“I’ve struggled to write this story. How do I put to paper the singularly most defining day of my life? The day that I met my daughter, the day that I went from a woman who had longed for over two years to have a child, to a mother. It’s taken me months to find the words, through the haze of life with a newborn and the general lack of time that comes with having a baby. I wanted to do it justice because it’s not just my story, it’s hers. The story of our girl and how she changed everything from the start.
I find it fitting that carrying and birthing my daughter helped me to become the person I was always meant to be. From the time I knew that she existed, something within me shifted. Forever the realist, I became the optimist. It was like her sweet spirit was filling me and flowing through me from the start (even now she is a contagiously joyous baby). I learned the power that my perspective had over my life experiences the most through those 9, almost 10 months that I was pregnant. I loved being pregnant. The morning sickness, heartburn, aches, and pains were all secondary to the joy of knowing I was growing and nurturing life. I was the strongest I’ve ever been carrying her; mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. As it turned out, I needed that strength the most when it came time to bring our girl into the world.
There’s a line in a song that talks about having a child that says ” we were both born today.” My birth personified that feeling, it was a catalyst for change in me that I didn’t expect. It taught me more about myself than anything else I’ve ever walked through. It revealed the strength that I carry deep within me, bringing it to the surface in a way that was raw and beautiful. It wasn’t the birth that I dreamed of or planned for but the birth that I needed. Whenever I doubt my ability or adequacy, I come back to that day and am reminded of what I am capable of. I am grateful to it for helping to forge a bond between my husband and I, that I know will remain unbroken. The love that we had for each other before has multiplied even more as we’ve walked through the journey of parenthood together. But mostly, I’m thankful for my birth experience because it gave me my Evie, my little light. My girl, who is tenacious and wild, full of energy and determination. If the way that she started her journey is any indication of how she will be the rest of her life, then the world isn’t ready for the force that is coming for it. It’s true that she was worth it, and I would go through it all, as many times as it took, to get to her.
I had a vision for my birth from the beginning. I dreamed of delivering my daughter into water, imagining it every time I would soak with my expanding belly in the tub. Water was synonymous with comfort for me, a safe space, and I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming place for a baby. So we did everything practically that we could to make that happen. We took our Hypnobabies classes, I exercised and ate well, we watched videos of natural births and hired a doula. We found our birth center and developed an amazing relationship with the midwives there. Even as serial procrastinators we had our entire baby to-do list done by 37 weeks. I was just convinced that if we didn’t, somehow she would be born early and we wouldn’t have our perfect nursery done or any of the supplies we needed ( I laugh about this sense of urgency now for several reasons). Really, if we were being graded on our birth preparation skills, Tony and I would have been A+ students. I was resolute in my determination to give our girl the gentlest entry into the world possible. Every day I prayed two things: that God would keep her safe within my womb and that He would give us a beautiful, spirit-filled birth.
One thing I always kept in mind was that as a first time Mom, I would probably carry our daughter longer than 40 weeks. I anticipated going into our 41st week at least, so as her guess date came and went, I didn’t think twice about it. I knew I would miss being pregnant so I loved the idea of more time with my daughter snuggled close to me. When we got into our 41st week, I still believed very strongly in my baby and my body’s innate sense of timing. “ She will come when she’s ready,” I repeated to our friends and family. We had an appointment that week on a Wednesday, where they checked me for the first time, and told me that I was 1-2 centimeters dilated. One of our midwives, Cindy, offered to do a stretch and sweep. We decided to give baby girl until the weekend before resorting to any extra measures, with both the midwives and myself feeling confident that I would go into labor on my own within the next two days. We made a plan to do the procedure on Friday or Saturday if I wasn’t in labor to hopefully help get things moving along. Thursday passed and then Friday with absolutely no baby action taking place. On Saturday we decided to give baby some encouragement with a sweep. It was at that point that one of our midwives, Bree, explained what would happen if I didn’t go into labor on my own. I started to realize that the fact that I may have to be induced was becoming more likely than I had imagined. The mental strength I’d worked to build began to wane. I started to feel anxious at the thought of a hospital delivery and the fact that things might not go as we’d planned.
