Disclaimer: I’ve been wanting to tell this story for a very long time but haven’t been ready. It was a very emotional time for me. Even just writing this has brought up some “stuff” so I can continue to learn and heal from it. It is a bit long, so grab your tea or coffee, and get comfy while I open up.
If you aren’t a mom and have no desire to learn about this aspect of my life feel free to close this email, no hard feelings! But I will say the life lessons I’m sharing with you can absolutely help anyone (kids or not).
Wyatt’s birth was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. In two words – emotionally traumatic. So traumatic that I’m just now ready to talk about it. Almost a year later.
Pregnancy was also a whirlwind.
During my first trimester I couldn’t eat much and when I did it was processed carbs. The thought of vegetables made me want to hurl, and day-to-day life was utterly exhausting. I was so tired I couldn’t even THINK about exercise!
This kicked up my inner critic (aka “Helga”), and she was beating me up BIG TIME.
All my hopes for a healthy pregnancy was going down the drain. I was so angry at myself for it. I felt like such a hypocrite.
And to top it off, I was so wrapped up in this cycle of eating my weight in bread, without having enough energy to keep up with life, that I completely forgot there was a baby growing inside my belly.
I didn’t feel connected to my little guy, whatsoever.
I already felt like a shitty mother.
Since none of my friends were mothers, I reached out to my momma clients. They assured me what I was experiencing was totally normal. I instantly felt better.
I wish I would’ve just talked about how I was feeling earlier, instead of hiding out in my shame for so long.
It became obvious that a lot of the exhaustion I was feeling was self-inflicted. Beating yourself up day-in-and-day-out will seriously drain you!
The rest of my pregnancy was pretty good. I feel lucky to say that. I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t horrible either. I was soon able to move my body regularly and eat my normal(ish) diet (aside from some intense cravings for donuts and ice cream).
Side note: Pregnancy cravings are hilarious! It was this overwhelming feeling of, “I NEED THIS NOW!…or I’m basically gonna lose my s*it.” Haha! And what you crave is OUT THERE. Like pickles dipped in catsup. Just kidding, I never craved that but I’ve heard of some pretty sick ones similar to that.
Anyways, mid-way through the pregnancy, we started discussing birth plans. I was intrigued by the idea of birthing at home. I did tons of research and tuned into my intuition. I realized it was something I really wanted to do…
But I was scared.
Not scared of being at home instead of a hospital. Truthfully everything about being home felt *right.* My body relaxed when I envisioned delivering in the comfort of my bedroom. I felt this sense of openness and relaxation.
When I’d envision a hospital birth, I tensed up with fear and anxiety.
Tuning into your body is a great technique I teach in learning how to listen to your intuition. It solidified that a home birth was the right decision for me. I know it’s not for everyone, but both Zac and I felt great about the decision.
I was really scared to tell people I was doing a home birth.
Would they think I was crazy?
Would they judge me?
Would they try to change my mind?
Well, that’s exactly what some did, and it was devastating.
“We’re only saying this because we care about you.” they’d say.
But I didn’t buy it. I can get onboard with loving concern, but the energy they were giving off was, “I’m right, you’re wrong and here’s why!”
It felt like a fight every time we discussed it with them. I was sick of defending something so sacred and special. This was the birth a child. It’s supposed to be one of the most loving experiences known to man, and they were casting such bad energy onto it.
Unfortunately Zac and I have gotten used to these types of reactions, like when we eloped in Zambia, Africa during a volunteer trip. We live life on our terms, which can be seen as crazy, or outside-the-box, and have gotten some lash back before, but this situation cut the deepest.
After A LOT of tears and forgiveness work, we made it clear that the home birth was not up for discussion.
It’s MY body, MY baby and MY birth. They didn’t have to agree with our decision, but they had to accept it. The decision was made.
Wyatt was exactly two weeks late, and since I thought he was coming early, it was a reeeaaally rough two weeks. It challenged me more than ever before.
Learning how to let go and trust him (Wyatt) was the beginning of a big lesson I’d finally learn months down the road.
On April 2nd, I went into labor at 1am. As soon as labor began, I should’ve hopped in the bath to get some R&R before my 22 hour marathon, but I didn’t. I was FINALLY having this baby — I was ecstatic! I’d been studying and preparing for this moment for months! I woke Zac and he literally jumped out of bed in anticipation.
