Birth Stories

Birth Story of Warren James Justice

4:57 a.m.

I woke up for what I thought would be my typical 5 a.m. pee. I’m sure many pregnant women can relate. As I sat down on the toilet, I had a brief thought that this could be my water breaking, as I was one day away from my “guess date,” which is what I like to refer to my due date as. Seeing as I could control it, I knew it wasn’t my water breaking, as I’d have no control over that. Walking out of the bathroom, I walked over to my dresser to change pants (yes, I thought I had peed myself!), and when I stood in front of it, there was a HUGE gush of water down my leg. I know they say it won’t be like it is in the movies, but for me, it was! As if I could actually catch the fluid, I frantically threw my hands down to try to prevent it from going all over the floor. My husband, who is typically a very sound sleeper, shot up out of bed and asked, “Was that Roscoe (our dog) peeing on the floor?!” I replied, “Uh … I think my water just broke!” and hobbled back to the bathroom. Jared (my husband) brought me my phone so we could call our midwife.

A little backstory: We had planned to do a home birth, but at my 20-week ultrasound, it was determined that my placenta was lying very close to my cervix and I would need to be monitored. I had another ultrasound at 36 weeks so I could be cleared for a vaginal birth. My placenta had moved up enough for a vaginal birth, but our midwife was more comfortable with me delivering at the birth house, as it was closer to the hospital in the event I needed to transfer. While it was safe for me to deliver vaginally, there was a higher chance of bleeding because of the location of my placenta.

So, I called the midwife, Sara, to let her know that my water had broken, but I was not having any contractions yet. She told me to eat breakfast and try to get some rest. It took about 45 minutes for contractions to start, and they were very mild. They were coming every 8 minutes or so, and I was easily able to talk and move in the midst of them. Around 11 a.m., we decided to start our journey to the birth house, as we had an hour drive to get there. Contractions had increased to 4-5 minutes apart, and were lasting about a minute. I was beginning to turn inward and focus on breathing and releasing any tension or fear of the contractions.

The drive to the birth house seemed to slow the contractions and make them less intense. Maybe it was my lack of movement, or the heated seats in the truck. Once we got there, we were greeted by Charis, the student midwife. She took some vitals and suggested we go for a walk around the block to see if I could get things to pick back up. I laugh thinking back on this memory—what a site to see we were. There I was, with my giant belly sticking out of the middle of my winter coat, clinging to Jared’s arm so I didn’t slip and fall on the ice. Mind you, we woke up to a snow storm this day, so people were outside shoveling the 12 inches of snow on the ground, as I am waddling along. I remember thinking they probably thought we were being so unsafe—me being so pregnant and out walking in the snow and ice. Little did they know I was in labor, trying to walk him out! Walking through the contractions really picked things up and made them much more intense. After about 20 minutes, we made our way back to the birth house.

The next few hours were filled with swaying through contractions, bouncing on the birthing ball and spending some time soaking in the tub. There was no real concept of time during labor—it felt like everything blurred together and I just kept my focus inward. I was much quieter than I had anticipated. I focused on my breathing, kept my sounds low and kept reminding myself that all of this had a purpose. My body was feeling what was happening and responding the way it needed to. But holy sh** were things intense. Looking back, I have no real way to describe what labor feels like. It’s like nothing I can put into words.

When it started to get dark outside again—I had no concept of time besides knowing the sun went down—I began to get discouraged. Things were extremely intense and I felt like I was on a never-ending roller coaster. Contractions felt like they were on top of each other, and I began to feel like I was starting to suffer mentally and physically. I felt like I couldn’t get any relief, no matter the position I was in or what I tried to do. I remember turning to Jared and my sister and saying, “If this isn’t f***ing transition, I am going to kill someone.” My sister chuckled and told me without a doubt that it was. I also remember thinking to myself, “Jared and I want multiple kids, but I am NEVER doing this again.” I was legitimately worried about that—in the midst of labor!

