April 16, 2014

The Birth of Naemi Joy - Part 1

Naemi Joy was born at 12:04am on April 4, 2014. She weighed 10 lbs and 1 oz and was 21.5 inches long.

Due to the longevity of her birth story, I’m breaking it up in parts. It’s a deeply personal story and one that I find a lot of joy in.

I hope it’s an encouragement particularly to other moms- and dads-to-be. I’m choosing to share all the difficult emotions I experienced throughout Naemi’s birthing time, both to help me process through it and also to be transparent with our readers. This first part may seem bleak, but I promise the end of the story is so good.


It all started the Friday before.

I went in for a routine check-up, fully expecting it to be yet another quick “How are you doing? Any concerns? Great, see you when you go into labor!” appointment.

Unfortunately, things were different that day.

Since my last appointment, my blood pressure had risen, I’d put on a significant amount of weight in a week’s time, and there was protein in my urine. Not good signs—ones that typically point to preeclampsia.

For the first time in 9 months of prenatal care my doctor had shown his first bit of concern for the pregnancy. We left LA and began our drive home feeling pretty discouraged. Just the week before Dr. Chang had called us a “textbook pregnancy”, so what was this now, at 39.5  weeks pregnant?

Over the weekend I made sure to eat really well, keeping my salt intake low, tried to be as mobile as possible, and guzzled water like there was no tomorrow. Dave and I prayed a lot, and he did everything he could to reassure me that everything was fine and help me stay relaxed and calm until our following appointment. We even tried a few natural induction methods over the weekend to see if my labor could get started so we could avoid a possible induction.

That Tuesday (4 days later) we packed up our car with all our birthing and hospital essentials, just in case, and headed to see our doctor. We really had no serious suspicion that we wouldn’t return home without a baby. But thank goodness we brought everything!

When I checked in for the appointment, I knew as soon as they took my blood pressure. It was over the “high” mark, and I had put on another 4 pounds in 4 days. The sweet nurses ushered Dave and me into a back room that we’d never been in before. I knew then for sure what was going on. I had all the right signs of preeclampsia.

Holding back tears as long as I could, Dave and I muddled through a conversation with our doctor about the need to induce me immediately if my blood tested positive for preeclampsia. He told us we needed to head straight to the hospital, they’d put me in triage first and do the blood work, and if it was positive I’d be admitted and have to be induced.

I knew preeclampsia was serious—it’s something that can only be cured by delivering the baby, and it can progress rapidly into eclampsia, putting me at risk for a lot of things including seizures. There’s a lot I could write about the mix of emotions just surrounding having preeclampsia—wondering if I could have prevented it, if it was my fault, feeling a sort of separation between what was going on with my body (or what it was about to have to go through) and taking care of my baby (the two felt so disconnected for some reason)—but we’ll save that for another day.

Dave and I made our way back to the car and drove quietly to the hospital. When the car was in park, that’s when I lost it. I was angry that my body wasn’t cooperating, and I was so disappointed at the thought of being induced. I was so close to my guess date that if only I could buy myself a little more time, Naemi would come on her own.

We had planned for a beautiful, quiet, natural birth for many months. We took Hypnobabies classes where I learned to deeply relax, concentrate, and use self-hypnosis to create “hypno-anesthesia” (rather than having an epidural). We had music and lighting planned, brownies and extra copies of our birth plan for the nurses, and I’d been practicing different labor positions on my birth ball so I could be as comfortable as possible.

What made the thought of induction so scary to me was that I knew things would be out of my control. I’d have to be hooked up to an IV (which I’d been planning to forgo at the hospital), I’d have to spend more time on the baby monitor (which meant less mobility), I’d be subjecting myself to different induction drugs that had the potential to cause complications (thus needing more interventions). It was just all around disappointing to me, and thinking about being hooked up to machines and consequently tied to a bed (or at least the 2 foot circumference around it) made me sad and also worried about how I’d get through a natural birth with all the adjustments. There was also fear that my body wouldn’t take the induction and I’d end up with a c-section.

Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown LA
We stayed in the car for a good 20 minutes and I just cried. Dave sat there and listened to me verbalize all my fears and sadness. I didn’t feel brave at all in that moment. In fact, it was only because of Dave that I had the courage to walk through those hospital doors.

Looking back now, I wish the me today could have had a conversation with the me that day. I already loved and cared so deeply for Naemi, and Dave and I had made a lot of effort to bond with her in the womb, but in some ways I think I lost sight of the end prize. If I could have just told myself what joy this little person would bring us I might have had a bit better perspective. But I guess that’s what hormones, third-trimester exhaustion, and worry/fear can do to you.

Once I got set up in triage, it was time to do the blood work to confirm the preeclampsia and also to give me a saline lock in case I needed to be admitted (since I’d need an IV in that case). Let me just say, if I didn’t know it already, half the hospital staff confirmed that I have the world’s worst veins. It took over 2 hours, 5 nurses, and the anesthesiologist to complete the task. I’m not exactly sure how many times I got poked—sometimes the nurses would try one spot, fish around for the vein and when they were unsuccessful they’d let another nurse try to find it before finally moving on to another part of my arm. Eventually though, we landed on one good vein in the inside of my elbow (which was unfortunately on my right arm), thus partially immobilizing it.

On another side note, I have to credit my Hypnobabies classes for getting me through this part of the day. As miserable of an experience as it was, I was really able to lean on my training to relax and concentrate through the time and say to myself some of the cue words we’d learned that help you feel more comfortable. That alone made the 6 weeks of classes worth it!

My doctor came in just before the end of the blood work/saline lock extravaganza and upon seeing my blood pressure readings and pressure waves on the monitor during those 2 hours, he said he really didn’t even need to wait for the labs to come back to confirm the preeclampsia, so I was admitted.

View from our L&D room-- you can see the Hollywood sign
in the distance!
Getting to our Labor & Delivery room was actually quite a relief. I forgot to mention how terrified I am (was) of needles, so having that whole portion of the day over with was wonderful. I was pleasantly surprised, too, at how nice our delivery room was! We had a beautiful view of downtown LA on one side, and we could see the Hollywood sign from another window. The lights were dimmable, we had access to all sorts of media equipment to play our music and Hypnobabies relaxation tracks, and we were at the end of the hall, furthest away from some more vocal mothers-to-be.

At this point, it was about 8pm on Tuesday night and time to discuss induction with our doctor. Dr. Chang knew how much we wanted a natural birth and he’d reviewed our birth plan again that day, so since I was at the hospital and could be closely monitored, we agreed to start inducing as slowly/naturally as possible. The first thing on the table was walking up and down the halls for a few hours. Since I was already having pressure waves, but only dilated 1cm, we thought we’d try to see if that would help me progress some.

And so kicked off the next 2 days.


  1. You are one amazing mama! I am eager to read the rest of your birth story. My birth didn't go quite as imagined either, but it did have an amazing ending. If you are interested I wrote it up on our blog http://jamshleyplusone.blogspot.com/. You are right though, the end prize is so worth it-but hard to remember that in the throes of things! xo