It was Monday, August 21st, and in spite of our August 8th guess date, I was still very much pregnant. It had been a long week for me as the days ticked away, and our girl still stayed content ( and very much healthy) within me. We had already tried everything we could think of to help give my body a kick start: the birth ball, pumping, chiropractic care, eggplant parmesan, you name it. I had even walked 4 miles in the August heat through St. Augustine to try and encourage her out, but still only had faint signs of early labor. At our appointment that day they did another sweep and told me I was progressing, although slowly. They still remained optimistic at the birth center and assured me that no matter what, it would be an amazing birth. We continued to do what we could that night to encourage my labor with the knowledge that if things didn’t kickstart before the next afternoon, induction was the only option left. I thought of all of the horror stories I’d heard about induction, sobbing on my couch as my husband embraced me. I was scared, for the first time feeling real fear over what was about to happen.
I realized that night that I had a choice, I could let fear win, or I could choose to continue to walk out the belief that my perspective would have power over my birth experience. I sat on my bed as everyone else slept and listened to a Bethel worship session, praying. I remember that there was one line that they repeated over and over again that I decided to make my mantra. ” Whatever has come, whatever will be, I’m held by the one whose name is perfect peace.” As I sang along, I gave myself the space to grieve for the birth that I had dreamed of, and I let it go. I asked God to give me the strength to accept what was happening and the faith to believe that everything would be okay. I knew that no matter what happened, we were doing what was best for our daughter and that she would be more than worth it.
The next morning I was resolved that a hospital birth was the one we were destined to have. Instead of exhausting myself even further, my husband and I decided to just enjoy our last day as a family of two with my mother-in-law and prepare as much as possible. It was actually his 30th birthday, so we surprised him with a cake and got to do a mini-celebration. I told him I couldn’t top the gift of giving him a baby so there weren’t many other presents involved, but it was sweet to let him have a moment in the midst of all of the craziness. We called the midwife, Angela, early that morning and started to make a plan. She was such a champion for us the entire time, once we knew that induction was more than likely an inevitability. She worked to make sure that I could still have the un-medicated birth that we had worked for. I was really counting on still being able to labor in water or having the ability to move around freely, even with the Pitocin, but as it turned out there were already setbacks happening. Because the labor and delivery floor had just opened the week previous, they didn’t have mobile or waterproof monitors yet for continuous monitoring, so that wouldn’t be an option. Still, we soldiered on that day. I did my hair and make-up, tried to rest, and treated myself to all of the birthday cake that I wanted. It’s such a strange feeling KNOWING when you’re about to go into labor as opposed to it happening spontaneously, it’s a surreal feeling and yet oddly comforting.
We arrived at the birth center around 4 PM that day, and Angela checked me just in case I might have progressed more. It was more of a last-ditch effort. Even then I was only 3 cm dilated and not really having any contractions on my own. I remember taking a photo in the bathroom, knowing that it would one of the last ones I had of my belly. She walked us over to the labor and delivery floor, where they started the check in process. At this point, everything started to feel like a blur of answering questions, signing forms, and making the room feel as homey as possible. The nurses were all attentive and kind, helping me to get settled into the room. I think they could sense my anxiety even then. Despite my resolve, I still had a lot of fear then that I wouldn’t respond well to the Pitocin, or that the pain would be too much. They started the meds for me around 6 PM on the lowest dose possible. As the nurse put the IV in my arm, my husband, Tony, stood at the foot of the bed and told me to look at him ( I hate needles so much). I tried to breathe deeply, mostly feeling overwhelmed and unable to process everything in that moment. Not long after we checked in, our doula texted us with a family emergency and notified us that she wouldn’t be able to make it. After all of the changes that had already happened, we opted not to have a substitute that we didn’t know come and decided to take everything on our own. Tony had learned a lot through our Hypnobabies classes and felt prepared enough to help me as my dudela (he rocked it, of course).
