birth story /

Our Second Birth Story

DenaApril 14, 2015

birth story /

A couple of weeks before March 20th, the forecasters started calling for snow on that day, the first day of spring. I immediately thought, “Oh boy, I’m going to get my spring baby… in a snowstorm.” I half-jokingly shared my prediction with friends & family in the following days, but with her due date a couple of weeks out, no one took me seriously.

On the night before the 20th, we went about our normal routine. At bedtime, M. and I had a long, meandering talk about all sorts of things. It was the type of deep, personal conversation that a couple seldom has time for when there is a hyper toddler and a tired, pregnant mama in the mix. It was nice, and afterward, I fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.

Roman woke up crying around 10:30 pm. It’s unusual for him, he sleeps through almost every night. When the crying didn’t stop, I went to his crib. Sure enough, he had a fever and clearly didn’t feel well. He pointed to his right ear, saying, “ear hurt.” After some Tylenol and an episode of Curious George he felt fine and I laid him back down in his crib.

Later, I woke at 1:30 and 3:00 am to use the bathroom. I woke again at 5:00 am. I lay in bed and felt “something.” I wondered if it was a contraction. I lay still and waited. Soon another contraction came. They were strong but not terribly painful. I thought maybe I should try and fall back asleep. But I decided to time them first to be certain. They were one minute long and coming five minutes apart. I didn’t want to wake M. prematurely, so I timed them for 25 more minutes to be certain. They were consistent. At 5:30, I woke him up and said, “I’m having contractions.”

We spent the next half hour deciding on what to do with Roman and readying last-minute things for the hospital. My mother-in-law arrived around 6:45 am. At that point, my contractions were coming about two minutes apart and had grown in intensity to where I needed to breathe deeply and lean on something to get through them. We left the house around 7:00 am and arrived at the hospital around 7:20.

My mother was there waiting, she works at the hospital where I delivered, and she helped us through the admission process. We got up into labor & delivery and were given a room. The nurse brought me my gown and M. helped me to change in the bathroom. Soon I was examined. I was 7 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. Yes. It was really happening. I was going to have my baby girl on the snowy, first day of spring.

birth story /

birth story /

Going into this delivery, my goal was to have another medication-free, intervention-free birth. I hated the fact that the nurse forced me to remain in bed for the entirety of my first delivery. This time, I knew that no one had the right to force me to stay in bed and I did not intend to do so. However, they did insist on having me lie down for twenty minutes while they monitored the baby — then I would be free to move. Those twenty minutes of lying down with those straps around my belly were twenty of the worst, most painful minutes of my life. I understand why they monitor the baby in that way, but there has to be a better option.

During that time, the nurse asked me a couple of times if I wanted my doctor to break my water and said that it would help things go even faster. I declined, repeating that my goal was to have an intervention-free birth. I believe in the ancient wisdom of my body. It knew exactly what it was doing and needed no help.

Although the OB’s in my group do not deliver via water-birth, they do allow women to labor in a birthing tub. That was my plan. However, when the time came, it was decided that I was too far along. By the time they could setup and fill the tub, my baby would already be there. My body agreed with the decision. So instead, when it came time for me to move, my nurse recommended that I stand up and lean over the bed. Her recommendation was a wonderful one. By that time, I was in extreme pain. My contractions were close together and intense beyond words. When I stood and leaned over the bed I felt some relief.

My doctor was in and out but the main nurse remained at my side and M. was there cheering me on and feeding me the ice that I’d requested. The nurse kept saying that things were moving quickly and that the baby would be here soon. Almost as soon as I got into that standing position, my water broke in a big gush all over the floor. I looked down and saw some specks of blood (totally normal) in the water streaming down my legs to the floor. I was transitioning and the pain and pressure that I was feeling was beyond words. The nurse kept talking to me and I needed silence to focus my way through the pain. I said, “I just want to be quiet now and focus.” I put my head down on the bed and closed my eyes.

