the birth story.

Dearest Little D,
It's been more than 3 weeks since we brought you home. I wouldn't say that these 3 weeks have been the easiest, but you are definitely the most beautiful blessing ever happened to us. I still remember all the tiniest detail of that day when it all happened, and I certainly don't want to forget it. I want to put it into words, because the day you were born is definitely one of those moments that I want to cherish forever.

Kisses & hugs,

Darrell, one day old

August 23 was our estimated due date and our OB were going to induce us at 42 weeks. Because we were planning for natural, unmedicated birth, I really prayed that I would just have spontaneous labor and that the baby would be born without any medical intervention. For 4 weeks, I had been only 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced with no progress each week, so I was really, really discouraged. I was really stressed out facing the whole induction thing. During those last weeks, I haven't had any contractions that would indicate labor. The only thing was that I passed a bit of mucus plug here and there. Every day I would wake up and cry because I was still pregnant. There was a lot of pressure and stress and I took it pretty hard when I should be relaxing.

On our 41 weeks appointment, I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Some progress, finally! My OB said that the time is close. It was Thursday, September 1 (41w2d) when I finally had a real contraction. I've actually had been feeling a lot of lower ab cramps for about 3-4 days and I didn't realize those cramps were actually contractions. So, finally that Thursday around 3am, I decided to time it and it was about 4-6 minutes apart for about a couple hours. The contractions were still fairly bearable, although they made me couldn't sleep. My plan was to labor at the comfort of my home as long as possible, so I tried to rest through the contraction since I wasn't planning to go to the hospital soon.

In the morning, the contractions were about 3-7 minutes apart, slightly more intense, but still felt a bit sporadic to me. I also passed even more mucus plug and that time it had blood, so I was convinced that the time is close. My appetite for food was gone, but I knew I had to eat since I needed a lot of energy for labor. David and his Dad prepared a home cooked meal and we had lunch at home. After that, I just continued listening to the labor playlist on my iPod and went through every contraction on my birth ball. Josh Wilson's Before The Morning was probably my labor soundtrack that I played over and over for a million times that day. I tried to look at the contraction as some kind of wave instead of pain so I can be more positive.

By 5pm, the contraction was a bit more regular, 3-5 minutes apart. I decided to call my OB's office. My OB was gone for the day and the on call OB advised that I should go to the hospital soon. We arrived at the hospital at 7pm. The nurse checked me and I was 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Not bad, but not good enough. I labored for about 2 more hours in the hospital and the contractions got more intense and closer together (2-4 minutes apart). When the nurse checked me again at 9pm, I was still 4 cm. Unbelievable. I felt the contraction was really intense already, but I guess it was not enough. The nurse knew that I was planning for natural birth so she sent us home and told me to just labor at home and get some rest.

I was okay with being sent home since I don't want to hang around the hospital if it's not close to the delivery time anyway. I just couldn't believe that my dilation didn't progress. So, we went home. I took Tylenol and kept laboring with my iPod through the night. It was quite impossible to sleep through the contractions, but I finally had some sporadic sleep (meaning waking up for the contractions here and there) from 7am to 11:30am. I had no appetite whatsoever for lunch, and the only thing I could eat was a bit of chocolate pop tarts, a croissant, and some Gatorade to keep hydrated.

Around noon, I tried to keep count of my baby's movement, but I just couldn't feel anything. I know that throughout the pregnancy, he had always been moving more at night and not so much in the afternoon. At that point, I was really worried though, and I didn't want to risk anything so I decided to call my OB's office. She told me to come to the hospital to get checked.

Me, laboring in the hospital

We went to the hospital at around 4pm and I got checked into the triage. Thank God, the baby was fine. I was just being paranoid. The nurse checked me and she said I was 5 cm. However, I felt that this particular nurse reached REALLY deep into my cervix and it hurt really bad! I had quite a bit of cervix checks done by my OB and I never felt any significant pain, except for this one. I was mad at the time, but tried to hide it. The on-call OB (not my OB) visited me in the triage and thank God, I felt that he was a kind person. I hate that it wouldn't be my OB who'd be delivering my baby, but I felt better that the on call OB was at least nice. He held my hand and said, "You are having this baby today!" I was a bit in disbelief, but quite excited. They said that they were moving me to a private L&D room. As soon as I got up from the bed in the triage, I had water trickling down my feet. At that time, I thought those were urine, not my water breaking, so I wasn't worried.

After we got admitted, we met our nurse who was the nicest person ever. I really thank God that she was assigned to us because she seemed genuinely sweet and more than anything, a great support. They put a hep-lock on my wrist since I didn't want IV. We walked around the L&D area and I labored some more in the private L&D room. David helped time my contraction. It was still around 3-5 minutes apart, but I felt that it got really intense after walking. At around 6pm the OB checked me and said that I was 6 cm. A little progress, but I'll take any progress! He told me that my water already broke, which I know nothing about! It made me think that the nurse in the triage accidentally broke my water. I was a bit upset, but couldn't think since I was focusing with trying to go through the contractions. The OB also said that the baby was facing up (posterior), which means back labor. He made me stayed in a weird position to help turn the baby, which made the contraction even more painful.

