Ryser’s Birth Story! Wow, I cannot believe I am finally sitting down to write this. As you know, life with a newborn is crazy, so I am so sorry it has taken so long, but here we go!
Ryser’s Birth Story
First let me start off by telling you what we had planned…
I wanted a completely natural delivery. My dream was to have an at-home water birth, but David, my husband, didn’t feel comfortable with that. He felt like it was too risky for our first child since we didn’t know what to expect. I agreed and decided to have Ryser at a birthing center instead. We toured a birthing center here in LA and absolutely fell in love. We both felt so much peace with the decision and were so excited about it…until we found out our insurance didn’t cover it. It was going to cost us around $10,000! For a newlywed couple who just moved to LA (which hello living in LA is super expensive) it just wasn’t an option for us.
To be honest I was heartbroken and scared. That meant I would now have to go and find a hospital and new doctor here in LA. It seemed like an impossible and scary task since I had no connections out here. I honestly had no idea where to start on finding a doctor that I trusted with the delivery of my child. The only thing I knew to do was to start reading reviews on Yelp. And so I did! I read hundreds of reviews and finally narrowed it down to three choices. Whelp.. all three doctors weren’t taking any new patients. Oh and keep in mind I’m 20 weeks pregnant at this point so it was getting urgent that I find a doctor ASAP.
After doing everything I could to get in to any of these doctors, and after getting so worked up and stressed out about it all, I decided to stop and pray about it for a week. Looking back now, I think the Lord was waiting for me to go to Him and to stop trying to do everything on my own. The very next day I got a call from one of our church friends saying they were able to get me in with the doctor of my choice!! Isn’t it crazy how God comes through for us time after time and yet it’s still a daily struggle to release control and trust Him?! Goodness I could write a whole blog post on that. Maybe I will. 🙂
Having now found a doctor in LA, I still wanted to have an all-natural delivery but I knew it would be a lot more challenging at a hospital since they are less supportive of just letting you and your body do its own thing without intervening. I knew I would need support emotionally and physically so I decided to hire a doula. Let me just stop here and say that was the best decision I ever made. Regardless if you are planning to have a natural delivery or epidural, I would HIGHLY recommend getting a doula!
Now, for how it all actually went down…
Tuesday September 4, 2018
I was 41 weeks and still was not dilated at all. My family had been in town for over a week and the Hodges baby watch felt like it was never going to end. I tried everything under the sun to put myself in labor and nothing worked. Because Ryser was getting so big and showing no signs of wanting to come out, my doctor highly recommended I get induced for the safety of me and my baby. Also, she knew I wanted to have a natural vaginal delivery and was worried if I waited too much longer I would have to get a C-section. After David and I prayed about it and talked with my family, we decided getting induced was the best and safest option. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t completely devastated. I never thought it would come down to this. In fact, I thought I would go a few weeks early.
Wednesday September 5th at 6:00 pm
David and I packed up the car and headed to the hospital. My parents and two sisters followed behind us in their car.
Pause on the story. Packing up the car and getting dressed and ready to leave the house knowing the next time you come home you will have a baby in your arms is the most surreal feeling. We were so ready to meet our little boy and excited that our lives were about to change forever. I was full of so many emotions during our 25 min car ride to the hospital. I had less than an hour left for my body to go into labor on its own before I would have to be induced. I was feeling very hopeless. I was scared to see how my body and baby would react to being induced, nervous that I wouldn’t be able to go all-natural now, frustrated that I hadn’t gone into labor on my own yet, confused on why God didn’t answer my prayer for Ryser to come on his own, but above all that I was VERY VERY excited that I would finally get to see my little boy for the first time very soon.
As soon as we got to the hospital they already had my room ready. They did an ultrasound to make sure the baby was still head down and then checked me. I was only 1cm dilated so they inserted a foley ballon and started Pitocin. I immediately started crying. I felt like I had failed. I felt like I was taking things in my own hands and not trusting God’s timing in letting the baby come on his own. My family and the nurses helped calm me down and kept reassuring me that this was God’s plan and that if I would have waited any longer I would have had to get a c-section. They reminded me that I needed to accept that this was my reality now, there was nothing I could do about it. They told me I needed to own it and turn my focus off of the things I can’t control and instead focus on my body and getting my baby here safely. I definitely needed to hear their advice. It helped me get into the mindset that would get me through the next (many many) hours of labor.
I was officially induced and contractions started full force. For any pregnant girl out there that is curious like I was what contractions actually feel like, let me tell you. I remember everyone saying “it’s hard to explain and the closet way to describe it is similar to really bad period cramps”. Well, I’ve never really had bad period cramps so I can’t compare it to that but I will agree it’s hard to describe what contractions feel like. The closest way I can describe it for me is a really intense, sharp, squeezing, cramping sensation that takes your breath away.
