• Ashley Gunn

Pearl's Birth Story

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

I'll never forget looking down at the bathroom sink with all of the pregnancy tests lined up in a row. Pregnant, pregnant, pregnant. For years I had said I never wanted children. I didn't feel like a natural "mother". When I met Olen, everything changed for me. I really wanted a family with him. Not only was he an amazing partner to me, but I knew he would be an amazing father too. We started trying pretty soon after we were engaged and we were extremely lucky to get pregnant almost immediately. We were using an app called P Tracker that monitors when your period begins and ends each month, and gives you a window of when you are most likely to be ovulating- and it actually worked!

My due date was August 11th, and the last few days leading up to it were the longest and hardest of them all. I bounced on a ball, walked as much as possible, and ate ALL the spicy foods I could find. I felt larger than life, swollen, and everything hurt. My insomnia was through the roof and I was just ready to meet my baby. I would find out later that absolutely nothing could really prepare me for the moment I actually met her. No baby class, book, blog post, or YouTube video prepared me for the complete and utter shock I felt when they placed her on my chest.

August 14th, 2019 would not only be the day Pearl was born, but also the day I was "born" as a mother. My due date had come and gone, and I had been only 1 cm dilated for at least two weeks at that point. We had a plan to induce labor on Monday August 12th, if I didn't go into labor naturally over the weekend. I had some contractions on Friday morning and I honestly thought I would go into labor on my own. My blood pressure had been creeping up higher and higher over the last few days so I was feeling a bit nervous to wait too much longer, and my family had flown in from Germany so the pressure was on!

I didn't have any more contractions after the ones I had on Friday morning, so Olen and I grabbed our bags and were on our way to labor and delivery at the hospital Monday evening. The hospital I chose had a brand new maternity ward and is connected to my doctors office. This was so convenient because our midwife was able to walk over throughout my labor and check on me. My last meal was a quesadilla from Taco Bell on the way there- don't judge! I was extremely pregnant and the body wants what the body wants. We arrived at the hospital around 5:00 p.m. and registered. They took us up to labor and delivery, which felt very surreal. I had to get in my hospital gown, get hooked up to the monitors, and go over everything with the nurses. At 8 pm that night they gave me my first dose of Cytotec (misoprostol) and within two hours my contractions started. I was amazed! It felt like it was finally happening- little did I know I wouldn't meet my baby until Wednesday morning. My family came to visit briefly on Monday night which made me feel a lot more calm about what was going to happen. It honestly still did not feel real. They left and I was soon moved into the labor and delivery room. My contractions progressed, and I continued to dilate. Around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning I felt some liquid coming out of me. I shifted in the bed to get a better look and it turned into a gush. The nurse came in and confirmed that it was my water that broke. I attempted to go to the bathroom and clean myself up, and it continued to gush the entire way to the bathroom. Poor Olen was trying to run behind me and clean it up. It was a hot mess. Literally.

They had stopped giving me any medication because I was progressing on my own, and my water had broken. Eventually I stopped dilating around 6 cm, and they decided to continue on and give me Pitocin. I started vomiting and crying from the contractions, so I ended up asking for an epidural. I had hoped to avoid an epidural, but when asked what my "birth plan" was during registration I said "Go with the flow, and do whatever I need to do to have this baby." I personally think if you put too much pressure on yourself to have this perfect birth plan that you stick to, you may end up feeling disappointed and being too hard on yourself when things change in the moment. That is just my opinion though, and I think it is a great idea to educate yourself on all of the possibilities that can happen during labor. My family had been in and out throughout the day on Tuesday, including my mom and dad, and Olen's mom. I had a lot of support throughout my labor and it felt so good to have family cheering me on. It was so sweet to have my sister, niece and nephew, who had flown in from Germany be there as well. Luckily they brought some UNO cards and we got to play my favorite game for a little and get my mind off all the things I was feeling.

