Mamahood Styled


Luna May Olive: A Birth Story


I've wondered so many times how I would write this birth story since Luna joined us earthside, primarily because it is so extremely different from what I imagined, from what I prayed for. Although it went nothing like I wanted, I went in knowing that the goal was a healthy baby, and a healthy mami. Since we got both out of it, I'd like to start off by saying, it was a success!! My miracle IVF baby girl is here and we couldn't be happier!!!
39 weeks, 6 days pregnant 
With the journey to this baby being such a treacherous one, my prayers for delivery were for a healthy and speedy one (especially since Oliver's delivery was amazing) and I kept hearing that second babies come even faster than the first ones! 
Prior to that, I had gone into preterm labor at almost 32 weeks and was put on restrictive bedrest for almost 5 weeks. He arrived two days before his EDD, to everyone's surprise. I went into the hospital two days before my due date, at 9am and had him at 4:51pm. 

With Luna, I started getting contractions at 20 weeks- no one thought I would make it even close to her EDD- especially since she always measured 4-7 days ahead. As the weeks passed, my contractions became stronger. At 37 weeks, we started checking for progress and each week was shocking, as I had not dilated from 1 cm. I spent my due date with Oliver and our friends at a water park, and later that day I lost part of my plug. I had an appointment scheduled from the next day and was so excited and sure that I had made major progress. I was shocked to hear that I was maaaaybe at a 1.5 and 50% effaced. Then I was checked for water leakage, and just like with Oliver, I tested positive for nitrocin and ferning (meaning, my water had started leaking). Since we were unsure of how long it had been leaking, and I was NOT in labor, I was sent to the hospital to induce labor. 
Now induction was far from anything I wanted. My labor with Oliver was unmedicated and although I was open to the idea of medicine if we needed it, I did not want to start off labor before my body was ready to. But I also had to do what was best for our baby- and the risk of infection was high so we decided to start on Cytotec to soften up my cervix and allow me to dilate. We all imagined that within a dose or two, I would go into labor on my own and deliver that night- after all, there was a full moon on the forecast and it couldn't be more perfect than that (Luna means Moon in Spanish)!

The excitement in the room was incredible! Geoff and I were thrilled. Oliver had been telling us that his baby sister was going to wait to come until he started Pre-K. That morning, at 40w1d, I was able to take him to his first day of Pre-K! As I was leaving he held my belly, and said "Okay, Luna (which really sounds like Wuna), you can come now!" Calling our parents later and sharing the news with Oliver that we were on our way to the hospital to have his baby, hearing his excitement, oh man, it was palpable! We let all of our loved ones know and prepared for it all. 

Day Uno: 
We arrived at the hospital and we immediately knew we were in the absolute best hands: from our nurse to the Director of Labor & Delivery, everyone was a familiar and happy face with our best interest in mind. I got into my own gown to labor in, got my essential oils plugged in, own pillowcase, music going, *yes, ladies, I'm super extra*,  got hooked up to wireless monitors so I could labor freely, took my first induction dose, had the rest of my water broken (so now I could REALLY feel each contraction) and we all were so sure that by the evening, our baby girl would be in our arms! We even recorded a "Push it" video that's on my IG! We had Oliver come visit that evening (which ended up being a mistake in hindsight)! He did great the entire time there, but when it was time for him to leave, he became very emotional, not understanding why I was in the hospital if the baby wasn't here yet, and why we needed to be separated. Thank God for his wonderful grandparents who were there for not only him, but a huge support system for Geoff and I. 
I had the max amount of Cytotec doses over a 24 hour period- that's 6 of them every 4 hours- with each dosage making us believe it would be THE one! We spent all evening and night, making our rounds, walking, squatting, etc in the hospital hallways, making friends with the staff, knowing it would be any hour now...By the next morning there had been zero progress even though I was still having hard contractions and doing every thing we could think of to get labor going. Talk about feeling defeated. Everyone was so sure she would have arrived by the previous evening. Seeing the nurses finish their 7am-7pm shifts was even more defeating. We brought in donuts for the staff because bless each nurses heart, they were each SO amazing and critical to our story. We truly and wholeheartedly had the best support system through our nurses, midwives (my beloved friend/midwife was out of town for the summer so her BFF became my midwife and it was so nice to have both of their support), our friends/family that constantly checked in, and our social media support- so many people we have connected with! 

