When I first found out I was pregnant, I knew immediately what kind of birth I wanted to have. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible and have a natural delivery without medication. It was the one consistent thought I had in those first few months and I was determined to make it happen. My labor and delivery with Allie and Emma were vastly different from each other. With Allie I had an epidural, the doctor broke my water, and I pushed for nearly 2 hours. With Emma, I did more research, had knowledge of the process of labor and delivery, and was much better prepared for the birth. I had her naturally with no epidural and pushed her out in 15 minutes, it was life changing and I knew I wanted that same experience this time around. Little did I know that this would be my longest, most challenging labor and delivery of the 3.
This pregnancy I decided to put together a birth plan, it wasn’t some crazy 3-page list of demands, it was a simple, easy to read 1 page print out with picture icons and my
preferences for labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Well, I got 3 of the 8 things I had listed on my birth plan for labor and delivery. This entire pregnancy was a battle of my mind and letting go of control and I truly feel this was another reminder that even though I wanted to think I was in control, I wasn’t. Even though my body had given birth twice before, this wasn’t going to be easy. But you know what, I am incredibly proud of my body and my story, even if it did come with a little bit grief for not going exactly how I envisioned it. So here we go, here’s the story of how our sweet surprise, Avery Rose DeMoss, entered this world.
Let’s start with my 36-week appointment. At this appointment they did an ultrasound to measure the baby and make sure she was head down and that all was going well. During
the ultrasound, the tech showed us pictures of her hair because it was long enough to be seen on the ultrasound which was so neat to see. She also measured her head and body, which measured closer to 40 weeks than the 36 weeks that I was (that should have been my first clue that she would be a big baby), estimated her weight at 7 lbs 7 oz and confirmed she was head down, but facing sideways, like her right cheek was facing the outside. My doctor wasn’t concerned at all about her positioning or size because she still had time to make little adjustments and being my 3rdbaby, I guess it’s common for the uterus to be a bit more stretched out which would allow for more space for Avery to move around – which she definitely did a ton of, literally, I don’t think she ever kept still. It was also during this appointment that my doctor told me I was 1 cm dilated and the baby was pretty high but she didn’t expect me to make it past my 38 week appointment.
Fast forward to September 12th, the day of my 37-week appointment, I woke up around 2am with light contractions and started timing them and trying different things to see if they would get stronger or fade out. They weren’t super intense, but definitely more so than the Braxton-hicks that I’d been getting since like week 16 – yep, my body is awesome like that and practiced contracting a lot. I was an emotional mess and confused if my body was really going into labor and after not being able to sleep through the contractions, I got in the bath and with the timing happening every 4-5 minutes I decided to call my best friend and fill her in since she was planning to drive up and be here for the birth. By the time she got here, it was about 6:30am and I was finally able to get some rest. The contractions slowed down a bit and since I had an appointment at 10am, we waited it out and Jason went to work and would meet us at the OB’s office later that morning unless something changed. At that appointment, I had 3 contractions, was in tears, and still just 1 cm dilated with the baby still high. The doctor said she’d be seeing me over the weekend and hopefully things would pick up soon for me. Well, that didn’t happen. The rest of that day I was pretty miserable, but things faded and the contractions stopped by the evening.
Fast forward again to Thursday morning, the day of my 38-week appointment. My mom and I went walking after the big girls got on the bus like we did almost every day since she arrived in early September and I remember having a couple strong contractions while we walked a pretty fast pace around the neighborhood so I could get home to wash my hair before my OB appointment, priorities. I was shocked that I made it to my 38-week appointment, as was the entire office staff and my doctor. No one expected that I would still be pregnant after the last appointment, but here I was, still 1 cm and baby still high. We agreed that I was ready to try and get things going again, so the doctor stripped my membranes (which didn’t actually hurt like I’d heard it would) and I was on my way, again with the promise that she’d be seeing me in the next few days. The rest of that day I had lots of cramping and a few strong BH contractions but overall felt pretty good. After returning home I took a nap and the rest of the day I felt pretty good and hoped that I’d go into labor overnight.