The epidural was interesting, to say the least. My back is heavily tattooed so I have definitely experienced pain in my back before, but this needle quite a different sensation. Once it became pretty numb it just felt like lots of weird pushing and tugging. I did have one leg become much more numb than the other afterwards. I could still feel the contractions to some degree, but they were much more tolerable. The delivery cart had been sitting in the back of the room all day, directly across from me, taunting me almost. I knew that it would be "go time" sooner or later. There was a little warming table for the baby just waiting there. It had a swaddle, a hat, and a tiny diaper ready for Pearl when she arrived. The midwife checked me again, and I was almost at 10 cm. She left for a bit, and when she came back she was in her scrubs, and brought a nurse with her. She said, "Are you ready to have a baby?" I was totally shocked, even though I knew I was there to have a baby. My family was surprised too, but they gathered up their things and headed out to the waiting room. I had only wanted Olen in the room for the actual delivery. She brought the delivery cart over, and Olen and the nurse each took one of my legs and helped me since one of my legs was very numb. The other leg I still had control over.

I started pushing at 9:00 p.m. with the midwife guiding me, Olen on my left, and a nurse on my right. These next few hours were an absolute blur for me. All I could focus on was pushing, trying to remember to breathe, and pushing again. Even with all the bright lights on me, I could see the reflection of myself laying on the bed in the black screen of the television behind her. I could see everything. I felt like I had been pushing forever and I felt my body getting tired. I couldn't see her head or what felt like any progress in the reflection. I started to feel more and more defeated. I felt like I was pushing incorrectly. It really felt impossible. The midwife decided to leave for a few minutes, and to give me a little time to gather my strength, progress a little further, and take a few breaths. When she came back it it was time to have this baby. Now or never. They had turned my epidural down and I could feel the contractions more accurately. Pearl's head was stuck on my pelvic bone. I couldn't push her past where she was stuck. The midwife stepped back and looked at her watch and said that I had been pushing for several hours, and she had a worried look. At this point I really thought she was going to tell me it was time for a c-section. I do think she was considering it at this point. I had prepared myself for the possibility of a c-section, emotionally and mentally, if it came to it I knew I would do whatever it took to get this baby here safely. She asked if I had it in me to push some more, and I'm not sure where I gathered the strength but I went into what I refer to as beast mode. I was pushing completely different all of a sudden. The nurse, the midwife, and Olen were all pretty much cheering me on together. I could feel something was happening. This was it. They could see her head! They told me she had beautiful hair. It felt like I was pushing with my entire body. I just kept thinking that I knew I could do this. I needed to do this. I could feel her head coming out, and then with another intense push Pearl's entire body came out in what felt like one fluid motion. It was 12:36 a.m. on Wednesday, August 14th when she joined us.

This part specifically was a blur. I heard her make some cries. I have never felt relief like that in my life. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. She was here. I kept saying out loud, "I did it! I did it." It was the most insane, euphoric moment of my life. They placed her on my chest and she did not even look real. Olen cut her umbilical cord. Her body was swollen, her head had some marks on it from where it had hit my pelvic bone repeatedly. She was totally and utterly beautiful. Her little hands. Her little toes. She was perfection. They whisked her away to the little warming table to check her out, and clean her up a bit.

I was bleeding a lot, and it didn't stop for what felt like forever. I lost a lot of blood. I didn't tear straight down like I had imagined, I kind of had little tears all over in all directions. They couldn't stitch me up fast enough it seemed. I was shaking uncontrollably. I felt freezing and in total shock. They were wrapping me up in blankets with just my head poking out, and of course from the waist down I was still exposed. The midwife called for a doctor and more nurses. There was an entire team of people working on me. I could see Olen's face across the room, he was holding Pearl. I started to feel really, really scared and really confused. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't get to hold Pearl again for what felt like hours. Once they finished getting me stitched up, and the bleeding slowed they had me all packaged up, covered up, and on ice packs. Eventually I was stable enough to hold her again. She was able to latch and start nursing, although we definitely struggled at first!

In the end, all I can say is the human body is amazing. What I was able to do is amazing. I grew a human, and gave birth to her. I never could imagine in a million years what it would be like to give birth- to create such a beautiful little human! I thank God that I was able to do so, and that we are both happy and healthy. It is absolutely the most awesome thing I have ever done in my life. My daughter was born at 12:36 a.m. on Wednesday, August 14th, 2019. She was 8 lbs 8 oz and 21 inches long, and completely stole our hearts the moment she arrived.

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