Taya Joy was born on February 21, 2020, at 8:39 in the morning, two days before her due date. She weighed 5lbs 15oz and was 19.25 inches long at the time of her birth. Her birth was the most beautiful and emotional experience of my life.
It’s taken me a while to get to writing her birth story because it wasn’t what I had planned (birth plan preferences) and there were some traumatic details and experiences I needed to process on my own first. I’m definitely still processing a bit but I’m at a place of peace now where I’m glad to be able to share openly with everyone.
During my prenatal appointment at 37 weeks, one of my midwives explained that if I wanted to, I could opt for an elective induction sometime during week 39. I had never heard of that before! I had always planned on going into spontaneous labor because that’s what’s natural and my heart was to always have things be as natural as possible. Well, after doing a ton of research and praying, Mike and I decided that we’d go for the induction at 39 weeks. We had plenty of legitimate reasons for choosing this and we had peace about it. So, we scheduled the induction for Friday, February 21st at 8:30 am. Even though we went forward with scheduling, we were praying I’d go into labor spontaneously before the induction date. (Read further… I didn’t end up getting induced!)
38 WEEKS – FALSE LABOR CONTRACTIONS & FALSE ALARM
Taya’s birth story kind of starts a little over a week before her arrival when I was 38 weeks pregnant. I had started getting false labor contractions towards the end of my 38th week of pregnancy. I knew for sure that they were not Braxton-Hicks. These contractions would last anywhere from 30 – 90 seconds but the frequency was completely inconsistent, though they were coming all day and especially at night. I had these for about a whole week before her arrival. Then on February 15th at 11:30 am, I thought my water had broke… it didn’t, though. You can read more about that experience here in my last bumpdate.
WEEK 39 – CERVIX PROGRESSION & MEMBRANE SWEEP //
The false labor contractions continued all week and this was when my birthing ball (exercise ball) became my new best friend. Honestly, the false labor contractions were never painful for me. I have always had a high threshold for pain so eve if something hurts, it doesn’t typically bother me. If anything, the false labor contractions were simply annoying, haha. I don’t think I slept more than a couple of hours each night that whole week because the contractions would be all night long. I literally just bounced and sat on my birthing ball for 90% of each night that week. Even Michael didn’t get much sleep since he’d help apply counter pressure to my lower back.
On February 20th, I had my last prenatal appointment with my midwife at 2:30 pm. I told her about my false labor contractions and at first, she wrote them off as Braxton-Hicks. She then checked my cervix and she was shocked! I went from being .5 cm dilated just 4 days before to be 4 cm dilated, 100% effaced (to her), and -1 station. At that point, she definitely agreed that I had been having contractions already, haha. I had her do a membrane sweep to help speed up labor. The sweep was only a couple of seconds and was just uncomfortable, not painful. My midwife told me she’d be shocked if I didn’t go into labor that night or sometime before my scheduled induction for the next morning.
REAL LABOR STARTS
On our way home from the appointment, I had some minor cramping. We got home at just about 4:00 pm and as soon as I sat down on the couch, I got a contraction that was noticeably stronger than all of the false labor contractions I had been having for the week leading up to then. It was such a surreal moment realizing that labor was really beginning! The photo above is shortly after we got home – you can see that I finally “dropped,” which didn’t happen until that day.
By 5:00 pm, my lower back, pelvis, and legs were starting to as the contractions started to pick up. This was when I snapped the mirror selfie below – my last bump picture! The intensity stayed about the same through about 8:00 pm but the frequency was kind of all over the place – anywhere from 40 seconds to 12 minutes apart. During those hours, we made sure our hospital bags had everything we needed and I spent a good amount of time on my birthing ball. I wasn’t comfortable at all laying down or sitting on a regular surface. I took a shower at 7:00 pm and it felt SO good on my lower back – I wish I labored longer in the shower. Then I curled my hair and applied some light makeup all while sitting on my birthing ball.
By 8:00 pm, my back was really taking the brunt of the contractions. I had period-like cramps in front and then a ton of back pain. If I didn’t have a heat compress pack on my back or Michael applying counter pressure, it got really uncomfortable. I ended up texting one of my good friends at 8:45 pm and she told me that I was probably having back labor and to time what I feeling in my back rather than the cramping. I looked up back labor and knew instantly that it was exactly what was going on. What I was feeling in my back was much more frequent than what I thought I was feeling for contractions.
At 10:15 pm, I called Labor & Delivery, explained what I was feeling, and the average frequency of my contractions and they told me to come in. My contractions at that time were about 4 minutes apart on average. I say on average because some would happen significantly closer together and then some would be farther apart. So glad I used a contraction timer app!
