If there’s one topic I always love to chat about during newborn sessions it’s definitely the birth story of my tiniest little clients. I absolutely love birth stories. Every single one is so different, yet each one is deeply emotional and incredibly memorable. Through the years, I’ve had the privilege of hearing many birth stories and during my pregnancy, I found myself seeking them out more and more as I wondered what the birth story of my first child would be like.
During my third trimester, I focused my reading on books related to childbirth. A friend of mine recommended Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin and I found it incredibly inspiring for so many reasons, but hugely in part for all of the birth stories the author shared in the first section of the book. I particularly appreciated the birth stories told by older moms like me who were having their babies in their 40’s. For a long time I feared that my age would prevent me from having the type of birth I desired but reading the incredible birth stories of babies whose mamas were my age, or even older than me, gave me hope that I could deliver my baby naturally, too.
In case you haven’t heard the news on Instagram, our baby girl is finally here and so, today, I’ve decided to share Olivia’s birth story. I share this story in the hopes that it will serve as inspiration to the expecting mamas out there and hope you enjoy this recap. I’ve included a few of the photos captured by Kiersten of Prema Photographic on the day of Olivia’s birth, photos we will treasure forever.
Olivia’s Birth Story
During the weeks leading up to Olivia’s birth Jay and I hoped she’d come right around her due date. We had a really busy fall and even in January, our to do list was still pretty long. Luckily, Olivia decided to give us all the time we needed to cross items off the list and we managed to get so much done: we delivered all of our client galleries, attended a childbirth/Lamaze class, a CPR class, a breastfeeding class, had both of our bathrooms fully renovated, cleaned the house from top to bottom, cooked meals for freezing, and made really good progress on Olivia‘s room. We had new floors put down in the nursery, Jay painted, we installed her closet organizer, and we even created a beautiful feature wall with a gorgeous floor to ceiling world map. (See it in my IG stories highlights here.) We’re still putting some finishing touches on my new favorite room in the house and we’re so happy with how it is turning out. All that to say that we were relieved when Olivia made it to full term and gave us all the time we needed to prepare for her arrival.
I’m 40 years old, so at Week 36 I started to have weekly ultrasounds to keep track of baby’s size, check her heart, make sure my fluid levels were good, etc. Week after week, I was told that Olivia had passed all the checks and we breathed a sigh of relief. By the time we reached her due date, we were 100% ready to meet our baby girl but our little Livie had other plans. Her due date came and went and there were no signs of her wanting to come out. At our 40 week appointment she was head down and in position but I wasn’t dilated yet at all. Two days later, we returned to the doctor’s for a non-stress test and everything looked good so we were told to come back two days later for another ultrasound to check my fluids. I was hoping baby would come by then but no such luck! At 40 weeks + 5 days, I was barely a centimeter dilated. I had been feeling some contractions here and there but they were irregular and, I’ll admit, a bit of an emotional roller coaster. A few times I said to Jay, “I think this is it!” And then the contractions would stop and we were back to waiting.
I had a really great pregnancy but right around 40 weeks + 2 days I started to get a little impatient. I was ready to meet our sweet daughter and not be pregnant anymore. I cried that Friday at the doctor’s office when we were told I’d be induced on Monday if the baby didn’t come over the weekend. I really didn’t want to be induced and risk a long, drawn-out labor. I so wanted for things to happen naturally!
Funny enough, less than twelve hours later I started to feel contractions that were very different from the ones I’d had previously. I had a feeling that this was finally it so I started to get ready. It was right around midnight so I imagined I’d labor at home all night, try to sleep, and head to the hospital in the morning. Still, these things are so unpredictable so I took a shower, added last minute items to the hospital bag, and told Jay he should get ready, too. It wasn’t the first time I had him get ready to go but he could tell that this time was different.
I got as comfortable as I could and started to time the contractions. They started off irregular between 5-9 minutes apart but quickly progressed and by 2am were soon consistently 4-5 minutes apart. I had terrible back labor so Jay started to massage my back during every contraction. I hoped that the back pain would go away soon because I felt so bad having him rub my back every time but the pain only got worse. We live 45 minutes from the hospital where I delivered so we decided to make our way there and arrived by 3am. The nurse immediately checked to see how dilated I was and when she announced 4-5cm, I was so relieved. We were well on our way to finally meet our sweet baby girl.
