Yeah…Immaeatthat

Nov 21

Joanna’s Birth Story.

On the blog I’ve talked for years now about how we’re taught to fear feeding our body and fear our body changing size.  In my recovery process from an eating disorder I figured out that we don’t have to micromanage our body size and control our food in some rigid way because our cravings / hunger & fullness cues will guide us to what and how much food our bodies want to eat and as a side effect our body will find the weight it’s meant to be without you micromanaging it. 

Since I realized every mainstream message I got about feeding my body and controlling my body size was wrong, that got me thinking…what else are we taught to fear that we don’t need to? From movies that show women in agony as they birth a child to jokes about, “you realize you’re trying to fit a watermelon out of a tennis ball sized hole, right?”…I think we are taught to fear giving birth.  Throughout pregnancy I thought a lot about should giving birth be something I fear…or is this just another thing we’re programmed to be scared of.

Why I wanted to give birth like I did

I wanted to be able to experience myself giving birth and pushing Joanna out, so for me that meant trying to have an epidural free birth with as little medical intervention as possible.  It’s just an experience I wanted.  Some people want to go to Bali and some people want to be able to feel themselves giving birth. I’m not big into travel, so I’d lump myself in the latter group :)

A lot of people recommended not making a birth plan because you can’t predict how labor will go and you don’t want to get your heart set on giving birth ‘x’ way and then be disappointed when things don’t go as expected.  While I didn’t have a rigid birth plan, I’m glad I prepared for birth in the way I did because the birth went exactly how I hoped it would. I didn’t ever write out a birth plan…I just knew I wanted as little medical interventions as possible and I wanted to spend the pregnancy preparing as much as I could to have that experience.  I feel really lucky and, since I think all good things come from God, I thank God that I got to experience birth in the way I wanted to because I know some people don’t get to have that experience.

The main reason I chose to give birth without an epidural was because I didn’t want to be numb. High school and college sucked for me. I missed out on being fully present and enjoying so many experiences because I was so obsessed with my body size and my food…I was numb to so much because all my brain space was being taken up by thoughts of getting perfect grades, having the “perfect” body and eating in a “clean” way.  Since I feel like there’s a lot I missed out on…nowadays I’m not willing to miss out on any experiences.

When I found out we were pregnant, I reached out to my friend, Stephanie, who had talked about having really incredible and life changing birth experiences.  I met with her when I was around 20wks pregnant and shared how I felt like I spent a lot of my life numb and didn’t want to miss out on this experience.  A week before Joanna was born I was starting to get extremely nervous about birth, so I met with Stephanie and cried and she gave me a pep talk and just reflected my value of not wanting to be numb to me in a non-judgemental, even-if-you-get-an-epidural-or-c-section-this-will-still-be-one-of-the-best-days-of-your-life way.  

Wednesday, Nov 8th

That day

I woke up around 8am.  Went for a longer walk than I’d gone on in the entire pregnancy while listening to a playlist filled with songs that make me feel super emotional (i.e. some Usher, some Eminem, some MercyMe, some David Crowder).  For the first time I had thoughts of, “I wonder if this will be my last walk alone before baby comes.”

My dad picked me up around lunchtime and took me out to eat some BBQ together (my dad says it was the BBQ sauce that put me into labor lol, but I don’t think that’s a thing).  Then I just hung out at home and watched Gilmore Girls/did laundry/watercolored the Chutes & Ladders art for Watercolor Wednesday.

6pm

Andrew and I sat down to have dinner and I had one slightly intense contractions, but didn’t think anything of it.  At this point in pregnancy I’d been having “false” labor pretty much every other day where I’d have a contraction every 10-30 minutes for 1-2 hour stretches and then they’d just STOP.  

8pm

Right at 8pm I had a contraction. Again, I didn’t think anything of it because all the “false” labor was emotionally draining, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up that this was it. Then I had another contraction at 8:05pm, then at 8:10pm, 8:15pm, 8:20pm. I didn’t say anything to Andrew, but I went and sat on the toilet. My plan for early labor (and all of labor) was to get out of the way of my body (by relaxing as much as possible) and letting my body open up. I wanted to relax so much that if I had to pee I would.  The only time I’m relaxed so much that I would pee myself is when I’m on the toilet so I figured that’d be a good place to labor. After 3 contractions on the toilet I yelled at Andrew that I think this is it.

