Most of you may know that I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Naomi Moon Nicolet. She is already 6 weeks old as of this week and what better way to celebrate this milestone than by sharing my birth story with you.She was born a week early due to a pregnancy complication for which I needed to be induced. Regardless of this intervention, I’m blessed to be able to have had a natural, unmedicated birth.
I was diagnosed with gestational hypertension during my third trimester, which classified me as a high-risk pregnancy. During this time up until the birth of my daughter, I was in and out of the hospital for observation and testing. Although, there was no risk of preeclampsia, my doctor booked me for an induction around week 39 to eliminate possible risks to my delivery and more importantly, the baby.
Having this medical condition placed me under a lot of stress. Having no control over the situation made me incessantly worry about all the possible ‘what ifs’ in my head. I also feared my prenatal visits since it was always centered on my high blood pressure. But knowing that the baby was doing ok gave me the strength to deal with the situation. I remember telling myself that to stop feeling like a victim and be strong for my baby.
On the 2nd of April, a day before my last prenatal visit, I felt a sharp pain on the right side of my back, which I automatically assumed was a severe symptom of my high blood pressure. But Anthony and I decided not to rush to the emergency and wait until my prenatal visit the next morning. That same night too, I lost my mucus plug and had been experiencing Braxton Hicks. I’ve never experienced any practice contractions prior to this and I remember it feeling like period cramps, which was so manageable.
On my prenatal visit the next morning, my blood pressure was still elevated despite having upped my medication dosage. I told my doctor about the pain in my back and losing my mucus plug. She performed an internal examination and delightfully said that I was already 1cm dilated.
With all these developments, she said that we couldn’t afford to wait until my scheduled induction; I had to give birth that day. However, the priority was to get my blood pressure stabilized before we induced, otherwise, a C-section would be performed. Anthony and I had a feeling this would happen, so we had already packed our hospital bag since the drive to the hospital was 1.5 hours long from our house.
I was admitted right after my prenatal visit and was put under observation again for 24 hours. A CTG scan that measures the baby’s heart rate and monitors contractions was performed every 4 hours while my blood pressure was monitored at the same time. The scans showed irregular contractions and that the baby’s heart rate was stable. Despite hating the fact that I couldn’t labor at home, I was actually glad that we were in the hospital to closely monitor my baby’s heart rate.
Nothing much happened throughout the day. I was literally chilling in my room, watching TV, leafing through my Vogue magazine and even did my French homework. My family visited us in the afternoon. My mom spent her birthday at the hospital with us and we joked that it would be awesome if my baby were born on her birthday.
At around 7 in the evening, the contractions were a lot more painful than the period cramps I previously experienced. They were 5 minutes apart and a minute long. The nurse performed another CTG scan and this time around, the scan showed that the baby’s heart rate was getting faster, which is a sign that the baby is in distress. The on call doctor was called into the room to advise on the next steps.
Towards the end of my CTG scan, the baby’s heart went back to normal but the doctor stressed that I need to give birth that night. She’d do another internal examination to see if induction was a possibility depending on the nature of my cervix, otherwise, a C-section needed to be performed. Hearing the ‘C’ word made me give up hope for a natural birth and I was mentally preparing myself for that possibility. Anthony and my family stood by my side and told me there was still hope and that I should stay positive.
At around 8:30 PM, the doctor performed an internal examination and said I was 2cm dilated, which meant I could get an induction. It was such a relief to hear that. Then, it had suddenly registered to me I was going to give birth and I thought I was going to be scared but I felt calm and ready. Anthony and I had a moment to ourselves in the examination room and I looked at him with excitement. This was it; we were going to meet our baby girl soon.
The doctor administered the prostaglandin gel and said that it would start kicking in in about an hour. At 9:00 PM, I was wheeled back to my room to labor. The nurse on duty came in and Anthony and I both fell in love with her right away. She was incredibly caring, warm and supportive. She stayed with us for a while as she rubbed my back and even taught Anthony how to relieve the pressure in my lower back by firmly pressing down on my tailbone during contractions. She was even praised us for using the yoga mat and birthing ball.
