alice gray's birth story
I'm starting this now -- four days after our sweet little girl made her grand entrance into this world -- in fear that I might forget some precious detail. Because memories fade, and although Ava was only born two years ago, the memory of her birth and the funny or interesting things that made it uniquely hers have faded over the jam-packed weeks and months filling the time between then and now.
I want to start by mentioning that every birth is different - and whether your baby was born via c-section or vaginal birth -- in a pool of water, with a midwife by your side, or in your car on the side of the road... you are incredible for bringing life into this world! This post is meant to share our personal experience with this particular birth. I LOVED reading birth stories in preparation for my first - just to hear all of the different things that might happen and different ways people experience labor - so I hope this is a fun read if you are into that sort of thing too!
If you follow me on social media, you probably saw me trying every "natural induction" method under the sun to jump-start labor in the days leading up to my due date. On my actual due-date, I had a pretty awesome prenatal massage. I asked the massage therapist to put me in to labor. To press on every pressure point she was trained to avoid when working on a pregnant woman. I then had a pretty relaxing date night with the hubs that ended with ice cream in Belmont Shores.
Not even four hours later I was laying in bed and all of a sudden, I felt a very familiar gush of water. I said, "OH SHIT" and Jordan (who was just about to doze off) quickly realized what was happening. Since this was my second baby, the OB on call advised we waste no time heading to the hospital. So I quickly showered, packed some last minute items, and made a quick stop at McDonalds so Jordan could grab some coffee for the long night ahead.
Ava's birth started in a similar way -- a gush of water with no contractions. But that bag of waters "healed" itself and stopped leaking. I think I expected something similar in this case, but I was very wrong. I will spare you the details and just say, by the time we parked at the hospital (around 12:30am), I had to wad up my sweater and wear it as a diaper in order to make it to the ER entrance. They took one look at the soggy pregnant lady, and wheeled me into triage.
I was only 1 centimeter dilated (wah wah), but they wanted to see if my contractions would progress on their own. They did, but not quickly enough, so after a few glorious hours of sleep in our delivery room, they gave me Cytotec to move things along. Typically this drug will get you to 3 centimeters and then they switch you to Pitocin, but luckily my body was ready to do what it needed to do, and no other induction methods were necessary. YAY!
With Ava's birth, I held out on the epidural until about 7 centimeters. But this time, I was having TERRIBLE back labor (turns out little Alice was turned on her side -- more on this later). I was so miserable, and in much more pain than I was the first time around (when I had no back labor), so at a measly 3 centimeters, I put in my request to get the epidural. And let me just tell you - it was the BEST decision.
Jordan dimmed the lights and played some old Jack Johnson tunes while I laid on my side with the "peanut ball" between my legs to help move baby down with each contraction. I felt SO relaxed, I remember dozing in and out for the next couple of hours. I'm pretty sure I got a "heavy-handed" anesthesiologist, because although I could still feel when my contractions were coming, both of my legs felt like big, numb, sacks of potatoes. My epidural was slightly lopsided (meaning I could feel contractions more strongly on one side versus the other), so our nurse gave me a little "boost" to help with the pain, which only compounded the "sack of potatoes" effect.
A few hours later I was still pretty comfortable at a 5, but just two hours after that, my back labor was coming on strong. Even though it had only been a couple of hours, our nurse decided to check me again. She looked up at me and said, "you're what we call 'complete'. It's time to push!".
I looked over at Jordan, amazed that I had essentially slept through my labor and beyond excited that we would be meeting our little girl so soon! Jordan texted our friends and family to let them know it was almost time -- and they started preparing the room for me to push.
And push I did.... but nothing happened. Baby girl was still at a zero station, and although I was fully dilated, she wasn't moving down with each push like she should. Because of this, and because of the back labor I was experiencing, they called in an ultrasound to see Alice's position. Sure enough, she was turned to the side. Our nurse explained that they wanted to try a few different body positions with me, to help get the baby to turn. She also told us that our hospital, PIH Whittier, has one of the lowest C-section rates in California BECAUSE they practice techniques like the ones they were doing with me that day.
They proceeded to take me through a variety of side-lying poses that sounded like they could have been taken out of a foodball playbook. They had me try about 6 different positions -- flipping me one way, crossing my leg this way and tilting my hips that way. The whole ordeal took a couple of hours... and by the end of it all, Alice had found her way into the proper facing position... HOORAY!!!
All the way up until this point, we had kept a pretty relaxed vibe in the labor room; but the low key music was putting me to sleep! So I asked Jordan to put on some classic rock to get me pumped up! I then started an hour and 15 minutes of pushing, to the high-energy melodies of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Guns n' Roses and Queen. Alice made her way into this world to the appropriate tune of "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty (which I had Jordan play on repeat for the final, never ending set of contractions). What a way to enter this world!!
When Alice came out, she was a crying, healthy, 7 pound 13 ounce, purple/pink baby with a FULL head of dark hair(!!!!). She was placed on my chest and I could cry thinking about the moment when I saw her squishy cheeks and bright eyes for the first time. It was pretty magical and truly one of the best moments of my life.
The doctor and nurses started excitedly talking about her umbilical cord and showed Jordan something they called a "True Knot". This is where the umbilical cord forms one simple knot - from the baby moving around actively in the womb. We were informed that it is very rare (it occurs in less than 2% of pregnancies) and is considered good luck! It can cause harm if the knot is too tight, but thank God it did not in our case. Just something unique we can remember about Alice's birth story.
Another fun tidbit is that "Alice Gray", was "Alice Jane" for my entire pregnancy. We agreed that since I picked the name Alice, Jordan would pick the middle name. He landed on Jane, and I loved the classic simplicity of it, and also that both girls' names would share a 2-1 syllable rhythm. But... a few days before my due date, Jordan started talking about different middle name options. And then in the delivery room, while we waiting for my contractions to progress, he asked, "What about Alice Gray?" (spelled "Gray" instead of "Grey" because that's the American spelling and, as Jordan put it, "(She's) American made!").
I immediately loved it - and really liked the fact that it would give each girl their own unique set of initials (otherwise they would be sharing AJG), AND that it would be a little less confusing than a middle name that was only one letter different than her sisters (Ava June and Alice Jane). We decided we would wait until she was born to make our final decision.
She entered this world, we took one look, and we knew we were meeting our precious Alice Gray Gardner.