AT THE HOSPITAL
On the drive to the hospital, I continued to have contractions and it was really uncomfortable for me to sit. As I mentioned before, the only comfortable way for me to get through contractions was to sit/bounce lightly on my birthing ball. So sitting in the car for 25-30 minutes was not fun, haha.
We got up to Labor & Delivery a little after 11:00 pm and got settled in my room. Contractions continued as the nurse got all of my information inputted and started monitoring my contractions and Taya’s heart rate. My blood pressure was high and so was my heart rate but I was never told what either was. My nurse asked if I was anxious or nervous at all but I wasn’t. The ironic thing was that I was full of peace! I had no worries at all. I was excited! She said we’d keep an eye on my blood pressure. The nurse checked Taya’s positioning and then a tech came in with an ultrasound machine to make sure she was still head down – she was.
I went over my birth plan with the nurse and then she brought in the doctor that was working that night to review it with me, too. They understood my wishes just fine, which was extremely important to me. I did NOT want any pain relief medications or the epidural at all. I have always desired to have an unmedicated birth. At that time, I was at 5 cm dilated, 80% effaced (to that doctor), and at 0 station.
At about 12:30 am, I was finally able to get out of bed to sit on the birthing ball. I was so happy because laying in the hospital bed was so annoying to me. I knew the birthing ball was where I’d be most comfortable! I mostly rocked back and forth on the birthing ball while leaning over the bed. I spent the next few hours in this exact spot.
Maybe 45 minutes after initially moving to the birthing ball, the nurse checked my blood pressure again. And once again, it was high. Since it continued to be high, I had to be hooked up to the blood pressure machine for good and it took my blood pressure every 2 minutes.
My high blood pressure was causing Taya’s heart rate to spike to the 170 – 180 range, which is not good. When you’re in labor, the baby’s heart rate shouldn’t dip below 110 or spike over 160. My nurse then decided to administer fluids through an IV to help bring down Taya’s heart rate and I also had my blood drawn for some lab work.
2:45 AM – CONSIDERING AN UNPLANNED EPIDURAL
Some back story: I have always been adamant about not getting an epidural because I wanted to experience every part of the miracle of giving birth. Yes, I wanted to feel the pain. God made my body to do this and I was in the right headspace to do it. I also like to feel in control of my body – in this context = being aware of what my body is doing.
Around 2:45 am, I had an overwhelming feeling come over me to consider getting the epidural. I ignored this thought in my head at first because I did not want the epidural.
Well, the thought kept coming back to me and I kept wrestling with it. I then knew it was the Lord urging me to get it. Even still, I did not want it. I did not need it for the pain – to be honest, the pain I had with each contraction was very bearable for me. As I was wrestling with myself, I decided that if getting the epidural would potentially help lower my blood pressure and Taya’s heart rate that I would get it.
At 3:00 am, I brought it up to Michael and he said he felt the exact same feeling come over him that I did. Complete confirmation that what we were feeling was from God. I knew what I needed to do. I cried for a good minute. And I needed to.
An epidural was not in the plan. My body reacting completely different than the peace I was feeling was not in the plan. We talked everything over with my nurse and decided to go through with getting the epidural.
3:30 AM – EPIDURAL
I got the epidural done at 3:30 am and it was emotional for me. They had Michael stand in front of me to hold me while getting it done, which was so comforting to me. Thankfully, I don’t remember having any contractions while they went through the procedure.
The anesthesiologist stuck around at first to make sure it was working correctly. I was pleasantly surprised to know that I could still move my legs and everything. For some reason, I always thought that you couldn’t move your legs with an epidural. I don’t know why I thought that but I’m glad it wasn’t true, haha. Right away, I noticed that I could still somewhat feel on my entire left side. I let my nurse know and she put me on my left side with a peanut ball since the epidural responds to gravity.
At this time, I was still at 5 cm dilated (ugh!!) and the doctor wanted me to consider having her break my water. That’s not what I wanted so I asked to continue on a bit more to see if it’d break on its own.
4:15 AM – WATER BROKEN
My water didn’t break on its own, so the doctor ended up breaking it. I only felt a little pressure – nothing crazy or painful. At 4:30 am, I was encouraged to try and fall asleep for a little bit to let things progress while the epidural does its thing.
5:30 AM – EPIDURAL NOT FULLY WORKING
I ended up not being able to sleep at all during the next couple of hours. Even though I was so exhausted from not sleeping the whole week before, I still couldn’t sleep. Not fun! Around 5:30 am, I really started to feel like something was wrong with the epidural. I was severely feeling contractions on the left side and something about the situation just seemed off to me. My nurse had an anesthesiologist come in to talk to me. They adjusted the epidural and upped the dose as much as they could. More time went on and it didn’t help. I honestly felt worse.
