This blog post has been a long time coming! When I polled Instagram a few weeks ago about posts you’d most be interested in reading from me, Sienna’s birth story was the most requested. If you listened to the podcast yesterday, you got a little preview of how everything went down! I’ve always loved reading other people’s birth stories and I’m SO excited to finally share our girl’s full story today!
Many of you know, if you’ve been following along with us for some time, that we had a miscarriage the month before we got pregnant with Sienna. I talk a little bit about this in our 2018 personal year in review. Getting pregnant so soon (which truthfully, was not the “plan”) after such a heartbreaking experience left me feeling super nervous about everything as soon as I saw “pregnant” on the pregnancy test. Sure, we were out of this world excited – but hesitantly so. The wait until our first ultrasound felt like an eternity. And as soon as I saw the little heartbeat on the ultrasound, my eyes filled up with tears. I’d like to say all my worries and anxiety ended right then. But truthfully, it didn’t fully subside until our 20-week ultrasound. As soon as our doctor looked over everything and spoke the words “your baby is perfect,” I finally felt like I could breathe again. All the boxes we had been collecting throughout the house “for the baby” finally felt like they were there to stay and the “idea” of having a baby finally felt like a reality we could live into. I’ll never forget walking through the front door as soon as we got home from that 20-week ultrasound and thinking “I’m really going to be a Momma.”
Being pregnant was a really joyful experience for me. The worst part was the incredibly awful acne I experienced for the first 20 weeks that made me never want to show my face and the debilitating nerve pain I experienced the last 3 weeks until Sienna was born. My dermatologist ended up helping me find a new regimen that helped clear up my “active” acne (still have the scars from everything prior to that – currently on the prowl for how to heal that). And my sweet friend Lauren encouraged me to try out a chiropractor for the nerve pain at the end and that was so helpful to me! I went three times the week before Sienna was born! But apart from those two things, I honestly can’t complain. I was able to stay in the gym and train with my trainer 3-5 days a week. That helped me feel really strong and healthy throughout my pregnancy. I didn’t experience morning sickness or ever throw up – which is still shocking to me. I thought sickness in general was just par for the pregnancy course. I know that’s not the case for everyone and I’m always super hesitant to share my experience because it was almost too perfect.
Ty and I also decided to not find out the gender of the baby until birth. Everyone thought we were crazy but we both felt like there’s only so many “true” surprises you can have in life so we ran with it. The only person who knew what we were having was the ultrasound tech. At our practice, they don’t write it in your chart if you don’t want to know so our doctor didn’t even know! That excited me because there could never be a slip up at our appointments, haha!
As the weeks went by we grew more and more eager to meet our baby. It still didn’t feel real that we’d soon have a new little someone in our house. We tried as hard as we could to prepare for all the things before she arrived. One of the most important things to me was taking a birth class. I had an idea of how I’d like for things to go, but I knew it would be easiest for Ty and I to be on the same page if we could take a class together!
I wanted to try for a natural birth, Lord willing, and I knew I’d have to have some tools to help me achieve that. That’s when I landed on hypnobirthing. Yes, I know. I thought it was just as woo-woo as you probably do reading this, haha! Hypnobirthing is centered around the idea that a woman’s and baby’s bodies were made for birth. Through deep breathing, visualization, and affirmations, you essentially train yourself to enter into deep relaxation on demand. The whole idea of hypnobirthing is to eliminate fear from the birth process. Hypnobirthing educators call this “breaking the fear-tension-pain syndrome”. When you are fearful about something, like the difficulty or pain of birth, it draws tension throughout your body which in turn causes blood to flow away from nonessential organs like the uterus to large muscle groups. Relaxation through “hypnosis” prevents this from happening. Which means blood in your body is flowing where it needs to be flowing during birth. Also, side note, Ty finds this whole idea fascinating and it is quite possibly his favorite thing to talk about regarding our pre-birth journey. So if you ever see him in person, you should ask him about it! He’ll most definitely talk your ear off!
SO, we took the Hypnobubs hypnobirthing online course and LOVED it. We loved how educational it was about birth and showed us how hypnobirthing techniques could be valuable during birth. I loved the tools that it provided like the affirmation tracks for me to listen to up until birth and during birth. We also loved that there was a whole section focused on the birth partner roles (Ty especially loved that part!). And really, we just loved how informative the whole course was. It made me feel even more excited and equipped for birth!
