On July 9th, 2019, we laid in bed just after 10:30PM as we were still contemplating if we were actually going to go into our scheduled induction the following morning at 8:30AM. I had my journal out and was working through a pro’s and con’s list. I thought, “Is it really coming down to this after all the preparation and planning?” We had tried every natural remedy in the book; rose leaf tea, pineapple, multiple sessions of acupuncture sex, dates, nipple stimulation, spice on everything I ate. You name it. Nothing had been doing the trick as we were 41 weeks and 2 days. That’s one week and two days past our “due date.”
Seeing as Dan and I had decided on having a hospital birth (as opposed to a home birth or at a birthing center), we had to work through the hospital protocols. In our country, very few doctors and midwives working for hospitals “allow” their patients to go past 41 weeks. This is very controversial for those taking a more natural route as the gestation period is between 40 and 42 weeks. In addition, most first time moms go an average of 41 weeks and 1 day (not 40 weeks).
At our 39 week appointment, our midwife prepped us for getting an induction date if Orion didn’t come by 40 weeks. At our 40 week appointment, my blood pressure was way too high, tears filled my eyes as I knew we would be getting an induction date and time. Our midwife asked, “When do you want to come?” I said, “Please let us go past 41 weeks!” So, she did, she gave us 41 weeks and 2 days.
What time we drifted into sleep on the 9th, I am not sure. I just knew we would know what to do when the morning came as my intuition has always guided me into the most supportive spaces. I woke, a sensation between my legs. My body pillow was soaking wet. I got up, waddled to the bathroom, pulled down my underwear and water just gushed, and continued to gush. My water had broken. I made it back to the bedroom, looked at my phone to check the time, it was just past 12:30 in the morning. I rubbed Dan’s arm, to gently wake him. Looked into his eyes and said, “Love, my water just broke.” He smiled and jumped out of bed.
Contractions quickly started. We messaged our dear friend and doula, Erin. It’s happening. It’s really happening. She gave us some advice, told us to eat something and decided we would meet at the hospital. My contractions were constant, although irregular. Dan and I laid on our couch, working through each contraction, in the comfort of our home. At about 3AM, he was ready to go to the hospital, I on the other hand, wanted to wait. Waiting is what we did until 5AM. We messaged our doula, we were heading to the hospital.
Dan unloaded me and our bags, me in a wheelchair, our bags just to the right. He quickly parked our car, then our doulas. As we made our way to labor and delivery, he innocently ran me into multiple walls causing uncontrollable laughter and more liquids to gush. It truly was the perfect transition from home to the hospital.
We were brought to our room and slowly settled in. We handed the nurses on duty our birth plan. They immediately started asking to do things that we specifically did not want. This, was so very frustrating. As the universe has a way of doing so, their shifts were soon ending and our midwife works one day a week at the Irvine hospital delivering babies. That day was the day we were in labor. Her shift was starting in just over an hour at 8:30AM. We asked the nurses to leave us be until Andrea (our midwife) was on shift. They did so, very reluctantly.
Before we knew it, Andrea was walking in. What a glorious sight. She started looking at her paperwork, thinking we were moving forward with an induction. She said something that confused me, what exactly, I do not remember. I looked at her and said, “My water broke at 12:30 this morning and I’ve been having contractions ever since.” A smile filled her face. She said, “Well, let’s check you then!” She checked me, I was 3.5/4 centimeters dilated.
After her check, she looked at me and said, “I’ve read your birth plan. We have to do intermittent monitoring every 45 minutes, but other than that, you are on your own. If you want/ need anything, you have to come find me for it.” This, this was heaven as it was exactly what we had hoped for.
What exactly did our birth plan say? A 100% natural labor. No pitocin. No epidural. No continuous monitoring. Just us. Our lady. Connection. Trust.
Dan and I were in the bathroom, as I couldn’t do anything on my own. The pain was high, my strength too weak, his strength, everything I needed and wanted. We came out of the bathroom to be greeted with a huge hug and congratulations by a woman named Laura. She was our day nurse. Truthfully, she was another blessing from the universe as she had been doing this for decades and wholeheartedly honored our desire for a natural birth. Her presence was calm. Her heart was pure. Her moves, so intentional. This woman, will forever be etched in my heart. She created a space that supported our dream birth.
