Isabel’s Birth Story

Babies are born every day, and yet when it happens to you, you think it’s special. And of course, it is – every birth is unique. And funnily enough, it’s something you both remember and forget. You remember the amazing parts, you forget the pain. And some people go back and do it all over again.

I had little Celeste just 2 weeks ago. Early on, I decided I wanted to have a doula with me. I had gotten pregnant through IVF by myself, deciding – after turning 40 something – that Prince Charming was late to the party and I wanted to have a baby, even if there was no man in sight. While my mom was going to be present at the birth, I also figured I would need someone to give me a bit more “hands-on” support. And my mom had already said she might feel queasy with all the blood. This is how Ashley joined my birth team.

I had also said I wanted as “natural” and meds-free birth as possible, with the understanding that if necessary, I would take medication and have a c-section of course.

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Dr. Bridges and Ashley at delivery.

Things started with contractions at 1 am. We arrived at Sibley Hospital at 3:30 am, with my water breaking at 4 am. I was 6 cm dilated by 11 am. Labor was progressing like clockwork – except then the dilation stopped and my cervix started to swell. I was told not to push when contractions came, so as not to further irritate the cervix. But that was like asking me not to breathe air, impossible. The cervix was so swollen that the baby’s head could not pass through it. By 2pm the obstetrician explained that the options were c-section or epidural,  which would stop me from pushing and allow the swelling to go down.

Of course, I chose the epidural. But unfortunately, it didn’t help with the swelling. At 5 pm, my usual OB-GYN, Dr. Russell Bridges, arrived. He knew how much I wanted to avoid a c-section, so he tried something which doesn’t always work: massaging the cervix. And it responded! The swelling went down enough so that her little head could get through and my cervix went from measuring 6 cm to completely ready to push. At this point, I was extremely grateful that she was not a big-headed baby!!

I still had another 4 hours to go through. I would push through several contractions, giving it my all. Dr. Bridges and Ashley would tell me how close I was,  and how I should just push a bit more and I joked back saying “Oh okay. Then I’ll guess I’ll really make an effort with the next one!”

The last pushes were the most painful and something I may not soon forget. But of course, it was all worth it in the end, as they say. I went through a long process to get pregnant – several rounds of IVF – but when you see those eyes focus on you and that cute little smile spread on her face, even though it might just be gas, your heart melts and your memories of pain simply disappear. Instead, you imagine the possibilities for this little girl and all the fun you two will have together. And you can’t help but smile back.

Written by Isabel Hagbrink