The days leading up to Mila’s arrival were grueling. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually — I was tapped out. I kept grappling with trying to relinquish my constant need of being in control and giving it up to God/Mila/my body to do its thing.
I had three distinct meltdowns but the last one was the worst. I was starting to feel myself drift away. I was losing hope and sight of my baby’s natural arrival. I was inching closer and closer to an induction/hospitalization and I was losing it. I was lying in bed and tears kept rolling down my face. I had a couple meltdowns prior and Steven would come behind me, rub my back and tell me to “let it out”. This time, he asked, “What are you afraid of?” I’d tell him I was losing stamina. “Okay, what else?” I’m not going to be able to birth her at home. “What else?” He kept asking until I listed every fear that had been bottling up inside me for weeks. When it was all said and done, I was crying uncontrollably. My body was shaking, my eyes were burning, my head was pounding and all I could do was listen to the wails coming out of my body. It’s like I wasn’t in control (little did I know this would play a big a part in bringing my girl earthside…).
Everyone (EV-ERY-ONE) kept giving me their tips and “tricks”. Some told me to let it go. “She’ll come when she wants to come.” “Try not to think about it. Do something to get your mind off things.” “Go for a swim.” “Do nothing.” “Watch Netflix” (like who wasn’t already doing that during COVID?). Others recommended lunges, stairs, stretches, teas, foods, oils, herbs, activities (aka: sex) and the thing is — I listened to them all. I did it all. There was nothing I wouldn’t try. As soon as a new DM or text arrived, I’d scurry to figure out how I can get my hands on said magic potion.
There was nothing I wouldn’t try to help my baby make her way out.
Looking back on it, I think I was so determined to speed things along because the last 2ish weeks of my pregnancy, I was totally comfortable. All the discomfort, aches, RLP, cramps, etc. were gone. I was actually feeling comfortable. The more settled into this pregnancy I became, the more I worried she’d never leave the womb.
For a while, the idea “she can’t stay in there forever” comforted me. But once the days of repeating that to myself turned into weeks, I actually began fearing that she’d die in my womb. She’d lose amniotic fluid, my placenta would no longer be viable, her umbilical cord would stop pulsing and I would lose my baby before having the chance to birth her. Pretty morbid, right?
That’s the mental game.
Things that are 99.99999% impossible started feeling like reality. My mind could not comprehend what my body was doing (or not doing) so it started making up the most outrageous outcomes — none of which would come with warning.
During one of the sleepless nights, I finally wrote a letter to Mila. Tears flowed onto my screen as I typed away. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything as vulnerable and one day, I’ll share it with her.
My midwives told me if I’m still pregnant at 41 weeks, I needed to get an ultrasound and NST (non-stress test) to make sure everything was still a-okay. Knowing the 42 week mark was the next “checkpoint”, Planner Taylor didn’t want to have less than 7 days to come up with a new plan if anything was amiss during the ultrasound, so I scheduled it for 40+6. That experience alone reminded me why we chose the route we did — to be as far away from a hospital/medical facility as possible. While most of the staff was kind, the entire setting felt uncomfortable, sterile, and caused my anxiety during my NST to heighten.
Thankfully, the results spoke for themselves. Mila had a ton of fluid, great movements, strong heart tones and the doctor cleared us for another week before needing to come back for another ultrasound and likely, an induction. Despite it all, I’d only seen Mila once during our 20-week anatomy scan so it was actually nice to see her once again.
Feeling comforted that my baby was still alive, I went to my 41 week appointment the next day absolutely determined. She checked my cervix, still 1ish cm dilated and 70% effaced. Asked if I wanted another membrane sweep (you’re already in there — go for it!). A few nights later, I started getting surges closer together. I’d been feeling them for over a week, but they were finally starting to pick up. I kept my doulas in the loop and they kept offering to come support me, if I needed it. I didn’t know how serious they surges were so I kept dismissing it and said I was fine. Doulas told me to sleep and when I couldn’t sleep anymore because of the intensity, I asked her to come over around 5:30 a.m.
By then, Steven drew me a warm bath (per her instructions) and it relaxed me to the point that my surges stopped! When she arrived, she found me eating a slice of toast with almond butter and chit chatting away. I’m sure she already knew it wasn’t happening that day and there I was thinking I just got a moment of peace. We went for a sunrise walk with the dogs and as the surges came, she kept telling me to move through them to keep them going. Things felt like they were picking up but when we returned from our walk, she told me to rest. I knocked out for two uninterrupted hours. When you’re trying to progress, uninterrupted anything is not ideal. At this point, it was time to call in reinforcements (my midwife) for boot camp.
We did all the things: alternating 15 min on/off the pump, swigs of cottonwood bark, utilizing every birth tool out there (peanut ball, birth stool, birth ball, etc.). Steven has some hilarious photos of the experience. None I’d let him share. We watched The Morning Show in between rounds (odd choice in preparation for baby’s birth, but whatever — I love me some Jen Aniston!). Around noon, midwife left. Told me to relax and if things weren’t going by then, she gave me castor oil to take at 4 a.m. With every fiber of my being, I did not want to take it. But it would be the Hail Mary before induction, so I agreed.
That afternoon, I had my weekly chiro appt still scheduled so I decided to go in for it at 4:40 p.m. Steven drove me and while on the table, I had 3 surges! My chiropractor is also a doula and was coaching me through them. I’ll never forget her cues and realizing how much tension I’d been holding onto. (Dr. Lindsay — I’m forever grateful for your help in that moment!) When I left, the whole team hugged me. I’d seen them almost 10 times since my due date and they’d never done that but at that point, I was feeling the surges way more intensely that it didn’t strike me as odd. (The team later told me they all knew I was in labor and just wanted to send me off with all the good energy!)
And now for the actual birth story…