Well, Friday morning and still no baby. I was exhausted and not feeling good, so mom and I skipped our walk that morning and I spent most of the day napping and watching TV and just plain feeling off. The family convinced me to leave the house to go out for dinner and we picked Mexican food since that was literally the only old wives tale we hadn’t tried yet to get labor going. That night I still felt awful and I remember crying to my best friend that I was just done being pregnant. Everything hurt and the mental guessing game was making me crazy. I took a long bath and went to bed early, smart thinking on my part since I’d soon be in labor!
Saturday morning, September 21, 2019. The moment it all became really real! Around 3:00am I woke up to my water breaking. I had a brief moment of relief and was excited that my body was ready. I shook Jason awake and said, “I either peed myself or my water broke.” He jumped out of bed and assured me that I hadn’t wet myself and that it was my water breaking. Let me tell you, it was A LOT. When my water broke with Emma, it was a good amount, but it didn’t keep leaking once I got up. This time, it was a mess. Jason helped me out of bed and I basically leaked fluid the entire walk to the shower. I knew I wanted to spend time in the shower as labor started to get my mind clear and I as I stood under the warm water, all I could think was, where are the contractions? It took about 20 minutes for them to start after my water broke and they started nice and easy but close and inconsistent, anywhere from 1-4 minutes apart. In those moments I knew I could do this naturally again and was taking each contraction as a wave bringing me closer to meeting Avery. While I was in the shower Jason called Eileen to let her know it really was time since she had a 3-hour drive and she got on the road by 3:45am. As I was chatting with Eileen, Jason was bouncing around like a kid at Christmas. It was hilarious and slightly annoying to watch him run in circles. He got the entire bedroom and bed cleaned and sheets in the wash while I was in the shower. I had to tell him to calm it down a bit because he was making me anxious with his pacing!
I got out of the shower sometime around 4am, did my makeup (again…priorities), and got the last-minute things ready for us to leave when it was time. Then I decided to eat something light since I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat once we got to the hospital. It was during my breakfast of peanut butter toast and a banana that things started picking up. I could no longer talk during contractions, I had to really focus through them and it didn’t matter where I was, when a contraction started it was excruciating to sit through them, so I had to stand and lean, I needed to be leaning over and holding on to something, the counter, a wall, the chair, or Jason. Then they started getting much stronger and longer and closer together, like 2-3 minutes. I planned to spend as much time as I could at home, but being Group B Positive, I knew I needed to get the antibiotics 4 hours before delivery and I imagined this whole thing going super-fast (it was baby #3 after all) and I also didn’t want to have the baby on the highway, so around 5:00am we decided it was time to wake everyone up, get our stuff in the car and the big girls to a friend so we could head to the hospital when we needed to.
My favorite part of the morning was waking up the girls. Allie woke up wide eyed and asking lots of questions and was over the moon excited. While Emma, well, let’s just say she isn’t a morning person. I think she heard us and laid back down to sleep more and then with some persuasion she got out of bed and then slowly realized what was happening and got super excited. Their expressions and excitement brought tears to my eyes and I got a longer break in contractions to enjoy those moments with our girls. By 5:15am we had taken our last photo as a family of 4 and Jason took the girls to our friend’s house. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening and it seemed to be happening so quickly. I was sure the baby would be here by like 11am, wishful thinking! At 5:45am with contractions that were about a minute long and 2-3 minutes apart we decided it was time to leave for the hospital.
I will never forget the drive to the hospital. I was nervous for the drive because it was so uncomfortable to sit so my mom drove us and Jason stayed with me in the back seat where I basically transitioned from staying on all fours to leaning on Jason during contractions. The highway has literally never felt so bumpy. Every little bump felt like lightning through my body and the dang seams in the bridges were the worst, it felt like the entire car was bouncing and I was not a happy woman. I remember complaining and attempting to move to get more comfortable, but it was the worst. The contractions had started moving into my back and hips during the drive and by the time we got to the hospital (which only took about 20 minutes thanks to my mom’s speedy driving and the fact that it was 6am on a Saturday morning), I was so ready to get out of the car and I literally cursed the people who created the parking lot for putting a speed bump in, I was a mess.
