river's birth story.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I'm sitting here writing this while River sleeps next to me. I have a feeling this will all be very jumbled and all over the place, but that'll mirror perfectly how River's birth was like. 

I'm not sure where to start so I will jump right in. I was just over 38 weeks when I started to feel painful contractions. I had felt Braxton Hicks the last couple weeks but these were different. They started at night and were about 6 minutes apart most of the night. I thought that we were good to go and this was it! Ryan and I got really excited. Then they stopped. Haha! Ryan went to work and I went about my week doing last minute things before the big day. 

Since I found out I was pregnant and due Dec 20th, my mom and I have been hoping the babe would be born the 15th because that's my Grandpa Ron's birthday. But after our false alarm a few days before, I kind of thought River was never going to come. And that for sure he would be late. I tried thinking like that so I wouldn't go crazy wanting him to be here. I didn't want my last days with just Ryan and I to be me wishing the days away. Saturday the 13th I started to feel contractions again. These were stronger. I accidentally woke Ryan up because I was groaning in pain. It was about 1am and we started timing them. They were 3 to 4 minutes apart and were very consistent. My doula suggested that during early labor it's best to distract yourself. So I went to put on Cone Heads for us to watch (so random hahaha) and decided on The Italian Job instead. We watched that and a few episodes of The Office. I labored all night long with my contractions getting stronger. Then around 8am they stopped being as consistent. All day Sunday I was contracting but they were about 30 minutes apart. My mom wanted to drive up from Wyoming but I didn't want it to be another false alarm and have her drive all this way to just have to drive back. It was snowy that day and I didn't want to worry about her driving in it for no reason. She kept insisting but I kept telling her to stay home. Around 7pm Sunday night they started to get way more intense. I was having a harder time breathing through them and they were about 2 to 3 minutes apart again. I didn't want to get my hopes up so we just breathed through them and I tried to sleep in-between them. Then at 1am they were pretty dang intense. I was pacing around and groaning and scaring the crap out of Bernie. hahah. Ryan kept asking if he should call my mom and our doula Treana but I kept saying no. Finally at 1:40am I had Ryan call my mom. I remember saying, "I want my mom... and Katlin." (my little sister) My mom told me later she woke up wide awake at 1:30am thinking that I was in labor. (My mom and I have always had this weird twin thing going on where we know things before they happen especially with each other and other family members hahah) I kept saying to Ryan "don't let my mom drive this late. Don't let her drive in this snow! Have her come in the morning." My mom said she tried getting sleep but ended up leaving around 4am to head to Logan.  Around 2am at our house things were started to get really intense. I was having a hard time relaxing and knew I needed my doula Treana there. Right when she walked into our house and I heard her voice and her coaching I felt calmer. She helped me through every contraction and made it more of a calm and peaceful (but still painful) experience. I have to add this because it's kind of funny. The only comfortable position was on Bernie's bed kneeling on it while my head rested on the couch. I labored at home until 4:30 and they started to be about 2 minutes apart but with River being Posterior my "breaks" didn't feel like breaks because I felt a constant contraction in my back. At 4:30 we decided to head to the hospital because I knew the glorious jet tub was there waiting for me. 

On the way to the hospital I made Ryan run a red light which is worth mentioning because Ryan is such a rule follower. I just loved that he did that for me! When we got to the hospital the nurse checked me and said I was at a 7. I was so happy! I thought I can totally do this natural! Go me! WOooooooo! It was like a party in my brain that I had made it that far. Hahah. My contractions were so painful and that dang constant contraction in my back. Ouchie. But then I got in the tub. I mean it didn't completely take the pain away but man did it help! While I was laboring in the tub Ryan kept trying to rub my shoulders and touch me to comfort me and I kept saying, "I'm sorry babe, but your hands are way too heavy. You're just so heavy." He kept sniffing and my doula Treana got him something for his "allergies." I found out later that he was crying. It was hard on poor Ryan to see me in pain. I kept asking for my mom and when Ryan said that she was in Preston I remember thinking.. That is too far away.. Ahhhh that's so far away! Then just like that she was there! It was such a nice boost to see my mom. Jessie my sweet sister in law (who left at 4am to be our birth photographer. what a sweetheart!!!) arrived around the same time my mom did. It felt so great to have them there. During my labor the feelings I had were so interesting. I just wanted the people I loved most there with me. So I labored in the tub for about 4 hours. It was my favorite part of my unmedicated labor. I felt relaxed and calm and I was kicking butt with the contractions.

