Meeting Talie Morgan

The one thing you learn pretty quickly when giving birth is that you are not in control.

Going into labor, like most people, Seth and I had an idea of how we wanted things to go. I wanted to have a natural labor, meaning a vaginal delivery and no pain medication. Having a doula for a cousin and being surrounded by many moms, both vets and rookies, we listened to their advice and viewed our “plan” as more of a guideline. We knew our end goal was to birth a healthy baby and were willing to make changes if the situation called for it.

The last few weeks of my pregnancy were so challenging both physically and mentally. Our due date came and went. I walked. And walked. And walked. I did acupuncture. I ate the infamous Prego Pizza from Skipolini’s. I got a massage. I took evening primrose oil. I used clary sage oil. We had sex. None of it worked.

I was scheduled for an induction on Friday, July 22nd – one week after my due date and the cutoff for her to be a Cancer. We were both nervous about me being induced. We knew it often made labor harder, contractions much stronger, and made a C-section statistically more likely. We wondered if we should try to push the date (we had already pushed it back from Tuesday, July 19th). Our doctor said she’d only allow us to go until Saturday or Sunday and my cousin, who was our doula and recently hired as a Labor & Delivery Nurse, had Friday off on her brand new schedule. So we decided to stick with the 22nd.

We went in at 1:30pm. We were taken to a huge private room. While we waited, we wondered if that’s the room I’d give birth in – we both hoped so and Seth bet it was because it had the “stadium lights” as he called them…also known as the bright lights shown at your you know what so they can see exactly what they’re doing down there. He was right. That’s where we stayed…for the next three days. Little lady decided she wanted to be a Leo, not a Cancer.

As is often the case with inductions, it was a long labor. We wanted to try to non-medicine routes of induction first so we tried the foley bulb, which is basically a catheter they insert into your cervix and inflate it so it applies pressure and helps the cervix dilate.  This was on Friday evening – maybe around 5 or 6pm. They said it would either fall out on its own once I was 2 or 3 cm dilated or they’d take it out after 12 hours. It fell out around 2am the next morning. I felt relieved that I had made progress. The midwife came and checked me and said I was unfortunately still only 1cm dilated. Seriously? Since the foley bulb didn’t work, we moved on to a medication that I took orally that would help me dilate to 3 or 4cm.

I wasn’t making enough progress so they eventually had to start me on a low dose of Pitocin, which is the drug that gets contractions going, and would gradually increase it every hour. I started having contractions but they were only strong enough to feel a little uncomfortable – like bad period cramps. They weren’t as strong as they needed to be. By Saturday night, things were still stalled and I still wasn’t in active labor. The midwife (I think we were on our second at this point), said we were at a point where we were good candidates to send home for 12 hours so we could rest and come back to try again or we could try to foley bulb one more time in addition to being on a low dose of Pitocin. We had no idea what to do – the thought of leaving sounded awful. I was so beyond ready to get this baby out of me! We asked our midwife what she recommended because we didn’t have any idea of what the best option was. She said since we were already there, it wouldn’t hurt to try the foley bulb again.

They put the foley bulb back in around 10pm on Saturday night. As they were putting it in, I was experiencing a lot of pressure and my water broke as they were inserting it. Even though I was uncomfortable, I remember feeling so relieved that my body was progressing and knowing now that I didn’t have to go home – that we would leave that hospital with our baby! The foley bulb/Pitocin combination immediately resulted in a massive, intense wave of contractions.

I honestly don’t even know how to describe what I felt next because I’ve never felt anything even close to comparable in my entire life. I thought I was going to die. My body was overcome with pain. I tried to find a comfortable position. The pressure made me feel like I had to go to the bathroom so Seth helped me to the toilet but but I realized I didn’t actually have to go and that it was just the pressure. I also realized I couldn’t tolerate the pain sitting down. So I was standing there in the bathroom with those sexy mesh underwear halfway down my legs shaking uncontrollably while Seth tried to comfort and stabilize me. Needless to say, any and all modesty had been thrown at the window at this point. I essentially turned into a primal animal.

