hey party people! it's been too long since i've shared a birth story for ya! and i have a beautiful one for you! settle in to hear about the birth story of sweet mila!
Mila’s birth story
For 2 weeks I was having contractions, painful and intense ones that were anywhere from 10-20 minutes apart on most days. We kept thinking each day was “the day” until nothing happened. Brian was so supportive and took time out to practice some of the things we had learned in our class with Kelly, as well as from the yoga and birthing class we took. He often practiced massage and breath-work with me. This relaxed me the most and connected us a team. We would often joke about the vocal toning making our “low, manly sounds” as Kelly suggested. We could often be found making the moaning sounds while cooking dinner or while rolling on the ball and laughing at ourselves. Ironically, this was actually a great foreshadow to what was to come.
I continued with my daily guided relaxation tracks provided by Kelly, as well as a few of my own that included a walking meditation, and guided sleep meditation. I listened to the affirmations as often as I could and aimed for once a day. I tried to continue to be as active physically and socially as I could! I also took the suggestion to work on my squats as much as I could. I did chair pose, squat pose and goddess pose whenever I thought about it. Perineum massage also came and went when I felt motivated to do so (not my favorite thing obviously!).
My due date came and passed and I had thought that I was losing my mucus plug around then. Fearful of the induction date my doctor had set at the 2 week point and all of the monitoring that they started, I began to take action. I started walking more, as well as acupuncture to begin to “induce” labor on my due date (September 2nd) and went three times total. Each time, I definitely felt pressure and something happening…and of course overall relaxation and wellbeing. However, it wasn’t until September 8th that I lost my mucus plug (officially). It was clear (or not clear-haha!) that was what was happening! I went to the doctor that morning for my regular appointment, excited that things were moving along and then felt disappointed because I was still only 3 cm and 50% effaced. The previous appointment I was 2-3 cm, with 50% effacement, so not much change. I went into the appointment thinking that things would be kicking into high gear. After that and going about my day, I thought things would start happening…but really NOTHING happened that day. No contractions or anything! I remember having the feeling that mentally I wanted to go do stuff, but I felt the overwhelming need to just lie on the couch all day and rest. I went for a walk in the evening and talked to my mom about her visit the next day and finished my last day of pregnancy. Going to bed feeling frustrated, I awoke to the “gush”. Did I pee myself? I remember reading this same line in so many other birth stories, but I thought, no it probably wasn’t my water breaking because it was only like a 8-10 % chance of that actually happening! Oh, but my water was breaking and gushed a few times. I woke Brian up and we were figuring out what was happening when the contractions started. These were not the contractions that I had at 29 weeks and ended up in the hospital with…and these were not the contractions of the past two weeks. These were intense in such a different way. The feeling of pressure and of pushing down was so much stronger, so it was clear things had begun. It was GO time!
Our goal was to stay home as long as possible to avoid getting there and being disappointed with progress, or being there so long that the epidural happens and then the cascade of interventions because the hospital wants to speed the process along. Nope, we were staying put! We were ready. But the contractions were so intense. We began tracking at 12am after my water broke at 11:45pm. The contractions varied from 4 minutes to 2 minutes and quickly shifted to a consistent 1-2 minutes lasting for 30-50 seconds for a solid 2 hours. I leaned over the ball in our bedroom with Brian pressing on my back, in between running around gathering everything we needed to go. We immediately started to use what we learned from Kelly and we were surprised that those “low manly sounds” that we joked about were a HUGE part of relief for me. As the contractions continued without pause, we kept questioning whether we should go or not. We remembered Kelly saying that if you were able to question it, then it might not be time yet. But I felt such pressure that I was thinking what everyone else thinks, “I don’t want to not go and have this baby here!”. And so we went. I was thinking, “If I don’t know how I am going to get into the car and get there now, there is no way I am going to wait and try later!” The entire car ride I was leaned over pillows up against the window, while Brian pressed on my back and drove. That was after we tried to have me lay down in the back… not happening. We continued to play relaxing music and I feel like I went into some kind of zone here because the ride took no time.
Around 2:45 am we arrived at Scripps La Jolla.