I put in a pad so I didn’t have to worry if I relaxed so much and peed myself and went and laid down on the floor in the nursery. I got into child’s pose and Maggie came over and had no trouble relaxing with me. Contractions definitely intensified if I was in child’s pose, I figured if I was in a pose where the contractions started to get more intense that meant we were making progress with opening up my cervix and that was a good thing.  At this point I was using Ujjayi breathing from yoga to keep myself calm.

9:30pm

Decided I wanted to get in the shower. I would say one of my favorite things in life if taking hot, hot showers and it felt so good to have water hitting my back as I leaned over and worked through contractions.

Contractions felt like bad period cramps paired with the giant bag of muscle that held baby (aka my uterus) squeezing SO tight that it would take my breath away.  I could still talk through the contractions at this point.  I was PUMPED that this was finally it.  November 9th is a special day for our family and I was realizing at this point that baby girl was going to come on the 9th and it just felt so right and comforting because I believe God had planned this for us and was holding us.

10:15pm

Went back into the nursery to lay down. Time was going by SO fast.

11:30pm

Andrew had been updating our Doula, Shelley and she arrived to our house.  I ate half a piece of cinnamon swirl toast with cookie butter on it and drank a gatorade.

We turned all the lights out in our living room and I laid on the couch with the peanut ball between my legs.  Shelley set up a diffuser with peppermint essential oils and she timed my contractions.  At this point they were about 3-5 minutes apart.  I drifted off to sleep between contractions, which was exactly what I was hoping I’d be able to do in early labor.  Andrew went to lay down in bed to see if he could get some sleep.  Andrew doesn’t function without sleep (like, can’t function at all) and since some first births can be 12+ hours we were both hoping he’d be able to get in a little rest.

Thursday, Nov 9th

1am

Got in the shower again. Shelley timed my contractions and they were 3-4 minutes apart. Andrew was up at this point. I started shaking uncontrollably, which is normal in labor, and then I threw up for the first time.

2:50am

Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart.  My water had yet to break.  We decided it was time to head to the hospital.  I still felt very present at this time. Contractions were really uncomfortable at this point but I could still function.  Before we got in the car I let Maggie out in the backyard to go to the bathroom.  Contractions continued every 2-3 minutes on the way to the hospital and I gave myself a pep talk out loud to Andrew saying if this was an experience I wanted I COULD DO THIS! I could birth this baby with as little medical intervention as possible.  This was one day and I didn’t want to miss this experience.  I had a very, “LET’S DO THIS!” attitude as we got out of the car and walked into the hospital…stopping along the way to let me work through contractions. 

3:18am

Got to the L&D floor at the hospital and were meet by the triage nurse from hell. The only negative part of Joanna’s birth was this triage nurse. She told me Andrew couldn’t go back with me as I got checked to see how dilated I was. Then she started asking me questions about family medical history. Like, “do you have any diabetes or heart disease in your family?” I was pissed at this point. I asked her why she was asking me since I had preregistered at the hospital and had answered that question already on my paperwork. She asked me again and I told her she’d have to go get my husband if she wanted an answer. At this point contractions were 1:30 minutes apart and I was starting to feel pretty out of it. This was the only time in labor I felt like I didn’t have time to relax and prepare myself for the next contraction in between contractions.  I was getting nervous about being able to get this baby out of me and her separating me from Andrew wasn’t okay. I’ll be asking my OB about this whole situation at my follow-up appt, because if it’s required to separate husband and wives when in active labor I will never be delivering at that hospital again. Talk about ripping my support system away from me.

I think they separated Andrew and me because there was no one at the registration desk when we walked in (there was no one anywhere…this was super annoying) and Andrew had to wait to get a FREAKING wrist band. Once he got the wrist band Andrew said the front desk lady was super casual and said, “you can go back now.”  We were probably only separated for about 6 minutes, but not having Andrew and Shelley with me had me starting to feel panicky. 