I continued laboring in the room. I almost couldn't bear the contraction but I tried hard to stay positive. David timed my contraction and prayed with me. We replayed the iPod labor playlist I had again and again. At that point walking was almost impossible. Any kind of position was painful. I barely could sit on the birth ball anymore.

The OB checked me at 8pm, 10pm, and midnight, and I was 6 cm still. I couldn't believe it. At midnight, he said that the labor took so long because the baby was posterior. He wanted to give me Pitocin to make the labor goes faster. My heart just sank right then and there. I was really scared about the Pitocin blocking my natural coping ability, and that the contractions with Pitocin would hurt more than what is natural to my body. He assured me again that he is the slowest in the hospital in terms of Pitocin dosage, and he only want to start with 2 ml/hour. I was really sad, but agreed hesitantly . So, they gave me Pitocin at around 1am. Honestly, my contractions were already so unbearable before Pitocin and I was already requesting epidural by that time, but David and our nurse tried to talk me out of it. David thought that I should at least try to bear it for another hour after Pitocin. I decided that I would get the epidural if there was no progress by 2am.

By 2am, surprise-surprise, I was still 6cm. I felt like my fight with pain was done and requested the epidural right away. I felt that I did my best and fought the hardest but the labor was just too long! It had been 2 days I didn't have proper sleep and I was just so tired. Now that I look back, I am glad I took the epidural. I probably could have endured the pain longer, but I was just so exhausted and sleepy. I remember telling my husband, "I wish I can just pause the labor for a bit and just continue it the next day." There was no way I could have the energy to push without the rest I got from taking the epidural.

The epidural needle felt nothing compared to the contractions I've been having. I knew that there is a consequence of C-Section if I had no progress, but at the time, I felt peace about my decision and instead of worrying too much, David and I just prayed that the dilation would progress and that God would give me strength and ability to push the baby, even with half of my body numb. As soon as the epidural was in effect, I felt... relieved. Everything was kind of a blur, but I remember sleeping and had a good power nap. At 6am, I was 10 cm, fully dilated! Praise the Lord!

My nurse had to go home and another nurse replace her. The new nurse was equally kind and just everything I needed at the time. She was so empowering and helpfu. I was worried about how I would push without feeling anything. This new nurse said that I should do it like if I were to take a deep plunge to a swimming pool. It was a bit confusing at first, but as soon as I got into it, I was rocking it :) I felt really good I could finally push and although I couldn't feel a thing, I really gave it my all. She said that I was such a great pusher. She was so motivating, just the perfect nurse to help our delivery!

Darrell, a few minutes old

I started pushing at around 7am. David cheered me by my side and updated me how every push really made a difference. At 7:32am, the OB said, "You want to say hello to your baby?" and then he lifted the baby up for me to see. I could not believe it! After 51 hours of labor and only 40 minutes of pushing, Darrell Caleb Brata was finally born! He weighed 7.7 lbs and he was 20.5 inches long. David cut the cord, and then the baby has to be taken to the warmer since they suspected meconium. I hated waiting around for them to take the baby to my arms, especially since I wanted immediate skin-to-skin on my birth plan. I had to literally called out, "Can I please have my baby?"

Meeting Darrell for the first time

When they finally took Darrell into my arms, nothing else mattered. I remember my first thought was that he is so, so perfect. I couldn't believe that I could finally touch him. He was inside my belly for 9 months and now he's here... touchable, huggable, kissable. And I did just those things :) I tried to breastfeed him immediately and he latched right on like a champ. I didn't know that it's possible to feel so much joy and so much love for something so little.

David, holding Darrell for the first time

After the birth, I looked back upon a lot of things. We had a birth plan and most things I listed there didn't happen. I wasn't planning for Pitocin, Epidural, or laboring for more than 2 days, but they all happened. All-natural birth mission not accomplished. I wasn't upset but I definitely learn a lot of things. Proverbs 16:9 says "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." So, I'm learning from that and letting it go. I did end up with a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery, so I'm counting my blessings and grateful of everything.

Now, Darrell is 3 weeks old and I love him more each day. Although these past 3 weeks have undoubtedly been the hardest in my life, it's also been the most rewarding. Honestly, exclusive-breastfeeding has been really tough, but the moment I look into Darrell's eyes I know I wouldn't have done it any other way. A lot of times, I feel like a failed mother and I'm not good enough, but God's grace is more than sufficient for me, and His strength is made perfect in my weaknesses. I'm just praying everyday that God gives me strength and wisdom to take care of this little man.

Darrell and I, in the postpartum room

Thank you, Darrell for coming into our lives. You are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.

 Darrell, one week old

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