If you want to skip the whole story and just watch the film, I totally understand! That’s 100% why I put it at the beginning, haha!
Many months before Sienna was born I was at Kroger doing our weekly grocery run. I’ll never forget – I was in the snack aisle, like legit picking up a pack of Goldfish as a “treat” for Ty and this song started playing over the intercom. “You are so Beautiful” by Joe Cocker. I had heard this song SO many times in my life but for some reason, in that moment, it made me instantly cry. I facetimed Ty and was like, “I’m standing by the goldfish in Kroger crying because of a song on the intercom. I know this sounds crazy, but I think this is going to be our baby’s song”. And right then I knew I wanted it to be the soundtrack to our baby’s birth film.
There are so many significant things in this film! Like me gluing her first ultrasound picture into her baby book (I think her butt looks SO cute in it). Framing a print that our sweet friend Laura Joseph made of my Daddy’s handwriting. He used to say “love you forever” to us as kids and I knew I wanted that to hang somewhere in our baby’s nursery. It’s even more significant to me now that our baby is a GIRL! I strategically put it on that shelf next to a rainbow print (because she’s our rainbow baby) and her 20 week ultrasound when I officially felt like a Momma after a good report!
I love SO much about this film and all the sweet little moments from our little girl’s entrance into the world. This was my Mother’s Day gift from Ty and it is seriously so perfect in every way! I cry every time I watch it and I’ve watched it at least 10 times today!
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I promised myself that I would never get to the “over it” part of being pregnant. I wanted to savor every moment of the whole journey – joyfully. However, the last week before Sienna was born was grueling, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I had experienced two weeks of excruciating lower back nerve pain at that point and I was starting to lose my ability to remain positive. I had been tracking my contractions with the Bloomlife contraction tracker for a few days as well and had some really hard, regular contraction patterns. But none of them would stick around long enough for me to really consider it “labor”. Also, side note, I can’t recommend the Bloomlife tracker if you’re a first time Mom enough! My lower back pain was SO terrible I honestly couldn’t distinguish contractions from pain. It was SO helpful for me to see contractions happening in real time – even if they were just braxton hicks!
Fast forward to April 30th at 1:22AM. I got up to use the bathroom like normal. However, the abnormal part was that I lingered a bit longer in the bathroom. I prayed that the Lord would give me peace and patience and secretly, that He would bring on labor SOON!
Because of my whole lower back nerve pain drama, I had this whole routine I had to go through just to get back into bed. I sat down on the edge of the bed and then had to pull each leg up one by one. Then I’d reach up and grab on to the edge of the headboard and essentially pull myself into bed. As soon as I grabbed the headboard I felt a little trickle of water. I was completely convinced I had just peed myself so I laid there for a minute. Then I thought, “wait, I’ve never done that, not even now being pregnant. What if that was my water breaking?” So I got back up and headed for the bathroom and put a pantyliner in my underwear. Then I went through my whole routine and laid back down. They say to wait 30 minutes and then check the pantyliner to see if there’s more water. So, I laid there for 30 minutes and watched the clock and then got back up to head to the bathroom to check. As I turned the corner of our bed, I felt a huge gush. I immediately yelled, “TY, I THINK MY WATER JUST BROKE”. He sat up and looked right at me with the biggest smirk on his face and said, “really?” Then I headed back into the bathroom to “double check.” Yup, everything was soaked.
Ty told me to immediately call the midwife but I didn’t want to. I was in denial that it was all happening and I really wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. But, I was GBS+ and I knew if I called they’d make me come in immediately to start antibiotics. But, Ty convinced me it was the “right thing to do (so enneagram 1 of him, LOL), so I did. And of course they told me to come in.
Once I hung up I called my Mom. She was in Tampa, FL with her job so I knew she needed a lot of heads up so that she could get a flight here in time. She answered immediately and said that she’d start looking at flights. Then I called my Dad and he answered immediately. He’s only a few hours away so I told him to hang on at home until we got checked into the hospital and had a better idea of what was happening. Then I called my sister and she did NOT answer, LOL. She usually sleeps with her phone on silent, but I had been telling her for days to make sure she left her ringer on in case I called in the night. We legit talk to each other a million times a day and she answers every time I call. So it makes me laugh that the ONE time when it was actually important, she didn’t answer.
After all that, I had a mini breakdown because I still didn’t want to go to the hospital right then. I begged Ty to let me take a shower and “get ready for the day” at 2:30AM (LOL) and eat breakfast. He agreed. He packed the car with our bags that had been packed for weeks at that point and I got ready. At around 3:30AM, we headed for the hospital.