From all of my birth preparation, I thought once I got through transition, I would find relief with pushing. I knew transition would be where I wanted to give up, but I kept telling myself to KEEP GOING, you can get through this, you can do it, you ARE doing it. I had heard people say they enjoyed pushing, it felt good and was a relief. So, I looked forward to pushing. My sister reminded me that when I felt “pushy,” I needed to let them know, and Sara (midwife) and Charis (student midwife) would come in. Until then, they had both been outside the room, only coming in periodically to check my vitals as well as Warren’s. I felt a slight urge to push, so I asked if my sister could go get Sara and Charis. I thought to myself, “Lindsay—you did it, you made it through transition—now, let’s meet that little boy! Sara asked if she could check me to see if I was fully dilated, as she suspected I might have a cervical lip preventing me from fully dilating. Until then, I did not have any cervical checks, so I was praying that I was fully dilated. Upon checking me, she said that I did have a lip, and on my next contraction she would need to push it back so I could fully dilate. She said that she apologized in advance and I knew that I wasn’t going to like her after this. I thought, “It can’t be any worse than what I have already felt, so I don’t know why she is saying this.” Boy, was I wrong. That was hands down the most intense moment of all of labor, probably more intense than all of labor combined. This was the first time I remember letting out a full-blown scream. It still gives me goosebumps. Praise the Lord she only had to do that once. It took me a few minutes to recompose myself, but then I was ready to push.

Lindsay and Warren

And push I did. On the bed, birthing stool, toilet. For nearly three hours. For all of those who enjoyed pushing—I envy you. I HATED pushing. For some reason, I had thought it would feel “good” to push, but for me, it sucked. I dreaded each contraction knowing that I needed to push. I never had that overwhelming or uncontrollable urge. I could have never done it without Jared. This is when I really realized how much I needed him. His encouragement, excitement, and physical presence gave me the strength I needed to keep going. After a while of pushing on the toilet, Sara asked if I wanted to make my way to the bed so I could get a little bit of rest between pushes. Walking back to the bed was the weirdest feeling. It’s like I could feel how open my body was, and how far down Warren was. Laying down in the bed, I knew we had to be close to him making his official entrance. I used this, along with the anger I felt at how long this was taking, to give some really intense pushes, which got me through that dreaded ring of fire. Sara told me to get his head out, and she would help me with the rest. I pushed SO freaking hard and out came his head! Everyone told me to look down and there was my sweet boy’s face. Holy crap. On the next contraction he was out, and I helped pull him up to my chest. I’ll never forget the physical sensation and relief that came along with him coming out. I announced to everyone, “I am so happy that part is over.” It was 11:35 p.m. and my boy was finally here.

Unbeknownst to me, I was bleeding quite heavily once he came out. I was too busy staring at his perfect little face to notice anything else. Sara told me that they needed to get my placenta out so my uterus could start contracting and get the bleeding to stop. After having to remove my placenta, I was still bleeding quite heavily and it became apparent that we would need to transfer to the hospital if it did not stop within the next 30 seconds. I was given a shot of pitocin in my thigh to try to get my uterus to contract. During this time, Charis had examined my placenta and amniotic sac and determined that my placenta had two lobes, one of which seemed to be inside my uterus still, which was causing the bleeding. After going back in to retrieve this lobe, the bleeding stopped. I am incredibly thankful we did not have to transfer.

