On Monday, June 14th, I gave birth to my first child, Indy. It was the most intense, but most beautiful, day of my life. I'm writing this blog mostly as a way for me to remember the details of the day, but also to share with anyone who is interested. This is a super detailed story, so don't say I didn't warn you! Before I get to the actual birth (see part two), I wanted to give some backstory on our journey to parenthood.
Having a family is a decision we'd thought long and hard about over the years. We knew we'd eventually want kids, biologically or adopted, but couldn't ever figure out the perfect timing with our nomadic lifestyle. One day in early 2020, it just hit us that our time was now. We know many people from all over the world that travel full-time with their kids in tow. We were eager for our kids to see the world with their own eyes, help others less fortunate, learn at international schools, and experience all that life has to offer.
Our journey to a healthy pregnancy wasn't an overnight success. Unfortunately, we faced some devastation last year with three miscarriages and a longer process to pregnancy than we anticipated. But, through the loss, we always stayed positive that there'd be a rainbow baby on the other side waiting for us. We were so blessed and showered with love when we finally shared our exciting news at 17 weeks pregnant!
I had a fairly straightforward and simple pregnancy overall. I had some nausea and occasional vomiting in the beginning, but nothing too extreme or out of the ordinary. My husband encouraged me to keep movement a priority in my life. I'd walk at least three miles every day, go hiking, and lift light weights at the gym a couple of times a week. The baby was happy, healthy, and growing right on target throughout my pregnancy.
Childbirth education was something we knew we wanted to partake in from the moment we found out we were pregnant. My aunt, Donna Ryan, is the founder of Birth Boot Camp. Needless to say, childbirth education isn't a foreign concept in our family. We took Birth Boot Camp's ten-week Comprehensive Childbirth Education course online (due to Covid), which helped us feel knowledgeable and empowered leading up to the birth. The course walked us through pretty much every scenario of the birth experience. Although we knew what our ideal birth "plan" looked like, it was comforting to gain knowledge about other outcomes and medical decisions that we could potentially have to make.
In addition, we read several books on our own including Expecting Better and Nurture. Near the end of our pregnancy, we took an in-person Spinning Babies course. We were taught various positions to labor in that would put my pelvis in the optimal position for the baby to pass through.
Daniel and I didn't know much about labor or delivery prior to my pregnancy, but we now feel so strongly that childbirth education played a vital role in our mental preparedness.
Our Birth Preferences
Preface: I'm referring to what many call their Birth Plan as our Birth Preferences. It was impossible to have a plan as a first-time mom who had never been through labor, but Daniel and I had an idea of what we'd ideally like to experience.
We did a lot of research upfront about where we wanted to deliver our baby. We interviewed a couple of places (yes, that's a thing) but ended up choosing a hospital a few minutes from our house. The hospital we chose supports natural birth, staffs midwives to deliver the babies (as opposed to OB's), and has a variety of tools like tubs and birth balls in each delivery room. This was the perfect combination for us. A place that supports our natural birth preferences but has all of the medical intervention available if we chose to, or needed to, go that route. Our other preferences were simple things like not knowing the sex of the baby until after birth, providing our own music, dimming the lights, etc. Our doula, Kendra, was such a huge help in achieving our requests. These are little things that slipped my mind during labor, so I appreciated having my support team on my side to take care of those details.
I made the decision, after learning the pros and cons of medical intervention in Birth Boot Camp, to strive for an unmedicated birth. I told my support team that I didn't want an epidural unless it was medically necessary. My number one reason for this was that I didn't want to be tied to the hospital bed, hooked up to all of the monitors, with numb legs. I envisioned myself walking, standing, and squatting during labor. Laboring in the tub was one of my main priorities (which never happened, by the way). The female body is designed for giving birth and I've always thought that I have a pretty high pain tolerance.