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    Olivia’s Birth Story, Finally :)

    For many weeks leading up to birth, and the weeks following, I was in some kind of alternate reality. I look back and think “what was that magic?

    My mind and my emotions had retreated into a deep, cloudy, warm, fuzzy, mysterious place. I felt every fold and wrinkle in the fabric of my emotional body, and just one thought about my future child went so deep that it felt like days had passed. I didn’t know who I was, or who I was becoming. All I could think about in every waking moment was “Olivia is coming soon.”

    **********

    Contractions started at about 5pm on a warm and sunny December Tuesday, when Los Angeles was seemingly going up in flames. There were wildfires surrounding the city to the north, south and west. There was smoke everywhere in the sky.

    My parents had just arrived that morning, and had been over to visit us for lunch. I showed my mom all of the baby prep we had done. We looked at her teeny tiny clothes, folded neatly in her dresser. We talked about how I was feeling and what we were going to do for the next few days while we waited for Olivia’s arrival.

    By the time they left, I was exhausted and laid down for a nap. About 15 minutes later strong contractions began. I had Braxton hicks contractions for weeks, so I had to work through a few minutes of denial before accepting that this was very different. They were coming every 6 minutes from the start, and the intensity was consistent. I got a little excited, but scared too. I knew this was it but I was trying so hard to tell myself that it might not be, and to just relax.

    I timed them for about an hour and when I was certain they weren’t going away, I came out into the kitchen and told Ross. I also called the midwife. She advised me to relax and try to nap. HA. Try to nap?

    Shortly after that phone call, the contractions started getting more painful and intense, and jumped to about 4 minutes apart without warning.

    The midwives had told us to call them when the contractions were 10 minutes apart for one hour, just to give them a heads up that labor may be starting. Because mine started at 6 minutes apart I was already alarmed and feeling out of sorts about the whole process. So when they jumped to about 4 minutes apart, shortly after our initial call to them, I was on high alert. They had said that when contractions were 4 minutes apart, lasting a minute each and staying that way for one hour, we were to head to the birth center. I thought it was almost time to go.

    It had only been a couple of hours since everything started so I was bewildered and Ross was on a different timeline. Our birth class instructor had hammered it into our heads that labor would take days for first time moms! She should have also said that it can take hours for some.

    That’s when I started feeling a lot of downward pressure. I started getting worried that I should already be at the birth center. The midwives weren’t so sure. They assured me everything was fine but that I could come in and get checked to see how far I was dilated.

    I told Ross, “I know we don’t want to go all the way over there just to be told that we need to go back home and wait longer, but I need to go. I need you to take me right now.”

    I don’t even remember getting into the car, or the ride over there. Just a vague and blurry image of the lights as we drove past downtown LA, moaning through the pain.

    When we got there we entered through the back and they took us over to the exam wing. They told me I was 6.5 centimeters dilated and that we were in active labor. We could stay! Olivia would be with us by morning.

    What we learned once we arrived, is that several births had happened already that day and two more were going on at that moment. It had been a full moon, and women were going into labor right and left. The midwives there were stretched thin.

    I got onto the bed while we were waiting for our room and that’s when my water broke. I remember thinking “So that’s what it’s like…

    When they put us into our birth room I jumped straight into the tub like it was going to take away all the pain. (It didn’t!). They brought the nitrous oxide and for the next two hours I was leaning over the side of the tub, with my arms over the edge, clinging onto the gas mask like my life depended on it.

    I insisted that I needed to go to a hospital and get an epidural. I vomited all over the floor in front of me. I grabbed for Ross’ arms every time he came close enough, and when I was successful, I squeezed him hard. I lamented out loud, over and over, “It isn’t worth it. It’s not worth it. I want to die”. I told him I was in hell.

    At one point I had a conscious thought about the music I could hear – classical – not the playlist we had created for labor. The room was all dark, and the tub was lit with LED lights. I felt that moment so clearly. It was truly the experience of a lifetime in that moment.

    When she told us it was time to start pushing, it brought me back to my body. I think it must be that way for a lot of women in labor. Your baby is moments away from joining you – a nine month marathon of emotions, discomfort, excitement, waiting and hoping – finally coming to its climax.