All the way there I said, “I didn’t envision all of this going this way. I thought for sure I’d be going to the hospital writhing in pain”. Ty just laughed. I also joked about how a friend had encouraged me to bring something to cover the seats with so my water wouldn’t break all over them. But I was still in denial so I didn’t take anything with us. Conveniently, once we arrived at the hospital, I literally put my feet on the ground outside of the car and a huge gush of water went everywhere. I still laugh about that. Luckily I had a dress on so I just pulled it out from my body like a tent and walked inside. No one was at the check in desk so I had to ring the bell. The clerk came out and let me in and I told her I knew I looked “too fine to be having a baby” as she walked me to our room.
Shortly there after the nurse came in to assess me to make sure my water had really broken. It had in fact done just that so she admitted me. The midwife, Brenda, came in around 4:30AM. My labor had still not started and she immediately started talking to me about induction. I tried to remain as calm as possible but on the inside I was screaming “WHAT, NO, I CAN DO THIS!” I simply asked her to give me 12 hours and if things hadn’t started by that point, we could reconvene (I seriously can’t reiterate how important it is to advocate for yourself in situations like this. I knew I could do it. I knew that my body could do it. I just needed some time!). She checked my cervix just to see where we were starting – I was still at 4 cm, which is where I had been at my last OB appointment. My cervix was also still posterior so she couldn’t sweep my membranes. She asked if I’d be interested in trying castor oil and I said, “yeah, I can do that”. And with that, Ty headed for the Walgreens to pick some up. It was SO weird to be left all alone in the laboring suite. I literally was counting down the minutes until Ty would be back.
Once he returned, I took my first dose of castor oil in a protein shake. I was 100% expecting it to taste awful. It didn’t taste like anything to me. They wanted me to chase it with more protein so Ty had stopped to pick up a McDonalds biscuit for me. I literally did not want to eat it but I forced myself to.
The shift change came at 7AM and still no labor for me. A new midwife came on, Liz along with a new nurse, Danielle. Danielle was literally a godsend to me in that moment. I was so discouraged but she started to share her story with me as she checked all my vitals and it made me believe again that I really could do this on my own. That day was her first real shift back after having her own baby. She said that her story was very similar to mine – her water broke but her labor didn’t start. She was GBS+ and tried castor oil. She said she had to take two doses before things really took off. Needless to say, I was looking forward to 11AM when I could take my second dose!
Ty and I passed the time by going on walks around the hospital. Walking up and down the stairs. Using the peanut ball. And rolling around on the exercise ball. Ty took a nap and watched a show on his iPad. Every hour they checked the baby’s heart rate. Every four hours I got another round of antibiotics. At some point after my Mom got there she came in with Daddy and Amber to see me. It felt SO weird to just be laying there talking to them like nothing major was happening in my life, LOL. Because, well, nothing was really happening at that point.
At 11:30AM I took my second dose of castor oil mixed with peanut butter and lathered on bread. I felt like Ty poured the whole bottle in the peanut butter. It was literally like peanut butter water on my bread, haha!
Around 1PM my OB, Dr. C was rounding at the hospital and came to see me. I had just started to feel crampy and was having contractions that were about 10-15 minutes apart. She talked to me about interventions to speed things up if I wasn’t progressing by a certain time. I kept saying, “Dr. C, I can do this, I just need some more time”. She said she would watch my chart and hoped that labor would kick it up a notch soon.
Literally, right after she left, the contractions took off, just under my 12 hour request!!
And this is where all the uninteresting things began. For the next six hours I labored in all kinds of ways. Walking, laying in the bed with the peanut ball, rolling around on the exercise ball, sitting in the polar bear position on the bed, squatting everywhere (even on the toilet), all the things. Having contractions was exciting to me because I knew that meant progress!
Around 6:30PM KK arrived to photograph everything. I still can’t believe she came to do this for us only seven days after she had just given birth!! I don’t remember much about her getting there but I do remember feeling so excited that she was in the room. I remember walking out of the bathroom at one point just as a contraction was coming and after it was over looking at her and Ty and saying “this is so terrible” and KK encouraging me that I could do it and I was doing a great job! That was just what I needed to hear!
