Well hello!! I am here, after several months off to soak in my newfound motherhood. And yes, I will be back from here on out with a regular posting schedule. <3 Today I have the most special story to share with you – Zyla’s birth story.
She is 3.5 months old today (HOW?!), and I want to share the most special day of our lives with you. Zyla’s birth was almost as I had imagined it would be – it was the most challenging, amazing, and wildest day. I shared the story on my podcast, but there were so many little details I left out of the episode – otherwise it would’ve been hours long – and those things are better covered in written form.
This is hands down the most momentous post I have ever written in my years of blogging and one I have been writing in my head over and over again for the last few months. I know that I will come back to read it, and that Zyla will too, when she is older. This is the heart of blogging – to share the stories that will live on in our memories.
This story is DETAILED so grab your coffee (or your wine…if it’s that time of day ;)).
Let’s start with…
The birth plan:
My birth plan was something I thought about and knew exactly what I wanted years before I even became pregnant. In 2009, I became a certified birth Doula and having been present at many births ranging from au naturale to planned C sections, I was given the gift of knowing what fit for me, when the time came.
As someone who has become more and more ‘crunchy’ over the years, I decided on wanting a pretty ‘natural’ birth, but in a hospital with an epidural. Why? Because for me, I have always felt like being in less pain would be more calming, especially as someone who experiences anxiety when I feel like I’m not in control of my body or surroundings. And I was right – the epidural made the birth so peaceful.
Backing up a minute to cover the birth team – because that piece is so important. When I first got pregnant and until I was 33 weeks pregnant, I went to Kaiser which is what my insurance covered at the time. It felt like a one-size-fits-all approach to care (not just with prenatal care but with everything else too). I didn’t love it. And I saw 6 different providers during my time going there…it felt so impersonal. One of the issues that I dealt with was not wanting to have my blood drawn (this will come up later in this story) and I did not have my blood drawn at all during pregnancy the ‘traditional way’/via venous blood draw until I was in labor. The practitioners I saw at Kaiser were overall unsupportive and also confused, because their record-keeping sucked between seeing so many different providers. And I had to explain myself and my blood tests at every single appointment before we moved. I did, however, do 99% of the blood draws via finger pricks that I paid for out of pocket. If you deal with the same phobia, here are the tests that I used and provided to the medical team(s):
At 33 weeks pregnant, Jeff and I moved from California to Arizona and I selected a new provider who I LOVED. The difference in care was so positive from Kaiser to more personalized CARE. My midwife was 100% supportive of my blood tests noted above and choices. I was finally excited to go to appointments versus feeling a sense of dread since my choices were now being honored. On top of the midwife that we selected, we had an incredible birth doula supporting us throughout the birth process.
During our move from CA to AZ
I felt confident that between her, Jeff and myself we would come up with a birth plan that aligned with my values and that we would be able to advocate for everything we wanted during the labor and delivery process.
Our plan was to labor at home for as long as possible to reduce stress. I purchased flameless candles and in the later part of my pregnancy, I took a bath in the candelight just about every night to relax. Turning on the flameless candles, making the bathroom a sanctuary with oils and a good book are memories that bring back all the cozy vibes.
The one caveat with laboring at home was that I tested positive for Group B Strep at 38 weeks pregnant which meant that the medical advice said that I should leave for the hospital when my water broke or when my contractions were 5 minutes apart. So achieving that balance of staying at home while still being safe was in the back of my mind those last couple of weeks. The reason that medical advice tells you to get to the hospital within a reasonable amount of time is so that they can administer IV antibiotics for at least 4 hours pre-delivery so that the baby does not get Group B Strep during the vaginal delivery process.
I found a visual birth plan on Mama Natural and the midwife, doula, and nurses loved it because there was almost no reading involved – all icons to communicate what my desires were for the birth. Here is the template for you to make your own! My plan was to have an epidural as I mentioned above, but everything else about what I wanted was natural and ‘crunchy’, for example: pushing on my own terms, delayed cord clamping, no bath (we didn’t bathe Zyla until she was 3 weeks old)…and the list goes on. I am still so happy with all of these decisions!
Leading up to the birth day…
During the months leading up to Zyla’s birth, I was already starting to go through MY (re)birth as a mother. I am still going through this process but prior to her birth day, it was beautiful, hard, and also provided me with so much clarity. I was being shown really intimate truths about myself, my relationships, my career path, my soul’s purpose, my passions, and my inner-child’s hurts, things that still needed healing. I was also really working hard to stay in the present moment – soaking all of the self growth in.
