On Thursday, February 9th at 6:00pm, our precious daughter, Olivia Anais Reilly came into the world weighing 6 pounds 14 ounces and measuring 18 1/2 inches.
I was overjoyed during the first week and cried daily - thankful that my beautiful baby girl was healthy and happy.
Our story began months prior when I decided on an unmedicated birth. Going in, I knew this would require a lot of research and careful planning. I wanted to work with an experienced team of professionals who understood my birthing preference and could guide me through my pregnancy.
I scoured the internet in search of local doulas and found Staci and Melissa at Labor of Love Birth Services. They met with my husband and I in August and we connected strongly with their philosophy on childbirth and their approach to unmedicated delivery. We knew very quickly they were the right choice for us and made arrangements to get started on a plan. It was very comforting knowing that either Mel or Staci would be by my side when I went into labor.
My relationship with my original gynecologist was lacking. I rarely saw her and at my appointments I would meet with one of her two assistant nurses. It was very impersonal and I knew I needed something better. During this time, I discovered Labor of Love and was introduced to the most amazing midwife: Lisa Sherwood. She delivers at Saddleback Hospital in Laguna Hills. My experience with Lisa was completely different. She personally met with me at every appointment. And by doing that, we established a trusting relationship. Any time I had a question, she was available to help. Even via text message! She also offers a guarantee to be at your birth, which is exactly what I wanted from a midwife.
When I was 6 months into my pregnancy, my husband and I began attending the Bradley Method classes taught by Staci. I have always felt women tend to be more prepared for their pregnancy because it involves their own bodies and the labor is physically happening to them. Then when the big day comes, the man doesn’t know how to be present or how to offer the woman support. We learned so much about labor and each other during this class. My husband could identify what I wanted to hear during labor and also determine what I didn’t. He learned how to be my coach and I learned how to effectively communicate my needs. During the series, we learned a variety of things related to pregnancy and labor as well as how to connect with one another on a deeper level. We learned everything from how to physically prepare my body for the big day to understanding each step of active labor. We talked extensively about medication, birthing plans, our options once we were at the hospital, how to evaluate situations and what to do if an intervention is necessary. We even learned several different massage techniques that were so useful! These classes provided us with invaluable information that we couldn’t have acquired anywhere else. I wholeheartedly feel these classes are what enabled me to have an amazing pregnancy and labor.
Around midnight on February 9, I went into labor. Initially my contractions were very mild. The Bradley Class encouraged sleeping as much as possible in the beginning, so we took full advantage and slept as much as we could. We texted Staci, Mel and Lisa around 8:00am to let them know the day had arrived. I was 9 days past my due date, so mentally and physically I was more than ready. For the next 8 hours, I labored at home with the help of my husband, my mom and Staci. Staci suggested various techniques to help with the pain. I sat in a warm bath for a couple hours, which was soothing. Being on my hands and knees, swaying my hips from side to side as my husband apply pressure to my hips alleviated some of the pain. Humming was also very helpful. I also slept in between contractions, as well. Finally, around 4:45pm, my contractions became more intense and we decided to go to the hospital.
We arrived at Saddleback Memorial Hospital at 5:20pm. As the nurses walked me into triage my water broke. At which point they immediately took me to the delivery room where I was met by my midwife Lisa. After determining I was 10 centimeters, she looked up at me and asked "Wanna push out this baby?" I had done it! I couldn't believe I was about to meet my little one!
Lisa dimmed the lights and calmly explained that nothing major was happening. We were just two people about to have a baby. She sat on the bed next to me and said I could push whenever I felt ready. I waited for a contraction to come and asked her for direction on how to push. I will admit, I felt a little nervous and emotional at this point. Lisa and Staci both assured me that I was ok and the hardest part was over. That was all I needed to hear! Two ful pushes and out came my beautiful baby girl. With some direction from Lisa, my husband was able to successfully delivery her. Olivia Anais was born at 6:00pm. She was 6 pounds 11 ounces and measuring 18 1/2 inches. My husband laid her on my chest and after a few minutes she started to nurse. It was the most beautiful and memorable moment of my life.
I have nothing but positive things to say about Staci and Lisa. They were integral to my birthing story and I cannot imagine going through this experience without them. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted something different. I didn't want that scary labor you see in the movies. This was the moment I would remember for the rest of my life.
...and it was perfect.