Ugh.

The triage nurse asked me to put on the hospital gown, but I was pretty over everything and just laid on the bed naked and tried to focus on relaxing/visualizing my cervix opening up and, honestly, tuning her out.  The triage nurse checked me and I was dilated to 6cm with a bulging bag of water.  Andrew walked in and I told him we were at 6cm and he was pumped…just the encouragement I needed! I walked to a L&D room.  I kept having to stop as we were walking to work through contractions and the triage nurse had no sympathy/compassionate words to offer.  I remember looking at her and she just looked annoyed and tired.

3:30am

I walked to the labor and delivery room and was greeted by my next nurse.  I believe her name was Trish and she was awesome and supportive and I couldn’t have asked for a better nurse to help bring Joanna into the world.  Her and my Doula had worked together before on a couple births and Trish was really supportive with allowing Shelley to set up the essential oils diffuser and with just having a Doula in the room in general.

They put in my IV and started antibiotics because I was GBS positive.

I felt like I had to pee, so I tried to. But then ended up throwing up again instead.  I knew throwing up and shaking uncontrollably were good signs that me and Jojo were in active labor and everything was moving along just as it should.

I got in the bed and contractions were consistently coming, but I have no idea how often…probably every minute to every minute and a half.  I still wouldn’t describe the contractions as painful. At this point I felt like I was in a different world. I really describe the sensation of the contractions as debilitating discomfort. It was just so much intensity that I think my brain couldn’t register that sensation as “pain” because it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. And I have trouble calling it pain because I associate physical pain with something bad, but this sensation was an experience I signed up for and this “pain” was a positive productive thing because it meant I was going to meet our daughter soon.  

Once I laid down in the bed I shut my eyes and really didn’t open them again until Joanna was out.  I wanted all senses focused on pushing her out and not looking around the room.  From 4am to when she was born, Andrew said there were 3 times I said, “I don’t know how to do this” / “I don’t know how to get her out” / “I can’t do this”.  At one point I remember crying and vigorously shaking the handle of the bed. During this last hour of labor, before I felt the urge to push, in my head I was thinking, “we’re gonna have to do a C-section,” because I felt like no one could tell me if we were making progress and baby was moving down and out like she was supposed to.  This is the typical “i can’t do this” stage they talk about in The Bradley Method Book.

During this time there were two things that helped:

1. Andrew was feeding me one ice chip at a time between contractions and I’d AGGRESSIVELY chew it mouth open with a clashing jaw and then get mentally prepared for the next contraction.
2. Shelley put peppermint essential oils on a towel and fanned me with it constantly

3:45am

Dilated to 8cm.

4:33am

Andrew texted my mom saying 10cm!

5:07am

I started feeling the urge to push.

5:30am

No sign of the doctor, but there was a resident in the room and she went ahead and broke my water.  I remember opening my eyes as the resident was breaking my water and thinking, “she has a really kind face, I’m glad she’s here.” Lol…I think I was just happy someone was breaking my water. I felt a gush and then really started feeling the urge to push.  I was told to not push because the OB wasn’t there yet, but pushing felt great and it was difficult to not push.  It felt wonderful and natural and right to push with the contractions. At some point the OB showed up and said I wasn’t ready to push because there was part of the lip of my cervix still in the way.  So I tried to focus on just gently pushing against the contractions instead of pushing to push baby out.  10 minutes later OB came back in and it was go time.  Trish (my fav nurse) would tell me to push and count me down 10-9-8-7…and then I’d take a big breath and we’d go again 10-9-8-7…I still felt the urge to push even after they’d stop counting sometimes so I’d keep pushing and they’d encourage me to listen to my body. 

6:18am

I pushed for 30ish minutes and could feel when Joanna’s head was coming out. I did start to tear as Joanna shoulders tried to come out so the OB gave me a shot of lidocaine.  I didn’t feel the “ring of fire” a lot of women describe when they give birth, I’m sure because of the lidocaine, but I could still feel her coming out.  I was present enough and waiting to feel the ring of fire and when I didn’t I knew the OB had given me something.  They placed Joanna on my chest and she immediately started rooting around for my boob.  

