I was nearly two weeks past my due date. Though I was physically comfortable, I was emotionally fraught. I was super chill my entire pregnancy, filing my mind with mantras like, “My body knows what to do!”
Despite telling myself this over and over, it seemed my body didn’t know what to do.
We went in for our last visit with our OB on Friday July 19th, thinking he’d tell us the same thing we already knew- baby is healthy, we’ll see you Monday (my birthday) for the induction.
Instead, Doctor Banooni said, ‘Go to Cedars this evening. We’ll induce tonight. It’s time to have this baby.’
My heart sank. Why wasn’t my body working? I had dreamed of the day I would suddenly feel contractions and I would stay at home as long as possible and then carefully drive to the hospital and have the baby a mere few hours later, calm and serene.
Now we had to drive to Cedars, feeling totally normal, no signs of labor and check in like it was hotel.
At this point, I finally surrendered. I accepted that I was not the author of this story, God was. And he wrote a more beautiful story than I ever could.
We checked into the hotel, er, hospital about 5:45pm on Friday night. We bypassed triage and went directly to a beautiful corner suite, er, delivery room, overlooking the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory and the Pacific Design Center, the building where Drew and I met 13 years prior.
I immediately took that as a good omen, and the symbolism didn’t stop there.
The nurse assigned to us was wearing a beautiful lapis stone around her neck – the same stone hanging from a dream catcher in our baby’s nursery.
These subtle signs helped me relax.
I was nervous about the induction process but my wishes to keep things natural were honored every step of the way.
We started slowly, using a Foley Balloon to dilate me – I gently refused the recommended Pitocin and the nurse happily obliged.
Our night nurse, Jolene, whom I loved, helped me take a relaxing bath with meditation music and lavender oil.
I used my Hypnobirthing techniques, the balloon did it’s job and labor progressed on its own. A few shorts hours later, I was at 4 centimeters. Things were going well!
Next, my water was broken manually. Again, I refused Pitocin, and, again, the staff honored my wishes.
While I was ecstatic, happily laboring without drugs, my poor husband was miserable, trying to help keep me calm and find our lost dog.
Unbeknownst to me, our dog Astro was ‘missing’.
Friends were sharing frantic posts on Facebook, the neighborhood was canvassed with posters.
Luckily, our amazing doula, Stacey Blackwell, took my phone away from me so that I wouldn’t see any of the text messages asking me if Astro had been found. I was so in the zone, I didn’t notice that she and Drew were totally stressed!
Around 5am, my contractions were really intense and I’d only dilated another 1.5 centimeters. I decided to get an epidural. I felt a little defeated about this decision because it was my goal to get through the birth without any drugs. The truth is, I was tired. I needed to rest. So I did.
I woke a few hours later and contractions had picked back up on their own, perhaps thanks to the epidural, and around noon, I was fully dilated and ready to push.
We did a few practice pushes while we waited for the doctor. They weren’t really good ones – if you’ve never done it, it’s hard to know what it should feel like!
A little while later, Dr. Banooni came sauntering in and I knew it was game time. The nurse positioned a mirror for me to look at – something I never thought I’d want, but turned out to be really helpful.
We turned our birthing playlist on shuffle and utlized every contraction, getting closer and closer to the big event.
Then, another unexpected turn of events. Suddenly, 10 or so people came rushing into the room. A nurse placed an oxygen mask on me. “If this happens again, we have to do a C-Section,” I heard someone say.
The baby’s heartrate dipped. Another nurse grabbed my hand and consoled me. Tears ran down my face. “I know it’s scary, but it’s not uncommon and that’s why we’re all here. You’re both okay, just breathe,” she said.
I am so glad she was there next to me. It was a very scary moment, but it passed. Cool as a cucumber Banooni didn’t seem phased at all. That is precisely why we chose him as our doctor – we needed someone even keeled, because, as you’ve learned, I am not.
We resumed pushing and about 3 rounds later, our baby was born.
Dr. Banoon said, “Daddy, tells us what we have!”
It’s a girl,” Drew exclaimed, through tears of joy.
Our daughter Ember Florence finally made her triumphant debut at 1:49pm, on July 20th, as Lovely Day by Bill Withers played.
Just after the most joyous moment of our life, it got even better. Astro was found safe and sound inside our house. He got out of our neighbor’s house and went back into ours using the one way doggy door. The sweet boy knew something was up and went home to keep guard – that is an unexpected, detail in the story.
I tired to control the narrative. It wasn’t precisely what I had in mind, but we got what I wanted – a dramatic story, a strange twist and multiple signs from the cosmos.
No matter what the story, every birth story is special simply because birth is special. A new life has begun. Our lives have taken on new meaning. Our daughter wrote her own story – and it’s better than anything I could have written. The loveliest day of all.