I really meant to write this a while ago, well about a year ago, because Wyld girl is turning 1 tomorrow and I just cannot believe how time flies. I’m all kinds of emotional about it this week looking through old pictures and just letting the memories flood back in. Our life changed forever on January 10th, 2018 - and I’m just so thankful for my little wyld flower sunshine girl.
I love birth stories. I love hearing about different women’s experiences because there is such a range of experiences. It’s crazy. I hang on every word when people tell me how it felt for them and how things unfolded. It’s a miracle in every way that it happens. I’m sharing this in hopes of this being a little time capsule that can remind me it was like years from now when my memory is cloudy and maybe as a way of encouraging other women who can resonate with parts of my birth story.
As a disclaimer before I share, every birth story is SO different. We all have different hopes of what our labor & delivery will be like and that is OKAY! And often, so many of the things we “plan” for don’t go as we thought they would. But I am so thankful for my experience and excited to reminisce with y’all today!
Preparing for Labor
After doing research & chatting it over (and over and over) with Harrison - my hope & goal for my delivery was to give birth naturally without an epidural. I knew I needed to stay open-minded and release myself from any guilt or shame if things went differently - that can be my bent sometimes - but I prepared for a natural delivery as best as I could. I remember talking to my sister Katie and my sister-in-law Megan about it and the joy of delivery that they described after the struggle of labor just sounded so EPIC to me. Megan compared it to finishing a marathon and I knew I’d never run more than a half, HA, so it seemed like the closest I’d ever get to that high or adrenaline. ;) I know some people can’t understand why you’d ever want to endure the pain, but after looking into some of the benefits for both me and the baby and talking to them, it felt like the right choice. If you’re considering it, I’d love to chat! Every situation & story is so different - but I found it helpful to talk through it before my delivery.
The most helpful thing I did in preparation, was simply learning what would be happening inside my body when I went into labor. I read a book called Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. And to be honest, once I went into labor and since then, I can’t remember much about what the “Bradley method” is, but what I learned from the book about my body was immensely helpful! I think the more knowledge you have about it, the less fear you’ll have, and the less fear you have, the more you can manage your pain. My husband also “read” a book call Husband Coach Childbirth that was really helpful for him in understanding my choice to try natural and helped him be extra supportive! (I put read in quotation marks because he skim read the book and claimed it could have been 1/10th of the size. LUHLZ. I’m trying to convince him to write a spark notes version for other dads-to-be.
The night before Wylden joined us in the outside world (January 9th - 1 day past my due date), Harrison and I had plans to go duck hunting in the morning. He had been wanting me to go with him for a weeks, but I gotta tell ya, the last few weeks of my pregnancy, waking up early in the freezing cold to go sit by a pond just didn’t seem super exciting to me, hehe. But, we thought, baby gurl will be here soon and I may not get this opportunity again for a while - so let’s do it! We laid out our clothes & waders all ready to go and set the alarm for 5am.
At this point, really for the whole week leading up to my due date - I was getting anxious to meet our girl! I was doing all the wives tale things of eating spicy foods & pineapple & drinking raspberry leaf tea. I was taking my dog for walks multiple times a day and teaching exercise classes. (I think babies just come when they come people.) But, that night I bounced on an exercise ball I borrowed from the gym where I teach classes and I was dead set on bouncing that baby out. For at least an hour, I listened to my workout playlist and bounced and bounced and bounced. Did that contribute to me going into labor? We’ll never really know. Did that contribute to Wylden coming out swollen, looking like she’d been in a boxing match? We’ll never really know. DOT DOT DOT…
At about 12:30am that night, I woke up with contractions. I remember having a dream that people were piling ducks and hunting gear on top of me & there was so much pressure (ha, I’m cray), but I woke up to find it was beginning! My first feeling was excitement! We are finally going to get to meet this girl we have been talking to through my belly and praying over for so long! But, I thought about many stories I had heard of first labor experiences and I was bracing myself for a long stretch of labor. I thought - I’m going to take a shower, blow dry my hair, do the dishes, and get the house in order while contractions are light to help pass the time. I was dead set on not going to the hospital too early because I did not want to be told that I was there too early and get sent home!
BUT. My expectations were so off, you guys! Haha! Within maybe even the first 30 minutes to an hour, my contractions were getting harder. I used an app on my phone to track how long they were and how spread apart they were and they were already in the range that they say is reasonable to head to the hospital. I woke up Harrison and told him I was having contractions. He said, “Awesome! Let’s see how you feel when the alarm goes off and we can decide if we’ll still go duck hunting or not!” Then, he fell back asleep. It’s honestly a miracle he even woke up because that boy is a heavy sleeper, but I could tell he was not really aware of my situation. (Lord have mercy.) So, I texted my mama, and as expected, she was up at about 1am and we texted through the first part of my contractions. (She should really get more hours of sleep each night.)