This was literally our first time ever going to the hospital here and we had no idea what to expect. My mom dropped Jason and I off at the ER entrance since it was the weekend and we had to enter through a metal detector and endure the security guard who felt so inclined to ask if I was having twins (UGH) and he tried to get me to sit in a wheelchair. That definitely wasn’t happening since sitting was out of the question, so I paced back and forth as Jason got me registered and the hospital staff called Labor and Delivery to come down and escort us to a room. I’m sure that process only took a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity! My mom met us in the ER waiting room right as the L&D nurse arrived and we started our trek to the room I’d meet our baby in!
The night nurses that got me checked in and settled were the best. I was so sad that they were only with me for like 30 minutes before shift change. They got me hooked up to the monitors, started my IV and the antibiotics for the Group B, assured me I could do it naturally since I was already 5cm dilated and said they’d come and see me in postpartum later that night when they were back on shift to meet the baby. Little did they know that they’d be back to help deliver the baby that night!
By the time we got settled in to Labor and Delivery room 17, Eileen had made it to the hospital and was with us to help support my journey. With Jason, my mom, and Eileen there, I knew I could do anything. They
were the best support team I could have asked for and I’m forever grateful they were there with us. They got the diffuser going with my essential oils (I’m pretty sure we started with lavender and the later transitioned to wild orange and peppermint), then set up the music I wanted, got the exercise ball ready and got out my comfy grip socks so I didn’t have to wear the hospital ones. I felt ready & prepared to tackle labor the way I wanted and was excited to be doing it naturally again.
After shift change, I met our new nurse, Ann. Her personality was so different from the other nurses, she was a straight to the point, no nonsense kind of woman and I knew we were in good hands. At some point between nurses changing and getting settled into the room, my amazing doctor, Dr. Logan, or JLo, as the nurses called her, came to see me and see how things were going. Her presence alone calmed my nerves. She could tell I was in a lot of pain and decided to check me again, still a 5 and the baby was high, a -3 and positioned facing up with the larger part of her head descending first. This would mean it could take longer for labor and delivery, but it wasn’t impossible. I was just going to have to rotate positions and see if we could get her to turn on her own. After that check though, I thought how in the heck has there been no progress with the way the contractions had been? But then realizing she wasn’t in the ideal position; I got nervous about the possibility of a c-section and was determined to do anything I could to avoid that. I was having to really fight through contractions at that point and was getting exhausted. It was in that moment that I had my doubts about being able to continue without an epidural, but Jason assured me I could do it and we tried so many different things over the next few hours to try and get things moving.
Like I mentioned earlier, it did not feel good to sit, so my doctor recommended I get onto the bed and lean onto the top of the bed. This could help the baby drop more and give my legs a much-needed break. I tried for a little while, but it was awful, so I got back up and spent more time standing and leaning into Jason. The nurse was not a fan of my standing though. Since my water had already broke and the baby was high, there was a risk of the umbilical cord prolapsing. Because of this, it would mean more frequent cervical checks and not being able to get off the monitors. Just like that, there went 2 more of the pieces of my ideal birth plan, limited cervical checks and intermittent monitoring. I knew they were necessary though to keep us safe, so I let it go and focused on the contractions, which were still very strong but all over the place, there was no consistency to their timing. I’d have one that lasted a minute and get a 10 second break followed by another one for a minute and a half and then a break for 2 minutes. It was frustrating because I never really knew when the next one would start. Eileen at this point suggested trying a technique to trick my mind to let go of the pain with a comb. I would hold the comb in one hand and squeeze it so the pressure of the comb teeth would distract me. It totally worked and I stayed leaning on the bed with a comb in hand for a while.
