little baby body with all of mine was the culmination of months of dreaming, praying, and hoping. So let’s start there.
You may know that my journey started with our first loss which was followed by then another in that same year. Both shook me and required months of recovery physically and emotionally. You may also recall my posts of dealing with loss and courage. Though I wouldn’t wish the experience of losing a baby upon anyone, in the aftermath I can now stand back and say my losses added a layer to my life. I learned powerful lessons of charity, empathy, community and allowing yourself to grieve.
Then, months later, we got a chance to try again. And we were grateful to finally hear that beautiful sound after weeks of worry. There in the cold doctors office was something so warm, the steady beating of our baby, our hope, our rainbow.
Have you ever jumped into a Jacuzzi after swimming in a cold pool? This extreme difference between hot and cold is exactly how I felt most of the first months. I felt shocked, relieved, scared, assured, a warming calm that seemed a bit uncomfortable.
At home, I would sit and listen to my little hummingbird heartbeat every single day. The kicks started coming and got stronger and stronger and I would cry at the beginning. It’s like just as my anxiety lifted and I felt like I could “breath” the baby filled me and I literally couldn’t breath. I remember telling family too, “I think everything is going to be ok.” It’s funny how loss doesn’t just affect the mother or even the father. My whole family worried too.
Through my entire pregnancy, I dealt with fear but feeling those twists and turns reassured me that we would get to hold this baby and stare into his eyes. And each time I heard the beating of my son’s heart it was like Christmas.
We started planning and prepping and all I could do was think of holding this rainbow. And I was reminded every day by my ever-swelling belly. Around this time was when I decided I would try to have an unmedicated birth again. (You can read about my last birth here). But ultimately my priority was holding my healthy baby. Holding him would be my triumph.
My mother got days covered at the school she teaches so she could come and help take care of my family. Because of this, I decided I would induce if I had not naturally gone into labor half way through her time off. It wasn’t my first choice, especially as I would be attempting to birth unmediated again, but I decided it was more valuable to have my baby earlier while my mom was here in opposed to going late and my mom leaving the next day.
I met with my birth photographer and doulas. We planned that we would use laboring in the tub, massage, oils, pressure points, music, meditation and the birthing ball. We practiced pressure points in my living room and breathing and the reality of holding my baby became real.
That day I had marked our induce day came despite hours of walking, eating all the spicy food in the world, sex, speed bumps, sitting on birthing balls and getting my membranes stripped. It’s really true that you will have a baby when your body is ready.
And I don’t think my last trimester has ever gone so fast. The days practically flew and all the projects and earmarks for the baby came and went. I remember, the night before, soaking in the bathtub meditating on the events of the next day, that I would hold my baby in my arms. I laid there in the warm water for a long while just holding my belly while I breathed deeply and the baby kicked.
I’m up. Eggs sunny side up with toast, banana and a green smoothie. Grab the hospital bag, birthing bag, purse, and baby carrier. My husband is a camel carrying my load, a handsome pack mule. It’s go time.
Arrive at the hospital, check in, check my vitals, check my cervix, check my clothes at the door.
IV given. I’m dilated to a 3. They start the pitocin. I get my music jamming and I paint most of the morning while happily bouncing on a birthing ball. My doctor gives me the option to break my water. I decided I would like to labor without the water broken first. I also wanted the option to labor in their jetted tub which was a secret weapon in my last birth. Boom.
I’m almost a 4. My husband massages my back. My doulas massage my feet with clary sage. We laugh. I paint. The snow is falling outside like a curtain. It’s been a slow morning.
My third sons birth was part of my motivation to try to go unmedicated. With his birth, I had thought I was having Braxton Hicks (which I regularly have) until I found myself on the floor in my room hardly able to walk. I called my husband home from work, he carried me in the car, wheeled me into the hospital and we went on to have a baby in 30 minutes. I had been an 8 when we had arrived and I had done two epidurals before this so my preparation had been zilch.
I was like the ladies in the movies, yelling at nurses like a crazy lady. I remember specifically yelling at one nurse, “Your hands are cold. Don’t touch me!” Ha! So I figured, after his dramatic birth, I would try to have a more educated and calm birth experience. You know the ones people talk about where it’s full of spiritual feelings and all. We had had our third son by early afternoon. I had hoped with some pitocin my body would go fast like my third. It did not.
Over 4 cm finally. This big bellied mommas getting hungry. I usually snack every couple hours. At this time I’ve only had ice chips and water. Thankfully my doulas win with peanut butter oat balls. Then the nurse gives me jello. Oh, sweet j-e-l-l-o.
Halfway there! 5+ and the contraction are workable. I have to breathe through them. And we start different labor positions. But I’m still smiling and the sun is shining through the window as snow lightly falls.
Sweet Friggin Relief
Still a 5. My doctor prompts me to break my water. He also suggests that I may go faster afterward.
