In this series we share birth stories of all kinds from mothers around the globe — with the hope that they inspire, educate and inform expecting mothers. Interested in sharing your birth story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Read more birth stories here.
Baby & Mama’s name: Dionna and Ellie
Baby’s birth date: July 9, 2016
Baby’s birth location: Oakland, CA
Baby’s size: 7lbs 15 oz and 20 inches long
Our baby girl was due July 5, 2016.
At our 37 week appointment we found out that she was breeched and the likelihood of her turning this late in the pregnancy wasn’t good. I was devastated. A c-section was something I wanted to avoid at all costs, and here I was having to schedule one with my OB. I went home that day in tears, and called my doula to figure out what the next steps with her would be since our hospital wouldn’t allow her to be in the operating room during surgery. She suggested I call a chiropractor and acupuncturist, both who have been known to get breeched babies to turn. I went home and of course googled it, and apparently chiropractors use something called the Webster technique that has a decent success rate in getting babies to turn head down. Desperate to try anything I made appointments with both for the following week. We had just two weeks to get her to turn before my scheduled c-section at 39 weeks. After two sessions with a chiropractor and two sessions with the acupuncturist, I went back to see my OB at the end of my 38th week. We couldn’t believe it. Our babe turned head down and all felt right in my world again. Whether the chiropractic and acupuncture sessions worked, or if our baby turned on her own, we’ll never know. But I was going home thrilled that I’d get a shot at delivering this baby vaginally. Before finding out she was breeched I was a bit terrified of labor. Now I was just thankful I’d get to go through it, to actually feel what a contraction was like, and was now looking forward to labor.
Little did I know things were about to get a lot harder.
Two days before my due date, my husband Andrew called me from his rock climbing gym to let me know he was on his way to the emergency room because he fell off one of the boulders, completely dislocating and tearing all of the ligaments in his right ankle. He was planning to go outdoor rock climbing that day, but opted for the gym because it’s “safer.” To say I was upset is an understatement. Not only was our life about to be majorly changed, but now we were going to be one parent down for all the sleepless nights to come. When we went to get his MRI, the doctor told us they might have to schedule surgery, and if so, it would have to be scheduled the SAME DAY I was to be induced if I didn’t already go into labor naturally. It was all too unreal and I was an emotional mess. Not being able to have Andrew present and by my side during the birth of our first child was something I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around. Thankfully, the MRI came back with good news. Surgery wasn’t needed but he was going to be bed ridden for two weeks elevating his ankle until swelling went down so that they could put a cast on it. Ummm bed ridden, with a baby entering our world in a few days? Panic set in.
We went home and Andrew spent the next 4 days on the couch while I walked what felt like hundreds of laps around the neighborhood to try and get labor going. I was determined to not have to be induced, but was also willing to accept whatever needed to happen to get our baby here safely. On July 7th, I decided to get a pedicure because the massage chairs at my nail place are pretty intense, and I remembered reading that a bumpy car ride could help induce labor. WIN. Shortly after my labor started.
That night I began to feel steady contractions starting around 6:30 PM (thanks Classy Nail!). I called my bestie, and went out for a walk because I still wasn’t sure if they were the real deal. They only got closer together and more intense, and by 8:30 PM I remember thinking, ok this is really happening. I called our Doula and gave her a heads up because she would be driving to the hospital since Andrew was unable to. She told me to relax, eat, and take a bath. She wanted us to wait until the next morning to head to the hospital because she was worried if we went too soon, they would send us home. I was down with that plan until around midnight when I felt like I couldn’t take the pain anymore. Our Doula came over around 12:30 AM to come spend the night and help me get through the next several hours at home. She and Andrew tried to get some sleep so that they could be rested up the next day. I was instructed to also try to lay down and sleep, but with contractions coming every few minutes, it wasn’t happening. At 3:30 AM I reached my breaking point, woke up my Doula and told her we had to get going. At this point I couldn’t comfortably walk or stand for very long. Somehow she convinced me to stay home another two hours! We watched a couple of episodes of Friends and she rubbed my back as I bounced on an exercise ball, breathed through the contractions, and ate peanut butter toast.
At 5:30 AM it was go time. At this point I was BEGGING to go to the hospital and I remember wondering how I would ever make the 30 minute car ride there. We showed up, checked in, and I was taken to my birthing room. Andrew had to park himself on the couch in our room with his foot elevated so our Doula helped me labor in several different positions. He was able to be supportive vocally, but unfortunately couldn’t stand next to me with strict instructions from his doctor if we ever wanted to get a cast on his leg. All I kept thinking was how bad I wanted the epidural, but I was trying to hold off so that it didn’t slow things down. I started to ask for one around noon and my doctor told me she would get the anesthesiologist in after their back to back c-sections they were doing. What I thought was going to be a 2 hour wait turned into a 4 hour wait. I still don’t know how I made it through 16 hours of contractions without an epidural because newsflash, I’m the biggest wuss on the planet when it comes to pain. But I did it and I’m pretty proud of myself.