Day Dos:
By the evening of Day 2, my contractions were harder and closer, but still not consistent enough for progress and with having had my water fully broken for over 24 hours, the risk of infection was high. I had to decide what to do since they couldn't give me more Cytotec. After much consultation, we moved on to Pitocin- which I truly and honestly feared. I hadn't heard of many mamas being able to make it without an epidural after Pitocin was administered and my contractions were already really painful so I couldn't imagine them getting worse on medicine before I peaked. But my options were limited and I truly felt that after one dose of Pitocin, it would work! So I started it around 5pm of Day 2 with internal monitors so I could still labor in positions I wanted. The way Pitocin works is that they give you 2 units with an IV every 20 minutes and it goes up to 20 units, with contractions getting harder and stronger each increase. It can be turned off at any time, which is great because I knew my body would take over. Weeeeeell, by 1am, I was up to a level 12 without pain meds, and zero sleep. My mind was totally focused, but my body had started to shut down. I hadn't sleep more than 1.5 hours the night before, and had hardly eaten anything because we all thought the baby was coming! But shout out to the oatmeal I had for breakfast, the Pitaya bowl I had for lunch and the Quest protein bar I had for dinner for powering me through)!  Meanwhile, each contraction radiated every inch of my body but I was so focused, I could melt into each one knowing they would pass quickly. They were on top of each other, hardly giving me any rest in between, each fighting to be off the charts. Unfortunately, my body was done for and would violently shake during each contraction, wanting to fight them. I didn't care because I knew with the amount of pain I was in my body would have definitely made progress. At this point, I was excited and we all decided it was a good time to be checked. 

To all of our disbelief, I had only dilated to a 3ish!!! The shock of this lack of progress made me feel extremely defeated- our entire team couldn't believe it. We all met several times trying to figure out the best course of action. Everyone wanted me to be healthy and have energy to push, but the only way to do so was with an Epidural, which I did NOT want. 

Now, I know, trust me, I know it was difficult for anyone to understand why I didn't want medicine. & although I don't have to explain my reasoning, I've always been so raw and open that I want to express this part of my journey...
My baby took two years of back-to-back IVF cycles. The amount of medicine it took to conceive her truly blows my mind. Me, the girl who won't even take an aspirin for the debilitating migraines I get that last days. Not because I get an award; no one doesn't make me a hero...not at all, there's no badge of honor or trophy I would get by going unmedicated. But knowing this is my last pregnancy meant everything to me. I wanted to birth my baby on my own- finally without the assistance of medicine- although I was grateful for medicine to provide me with my baby! But for this, I wanted to be led by my faith in my God, and my body. I also had gone through an unmedicated labor with Oliver and although it was the hardest physical experience of my life, it was the most amazing, to FEEL him being brought to our world, and I didn't want to be numb to her being delivered. This was my very last chance to do this on MY own, and I was really excited and ready to do so.
birthing in all its glory

BUT at this point, I wanted my baby, and if they needed to up Pitocin and give my body rest, then so be it. I reminded myself that my only real plan was a healthy baby and mami! Plus 90% of my girlfriends all swore by the beauty of epidurals and a lot of them said they could still feel the pressure so I felt secure in my decision to get one (once we did decide). And I could see the relief on everyone's faces once we decided, too! But I'm still so grateful everyone let me figure it out on my own. So I was blessed with the #1 anesthesiologist who was the sweetest woman and took her time in making me feel comfortable. My midwife came in and held me and prayed over me and I still felt that damn needle go in and even flinched- of course, my luck, lol! But as soon as it went in, omg, after two days of pain, it felt like a dream! AND I could still move my legs and felt pressure! YES! Why didn't we do this sooner! It felt amazing!!! Until I heard commotion and rushed voices, and nurses start rushing in, because Luna's little heartrate had crashed down (a side effect of epidurals). I was turned this way and that, my belly shaken and shifted to try to get her in a better position and it felt like nothing was working. But luckily, she got settled and all was well, considering. 

