When I initially launched this blog, I created it to be used as a platform for sharing snapshots of various aspects of my journey as a woman and mother with you. Whether it be blurbs on motherhood, doula life, labor and delivery tips, or the postpartum period - my hope is to always maintain a level of rawness with you, in hopes of giving you a tiny glimpse into my heart and life.
I want to share my birth story with you, something that has become so near and dear to my heart.
Labor and delivery was something I had heard about for years, something that I had many preconceived notions and hesitations about. With only a mere couple of months left until my due date, I began to look into various childbirth education options in the city. Through a few mutual friends, I stumbled across a class that met twice a week for three weeks that dove deeply into the nitty gritty details surrounding what happens to the body before, during, and after giving birth. In all honesty, it was all overwhelming, but equally empowering to gain so much knowledge about what my body was about to endure. This new-found knowledge led me to look into hiring a doula, or a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and the postpartum period.
Having a trained, educated doula by my side who understood my wishes to have an intervention-free, natural childbirth was very important to me. And as with most scenarios in my life, God knew exactly the kind of woman I would need when my time would come, which just so happened to be around 10:00pm March 30th, the evening before my due date. As I was laying down in bed, I started to feel slightly pressure-filled sensations in my lower abdomen that I had never experienced before. I remembered from my birth class that early labor in a first birth could last many hours, so I attempted to get some rest before the tough part of labor really came along.
Well, let’s just say I didn’t end up resting for very long, because the contractions began increasing in intensity and duration extremely quickly. I began timing them, and within about three hours, the waves would come as quickly as 3-4 minutes apart, and the rushes no longer were a laughing matter. My doula, Vanessa, encouraged me through many contractions over the phone, and gave me feedback on how I could best ease some of the discomfort I was experiencing through breath work, physical positioning, and the use of water. Everything I’d read mentioned that water is nature’s epidural, so I coped with the labor pains much of the time in the shower while simultaneously worshipping to some of my favorite worship songs. To say the very least, this was an extremely intense time.
Between around 1:30-2:30am, labor was the most intense. After about every other contraction, my husband DeeMo would suggest we get in the car to go to the hospital, as I needed him every step of the way at this point. In-between hyper-focusing on my breathing, I would refuse his suggestions because I kept replaying in my mind all of the things I’d ever heard about first labors: typically long-lasting, on average of 12-24 hours & extremely painful! Since this was my first baby, I had no prior understanding of the normal level of pain I was supposed to be experiencing, and I sure as heck did not want to arrive at the hospital to be turned away or tempted with various pain coping medications.
If I’d had any reason to doubt whether I was in active labor, my water breaking in our apartment bathroom confirmed all of my suspicions. In a pathetic attempt to clean myself up, I kid you not, a quick moment of panic tried to creep in when I thought I could feel our baby’s head crowning (side note, I discovered later it was not the baby’s head but the amniotic sac, but it was still enough to get me into action quickly!) Immediately I looked at DeeMo and asked if he could see anything as well, to which in turn, he could.
Instinctually, I knew I could not make it to the hospital if I chose to walk to our car and go about how I’d ideally planned for my labor and delivery to go. That’s the thing about best-made plans though, isn’t it? They’re made to be broken. So I looked at my husband and said, “Call an ambulance. Now!” He hesitated initially, but I could not have been more convinced in that moment that this was the right choice for the health of both me and our baby.
The first responders were so calm and helpful on the phone, I was told to lay down on a clean towel and to resist any urges to push while we waited what seemed like the longest 5 minutes of my life. (And yes, it really only took them 5 minutes to arrive, one of the redeeming qualities of New York City living!) While the team asked me routine questions about my pregnancy, I recall asking them naively in return, “Have you guys done this before?” They were all very reassuring, to say the least. 😜
Immediately upon arriving to our hospital, I was whisked into triage (where they check to see how dilated you are,) and by the grace of God I was fully dilated and ready to push! I was so relieved! I was quickly given a room in the Labor & Delivery unit, and my doctor and a swarm of nurses entered right away. An IV was administered, a blood pressure cuff was snapped on my arm, and time seemed to stand still as the doctor asked, “Ann, are you ready to meet your baby?” The nine months of waiting and preparing was about to finally be over!
With each contraction following, the doctor instructed me on how to best breathe and push. By far, this was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, but with the help of my amazing support and medical teams, Michael Zion was born after a mere 3 contractions! No interventions, no medication, just our two bodies working together as one to do the seemingly impossible. Hearing him cry, seeing his sweet little swollen eyes open for the first time while on my chest, watching him initiate breastfeeding during skin-to-skin time made every second leading up to this point worth it. The entire seven hour ordeal was an adrenaline-pumping, supernatural blur. But it really was, hands-down the best day ever.
To mommas everywhere, no matter how your baby entered into this world, induced or spontaneous, naturally or medicated, vaginally or cesarean, you are a freaking force to be reckoned with and don’t let anyone or any self-inflicted guilt about your birth story tell you any differently.
And to my beautiful Michael Zion, thank you for being patient with me as I navigate how to mother you. You are my absolute world.
Worship Songs that helped me through labor:
Even When It Hurts by Hillsong
You Are My Joy by Will Reagan
Sanctuary by SEU Worship
Blessed Assurance by Elevation
Anyway by Brandon Holt
Who You Say I Am by Hillsong
Need You More by Will Reagan
Gracious Tempest by Hillsong
Reckless Love by Cory Asbury
Over All I Know by Vertical Worship
New Wine by Hillsong
The sun that broke forth over Manhattan an hour after my son was born - a glorious day.