As the day progressed, so too did my contractions and the pain that accompanied them. Dan, did not leave my side. We were connected. Connected on a level that we knew possible, yet hadn’t been in a space to tap into. He just knew, he knew what to do, what not to do. He was fully, immensely present. He was EVERYTHING. As if I couldn’t love this man anymore, he just had to go and be the most incredible birthing partner imaginable!
And Erin, our doula. She was the perfect reflection of support, openness, comfort and calm. Her energy, known, yet open. She had a magical bag of tricks; labor pillows, fans, comfort tools, baby food packs. She suggested positions. Some supportive, others not so much. Each one, so gratefully received. She said, “The only way out is through.” This became my mantra, for the whole time I was in labor. For this, I couldn’t be more grateful as it was my anchor, my grounding point to bring me back from the immense pain.
About 2PM, I was starting to tap out. The pain was at an all time high. The labor had been going nearly 14 hours. I couldn’t take it anymore. I looked at Dan and Erin and said, “I can’t do this, I need some relief.” Yes, I was asking for pain meds. Erin and Dan looked at each other and then looked at me. Erin said, “Just give us one more hour.”
One hour turned into four. For this, I couldn’t be grateful. Time. Time had no place while in labor. The only indication of time was the transition of the evening sun. There were no need for pain meds as around 7PM, another major shift happened. My contractions got so intense and my body began to push. We told our nurse, then our midwife came in to check me, I was just past nine centimeters dilated. Pushing begins at 10.
10 centimeters came quickly. Just after 8PM, I began pushing. We thought, "Rad, she’ll be here within the hour." Pushing persisted. Persisted some more. Dan called my mom to have her come. Our day nurses shift came to an end. Another nurse came in and they began sharing what had been present throughout the day. We sadly said goodbye as she could no longer stay. I kept pushing, yet was getting nowhere. An hour and a half had passed. Andrea, our midwife came back in. She said, “Ashley, look at me.” I did so. “I need you to push my fingers out, push my fingers out.” The first few times, I could not do so. Then, something clicked. I pushed my little heart out and as a result, pushed her fingers out.
Andrea had to leave for the day, her 14 hour shift was over. We were introduced to the doctor who would be delivering Orion. Just then, our night nurse stepped up and started coaching me with pushing. The whole room, began cheering me on. “You got this! You got this!” The pushing continued, and continued some more. Something moved in me again. There was no holding back, Orion, she was coming. The room quickly filled with doctors, nurses, interns, who else knows. Another massive, long, everything I had in me kinda push and the energy of the room shifted. Just moments later, our little lady was on my chest. Her eyes, starting into mine. Her crying, filling the room. Our love, beyond words. She was here. She was finally here.
She was here, she was finally here on July 11th, 2019 at 12:22AM, 7.7 pounds and 19 inches long after 41 weeks and 2 days, 24 hours of all natural labor and four hours of pushing, she was here. So healthy. So incredibly beautiful.
We shared skin to skin for an hour. Then, her, Dan and the doctors went to the other side of the room. Weighting her, measuring her height, taking her footprints, giving her a vitamin K shot. Meanwhile, the nurse, cleaned me up. I looked at her and said, “You must really love your job as this is soooooo messy.” She smiled and said, “Yes, I do.”
I got wheeled out of the room, Orion in my arms, Dan following behind with all the bags. We stopped so I could push the button, one in which sang a song throughout the whole hospital indicating another baby had been born. Into our recovery room for the next 36 hours as we acclimated as a family of three. Those days were blissful, they were confusing, they were so passionately new. We got to go home on the afternoon of the 12th, just in time to celebrate my birthday on the 13th. Two cancers ladies under one roof, Dan definitely has his hands full!
This life, is truly but a dream. The transition has been brought with harshness, yet surrounded by so much beauty and love. A massive, massive thank you to my amazing husband Dan for your immense support and presence. Our doula Erin for all the education, guidance and documenting this very day. Our nurses, midwife and the entire Kaiser Irvine staff as everyone was so delightful.
pushing & Delivery
In recovery in the hospital
Going Home :
Sweetness from our Doula :