I’ve always been intrigued by having an unmedicated birth. It seems like such a beautiful, empowering, transformative experience for so many mothers, and one I’ve wanted to experience firsthand. It didn’t work out with Niels or Astrid’s births, and since Siggi is most likely going to be our last babe, I felt pretty motivated to go without any medical intervention this time around.

And I was so convinced that this would be my time. Baby felt so low, like she had dropped weeks before my due date. I was dilated to a 3 and about 50% effaced at 38 weeks, which had never been the case with my other babes. But after a few false alarms (including one admittance to the hospital, where the nurse told me I was at a 5, only to be checked by my OB a few hours later, to be told I was still only at a 3), and weeks of on and off false labor, my emotions were all over the place.

I basically started every morning with a fresh, hopeful perspective. Trusting my body, and that my baby would come in her own time. Listening to all the positive birth affirmations and meditations. Drinking date smoothies, eating pineapple cores, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, curb walking...doing anything and everything that is supposed to help naturally induce labor. And by every evening, when nothing had happened, except maybe a few braxton hicks, I was feeling more and more defeated, uncomfortable, and exhausted.

If you know me, you know I don’t enjoy my pregnancies. As grateful as I am to be able to get pregnant, and grow my beautiful babies, the process really takes a toll on me. Between the severe morning sickness, questionable ultrasounds (baby measuring small, a minor subchorionic hemorrhage, choroid plexus cyst - luckily that one cleared up), and regular aches/pains/exhaustion that comes from your body growing and stretching, I just feel wrecked basically the entire time.

And this time around, there were all the nutty plot twists of 2020, that did not help my mental state at all. So by the time I hit my due date, I was done being pregnant. I was done feeling sick. I was done feeling anxious that baby was healthy and okay. I was done feeling outrageously uncomfortable in my own skin.

But there was still that desire I had to have that magical, powerful, unmedicated birth experience. Which is why I told my doctor at my appointment on my due date that I didn’t want my membranes stripped, and I didn’t want to set an induction date. I told her I had at least one more week of patience in me, and set an appointment for the following Tuesday. Convinced that I would go into labor naturally before then.

After a weekend of squatting, lathering castor oil on my belly, living on a medicine ball, and getting a reflexology massage, there were still no signs of active labor. By Monday, I had decided I’d ask my doctor to strip my membranes the next day, in the hopes of that kickstarting something. But that evening, I got a text that changed all my plans.

Someone from my Ward (church boundaries), texted me asking about a 72 hour kit, that our area has been advised to put together for our family. I told her that honestly it probably wouldn’t be happening in the near future for us because I was 41 weeks pregnant, and that was currently all consuming. She sympathized over how rough that could be, and sweetly offered to bring us dinner the next day. I declined because we luckily had my parents in town, which came along with an overflowing fridge. Then she asked me where I was planning on delivering, and when I told her, she said that she had a shift at that exact hospital that night.

But because we had only been in our Ward long enough for me to just start connecting faces to names before COVID shut down all church meetings, I honestly had the girl texting me confused with another girl with the same first name, who I believe is a nurse. So I was pleasantly shocked when she explained that she’s the OBGYN covering for my original OBGYN that night. It clicked that I was thinking of the wrong person, and realized who I had actually been texting! And she said that if I came in, she’d be happy to get things checked and moving for me with some Pitocin if I’d like, since I was already at a 3, overdue, and with a history of big babies.

At that point it honestly felt like the stars had aligned. Like I had been giving it my best shot to go intervention free, but when none of that worked, that some divine intervention kicked in. Ha, but in all serious, my initial reaction was so excited at the prospect, but I also really didn’t want to immediately jump on the offer, and give up my unmedicated birth dream. I was afraid that if I did it, that it would be for myself and my own impatience. But I also had this overwhelming gut feeling that the pros outweighed the cons. That baby girl was fully cooked, and that she would be okay, and I would be a lot happier, even if she had to be artificially evicted.

I ate dinner, put the kids to bed, and sat on it for a minute, to make sure it felt right to go in, and we weren’t doing it just out of the thrill of having what we wanted within reach. But Nicolaus and I both felt like it was meant to be, so we loaded up the hospital bags, said goodbye to my parents, and set off!

