Ansley’s Birth Story: February 2020
As I prepare for my second birth, I can’t help but reflect on my first birth experience with Ansley. I love how unique each birth story is and have learned so much from hearing others experience. My hope is to help someone by sharing my natural hospital birth experience.
How I Decided on a Natural (Unmedicated) Hospital Birth
I hoped for an unmedicated birth shortly after I found out I was pregnant. I loved reading “Mama Natural’s week by week guide to Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth.” It is packed with information from epidurals to doulas, healthy recipes to possible hospital interventions, what test to expect and what things you have a choice on in the whole process.
It’s so important to be educated on all that can happen in birth because there is no way to predict exactly what will happen and your practitioner may not always take the time to explain it. True informed consent doesn’t (and can’t) happen in the moments of labor because of the pace and because you are not in the place to be making huge decisions. So that means you need to make those decision ahead of time. It may feel like a lot but take it slow, its ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT.
My husband and I watched “the business of being born” which opened our eyes even more to how the hospital operates during birth and “the cascade of interventions.” While it encouraged me to look into a birth center, we still had fears with it being our first experience with childbirth and ultimately decided on an OB and hospital delivery. We also hired doula to be a well educated advocate before and during birth. I was at the beginning of my journey in advocating for myself and was just starting to ask more questions.
Nearing 40 weeks
My OB was not natural-minded, but was the best in the city. So when I approached my “due date,” he began encouraging me to induce labor, which I declined. After thinking my water might have broken the day before my due date, we decided to go to the hospital to test for amniotic fluid. Turns out it was just pee! (Oh the joys of pregnancy!)
However, while I was there, my OB wanted to check my fluid level. My number was on the lower end of normal, but still normal. However, he again highly encouraged me to induce labor. Because my doula was well educated, she helped me feel confident that it was still absolutely safe to continue to wait for labor to start naturally.
The Beginning of Labor at Home
Two days after my due date (the evening of Feb 6th), I started feeling painful contractions in the evening and struggled to sleep. However they weren’t close or consistent enough to do anything but wait or try and sleep. The entire next day (Feb 7th) the powerful but inconsistent contractions continued. They were 8/10 in strength most of the day and increased to every 5-7 minutes, but would stop for 15 minutes. I attempted to take a bath, walk around the house, any kind of distraction I could think of to get my mind off the stalled labor. My mental state didn’t help the progression and tracking contractions on my phone would work me up and discourage me.
By that evening, I called my doula in tears saying I couldn’t handle all of this. I was not prepared to be in labor for this long and was willing to do whatever to get the baby out. I hadn’t slept, I had barely eaten, and I was exhausted.
The Bradley method teaches you to relax your body through the contractions and not to fight them. However, I was running out of mental and physically energy to work through each one. At this point I was almost 24hrs in, no idea where I was in labor, and couldn’t imagine still having to go “through the hard part” AND push her out. My doula came over and pressed on my back and hips during the contractions. As I shared my discouragement and verbalized I didn’t think I could do it anymore, my contractions picked up and to 3-4 min apart for an hour. It was finally time to go to the hospital.
At the Hospital
We called our families to let them know we were headed to the hospital and the baby was coming out one way or another! When we arrived on the L&D floor, I was shocked to find out I was dilated to a 7, meaning I was in the transition stage (usually when most women feel like they’re ready to give up and can’t do it anymore.)
Realizing how close I was, I had just enough motivation to convince myself to get through one more contraction. Then one more. Then one more. I had a washcloth with lavender EO on it nearby, a birth ball and acoustic worship music playing. I went from sitting on the edge of the hospital bed leaning on my husband with my doula providing counter pressure on my low back/hips, to side lying with a peanut ball in between.
The monitor was extremely frustrating. They had just switched to wireless monitors, which sounds nice, but in order to get the leads to stick on your belly, they used something similar to sandpaper before sticking them on. Because they kept losing my signal, the nurse had to reapply the leads AND sandpaper process …SEVEN TIMES…during one of the hardest parts of labor!
Time to Push… I think
I finally felt the need to push, but also felt completely drained and almost delirious. They had me on my back with my legs up. The whole pushing process felt so impossible and unnatural. When they told me to push, it didn’t feel like I needed to. Nothing felt right or cohesive, but I did what they told me and felt like each push got me nowhere and would give up before they told me to stop.
After 45 minutes, my OB, knowing I did not want an episiotomy, took his finger and pulled down hard on my perineum during my contraction/pushing, leaving me with a third degree tear….