He was right. The contractions come hard almost immediately after they break my water. I am 7+ within 20 minutes but the baby is positioned slightly crooked. I have hope though. If things keep going this fast well have the baby in the next couple of hours.
For the next while, the labor was in a whole other league compared to the morning. My team who had been casually lounging around the hospital room was now all hands on deck with my birth photographer occasionally hopping in to help. My mom was sacrificing her hand to mine, my husband rubbing my head and feeding me affirmations, my doulas killing it with pressure points. But the contractions were soon right on top of each other. I remember after finishing one contraction my team would step away for a break and I would yell and another came rolling in. They later would tell me how sore they were after my birth.
It soon got to a point that the contractions came so fast I would breathe and the next one would come on. Between the pitocin and my water being broken, they were hard and constant. For me, it became a mental game and surreal in a way. Like, I was aware of everyone around me, and if anyone left I sure as heck noticed, but other than that I didn’t know the time or anything else around me. Even having my eyes open became overwhelming and I laid there on my side with the peanut ball between my legs breathing through each contraction thinking of the baby.
The breathing turned to moaning which turned to yelling. The hunger of the day was setting in. Fatigue was setting in. And between hearing that the baby was still crooked and no progress after an hour of what felt like an hour straight contraction I was waning.
Having the baby crooked became a trigger for me I hadn’t expected. With my last birth we got to about the same point and my daughter had been turned posterior meaning she was faced towards my belly button instead of faced towards my spine. The final blow for me was being checked again and as the contractions came hearing there was no progress again. I was done. I yelled, “Give me the epidural.”
I am an 8. I’m sitting on the edge of the bed with the anesthesiologist poking my spine, doulas working around him to put pressure on my back and knees because all the while I am still having contractions. I’ve had my share of epidurals and they have been beautiful things my friends. But this time I did not get instant relief as I had in the past. Stupid labor. Stupid epidural. Stupid contractions.
My epidural finally is fully working. The last hour I had to lay on my back (my least favorite position) and work through contractions as the epidural slowly worked. Finally, after an hour there was my “Sweet friggin relief!”
I am complete and suddenly every nurse in the hospital is in my room or so it feels that way. I mean when it’s time to push in a hospital it’s like nurses you’ve never seeen come out of closets and trap doors all over the place, “Were here.” People are running around and I’m yelling for the mirror to watch my baby come into the world. The mirror is magical for me in that with it I push better. Have I ever not used it? No. But, trust me. It’s magical!
Push, push, breath. Push, push, breath. Push, push, baby! I take a quick break to breathe and my doctor asks a nurse for some soap to style my son’s hair. He then styles our crowning babies hair into a fo-hawk. Everyones laughing. Hair is an exciting thing in a birthing room.
Then our baby cries. I cry and I laugh. My mom is doing the same. Now she’s hugging everyone. I’m hugging my husband. Everyone is happy. Our baby is here. He’s here! I watch them take our son over to the scale and then the heater to clean him. I can’t see him. All I want is him. And then here he comes. I grab him. And the moment I have him I tuck him inside my gown and stare at his eyes. We’ve been one for so long it seems weird not to have him close.
Holding him all I can do is cry. I am so full. I’ve waited so long for this. And there really iaren’twords to describe the joy. He is here.
Creating life is a miracle. Period.
I realize now that this birth is all I ever wanted. All I wanted was the experience of trying to birth unmedicated while being educated and I did. All I ever wanted was to try birthing with a team. Which they did an amazing job of which I am so grateful for. But most importantly all I wanted was a baby.
If I could change anything about my birth I wouldn’t. I got the epidural and I’m glad I did. But some things I thought about afterward that I may try to learn more about for my next birth is how to help change a baby’s position and other alternatives to the epidural for pain relief. While I had learned about pain management I hadn’t thought much about plan B, C, or F. And having those plans I think would have been helpful.
I am so grateful for all those who served me in my journey. And I’m grateful for this community here and on Instagram. Those who shared their own stories and gave me hope through my losses. I’m so thankful for modern medicine. My birth photographer did an excellent job ( See my 8 reasons to hire a birth photographer here and use “CANARY20” and get a discount when you hire this talented human). My doulas were such a great support. Having my mother was a treat. And I am so thankful for my husband who is my rock.
Our baby is healthy and happy. We named him Rocky Jason. He was 8lbs 4 oz and 21 inches long, our biggest baby. So far he may also be our own blue-eyed child and he resembles his father in so many ways. Recovery for me has been another journey to be told on another day, but I am well.
After going through this I have mad props to give to women who deliver unmedicated for hours and hours and those who induce. But I always have respect for any women who grows and delivers a human. Seriously, no matter how you deliver, birth is a miracle. Babies are miracles. Creating life is a miracle. Period.