*Yes, I know contractions are painful. But, I also know that God made my body to bear the pain. It wasn’t the pain that was bothering me. My body was telling me that something was off.
5:45 AM – INFORMED I WAS PREECLAMPTIC & 9 CM
The doctor on the night shift came in to check my progress before the shift change at 6:00 am. Before doing so, she decided that it was a good idea to inform me that my labs came back and that I did have preeclampsia. Ugh, I was not happy to hear this! I understand that they need to inform you but really? Tell the woman in labor with high blood pressure news that is sure to make her blood pressure go up? I just couldn’t believe that I developed it then. I was at 9 cm at this point, so at least that was good news!
6:00 AM – SHIFT CHANGE, 9.5 CM, & ICE CUBE TEST
At 6:00 am, there was a shift change which meant I had a brand new team take over. While that might sound overwhelming, I was happy because that meant I was going to have one of my midwives deliver Taya instead of the doctor on at night. Nothing against that doctor, I just loved the midwife I met with during my pregnancy – felt way more comfortable with her!
She came in and checked my progress and I was at 9.5 cm. I think I remember her saying that I was at 9.5 cm because my cervix wasn’t completely thinned yet – but was extremely close. She encouraged me that our baby girl would arrive soon and then she headed off to another delivery for the time being.
Then a new anesthesiologist came in and asked me about what I was feeling and where. He did an ice cube test where he’d place an ice cube on my lower abdomen and legs in different spots and then I’d tell how much of the cold I could feel in certain areas. It helped him get a more accurate idea of where I needed more attention. I didn’t want any kind of narcotic so he told me about the option of getting a bolus injection instead of the continual epidural. The bolus injection is a single, large dose of the medication and it’s injected through the same port that the epidural goes into. (Epidural is removed if getting a bolus.)
He educated us saying that there was a chance that my blood pressure and heart rate could drop and cause Taya’s heart rate to drop, but that they would be able to stabilize everything. We decided to go with the bolus.
7:15 – 7:30 AM – BOLUS INJECTION, STARTING TO CRASH, AIR IN IV LINE
Around 7:15 am, I had the first bolus injection, and about 10 seconds after getting it (if that), my body started to crash. My blood pressure and heart rate dropped immensely, as well as Taya’s heart rate. This is where things get a little fuzzy for me. I remember that in a matter of seconds there were a ton of doctors and nurses in my room. A nurse quickly put an oxygen mask on my face and next thing I knew, I was being flipped over onto my hands and knees. I remember looking over at Michael as they flipped me over and I was worried for him (having to see this all happen). They also administered something through my IV to stabilize me. I had to basically bury my head into my arms and pillow and focus on my breathing. One of my nurses told me to focus on taking deep breaths because my baby girl needed them.
You would think that I would have been a wreck hearing those words. Oddly, I wasn’t. I just did what I had to do and really, I didn’t have time to get anxious or worried. I don’t think I have ever been so focused on my breathing in my entire life than in that moment. All I could do was breathe and pray.
While all of this was happening, my IV bag for fluids had completely dried up… When they switched shifts, they put a new bag up but didn’t need to switch it yet. Then in the commotion of my body starting to crash, the IV bag shriveled up and the IV line became filled with air. Michael said he couldn’t believe how shriveled up the bag was it was so bad.
Thankfully, the machine triggered an alarm when the line got air in it and the team quickly changed everything over. If that was missed and there was not an alarm on the machine… that large of an amount of air in the line, if it were to enter my body, would have been fatal.
I did not know any of this until later the next day when Michael told me. I understood when he told me but the reality of that didn’t sink in until we got home from the hospital. I’m still processing it.
7:30 – 8:00 AM – 4 MORE BOLUS INJECTIONS
They got my body stabilized but decided to keep me on my hands and knees. It was really more like arms and knees since I had my head into my arms and the pillow, with my back at a downward slant. It was a good thing they kept me here because my body kept starting to crash after each injection.
I got 5 bolus injections in total. When I talked all of this over with Michael to help me understand the details further, I was shocked to hear that I was in that position for basically 45 minutes. To me, in those moments, it only felt like 5 minutes. If I felt the reality of time while everything was happening, it wouldn’t have helped the situation. God had me like He always does.
While I was stable, at one point, I had a ton of thoughts about what would have happened if I didn’t listen to the Lord’s leading to get the epidural. From an emergency c-section to worse complications… just sobering to think about.
My midwife returned at this point. After the final bolus injection, I was told to try and push in the same position. I did twice, it wasn’t doing anything, so I was finally able to lay on my back again. Thank goodness, because I didn’t want to push on my hands and knees, ha.
