Isabella was born on the morning of August 25th at 10:31 am weighing 8lbs and measuring 21.5 inches in length. She came with some force (more on that below) but equally with such peace (even though there was a complication) and so fitting because her middle name Paz chosen before her birth is exactly that “peace” and that is what she brought that morning.
My labor was a total of 7 hours with Isabella from start to finish which was incredible and so insane how my body and baby this time around just did what it was suppose to do without any funny business. 7 hours felt like nothing compared to my 33 hour labor with my first. I checked into the hospital only after 2.5 hours of laboring at home compared to checking into the hospital after 12 hours of laboring at home with my first. It truly is amazing how each birth is different and how miraculous our bodies are.
I share my birth stories so that one day my daughters can read them and know they were both brought into this world with so much love and effort because I wanted them and needed them in my life. I also want any mommy whether first time or not to find comfort, solidarity and peace knowing that if they had a traumatic first experience like I did with my first there is hope that the second time around it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to have a natural and peaceful birth, also that it’s possible to have that natural birth in a hospital contrary to what many believe because there is so much fear in hospitals. I understand where those fears are coming from but it’s important to have more conversations and dialogue about beautiful natural experiences in hospitals too because I had one. With my first though it was traumatic it wasn’t because it was at a hospital if anything I was grateful I was there for both my “easy” and difficult labors because if it wasn’t for a hospital and medical intervention I don’t think my daughters or myself would be here today.
If you’ve heard or read my first birthing experience you’ll know it was not how I would have ever imagined it and not until Isabella’s birth did I completely heal from the trauma and PTSD left behind from my first experience. Going into this the second time I was open minded about how I would accept the labor as it was and not put myself through such suffering like I did the first time and if I needed intervention earlier I would accept the help without guilt or let myself feel like I had failed. I think many women are made to feel this way if they had the epidural or a c-section and it’s not fair because bringing a life into the world nor matter how it looks like, is still miraculous and so special. I realized when my second daughter was born that not all births are the same, if anything they can be completely opposing but there are definitely similarities because apparently both my girls found a way to get stuck.
At 31 weeks I could already tell that little sister was eager to make her debut because of early labor contractions that had me lay low until full term at 36 weeks. Three weeks before her “due” date I was already 3cm dilated which was just mind blowing to me because I was barely 3cm dilated after 12 hours of excruciating back labor with my first so it definitely brought me hope and reassurance that already things were progressing and looking better.
Three mornings in a row around 3am I awoke with false alarms. The contractions would start but not last longer than an hour and then would go away but on the 4th morning I knew from the moment they started that this was it, that it was happening.
I first noticed them at 3:30am so I woke Andy up and told him to start the timer because it was happening. This time around since we had been through labor before there was a calm in the air but we were equally excited to meet our new daughter. We stayed in bed and timed the contractions one by one. Every time I would get one I would gently squeeze Andy’s arm until after a short while he said they were a minute apart and over an hour so it was time to call my mom and get the show on the road. The contractions were different this time around in so many ways, even though they were already a minute apart they were still very mild. Unlike the first time were they were from the beginning very painful because of the back labor and I dilated so slowly with them stuck at 4 minutes apart for 12+hours. My mom arrived to our house at 5:30am to watch over our 22 month old toddler who was peacefully sleeping in her crib while I was laboring thank god so by then I had already eaten breakfast, the hospital bag and camera were already in the car.
We arrived to the hospital at 6am ready for anything! I vividly remember walking out of the car and having to stop three different times before getting to the 4th floor to catch my breath because the contractions were so powerful they literally stopped me in my tracks. Once in the parking lot, second time inside before getting on the elevator and third once we got to the labor and delivery floor walking up to check in. The place was familiar since I had given birth there before and been in there two previous times due to false alarms but even then it felt new and exciting with new nurses and midwives on shift. Unfortunately my midwife Mimi who was with me through both my pregnancies and prenatal care was not on shift but there were two other midwives that were great and I was perfectly fine with that. We were admitted soon after checking to see how dilated I was and to our relief we were at 5cm thank god! Woohooo! It was such a relief and so different than my first – I was already at 5cm after only 3 hours of what felt like mild labor vs at 5cm dilated after 21 hours in painful labor the first time around. I could tell I was already in active labor and was relieved by how fast early labor had come and went!
We entered our room and the first thing I did was sit on the medicine ball and request popsicles and basically didn’t come off of it until it was time to push. Again so different than my first where I spent most my labor waging my tail and in a hot shower because of the back labor. This time around the pain felt like a really bad period and unlike last time I could actually rest in between contractions! What a difference that made! And unlike the previous time this time walking made it worse so laboring on the ball was where it was at and if I tried walking it only intensified the pain so I just squatted on the ball.