I tried different positions and nothing helped. The problem was that there was no dip or break in my contractions like there are with natural contractions. Because of the Pitocin, they felt like they just stayed at their highest peak and never came down. I lasted for about an hour and a half I think and I told Seth that I had to have something. I thought If it’s only been an hour and I literally feel like I’m dying, I cannot tolerate this for who knows how many more hours. My body can’t handle this.

The midwife was so kind and keeping in mind my original plan to go all natural, she suggested trying nitrous oxide first (laughing gas). So we tried that, but I hated it. Holding the mask to my face (no one else is allowed to hold it) was difficult and I felt like the mask was suffocating me. We moved on to Fentanyl and it was the best feeling of relief I’ve ever felt. I felt a little loopy but it took away the pain and allowed me to sleep for an hour or two. After that, it wore off and the pain of the contractions returned. I tried to see if I could tolerate it, but they continued to come fast and hard without giving me any kind of break so I begged for an epidural. They were happy to oblige.

I had a moment immediately after that were I broke down. Up until that point, I don’t think I had cried at all (it was honestly like I was in too much pain to cry). I think all of my emotion caught up to me. I felt relief that the pain would go away but also a little bit like I was disappointing Seth (he was totally supportive, this was my own projection). It kind of just felt like a brief moment of sadness that absolutely nothing was going the way we wanted. Our nurse at the time was named Jen (I think this was our second time with her) and she was so sweet and told me not to feel bad about it for even a minute if that’s what I was feeling. And with that, I let go of it all and was 100% at peace with getting the epidural.

I got the epidural around 2am and I have to say, it is utterly amazing at how effective it was. I literally felt nothing after that. It was definitely a strange sensation not being able to really feel my legs and feet and I was nervous about them sticking a massive needle in my back, but it was the biggest relief to not feel that constant, enduring pain anymore. I was finally able to sleep for about 4 hours until 6am on Sunday morning. At that point, they checked me again and I was finally 6cm dilated! I cannot tell you how relieved we both were that I finally made significant progress.

My progress from 6cm was fairly slow. My contractions were close enough together but they weren’t getting strong enough. They eventually had to put in an internal monitor and in the early afternoon, maybe around 1pm, the midwife came in and basically said they’d let me labor for a few more hours while she went and tended to women who were about to deliver, but that if I didn’t progress “this might not be the best way to have the baby,” gently insinuating that a C section might be needed. Once she left, Seth asked if I understood what she was saying and I said yes. We were both really nervous and did not want that to happen. At this point, my sister Emmy was in the room to take pictures for us whenever she was born. I asked them to find me a birthing meditation. I decided that the baby and I were going to work together to move her down and into position – I was not going to have a C-section.

As I listed to the meditation, the tears poured down my face. Seth’s tears matched mine and I gave all the energy I could to envisioning the baby moving down and being in the right position. I told her mentally we’d do this together.

After doing the meditation for awhile, Seth was sitting next to me holding my hand talking to me and all of a sudden his eyes get wide. I asked him, “What is wrong? What’s going on?!” And he just said “Hold on” and left the room. I had no idea what was happening and thought something was wrong, but it turns out I had just done what all women wish they wouldn’t when giving birth. Yep, #2. (Never thought I’d be writing that on my blog!) I laughed because he was sweet enough to go tell a nurse so I wouldn’t be embarrassed and also because I hadn’t the slightest clue – I literally couldn’t feel a thing. I was so amused at the fact that that was possible. The midwife heard what happened in the hall so she came in and said she was going to check me again to see how far I was dilated at this point. Expecting to hear a number, instead we heard, “Well, there’s the head!”

They brought everything in to prep for the delivery and they eventually told me to start pushing. It was strange because I couldn’t feel anything so I wasn’t sure if I was pushing in the right way. At one point the midwife asked me if I had any burning and I said besides giving all of my effort to pushing, I couldn’t feel a thing down there. I was even laughing at one point between pushes when she told me, “You had a really good anesthesiologist!” I did, indeed! About 40 minutes later, at 3:18pm, we met our baby girl!

Meeting her was relief, elation, excitement, and pure joy all wrapped into one. We were blindsided with the amount of love we felt for this new person we helped create.