To be honest, I was not expecting the contractions to be so strong and intense right away. They also were happening so close together. I was completely normal and then all of a sudden I was having intense contractions every two minutes. The contractions were intense, but I was still determined to go all-natural. To set the atmosphere of the room, we turned on worship music (click here for my labor playlist that I made), diffused essential oils, my family prayed over me, and David started reading my scripture cards that I printed and brought with me. (I linked them down below for you if you want to download them and bring them with you when you go into labor! They were seriously so helpful and I cant imagine not having them)
The hours passed with much of the same, breathing through contractions and focusing on the end goal of all of this: meeting Ryser! I remember my Mother-in-Law arrived at the hospital all the way from Birmingham Alabama. I was so excited to see her!!
The nurse came to check on me and tug on the foley balloon. It still wasn’t ready. I was annoyed. I just wanted the foley balloon to be out so that I could be more comfortable. Having a balloon inside of you with a cord taped to the side of your leg is not great and makes it really hard to get comfortable.
September 6th at 12:00am
My foley balloon finally came out! PRAISE!!! I was so excited and immediately felt so much relief and was way more comfortable.
Well…. that didn’t last long. I felt like as soon as I finally got somewhat comfortable the contractions started getting WAY more intense and I started having back labor. Which if you have ever had back labor, you know that it is NO FUN.
The midwife on call came to check me and I was only 4cm dilated. She said to try and get some rest, that I still had a long time before the baby would be here. After you have been having hardcore contractions, horrible back labor, and have already been in the hospital for over 7 hours, it’s really disheartening. Even though I wasn’t more dilated, I kept reminding myself that Ryser would be here so soon and each hour is another hour closer to meeting him than I was before. At this point I turned the worship music up a little louder, had David read a few more scriptures over me, and then started walking up and down the halls of the hospital.
I got back in the hospital bed and was going to try and get some rest. My dad and two sisters went back to their airbnb to get some sleep, my mother-in-law went back to David and I’s house to take care of our dog, Zola, and get some rest as well, and my mom, David and my doula, Sarah, stayed with me in the hospital.
I barely got any sleep. Maybe 30min here and there. I couldn’t get comfortable because I was still having horrible back labor and the only way to make the pain more tolerable was walking around.
The midwife came to check me and I was only 5cm dilated. Again, so discouraging to hear after laboring so hard and only progressing 1cm in 5 hours. The midwife called my doctor who told my midwife to go ahead and break my water.
WOW! I was not prepared for how intense the contractions were going to get after they broke my water. Thankfully I had the most amazing doula in the world and she was able to take care of me while David and my mom got a little rest. She rubbed essential oils all over me, gave me multiple foot massages, pushed on my back, and helped me with a million different positions to feel more comfortable. I can honestly say I don’t think I could have done it, at least not naturally, without her. She also used to be a labor and delivery nurse so she was able to explain and walk me through all the medical decisions which was a huge blessing.
My dad, sisters, and mother-in-law came back to the hospital. They brought Chick-fil-a and Starbucks. I was so happy because I was starving and also very tired. Even though I could only eat a little because I was so distracted by the contractions and it was so good to get a little food and caffeine in my body because I was legit dead. At this point I had been laboring in the hospital for over 16 hours.
Pause on the story again…
To a certain point, I think labor pain is very mental. I really believe that lot of the pain women feel during labor comes from the fear of not knowing what’s going on. Because the unknown produces fear. I realized the more knowledge I had of what my body was doing, the less I was afraid and the more peace and confidence I gained!
I knew that in order to push the baby out, the muscles had to contract. So I just kept reminding myself that my body was doing what it had to do to get the baby out. Thinking about the facts of why my body was doing what it was doing helped me so much and made it so I didn’t see the contractions as painful, but rather just intense and hard work. Kind of like a really hard workout. When you know you’re getting one step closer to your goal, determination helps you get through it! Now the back labor… that’s a completely different story, that was painful. Very painful. I remember saying over and over “my back, my back, please help me get him out of my back.”
Okay back to the story!
For the first time I got discouraged and started having thoughts of doubt on if I could do this naturally anymore. I was in so much pain from the back labor and nothing was helping. I couldn’t get relief in any position, and I couldn’t take it any longer. I just couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I started balling crying. I was crying because I was in pain but also because I was so tired and worn out. Frustration was at an all-time high because nothing would relieve the back pain. It seriously felt like Ryser was breaking my spine and trying to rip through and come out of my back. Not going to lie, it was horrible.
This was the first time the nurse offered an epidural. She said I could get a walking epidural if I didn’t want the full one. I remember saying, “If I can just get him out of my back I can do this”. So, I refused the epidural and started doing everything I could to get Ryser off of my back.
This is when things took a turn for the worse. My body went into complete shock and started pushing the baby out on it’s own. The nurses kept telling me to stop pushing but I couldn’t. My body was just pushing on its own and I couldn’t control it. The midwife came in and checked me and I was only 8cm dilated. She told me that if I didn’t stop pushing that I would damage my cervix and have to get a C-section. She suggested I get the walking epidural to see if that would calm my body down and allow me to rest a little. I refused. I had made it this far, I was not giving up. With tears in my eyes I said, “I can do this I can do this, please let me try a little longer.”
