My birth story below is a transparent look at my first childbirth experience and what I hope to do differently the second time around. Through experience and education, I have learned so much from my first experience and cannot wait to do it again. But before you read all about me and my babies, I want to tell you all about one of my favorite companies and highlight some of their amazing products for mamas, mamas-to-be, and babies!
I was first introduced to Zoe Organics a little less than a year ago. I attended a Baby Shower event at Munchkin Headquarters in Los Angeles for Baby2Baby and fellow blogger BabyBoyBakery. Each of the attendees received a swag bag that contained a sample of Zoe Organics Cream. This cream is incredible and is made of all organic products. It’s a thick, rich cream that is easy to apply and keeps you moisturized for a least a day or two! It isn’t greasy and is safe on my skin, which is why I love this company so much. I use it on the daily on my arms and legs and it has made such a difference in my skin quality!
Once I became pregnant I became obsessed with their pregnancy line that contains Belly Butter, Belly Oil, Refresh Oil, and I can’t wait to try their Nipple Balm as soon as baby boy is born in a few short months! You can buy all of these products individually or buy a pregnancy gift set from their website for yourself or as a perfect baby shower gift! I personally use the Belly Butter and the Belly Oil on a daily basis to keep my skin’s elasticity, prevent stretch marks and rid myself of those pesky itches you get when your pregnant skin stretches! I use the cream in the morning and the oil in the evening before bed. The oil specifically is good for hydrating and soothing my skin and helps skin cell regeneration. I also plan to use it after baby is born to rejuvenate any inflamed skin due to stretching and scarring. P. S. The Belly Oil smells so good!
I also use the Refresh Oil in the evening before bed as part of my ritual when I listen to my hypnobirthing affirmations and to help alleviate any stress of the day. This refreshing aromatherapy oil is also excellent to apply and smell if you are having any morning sickness, motion sickness, and or nausea throughout the day or night. I am trying to train my brain by using my sensory system to hear certain sounds and smell soothing scents in preparation for childbirth in hopes to alleviate any anxiety and pain during labor.
Zoe Organics has so many products that you must check out for mamas and babies, too! When baby is born, I cannot WAIT to try their Diaper Balm, Baby Bath Tea, and Baby Oil. And speaking of babies, you can find these baby products on their website in a gift set, which is also a perfect baby shower gift for a mom-to-be! If you aren’t sure what mom and baby need, you can always buy a gift card and let them choose. For me, I’d like to gift myself with some Mamas Ritual Bath Soak! Just the name of it sounds relaxing and this line is perfect for a new mom that is sleep deprived! Use the code THEPARENTOLOGIST now for 15% off!
To shop, follow this link https://www.zoeorganics.com/collections/shop now! Products are also sold nationwide at my all time favorite store, Target, have you heard of it? You can find me there about once a week and Zoe Organics is in the feminine product aisle. There you can find Belly Butter, Belly Oil, Insect Repellent, and Everything Balm. To find the products online, follow this link http://www.target.com/s?category=0%7CAll%7Cmatchallpartial%7Call+categories&searchTerm=zoe%20organics And make sure you are following Zoe Organics on Instagram by following this link https://www.instagram.com/zoeorganics/?hl=en
Have I convinced you yet to love Zoe Organics as much as I do? If so, make sure you are following me on Instagram tomorrow by following this link https://www.instagram.com/theparentologist/?hl=en as I launch the details of a giveaway I am partnering with Zoe Organics where one winner will receive a $50 gift card!!!!!
Now onto my birth story and why I advocate for all moms-to-be to have a doula!
Before our daughter was born, I was determined to have a natural childbirth. I was too scared of potential complications, so I opted not to have a home birth, and was willing to go to a birth center with a midwife, but the closest one at the time was over an hour or two away with traffic. So instead, I went to a well-known and naturally minded OB-GYN and hired a doula to be with me during childbirth. The birth plan I created was strict about not wanting any medication, IV, epidural, pitocin, and especially not a C-section.
