April 26, 2014

The Birth of Naemi Joy - Part 2

Props to anyone who made it through the first half of the birth story and makes it through this second half. Because this is a birth story, some of the details in this half may be a little much for some, so just be forewarned! After all that I endured during our entire prenatal care and birthing time, there’s not much left I haven’t either experienced or had to talk about frankly with people I hardly know… which makes it a little difficult to remember what sorts of things might be uncomfortable to the general public.

So with that disclaimer, I’ll pick back up at Tuesday evening.

As mentioned in Part 1 of the story, Dave and I wanted to have as natural a birth as possible, and so we began inducing labor as naturally as possible.

First on the table was walking up and down the halls of the Labor & Delivery floor. The thought was that since I was already having pressure waves, walking might help the baby descend, making her head put pressure on my cervix and get me dilated more.

I wish I had a picture of myself during this time. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time, but I can’t imagine what a spectacle I must have been waddling up and down those halls in 2 hospital gowns (one for the front, one for the back), with my giant belly, big ole swollen legs (honestly, at this point they were literally about 3 times the size they normally are), and puffy red eyes from all the crying I’d done. Such a funny memory to me now.

Anyways, 2-3 hours of walking later and I was still no more than 1cm.

Our next option on the induction menu was to try a Foley balloon. If you don’t know what a Foley balloon is, it’s essentially a catheter that’s inserted into the cervix, then the tip is filled with water to inflate it like a balloon. So you’re left with this small balloon thing putting pressure on your cervix, causing it to dilate to 4cm (that’s how big the balloon is). Once you’re dilated 4cm it falls out.

Since we were close to midnight by that point, Dr. Chang said he’d put in the Foley balloon and let me rest until about 6am. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as rest when you are getting checked on and put on the baby monitor every hour throughout the night.

Wednesday morning, just 30 minutes before Dr. Chang came to check my dilation, the Foley balloon fell out. I was so excited! This meant progress! Dr. Chang checked me and confirmed that I was dilated to 4cm and effaced 25%.  Since I had made some measurable progress and was still having pressure waves, we decided I’d spend the day seeing if my labor would continue to move along naturally, with the help of more walking, bouncing on our birth ball, and the breast pump (since nipple stimulation causes the uterus to contract…. I told you this was a birth story!).

Dave and I really had hope that this was it—my birthing time would continue to progress and I’d shortly be pushing my baby out and seeing her for the first time.

Once again, things didn’t go as hoped.

By the afternoon I was still no further along. Our next option was to put me on Pitocin which would regulate and intensify my pressure waves.

Every intervention, even the natural ones scared me, but this one especially did. I was so convinced that the best way for Naemi to come was by giving her time to come on her own. I also hated the thought of forcing labor on my body—I’d so looked forward to our birthing time coming as a joyful surprise one day, and it being a time of quiet, private moments in our home.

The doctor swept my membranes and then the nurse started me on Pitocin that evening after dinner. At the nurse’s station they could monitor my pressure waves on a screen since at this point I was on the baby monitor 24/7. After a few hours of seeing that my pressure waves were still irregular they began bumping up the dosage every half hour.

Dave pulled his limp little cot next to my bed and we attempted to get some sleep for a few hours and let the Pitocin do its magic. We held hands as we lay next to each other, and that gave me strength to push through the night.
Here's a screen shot from the video Dave took of my pressure waves on the first round of Pitocin… sorry for the ghetto iPhone border lol.
By the morning I was having pretty regular pressure waves but I had a feeling that they weren’t really doing anything. Seeing as how I’d been able to get a couple hours of sleep, and even the stronger ones were pretty easy to relax through, I figured they probably weren’t strong enough to dilate me more and push baby down, and I was right.

We’d made it to Thursday morning and I was hardly any closer to having our baby. When Dr. Chang came in to check my progress and gave us the news that there wasn’t any, we knew we had only one option left before a C-section was inevitable. 