At some point, the nurse came in again to check progress and let us know she was about to deliver another baby and she’d be back as soon as she was done in the other room. In the meantime, the other nurse techs would keep an eye on me if I needed anything. When she checked again, I was still at 5 cm and Avery still hadn’t descended at all. I was incredibly disappointed that after like 7 hours I still hadn’t made progress and I was ready to give in and get the epidural. The nurse suggested that instead of getting the epidural right then that I try and lay in bed and see if I could let my body relax a little bit during the breaks since I was holding a ton of tension through contractions. I agreed and made the decision that if it didn’t work, I was getting the epidural because I wasn’t sure how much longer I could handle labor without it. I laid in the bed with my eyes closed while my mom rubbed rosemary essential oil on my neck - it was hurting so bad from holding my shoulders up by my ears through contractions. I held Jason’s hands and squeezed them through contractions, listened to my favorite calming yoga music, and basically meditated my way through the next hour and a half, envisioning my body opening up and allowing Avery to descend. I literally could not have been more relaxed.
After an hour and a half and nurse Ann still not being back yet, I asked the other nurse if she could check my progress. I was ready to know if we were getting closer because the contractions were getting so much more intense into my hips and back and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could endure the bed. 4-5 centimeters. That’s what she said, and I nearly lost it. I knew I couldn’t go backwards, but every nurse interprets things a little different. The fact that still no progress had been made I decided I was done and ready for the epidural. I knew I couldn’t keep going the way things were and I wanted to enjoy the process of bringing my baby into the world. As much as I didn’t want to have an epidural, I knew my limits and my body and mind needed the rest.
The anesthesiologist came in pretty quickly, got everything set up, asked a ton of questions, kicked everyone out of the room and got to work. The nurse that stayed with me was a God send. She held my hands, let me lean on her through contractions and was the best at keeping me calm and still while the anesthesiologist got the epidural in. It probably took a total of 30 minutes for the whole procedure, but it felt like an eternity. Once the epidural kicked in, I felt amazing of course! Then 15 minutes later nurse Ann came back to check on me and I was at 8cm! In just that short amount of time and my body completely numb and relaxed from the waist down, I went from 5 to 8 cm. I got so excited and we started taking bets again at when I’d be at a 10 and be able to start pushing. Since it was already around noon, I figured by 2:30 Avery would be in my arms.
During the next few hours I tried to sleep and rest but was too excited and my body just shook (which I knew was a normal stress response and let it all just happen). Since I was numb and my birth plan was pretty much a wash, I agreed to Pitocin to get the contractions stronger and more consistent. I couldn’t feel the pain of them, just the pressure, and at that point, anything that would get us closer to meeting Avery, I was game for. The nurses and my doctor said I’d probably just need a little hit of pit as they called it and we’d be ready to have a baby. Well… that didn’t happen either. I stayed at 8 cm for another 6 hours. The nurse would come in every hour or so and bump up the Pitocin and hope for changes. We used the peanut ball to help open up my pelvis for the baby to descend, changed my position a bunch a times and keep our fingers crossed for changes. (I later realized that since Avery wasn’t in the ideal position or engaged in the birth canal that her head wasn’t putting pressure on my cervix to help it dilate. I do remember feeling some pressure as the baby moved lower, but it was never enough to get us closer to pushing.) I even asked nurse Ann why they couldn’t just reach up inside me and turn the baby so we could get her into the right position. She laughed and said it didn’t work that way.
It was about 4pm when my doctor came back to check on me. She told me I had earned my proven pelvis award having had 2 big babies before and that I could do it again. When she checked my progress, the baby was still turned with her face and forehead presenting first but she had descended to a zero station and she could stretch my cervix to 9cm so she’d be back at 6:30pm and I could start pushing and we could just see what happened. She was so calm and sincere with me and told me we would do anything we could to avoid a c-section and since I had earned my proverbial proven pelvis award and Avery and I were tolerating labor well, we’d see how things went.
I was terrified. In my head I knew I was close to having a c-section. I couldn’t believe I’d been in labor for as long as I was and with all things not lining up the way they normally would, I was nervous that when it came time to push, Avery wouldn’t cooperate. I trusted my doctor whole heartedly though and knew that whatever the outcome, we’d be in good hands.
