Before I begin, huge thanks to Jessica Brown Photography for the beautiful maternity photos and the last family photo, and to Molly Anne Photo for our professional birth photos! These images mean the world to me and I’m so incredibly grateful to good friends who have helped me document such a special time in our lives as we became a family of five!
Now onto Wren’s birth story…
I’ll admit it, I’m not my best self when I am pregnant. Of course, I revel in the beauty of creating new life. I cherish the baby kicks, and I even feel beautiful with a rounding belly (which I am so thankful for because I know many women who do not feel that way). I love the anticipation of welcoming a new life into our own, daydreaming about who this little person is going to be, wondering who they’re going to look like and when they’re going to arrive. And knowing we were pregnant with our first girl was a dream come true! John and I felt so grateful for this pregnancy!
At the same time, this was also my hardest pregnancy yet. Between weeks 6-18, I suffered from near-constant nausea and such an extreme lack of energy that I was sleeping most of the days while my kids were at school. It was the first of my three pregnancies where I threw up frequently enough to take medication daily for the first half of my pregnancy, and even throughout the remaining half I would gag easily over the smallest triggers – brushing my teeth, Tate’s drool in a bib, the dog throwing up, etc. In my 2nd trimester, I was very uncomfortable because of a lack of ab muscles and an umbilical hernia that had never been fixed from my pregnancy with Tate. I felt huge – and the comments from strangers certainly didn’t help! I can’t tell you how many “you sure it’s only one?” and “you are ready to pop!” comments I got when I was still months away from giving birth! It was super discouraging and I was mentally over it. I struggled to breathe as I did household chores, I tossed and turned in bed at night, and was generally fatigued 24/7. At around 30 weeks, I suffered an intense strained intercostal muscle (basically a strained rib muscle) that left me in so much pain that I can’t even describe it in words. The muscle strain lasted nearly 6 weeks and felt like a constant stabbing in my side. I had x-rays done to rule out a broken rib and I also ended up in the ER one night when I found myself unable to breathe. For weeks I rested on the couch, unable to laugh or move without serious stabbing pain. I couldn’t play with my kids, go on walks, or even sleep without feeling miserable.
Needless to say, as my pregnancy neared its’ end, I was more than ready for it to be over!! I wanted my body back and honestly was not confident that I was going to be able to physically make it to the end. So when my doctor offered up an elective induction at 39 weeks, I jumped at the opportunity and we scheduled it for the day before my birthday, September 7. As the weeks narrowed in on the day, I was so grateful to have chosen this route. In past pregnancies, I’ve never wanted an induction. I wanted the baby to come when he was ready and when my body was ready – but I truly felt like this scheduled induction was for my own personal mental health. I just wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to make it to the end without some sort of definite end date, and I’ve had so many friends experience positive inductions that I knew it was the right choice for me! Needless to say, if you have your reasons for wanting an induction, I fully support you. Ours was a very positive choice and I’m so glad we went this route!
On Wednesday evening, September 6, we arrived at the hospital to check in for the night with the knowledge that the next day our girl would be born! I was so excited to get the ball rolling! We checked in at 8PM, where the nurse checked me and declared I was 2 1/2 centimeters dilated, 40% effaced, and that baby girl was still pretty high up in the birth canal. They decided to wait to start the actual induction process until 5AM, when they would start me on pitocin to get contractions started.
Small side note in the story – a few weeks before all of this I realized one of my past brides shared the same doctor as me! We were both scheduled to be induced the same day, we both checked in at the same time, and both started pitocin at the same time. We were texting throughout the day on Thursday, September 7 to check in on each other’s progress. It was really cool to know someone else going through the exact same thing!
Overnight, I was unable to sleep a wink. I will say this was the worst part of the induction experience. I’d suffered insomnia and restless legs throughout my pregnancy so I’m sure this was a factor in it. Also the hospital bed is just not that comfortable, and I was also having a bad case of heartburn that would not subside. At one point I made John switch beds with me – he climbed into the hospital bed while I took a turn on the couch. The nurses were pretty surprised when they came in overnight to check on me and found a full-grown man in my hospital bed!