We agreed that I would go off Pitocin for a few hours (I’d been on it for 13 hours by now) to rest, eat, and shower, and then Dr. Chang would break my water and put me back on Pitocin for one last shot.

When your water breaks, you’re really on the clock at that point to get the baby delivered because of the risk of infection. Our doctor said he was comfortable for letting me go up to 18 hours after breaking my water (with close monitoring), but that if I hadn’t progressed after about 6 hours there really wasn’t any point in going any longer since we should be able to tell within that timeframe whether my body would take to the induction or not.

This was our breaking point. When everyone left the room I sobbed.

Again, everything we’d planned and hoped for was going out the door. I couldn’t believe we were at our last option before a C-section, and it scared me to know that I’d be on the clock as soon as my water was broken.

Even though the preeclampsia was a medical emergency, it was difficult to deal emotionally with the fact that we were being forced into so many things we’d prepared to not go through, as if everything were totally out of our control.

Dave was such a rock for me during this time. I can’t even put into words how much he did for me during those days. He held me, cried with me, told me how brave I was (despite me not feeling brave at ALL), and reminded me that no matter what was to come, we’d meet our sweet girl within a few more hours and this would all be over. He was with me every second through it all, advocating for me and fighting to make our birth plan a reality, and he was there even more when things didn’t go our way.

I remember praying a lot during our hospital stay. Praying that God would make my body take to the induction. Praying that our girl would be safe. Praying that my blood pressure would go down and I wouldn’t have preeclampsia anymore. I also prayed for God’s strength and grace to get through whatever was to come, and I think that’s where I saw God’s love and answered prayer the most.

We only let a few close friends and family members what we were going through at the time since we didn’t know how long it would be until I was in active labor and getting close to having Naemi. The encouragement we received from each person, though, was unbelievable. People praying for us, crying with us, and encouraging us.

We even received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from some family. I totally bawled when they came.
Pretty flowers from family.
When Thursday evening came, Dave sat by my side as they broke my water and started the Pitocin again. This time, the pressure waves came on quite strongly and very regularly. It was a weird sensation, too, to experience the pressure waves with my water broken. I could feel Naemi’s movements more sharply as the waves hugged her body.

Within a couple hours, the pressure waves were so strong that I began to really use my Hypnobabies training to focus my way through them and relax my body completely. My favorite position to be in was sitting on my birth ball and leaning over the side of the bed. It was the only way I could really get comfortable and be supported enough to let my body go completely limp and loose.

The awful thing was that as soon as I started using this position, the nurses rushed in because the baby’s heartbeat fell off the monitor and the machine was picking up my heartbeat instead (it made them think her heartbeat was dropping due to distress). We kept trying to find her heartbeat while I was on the birth ball but every time I’d lean forward the slightest bit, we’d lose it.

I was a little discouraged because every other position I’d try was miserable. For a little while I sat in the recliner in our room, but eventually I started having such intense back labor that it became too uncomfortable. My Hypnobabies training was still helping immensely, but being tied to the machines and not being able to labor as I wished distracted me a bit from being able to relax and concentrate.

The only thing that made this part of the day bearable was the thought that all of these birthing waves were getting me somewhere. The waves were so intense that I just knew I had to be well on my way to active labor. Thinking that the end was in sight gave me the strength to keep going. As long as this wasn’t for forever, I could do it.

At 8pm our doctor came in once again to check me. Everyone was so hopeful that I would be well dilated. Dr. Chang allowed me to remain standing for the internal exam, as opposed to laying flat on my back, since I’d expressed how uncomfortable my back was (I HIGHLY recommend doing internal exams this way if your doctor/midwife is willing… what a difference it made for me in comfort). Dave and our nurse supported me as Dr. Chang evaluated my progress, but as soon as I saw the look on Dr. Chang’s face, I knew it was over.

This was another, yet thankfully my last, breaking point. I was so deflated and discouraged and feeling at a loss for why my body wasn’t responding to the induction. Why had I just gone through 3 days of induction and 20 hours of Pitocin for nothing?

