A Birth Story: Zoey Rhys

Definitely shooting for the worlds longest, most detailed birth story. I think I nailed it. 

Carsen's pregnancy and the time after he was born was extremely difficult for me. Not only was I extremely sick for months, but I experienced antepartum anxiety and depression (which I wasn't aware was even a thing) that started immediately after becoming pregnant. In fact, I remember wondering if I could be pregnant because the shift in my mental state was so sudden and far off from "me" that I couldn't make sense of what was going on with any other explanation. After he was born, it morphed into Postpartum Depression and I was left feeling pretty broken. 

When Carsen was about 8 months old, thanks to a wonderful therapist and a newly found daily meditation practice, the numbness, overwhelm, and anger began to fade and I finally began to feel like "me" again. But still the thought of having another child and opening myself up to another traumatic pregnancy was more than I felt capable of. 

Two years ago, almost exactly, I attended an all-day yoga and meditation retreat with my parents and sisters. While participating in one of the guided relaxation portions of the day I had a beautiful and powerful experience that told me we would have another daughter, and that she was "ready when I was." Though it was a relatively quick experience, I had a sense of what this child's personality was like and how ready and prepared she was to come here to our family. She had a job to do, and she was anxious to do it. And even though it was no longer on my list of "potential baby names," I wasn't able to get the name Zoey out of my head. 

The biggest blessing from that whole experience was it left me feeling healed from how broken I was after the last pregnancy. I didn't know when we would be ready, but I finally felt peace knowing I could do it again. 

Fast forward to May of 2016 with me staring at a positive pregnancy test and Jake lovingly asking me to smother him with a pillow. It might have taken a little (long) while for the whole idea of a third baby to really, actually, sink in. 
The pregnancy was hard. Trying to put it into words probably wouldn't do it justice. It's hard to know how to describe what it is like to be that sick for that long to someone who has not experienced it without seeming dramatic. But it pushed me physically, mentally, and emotionally much more than was comfortable. My SPD flared up about halfway through and by the end I was limping around regularly, and in quite a lot of pain wherever I went and whatever I did. 

As I entered the last month, I thought surely this baby would come early. I hit the wall of being *done* early on in December and figured that must mean things were happening sooner than later. Since we had decided early on to keep the gender a surprise, we tried to prepare the best we could, but there were a lot of things that were left up to "we will just have to see when he or she gets here." And for a planner like myself, it started to make me a little crazy. The experience with knowing a daughter was coming to our family was also weighing heavily on me because, although I felt like I was carrying a girl, I couldn't know for sure. And doubts started to creep in leaving me feeling confused and worried. I would love another son. Having Carsen and getting to experience raising a boy has been so much fun. And giving him a brother would make me SO happy. But if this baby was a boy, that would mean I would have to be pregnant again in order to get our girl here, and that was more than I could handle. I feel ungrateful saying that; I can have kids. My body can get pregnant! That is such an incredible gift I will never take for granted. But pregnancy is so extremely difficult for my body and I didn't know if I could physically or mentally go through that again. But there was nothing left to do but wait, so that's what we did. We waited. 
39 weeks pregnant

January 9th was my due date and I woke up feeling no different than any other day, except for a sore throat and what felt like the beginning of a cold. I had some contractions, but they were the same as the ones I had been having regularly for months. I went to my 40 week appointment and found I had not progressed more than where I had been two weeks prior. Mentally at that point I was only able to handle a day at a time, so I made my 41 week appointment and prepared myself for another day. As I left my midwife cheerfully said "good luck! You can do this! Sometimes when I tell people I'm on call for the next day they go into labor, so, I'm on call tomorrow! Maybe I will see you!" 

I went to pick up the kids from my moms and ended up laying down to take a nap. I was feeling completely exhausted and decided it was okay I wasn't in labor because I probably needed a couple days to rest and hope my cold didn't progress. Later that evening while dropping off/picking out new library books (because even being 40 weeks pregnant can't stop our love/obsession with the library and my attempts to check out the entire library in one visit), I noticed my contractions felt more in my back (my body's favorite little form of labor) and a little more intense. As the evening went on, so did the contractions, but I tried not to time them or pay much attention. I refused to get my hopes up when I knew this could continue for days. Before going to bed I went to the bathroom and noticed I had lost my mucus plug (TMI, sorry), and a small hope snuck in that maybe this would turn into something. 

From about 10:00 on, and all through the night, I realized this probably was "something." Though the contractions were not getting closer together (they were between 10-15 minutes), they were becoming extremely intense. I couldn't take them laying down, so I would roll out of bed when I felt one starting (also very difficult thanks to my SPD friend) and lean over my nightstand while breathing and rocking side to side. Then crawl back in bed and rest for another 10 or 15 minutes before starting the process over. This continued for the rest of the night, with some a little closer and some a little farther apart.