I tried everything I could but I could not get my body to stop pushing. The only option I had was to try the walking epidural or to get a c section. I broke down and started crying. I was so mad, upset and discouraged. I felt like everything up to this point had been the worst case scenario, completely opposite of what I had planned and completely out of my control.
I remember David grabbing my face and telling me, “Babe your body is in complete shock, you’re in so much pain that you’re not able to think clearly right now. You have to trust me. This is what is best for you and the safety of our baby. This does not make you a failure. You have seriously done amazing and have been so tough and I have never been more proud of you. You have done everything you could but the reality is your body just can’t take it anymore. It is out of your control now. You have to stop fighting it. You need to listen to your body and trust the doctors.”
The main reason I wanted to go natural was not so that I could say “I did it” but rather I wanted to feel the release from actually pushing the baby out. I have read so many birth stories and have heard so many women talk about how the contractions are the worst part but once it was time to push, it is a relief when the baby comes out. They said it’s the most surreal, amazing, supernatural feeling, and when he finally comes out of you, you get this high that nothing or no moment will ever be able to compare to it. I wanted that! I wanted to have that feeling, that moment, that bond. I also wanted to be able to have control over my body and push when it was ready rather than being numb and pushing when someone else told me to. Now I am not a doctor but I really think that a lot of the complications that happen during birth (like the baby going in distress, the baby getting stuck, emergency c-sections, tearing, etc) come from forcing the baby out when it’s not ready. Because when you are numb, you can’t feel what’s going on, therefore you’re just pushing and forcing the baby out when the doctor tells you to push rather than doing it when your body tells you to. I don’t know, but that’s my theory.
All the doctors and nurses reassured me that with the walking epidural I would still feel everything. And that basically it would just cut the pain in half and allow my body to calm down and regain some strength before it was actually time to push the baby out.
After 20+ hours of laboring naturally I finally agreed to the walking epidural. I didn’t want to damage my cervix and have to get a C-section, and I didn’t want to put the baby at risk, so all things considered, I knew the only option I had was to try the walking epidural. Within minutes of getting the walking epidural my back pain went completely away HALLELUJAH!!!!!! All I really felt were the contractions. But even those were a lot less intense than before.
The midwife came in and checked me, I was at 10 cm!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot explain how amazing it was to hear those words! I had labored for 22 hours and fought through blood, sweat and tears (literally haha) to hear those words!!
They told me I could do a few practice pushes if I wanted. I knew I didn’t want to do a lot because like I said earlier, I wanted my body to tell me when to push rather than forcing it. But I was so excited and could hardly wait any longer to meet my sweet little boy so I decide a few practice pushes wouldn’t hurt.
After just one practice push the midwife said “STOP!!!! I can see his head. We need to call the doctor to come ASAP” (below is the picture of her texting the doctor to hurry up haha) Once Ryser was finally ready to come HE WAS READY haha.
The midwife kept telling me to hold him in and she even put her hand on his head to prevent him from coming out anymore. But he clearly was not having it. My body just started pushing him out on its own. After 20 min of trying so hard to hold him in, he came rushing out and no one could stop him. My doctor couldn’t get there fast enough and missed it. She was so upset she missed it but so happy he was here safe and sound! When it came time to push, they put a big mirror in front of me, so I was able to watch the whole thing and it was actually amazing. Not to get graphic but it was MIND BLOWING and the coolest experience to watch it actually happen. It’s crazy how the human body works and how God made our bodies able to do things that seem and look impossible!
After 22+ hours of labor, WE FINALLY WELCOMED RYSER SIDNEY HODGES INTO THE WORLD!!!!! There are no words to describe how amazing the actual birth was. Yes, labor was horrible but the actual birth was the most amazing, incredible moment I have EVER experienced! I will never forget the feeling of my son coming out of me and into the world and the second they placed him on my chest I was so high on life and instantly so in love with him. It was the most surreal, special moment that I will remember forever.
The three things I prayed for was to have a completely natural delivery, no tearing or complications, and to have a healthy baby and mama! Even though I had to get induced and get the walking epidural at the end, I didn’t tear AT ALL which is an absolute miracle in and of itself considering I am petite and he was a big baby, 8lbs 7oz, 22 inches long to be exact. Both Ryser and I were completely healthy. Now looking back on it, it was the most beautifully imperfect, perfect birth and exactly how God planned it. I truly have never felt closer to God and to David. I learned so much about giving up my desires, wants, and control, completely surrendering everything to God, and saying “Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.” That is what my tattoo on my forearm says, “Thy will be done”. I looked down at my arm and kept declaring that statement in my head over and over throughout the whole process. And in the end, God covered the whole process and blessed us with a safe delivery and a healthy baby.
There you have it! Sorry it was such a long blog post but I hope you enjoyed reading about the best day of my life! I fall more and more in love with Ryser every day and watching David become a dad has been the greatest joy of my life! David is already asking me for another one haha! I told him it took nine months to make this one, I need at least nine months to get everything back to normal, adjust to the new mom life and enjoy these special moments with Ryser before I think about another one!
Loving our birth story? Click here now to read more on our pregnancy!
Download my encouragement and scripture cards by clicking the images below!