Meeko, our black lab puppy & firstborn son, was sleeping in the bed with us that night. Thankfully, he was slightly more aware than his father, and every now and then he’d give me a little puppy kiss of encouragement. Although, my contractions did not make him more sympathetic to sharing his part of the bed. I had probably been sleeping one leg off, one leg on, for the last 3 months of pregnancy because of that darn pup.
Heading to the Hospital
A few hours into labor, I was feeling discouraged the harder my contractions got. I had braced myself for a long labor mentally and I thought, if I have another 24 hours of this - I don’t know how I’ll make it. When I decided to head to the hospital, I could barely walk because my contractions felt so intense. I would tell Harrison I was ready to go and then before I could get dressed and head out the door, I would just fall lay back on the bed for a contraction. But after he loaded up, we finally made it to the car and hit the road.
The hardest part of labor to me is not knowing how long it’s going to last. It’s like running a race, but you don’t know how many miles. You’re not sure where the finish line is. If someone could tell you, just a few more, you could totally do it. You can always do one more. But in labor, it feels so uncertain.
Arriving at the hospital was surreal. I remember Harrison dropping me off at the doors so he could go park, riding the elevator to the top, walking up to the desk and saying “hi, I’m in labor.” I felt like a little kid who had no business having a baby. They got me into a triage room and at this point, my water hadn’t broken yet, but while I was sitting in the bed, my water finally broke (while I was sucking on my grape popsicle) and at 4cm they checked me into a room.
The nurse that took care of me while I was in labor was amazing. Her name was Ragan. After she initially asked me about how I would like to deliver, it was never questioned again and I felt so supported in my decision to labor naturally - which was a huge relief for me. Leading up to my delivery, I definitely had a fear of being pressured in another direction. But all of the staff at Physicians Regional Medical Center, all of the nurses, and my doctor, Dr. Brabson were incredible in that regard and I am SO thankful! I’m so sad the hospital and the Women’s Pavilion closed this past December, but I will always have sweet memories of that place! Thankfully, the Women’s Health Specialists practice will continue on - another delivery room is currently being built and is supposed to be finished by this coming summer.
Contractions & Labor
In preparation for giving birth naturally, I had read a lot of books and articles on helpful things to do. Ways to relax, helpful positions to be in, etc. Y’all, I envisioned myself lunging down the hall & bouncing on an exercise ball and listening to bad rap pop music. I (I know, the music thing is weird.) I thought, I might get in the bath tub or get up and move around the room. But NOTHING happened like I thought it would in that regard.
The way I labored almost the entire time was like this: criss cross apple sauce on the bed (doesn’t seem like an instinctively helpful position), my face in my hands with a cool wash cloth, and not really saying a word. Harrison and his mom, Tracy, rubbed my lower back almost the entire time and they are literal angels to me because of it. Tracy was a labor and delivery nurse and she has been such a special person in my life so it was so meaningful to have her there. I didn’t know if I would want anyone else in the room besides Harrison, but she was a strong & steady presence. Harrison has a video of me in between contractions, falling asleep. I know that sounds crazy - but if you’ve known me for very long, you know it’s actually quite normal. Snoozy was a nickname I had growing up because I could fall asleep any & every where. (Just a product of being 1 of 7 children and living life on the go-go-go.) My contractions felt so intense and so close together and It think it was just my body’s way of grabbing a few seconds of rest in between. I’m weird. I know.
I know I joked about Harrison being “unaware” at the beginning when my labor started, but I have to tell y’all. He was THE BEST support ever. He was in it with me the whole time. Encouraging me. Rubbing my back. And just being right there beside me. I love him so much.
There were a few times that they offered to check my dilation and I declined because I thought, if I haven’t progressed very much, that would just kill me mentally. I wanted to go as long as I possibly could before getting checked. It’s kind of like a hard work out. You can always do one more rep. You can always hold a little bit longer. But it’s a mental game. And I remember someone telling me - just when you think you CANNOT make it any longer, you’re usually almost there.
Throughout my labor, I barely said anything. But I think the few things I did say, were, “this is hard.” “I don’t want to do this.” “I don’t want to do this again.” (HA.) And Harrison would just nod and keep encouraging me. I vaguely remember signing some paper work at one point. And any time my nurse asked me a question, I couldn’t focus on what she was saying to save my life. I would have her repeat it over and over and I still felt like I couldn’t understand the question. At one point, trying to be supportive, she asked me if I’d like any music on. Forget the pump up music I envisioned having - when she asked me about music I literally could not think of one song title or artist. My mind was on one thing and it wasn’t music. (Sidenote: I think most people want worship music or something soothing on, but that was never what I really pictured for some reason, not that I listened to either haha.)