When I looked at my phone and saw that it was finally 6:00 am I felt relieved - I had made it through the night. I didn't want to have to wake everyone up in the middle of the night if I didn't have to, and I was grateful it was finally morning. I went downstairs and tried to work through the contractions where I had a little more room. When I was sitting they were still 8-10 minutes apart. But if I was standing they were about 3 minutes. I had been really lightheaded and nauseas for a few hours and it made it difficult to stand through the contractions. I finally called the midwife on call and she mentioned I might just be dehydrated, and since I was GBS positive I might as well come in just to see where things were at and possibly get an iv. I had been dilated to a 2 the day before so I figured not much had changed. Despite how incredibly difficult and intense each contraction was (still all back labor) I had convinced myself they weren't close enough together to have made much progress. My mom came over to stay with the kids and I somehow managed to get myself to the car, and then survive that car ride to the hospital. 

Side note: someone really needs to invent a new way to get laboring women to the hospital. Contractions inside a car really is one of the worst ideas anyone's ever had. 

Once we were in triage I couldn't handle more than breathing through each contraction and so I left Jake to answer all the questions. I kind of go inside my own head during each wave, and stay completely silent besides how hard I breathe. It's not a conscious choice, my body just doesn't know any other way to labor. I think because of that they assumed I wasn't much farther than the 2 I had been at the day before. When the midwife checked me and found out I was a 6 they all picked up speed pretty fast. They were worried I was progressing quick (especially since this was my third) and I still needed at least one round of antibiotics for the GBS. They got me to a room and started hooking me up. The nurse talked to me about options for laboring but I already knew I wanted an epidural. I have always really wanted a completely natural childbirth, and I still would have really loved to experience that. But in that moment I had nothing to prove. I realized it was probably the pain and intensity of the back labor causing the nausea and dizziness and I just wanted some relief. And getting the epidural was one of the greatest decisions. I was so numb and so happy. It slowed my labor down but I was in no hurry. I was so content to lay there numbly, resting away the last hours of my pregnancy. After a while I started feeling some pressure with each contraction and I practiced pushing on my own with each one. Every contraction I would feel the baby slip down, the heart rate monitor becoming quiet as the baby moved down, and then come back up as the baby moved back once the contraction had ended. My mom and sister kept mentioning I should get checked, but I didn't know if I was really ready for it. Ready to bring this baby into the world. Ready for real life with 3 kids to fully begin. Ready to finally learn whether our daughter was here or if I would have to go through this once more. I'm positive if I had gone without the epidural my labor would have gone much quicker, but I was grateful for the extra time to mentally process what was about to happen.  
Eventually they checked me and I was at a 10 and ready to go. From there I swear it all took no more than 5 minutes. It was obviously more, but it felt so fast. Jake stood by my head, and my mom and nurse helped to hold up each leg. I pushed 3 total pushes during that contraction but didn't feel much happening. The midwife explained her job was to catch the baby and it was Jake's job to announce the gender. Another contraction came and I pushed 3 rounds before it ended. And then all of the sudden the baby was crowning and all I did was breathe and the baby sort of flopped out. Just like that, It was all over. 
I heard Jake's voice say "it's a girl!" And relief flooded my whole body. She was here and I didn't care about anything else going on in that room. They placed her purple little body up onto mine and I held her for the first time. For the shortest few seconds she locked eyes with me and I knew that she knew me and that I knew her. This was my Zoey, and she was completely aware of everything that was happening.
Details after that moment are a bit mixed together. 8 lbs 1 oz, 19.5 inches long. Her siblings met her and adored her at once (Hadley's face *almost* fell when she saw it was a girl because she really wanted a point for guessing boy on our family guessing chart, but that lasted all of one second before her face lit up in a huge grin). She latched on right away and nursed like a champ. Everything could not have gone more smoothly or perfectly. 
Later that day we finally decided on her name: Zoey Rhys. Zoey because she kind of chose it herself. And Rhys because after serving a mission in Wales, the name had always been one of jakes favorites and I finally convinced him to use it for a girl instead of a boy. The name Zoey means "life," and Rhys means "enthusiasm," and that just feels so perfectly right
We couldn't be more happy to have her here in our family. I'd go as far to say that we are all a little obsessed with her. Its amazing how one minute they are not there, and the next you are sure they always were. I think she's been more apart of things than we realized for the past while, and it just feels good to finally have her here with us. 
We love you Zoey girl, thanks a million times over for choosing us. 


chelsea wilkes said...

Awe, I love birth stories!! She's perfect!! Congrats!����

Kayla Clark said...

just randomly had down time and work and decided to read this, BAD IDEA!!! trying to hide my tears from co-workers haha. dani you are such an incredible person and such an inspirational mom and your strength consistently leaves me in awe.