In the meantime, I was starving, it had been 12 hours since I had eaten a meal and my God send of a doctor said I could eat a few graham crackers to take the edge off because she didn’t want me to be hangry, for real, I love my doctor, she let me eat, haha! The nurse didn’t love this idea, but she obliged, gave me 2 packs and told me to take it easy and eat them slowly so I wouldn’t get sick. I didn’t care how slowly I had to eat them I was happy to eat something. Not more than 30 minutes later the hospital food service staff came in with a plate of pot roast. She confirmed that she had the right room and left the plate of food. I was utterly confused. The doctor said I could eat a graham cracker, not an entire dinner plate. We called the nurse and asked what was going on and she said definitely not to eat it. Turns out there was some confusion and when the food service called earlier in the afternoon to see how many dinner plates to bring up that they figured I would have had the baby before dinner and be ready to eat, so they ordered me food. Another smack in the face that this was not going as anyone planned. But we looked at the bright side, rather than throw the food out, they let Jason have it since he was adamant about not leaving me to go get food before I started pushing. I on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed my bites of graham cracker.
At about 6pm the nurses started getting everything ready for the baby and I got so emotional. It was finally getting close and I was overwhelmed. I had so many thoughts and fears about how it would all go but I was determined to do everything in my power to guide this baby into the world. At about 6:15pm, after being in labor for 15 hours, it was time to start pushing and see what happened. Nurse Ann got everything set up and we tried a couple pushes and then she called the doctor in. Now.. here’s a full circle moment for me, so remember when I asked the nurse if they could just turn the baby inside me? Well that’s precisely what Dr. Logan did, thank goodness for the epidural because I didn’t feel a thing, but she was able to turn Avery into a better position since she was still high and not engaged. Once she did though, she told me the real work started and I had to push with everything.
Avery was still pretty high up into my ribcage so when I pushed it was excruciating and hard to breathe. I had a nurse pressing down from the top of my belly while I pushed, and Dr. Logan helped Avery descend. I had no clue what the doctor was doing at the time, but Jason, Eileen, and my mom shared just how incredible it was to watch Dr. Logan work her magic and help my body do what it was meant to do. The funniest part of this whole intense delivery is that Eileen compared it to the scene in the movie Ghost where they are making pottery. Dr. Logan was working her magic and I guess it seemed like she was making pottery up inside me, haha! Either way, I avoided an episiotomy, didn’t tear at all, and we got Avery out safely, so I am thankful for her pottery making skills! I honestly believe that if I had any other doctor, I would have ended up with a c-section. Dr. Logan came and checked on me so much and was there the entire time I was pushing; her presence was so reassuring. Plus, she is really funny, so she kept the mood light and although I was completely in my own world, it was nice to have her keeping everyone calm, relaxed and entertained!
After 30 minutes, Avery started to descend away from my ribcage and into my pelvis and thank goodness she was finally moving lower. From day 1 finding out we were pregnant; Jason and I knew that we wanted him to help deliver the baby and when we met Dr. Logan for the first time, that's the first question we asked. She was so excited and even suggested I get him scrubs, which I surprised him with for his birthday! He always wanted to deliver our babies, but I wanted him by my side with the other girls. This time though, I knew I’d have a ton of support and I wanted him to be the first to hold our last baby girl.
Once we got close to delivery, Dr. Logan helped Jason get suited up for delivery and it was THE BEST part of the whole experience. He was so excited and nervous and smiled big the entire time. Dr. Logan guided him every step of the way and at 7:14pm, I gave the final push and Jason helped guide Avery into the world. A beautiful, 9 lb 7oz baby girl with a head full of hair. She was perfect.
It was beautiful and emotional and made every single pain, stress, and worry completely worth it. I literally don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard in my life but bringing a baby into the world is one of the most miraculous experiences. I am incredibly proud of myself and so thankful that my body embraced a hard labor and delivery. Avery has taught me so much about letting go of expectations and embracing change and even when I thought I would have all the control about my labor and delivery, she was really in charge and once I surrendered to that, it became a beautiful experience.
Our sweet surprise, Avery Rose DeMoss, arrived on September 21, 2019 and has made our family complete. Such a beautiful blessing in more ways than one!
Watch our birth story video with more pictures of our amazing day!