From birth stories I’ve heard, I think I had a very easy first labor.  It was 10 hours from start to finish and I ended up with a 2 degree tear.  I’m really happy with how the birth went and happy this was the first experience me and Joanna had together.  If I’m lucky enough to have another baby, I’d definitely go this route again.

Our resources (I skimmed both of the books and just read the parts that seemed interesting to me)

  • The Bradley Method Book (affiliate link)
  • Supernatural Childbirth (affiliate link)
  • The Birth Hour podcast (this was a huge resource in helping me not fear giving birth and believing in my body’s ability to birth Jojo)
  • This Eminem song (lol). You may find this cheesy, but I listened to this song every day the week before Joanna was born to remind myself that “If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment would you capture or just let it slip?”  It helped remind me that Joanna’s birth was only going to be one day and I didn’t want to let it slip away without fully experiencing it.  What if I can’t get pregnant again? This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity that I didn’t want to miss.
  • Taking 30 seconds a day to visualize my cervix opening up, Joanna moving down, and me pulling her out.  I closed my eyes and visualized this happening starting at about 7 months pregnant and did it daily until she was born.  I did ask the awesome nurse Trish if they ever allowed women to pull out there own baby and she said she had seen it done and we could ask the OB, but I was exhausted when pushing and didn’t want to think about having to pull Jojo out.  If I get pregnant again, perhaps this is something I’d want to consider for that birth.
  • Prenatal chiropractor.  My OB referred me to a chriopractor when my back pain flared up around 20 weeks.  I went for adjustments and prenatal massages every 3 weeks from 20 weeks to the end of pregnancy.
  • One of the top 3 things that helped me experience labor without an epidural was my past practice of yoga.  Because of my knee and back pain I did pretty much zero yoga during pregnancy, but 3 years of practicing yoga pre-pregnancy had really taught me to tolerate discomfort and when I’m experiencing discomfort to focus on my breath.  During early labor Ujjayi breathing was super helpful for me.
  • Positive affirmations.  Being self aware and knowing what works for you is key with anything in life…positive affirmations concerning body size and eating had been helpful for me in the past, so I found some pregnancy/birth related affirmations and repeated them throughout the pregnancy.  Here are the ones that resonated with me most: 1) The labor is 9 months waiting to meet Joanna…the birth will be easy, 2) I grew this baby, I will push her out, 3) I’m so excited to get to do this with you, Jojo.

And that’s Jojo’s birth story!

A note to my readers who want to be moms but are struggling to have a baby.  I’d never want to be the sting of the reminder that you haven’t had success having a baby.  I pray so badly that you’ll get to have a baby.  What I’ve gotten to experience with baby girl in the last week has been incredible and I pray you’ll get to have a baby of your own.  I have 3 close friends/family members who are struggling with infertility now and it breaks my heart for them now more than ever.  Love to you<3

44 comments on “Joanna’s Birth Story.”

  1. So happy for an update – I’ve missed you on the blog! A million congratulations <3 I'm amazed by how well you recapped the whole thing – I'm sure when my time comes I'll be a mess and never be able to tell my birth story! LOL
    Thanks for sharing, I hope you and Joanna (and Andrew of course!) are doing great :)

  2. So glad you were able to have the birth experience you wanted!

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I look forward to you sharing more of this new chapter(s) of your life.

  4. AHHHHHH I love reading birth stories and am so happy for you and Andrew!! Jojo is sooo cute, soak it all up!

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience with the triage nurse. I’m in nursing school right now (5 more months until graduation!) and nurses like that are the reason I wanted to be a nurse in the first place. Nurses are supposed to be kind and supportive, and that’s the kind I want to be (and hopefully offset the bad ones!). I’m so glad you got to have the birth you wanted. Congrats on her arrival and soak up this time!

  6. Love this so much! You are a rockstar!

  7. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, life-affirming account of your daughter’s birth. Looking forward to hearing more about this next phase of your life!

  8. You are INCREDIBLE!! I’m not in a place yet to try for children, and the thought of infertility does scare me because more women have opened up about it (making it seem more common), but I hope to one day have a story of my own. Thank you for sharing, Kylie!