Day 3
SO, I am finally able to get well-deserved rest, with the exception of a side-to-side flip every 20 minutes throughout the entire night and the constant drip of fluids, buuuut I got some rest! A few hours later, its Day 3 around 5:30am, the Pitocin was cranked up to its max dosage of 20, my body has the shakes, and we decided it was time to check again. This was it, I thought to myself! The somewhat still full moon was descending in the horizon as the sun was rising....To my dismay, I had dilated to a 5. Let's recap, started at a 1....after a whole day of Cytotec and Pitocin, I was at a 3, and now with full dosage of Pitocin and an epidural, I was only at a 5. WTF?! This time the whole team was beyond confused and defeated. They started wondering if she was big (she was tiny), or hitting the wrong part of my cervix, flipped, etc. My midwife was called in and she looked so disappointed. We knew a C-Section would be next. So the Pitocin was shut off and everything for one started. By this time it was 7am and my entire body from the mid-waist down was beyond numb. I couldn't feel A THING; I couldn't move my legs- they were SO heavy and it took ALL my strength to get into positions. My epidural had gone from great because I could still feel pressure, to horrifying (for me) because I felt completely numb and heavy and useless. But I didn't care, I just wanted my baby. So I woke up Geoff and told him we had shut the meds off and were prepping for a C-section. My midwife goes to check me one more time before putting in the orders, and would you believe it, I had actually progressed to a 7 all on my own!!!! Everyone got so pumped and excited and we canceled C-section plans! I had Geoff call his parents immediately because I felt like it was going to happen really fast from there! by 8:15am, I was at a 9!!! She was coming!!! It was time to push any second now, and we got everything ready for it! Yay!

The Birth
So I start pushing and....nothing....I can't feel a single thing, so I have no idea what I'm doing, but my contractions are being erratic again and there's no pattern to them. We try a few more times, and nothing. What is going on?! Luna's heartbeat goes from 160ish to the 40-50 range. My heart sinks. After all of this, there is no way we are losing our baby. NO WAY. The slow beeps make my own heart stop. My midwife shakes her head, I see the nurses look at each other with disappointment in their eyes...she sits down, shoulders slumped, and tells me we need an emergency C-section and pages the OB (who luckily happens to be in the hospital this morning). I don't even care. I just want my baby to be healthy and earth side. Within minutes, he comes in and gets me to start pushing. Again, my contractions are being sporadic and not consistent, they are monitoring Luna's heartbeat, trying to give it one last shot before a C-section. The room is full of so many nurses, my midwife/friend is on FaceTime, our parents are behind the curtain (because the room was too full to fit anyone else), there is talk of re-starting the Pitocin, the OB says no, he starts massaging, and telling me when and how to push, her head surfaces, they wheel in a mirror- I mean, a full length, wooden framed mirror on wheels, where I can see EVERYTHING, more than I EVER want to see again (why did I think it was going to be a small, compact mirror to just witness her birth, haha). The OB, grabs a swaddle blanket, twists it in his hands, and tells me we are going to play tug-of-war, when he tells me to. Each push/tug is a few minutes in between but we are making progress, everyone is so encouraging, I am pushing with all my might, my incredible husband being my number one supporter, telling me everything I need to hear in this moment, until finally, they all happily exclaim she is on her way out, her head is out and then her shoulders...and then the OB steps back, the midwife steps in, and it's time for me to reach down and pull her out. I grab under her slippery shoulders and pull up, greeted by a full head of hair and a tiny little human being, who isn't crying much. It all feels so surreal, the room is so dark, I pull her to my chest, I start to cry and cannot believe it. Then realize she's not crying much, so I ask, and she starts to cry a bit. My head starts pounding, and I can't see very straight, but I know she is here. I don't seem to recognize her, like I thought I would. I lift her to admire her, count her fingers and toes, call her by her name, and ask Geoff "Did they put in the right embryo?!" Haha, the long labor, the pain, the numbness, the beauty of her life, all come crashing down on me and I'm not sure what to think. We get the next couple of hours to just BE with her. Her teeny, tiny little body curled up against mine. My mind and heart in disbelief. I'll never know why it was so hard, not just our struggle leading up to conceiving her, but our actual labor and delivery...but she's here...and we couldn't be more blessed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All the heartache, the pain, the loss, the angel babies, the time Oliver begged me to not give up while he cried on the kitchen floor...all for this moment... here she is, earth side, finally, completing our family. Just. like. that. 

Luna May Olive- you are a true testament of love, patience, and fear. You're a miracle in our lives and we couldn't love you more than we do. You truly complete our family, baby girl. Thank you for being here, we adore you more than words could ever convey. "and if you are to love, love as the moon does; she does not steal the night- she only unveils the beauty of the dark."

P.S. If you're interested in Oliver's birth story, go to web version, then the search bar on the middle right hand side, and search "birth story." That one is divided into two parts!

P.S.S. After writing this birth story, I spent some time reading the blog posts I wrote about our IVF journey. I didn't document it all, I never really told anyone I was documenting at all, but my heart aches and is equally full by our journey as I look over at Luna May Olive sleeping in her bassinet. God and Science, how i love thee.
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