I watched the hours creep by and slowly, slowly, slowly, morning came. At 4:30 AM I was started on fluids in preparation for the pitocin to start, and John & I debated when I should ask for my epidural. I’m not a fan of pain during birth (I experienced enough to last me a lifetime during Jack’s labor), and knew I did not want to experience the pitocin-contractions that everyone warns you about!
At 5:00 AM they started my pitocin, and I got my epidural around 8:30 AM, before I was having any pain or discomfort. I was nervous for it again this time, especially given that nothing was happening contraction-wise so there wasn’t a huge “reason” for me to get the epidural done yet except that I knew I wanted one. As they were inserting it, John was talking with everyone in the room and asking them to explain how it worked – I had to stop him from talking about it because let me tell you, the last thing you want is to hear someone explaining it while you’re sitting as perfectly still as you can with a needle being inserted into your spine! The epidural went smoothly – I definitely experienced more pressure during the procedure, but once it was in I was fully numbed and happy!
My doctor came in shortly after the epidural was finished to check me. He said I was at 4 centimeters, which surprised me, and he wanted to break my water. I completely trust my doctor, but I was starting to get nervous about how fast the day was going to go. With each of my other labors, they have just flown by and resulted in a really overwhelming / quick escalation from “sitting and waiting” to “time to push.” I did not want that this time, especially since I had not slept the night before. Nevertheless, my doctor assured me that it was the right decision, and I had my water broken around 9:00 AM. No pain, no big deal!
By this point, I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept since Tuesday night and it was nearing midday on Thursday. I decided to try to take a nap and I was really hopeful I could get a few hours in before baby girl was born. Despite setting the scene for myself for a successful nap (lights off, windows closed, white noise on, meditation music and a lavender sleep mask on), I still could not fall asleep. I just kept spiraling in my head, anticipating myself feeling the need to push, and then worrying about how quickly things might go.
I think this was about the point I had a little cry breakdown. I told my nurse how nervous I was and really emphasized to her how scared I was of progressing too quickly. She checked me again and I was still at a 4, which was helpful to me because it assured me that I still had some time. We decided to try to let me nap some more (which continued to be unsuccessful), and she positioned me with the peanut ball to try to get things progressing a little more naturally without having to up my pitocin level.
By 12:30 PM, I was giving up on my nap but was grateful I’d had a couple of hours of rest. They had my pitocin at a 6 and it had not been raised in some time. My nurse decided to check me again, and said I was still between a 4-5cm, but that the peanut ball had really helped to bring Wren down (she had been still pretty high) and that my cervix was definitely thinning out. I was feeling a lot better about the pace that things were moving at, and I told my nurse I was ready to up my pitocin to continue progressing! She did so and I invited some of my family into the room.
A few minutes after they arrived, an intense wave of nausea rolled over me. I’d had this happen already earlier in the day, but this one I could not shake, so I (politely as I could) asked our family to leave the room and I vomited. John wasn’t in the room (he always leaves right as things start picking up, haha!) so my sister held my hair for me. She’s so sweet! I know that throwing up in labor is a sign of things progressing, so once the nausea passed I asked my nurse to check me again. It was 1:30 PM and she said I was at 6 cm! Ten minutes later, I threw up again and started feeling some waves of pressure down there. Even though it hadn’t been long, my nurse checked me again and I had progressed to an 8 in just 10 minutes. We knew the end was getting close (and fast!) as we had our family leave to go to the waiting room and we called our birth photographer, Molly Anne! By this point I was not in any pain, but there was a LOTTTT of pressure happening with each contraction as Wren moved down low and got ready to be born.
At some point around here (I believe it was about 2:15 PM), we figured out that my past bride, (the one who was scheduled to induce the same day as me and who I’d been texting throughout the day) was also getting ready to push! Apparently, we both reached that point at almost the exact same time, but she’d beat me by a minute or two! It was a waiting game as we waited for my doctor to go to her room first and deliver her baby, and then head over to us. While we were waiting, my nurse had the anesthesiologist come in to give me an epidural bolus to help take some of the pressure off because it was really building up with each contraction. I’m really glad she did because it definitely took the edge off and I felt completely calm as we waited for my wonderful doctor! We just relaxed in the room as we waited. Of all 3 of my births, this was the most calm and in control I have ever felt in the moments leading up to the actual birth. I was really excited to give birth and I felt READY too, something I had prayed to feel and was so grateful for!
