I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl Emma on her due date, September 11, 2018. I had always heard that less than 10% of babies are actually born on their due date, so I would tell people that my due date was 9/11, but that she probably would come before or after it! 

Anyway, around 4:30 a.m. on September 10th, I woke up to use the bathroom as I usually did.

When I got back to bed, I heard and felt a pop in my lower abdomen and immediately knew it was my water breaking. So, I carefully rolled over so that I wouldn't wet the bed, and as I placed my feet on the ground, just like in the movies, SPLASH! All over my floor 😅 In that moment, I was actually so happy and excited!

I texted my midwife and my doula, texted my coworkers to say I was going into labor, and called my husband, who is a firefighter and was on duty. It would be a few hours before I started feeling contractions, so I did all the things I had learned in Hypnobirthing--I snacked, I showered, I relaxed (I tried to go back to sleep and rest but I was just TOO excited!). I started to feel the contractions getting a little stronger, and around noon, I headed to the birth center, with what seemed like my whole family in tow! 😂 

One of the midwives took a quick look at me and knew I wasn't ready yet.

So, my family and I left and went out to lunch! I was labouring and eating a turkey sandwich in the middle of a busy restaurant. My husband helped me breathe, and rubbed my back through every wave. He was amazing! Finally, we went back home, and the contractions got REALLY intense. My water broke a few more times--HELLO, adult diapers! Several hours later, I felt that surely, I must be ready to be admitted to the birth center.

I texted my midwife letting her know we were on our way, and off we went. That was one wild ride in my husband's brand new truck during rush hour in Miami. I was clinging to the headrest of the passenger seat, breathing and breathing.

My contractions were getting more and more intense.

When we got to the birth center, my midwife checked me and I was about 5 cm. She didn't want to slow my labor any more, so we didn't get the tub going. Instead, we walked all over the building, doing everything I could to dilate and breathe and get things progressing, I got to use the shower, aromatherapy, etc. I felt that I was really in my element. Hours and hours went by, but I wasn't dilating enough. I was told that Florida law mandates that women be in a hospital setting 24 hours after her water breaks because the risk of infection. So that meant that we were on a deadline! Around 1 a.m., I was getting so tired. My midwife checked me again around 2:30 a.m. and this would be the deciding factor if we were going to have to go to the hospital... She checked me, pulled off her gloves, and I asked, "So?" "Still five," she said. I broke down. I didn't want to go to the hospital. I had this whole vision of delivering my baby in the peaceful birth center suite, with no beeping machines or medication. And in that moment, it felt like all of that went out the window.

I cried and cried and cried, breathing and crying through contractions.

Finally, I told myself, "Okay, this is just a bump in the road and we will get through this!"

We got our things together and walked to the hospital across the street (stopping once or twice for me to breathe through a contraction!). I got checked in. We asked for the minimal dose of pitocin, and the minimal dose of epidural with no added narcotics. I needed to take a nap and rest.

I woke up around 8:30 a.m. and my midwife checked me. I was COMPLETE and totally ready to start pushing! I couldn't believe it. I was so excited. I got to pushing... an hour later... I was still struggling. "I can't do this! I can't do this! I need water! No more ice chips! WATER!" I demanded. "Get these clothes off me! Get this monitor off me!" That was me transitioning 😂 

My husband grabbed my Yeti and I drank tons of water--hospital policy be damned! 😅 Then, I told my midwife I wanted to squat, so she set up the hospital bed accordingly. After a total of an hour and a half, I took a really deep breath, told myself "this will be it" and pushed until I couldn't anymore. "That's it! That's it!" my midwife said. And then I felt it: my baby girl was out! My midwife grabbed my hands and said, "Take your baby!" and I pulled my baby girl up to my chest. That was the most incredible moment of my life. I was so grateful to my midwife for giving me that moment. I could hear my mother saying how beautiful she was. It was amazing.

The room was dim, my husband told the hospital nurse not to wipe her down, and we just laid there skin-to-skin, enjoying our very first moments together as mom and baby.

She was wide awake, with the cutest pouty face I've ever seen! Everything about her was perfect. It was all so surreal. I kept her skin-to-skin with me the entire time the doctor (who was the head doctor of the birth center) sutured me up, her cord still attached, as I had wanted. We laid there for about an hour and a half. Everything went exactly as I had hoped, even though we were in the hospital! I felt so empowered.

I also realized how important it is to stay fluid and open-minded throughout labor and birth.

Over the next couple of days, the nurses really helped me with my recovery in the hospital. In the end, I was so grateful to have the best of both worlds--midwife/birth center and nurses/techs/doctors in a hospital setting. I learned that there is incredible value in both places, and I embraced my birth story, even though it was nothing like I had imagined it would be. My midwife was amazing throughout my whole pregnancy, labor and birth. My husband and my family were also incredible in those first foggy months of newborn life. Birthing was the most amazing experience of my life, and one that I have been revisiting in my mind a lot lately, as Emma's first birthday approaches.

I am always in awe of what women can do with their bodies.

Thank you, Aliza, for letting me share my story! 

Beautiful birth story by mama @jdubangel