And here’s the rough timeline of Siggi’s birth story:

10pm / Arrived at the hospital. I was so happy to see a familiar face, and get things going. And when my Ward friend asked if I was comfortable having her check my cervix and/or delivering my baby, because some people don’t like knowing the person who’s doing either of those, I told her that I’m not shy, and I was just ready to have this baby out!

Ha, and honestly it was comforting to know/trust the person helping me with that. So I got checked and was about 4cm dilated and 60% effaced. She also stripped my membranes while checking me to see if that would help move things along.

11pm / After getting admitted, and put on an IV, they started me on Pitocin. The contractions were coming regularly, but varied in intensity.

2am / After a few hours, and another cervical exam, I was still only about 5cm dilated. My water was still intact, and baby was still sitting pretty high, so there wasn’t that full engagement I needed to fully efface and dilate.

I was a bit hesitant to have them break my water, since it had happened on its own with my first two births, and I’ve heard mixed reviews about having a doctor break your water for you.

But I remembered my water breaking was what really sent me into active labor with Astrid’s birth, and I was pretty over the the painstakingly slow progression with this birth, so I agreed to it.

It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I expected it to be, and also felt a welcome sense of relief as my belly released some pressure.

2:30am / Things really revved up once my water broke. My contractions really intensified, and starting coming a lot closer together. With the Pitocin working, there were some that had hardly any resting period in between.

At this point, I had already had my membranes stripped, been on Pitocin, and had my water broken. It was not quite the unmedicated, intervention-free birth I had delivered. Ha, so it seemed silly at this point to pass up an epidural, and relieve some of the discomfort.

But as soon as I had made the decision, and told my nurse I’d like to get one, she informed me that the anesthesiologist had just gone into an emergency C-section, and that I’d have to wait roughly 30 mins until he was out.

I was fine with that, and extremely grateful for all the mental prep work I had put into how to cope and breathe through the intensity of contractions.

And intense they were. 30 minutes came and went and I was really proud of how I was able to get through them. But after about an hour and a half, I definitely started hitting my breaking point. The 30 minute estimate had been so far off, and I was certain at this point that I had been forgotten about, and there was no epidural coming for me.

4:30am / Finally!! A solid two hours later, the anesthesiologist finally arrived. I have a pretty intense phobia of needles, and between that and arriving at transition, I started getting some body tremors.

Luckily, I had an amazing anesthesiologist who had a calming presence, and did a great job at distracting me while giving me my epidural.

5am / Before I knew it, my epidural had kicked in, and I was just reveling in the sensation of pressure rather than overwhelming pain and discomfort. I got checked again and was about 8cm dilated.

6:55am / My OBGYN friend came in to let me know that her shift ended in a few minutes. But at this point, the pressure I had been feeling had gotten pretty intense again, so she checked my progression and said that I was at a “10 + 2”. I asked what that meant, and she said what would relieve that pressure was pushing! My body was finally ready!

7:00am / I started pushing, and there was such a good energy in the room. It was a full female team of doctors and nurses, and even my original midwife arrived just in time to witness the birth! Everyone was so encouraging, and the whole thing just gave me major female empowerment vibes.

7:10am / I only had to push through about 3 contractions, and baby girl was here! There are no words to adequately describe the sweet, sweet relief that immediately flooded through me. The mental and physical relief that she was finally in my arms and a healthy, breathing little human.

Sigrid Mar (Siggi for short) was 9lbs 9oz and 19.5 inches of sweetness. And she immediately latched on and nursed like a pro!

I hemorrhaged a bit after the birth, and they ended up needing to give me 2 extra bags of Pitocin, and a shot in my leg to help with clotting. Which was not the most comfortable experience, but luckily nothing got too crazy or out of hand.

We left the hospital the next day, and Niels and Astrid have been absolutely smitten with our new baby. She didn’t let Nicolaus or I sleep even once the first 5 nights or so, and we’ve been in a hazy, zombie mode where the nights and days bleed together, but it’s all been worth it for our darling, beautiful, perfect little Siggi babe. Our home and hearts feel so full with her in our lives.