    Pushing while in the tub was not working, and she moved me through a couple different positions. Finally we settled on the bed, on my back, with my legs up in Ross’ and the nurse’s arms, in the stereotypical pushing position. Well, that did the trick!

    I started feeling my body’s pushing reflex kick in, and it happened in what seemed like 8 or 9 pushes! The feeling of her body leaving mine was like no other feeling in the world. I remember putting my head back and relaxing, but they were all telling me, “Robin, your baby’s here, put your arms out and take her!”

    I reached my arms out and grabbed my baby. I pulled her right up to my chest and lay her down, just like I had imagined doing so many times. All I can remember from that moment was how her tiny, soft body felt against my skin, and how glad I was that it was over.  At one point I felt a warm “something” ooze onto my stomach. I knew she must have just pooped but I didn’t care. I just lay there with her, quiet and blissful.

    I wanted to nurse her immediately. About 10-15 minutes of holding her was all I could wait before I propped myself up a bit to see if she would latch. She did, right away.

    Later Ross told me his side of the birth story. When he described the moment he saw her face, I got jealous. He saw her before me! He said her face was all squished up and covered with that thin membrane. She looked like an alien baby. He said it was like time stopped, he couldn’t hear or feel anything. He just stared into her face and couldn’t think anything except…this is it. This is her. By the time he “came to” she was out on the towel and the midwife had wiped her off and was handing her up to me. He joined in with them encouraging me to reach down and take her.

    She was born at 3:28am on a Wednesday, exactly one week after her due date. I remember the nurse telling us that Olivia was “textbook healthy” and thriving.

    We tried to nap but it was all too exciting. By 9am we were packing the car and heading home. It was a sunny day in Los Angeles and traffic was out in full force as usual. The city was spinning, but I was still a world apart, and I couldn’t stop staring at my daughter.

    *****************

    For several weeks after the birth I had a difficult time coming to terms with how the labor went. I had felt unsupported and scared that there wasn’t going to be a team there to help me through labor, because no one believed it was happening.

    And it came on so fast. For the few short hours that I was first aware that labor was happening, no one believed me, and then it got too intense to be present anymore. I couldn’t enjoy the process, or communicate with Ross or the midwife.

    I was unhappy about my memories of labor, and felt sad, alone and a little unsure about whether my birth experience was okay or not.

    At our six week appointment, we got to meet with the midwife who delivered Olivia. I finally told her how I felt. She assured me that while my labor was not “average” (whose is, anyways?), it was extremely normal. She explained that it was a quick labor for a first time mom, and it was like my body was just dragging me along for the ride. My mind didn’t have time to catch up to what was happening.

    After I came out of the fog of postpartum emotions, I realized how normal everything had been, and I’m able to laugh about it. I have heard dozens of women talk about how their husbands didn’t believe they were in labor, and the woman had to scream at them to get them to take them to the hospital.

    I remember the first time I let myself be happy about the birth process and proud of myself. I had accomplished what I had wanted. I gave birth to Olivia outside of a hospital, without any drugs or interventions. None of the worst case scenarios that we had been preparing for happened.

    It took a lot of strategic and conscious preparation. I prepared mentally, emotionally and physically for the marathon of birth. For nine months everything I ate, how I exercised and my meditation and thoughts were crafted to support this goal. I had been wanting a natural birth and learning about how to do it over the last couple of years, so it was miraculous to finally go through the process and be lucky enough to have the outcome I had hoped for. We had done it! I accomplished the ultimate human experience, and all was well in my world.

    3 Responses to Olivia’s Birth Story, Finally :)

    1. Andrzej September 2, 2018 at 7:24 pm #

      You are a great woman…I hope your daughter will resamble her mom. All the best 🙂

    2. Debra Betesh April 1, 2019 at 3:13 pm #

      I would like to have a booth at your expo my name Is Debra Betesh author of Happy Healing what would you do if it happened to you. I will be also traveling with The Great master Qi Feilong an energy healer from China . He has been on americas got talent. We would both like to speak and get a booth can you asist

    3. Debra Betesh April 1, 2019 at 3:15 pm #

      I would like to have a booth at your expo my name Is Debra Betesh author of Happy Healing what would you do if it happened to you. I will be also traveling with The Great master Qi Feilong an energy healer from China . He has been on americas got talent. We would both like to speak and get a booth can you asist my web site is www. DebraBetesh.com

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