My doctor was in the room. After a couple more contractions, I said, “I’m feeling tremendous pressure. With the next contraction I am either going to go to the bathroom or have a baby.” The nurse said, “It’s the baby, we need to get you into the bed.” I remember feeling daunted at the prospect of getting into the bed. I don’t remember actually getting in, but I got there. The next thing I remember is pushing. Oh, pushing. It makes everything else feel like a walk in the park.

I remember so much and so clearly that it’s hard to put it into words. There was so much going on. There was M., my nurse, my doctor, a laborist, and an assistant. They were all around me cheering me on. I was screaming. I swore. A couple of times the pain got so intense that I didn’t think I could go on and I said so. Everyone encouraged me. I screamed at the top of my lungs because it helped me deal with the pain. Everyone supported me. They told me that they could see hair. They wanted me to pull my legs back but I couldn’t. Two people, I can’t remember which ones, pushed my legs back for me. I was so exhausted and in so much pain that I just wanted to stop. I felt my body slowing down. There was a long pause without any contraction.

I breathed through it and told myself that I could do this. Everyone was talking to me but I couldn’t really hear what they were saying. I remember looking into the nurse’s eyes and M.’s eyes and it was like I was looking straight through to the other side of them.

I remember my doctor saying that I just had to give her the head and she could do the rest. Finally a contraction came. I pushed and the pain was, once again, beyond words. I don’t remember what I said, but I must have been doubting myself because M. said, “Her head is halfway out! That is why it hurts so much. It’s halfway out!” This thought relieved and horrified me at once, but it most definitely gave me the strength I needed to put all of my strength into one final push. I breathed in, closed my eyes, and pushed with every ounce of strength that I had inside of me and out she came.

I couldn’t see it, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and ankle. The doctor removed it quickly, determined that she was just fine, and within moments she was handed to me for skin-to-skin contact. My heart exploded. She was beautiful, just like Roman, the most most beautiful thing I had ever laid my eyes on. She was perfect. A perfect, little girl. I was blown away by her dark hair & dark eyes! The very opposite of her brother. But other than the hair and eyes, she looked exactly like him — spitting image. I had been dreaming of a little girl with dark hair & eyes for months, and there she was, my sweet Marina Grace.

birth story /

birth story /

The past nine months had been, in many ways, the hardest of my life — but there she was. And in that moment, she made everything okay, she made everything perfect. I held her and I nursed her and I fell deeper & deeper in love with each second that ticked away on the clock.

She was born at 8:23 am, less than an hour from the time that I had entered the delivery room. It was fast & furious. It was beautiful & perfect. It was — she is — everything that I could have hoped for.

When I reflect back on it all, my mind wanders back to August, eight months before her birth. I’ll never forget the day when I thought that I was having a miscarriage. I’ll never forget that heartbreaking pain. I left Roman with Matthew and went out into our yard, laid down in the grass, and sobbed. I knew that it wasn’t right. I knew that my baby was supposed to be with me. I was simply shattered. Later, when I learned that it was not, in fact, a miscarriage, I felt the greatest relief of my life.

birth story /

birth story /

I went through so much during this pregnancy, from the bleeding, to the severe sickness, to M’s injury. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. Month after month of obstacles and pain. But in the end, I got my little girl and I would do it all over for eternity just for the opportunity to hold her in my arms. It was worth every second, every tear that I shed. I love her with every ounce of myself. Just like her brother, she is my sunshine — the light of my life. I am full of such a deep, overwhelming gratitude for these beautiful babies of mine.

The truth is that my life hasn’t always been easy. I’ve known my fair share of heartache. But when I look at these two babies of mine, I think how truly blessed I am. I may just well be the luckiest woman in the world.

Comments (18)

  • Heather

    April 14, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    So beautiful and inspirational. We had our daughters around the same time… almost. I love the pictures you took, they are so gorgeous. (:

    1. Dena

      April 16, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      Thank you, Heather! Your daughter is so adorable. Congratulations to your sweet family! xo

  • Heather

    April 14, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    So beautiful and inspirational. We had our daughters around the same time… almost. I love the pictures you took, they are so gorgeous. (:

  • Gillian

    April 14, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Wow Dena, chills by the end of this. So beautiful and amazing. You can tell how raw your feelings still are, so close to giving birth. It’s easy to start to forget that intense physical pain of natural childbirth but reading this brought me back to those absolute crazy feelings/emotions of birth. Love to you, friend. ❤️

    1. Dena

      April 16, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks so much, Gillian. You are right — it is so easy to forget. I actually wrote the bulk of the post less than a week after she was born. I’m glad I did it because I’m already forgetting so many of the details. So grateful to have it captured in words because I was definitely not comfortable to have a birth photographer in the room. Kudos to the mamas who do that — I could never!