At 7PM another shift change happened. I had sworn off cervical checks at this point because I didn’t want to get discouraged. But Ashley, the new midwife, encouraged me to do one just to see if I was progressing. Reluctantly, I agreed and I was at 6 cm. Surprisingly, I wasn’t discouraged. She asked if I wanted to try the peanut ball again and I said “sure”.
And this is where it gets exciting. I got set up with the peanut ball around 7:30. Shortly there after, Ty and KK said Michael had brought them dinner and they were going to head out to the lobby to eat it. Ty promised me that he would hurry, LOL. I think they both thought this all would be going on for HOURS more – like well into the night.
So they all leave, Ty, KK, the nurse, and the midwife. And I’m all alone. No lie, they close the door and things start happening. The contractions are still coming, but they’re coming faster. I can feel the baby moving through the birth canal and I literally think to myself, “OH MY GOSH, I’M GOING TO HAVE THIS BABY ALL ALONE”.
Ironically enough, my call bell had fallen on the floor. So, not only was I all alone, I also didn’t know how I would get help if I needed it. Scream maybe? LOL.
Ty came back around 8:11PM. Yes, I know the exact time because I had been staring at the clock since he had left. He sat down by the bed in a chair and I looked him square in the eye through the bed railing and said, “I can’t do this anymore, get the epidural.” Little did I know, I was in transition. He laughed and said, “oh Ash, you’re ok, you’re doing such a great job! Let’s try to make it until 9PM and then we can chat again if nothing has changed”. It’s as if we had rehearsed that or something. He then got up and put a chuck pad over the clock…LOL. He knew I had been watching it like a hawk. And then he said, “would you like to try a bath”. He got the nurse to get that started and then sat down in the chair by the bed again. I looked him square in the eyeballs again and said, “I need to push right now” and he said, “wait, what, hold on, don’t do that, let me get the nurse” LOL.
And then all the madness ensued. It’s as if I just snapped my fingers and everyone descended. Ashley, the midwife, checked me and I was at 10 cm. My hypnobirthing affirmation tracks were going, I was pushing, and it was all happening. I was laying on my left side and they had me switch over to my right side because Sienna’s heart rate was dropping. Come to find out her cord was wrapped around her shoulders like a back pack. After a few pushes on that side, Ashley asked me if I wanted to birth my baby in that position. I was so confused by that so I said, “no?” because I thought that was what I was supposed to say, haha! And I switched over on to my back. Ashley held one of my legs, (which she later handed off to Ty) and then the nurse held the other one. Four contractions later and at 9:30PM, Ashley told me to pull my baby up onto my chest! I did and all the tears flowed. I couldn’t believe it!
Ty missed the gender call on the way up to my chest so the nurse lifted up her leg for him to see and he said, “it’s a girl!” I did not believe him, LOL. Literally, the whole time I was pregnant, I was convinced we were having a boy. So I looked for myself and lo and behold it was a GIRL!
I held on to her so tightly, breathed in her scent, and just couldn’t believe that our baby was here and she was a GIRL! I looked over at Ty, who at this point was crying which shocked me and made me cry harder, and said “is her name Sienna Kate?” and he said, “yes, I think it is!” And that was it! Prior to birth, we had agreed if the baby was a girl and she came out looking like Ty (dark skin and dark hair) she was definitely Sienna Kate.
A few years ago Ty and I were in Italy. We traveled to Siena one day and made our way up into the bell tower to overlook the city. As we were sitting at the top, Ty started telling me a story about a couple who volunteered when he was in youth group who had a baby and named her Siena. I immediately said, “I like that name” and then wrote it down in my “potential baby names note” on my phone. Even though the idea of kids was long down the road for us!
Fast forward to being pregnant – Ty and I were talking about baby names one day. I would toss out a few and he would say “YAY” or “NAY”. I said, “what about Sienna if it’s a girl?” (I liked it better with two n’s, LOL). And he said, “I like it”. And then I said, “what about Sienna Kate?” And he said, “I really like it”. And then I said, “we can call her Sisi when she’s little and SK when she gets older” and that’s what officially sealed the deal because he LOVED it!
It was really important to me that our baby’s name had a meaning. Sienna means “amber and old soul” (Amber is my sister’s name, so of course, I loved that!) and Kate means pure. Sienna lives up to her name for sure! She is definitely an “old soul” in a baby’s body!
There you go folks, the epically long, over-shared birth story of our little girl! If you made it this far, you are a CHAMP! Thanks for sticking with me! Maybe I’ll get her one month post up before she’s two months old…considering she’s already 6 weeks, LOL!