Upon arrival, they allowed us to go to the check in room since my water had already broken. I think when they heard my vocalizations (loud moaning!) they went ahead and moved us to an OFFICIAL room. They left us there to change, and my first thought was, “I need the shower!” (remembering how Kelly said what helped during pregnancy will probably help during labor). I remember asking if I could get in and Brian said, “You don’t need to ask, just do it!” And so I did! His constant support was amazing! So thankful for Kelly’s empowerment that she provided in our class. She let us know that we could make our own decisions and do what WE needed to do. Regardless of what the staff said or thought. So it was kind of humorous when the nurse came and said, “Umm, we really need you to get out of the shower so we can check you and the baby and admit you...” HAHA! Oh but the shower felt sooooo good! So, I got out and they began the monitoring. When they checked me I was STILL only 3 cm. I just remember leaning over the back of the bed saying, “I’m just so discouraged.” I was feeling like all my ideas and “planning” about my birth were not going to happen. Thank GOD that no one gave into my repeated statements of feeling disappointed and discouraged.
Thankfully, no one offered an epidural and no one asked my pain level. THIS WAS HUGE FOR ME! I had clearly stated this in my birth preferences and thank GOD they respected this! Brian rushed around setting up candles, music, lavender essential oils, and meanwhile I was demanding him to just press on my back. He was awesome! He was so prepared and supportive. I was able to get into a variety of positions while they monitored me.
The contractions were still so close together, around 2 minutes and lasting almost a minute, so they suggested an IV (even with my request for only a hep lock). But they were very clear in describing the benefits versus risks, after we asked. This would help to hydrate me and perhaps decrease the quickness of the contractions to make them further apart and more effective. Continuing in this manner would leave me exhausted very quickly, so we agreed. This was quite the process though. They could not seem to get a vain, which made me lightheaded and really took me out of the moanful, swaying, hunched over with Brian pressing on my back “zone” that I was in. Thankfully they were not set on me lying in the bed. Another thing I requested on the birth preferences (with Kelly’s help), was that I wanted freedom to move around. I bent over the bed while they tried to get an IV. This took forever, I felt like I was going to faint and at that point I was ready to be knocked out, or given an epidural, a c section whatever, just get this DONE! Luckily, no one suggested any of this and deep down I knew I didn’t really want any of that (if not medically necessary) so we pushed forward. (By the way, I am chronically a difficult patient when it comes to IVs or blood draws due to my smallish veins).
Once we got the fluids flowing, things improved; however, I was required to stay hooked up due to concerns with the baby’s heartrate and some bleeding that was happening. I was definitely in another world at this point, but still present and had accepted what was happening. That is the only way I can think to put it. Kelly’s class helped to reduce the fear and to realize that this is something that happens to women all over the world each day. This is what we were made to do. So wave after wave came and I just remember demanding Brian to push on my back, as I bent over the bed or a ball or the back of the bed. He was so good about this. He also kept reminding me to use my voice and this seemed to help channel all my energy really the best out of everything.
We continued in this rhythm… of waves that washed over me, as I demanded for Brian to push on my back and then a peak followed by a sweet release. A pause and relief always came which was something that I could rely on with each occurrence. I knew it would not last forever. The midwives were amazing and the first midwife offered once to provide an epidural “just in case anything happened,”… you know like a C-section. This was a weird moment. I considered what she was saying and almost was swept into the FEAR that I would need this “JUST IN CASE”. But as I contemplated what she was saying, I didn’t really answer her and another wave took over, so we kept on. It was never brought up again.
There was great encouragement when I was checked and everyone was excited that I went from 3 to 6 cm in only a few hours. This was promising, however now I was entering into transition time. We continued on the bed being monitored and I remember leaning over the back of the bed moaning away when all of the sudden the pressure increased dramatically. Suddenly, my low moan turned to an even deeper guttural sound that was paired with a dry heave each time. It was so interesting because every time one of these new things occurred, I surprisingly felt like I knew what was happening because of what we talked about with Kelly. She even showed us videos of this exact thing happening! KNOWLEDGE DEFINITELY IS POWER!! This is when there was a rush of nurses and the midwife into the room. There was quite a panic about me not pushing and not bearing down. They warned me that I could push too soon and cause my cervix to swell and then we would need a c section or this could happen or that could happen….
A lot of fear was in the air and they kept telling me not to push, but that is all that I FELT like doing. It was so hard to go against what my body wanted to do. I remember lying on the bed with my legs crossed writhing around trying not to push and trying to keep the baby from coming out (at least that’s what it felt like!). At this point, I began to feel discouraged again. This was going against what my body wanted to do, but I was not ready to let it all go and risk all of those scary things that they told me could happen. This is where I definitely think having a doula with you would help. These moments where the staff isn’t as supportive, or fear creeps in or even doubt. Brian was the most amazing support that I could ever have imagined but I think we both would have benefited from some extra support throughout this adventure.