  • Erin

    April 14, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Beautiful. Just amazing how perfectly you put into words those moments that transform us. Congrats again; she’s gorgeous!

    1. Dena

      May 11, 2015 at 11:42 am

      Thanks so much, Erin. Hope you had a beautiful Mother’s Day. <3

  • Julie Arnhold

    April 14, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Beautiful story, Dena! You truly are an inspiration. I had two miscarriages last year, it was the hardest time in my entire life. They were back-to-back, one in Sept and one in Oct making it a double whammy. After that my dr ran tests, I found out I have a genetic clotting disorder that will require intense monitoring for my next pregnancy and blood thinner shots injected to my stomach every day. I often wonder if that pain will be worth it, but I know our family is not yet complete. I look at Aubrey everyday in amazement, she truly is my miracle baby. I look forward to seeing tons of photos of your sweet little girl! 🙂

    1. Dena

      May 11, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Julie– I’ve already told you this, but you amaze & inspire me every day. I am so grateful for your friendship and for the light that you bring to my life. You’re an incredible woman & mother. <3

  • Momista Beginnings

    April 15, 2015 at 12:00 am

    I’ve been dying to read your birth story for little Marina. I had tears reading about the intensity of those final pushes to get her out. I could almost imagine the whole scene. Such an overwhelming and miraculous moment, all at the same time. I’m in shock over how quickly you labored and how suddenly she came. She wanted to be in your arms, ASAP! She’s so lovely and beautiful and I’m so happy that you pretty much birthed her just how you wanted and hoped for. And go girl, go!….no meds for you. As you know, I was hoping for this but it seems as though I’ll be induced. And as I learned with Mia (who was also induced), being administered the drug Pitocin is no joke and intensifies contractions and draws out labor. I remember taking in the pain as long as I could with Mia before caving in for the Epidural. I imagine the same will happen again with this baby but in the end, I got a healthy baby and that’s all that matters most. I check in on your blog and Instagram often for your sweet baby photos! Looking forward to reading more about life with 2 kids as you gain more time and willingness to write about it 🙂 CONGRATS. xo -Misty

    1. Dena

      May 11, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      Life has been so crazy –as you well know! — and I’m just getting around to replying to these comments. Thank you so much for all of the kind words and encouragement. I can’t believe that it was just a couple months back that we were daydreaming about our little babes & now here we are living the nightma… I mean dream. <3


      1. Momista Beginnings

        June 4, 2015 at 8:48 pm

        LOL! I’m just seeing this. Made me laugh..yes outloud. I never “lol” unless I mean it 🙂

  • Suzy

    April 15, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Congrats! Such a wonderful birth story. I forgot how emotional I get when read birth stories: )

    1. Dena

      May 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks, Suzy. Birth stories + weddings… guaranteed tearjerkers for me. 😉

  • Tina

    April 15, 2015 at 11:47 am

    This was so beautiful and you are so so so strong. I’m so happy you had a quick and healthy labor and you got your dark haired dark eyed girl that you’d been dreaming of. You’ve gone through so much and deserve all the happiness in the world. Congrats again on your perfect baby girl 🙂

    1. Dena

      May 11, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks so much, Tina. I can’t believe she’ll be two months next week. Time is flying… well, sometimes. 😉


  • farzana

    April 16, 2015 at 9:17 am

    such a beautiful story!! bravo dear!
    i have been thinking of writing mine but doesn’t have the guts, yet!
    praying for your little angel..

    1. Dena

      May 11, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      It’s a bit scary & overwhelming, isn’t it? But it’s also so cathartic to get it all out. <3

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