I clearly remember how different this labor was because even though the contractions were as painful as I could imagine this time around it didn’t feel like my tail bone was snapping in half plus I would actually get a break between each contraction. This was new to me because with Penelope I was in constant back pain for hours that would only intensify with each contraction but thank God Isabella wasn’t posterior and it made a heck of a difference! I could feel her dropping lower and lower and moaning, chewing on ice (popsicles) deep breaths in and out during each contraction while doing hip circles, squatting on the medicine ball, holding onto Andy’s hands while pushing the pain out of my body and into his palms away from me was what felt the best for pain management.
We had arrived at the hospital at 6am by 9:30am I felt it was nearing the end because I was entering already the last phase of labor – transition. I knew I was entering transition because you start to get lost in the pain and everything outside of it seems blurry and non existent almost as if you are in a trance or hypnosis and all you are capable of paying attention to is your breath. Everything outside of that is hard to focus on or even hear but I remember feeling the nurse rubbing my back and her encouraging words saying I was doing great and that the end was near. My nurse was awesome and so helpful and never made me feel rushed or that I needed anything but time and comfort care.
About an hour later I requested the midwives come in because it was time, the pressure was so intense I just knew it was now. The two midwives and a nurse midwife came in to check on me to see if I was at 10cm so I could start pushing so as I stood up from the medicine ball and hopped onto the bed I instantly felt the urge to push so as the midwife was getting ready to check me I pushed and with such force the water bag literally exploded out of me, the second push and it was Isabella’s head, the third push it was her shoulder but only one and I could hear it in their voices that something was wrong, but they kept calm and worked efficiently and they encouraged me to keep pushing so I did and the next thing I remember was the nurse saying “Sorry honey” as she pressed with her palm and elbow onto my abdomen (ouch!) and assisted the Isabella’s shoulder out, then there she was the “ring of fire” seconds before she was born into my arms!
Apparently both my babies like getting stuck because what had happened was shoulder dystocia a complication of labor and delivery in which one or both of the baby’s shoulder’s get “stuck” behind the mother’s pelvic bone as the baby descends into the birth canal. Her shoulder was stuck inside for about a minute and they were trying to free it as calmly and swiftly as possible because oxygen is being cut off from baby and in worse cases an emergency c-section, episiotomy or breaking of the babies collar bone to free the stuck shoulder is done. Luckily non of those things happened! Isabella wasn’t crying when she was placed in my arms, she was very peaceful and was very calm but so purple because oxygen had been restricted and poor thing wasn’t crying or very alert so that’s when it hit me that something was wrong so I had to hand her back to the midwives who checked on her and in calm voices I could hear them saying, “come on baby breath, lets hear that cry.” as they were rubbing her body and patting her and then there it was! The most beautiful cry I had ever heard.
And of course that’s when I started crying too and wanted her right back in my arms so happy and relieved that she was ok! Guys, this whole birthing thing is crazy. Why do my babies get stuck? I do not have birthing hips! Ha ha but seriously honestly another reason why I am not doing this again, even though this birth was quicker, natural and for the most part complication free I just couldn’t handle one more birth experience – it’s not for me.
After a few good cries her color started to come in. My purple baby was turning pink right before my eyes and as soon as she returned to my arms, almost instantly stopped crying and was at peace. My absolute favorite part – holding my baby right after they are born and not letting go. That skin to skin right away is so crucial and the sweetest boding moment I have ever experienced with both my kids.
Isabella Paz Nelsen was born at 10:31 am after 5 minutes of pushing! 5 minutes compared to my 4 hours of pushing from my first left me feeling such joy I cannot even begin to explain. When you’ve been through something so challenging the first time and then this, it was such a gift. By 11am we were all in the recovery room eating breakfast with the biggest grins on our faces. I think we were in shock of how quickly compared to out first experience the birth had come because you just never know.
I stayed at the hospital that day while Isabella got all her procedures done in the same room where we rested and I just held her and kissed her and soaked in every minute as best as I could. Andy went home to check up on how our other baby was doing and relieve my mom so she could go home and get some rest herself. I’ll write about how it went having Penelope meet her baby sister another time but lets just say to my surprise it went so smooth! She was only 22 months at the time and still was so used to having me for everything so though I was nervous spending the night away from her but I knew she was in great care with daddy and that we would all be together at home the next day.
The recovery, the emotions, the healing, everything was so different this time around. Like night and day! In just a few days I felt back to normal and was so thankful how quickly I bounced back. Our bodies are temples and beautiful, strong and miraculous ones!
Isabella closed the chapter in my birthing book, and I am so happy she did with the experience we had even though it could have also had a turn for the worst, but it didn’t and I will always be grateful for that. I always wanted three kids, always like we would get in arguments about it because Andy only wanted two. I was surprised by my feelings of feeling at peace with only two kids and that our family was complete so I will leave it at that because I didn’t know until I became a mother how I would feel about it all and how much I could bare. Having children has completely and 100% changed my life, how I view life and my perspective in the world. It’s so different now! I love it and highly recommend it but know it’s not for everyone but if you decide to go this route be prepared for the most beautiful gift and hold on tight because it’s a wild ride!