At 2:40 we found out that our doctor had arrived at the hospital and was going to deliver my past bride’s baby first. Her son was born at 2:57 PM. Our doctor arrived at our room around 3:10 and it was time to push! The room felt so light and calm as my legs went up and everyone got into their places. I had decided during my pregnancy to try a different breathing technique this time during pushing (I’ve torn during both my previous births and was hoping to avoid it this time), so I explained to my nurses and doctor that I wanted to breathe out during pushing instead of holding my breath. Everyone agreed I could give it a try, and I did just that! After my first push, my doctor murmured something to his nurse – I had torn already. Oh well, I hadn’t felt it and we laughed about it. I still felt really good about how I was pushing and continued to do it my way. I felt some pressure as Wren’s head crowned, and everyone around me was really positive and encouraging about how well I was pushing. I just felt very present and calm, and I listened to my body when I felt like I wanted to take another breath and push again.
I felt her head come out – the epidural was really wonderful and I experienced absolutely no pain this time around, just the pressure – and soon afterwards I felt her little shoulders slip out and my doctor placed her straight onto my chest. I had my eyes open the entire time, which is different than how I’ve birthed in the past, and we welcomed our daughter at exactly 3:15 PM. It was such a serene moment, a perfect moment.
She gave out a few short cries, and then she lay quietly on my chest. Looking down at her, I tried to soak in the moment. We knew this would be our last baby, and I really just wanted to be present for every minute of this sacred moment. John was standing beside me gazing at our daughter, and we just smiled and laughed that we’d finally made it to the end! Our daughter, Wren Virginia Mallory, was finally here.
I was able to get her nursing very quickly after she was born and she latched on right away. We were all amazed at how absolutely perfect she was as she snuggled up to me. The hours after her birth were a bit of a blur, as my exhaustion from not having slept in 40+ hours was really catching up to me. I lay in the bed and nursed / snuggled for about an hour, and then it was time to have her cleaned up, weighed (8lb, 11.3oz! I still feel like she seems so much smaller!), and have the chance to meet the rest of her family who were eagerly waiting to meet our baby girl.
When she was about 3 hours old, she got to meet her two big brothers! My heart could have exploded right then and there. I was still in my hospital bed because our postpartum room wasn’t ready yet, but watching Jack walk in with such pride to see his baby sister was truly special. He snuggled her on the couch, his head gently laying on top of hers. Tate, on the other hand, didn’t seem too fazed by any of it. He wanted to hold her for a minute, and after that he was much more interested in playing with the fuzzy ball that had been attached to Wren’s hospital hat.
Once the boys left, we were moved to the Postpartum floor. John hung up Christmas lights (our hospital tradition) and we settled in for the night. My little sister brought up some Ramen for us to eat for dinner, and I remember it just tasted so amazing! It was the first time I’d been able to eat or drink a decent meal in what felt like months and I was so happy to not be pregnant anymore! The nurses were asking me to rate my pain, and all I could say was how much better I felt postpartum than I had 24 hours ago. What a relief to have my baby out of my belly and in my arms! The bed was SO comfortable (much better than the L&D bed) and I am passed out pretty quickly once we got Wren settled and situated.
Around midnight, I woke up and nursed Wren, who had been a complete angel. I looked at the clock and realized it was September 8 – MY BIRTHDAY!! As a complete surprise to me, all of the nurses on the floor (and even our nurse from L&D the night before!) came into our room at 12:01 AM with signs and banners and sang me Happy Birthday! It was really special, as I held my newborn daughter in my arms and felt so incredibly blessed and happy. Truly the best birthday ever.
We got to come home later that day, and I can honestly say this has been my easiest birth + recovery + transition yet. The boys have done extremely well so far (knock on wood, we’re still less than 2 weeks in) and Wren has been a complete angel. She nurses really well and loves to snuggle up on her mama and Daddy. She sleeps pretty solid stretches of 2-4 hours in her bassinet at night. She burps like a little man (it’s so cute!). She has the biggest, most beautiful gray eyes that we are all wondering what color they will turn out to be. She really is just perfect, and we are completely and utterly in love with her. I have never felt so happy or grateful. Thank you to every single outpouring of love for our baby girl! We truly, truly, truly are so blessed.