No one had to actually say it, but Dave and I knew that I was going to need a C-section that night. I wanted to have a conversation with our doctor before proceeding but was in so much discomfort that I could barely muster three words between pressure waves. The discouragement of still being only 4cm after all that left me with no ability to relax through the waves any longer, and that made them really hard to get through.

I also wanted time to process what I was about to go through. I needed to put to rest all the things I wouldn’t get to experience that I wanted so badly—to hold my daughter within her first seconds of life outside the womb, for Dave to help catch her, to let Naemi get those last few drops of good blood before cutting her cord, to let her see Mommy and smell her scent first. I wanted my daughter so badly in so many ways and it saddened my heart to think that it would be minutes before we’d even touch.

Eventually the nurse took me off Pitocin and the baby monitor and gave me something to relax my uterus to slow down the pressure waves. Even after the medicine took effect, my body was still having waves every 3-4 minutes and they were lasting 30-45 seconds long. I was only able to get in a couple questions between waves so finally I just gave my consent for the C-section. I knew that until I got the spinal block the pressure waves would just continue.

They dressed me up and wheeled me away. I wanted to cry when they told me Dave couldn’t be with me while I was getting prepped for surgery, but my exhaustion must have numbed me too much to shed any tears. This, of all things, was the scariest part for me. Surgery, a needle in the spine, and I had to be awake through it all. And all without Dave?

Somehow the Lord brought me through this time. Part of the strength I received was from the kind nurse that held my shoulders during the spinal block and from the funny anesthesiologist that took extra care to make sure I was comfortable. I kept my eyes closed through everything until Dave finally was allowed in the operating room. I was laying on the table with a curtain blocking my view of the surgery and there Dave was, at my side and holding my hand.

Finally, a peace came over me and I knew we were at the end. I couldn’t feel pain any longer and there were no more difficult decisions to make. Our girl would be out of my belly soon and into our arms.

At last, I heard that beautiful sound. When Naemi came out, she let out a short, soft cry and I asked the room, “Is that her?”.  Immediately after that is when all the nurses exclaimed how big she was! I was so happy to hear that I had such a big baby. They all started making bets on how much she’d weigh—everyone guessed at least 9 pounds. I couldn't believe it when they weighed her and said she was 10 lbs. 1 oz!!

Dave went over to be with her to cut the cord and help dry her off. In our birth plan, part of our wishes was to use our own blankets to dry her, and also not to give her a bath right away (just to wipe her down initially instead). Dr. Chang was happy to accommodate these wishes, which meant so much to us, and he made sure as soon as Naemi was dry that they brought her over to me and laid her on my chest for some skin-on-skin time. Those moments are such precious memories to me.

So here ends the birth story and begins the story of Naemi’s life outside my tummy. Our daughter brought us so much joy in the womb and has continued to even more since she came into the world on April 4.

I know now that Naemi was supposed to come in to the world in her own special way, even if it wasn’t the way I hoped for. There are so many more details I could tell about her birth, the moments after, and those three days in the hospital, but I’d be writing for days. The important thing is that she’s here now, and I would do every bit over again for her.
Getting dried off and wrapped up.

Our first meeting. She was so calm and looked right at me!

Skin-on-skin time with mama.

Our first family photo.

After one of our first feedings.

Dave mastered the swaddle during our hospital stay.
I still can't get over what a cute little taquito she makes.

The most beautiful thing I've ever seen.


  1. Congratulations on your precious, beautiful baby girl! What an intense labor and delivery! Judy, you were amazing. You and Dave make such a great team :) And glory to God for helping you guys through and giving y'all the grace you needed to handle everything so well. Birthing a baby is no joke! Daniel and I are super excited for you both! So happy for you guys that you now have your prize :D

  2. We don't really know each other but tears come to my eyes reading this. I can relate to alot of what you went through although our stories have several differences. Wish I could sit and talk with you about it all! Just want to say thanks for sharing.