Quite honestly, I didn’t think I’d be one of those moms that wrote a birth story, let alone published it for the world to see.
But Bradley’s birth story is worth sharing because it taught me something so important: EVERYONE IS SO DIFFERENT.
There isn’t a single woman who goes through labor in the same way and so therefore no birth story is the same. I guess that what makes all of us so profound – we all enter the world in entirely different ways.
I absolutely love that.
BACK STORY: I really felt like the words God gave me for 2017 were “Unexpect” and “Unassume” and therefore I felt like it was important to be pseudo “unprepared” for Bradley Grace’s labor and delivery.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We packed the hospital bags and got a pediatrician and installed the car seat and all of those necessary little things for her arrival. But I really felt like the most peaceful process for me was going to be 1) not having a rigid birth plan or doing a ton of research to come up with a rigid birth plan and 2) being perfectly content ahead of time with however she came into the world – be it C-Section or otherwise.
So from the beginning of 2017, I began to relax and realize that the more research I did, the more I also realized that everyone had a completely unique birth story. And Bug’s would be no different. It wouldn’t matter how much I planned or researched the exactly perfect birthing scenarios or techniques, her birth was going to be her own and ultimately, I wasn’t the author of it. Sure, I could place my firm preferences here and there. But it felt so much more peaceful and freeing to surrender my preferences (and also more peaceful to stay neutral about some topics) than to be the author of my daughter’s birth story.
And personally, I have a hard time reading about women who are disappointed by their child’s birth story because it hadn’t gone the exact route that they had wanted. There seems to be something amiss about that that I can’t place my finger on. I still firmly believe that however the birth story happens is remarkable because of how unique it is. Also – you’re bringing a human into the world. That deserves enough credit on its own.
BRADLEY’S BIRTH STORY (AKA How she got here)
(Don’t worry – I won’t give you graphic details.)
*Side note: The only potentially weird words I’m going to use in this story are the words “cervix” and “dilate”. Basically all you need to know if you have no clue how birth works is that a woman’s cervix must reach 10 cm in order to push a baby out. Great? great. If that’s too vague for you, go ask another woman how this works. If that’s too specific for you, you should stop reading here.*
Since around 24 weeks of pregnancy, I’ve had something called “gestational hypertension” meaning that my blood pressure has been high on account of carrying a baby.
This is incredibly common with women who had borderline high(er) blood pressure before pregnancy because pregnancy causes your BP to go up. (Hellooooo you’re growing a human and your blood volume is doubling so yes… blood pressure definitely goes up in pregnancy)
Since week 24, however, I have been on BP medication which has kept my BP extremely normal. I passed my gestational diabetes test with flying colors. They never found protein in my urine (a sign of pre-eclampsia) and everything was looking A-okay.
The only thing that was slightly different than your “normal” pregnancy was that my midwives advised me that it would be safer and healthier if I was induced between 39 and 40 weeks of pregnancy (if I hadn’t gone into labor naturally by myself before then) because the later in pregnancy, the more risky it is for a woman who has gestational hypertension to develop pre-eclampsia (Hellooooo fully grown baby + this causing stress on literally every part of your body = even higher BP).
And this sounded great with me. I mean, obviously, I thought it would’ve been fun to have the whole “OMG MY WATER BROKE” story – but Bug’s health and safety was my number one (and only) goal and HECK, I TRUST MIDWIVES AND DOCTORS. They’ve been dealing with different pregnancies way longer than me and probably know a thing or two. Might as well trust them right? Right.
Therefore, I was scheduled to go in on the night of the 4th of July to start dilating my cervix and then the morning of the 5th I would start a drug called “pitocin” which would help contractions begin (helping get my body ready for labor and also dilating my cervix further).
On July 3rd, I had my final appointment at my team of midwives’ offices and found out I was already 3 cm dilated! This seemed like a very big deal and step in the right direction. I had been experiencing inconsistent and non-progressing contractions for around 2 weeks before this so I was hopeful that maybe I could go into labor naturally before they would have to induce me. So because I was already dilated, my July 4th appointment was cancelled and my only job was to try to start inducing labor on my own but to go in on Wednesday morning, July 5th, as well if I still hadn’t gone into labor.
So with my family in tow, we spent the whole 4th of July on Baby Watch 2017, trying to get me to go into labor. And I was GRUMPY. It was super hot out… nothing we were doing was working… and I wanted this baby OUT. We walked a TON and I avoided eye contact with literally everyone I passed who apparently seemed very concerned with my well-being (probably judging by my waddles and flock of family members who were looking at me as if I were a ticking time bomb they were madly in love with.)
But alas, the morning of July 5th rolled around and I had not gone into labor.
So we woke up super early on Wednesday, worshipped for the last time as a family of 2, and checked ourselves into Cary WakeMed to begin the induction process.
Both sides of our families were eager to meet their first grandchild after getting their hopes up for the past 2 days that I might go in to labor, so they arrived at the hospital a few hours after we did. (Little did we know the waiting had just started…)
Once I started on Pitocin, my nurse noted that my BP was high and we realized I had not taken my BP meds that morning. However, even after I took them, my blood pressure stayed on the high end. It wasn’t dramatically horrible and it definitely wasn’t enough to need immediate intervention, but it did require an extra watchful eye on me as well as a limitation to my movements out of bed, in hopes of keeping it down. Therefore – I couldn’t use many methods that had been told about to help manage the pain of contractions naturally. (Which was fine! Again – goal #1 was Bug’s health and safety).