Warren

Upon further examination of my placenta and amniotic sac, it was discovered that when my water broke, the amniotic sac was a hair’s length beneath a vein running from my placenta to one of the lobes. Sara said she did not want to scare me, but had this nicked the vein, Warren would not have made it more than 5 minutes, and I would have been none the wiser. I praise God that he looked over us that day, and my sweet boy is here with us. He’s my lucky charm. It is uncommon for a placenta to have a lobe, let alone two like I had. So the fact that he was here, completely healthy, and I was too, is something I will never stop being thankful for. I am also eternally grateful for the collected and calming presence of Sara and Charis that day. Not once did I ever feel like they were not in complete control. I have never felt so respected, cherished, and celebrated by a team of medical professionals. During this whole experience, Warren was still lying on my chest, and this gave me so much peace. Once the bleeding was under control, we got more comfortable in bed and enjoyed the most blissful uninterrupted bonding time. Snuggling, latching for the first time and repeating over and over how perfect and beautiful he was. After about two hours, I was helped to the bathroom and they did his measurements. He weighed 6 lb., 8 oz and was 19 inches long. Jared took a turn doing skin to skin, and I was able to eat a snack and take some pictures.

There are no words to describe what it’s like to see your child for the first time, and to spend those first couple of hours together. To put a face to all those kicks and flips you’ve felt inside of you. To see who they look like and take in every little feature. It is truly magical. You forget all about the pain and intensity of labor. It’s like everything else stands still. It’s just you and your new little family.

I think about his birth often and there are times I still can’t believe I actually birthed a child. I freaking did it. I felt like I truly honored my body and what it was created to do. I have never felt more primal, raw, and like a total freaking badass. I am forever changed by Warren’s birth. I’ll never look at myself in the same light. The empowerment I gained cannot be fully expressed.

Written by Lindsay Justice

Birth Stories

Birth Story of Billie Joyce Roberts

My daughter was born via scheduled c-section on Oct. 26, 2018. Nothing about having her went the way I expected. Not even her conception. My husband and I struggled with infertility for years before finally conceiving Billie on our third round of IUI.

I had placenta previa from my first scan, but was always assured it would resolve itself. It never did. There were a couple scary moments when they thought she also had a velamentous cord insertion (they thought her cord was exposed and going over my cervix, which is very dangerous). Fortunately, that wasn’t the case upon visiting the perinatologist.

But I still had placenta previa, which meant I was grounded from flying at 25 weeks, and had to cancel my big family Hawaiian vacation (scheduled for 30 weeks). I was fortunate to never have any complications with the previa, but all my visions of having a beautiful, unmedicated delivery vanished as quickly as they came.

Kristen during her birth

The surgery itself was uneventful, aside from the horrible gas pains afterward and the world’s worst first postpartum BM (sorry, TMI). But the struggle really began once we were home.

We left the hospital exclusively SNS feeding my daughter, because she wouldn’t latch. She’d just open her mouth over my nipple and furiously shake her head back and forth.

She had tongue/lip ties, which we revised when she was 6 days old. She still didn’t latch. During this time, I was exclusively pumping. She had really bad jaundice, because she was born at 37 weeks, so we had to feed her every 2 hours around the clock, which meant that’s how frequently I was pumping. But it took me 30 minutes to empty, so I never slept.

The side effects of sleep deprivation were extreme for me, and manifested as depression and anxiety. The depression hit me hard and fast, and I remember moments when I would daydream about getting in my car and driving as far away as I could and not coming back. This led to feelings of extreme guilt and more anxiety.

Not to mention, nobody tells you that delivering a baby requires you to completely relearn how to live in your own skin. Nothing about your body feels like yours. Things feel discombobulated, and after major surgery, those feelings are compounded.

2-week old Billie and Kristen

Then, my baby developed reflux and colic. She would scream day and night. She never slept, and refused to be laid down on her back without vomiting or crying. She would frequently choke, and I was already a frazzled mess. My husband had to go back to work at 2 weeks postpartum, because he’d just started a new job. I was so scared to leave the house, because we were still SNS feeding her, and setting up the syringes, tubing, etc., all felt too much for me.

We finally medicated her (ranitidine, which has since been recalled—imagine the guilt I carry now.), despite me trying literally EVERY natural remedy under the sun. All of the natural blogs I was reading basically said the same thing: Babies don’t NEED reflux meds, and if you give them to your baby, you clearly didn’t do something right. So, I was even more anxious and depressed for “poisoning” my baby with reflux meds.