The nurse left us alone to labor. I had been practicing hypnobirthing for months and I wanted to create a calming atmosphere so I could feel relaxed and breath through the contractions (or what hypnobirthing coined as ‘surges’). Anthony dimmed the lights, turned off the TV and put on my relaxation music and even sprayed lavender oil on my pillow.
Those few hours brought Anthony and I closer together. It’s one of those moments where we are so connected that I could feel his love and were giving each other the strength that we needed. No one and nothing else mattered at that time except the two of us.
Soon enough, my contractions were getting stronger and longer. They definitely were coming so close together and more aggressively due to the prostaglandin gel. I found myself curled into a ball, breathing louder and even moaning with every exhale. I forced myself to move around and planted myself on the yoga mat doing ‘cat and cow’ as Anthony continued to put pressure on my lower back as the contractions would peak. The pain was the most intense feeling ever but it was honestly bearable. What made it bearable were the breaks in between the contractions. I relaxed deeply during those breaks and was able to recharge even it was only a minute.
Suddenly, I felt a strong urge to go to the bathroom and told Anthony to call the nurse. The nurse came in and said that it was the baby pushing down. The sensation got stronger and I insisted that I really needed to pass stool and could not hold it any longer. She called the doctor to check me again.
At around 11:30, the doctor did another internal examination. She smiled and said ‘You’re 7cm dilated’ and I remember saying out loud ‘OMG, that is the best news ever and felt like crying!’. I was wheeled to the delivery room and a number of nurses (2 of my favorite nurses were there) came in to prep the room in mere seconds. Anthony held my hand and looked at me with such love and pride.
The nurse said to push whenever I felt the urge. It came as a surprise to me just how difficult it was to push properly. At first, I pushed clenching my mouth and even made grunting sounds with my throat and the nurse quickly corrected me and said I needed to push as if I was pooping (sorry!).
Strangely enough, I didn’t feel any contraction pain during the pushing phase. It may have been because I was able to channel and do something with the pain by pushing. But I was completely exhausted. I fell asleep in between my contractions and then woke up to push when I felt it peaking. I held Anthony’s hand and squeezed it with all my strength as I pushed. The doctor broke my water and soon after, I heard Anthony say ‘I can see her hair!’. My legs started shaking my favorite nurse held them and encouraged me to push harder. A surge of energy flooded my body and I focused my attention to the nurse’s voice as she coached me and cheered me with every push. I pushed with all of my might and after 2 pushes, the doctor pulled the baby out and I immediately felt a gush of relief, calm and silence (I was pushing for about 45 minutes).
Everything was such a blur after that. Anthony got to cut the umbilical cord and the baby was taken to the other room with my husband so they could check her. The room was suddenly very quiet as I delivered my placenta and then they stitched me closed (I had an episiotomy). Anthony then came back to the room sobbing as he carried Naomi to me. I immediately started crying when I took her in my arms. I finally got to meet and hold my baby girl and couldn’t believe she was here. And she was perfect.
We stayed at the hospital for another day and Naomi was with us in the room the entire time. It was such a strange feeling seeing my baby as she lay next to me in bed. I was finally able to put a face on the person that lived inside me for nine months. I was just staring at her the entire night. She looked so tiny and precious.
We got discharged the next day and I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital and be in the comfort of my home with Anthony and Naomi. The 1.5 hours ride back was the most peaceful experience ever. All my worries during my pregnancy washed away and I felt a great deal of hope and excitement to start a new chapter of my life with my new family. I remember crying in the car from joy as I looked at my husband and my daughter. We are a family now.
Naomi has kept me strong throughout my pregnancy, knowing that she was ok despite all of the ordeals I had to go through. I’m so proud to be her mom. I also fell in love with Anthony even more for being my rock. I love seeing him in his new role as a father and love the new family we have created together.
To our little Moon, bringing you into this world is my greatest fulfillment. I promise to love you, nurture you and to show you that anything is possible in this world.