The thought of giving birth for the second time petrified me. I had such a traumatic birth experience with Ji and I did not want to relive that. Each time I walked into my doctor’s office I would get anxiety attacks and my blood pressure would go up. This baby had to come out one way or another so I had to take control of my birth experience in order to be able to make informed decisions when the time came. Basically, I didn’t want to be on the verge of dying again and I didn’t want to stress about it for the next 9 months.
This is Dahlia’s birth story.
At 20 weeks, I decided to change doctors. I did a lot of research and found Dr. Mitri in Pasadena. The minute I walked out of his office it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I know that’s a saying a lot of people use but I really felt it. I was in such a good mood for the rest of the day. He assured me that he would take good care of me and that he supported my decision to have a natural unmedicated labor, that he would not use unnecessary interventions and that he would not push induction on me if I were to go over my due date. More on that later…
Another way I became proactive about my labor experience is by hiring a doula. A doula offers emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. I met with a few and decided to hire Raquel Lemus. It’s so funny how things work because I had met her during my search (not knowing that she was a doula) and mentioned to my husband that I wished I would have asked if she was. I loved her vibes! She was highly recommended by a mom in my L.A Mamacitas group, she lived close by, and also she teaches yoga at the studio that I frequent. She was meant to be! I knew that having her by my side was a good decision and it gave me peace of mind. My husband, Dr. Mitri and Raquel made up my support team.
They say that with your second child you feel their movement a lot earlier in the pregnancy. She never stopped moving. I could feel her move even when I was very active. I also had braxton-hicks ALL THE TIME. They started at 20 weeks just like with Ji. Because of those two reasons I swore she would be here by the time I hit 38 weeks. Wrong! She was late just like her big sister. I walked, I went up and down stairs, I did squats, I jumped, I danced. Nada. My braxton- hicks were stronger and longer but still no baby. My due date came and went and I thought she was never going to come out. Perhaps it was because I kept asking her to wait until a Thursday rolled around to go into labor. Yes, I talked to her and asked her to come any day between Thursday and Sunday. My husband was in school and her due date was right around finals and I didn’t want him to miss any of them.
At 40 weeks I went to my Dr’ss apt and it was just like any other. There was no mention of induction. All the doctor said was come back next week to do an ultrasound to make sure the baby still has enough fluid and we will also do a nonstress test to see how she reacts to it. The next week came and all was good. Her fluid levels were fine and all the non-stress test did was show my Braxton-hicks every five minutes (the nurse read them as contractions-so I guess they were contractions?) but other than that she was not ready to be born so off we went. The doctor still didn’t mention anything about induction! I was to come back at the end of the week for more tests to make sure the baby was ok.
2 days later…
Well, let me brag about how my kids are so obedient! On Thursday, December 15th after my husbands last final we decided to take one last walk. It was going to be raining a lot all weekend. We went around the neighborhood for about 15 minutes but then it started to rain. I had been craving pineapple since my due date and my friend suggested that it helps bring labor on so I gave that a try. After the pineapple snack, we had a light dinner and had a birthday party for one of Ji’s stuffed animals (we sang happy birthday to unicorn- do you guys remember that snap?) and played some more. I’m glad I got to play with my Ji because a few minutes later my Braxton-hicks didn’t feel like Braxton-hicks anymore. These were real contractions! They came fast and strong. Every 3 minutes! I was still a little wary of it being the real thing but I called my mom to let her know that it was time. I then jumped in the shower to relax a bit before things got crazy. When my mom arrived around 8PM she saw that my contractions were still 3 minutes apart and kept telling me to go to the hospital. They were only between 10-20 seconds long so I stayed put.
One of the other things I dreaded about going into labor was having to say goodbye to Ji. There was no way I was going to be able to be without her for 3 days! She was such a trooper when we said our see you laters though.
This next phase although long didn’t seem like it. All I know was that I wanted to lean on something because that’s what felt best. I got on my knees and hugged my couch, then my yoga ball and my bed. I did what I do everytime I get on a rollercoaster ride. I closed my eyes through every contraction and and just took deep breaths. While my cousin helped with the breathing my husband set the mood for laboring at home. The lights were already off, our Christmas tree was lit, and he plugged in our essential oils diffuser. That accompanied by the sound of the rain was a perfect relaxed setting. Well, as relaxed as it could possibly be considering I was in labor. At midnight my doula arrived and I was so happy to see her. She guided both my husband and my cousin to help me with massages and different positions. Each contraction was different from the next and I made sure not to dwell on the one that passed or think about the next one to come. I stayed in the moment and got through all of my contractions with that same motto.
At around 4 AM, I felt I knew that I would be throwing up soon. I told my team to get the bags ready because the barfing would be coming at any point. Well, sure enough. I had a disgusting moment and my doula told me it was a good sign. Also, that would help push the baby down. I remember mentioning to them that I would like to head out to the hospital by 6am because I didn’t want to be stuck in rainy L.A traffic while in labor. So at 4:30am, I got up from the couch ( I was sitting with my legs up at this point) to use the restroom. I couldn’t even sit. I felt like if I made any sort of pushing movement she would come out of me. At that point, I decided it was time to go to the hospital. I grabbed my bag and headed out the door. Now picture contractions every minute at this point about a minute long. It took us 30 minutes just to leave the house. I was in so much pain there was no way I would be able to sit in the car.! I went to the backseat and faced the back window with one leg on the floor and the other on the seats. I grabbed on to the seatbelt for dear life and gave myself a pep talk the whole ride. You can do this. You are doing this was on repeat the entire ride. The rain and bumps during active labor is the worse! Those were the longest 23 minutes of my life!
We arrived at the hospital at around 5:30 AM. As I was trying to get out of the car I heard a loud pop and thought for sure my water had broken. I later found out it was my mucous plug. I decided to walk and not use the wheelchair because I didn’t want to wait for one. I just felt there was little time and I needed to get to the delivery room as soon as possible. Again, having to stop every minute or less to deal with the contraction. Once we got to the maternity ward I saw another mom walking ahead of me. You don’t know how much I wanted to beat her to the door! So I did. The nurses were great and asked me to undress so that they could check how dilated I was. I was so happy when the nurse announced I was 8 or 9cm! They quickly wheeled me off to the delivery room and called my doctor. It took 3-4 big pushes and me letting out a huge scream to get her out. I figured I deserved one moment of losing it and it felt so good. I was so proud of me! I did it exactly how I wanted to. No meds, no interventions and a calm birthing experience at home. At 6:10 AM, less than an hour of arriving at the hospital my baby girl was in my arms. I later found out that the other mom was there for a scheduled c-section. So I ran for nothing haha!
It wasn’t all great though. It took a while for Dahlia to get some color (they said it’s because she came so quickly) and she was born with the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around her neck. I also had heavy bleeding for a few hours after the birth.
However, the nurses and my doctor were so great that not for once did I think things would take a bad turn. All turned out so well that we were free to go home the next morning.
If you have had a traumatic experience I urge to take control of your next labor. Things will never go as planned (birth plan) but you have options! Whether you want a homebirth, birthing center, epidural, unmedicated or c-section. Do your own research so that at the moment you have all the information you need to make your own decisions.
Thanks again to my birth team. My doula, my doctor and the Fairoaks Women’s Center in Pasadena, Huntington Memorial Hospital, my comadre Priscilla and my husband for making my dream birth a reality!
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