So I was starting to feel pressure to push (or I thought I was) So I wanted to be checked to see where I was. Well with 4 hours of labor I was still at a 7. I was still trying to keep my spirits up and stay positive that I could do this unmedicated.  We decided to have my doctor break my water. After that my nurse and doula said we needed to try laboring on my side because we needed to have him turn. This is when labor became unbearable for me. The contractions were so much worse and I felt completely out of control.

I was sweating like a pig and I just kept asking if I could go back in the tub. They said I could go to the shower but I'd still need to labor on my side. That was the worst position possible for me but I did it because I knew River needed to turn. There was a point during those contractions where I was in so much pain and I was moaning and I'm sure I looked pretty miserable. I opened my eyes and looked down at Ryan. Poor guy was crying pretty good. It made me panic a little to see Ryan so stressed and sad. I decided to get checked again to see what progress I had made laboring on my side for 2.5 hours. I was still at a 7. I tried a couple more contractions on my side and then asked for an epidural. After I got my epidural and I got very emotional.  I was shaking uncontrollably and I felt so upset with myself that I was too weak to do this unmedicated. I was feeling pretty down in the dumps about it all. But that quickly went away because my doula and my mom kept telling me, "you tried your hardest. you gave it your all." And then I switched over to being really proud of myself. I tried my hardest and then when I couldn't do it anymore I got help. (by the way I'm so grateful for modern medicine, that epidural was such a blessing) So at 11:00 am (about an hour after my epidural) they checked me again and I was at 10 just like that! My body really needed that epidural. Haha.

So the nurse said that we would wait an hour before I started pushing. I kept telling Ryan and my mom I was scared. My mom kept saying pushing is the good part. I was scared because I knew my doctor was going to have to turn River and I thought for sure my epidural would be worn off by then. I told my doula why I was scared and she said that the epidural is pumping medicine in me every 15 minutes. I was soooo relieved with this news! I had no idea. Because of my natural birth plan I didn't do much research on epidurals. I thought it was one shot (like at the dentist) and your pain free for a bit and then it wears off. I felt pretty great after hearing that news. And by the way.. I loved my epidural. I could still feel pressure and my contractions and I could still move my legs! 

12:00pm came and it was time to start pushing. Yay! I pushed... and pushed... and pushed for a couple hours. The nurse told me that doctors typically don't like you pushing past 3 hours but we all thought for sure I wouldn't have to push that long. Well 3 hours came and I was still pushing!

 River's heart rate was doing great so my doctor said I could push for about 20 more minutes and then we would talk about using the vacuum. I was determined to get this baby out without the vacuum so I pushed my hardest during those 20 minutes. The doctor came in and told me the risks of the vacuum and told me that River was too far down to get a c-section. I was sick. She left the room and I lost it. I kept saying, "I just want River to be safe. I just want River to be safe." I felt defeated and didn't really know what to do. I was exhausted emotionally and physically. And then my mom said, "you have a visitor." I was pissed! Who in the hell is visiting right now?! hahah. And then my dad walked in. Seeing my dad was the boost I needed. I asked him if Tony would be released and he said he would be. You'll see in the video how happy I was to see my Dad and Jessie got my reaction on video after he told me I would be able to see my brother soon. I am so grateful for that moment that Jessie happened to record. It will be so wonderful for River to watch that in a few years so he can know even more how much his Uncle is loved. My dad quickly left the room after he came and gave me a hug. He's a pretty private guy and I could tell he was super freaked out to see his daughter in that state. Hahah! I kept asking him to come back but it was probably good for him to be out of the room for his sake. I was soooo motivated after seeing my Dad. The doctor came in and I asked if I could keep pushing. She said, "Yes. You're strong. I know you can do this." (ummm my doctor was amazing by the way. I highly recommend Dr. Erica Smith!) So here I am 3.5 hours in of pushing and I wanted so badly to do this without a vacuum. I pushed my little heart out and at 4 hours and 10 minutes later he was here! The first thing I thought when I saw him was, "holy cone-head!!" hahaha. You hear your whole life how wonderful that feeling is when you hear your baby cry for the first time. It's heaven. I requested skin on skin for an hour before they weighed River and all that stuff.  That skin on skin time with River for the next hour felt was perfect. The most perfect moments I have ever felt.