After what felt like a very dramatic and disappointing build-up getting there, everything calmed for a while as we settled in and waited in our room. I ate some dinner, my mother-in-law and Tony texted friends and family to keep them updated, we took some last pictures together, and admired the beautiful natural light coming in through the window. I listened to baby’s heart beating steadily on the monitor, the sound filling our quiet and still room. Eventually, the sun went down and we gradually decided to increase the Pitocin to help speed things along. Angela allowed us to walk the halls a couple of times, just to encourage my body to get a move on. We were mostly joking around and taking photos, I was amazed that I was actually at the start of having a baby.
The later it got, the more I could feel the Pitocin was starting to work. It really didn’t seem like it took much in the end as if my body just needed a little kickstart. The muscles in my stomach tightened and released again and again. Before long I wasn’t up for joking and needed to concentrate through the sensation.
Around 11:30 PM I was resting in the bed when I felt my water break. I remember telling Tony, who was sitting in a chair beside me. He fist pumped and cheered. He texted Melissa and she arrived soon after. Finally, things were truly happening. I felt so much excitement and anticipation. Everything started to blur together as my pressure waves (contractions) increased. I had to focus my energy as much as I could to get through them. I asked to get up out of the bed and onto my birth ball so I could incorporate movement to cope. I closed my eyes, circling my hips and breathing through each one. The pain wasn’t unbearable for me, especially having Tony there to hold my hand and comfort me through it. I was more annoyed about being forced to stay in one place by the wires connecting me to the monitors.
Eventually baby and I were doing well enough that Angela told us that I could get into the shower. Thankfully I had brought a swimsuit top, unfortunately for Tony, he’d left his swim shorts. He still got in the shower with me, fully clothed. I used the handle to spray my belly, the hot water felt heaven sent while the privacy of the shower gave me a sense of calm and safety.
Around 1:30 AM I started to feel the urge to bear down and push. Angela checked me for the first time since the birth center and told me that that I was fully dilated. I remember looking at her and saying ” I’m doing it? I did it?” We all celebrated as she reassured me that I was and that I had. There was a part of me, in spite of all of my preparation, that worried I wouldn’t be capable of enduring labor naturally. I couldn’t believe that I was actually doing it and that I made it so far.
I started to try and move baby down, through breathing and pushing. At first it felt like I was actually making progress, but as the hours ticked by, I began to feel exasperated. I felt like I wasn’t doing it “right” and didn’t understand why she wasn’t out yet. I was putting all of my strength into it but still, it felt like I wasn’t actually moving her at all. I remember looking at Angela for reassurance, she was calm and collected the entire time, helping me change positions and encouraging me as the night wore on. Eventually, I lost the concept of time and everything turned into a haze. Before we knew it, I had been pushing for close to four or five hours with no baby yet. I was exhausted, on my knees over my birth ball, falling asleep in between contractions. It was around 6 AM that we realized that baby was facing up and that we needed to turn her. Angela did so and then told me we would need to move out of the shower and try some side-lying to get her in the right position.
In hindsight, I think this stage of my birth was the perfect storm of my own inexperience as a first-time Mom and a lot of things that were out of my control. My baby was bigger, I was learning how to birth in the moment, and there were elements that, if I’d known then what I do now, could have been prevented. I’ve struggled with a lot of shame since my birth over not being able to get her out in that time, which I know may seem silly to some, like it was somehow my fault that it took so long. I know that it’s not the case though and that sometimes things happen in the midst of labor that are beyond you. I am so grateful, even as things were delayed, that my birth team continued to fight for me to have the delivery that I wanted.
As I got out of the shower, I hit my breaking point. Without the relief of the hot water, I felt the sharp sensations of the contractions even more than before. I was tired and exasperated that all of my efforts hadn’t given me my baby. I felt like I was failing her and everyone else. I was just so ready to meet her. I sat on the toilet, looking up at Tony and Angela, crying. I remember saying ” I can’t do this,” more than once as they encouraged me through it. I don’t know everything they said to me, except that they told me I was strong, and that I COULD do this. Their words were enough to keep me going.
Tony wiped all of the makeup off of my face and helped me get dressed. It was one of the sweet moments I treasure from that night. He was steadfast even when things were difficult and I felt the love that he had for me so evidently. The way that he cared for me when I was at my most vulnerable is something that I’ll never forget.
