This Sunday is Willow Jean’s birthday. I can’t believe she will be one year old. It’s been so much fun to watch her grow and learn new things. Hopefully you have enjoyed reading her weekly Watch Willow Grow updates as well.
When she was born I wrote her birth story when she was about two days old. I tried my best to get the raw emotions I was feeling to come through my words, but I don’t know how well I succeeded. I was absolutely devastated that her birth ended in an emergency cesarean section when I had wished, hoped, and planned for a completely natural birth. Part of those plans included having a birth photographer. And when I received those pictures the emotions of that day flooded back, but from a whole new perspective.
While I was in labor I was focused on my body and getting Willow out safely. I wasn’t concerned with the people around me or my surroundings. But when I looked at the pictures I was able to see how that day effected everyone. I was able to see the looks of concern and fear on the faces of those people that care about me. Seeing my birth experience from a different view point was a mind blowing experience. And today I want to share it with you.
It might help to read Willow’s birth story before looking through the pictures so you can get an idea of what is going on, but I will try to explain here too.
When I arrived at the hospital around 10pm I was 5cm with a thin cervix and was allowed to labor as I wished. I paced around the room breathing through the contractions that were quickly getting closer together and more intense. Every so often I would be asked to get in bed so they could monitor Willow for a bit and then I was allowed to get back up again. Around 4am I was checked again and was 6cm but Willow was very high and my bag of water was very low. I was not longer allowed to get out of bed. Laboring in bed was awful. The contractions were getting closer to the point of almost no breaks and my water broke at 6am. That’s when I called the birth photographer and she rushed over. These are the photos she captured shortly after arriving when the possibility of a natural birth still felt within my grasp.
At this point my older daughters arrived at the hospital and my dad did as well – my mom, grandma, and Dustin had been there all night. Even though my water had broke I wasn’t progressing as fast as I or anyone else thought I would. I was still at 6cm and and in severe pain. After my water broke the intensity of the contractions seemed to triple yet Willow wasn’t descending. I agreed to an epidural even though I really didn’t want it. I had gone through 12 hours of intense contractions to feel like I was being defeated with a needle in the back. I knew I was doing a bad job of hiding the pain on my face and didn’t want to scare my girls and so I did it.
As soon as the epidural took effect I felt like I was ready to push. Sure enough I was 10cm but Willow was still really high. The doctor thought I would be able to push her down with no problem and so even though I had felt defeated with the epidural I thought for certain I would still get to have a vaginal birth and hold my baby immediately. And so we started pushing.
Thing were getting intense. I wasn’t making any progress. And had been pushing for over an hour. By this point with Alleigh and Kaelyn I had a beautiful baby in my arms. An oxygen mask was put on my face and I continued to push with every ounce of strength I could muster even though I had been awake for 26 hours and dealt with intense contractions for at least 7 hours. A point came where I was falling asleep for the few seconds between contractions. I was feeling defeated.
No progress. My doctor looked at me and gave me two options. Try the vacuum or go straight to the operating room. I had come so far. I didn’t want this to end the furthest from the natural I could possibly be and so we decided to try the vacuum. At that point my photographer was asked to stop taking pictures. We tried once, twice. I was told we could try one more time and then there would be no other option. Third time. My doctor looked at me and didn’t even have to say a word. Hot tears started streaming down my face. My husband was given hospital scrubs. My dad kissed me. And I was rushed down the hallway.
Since the only one who would be allowed in the operating room would be Dustin my birth photographer left. After all of that I wouldn’t have the professional images I wanted so badly of Willow taking her first breaths and being handed to me. Instead I was strapped to an operating table vomiting because my blood pressure had dropped and I was scared and I wanted my husband. When he came in I just kept saying how sorry I was. Thankfully there was a nurse in the operating room who took our camera and captured some moments for us. At that moment my whole world was crashing around me. Nothing I wanted had worked out the way I had planned. Nothing.
And then something miraculous happened. Fourteen minutes after entering the operating room my beautiful Willow Jean was born at 9:59am. And nothing else mattered. It didn’t matter that I was still cut open and needed to be put back together. All that mattered at that moment was that my baby was alive and healthy and crying. She did have a bit of swelling from the vacuum, but to me she was absolutely perfect.
It turns out that Miss Willow was sunny side up and stuck on my pelvic bone. No matter how hard I would have pushed laying flat on my back in that hospital bed she would have never made it out. The entire time I was being stitched back together Willow was thrusting her tongue and all I wanted to do was nurse her. I wish I had known better. I wish I had just told them to get my breast out and feed her. But I was in shock from everything and I thank the Lord she latched on and nursed like a pro when we finally got to the recovery room. Once we were finally back in my regular room with my family I could breathe a sigh of relief that this whole ordeal was done even though I was in tons of pain, but I was still crushed.
And I would be lying if I told you I still wasn’t devastated with how her birth turned out. I would give anything to have that natural birth that I had hoped for. I want that experience so badly and will forever yearn for it.