Ansley Rae Velz was born at 1:55am on Feb 8th
weighing 7lbs 15oz and was 21 inches long.
Once she was out, I could barely hold her on my chest I was so weak and delirious. I was just so grateful she was out. I honestly forgot that there was a baby at the end of this. We had asked for delayed cord clamping but when they pulled her out, she pooped all over me, I was still bleeding, and the doctor was trying to sew me back up. I don’t think they waited more than a few minutes before clamping.
They asked to take the baby to clean up the poop that was everywhere. I looked at my husband desperately and said, “can you hold her.” I had read so much about the importance and impact of skin to skin bonding in those moments and wanted him to hold her since I couldn’t. It took the doctor 45 min to stitch up the almost 4th degree tear. And I finally had her back on my chest. It was finally starting to sink in that she was actually here. (Cue my tears every time I think of this moment)
Natural Hospital Birth Recovery
I managed to walk to my postpartum room shortly after- perk of having a natural hospital birth: no limit to my movement. Once the nurse left, I looked up at my husband and as I attempting to talk, I just started bawling and he started praying. It was such a powerful moment, because I was trying to tell him I wanted to pray, thanking Jesus for helping me through and giving us the most perfect little girl… but I never got the words out and he just knew.
We and spent the next few hours, trying to breast feed and just stare at her. We couldn’t sleep. Neither did she. We were so amazed at what happened and so excited at the new life we were starting together!
Fast Forward to Postpartum Recovery
(Covid happened. We’re in Los Angeles California. Everything shut down.)
I was in severe vaginal pain for 10 weeks. At first, I thought maybe it was just normal pain recovering from a severe tear. But I couldn’t sit or stand for more than 20 min…for weeks. It felt like everything was pushing out of me with sharp pain and a deep ache. I brought it up every week with my OB and he continued to tell me that it was a normal part of recovery.
At the 6 week appointment
The doctor mentioned I had developed granulomas(extra scar tissue.) He said they don’t cause any pain, but would need to be removed at some point because they can cause bleeding. He recommended going under anesthesia since I was still in pain and the procedure itself would be painful. That wasn’t an option in my mind since I was breast feeding and I opted to wait since it wasn’t crucial.
By 7 Weeks
I got a second opinion. This OB didn’t have any answer to my severe debilitating pain either, but said he could get rid of the granulomas in the office right then with silver nitrate (same thing some pediatricians use to help umbilical cords to stop bleeding and heal faster.) I thought it was worth a try in the small chance that was causing my pain. It was not a comfortable procedure but thankfully didn’t take more than 5-10 minutes. Unfortunately, the pain did not get better and the granulomas were still there- the treatment hadn’t worked.
At 9 Weeks
I was barely surviving mentally. The pain was unbearable, but I was given no answers or possible solutions. This was a month into the “pandemic” shut down. Breast feeding wasn’t going well because of my pelvic pain, her tongue tie issues, and all our resources had closed down because of COVD. Thankfully Blake was working from home and was helping with everything. I told him so many times I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t breath. I thought I would have this pain for the rest of my life.
At 10 weeks
I had decided to go forward with removing the granulomas with my original OB in his office, no medication other than some local lidocaine. It was excruciating. It felt like an hour but was probably only 15 minutes. I was in tears but hopeful that it would maybe help with some of my pain.
That next day, my pain was gone and never came back.
My Take Away
I share this story hoping to encourage someone out there who’s searching for answers but hasn’t found them yet or doesn’t feel strong enough to fight for themselves.
Despite being told by multiple well educated and experienced doctors that extra scar tissue wasn’t the source of my pain, it 10000% was. I found out later from a pelvic floor physical therapist (that I had to beg my doctor for a consult) that she’s seen many cases where granulomas can cause severe pain postpartum. One or two experts can’t be your only source. This challenged me to ask more questions and not accept “we’re not sure” as an answer. My memories of this birth are awful and made me dread ever going through it again. I fell hard into postpartum depression after this. Even with the pain gone, I constantly questioned my ability to take care of my own child alone because for so long I hadn’t been able to.
Praise Jesus, he has healed me from the loss of unmet expectations going into motherhood and trauma. He has given me a new and crazy big excitement for our second precious girl! I can’t explain the joy He has given me in this season. While I’m aware every birth is so unique and we have no idea what to expect, I am so confident in His protection over me and plan for my life, even in the hardest seasons.