At the beginning, I was doing a really good job of anchoring in what I learned in hypnobirthing class (deep breathing, positive affirmations and trying to *relax* during the contractions).
Once the contractions got more intense, all the hypnobirthing techniques went out the door.
Here’s the craziest part…
I got stuck in this pattern of moving my body during every contraction. No joke. So picture this — a big’ol pregnant lady, walking up and down the stairs, marching in the hallway, or rapidly rocking her hips back and forth on a big ball, while moaning and groaning, naked… For hours on end.
Basically, the complete opposite of relaxing. Julianne, my midwife (who’s been involved in over 900 births), said she had never seen a woman move as much as I did.
Truthfully, it’s something I wish I did differently. I was in extreme pain and exhaustion after the birth and I know staying in constant motion like this contributed to it.
Things were progressing and Wyatt was making his descent.
I was so relieved to think we were on the home stretch (man, was I in for a rude awakening). After 3 hours of hard-core pushing, we realized he was plan’ol stuck.
We tried EVERYTHING to get him unstuck. I was even instructed NOT TO PUSH during my most intense, back-to-back contractions. This was hardest and most painful thing ever!
If you’ve experienced labor I’m sure you could imagine how hard it is NOT to push when everything in your body is telling you the complete opposite. Gahhhhhh….
Then, a moment I’ll never forget…
Julianne popped her head up from between my legs, and with sadness in her eyes and said, “Sorry honey but we gotta go to the hospital.” She saw meconium (baby poo). Wyatt was getting stressed. She knew how badly I wanted this home birth, but we all agreed that a home birth was only an option if both baby and I were healthy enough to do so. This was no longer the case.
We grabbed our backup hospital bag and made our way to the hospital.
The 10 minute drive felt like hours, and I could feel any strength I had left drain out of my body.
Once we got to the hospital, things really started going downhill. Up until then, I had been feeling really good (I mean for the circumstances). But as I was being wheeled into the hospital, fear and anxiety filled my body.
My blood pressure soon proved that. It was at dangerous levels.
The room was packed shoulder to shoulder with doctors, nurses, my two best friends, my stepmom, Zac’s mom and Julianne.
Once Julianne heard the nurse say my blood pressure, she shoved her way to my bed, looked straight in my eyes and with a stern voice said, “Honey! All of your vitals have been great this whole birth. You HAVE GOT TO CALM YOURSELF DOWN.”
She was right. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing.
“In and out. In and out. Calm down Nichole. You and the baby will be okay. Relax.”
The hypnobirthing techniques worked like a charm. I brought my blood pressure down and the anesthesiologist arrived (finally!).
Whoa. I cannot believe how differently I felt once those drugs hit my veins. I could actually talk! Like in full sentences! When you’re full-on laboring, you can’t talk. No way. And if you do, it’s like 3 words max. They don’t call it “Labor Land” for nothin.’
At this point it’s wasn’t an emergency, Wyatt was a little stressed but he seemed to be handling it well, so we had two choices.
1). I could continue pushing and hope that now that my body was more relaxed (because of the epidural), Wyatt could dislodge himself and make is way down. Or…
2). Go with a c-section.
The doctor asked me to give one last push, to see if it was even a viable option. I tried. I pushed so hard that I popped blood vessels in my eyes. But it was obvious. I was done… completely depleted. They could see it. The energy of the room deflated. Everyone knew what we had to do.
I felt their sadness for me.
Everyone left the room so Zac and I could talk. It was a very emotional moment for us. He knew how much I wanted to at least have a vaginal birth (C-section was so far from anything we ever envisioned).
At that point, I had to come to terms with it. I explained to him that I was okay with it, and honestly, I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice.
After sharing the news with my birthing crew, lots of tears were shed while they wheeled me into the surgery room.
I originally sent this out as a 2 part series because it’s was becoming quite long for a single email.
You can continue reading Part 2 here, where I go into what happened in the surgery room, the emotions that came up, and how I picked up all my broken pieces, and healed.
If you’re itching to hear more I wrote this post last year about how I actually felt during labor… If you’re curious about that.
With all my heart,
P.S. I just want to make it clear that I believe EVERY birth is beautiful. Drugs, no drugs, home, hospital or c-section. I would never judge any mother for her birthing choices or how things unfolded. I respect every women who’s experience pregnancy, labor or birth. It’s for warriors, and is incredible no matter what.