I do have to say that my midwives were amazing too. The first one tied my hair back, brought me wet cloths for my head, ice chips and gave me breathing techniques. Although when we switched over mid shift, when I was going through this time of needing and wanting to push, the new midwife was like a golden ray of light! She came in, and told me to go ahead and bear down if that is what “I felt” needed to happen. What a relief! Things progressed from here and when I reached 7-8 cm she told me she would be okay if I returned to the shower (They had continued monitoring because of the baby’s heart rate and some blood). Getting back in the shower was glorious!! Transition was a challenge but having the warm water really helped. I remember leaning over the ball that was on the shower seat while pushing my low back into the handicap bar, while Brian pushed on my back from the top. This is the only thing that got me through! During my pregnancy I used water often to relax myself and sooth aches and pains. I found that this translated to birthing as well. The midwife gave me an hour to spend in the shower and then she wanted to check me again…and monitor the baby. Although challenging and intense, this was the best hour and it went by TOO quickly. I did not want to get out of that shower. It is so weird that I can remember all of this so vividly and clearly yet while I was in the moment I was really in the moment. I remember hearing Brian discussing the blood and the heartbeat and this and that with the nurses and midwives, however it didn’t worry me, I was not fearful and I was in this sort of zone that just kept me moving forward. I accepted each new wave knowing that it would bring me closer to meeting our little baby. Acceptance, letting go of expectations, being truly present for each moment, releasing fear...that is what got me through! And still does as a new parent!
After getting out of the shower I was still only 9 cm. I had this continual bearing down feeling and felt like I should push and that I really had not control NOT to push. The midwife was concerned and wanted to get the doctors approval before moving forward. We got the go ahead from the (doctor’s less than 5 minute) visit and they proceeded to prepare for the birth. There was quite the commotion as everyone hustled about, and I felt a sense of peace and excitement wash over me. There were some concerns and everything Kelly mentioned could possibly happen at this point came about. The biggest issue was that I really wanted to squat and not be lying down for the birth; however they insisted on the lying down position and gave several reasons why it was important. I gave in and gave it a go and it actually worked out, but I definitely was frustrated at first. Other examples were that there was meconium so that made everything seem so much more intense, plus there was pressure from the staff for me to push her out quickly or they would have to vacuum her out, there was concern for her heartrate, concern for my blood pressures…etc. etc. But everything was really okay. They gave me the challenge of pushing her out in 10 minutes. Otherwise, they would have to vacuum her out. In the background, nurses set up the equipment “just in case”.
So there we were…me pushing with all my might…loudly… while Brian supported my legs (and tried to video!). I was determined…we made it this far, we were going to keep going…and so we did. Mila Soleil Bovino took her first breaths after 10 minutes of pushing! To be honest, the pushing was the BEST part! I felt so relieved to be done. And in my body, I could feel that I was moving her down and out of me, so there was no need to give into all of their fear inducing strategies. She came into my arms and I got to hold her for the first time while she was covered in all her birthy-gukiness and as her cord continued to pulse. Brian cut the cord eventually and we were in absolute heaven! She was amazing! Her skin was so incredibly soft and even with all the birthiness all over her, I really didn’t mind. I could not let her go. Even the placenta fascinated us as the midwife showed us where the cord was connected (marginally) and explained it all to us. It was beautiful! Brian finally insisted that he get to hold her after I think I had her for 45 minutes. Luckily and miraculously, I did not have any tears (possibly due to all of those squats and perineum stretching) but likely because of the time that I was allowed to take to let my body do what it needed to do. Having the information about what would happen, what could happen and the overall reduction of fear was so helpful for us. We are so grateful for the knowledge and support that Kelly provided to us and the work that we put in to the process. We would definitely do it all again! And maybe this time we would actually have her there with us!!
thank you SO much mama for sharing the beautiful birth story of your little lady! what a warrior you are. it is such an encouragement to me how much you trusted in your body and your ability to just simply keep moving forward. i may have taught the classes you attended, but YOU GUYS were the ones who actually put it all into practice! so proud of you three!
if you are interested in my birth classes, whether you are local to san diego or elsewhere: hooray! i teach group classes at Babies in Bloom Birth and Wellness Center, as well as have a pre-recorded online version of my class that you can watch from any where at any time- in your pajamas if you'd like! check out more info here.