Our nurses helped me lie on the bed with my legs propped up on a peanut ball. Tony and I fell asleep for a couple of hours, both completely drained. I think my body knew that I would need to rest up for what was ahead of me, and I’m thankful that I had that time of respite.
Around 8:30 AM, Angela had what I refer to as a “Come to Jesus” talk with us. She was still encouraging but told us that essentially it was crunch-time and that we would need to do some “power-pushing” to get baby out.
I remember the team being there, Cindy and Angela along with our nurses Jennifer and Mia. They all helped me try different positions to find which one felt the most effective. In the end, on my back in the bed was the one that worked best. I remember Angela helping guide me where to push while our nurses held my legs up and Tony held my hand. I think that it was around this time that Cindy and Angela realized that I had a bag of waters and cervical lip that were causing some resistance and they helped to remedy it.
The hard work really started at 9:30 AM, when we restarted the Pitocin around that time to help my body keep a rhythm. With each contraction, I curled around baby and pushed with my entire body. It felt like the most challenging work out I had ever done. I held on to two handles at my side and bore down as much as possible, using my breath to help push her down along with my body. Everyone helped guide me in how to push and were my cheerleaders with each one (side note: pushing is the strangest sensation you will ever feel and not something that comes naturally for all). I felt a relief in my body, though, as if it was ready to help her out. There was something in me that knew I was now on a timeline, that I needed to get our girl out or we could be having a cesarean (I hold nothing against cesareans or Mamas who choose to deliver through them, but after all of my hard work I didn’t want the opportunity to birth my daughter myself to be taken away). The thought made me angry and fueled a natural fire inside of me. I was no longer tired, I was determined.
Finally, she started moving down to the point where everyone started getting excited and yelling, “look at all of that dark hair.” I didn’t actually believe them at first, I was over everything and just wanted to meet my baby. This stage went by quickly, we would all rest in between each contraction, and I would signal as soon as another started. At one point, Cindy asked Tony if he wanted to see the baby’s hair and he looked down. I saw him tear up and as he looked at me, I think it clicked that we were finally going to see our daughter. I went into full-blown warrior mode at that point and barely waited in between my contractions. I put all of my strength into each push, praying and believing that each one was bringing me closer to her. Angela began to tell me that I would feel a stretching sensation, and I did, but it didn’t bother me. Instead, I leaned into it and welcomed it. I knew that it was the last obstacle between me and my girl. I think Cindy even said, “Somebody’s ready to see their baby.” And I was, I had never been so ready to meet a person in my entire life.
At 11:35 AM, 14 hours after my labor began, Evelyn Lucía Rosario made her way into the world. She came out screaming at the top of her lungs. It was as if she was angry that, in spite of all of her efforts to stay in, we had succeeded in getting her out. I cried “Hi baby,” as they placed her on my chest. Even as she pooped all over me, I marveled at her little face. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She was my “Evie.” Tony and I cried together as we admired the little person we’d been waiting for, the daughter we’d dreamed of for 2 years and 10 months.
She was 8 pounds and 12 ounces of pure perfection. She wanted to latch right away, nuzzling into my skin, calm and content. It was like she knew that in my arms is where she was always meant to be. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of love and familiarity that we already shared. We spent the next few hours soaking up the bliss of being a family of three.
Everyone had already told me that nothing compared to seeing your child for the first time. They were right. There is nothing more surreal or life-changing than that moment. I can close my eyes and relive it a thousand times over, the rawness of what I felt the first time I held her feels just as fresh now as it did then. In an instant who I had been was gone and didn’t matter anymore, I was made new by her. I was a mother, her mother at last.
*Thank you so much to our incredible birth team of nurses and midwives (Angela, Cindy, Amelia, Jennifer, Lauren, and Kelsey) we couldn’t have done it without all of you and will always be indebted to you for playing such a vital role in our lives. And thank you, Melissa, for capturing our daughter’s story so perfectly. We will treasure the gift that you’ve given us through these gorgeous photos, always.*”
It was an honor to be with you all on such a life-defining day, the day you became a family of 3! The love and devotion you have for each other is truly inspiring – thank you for sharing your story!
If you are interested in having your love story captured, I would love to chat!