All photos and video taken by Ryan's sister Jessie. See her work here.
Video edited by my sweet frien Nicole. See her work here.

A few thoughts and random memories from our birth story that I didn't really know where to fit in. :)

-My labor sounds kind of like a nightmare but it wasn't. There were scary parts, times I wanted to give up, and it's the most pain I've ever felt. But gosh am I lucky that everything went smoothly and River and I are both healthy. And I'm dang proud of our birth story. I feel like a rockstar man! I'm so grateful to be a woman and that I was able to experience child birth. I will forever be grateful. 

-This lady nurse kept trying to take River away from me to dry him off and do whatever she had planned. I kept saying, "stop! leave him alone, I requested skin to skin. Stop!!!" hahaha. We kind of played tug-a-war with River for a bit until my doula interviened. Hahah. This was also the nurse that walked in right before my last 2 pushes and said loudly, "She has been pushing for over 4 hours?! What in the world?" I quickly said to Ryan, "She needs to shut up." My sweet doula gave her a little chat and nicely told her to shush. I was so pissed at that nurse but it's so fun to laugh about that now.

-Ryan was so amazing through the whole thing. Poor guy wanted to take my pain away and felt so helpless. Even though he was miserable he stood by my side and was such a strength to me throughout the entire thing. That's Ryan though. He's my rock and always has been.  

-I was super lovey dovey during my labor. I kept telling Ryan how much I loved him over and over again throughout the labor. My doula kept laughing about how affectionate I was with him during the process.

-Jessie was so wonderful to have there. She was there for over 12 hours to capture the whole thing and she did it perfectly.

-I'm so grateful my mom and dad were there for River's birth. I am so close to my parents and having them there was so perfect. I can't thank my Mom enough for all she has done to help with River. 

-And can I just said my doula saved us?? She was such a wonderful coach and made my crazy labor such a beautiful experience. If you are planning on a natural birth or medicated birth or giving birth in a field I highly recommend hiring a doula. What a calming force she was. 

-I love you so much River. 


  1. oh i'm bawling. This is beautiful.

  2. Oh my goodness sami, that was amazing. And I'm sitting here crying after watching the video! What a lucky little boy!!

  3. So beautiful Sami! It was so fun to hear your story again. Seriously you are a STRONG woman! Love you three so much.

  4. Beautiful birth story. :) Thanks for sharing.
    P.S. You should feel like a rockstar!

  5. These are beautiful! Congrats Sami!

  6. Ohh <3 sami you are just amazing and river amazing and ahhh I'm just bawling <3 beautiful!

  7. This is such a beautiful birth story, Sami! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  8. So beautiful and amazing!!! What an incredible mother you are:) so lovely to have it so beautifully recorded.

  9. Absolutely beautiful! I'm 31 weeks, so anything about birth and babies has my hooked. Your video had me bawling my eyes!

  10. Sami Jo, thank you for sharing this. You have such a beautiful birth story. I cried while watching your video. This reminds me so much of my birth story. I wanted to go natural, but with back labor and no sleep the night before, I recieved an epidural. I then progressed from a 6 to a 10 in 45 minutes. You are so strong and beautiful! You are such an inspiration to me! River is one lucky boy!

  11. Oh gosh! I'm sitting here bawling. You have this wonderfully infectious personality. I've followed you on Instagram for a while but seeing this brings it to a whole new level! I can relate to so much of what you said here. Back labor is SO HARD! Holy cow. My son was posterior (he was born that way, he never flipped) and I got an epidural even though like you I didn't want one so much that I didn't even listen to that part during birth class! Silly me! I just had my second baby and he was positioned correctly and I didn't have back labor. It was still unbelievably hard and I still wanted ad epidural (but by the time I arrived at the hospital I was 9cm so there was no time)! All that to say I still think back labor was wayyy worse. So yes, thank you modern medicine! Your telling of your birth story was amazing... I giggled and cried through the whole thing! Thanks for being such a beam of sunshine to the world, to family and friends and random people alike :)

  12. What a beautiful birth story. I especially love your comment about being "lovey-dovey" -- it reminds me of what Ina May Gaskin said about how babies basically go in and come out due to the same thing: love ;)

  13. What a beautiful birth story. I especially love your comment about being "lovey-dovey" -- it reminds me of what Ina May Gaskin said about how babies basically go in and come out due to the same thing: love ;)