After I held her on my chest for a few minutes, they continued to check both me and Talie (although we hadn’t named her at this point) and we both had fevers. They were worried about her so they took her to her little station directly across from me (in the same room) to bathe her to see if it would help. Seth stayed by her side and her fever went away immediately, but while they were doing that I was losing a lot of blood. They thought the fever might be caused from an infection from my water breaking so they put me on antibiotics. I felt like it took a really long time for them to close me all up and get the bleeding to stop. They ended up having to give me a suppository to help stop the bleeding. This spiked my blood pressure, meaning I couldn’t be transferred to the recovery room until it went down. They eventually brought the baby back to me to try to nurse. We struggled and it hurt like hell. All of this felt like it was happening at once. And on top of all this, I was so nauseous and ended up throwing up all the liquid I drank immediately after labor. It was incredibly overwhelming and I was exhausted. Afterward, Seth told me he was freaking out a little bit when we were separated because he couldn’t be in two places at once and there was a lot of blood. Eventually, everything calmed down and all was well. My blood pressure returned to normal and my fever dropped and we were able to be moved to a recovery room that night.

If I can give any advice about giving birth, it’s to know what you want and what your ideal situation is, but be willing to be flexible and to do what the situation calls for. We have zero control over what happens so there is no use in resisting what you can’t change or feeling guilty about decisions you need to make in order to get through it and make sure both you and your baby are healthy. Listen to your gut and be okay with what it tells you.

I can’t say enough good things about the nurses and midwives and anesthesiologist we had. We basically met the entire staff after being there for three days. The nurse who admitted us (who happened to be on an overtime shift) was also the nurse who was there when Talie was born, which was really cool. They exceeded expectations and went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable, informed, and cared for.

Beyond meeting our girl, the most amazing thing about this process was watching my husband step up in a profound way. He helped the nurses, he was constantly asking questions and informing me what was going on, he continually checked in with me and took care of me and comforted me. Once she was born, he had check lists and timelines going of our feeding times, her wet and dirty diapers – anything we could track, he had it written down. He was phenomenal – he was truly my rock and my steady ground. I am so thankful that this is the man that Talie gets to have as her daddy.

When it came to naming her, we decided that we’d decide between our two favorite names once she was born and we could get a sense of what suited her the most. After spending a little time with her, we both felt Talie Morgan was it. Talie is the last part of my name (Natalie) and is a nickname Seth gave me years ago, which always amused me because before that no one had ever called me that – growing up, everyone called me Nat. He stopped calling me that several years ago but I always loved it so I’m glad we got to use it for her. Her middle name, Morgan, is Seth’s middle name and means “sea-born”, “bright sea”, “of the sea”, or “dwelling near the sea”. It felt like it was meant to be considering we live by the ocean and now she has both of us with her always.

If you made it this far, kudos to you. This was a hefty one. I know it got a little intimate back there, but I wanted to give a real account of what birth was like. Too often we leave out the details we think are embarrassing or ugly or unflattering. But the thing is, giving birth is not glamorous. It’s raw and primal and there is absolutely no sense of modesty or glamour. And we should not be ashamed about that.  I did my makeup on Friday and Saturday while we waited for something to happen but as life would have it, everything hit fast and hard late at night and by the time I was actually in labor, I could care less about what I looked like. The pictures are probably some of my worst, but they’re also my most cherished because it was the best day of our lives.

The last six months have been filled with an indescribable joy and a fulfillment I’ve never felt before. It’s been challenging. It’s been exhausting. There have been moments when I wished I had a job I could escape to or could just take a day off of being a parent. It sounds terrible, but it’s the truth. Those moments are short-lived. They’re the moments you experience when the baby is fussy and you’re exhausted and nothing seems to be going right. And then she falls asleep and is like this angelic, perfect little being that all of a sudden you’re magically in awe of again. It’s a crazy ride, this whole parenthood thing, but it’s truly been the most meaningful and the most fun and the most magical. That little girl puts me in a state of awe and wonder every day. I’m so thankful for her bright spirit, her health, and the undeserving love she gives us every single day.

Happy 6 months, baby girl. I can’t believe we’re already here. You are undoubtedly the brightest light in our world.