  9. Honest, raw and real. Congratulations. You did it. I’m so happy to read this story. I can relate to so much of it…. the self trust, the persistence, the focus, the surrender, the pride, the desire to be fully present. It’s an honor and joy to read your experience. Well done. Deep respect ✊

  10. Thank you so much for sharing! Congratulations to you and your beautiful family.

  11. Such a beautiful story❤️ I’m so so sorry to hear about your experience with the triage nurse. As a nursing student myself, my main goal is for my patients to have as best of an experience as possible and I hope to never treat anyone like that.

  12. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I really appreciate the emphasis on how it is one day/experience and on the positive mantras. I’m sure I will read this several more times between now and May, when my baby is due. Lots of love to you and JoJo.

  13. I love that picture of your whole family right after Johanna’s birth. So sweet. Congratulations!

  14. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I love how much you stick to your convictions and see them through the best you are able to. Congratulations on your healthy little lady. Thank you for sharing your story!

  15. This whole story was so moving and almost made me cry (casually holding it together at work right now). You’re so strong and brave, and such a rockstar all around (your readers knew this already, but this story only continued to show it) — Joanna is so lucky to have a mom like you.  

  16. SUCH a beautiful story. Thank you for the vulnerability to share. Many blessings, love, and hugs to your family.

  17. This brought tears to my eyes! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing!

  18. And now I’m crying at work. So happy for you.

  19. Wow. Kylie, this is the most raw and beautiful and real story about birth I’ve ever read on a blog. I am so sorry about that horrible nurse! I am so thankful you got the birth story you wanted.

    You have a gift for writing and I am so thankful for it. If I get the chance to ever be pregnant, I will definitely come back and read your story over and over. I cannot express how thankful I am for your presence on the internet, Kylie.

  20. Thank you for sharing your story. You are amazing! Congratulations!

  21. This is the best birth story I’ve ever read! Girl you are strong 💪🏽 I’m so happy for you and Andrew. Jojo is precious🎀💕

  22. Is it weird that this brought tears to my eyes?!?! This is so beautiful and gives me great confidence if/when we ever decide to have children. I had never thought of it that way, but I so think you’re right about women being taught that birth is something scary. I’m terrified! But this really helps. You make it sound like everything “scary” that happens is something totally manageable and something you body already knows how to work with. Sidenote: That photo of you in the nursery with Maggie laying on your head is for sure framable. I would definitely put that in the nursery! Congratulations, happy recovery and I look forward to hearing more from you once you’ve had plenty of time with Raspberry!

  23. Oh my gosh! You are awesome, what a wonderful birth story. So happy for you that you had the experience you wanted. However, that nurse, UGH. I would be so mad too and it kind of reminds me of my experience. I had my first in June. From the first contraction to the time he was born was 2 hours and 45 minutes, it was fast. By the time we made it to the hospital I was throwing up and at a 10. However the nurse checking me was so slow and trying to joke around with me. She said “What brings you in, I know you’re not here for a cheeseburger” I wanted to murder her. I was dilated to a 10 and ready to push, not in the mood LOL. Needless to say, mine was natural too haha! Sweet little Joanna is precious, love your insta stories of her <3 Congrats mama, you did it!!!

  24. Oh Kylie…I’m actually crying as I read this. Congrats to you and your sweet little family–I”m so glad everyone is healthy and happy. I do not want children, but you described giving birth in such a beautiful way. How lucky Joanne is to have you as her mama.

  25. Hi Kylie,

    I just wanted to bring to your attention that the natural birth movement has been pushing the idea that the only way to “truly experience” birth is by having as little medical intervention as possible. I would also add that the natural birth movement likes to argue that women have been conditioned to fear birth. These ideas are nothing new. It’s just another form of social conditioning that women have been subjected to in the last decade. It would be impossible to explain here why this movement has been highly criticized. In short, it’s rooted in misogyny and classism. I had an epidural during my first birth and my second birth was unmedicated. The idea of being “numb” during my first labour because I had an epidural is offensive. I’ve read your blog for a while now and I know this isn’t your intention. However, it is an example of how the natural birth movement shames women who cannot, for various reasons, have a “natural” birth. Anyway, I still think you have a great voice in this sea of bloggers and you and your baby look happy and healthy, which is all that matters in the end.