Kristen, Billie, and Obachan, which is Japanese for grandma

But, she hit 8 weeks old (about 1.5 weeks after we started medicating her), and she became a different baby. She latched! I stopped pumping, she started sleeping (I finally got my first 3-hour stretch of sleep at 8 weeks old), she allowed us to lay her down. I do credit the meds to making her feel better. Despite there being a recall, I was so grateful she was eating and gaining weight.

Eventually, my anxiety and depression started to fade, too. Mostly as I started sleeping more. But also thanks to therapy. I just want all the moms out there to know that having a baby is SO hard. Feeding a baby with only your body is SO hard. Learning to live in your skin again when another being is 100 percent dependent on you is SO hard. But, even under the hardest circumstances (I definitely had it rough), it DOES get easier. It just takes time, which is so hard to hear when you’re literally living hour to hour with a newborn.

She’s now 14 months old, and we’re still nursing. I have come to terms with the fact that it is OK that I did not enjoy the first few months of my daughter’s life and was just trying to survive. Seeing her personality now, it’s no wonder. They really do come out of us as little people with their own likes/wants/desires. She still, to this day, cannot be told what to do. She has to come to it on her own.

Written by Kristen Roberts

Birth Stories

Birth Story of Dylan Savino DiPalma

April 9, 2009, was the day I became a mommy. My husband Mike and I headed to Sutter Maternity Center in Santa Cruz, California, early that Thursday morning. I had a scheduled induction, as I was 11 days past my due date and there was some concern that my placenta had become too worn to continue to do its job.

When we were all checked in and settled, I was given an IV with Pitocin, as well as an antibiotic drip. During my pregnancy, I had been diagnosed with Group B strep and the antibiotics were to ensure that it was not passed on to my baby. The nurse had a hard time finding a vein, and both of my arms were bruised and in so much pain—not really how I expected this experience to start, but soon enough the pain in my arms would be a distant sensation.

Over the next couple of hours, the contractions started. They were light and tolerable. I had the thought, “This is easy, I got this!” But, as the contractions grew stronger and closer together, I began to doubt myself. I wanted nothing more than to deliver without any kind of medical intervention or drugs, but the pain started becoming more than I thought I could bear. Little did I know, I hadn’t even hit transition yet, when things would become so much more painful.

A few hours in, my midwife made the decision to break my water. In her hand, she held what looked like a crochet needle. I was standing up and she used this tool to break my water. I remember the sensation of the warm fluid running down my legs and feeling so uncomfortable and even embarrassed by the mess.

As soon as my water broke, like the very SECOND, the contractions came on strong and hard. I had my arms draped around Mike’s neck as I hung my head low and rocked back and forth. I got to a point where I just didn’t think I could push on without some pain relief. I had tried a warm tub, massages, bouncing on a yoga ball. While some of these methods helped get me through my contractions, I couldn’t talk myself out of the pain. I cried out for an epidural even though in my gut, I wanted nothing to do with it. I needed someone to talk me off the ledge.

I am so thankful for the amazing nurses, my husband and my mom, who reminded me of my birth plan and distracted me enough through each contraction to get me through it without any drugs or an epidural. There is one nurse who I will forever be grateful for. I was in the middle of a contraction and these guttural, animalistic noises were coming out of me. I looked up and we locked eyes and I swear, I looked so deep into her eyes I felt possessed. But there was something about what her eyes were saying to me that gave me this deep sense of relief. She didn’t say a word and never looked away. This moment always sticks out to me when I think back to this day.

