I've been hesitant to share Zoe's birth story because there are no words to accurately convey the transformative power this experience brought to me. But here it goes...
After much contemplation and prayer (and an ultra sound showing low amniotic fluid levels), we decided to go in to the hospital on Tuesday morning at 5 am to have our midwife break my water in hopes this would help my body progress with more consistent contractions. I struggled with (self induced) guilt over this decision as my desire was to let my body go into labor naturally this time. (Sidenote: I was induced--same procedure--breaking my water, with my son, which sent me right into active labor and had an epidural towards the end).
The night before we were going into the hospital, my contractions started to pick up (I had about 6 in one hour in the middle of the night). I think this was a gift from my body assuring me it was ready and prepared to give birth, even if active labor still seemed so far away.
We got checked in, and one of our midwives suggested trying a foley bulb to help my cervix dilate even more, before they would break my water. She put this in around 7 am and we headed up to our labor/delivery room. I diffused my peace and calming/lavender blend of essential oils and we turned on the calm/meditation station to create a peaceful atmosphere. For the next 6 hours, we waited. I had some contractions, but was able to talk through them, I even laughed through some of them. It was my 'warm up' time and one strategy I used was closing my eyes and picturing my son Jayden's melt-your-heart eyes and wild curls. I thought about his birth and having experienced the fierce love I feel for my first baby now expanding to two beautiful souls.
The foley eventually fell out (meaning my cervix was opening) and my midwife offered to break my water around 1:30. I was just finishing up my cup of Panera autumn squash soup (delicious) and the contractions started to pick up quickly.
Our incredible doula arrived and we spent the afternoon sharing stories with her between contractions and imagining what my birth could be. She helped me stay on top of the pain and no interventions were ever discussed or offered. Her steady presence helped me stay focused and feel empowered. The most helpful phrase she kept repeating was "low voice, low baby." This helped me to control my reaction to the contractions and not spiral out of control and start screaming. Directing my moaning low into the ground helped to make the most of every contraction and shift our baby girl into position for birth.
I found that with both of my labors I needed to be up and active. I tried to lay down for 2 contractions about found it unbearable. I used the birthing ball, leaning over the bed, swaying my hips while my husband or our doula applied counter pressure to my back for most of my labor.
Then came transition. Nausea. Exhaustion. Shaking. I wanted to give up. My compassionate and intuitive husband recognized the signs and knew we had entered into a new phase of labor. We were closer to meeting our angel baby. I sat down in a chair in the corner between contractions and I remember our doula helping me to relax every part of my body, my shoulders, my neck, the space between my eyes, all the way down to my toes. I am so grateful for her presence during my labor and especially as our sweet baby was born.
I wanted to move from my position in the chair but my legs were trembling so much and my feet were swollen from laboring all afternoon (plus being 41 1/2 weeks pregnant) so as I stood up, I had to lean on my husbands shoulders as he held me up through a few more contractions. Our doula came and stood behind my hubby so I could look at her for strength and support. All of a sudden, something changed. I felt tons of pressure and my body took over. I looked at our doula intensely and said get someone in here NOW, she's coming.
Our midwife rushed in, nurses covered the floor beneath me, and squatting on my tip toes, bent over my husband's shoulder, howling with all my strength, her head was out. There was no time for someone to coach me. Seconds later, her nine pound three ounce body glided it's way out and still connected by the cord, the nurses and our doula gently helped me get into the bed and they laid her on my chest. Zoe Mae Elizabeth Simpson was welcomed into my arms at 7:57 on September 13th.
I remember laying in the hospital bed that night unable to sleep scrolling through the photos my hubby took, in awe of the miracle I just experienced. Kelsi from the Bump Squad had shared these birth affirmations just a few days prior and I really believe they helped carry me through: My body knows what to do. I will surrender fully and completely. My heart and body know exactly what my baby needs, my mind is learning.
I lay there thinking: You did this. You birthed her without anyone guiding you or giving you directions. Your body took over. You were ready. And you birthed your daughter naturally, just as you wished. Zoe is Greek for "life" and I truly experienced an incomparable fullness of life through her birth.