According to http://americanpregnancy.org, a doula is “a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience.” A doula is a mom’s confidant, advocate, and support during childbirth. A doula helps recommend various laboring positions to help lessen the pain of childbirth. A doula utilizes touch and massage to reduce stress, tension, and anxiety during labor. And research has shown that having a doula as part of your birth team, decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%.
I first started feeling labor pains around 3am on the evening of my due date. I was so excited (and prepared) that I went into the nursery so my husband could sleep and I started timing my contractions. They were about 7-10 minutes apart. I remember falling asleep in between some of the contractions but I was also nervous about going into labor quickly at home and not making it to the hospital on time. I was probably already running on adrenaline at that point and I had only just begun my epic journey. Around 7am I called my doula and she came over within the hour. My husband tried to give me breakfast and distract me with a favorite television show but I was focused on breathing and being calm. Around 9am I called my doctor to tell him that I contractions were about four minutes apart and lasting for a minute in length. He told me he was getting a private room reserved at the hospital for me and to labor at home as long as possible and to come to hospital when I was ready. For the next three hours, my doula, husband, and I spent most of our time on my couch, birthing ball, or walking around the backyard. My doula timed each contraction. Finally around noon, my doula suggested I use the restroom and while I was in there, she told me husband we should go to the hospital immediately (I didn’t know this until much later). My doula said my contractions were consistency 2 minutes apart and she wanted to make sure I arrived at the hospital on time, as it was about 45 minutes away. So off we went!
By the time I arrived at the hospital my pain was pretty intense and it was difficult to talk or walk much less do anything else. But I just kept on breathing and trying to stay calm. The nurse hooked me up to monitors and checked me as soon as I got into my room. She said I had dilated to a 6-7 and asked the other nurses to bring in the labor tray of equipment and to call my doctor. I was so excited! Labor wasn’t so bad and I was almost done! I was able to be off the monitor equipment for 45 minutes at a time so I decided to get into the tub that was in my hospital room. It is meant to labor in but not to give birth in. I was in a lot of pain at this point but baby and me were still strong and well. I just kept going, what other choice did I have? I asked my husband to call my parents and prepare that our baby would be here soon! I was anxious, scared, and excited since it was my first time giving birth but I had a strong, loving support team with me. About an hour or so after I arrived at the hospital, the nursing staff changed shifts and a second nurse came in to check my vitals and check my dilation. This nurse said I was only a 3-4. What?!?!? Was the first nurse wrong? Was this nurse wrong? Had I dilated backwards? I was so confused and a little angry that I insisted the next person to check me would be my doctor.
By the time my doctor came to the hospital, it was close to 5pm – around 4 hours after I arrived. He checked and confirmed I was only dilated a 3-4. And I think the 4 was him being generous. I immediately felt defeated. My contractions had been consistently two minutes apart, one minute in length, for hours and I was in a lot of pain. I had already been in labor for about 14 hours. But I wasn’t willing to give up and I wasn’t willing to have any type of medication, so I just kept going. My doula had me try various laboring positions and do laps around the hospital floor doing squats at each end of the wing. Mind you, I did this for 45-minute intervals and then rested in the bed for 15 minutes to check vitals and the baby’s heartbeat. This seemed to go on forever. I still hadn’t really drank anything or eaten anything and certainly hadn’t slept. I was getting exhausted. In the meantime, my water never broke and my doctor even tried to break it at one point but baby’s head was too far down and in a position where he couldn’t get to the sac.
Finally after 24 hours of natural labor, I had nothing left to give and gave in to an epidural. My body was working overtime and the doctor seemed to think this might help give me a break to rest and let my body catch up. As soon as I had the epidural I instantaneously had no pain. I hated the feeling of numbness and it was actually a little terrifying not having any feeling on the lower half of my body, but somehow it was a better option in the moment than the pain I was feeling every two minutes with me strong contractions, only having a minute of reprieve between them. I even agreed for them to give me stronger and stronger doses of pitocin throughout the night in hopes it would kick me into the second phase of labor. My doula even made a middle of the night run to a local 24-hour Wal-Mart to buy me a labor peanut ball to try to move things along.