    God bless,

    • Hi Julie, I’m actually not a fan of the term “natural birth”, which is why I didn’t use the term once in my post. I’m not sure why I don’t like it. Maybe because when it’s used it comes off to me as “I had a natural birth therefore I’m better and my birth was better than yours”. With this post I just wanted to share an experience that was special to me. Because of my life experiences and what I’ve been through this is the type of birth that felt right to me. I think epidurals and c-sections and any way that is needed to bring a baby into this world are great options. Of course I didn’t want this post to come off shaming…like I said I’m grateful I was able to experience birth how I wanted to since I know that isn’t everyone’s experience.

  26. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I am not quite at the baby stage of life and tend to have anxiety around if I will have trouble when I am at that stage and this helped me to relax a bit and know that all will be well. I know I will revisit this post when it is my turn. Sending much love to your little family.

  27. I was so excited and honored to read about the birth of your beautiful baby girl. I teared up reading it like some of the others who commented! How fortunate your daughter is to have a strong, brave, educated mother. 

  28. such a beautiful story! every time i read a birth story i cry, it takes me back to my two births and it is such a magical experience. congratulations!

  29. Beautiful story and beautiful baby! Congratulations!

  30. Congratulations! Having given birth three times, all very different experiences, yours sounded just perfect! You are amazing and baby is beautiful! Definitely in tears from reading this. 

  31. What a magnificent story. Congratulations on being present and focused and doing what you needed to do to bring your beautiful daughter into the world in the way you wanted. You are a force and I am so impressed. Someday Joanna will read this story and be blown away (probably for the millionth time) by what an awesome mother she has. I don’t even know you but I am so proud of you, and so happy for you and your family!

  32. This is absolutely beautiful! I am excited to follow your journey as a family of three :) Congrats to you all!

  33. SO happy you were able to have the birth you dreamed of! That was my goal for Lacey as well and I was so thankful to fulfill it! It really is so much about mental preparation and a great support team. I was really amazed by the amount of criticism I received when I talked about wanting an unmediated birth, so much so that I ended up just not telling people about it at all. I love that you have a place to share your story and your achievements! Have fun loving on the little girl of yours <3 They grow up way too fast!

  34. Yay! Happy little family! So thrilled for you during this time. It just seems like everything is all right in the world for you during this time. I know you’re savoring every moment!! I’d say that’s pretty great. TBH, I have a lot of negative emotions about the whole birthing/after birth process and adjustment/recovery period. It was a super trying time for us and I’m praying next time around is different to say the least. Makes me nervous but I can’t control how it’s going to go down. ;) much love and hugs to you during this special time.

  35. KYlie you are so generous and specific in your writing, it really helps me. I am 7 months pregnant with our first and it is super helpful to hear about your process, what it was like abc what you used to prep you got birth. I am v excited about birthing and feel very grateful for your blog! Best of luck to you all during these early times, Lisa

  36. Wow, I absolutely loved reading this, thank you so much for sharing! Though I’m nowhere near ready to have kids, I love reading birth stories and am especially fascinated by natural birth stories. I think the way you chose to do this is so YOU, and I love that you stuck with what you wanted to do even when it was hard. Jojo is beautiful, and I hope the first days of motherhood were everything you’d dreamed of and more. Looking forward to more updates!

  37. I love reading birth stories and I loved reading yours! I love your positive attitude. It sounds like we had very similar births, from the throwing up to the 2nd° tear. Happy for you guys, and she is so sweet!

  38. This is such a beautifully story! I literally was crying reading it. God is so good and,as a forever blog reader, I am inspired by the good work He has done in you and through you.

  39. Pingback: Postpartum so far. – Yeah…Immaeatthat

  40. Beautiful. I was crying while reading!! I’m 26 weeks and so nervous and excited at the same time.

  41. Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your experience. Such a sweet picture of you and Maggie in the nursery. And all of the following pictures! I liked your description of chewing the ice :)

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