After around 3 hours of feeling fairly painful contractions, (about noon), my midwife came in to check my cervix (5 hours of pitocin and I was up to 5 cm) and then break my water. I told her that I wasn’t feeling the contractions how I thought I should be feeling them. I knew contractions were going to suck but I was in a significant amount of pain and already begging for an epidural. (Even though I knew it was too early, I still was asking…and also starting to wonder how much of a wuss I really was that I couldn’t handle these beginning contractions). I could see the contractions rising and falling on the monitor, but what I felt was like someone was continuously kicking me in the stomach with no break in between the contractions. I felt like my rib bones were being compressed and squeezing the breath out of me without stopping. My nurse looked at my midwife and said “Yea… that’s not contractions….”
Immediately they decided to check my urine for protein and discovered that there was some in it. And because of the elevated BP that wasn’t appearing to go down, along with the intense stomach pains, they diagnosed me with pre-eclampsia.
This meant that I needed to begin an IV of Magnesium that would keep me from having seizures as well as keep my BP down for the remainder of labor.
Now… this Magnesium drip does its job perfectly but it also makes you like you have the flu…weak, nauseous and pretty lethargic.
So with my BP in check and the magnesium flowing, NOW the fun part began! The REAL CONTRACTIONS.
And HOLY TOLEDO contractions suck.
At first, I was able to feel them regularly and somewhat joke through them. Then they started coming every other minute and lasting around 30 seconds and I was very rapidly losing most of my energy and mental stamina. And yes, at one point I genuinely asked Noah if he could take the next contraction for me because I wasn’t sure I could handle another. Lol. It was roughhhh.
Because I couldn’t leave the bed for risk of elevating my BP, I shook my way through some of the most pain I have ever experienced in my life, hoping that by the end of it there might be some sort of progression in my dilation. I start asking for the epidural around 2 hours in but in order to give me one, my contractions needed to be extremely regular and my cervix needed to be progressing. (AKA I needed to be considered in active labor) Neither of the things were happening, so the earliest I could get the epidural was around 7:00 pm after 4 hours of hard contractions.
Side note: Noah was AMAZING during this. He held my hand through every contraction and brought me a million cups of ice water and cold towels for my head. I 100% wouldn’t have made it through that day without him or my mother.
So around 7:00, I was finally and OFFICIALLY in active labor. I also ENTHUSIASTICALLY welcomed the anesthesiologist into the room to give me my epidural. AND WOW.
THE BEST THING EVER. People always say that the worst part of the epidural is the stick going into your spine but that felt like NOTHING compared to the pain of contractions. (10/10 would recommend epidurals. I would take 1000 sticks in my spine over one contraction any day)
After that, I could still feel the pressure of the contractions but it was nothing horrible.
At around 10:00 pm, the midwife came in to check my cervix and this time I was at 7 cm. By 1:00 am, my body completely drained from contracting and majorly feeling horrible from the lack of food and side effects of magnesium, but I had FINALLY reached 10 cm!
This felt like a huge accomplishment!
The only problem was that Bradley Grace had never “dropped” into the birth canal area. She was still extremely high. We tried different techniques to get her to move her way down. We even began the pushing process, hoping that this would encourage her to move down. After 4 hours of pushing off and on, little Bug would just not move and the stress it was causing on my body and hers was becoming obvious.
Her heart rate had gone up and down, my BP was fluctuating, and my body was completely spent.
At 4:45 am on July 6th, after another round of pushing, the doctor decided that the healthiest and safest things for me and baby was to have a C-setion. And y’all, I kid you not – I immediately felt so peaceful about that.
It was like I just always knew that’s what would happen.
At 5:00 am, I was wheeled into the OR with my husband in scrubs sitting at my head. And on the other side of the drape, at 5:22 am, they pronounced a “time of birth” for our daughter, Bradley Grace Bowman, which was met by the most high-pitched, feminine baby cry I’ve ever heard.
While I didn’t get to see much of her while we were in the OR, Noah got SO many amazing pictures of her first moments of life.
The second half of the C-section was bizarre because I could feel the pressure of them pushing everything around and started to get extremely nauseous. Eventually, however, I was sewn up, my epidural was removed, and I was wheeled back to the hospital room to find my doe-eyed husband holding our 7 lb, 15 oz baby girl with her head FULL of hair.
Bug’s birth story was an adventure. I’ve had a few people ask me if there was any point in which I was afraid during labor. And I can honestly say I really never was. I can’t explain it other than the peace of God over the entire day as well as just trusting that the entire process would be okay. There was no need to freak out because things came up or because it wasn’t exactly an “easy” process.
Regardless if it was easy or not, it was peaceful. And I think that’s the point – It is possible to be filled with peace in the midst of difficult things.
And honestly, I’m so proud of her birth story! I think there’s often a lot of mommy-shame associated with C-sections or even epidurals but I’m really proud of her story and honestly wouldn’t change a thing about it… even if everything didn’t go “perfectly”.
I would probably only change the puking. I wish I hadn’t puked. Lol.
I’m sure there will be many more posts to come about parenthood and the like. For now, we are exhausted but in love with our daughter. (How can we not be, though? She’s super cute).