I finally got the point where I thought, if I haven’t progressed significantly, I might need to rethink some things or find a new way of coping with the pain. I asked the nurse to check me and to my glorious glorious glorious relief, I was 9 1/2 centimeters! That was the best news I could have ever imagined! All of a sudden the mood changed as we focused on getting to 10 cm and I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Brabson was off that day, but being an angel, he came in for my delivery - just in time! It seemed like the room went from empty to being filled with little buzzing bees all of a sudden. At least that’s how Harrison describes it, I really felt like I had tunnel vision. I wanted that baby out and I don’t know who else was there or what was happening around me.
We had decided it would be awesome to have a birth photographer there at the end, so Harrison texted my good friend, Carrie Jo (Texture Photo) and she made it just in time for the final pushing and first moments of us meeting our baby girl. They are definitely not the prettiest pictures of me I’ve ever seen, (y’all how do people look so good on Pinterest?!) but they are so full of JOY and I am so thankful she was there to capture those moments that felt so out of body an so surreal.
As I started to push, I felt so intense and like I could barely breathe. I don’t remember this, but pictures remind me that they gave me an oxygen mask at the end. At one point, while she was tucked under my pelvis in the birth canal (cool words there, right?) I heard them murmuring something about her pulse dropping and how we needed to get her through. I pushed through a few more contractions (it felt like forever, but it was maybe 6ish pushes all together??) and at 10:47AM that morning she was finally OUT! In total, I was in labor for only about 10 hours. 10 intense hours. And it was actually so relieving and affirming, because when my labor started so intensely right out of the gate, I was worried if I would be able to withstand it.
The Moments After
I recently got to watch a video of them putting her on my chest immediately after she came out and I can’t believe it. It was such a JOYFUL blur of intense emotion. Watching the video feels crazy. The way I’m crying is just so outside my normal self. It’s like I had no restraint. I was holding nothing back. I was so relieved. So happy. So thankful. And I didn’t care what I looked or sounded or acted like. I finally got to meet Wylden. And I just wanted to hold her close and see her face. (I’m sharing the video below - super vulnerable for me. I’m literally blubbering. Press play on the image to watch.)
They were stitching me up and handling some things down there, but I think there is actual magic in having that baby on your chest. It’s like it distracted me and numbed me from some of the pain that followed giving birth and I just felt so happy.
I cannot describe to you the actual HIGH and ENERGY I felt after giving birth. If you’re an adrenaline junky, buckle up because it is so amazing. I felt like I had been silently suffering for so long and then all I wanted to do was talk about it and look at her and see people and eat a chick-fil-a biscuit and let the sunshine pour in through the windows as we celebrated this new life.
The emotion Harrison describes feeling more than anything else that morning was proud of me. It’s SO sweet to me. Because he loved Wyld child and he was so excited to meet her, no doubt. But he just kept looking at me and saying the kindest, most encouraging things. I don’t think I’d ever felt so adored by him than in that moment. We were both teary-eyed, looking at each other and we couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Wylden Lily Collins was born at 10:47am on Wednesday, January 10th at Physicians Regional Medical Center in Room 15. She was 7lb and 8oz and had a full head of black hair and swollen eyes & a beat up little face. Everyone said, she didn’t look like she wasn't our child, but she also didn’t look like either of us distinctly. We stayed in the hospital until Friday while they monitored her bilirubin count to make sure she didn’t have jaundice and we had so many amazing visitors in that time. Family & friends that came to celebrate our joy and I LOVED seeing everyone. My mom flew in that evening after I had her and I loved seeing her see Wylden for the first time and snuggle her with tears in her eyes. She got lots of cuddles from her cousins and our friends brought us food and hung out and made us laugh in the hospital room.
My face had a new set of “freckles” from the busted capillaries in my face that came while pushing and y’all, I could write a whole nother hilarious (hilarious now) blog describing to you the body aftermath of birth with details of adult diapers & blood & stitches & swelling & all the things that maybe people tell you, but maybe they don’t, and maybe even if they did, it wouldn’t matter until it happened to you. I would share how my years of modesty felt destroyed in those first days as people helped me pee and shower and blow dried my hair. God bless them all. And how I imagined taking pretty pictures in my floral robe holding Wylden after having her, and how I did take those pictures, but how there was also blood just running down my legs and those are the things you don’t see in the pictures. BUT. I’ll save that for another time.
If you’ve had a baby, I would love to hear about your experience. All the details vary SO much from mama to mama and it’s amazing. If you made it this far through my blog, you deserve a Chick-fil-A milkshake. Thank you for reading and reminiscing this incredible day with me. I’ll never forget it. It was the day our lives changed forever! I can’t wait to celebrate my baby gurl turning ONE tomorrow!!