On October 13, two days before Zyla’s due date, early labor started. I started to experience some cramping that just felt like period cramps. Nothing too bad. Even as someone who is trained on the stages of labor, I was confused as this went on for days. At first these cramps weren’t all too regular, but I was still thinking “ok…is this going to go from 0 100 real quick?” Patience is NOT my strong suit and this just continued and continued. On October 15th, they became more regular…like every 30 minutes or so. I was still doing my normal things, and Jeff and I even went out for lunch together and I placed our order at Flower Child while experiencing somewhat uncomfortable contractions – HE was the one who was freaked out.
By about 6 PM that night, the contractions were getting stronger – they felt like really painful period cramps – and I KNEW that she would be born the next day. I packed my hospital bag while in early labor on October 14th (total procrastinator) and got the last few things added to the bag that night, October 15th. Jeff and I had pizza as we do every Friday night, and then got in the hot tub as our last hot tub date before the big day. We talked about what it was going to be like the next day and we wondered what time things would really kick in. I guessed that it’d be go-time in the middle of the night as that was my experience with past births I’d attended.
Hot tub night a few days before Z was born
And that’s (kind of) what happened. At 1 AM I woke up to more of the uncomfortable period-like contractions and I started to time them. They were between 2 and 5 minutes apart. I laid in bed tracking them for about 30 minutes before deciding to call our doula and the midwife to let them know we were on the way. At this time I was still a little confused because while they weren’t horribly painful, they were consistent and frequent. Better safe than sorry, I thought. My midwife hadn’t answered the phone when I called, and by the time she called me back, we were already about 20 minutes down the road, to the hospital. She asked me if I couldn’t speak while having contractions. I told her that I could, in fact, speak. She advised not to come, but since we were already almost there and our doula was also on her way, we decided to still get checked out. We checked in to triage in L&D and my contractions were being monitored and they were in fact happening every 3-5 minutes just as I had felt, but they weren’t intense (yet). I had a cervical check done and I was 1cm dilated. The nurse on duty told me that in order to be admitted, I needed to be 4cm dilated. I had high blood pressure during the monitoring process, and that gave me pretty bad anxiety just because it was worrisome. Once my blood pressure went down, we were discharged. We went home and went right to bed, around 3:45 AM.
The birth day…
At exactly 6AM that same day (October 16th), I was blasted awake, literally, by my water breaking in bed. It felt like the biggest gush of warm water beneath me and I jolted awake – it was not at all peaceful, also waking Jeff up. Thankfully everything was in the car ready to go from the night before. I changed my clothes and wore leggings, a T-shirt, and sneakers and we were out the door by 6:15. By the time I got in the car at 6:15, the contractions were already super intense. I called our doula and had to pause while experiencing the contractions, letting her know we were on the way to the hospital again. I also called the midwife again, and she advised us to get some breakfast and take our time since I wouldn’t be able to eat once I started fluids for the epidural. The contractions were super intense by this point, and we did not take that advice.
By this time, I was more terrified of the impending blood draw than anything else, as we approached the hospital.
Jeff dropped me off right in front of the hospital and alerted the front desk staff to grab a wheelchair for me while he parked the car. I was seated in a wheelchair and before Jeff got back to the lobby, I was wriggling around in extreme pain. We went to the labor and delivery floor and luckily they had our info saved from the night before – and thank God they did because I don’t know how I would have been able to answer all of those questions while these contractions were going down. Jeff had to answer a few questions for me and I begged them to just get me a fucking room, NOW. A triage nurse had to check me out before admitting us and that was brutal. I was leaning against the rail in the triage bathroom while she checked the fluid (I think?) and confirmed that I was in labor.
We got to our room by about 7:30 AM and by this point I was absolutely shocked by how much pain I was feeling. It felt like someone was wringing my insides and I wondered if this was normal or not. I was also screaming in hysterics, in Jeff’s ears, squeezing his shoulders and hands every time the contractions came, which were about every minute. I felt like I couldn’t catch a break and I was begging for the epidural constantly. In order to get an epidural, you have to have a certain amount of fluids administered first, and all along my plan was to have my blood drawn via IV so that I didn’t have to get poked twice. The nurse, Jessica, asked if they could administer the IV needle and I asked for a moment to center myself, and our amazing doula, Kendra, had me look in to her eyes and follow her breathing instructions. Not one minute later, I told them to get the IV going. I barely felt it. In comparison to the contractions, it was NOTHING. She told me, “I’m drawing your blood right now” – I was shocked because I literally didn’t feel a thing. I was of course looking away. After my blood was drawn, the fluids were started and the contractions only got stronger.
