Penelope's Birth Story
Penelope Claire came a day late but she flew into our lives so fast that night; my full labor in total being about two and a half hours (which is so crazy compared to Ollie's 26 hour labor)!
My due date was July 17th, 2017, and Ollie and I were having the best summer together. He had just turned one in May, and I was embracing every last second with him as my only child. Ollie is an active little man and I'm generally a pretty active person myself, and my end-of-pregnancy period wasn't much different. We were always doing something, from going to the pool to the zoo to walking around our neighborhood and local parks. Mostly we were at the pool, though, since it gave my giant belly a break from gravity! Haha. I have always loved the water but I think I might love it even more when I'm pregnant- it feels so amazing!
I had an appointment with my OB on my due date, which was a Monday. Around a week before she was due, I was starting to get super uncomfortable and was really just waiting for her to come out. My OB found that I had high blood pressure and protein in my urine for the second week in a row, which meant I was beginning to get pre-eclamptic. I have always been terrified of being induced, so my OB took that into consideration and said we could wait for a few days and see if she came on her own. But I had to be really careful and relax (like what is that?!), and I had to notify her if I felt different or off or if I just didn’t feel well. Honestly I wasn’t much into relaxing at that point and it threw me for a loop that I had to lay around and chill. The whole next day I just remember feeling so dizzy and sick, and I wondered if I had been feeling that way toward the end and was just ignoring it because sometimes I can just ignore the way I feel and keep pushing through. Anyway, I called my doctor, and she had me come in to get a blood pressure check. I brought my bag, secretly hoping that I would be meeting our daughter soon.
Adam and I got to my doctors and my BP was the same, and my doctor said I could wait until Thursday like the original plan or we could go in and break my water today (it was Tuesday) to try and get labor started. I just looked at her and asked, what would you do? If it were up to you? She said she’d do that, break my water that day; because of the pre-eclampsia it was the safest thing to do. Immediately I felt so relieved, and I knew that was the right thing to do. I was still so scared to have to get Pitocin because I strive to do my labors naturally, but I was just thinking about meeting our baby girl and hoping it wouldn't come to that.
So, Adam and I headed to the hospital and I started getting treatment for Strep B (just antibiotics; I’ve had that with both pregnancies). My mom and sister came up to be with me for the birth, and my dad and step mom stayed at our house to be there with Ollie. One of the things I was SO worried about was leaving Ollie overnight for the first time, and ended up being totally fine! I am so grateful for the help we get from family. Once my mom and sister were there, we waited for my doctor to come to break my water. I swear, at this point it’s all a blur. I remember being so nervous, and it took me a few minutes to give her the go ahead to break it, but once that happened, oh my gosh did things escalate quickly! At first everything was just progressing normally, I was starting to get contractions here and there and they were definitely manageable. Then they SO quickly started to pick up, and all I remember is rolling on the big exercise ball at the end of the bed, leaning on Adam and staring at his blue flannel pajama pants, being in so much pain and having the most impossible time trying to be comfortable through the contractions (and wondering why Adam was wearing ugly pajamas while I was in excruciating, birth-giving pain haha!!!). My sister brought my phone over to me, because I had some affirmations on it (I would strongly recommend these to any woman who is pregnant or going into labor). I read them every day for the weeks leading up until labor and they really make you feel strong and empowered. So I sat there, at the end of the bed, rocking on the ball and reading those affirmations over and over. Even though they were so positive and said everything about how you are strong and you can do it, I felt like I couldn’t! I just kept remembering Ollie’s birth and how much pain it was, and how much this one hurt already and I was only an hour or so in. I feared that it would only get way worse and I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain.
Every contraction was getting considerably worse. I remember a nurse checking me for dilation and saying that I still had a ways to go, and I just about freaked out. I couldn’t imagine the pain getting much worse. I couldn’t get comfortable and was going from rolling around in the bed in pain to sitting at the end of the bed and finally, I felt such a strong urge to go to the bathroom. One of the nurses walked me in there and I told her it felt like I needed to poop really bad, haha. She was like, “don’t do that! We need to get you back to the bed!!” So my doctor came in, I was fully dilated, and it was time to push! I was TERRIFIED! Pushing Ollie out was one of the hardest things I have ever done (his head was huge and was kind of stuck! I wrote about that here), and I was just not ready! But I had to push anyway, and I pushed and pushed and pushed through the pain, and Poppy literally came flying out in my first round of pushing! I will never forget that feeling. Getting through the worst pain of my life, and then the sensation of my daughter coming into the world and being able to feel every single aspect of it. It was so beautiful. So incredible. I was crying tears of joy, staring at her in complete awe. They brought her to my chest, she immediately latched and nursed for almost an hour. I just stared at her the entire time. This moment was all I wanted. With Ollie, the pushing was very difficult and he had some complications after being born so they had to take him from me right away. All I wanted was a healthy baby, to be able to hold her and nurse her and stare at her right after she was born. And that happened, and I will never, ever forget it. Staring at her nursing on my chest right after birth. It was incredible. My gratitude is boundless.
Eventually I had to stop nursing her so they could get her weight and height, but I didn’t want to let her go even for a second.
Penelope Claire Holt, born at 11:35 pm on July 18th, 2017. 8 lbs, 6 oz and 21 inches of pure magic. Two hours and twenty minutes of natural labor. I’d do it all over again, every single day, for the tiny little light of my life.