My doctor came to see me the next morning around 6am and checked me again and still said I was only dilated a 3-4. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t dilated AT ALL in 30 hours (or I had and went backwards and then stalled). Nothing. Not one bit. The baby and my vitals still looked strong, so we weren’t worried and he said I could try a little longer and up my dose of pitocin. I tried for five more hours and started having severe lower back pain and monitoring showed a slower heartbeat with the baby than before, so at that point I didn’t hesitate to get a c-section. I had labored for 36 hours.
Within a very short amount of time I was in the OR getting ready for surgery. And within minutes of the incision, I heard my baby girl cry for the first time. It was the most magical sound and moment of my life. I was so relieved. It was over. At that moment I didn’t care about what I had gone through and how I got there, my healthy, beautiful daughter was born and she was all mine. I was able to hold her within minutes of her birth and then while I was being stitched back together, my husband was able to hold her in our room until I arrived about twenty minutes later. I immediately did skin to skin for the next hour and tried breastfeeding. She latched instantaneously and had her first meal. Then my husband and I took turns giving her skin-to-skin for the rest of the day in our dark, quiet, peaceful room. She passed all of her tests with flying colors and was healthy and strong. I had recovered so well that I was approved to be discharged from the hospital a day earlier than they typically require after a c-section. To be honest, as far as c-sections go, mine was glorious. I was able to not only leave the hospital early, but I was able to stop my pain medication a few days post surgery. My doctor did such a great job I barely have a scar. And luckily I was given dissolvable stitches and not staples.
Physically everything was as ideal as it could be, if not better. However, I had some postpartum emotional struggles with having a c-section and a birth that I did not expect or count on. I have done a tremendous amount of research and have asked many birthing professionals why I never dilated past a 3-4 or if I, in fact, went backwards and stalled labor. I’ll never know if the first nurse that checked me was wrong or not and what caused my body not to do what it was created to do. I was ashamed, embarrassed, and had a tremendous amount of guilt associated with my delivery. I didn’t feel like a “real” woman or mom and felt like I had failed my daughter and myself. I was afraid to tell people my birth story because I thought they would judge me for having a c-section and or stigmatize me for not being able to have a natural delivery. I have so many beautiful memories of my little family and the first few days with my daughter in the hospital but still have so many questions, doubts, and regrets about my first birthing experience.
Now that I’m 21 weeks pregnant with my second baby, it is time to start making decisions. My doctor has asked me numerous times if I would like to try to a VBAC and or have another c-section. He is very supportive of what I want either way, but there is a deep down feeling that I feel like he doubts me and that I’d be able to have a successful VBAC based on my first experience. Maybe my body isn’t meant for childbirth and dilation? Was what I experienced psychological or biological or both? Friends, doctors, and multiple doulas tell me it is possible and that each birth experience is different and that I can most definitely have a successful VBAC but sometimes I am not convinced. I suppose time will tell. I am pretty nervous about it to be honest. I almost want to prove to myself and everyone in the world that I can indeed have a baby without surgery. But what am I trying to prove anyway? I just want a healthy baby and whatever is best for me and the baby will prevail.
In the meantime, I have hired a new doula that had nothing to do with my first experience to have a fresh, new experience and even though I will be delivering in the same hospital with the same doctor, I am actively making different decisions this time based on my last experience. I am changing what I can control. I have learned too much since the first time, I know some things I cannot control or change but there are things that can only help me have a different experience this time. I am planning on attending VBAC education classes as well as try hypnobirthing this time and soon I will be going to hypnobirthing childbirth classes with my husband. I am much more open to a free flowing birth plan this time around. I am not as scared about medication and or surgery as I was the first time. I am going to try to have the birth I always envisioned, but at the end of the day I just want to make the best decisions for my body and my baby and will not do anything to jeopardize either of those. When that baby is in my arms that is all that matters. How he gets there is neither here nor there.
What is your birth story? Is there anything you would change? How do you feel about your c-section? Did you have a successful VBAC? I’d love to hear all of your stories!!! Feel free to share in the comments below!