What I wanted more than anything during the delivery was to avoid having an epidural. I wanted to make sure I could move around freely while I labored, and, call me crazy, I wanted to actually feel the contractions that would help me push my baby out. Well, I certainly got what I asked for. The contractions were so painful and the back labor was almost unbearable. My poor husband massaged my back every time I had a contraction to help me get through it. Every single time. If it hadn’t been for his back massages I would’ve definitely needed an epidural to help me with the pain. I’m so thankful for him and for the role he played during my labor.
The rest of my support team consisted of my sister-in-law, Havva, and our birth photographer, Kiersten. Havva arrived a little after 5am. I was so happy to be delivering on a Saturday when she was off from work to make it easier for her to be present – it meant so much to have her there, especially since she allowed me the privilege of being present at both her daughters’ births. Kiersten arrived a little after 7am once I was 7cm dilated. It was perfect timing for her arrival so she could capture us when I was in active labor. I’m so thankful that Kiersten was present, too. She was actually my pre-natal yoga instructor for several weeks during my pregnancy and I knew her calming disposition would fit in well with Jay and Havva’s even-keeled personalities.
At about 8am I was 9cm dilated but baby was still high. After progressing steadily to 9cm I somehow got stuck there and stayed there for a while. I began to feel a bit demoralized as I felt that I wasn’t making any progress despite all the contractions I was working through. I felt thoroughly exhausted, too, and just wanted so badly to reach 10cm dilated so I could start to push. My contractions were so intense and I hardly had any time between them to recover. They felt like they were coming on one on top of another. At times it felt like the next contraction was beginning before the previous one had even ended. I wondered how long this could go on for.
Shortly after 10am the nurse asked me if I wanted her to break my water. She said the contractions would be stronger but that it would help me progress to 10cm faster and get the baby to drop, too. I took her up on that offer right away and the contractions got much stronger instantly. I couldn’t believe how strong they were but I worked through them as best I could with my breathing, Jay’s massages, and Havva’s never-ending supply of ice chips and cold towels on my forehead.
By 11am I was 10cm dilated and 100% effaced – it was finally time to push! I can’t even begin to describe the relief I felt when I was told that I was finally able to push. I was so ready to have a baby!
I started pushing at 11:10am. I remember being afraid that I wouldn’t know how to push. That sounds ridiculous, of course, and I absolutely did know how to push. Unfortunately, I was so exhausted that I had many “wasted” pushes when I knew I hadn’t done a good job. I tried to make up for them by pushing four times during a contraction instead of three, and I managed to make progress. In my head I wanted to push the baby out in less than an hour, but I had no idea how long I had been pushing for. It was all such a blur! It wasn’t until later that I found out I had pushed her out in about 50 minutes time.
It was 12:01pm when our sweet Olivia Claire was finally here. The moment the doctor put our baby girl in my arms was a moment I shall never forget. I could never put into words how amazing it was to feel so much joy, relief, gratitude, and love amidst all the pain, but I shall forever remember Olivia’s birth and the first time I laid eyes on her as the most wonderful moments of my life. I still can’t believe that she is ours, and that this beautiful little human lying next to me in her cute little bouncer is the same tiny person that was in my belly for 40 weeks and 6 days. We are so over the moon with her and so thankful that she is healthy.
In the end, my entire labor, from the time of the first contraction to the time she entered this world was just 12 hours. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. With my husband by my side, birthing and welcoming our healthy and beautiful baby girl into this world has been the greatest gift and one I shall never take for granted.
Olivia weighed 7lbs. and 4oz. and measured 20 inches long. There were a couple of unique aspects about her birth: first, she came out “compound” with her left hand on her face (which didn’t surprise me since she had her hands near her face at almost every ultrasound) and, second, our baby girl had a short umbilical cord! This meant that the doctor wasn’t able to put her on my chest right away because the cord wouldn’t let her go that far. For just a few minutes, she was instead put on my belly where I could feel her but not see her yet, and we were made to wait a little longer to finally see our little girl’s face. Not only did she make us wait 6 days past her due date to meet her but she made us wait what seemed like an eternity to see her little face even when she was finally out! One thing is certain: the wait was well worth it. Our sweet Olivia is perfect beyond words and we couldn’t be happier.
Phew! If you made it this far: thank you!! Thank you for following along on our journey and thank you for your endless support via comments, texts, and messages. I hope Olivia’s birth story inspires you in some way!