The pain was intensifying and I wanted to lie down to see if I could catch a break. Ha. Wishful thinking. I was checked by my midwife and was told I was in transition. I was also told that my baby’s heart rate was slowing down and there was a chance that the cord was wrapped around his neck. They administered oxygen to me, to increase the levels the baby was receiving. Things started becoming blurry. I felt the pain but I also felt like I was watching from above, Like my body just took over and my mind completely checked out. This is when I could hear, what seemed like just a faint whisper from miles away, “It’s time to push.”

I started pushing. My midwife was seated between my legs with the sweetest and most reassuring demeanor. My mom and Mike each had a foot in their hand. With every push, they helped me by pushing my legs up. I kept pushing but it didn’t feel natural. I didn’t have the pushing urge and wanted to be told when to go. I just wanted it to be done. About 30 minutes into pushing, I frantically pleaded to my midwife to just get in there and pull him out. I guess it doesn’t quite work that way.

Things weren’t moving as quickly as the medical team wanted, considering my baby was in distress. My midwife put a mirror between my legs, because she felt if I could see him crowing, it would help me push him out. I took a glimpse and I am pretty sure my face went white. My heart dropped and I became so introverted. I never imagined what my body would look like while pushing a baby out and I was shocked at what I saw. Mike saw my reaction and quickly asked her to move it.

It became apparent that if I wasn’t able to push the baby out within the next several minutes, a C-Section would be required. In an attempt to give me one more shot at delivering vaginally, my midwife reached inside of me to cut the umbilical cord so it wasn’t around my baby’s neck. At this point, I had a very short window to finish the process on my own. It was only a couple more pushes (45 minutes total) and Dylan was born. Six hours, start to finish, and I was DONE. I did it. No pain medication. No epidural. Baby safely delivered. Just like I wanted.

Mike, Dylan and Raquel

Dylan was placed on my chest and within seconds was quickly swopped out of my arms. I didn’t even have the chance to kiss him or to study his face or smell his hair. I remember seeing him out of the corner of my eye, his white body being held in the nurses arms as she was gently hitting his butt. He was not crying or making any noise and they were trying to stimulate him. I felt like I was watching a movie. It all seemed so surreal, like a dream.

As the nurses were tending to Dylan, I felt like I was fading and almost going in and out of consciousness. As crazy as this sounds, I almost had forgotten I just had a baby. I wasn’t wondering why he had been taken from me, I didn’t ask if he was OK. I was in some sort of shock. And that’s when I heard a loud buzz, from a button my midwife hit, and within the blink of an eye, a team of about 10 medical staff were in my room. I was told I was hemorrhaging and they couldn’t get the bleeding to stop. I felt helpless on the hospital bed. I was just lying there while they injected me with medication that would slow the bleeding.

As this was all happening, Dylan had been whisked away to a room where he could be observed and monitored. Mike and my sister made the incredibly tough decision to leave me as I was going through the afterbirth and hemorrhaging, but there wasn’t a chance Dylan was going to be out of our sights. I had my mom by my side the whole time.

Two or three hours passed and it wasn’t until that time that I finally came to and realized I didn’t have Dylan with me. I came unglued. They brought him to me and I got to hold him and nurse him for the first time. The sadness I felt for having things turn out the way they did, completely dissipated as I held him and nursed him for the first time. He was healthy, but they wanted to keep an eye on him just to be sure. He was perfect … a big boy at 8 lb., 14 oz and 21.5 inches long, with a head full of black curly hair and the most intelligent, wise, soulful and loving eyes. What a ride we had endured together.

Because of the amount of blood I lost, and the awful tearing that happened, recovery was hard. I was easily winded and needed help just to walk, go to the bathroom, adjust my position in bed, etc. BUT, even with all the pain, uncertainty, fear and every other emotion I experienced that day, I would do it all over again. Dylan and I both fully recovered and now we have quite the story to tell.

Dylan

I am so amazed and proud at what my body (and mind) were able to endure that day. Birth is such a beautiful thing and no matter what the path leading up to it looked like, the end result made it more than worth it.

Written by Raquel DiPalma