I can not tell you how excited I was when that anesthesiologist finally walked through the door. To my surprise the epidural was pretty painless (I’d heard horror stories), but I honestly didn’t think it was any worse than getting my IV put in. The epidural was just a little pinch and within 30 minutes I was feeling prettyyyyyyy good. Still not good enough to fall asleep though like a lot of people do. Once I got the drugs and more settled in, I figured I’d have our babe by that night. Oh was I so wrong! I think everyone thought I’d be having her that night because my mom and Andrew’s mom were ready for the good news in the waiting room and refused to go to the hotel because they didn’t want to miss her debut. Little did they know they’d be sleeping overnight in that waiting room!
Of course the epidural slowed my labor down (just like our Lamaze instructor said it would), and I was dilating at a snail’s pace. It wasn’t until 3 AM the next morning that I was finally 10 cm dilated, and ready to start pushing. Also, side note: Epidurals don’t always make you completely numb. I ended up having what they call a “hot spot” where the epidural stopped working on my left side. So when I was about 9 cm dilated I started to feel EVERYTHING on my left. Because I was so close to 10 cm they didn’t want the anesthesiologist to come in and correct it. They wanted me to “feel everything” when it was time to push so that I could control my body better. After a lot of pleading (and maybe crying), I got the nurses to get the anesthesiologist back in to correct my hotspot. I was in so much pain from the contractions that I couldn’t stop throwing up, so I think that’s what finally convinced them to give in to me.
So where were we? 3 AM and 10 cm dilated. It was time to push and once again I thought she would make her debut shortly. Um, hard no. I definitely was not prepared for how hard pushing would be. Like AT ALL. Andrew at this point was standing (on one foot) by my side, had one leg, the nurse had the other, and every time I pushed they’d say, “she’s almost here, we can see the top of her head!” And then I’d scream back, “you guys are lying to me!!!” Every. single. time.
Because 5 HOURS OF PUSHING later and I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. By this time (8:00 AM on Saturday morning) I hadn’t slept in 36 hours. I’d only eaten dinner Thursday night, peanut butter toast on Friday at 4:00 AM, and one popsicle at the hospital before they gave me the drugs. My epidural had worn off completely and they didn’t want to refill it because I was too close to the end. I was a MESS. Like completely done with the whole thing. I kept repeating over and over and over, I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE. My energy was gone and I was giving up.
Then things got a little scary. Because I was pushing for so long, E’s heart rate started to drop during each push. I could tell the nurse was nervous, so she went to go get the doctor. My doctor I had throughout my pregnancy had left her shift from the day before so we got the doctor who was on the floor that morning. She was such a bad ass, like legit the Beyonce of OBGYN’s. As the nurse strapped an oxygen mask on me, Dr. Jeffrey Starr came in, pulled up her stool, got up real close to my face, and gave me the best 15 second pep talk of my life. I kept repeating to her over and over that I couldn’t do this anymore. She said, “You’re a mom now, and this is your first duty. This isn’t about you, you’re gonna do it, you don’t have a choice. You can’t cry, or give up, you have to do this. You can do this.”
Before I knew it a crew of 10 people were in the room. Nurses, techs, the pediatrician, etc. Everyone was scrubbed up and ready to go, and this time I knew for sure it was only a matter of minutes we’d get to meet our little girl. I knew I didn’t have much time left unless I wanted a c-section because of her descending heart rate. Out of nowhere I got an adrenalin rush and somehow pushed 3 more times (with the help of a vacuum), and our little Ellie Marie Garcia was plopped straight onto my chest. She came out screaming, I cried of course, and just remember looking at her and thinking how crazy this all was. That I carried her for 9 months in my belly, and she was finally here in our world ready for us to love and care for her.
Pregnancy and delivery has always been at the top of my list of things I didn’t want to do in life. I wanted a baby, but I didn’t want to have to do the hard work because the experience sounded so terrifying. So when I found out I was pregnant I wasn’t particularly thrilled. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what pregnancy and labor would be like.
One of my biggest concerns while I was pregnant was that I wouldn’t connect with our baby right away. I’d always struggled with anxiety and so I figured I’d be majorly at risk for postpartum depression. Also, throughout my pregnancy I didn’t feel emotionally attached to my bump. I had told Andrew several times that I didn’t feel how everyone else portrays they feel on social media when going in for their ultrasound scans. The “I can’t wait to meet our baby” and “I love her so much already” were not thoughts going through my head at every appointment. I was so frightened to be a mom and didn’t feel ready at all to be one. I truly felt like I was carrying a stranger.
But the love I felt for our girl when I first held her was indescribable. Every bad or anxious thought that I’d ever had was gone. All I could think about was how much I loved her and how surreal the moment was that I just gave birth to the most precious little being. I felt like I’d known her my whole life and all of a sudden I was so ready to be her mom. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.
Oh and how did we survive for the first 8 weeks of Ellie’s life with Andrew unable to walk? There was a lot of Netflix and chilling in bed happening and he got really good at hopping on one foot to the changing table. It was both a challenge and a blessing. I was so glad that Andrew got some serious one on one time with us in the first two months of Ellie’s life and I think because of that they already have the sweetest bond.