8:00 AM – STARTED PUSHING TO FINISH EFFACING
At 8:00 am, my midwife told me we were going to start pushing to help my cervix to finish thinning out. This took 15 minutes.
8:15 AM – STARTED PUSHING & TAYA’S BIRTH!
At 8:15 am, it was finally time to start pushing for real. I had a nurse holding each foot and I held on to the backs of my thighs. Michael was holding my arm and he’d help push up my back during each push. I was SO tired by this time… between not sleeping much for the whole week leading up to then and then enduring the trauma I had gone through right before that, I was so beyond exhausted. In my birth plan, I asked my midwife to coach me on pushing until I could confidently listen to my body and that’s what happened. A while ago, my mother-in-law told me that when pushing, you need to “Push like you have to poop,” so I did that, haha. It apparently was the right way to push because right from the start, my midwife kept saying, “That’s it! That’s the push!”
Whenever a contraction would come on, I would push a total of 3 times, for 10 seconds each time, with a breath in between. I’d do great the first 2 pushes but I was so out of breath by the 3rd. I did have oxygen on during this and we tried it without for one set of pushes and I asked for the oxygen back right after. I couldn’t catch my breath well enough because of my exhaustion. I would get to the 3rd push and sometimes I’d say, “I can’t. I can’t,” because I simply couldn’t catch my breath. I also kept saying, “I’m SO TIRED,” over and over.
One thing that was really special to me was that I could still feel pressure and even more special to me, I could feel the urge to push (doesn’t always happen with epidural medication). I always wanted to experience labor and delivery in its most raw form… while that didn’t happen completely, I did have the closet experience to that possible.
I could feel Taya moving down the birthing canal and I don’t know how to explain it, but I had a good feeling of where she was in progress. When she began to crown, my midwife asked if I wanted to touch her head but I said no, haha. I know some will for motivation to keep pushing but I was already in that mindset. I just wanted to meet her already!
From when she started to crown until she was born, I was mostly able to just let my body lead. There are no words for how I felt during those moments. After Taya’s head was delivered, I pushed one more time and my sweet girl was born at 8:39 am!
Taya was placed on my chest and gosh, a flood of emotions came over me. It was easily the best and most special moment of my life. We delayed cord clamping for a few minutes and after the umbilical cord was cut, they took Taya for her measurements, weight, and so on. While that was happening, I delivered the placenta in those few minutes and before I knew it Taya was placed back on my chest. Michael and I just looked at each other all proud. My heart had never been so completely full before. Our sweet girl was finally here.
Above is a short video clip that I took holding Taya before we moved to our recovery room. 🙂
I did have a first-degree perineal tear that required just a couple of stitches, so my midwife stitched me up. Shortly after, one of the nurses massaged my abdomen to make sure everything was feeling as it should. I asked how long I pushed for because it felt like an eternity to me thanks to exhaustion. I only pushed for 29 minutes and they all told me that I had bragging rights, haha. I guess pushing for only 29 minutes is really quick for your first child and for having the epidural medication. I’m definitely proud of myself!
During the golden hour, one of the nurses (my favorite one!) helped me in getting Taya to latch for the first time. It was short but it counted! While Michael was holding Taya, I expressed colostrum so I could give Taya that through a syringe until the lactation consultant came to our recovery room after. She came in shortly after we got into the room and gave me some pointers and once again, Taya latched right away and well! “She’s such a good breastfeeder,” the lactation consultant said. It made me so happy and relieved to hear we were off to a good start.
We stayed in the hospital until Sunday (2 nights) which is standard for this network. We had one of the “really nice” rooms, according to the nurses, and we were definitely comfortable there! Well, as comfortable as we could be since Mike and I still got absolutely no sleep, haha. I was so happy to get discharged! I just wanted to get home and to settle into our new normal with our sweet girl.
My team was incredible, especially my midwife and nurses. They kept me encouraged and really respected me. Michael was the most important part of my team, though. He has always been my anchor. He’s incredibly calm under pressure and times of high stress and that’s exactly what I needed during everything, especially the moments of trauma. I love how he loves me. I love my husband!
It’s time to wrap this story up… Taya’s birth story was not what I ever thought it would be. It wasn’t what I had planned. In fact, the majority of my birth plan was thrown out the window. And that’s all okay. All that matters is that she is here and healthy and that I’m healthy, too. I labored for 16.5 hours. As I mentioned earlier, I had a scheduled induction in place for February 21st at 8:30 am… that I didn’t need because my prayers were answered! I went into labor on my own and the funny thing is that Taya was born February 21st at 8:39 am. God is funny like that! I’m still processing everything and probably will be for a long time but I’m grateful that we were both healthy and completely fine in the end.
Thank you so much for reading. I’m always happy to share my heart here.