I have to say, at this moment, I think most of my blood draw phobia dissolved. Most. lol. I still don’t look forward to having it done again but this was a HUGE win for me emotionally.
I was totally unprepared for the depths that the pain of the contractions would take me. I thought, “who in their right mind would DO THIS without pain medication?” – Also, no judgment, it was just a thought I kept having…and “holy shit…is this normal?” I did think I was dying at one point. I have immense respect for women who have unmedicated births.
Finally I’d received enough fluids that I could get the epidural. I’ve never wanted to hug someone as much as I did that amazing anesthesiologist. I think if I hadn’t gotten the epidural, Zyla would’ve been born within the hour. Our midwife didn’t want to check my cervix because they really wanted me to receive at least 4 hours of the GBS+ antibiotic. And so the plan was to check my cervix at noon.
I have to say, the epidural felt like a gift from the GODS!!! It was the most incredible relief. The nurse on duty, Jessica, commented on how different and calm I was after the epidural kicked in. lol. I have to say, I surprised myself with the hysterics. But that PAIN, man. WOW.
Relaxing after the wild morning and receiving the epidural
Time to check…
At noon, our midwife came in and said, “I heard you were on all fours, roaring…and that those contractions were intense at just a minute apart”! Ha. She then checked me out, and I was fully dilated and 100% effaced. This meant I could’ve started to push at noon. But our midwife told me that Zyla’s head was still up a bit high, and she had another mom who was ready to start pushing and asked if she could go and deliver that baby, then come back to deliver with us. This was just fine with me as I wanted to get a little more rest and do my makeup. Since we were jolted out of bed, there was zero time to get ready, obviously, and I wanted to look as good as I could for the biggest day of our lives. Kendra and Jeff were the sweetest angels and held my mirror as I did my makeup. We chatted about anything and everything, and it was just a really chill, nice time. At that time we also went over our birth plan with Jessica, our nurse.
By 3:15 PM, our midwife came back in after delivering her other patient’s baby, and asked if we were ready to start pushing. By this point, I started to feel some pressure and was also super excited. Right as I started to push, I could feel the energy of my ancestors in the room. My Great-Grandma Leona, whom Zyla is named after (her middle name), my Grandpa Bob, my Grandma JoAnn, and those that came before them. I visualized them and could see them handing me my precious girl.
While I pushed, we listened to Bossa Nova and it was so soothing. In between pushes, nurse Jessica, our midwife, our doula Kendra, Jeff, and I would chat about all sorts of things and it was just FUN. But after a couple of hours, I got pretty tired and hungry. I hadn’t eaten since pizza night the night before. So around 5 PM, I changed the music to rap/Hip Hop. Everyone but me was laughing and dancing to the music and it was just so fun. Kendra, our doula, asked if I wanted to try tug-of-war while pushing at this point, which is when you tug on a rebozo while pushing. Let me tell you, this WORKED. By 6 PM, Zyla was so close to coming out. At 6:15, nurse Jessica said, “Lynn, look down, your baby is coming!” …let me insert here that the whole time I was pushing, I was terrified about the ring of fire that some women experience. I was feeling immense pressure and was anxiously anticipating this ring of fire pain, and it never came. So I was SHOCKED when I was told to look down at my baby coming – I even closed my eyes for a second, anticipating the pain that never came.
Seconds later, Zyla was placed on my chest and I looked right into her sparkling eyes. She was already so alert, and we instantly connected. I knew our connection would be deep, but this was deeper than I ever imagined. She didn’t cry right away and was just so chill yet alert, looking around and even lifting her head! One meaning of her name is ‘calm’ and she most certainly was from the moment I felt her inside of me to the moment she was born.
I was in awe of how aware she was and how her little body grew inside of me – and she was now here with us, earth side. And how I knew this was all meant to be.
If you want to listen to the audio version of Zyla’s birth story, listen here. I will write many follow-up posts about postpartum life and motherhood as well.
Zyla, if you are reading this in the future, I love you more than all the stars. Thank you for making me YOUR mama, for awakening me in the best ways, and for showing me the meaning of life. Xoxoxo