I don’t know how my words here can accurately convey the emotions that I felt during the birth and even now. My journey as a Gestational Carrier has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’m fighting back the tears just thinking about what we’ve been through the last year and a half and now a sweet baby girl is home safely with her loving & devoted family. God gave us first the gift of adoption then embryo adoption and it feels so good to be able to give back just a little bit of me as a gestational carrier.
I had a few mildly elevated blood pressures at home around 39 1/2 weeks. I had no symptoms of pre-eclampsia and when I checked my blood pressure at the office to confirm it was elevated one day and normal the next. The up and down bought us a little more time as the intended parents (and intended big brother) recovered from a stomach bug. We finally made the decision to proceed with induction before the blood pressure caused more problems. I had my membranes swept a few times that week (an attempt to naturally encourage labor) and worked with 2 incredible doulas to try to encouraged baby butterfly to get into a good position for labor. My awesome chiropractor worked me in for some Webster technique and pressure points to encourage labor as well. Ultimately we made the decision to induce at 39.6.
The morning we finally made this decision was very emotional for me. I really didn’t want an induction but knew that my desire for natural labor wasn’t as important as the health and well being of the baby… and myself. We showed up to the hospital some time after lunch to get things started. Having an amazing care team helped to ease my anxiety. I couldn’t have asked for a better midwife, nurse or doula. We got the pitocin started around 2 pm. I was already contracting pretty often when I arrived but nothing painful or meaningful. Fortunately my blood pressure was stone cold normal the entire labor.
My doula arrived just before 3 pm to start some baby positioning boot camp with me. We did this for a few hours then relaxed until the intended mom arrived. Once she arrived I requested that my midwife break my water to get the contractions more effective. I was in a good pattern at that point but the contractions were still very mild.
I was 4 cm and comfortable when my water was broken. From that point forward each and every contraction increased in intensity. It didn’t take long for things to really take off. I got checked not long after rupture and was already 6 cm. I spent what felt like an eternity contracting in the bathroom while the tub was being filled. I planned to get in the shower but transition was coming quickly. I remember being too hot for the shower and feeling like I was going to faint, puke and poop all at the same time. I felt like I was starting to lose control of the pain. Contractions were on top of each other and I could barely move between. My doula didn’t leave my side and for that I am so grateful. I don’t think I could have done it without her.
At that point I asked to be checked again and was 7 cm. I asked for an epidural and they knew I was serious. Around that time someone recommended we turn off the pitocin. I wish we had thought of that sooner and feel like I could have stuck with my plan for a natural birth if we had but I feel like things happened the way they did for a reason. The midwife could tell I was going to change quickly and started opening the delivery table and they called the intended dad to the hospital for the birth.
Soon after I asked for it the CRNA came to the room to prep me for the epidural. When he started to explain the procedure in detail I yelled “I’m a midwife, just put it in!”. Unfortunately the anesthesiologist had a hard time placing the epidural. I remember feeling like I literally could not survive one more contraction without it. My husband held me up and kept me from falling off the bed during what felt like the longest epidural placement of all time. 3 attempts later he finally got it in. I must have scared the CRNA because he dosed me to my eye-balls and I felt absolutely nothing even hours after the birth.
The intended dad came in right after the epidural was done and I felt completely at peace with my decision. I think if I would have continued without the epidural it would have been a very different experience for everyone, not just me. And not in a good way. The birth was calm and exciting and I think my comfort helped everyone to enjoy it more. Granted I was 9 cm right after the epidural so things truly were happening fast but the epidural gave us all a minute to breathe.
30 minutes later I could tell it was time. The intended mom changed into a gown to get ready for skin to skin and threw on a pair gloves to help catch the baby. I only pushed for 2 or 3 contractions. At the last second I asked for a mirror so I could experience the birth as well… as a midwife giving birth with a very dense epidural I felt left out not knowing what was going on. I could see her crowning and as soon as her head came out I could tell she looked exactly like her big brother. Born into her mother’s hands at 9:54 pm.
She came skin to skin with me and we were all amazed with how much she really did look like her brother. After several minutes the intended dad cut the cord and I was able to hand her to the intended mom. THIS was the moment I looked forward to the most. I did something for this couple that not many people would or could do. I wasn’t in this for the bond to the baby. I wasn’t in this for the adventure of raising another child. I was in this for them. I was in this for the joy that I could give to the parents when I handed them their baby. I’m crying as I write this because I am just so grateful that I was given this opportunity to change someone else’s life in this way. The intended mom wheeled a chair up to be closer to me while she held the baby skin to skin. She looked me in the eyes and said “I can’t believe you did this for us”. THAT was every bit of justification that I needed. That 1 little sentence made it all worth while.
We spent the next 2 hours of recovery together. We took turns holding her and just enjoyed being together. When we moved to postpartum the intended parents were in the room beside us. It was midnight and I was ready to get some sleep. The next morning they came to our room to visit and we spent another few hours just hanging out. I am so grateful for the time we got to spend all together.
As we rehashed the birth experience everyone shared the same feeling… the doula was amazing!! No one really knew anything about doulas when I suggested prenatally that I wanted to hire one. Not just any doula. THE doula. Julie Byers was a doula I had worked with many times over the last 2 years. I tell my patients that she is made of lavender. Just her presence in a room can change the entire atmosphere. I could not imagine birth without her by my side. My husband said his favorite thing about the labor was the doula. When the baby’s grandparents came to my house they had even heard about the amazing doula. Moral of the story – get a doula!!
The baby ending up spending the next 4 days in the hospital due to jaundice. When she was finally released the intended parents and one set of grandparents brought the baby to my house to meet my girls. It was so incredible to see the joy in their eyes when they finally got to meet her. We spent several hours just hanging out. The grandparents played with my girls while everyone got a chance to hold the baby. The intended parents Facetimed their 2 year old so the girls could say hi. My 7 year old decided to read a book to the baby while her Mimi got to meet the baby as well. I am so proud of how my girls handled every bit of this journey.
I’ve dreaded even writing this blog post because that means this journey is over. I know our friendship will continue and really believe we will always be in each other’s lives. It has been the most rewarding experience and I hope that I will get a chance to do it again. I could have never made it through this journey without the love and support of my husband. I can’t even begin to express what it means to me to have such a supportive and encouraging partner by my side. I truly couldn’t have done it without him and the sacrifices that he made for me.
Baby Butterfly Born 3/10/21 at 9:54 PM
Weight: 7 lb 13 oz
Height: 21 in
After Blake’s 31 hour labor I’m grateful for my 8 hour induction with only 4 hours of actual labor.
This birth story was originally posted on Maureen’s blog, Infertile Blessings. Her website is such an amazing resource for families experiencing infertility.