Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

My birth story

My birth story

It’s been a minute since my last post, and a lot has changed in that time. I am so proud and happy to share that 6 weeks ago I gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy. The last month has been quite the ride, which means that I haven’t had much time to get on here and share as many bits of wellness with you as I’d like.

Normally, I’d get pretty down on myself for not creating and sharing enough content with all of you. But I learned pretty quickly that motherhood, especially one’s ‘golden month’ is pretty all-consuming. Between caring for and getting to know my sweet boy, and my own postpartum recovery, there hasn’t been much time for anything else. 

Much to my own surprise, I am totally okay with that. Seeing just how quickly the first several weeks have come and gone made me realize how important it is to just be present - with him and for him. So I made a promise to myself that I am not going to waste a minute or ounce of energy feeling bad or guilty about things such as productivity, because this life I’ve been given is too short and too sweet to feel bad about. 

With that said, the one thing I did do in the time between his birth and now, is document my birth story to share with all of you who have been following along on my pregnancy journey. 

Before I get into it, I just want to say to all of the expecting moms out there reading this: write down your birth story (even if it’s just for your own personal memories) as soon after birth as you possibly can. Otherwise, you will be surprised at how quickly you will forget things. 

Labor and delivery is a surreal experience. And with each passing day, the details of the most important event in your life will escape you. 

Instead of sharing one long narrative post about my birth, I decided to break my story down into key moments and decisions, which hopefully makes it easier and more interesting to read and helps to address any questions you may have about my experience. 

So here it is!

On having a birth plan

While I went in with a ‘birth plan’, so to speak, I never became attached to it because if you talk to any woman that’s ever been pregnant then you know that nothing ever goes according to plan during labor and delivery.

With that said, there were a few things that I was set on: 

1) I did not want an episiotomy

2) I wanted to hold my baby after he was born for as long as possible

3) I did not want the nurses to bathe him because I wanted him to be able to benefit from the waxy coating (vernix caseosa) newborns are born with, which is supposed to help prevent against infections.

While there were other items in my birth plan, these were the ones I felt I had the most control over (other than an epidural, which I will get to later). Thankfully, my labor and delivery progressed in such a way that I was able to have each of those requests honored. 

On being Induced

As some of you may know, I went a week past my due date and therefore had the option to schedule an induction for myself, so that’s what I decided to do. 

On the day of the induction, I was scheduled to arrive at the hospital for 6PM. The day started with a 3 mile walk with my husband, Noam, and our dog, followed by a trip to the dog park (because the dog park always puts me in a great mood). From there, I came home and spent the rest of the day preparing a healthy and nutrient dense breakfast and lunch to make sure I had energy for what was to come, tying up loose ends with work and packing my hospital bag. I cannot tell you how slowly the hours passed that day. I thought 6PM would never come. 

But it did. 

Once I arrived at the hospital, it took about 2 hours to get signed and settled in. I could feel the nerves stirring up inside of me.

Until this point, I never had my OB check to see how much I had dilated, since I thought I would be discouraged if I hadn’t dilated at all and I wanted to keep my spirits up in the final week of my pregnancy and for labor and delivery. And I’m glad I didn’t have her check because I learned then and there that I was only 1.5 cm dilated at 41 weeks! 

At around 8PM, I had a foley balloon inserted to help me dilate. The plan was to start with the foley and then eventually (if needed) start me on pitocin to help bring on the contractions. I was really nervous about this since I had read that it can really intensify contractions - as if they aren’t painful enough already.

Anyways, once the foley balloon was inserted, the doctor recommended that I rest and relax, and try to get some sleep that night. Then, in the morning, hopefully the foley balloon will have fallen out on its on and I will be at least 3cm dilated.

So Noam and I ordered dinner to the hospital from M cafe and tried to relax. We brought board games and a deck of cards thinking that we’d distract ourselves and have some fun, but once we were done eating we were both exhausted so we decided to just go to sleep (we wanted to be well rested in anticipation of what was ahead of us). 

I fell asleep for a couple of hours. Then, at around 11pm, I woke up to go to the bathroom and as soon as I sat down to pee, the foley balloon fell out of me and into the toilet bowl. 

At first, I thought that this shouldn’t happen so quickly; I thought we at least had until the morning before we’d progress to the next phase. I  figured it must have fallen out accidentally because of how I sat down to pee or something. So I got up from the toilet and asked Noam to call the Nurse in case this wasn’t supposed to happen, when all of the sudden I felt a warm rush of water come down my leg. Yup, that was my water breaking!

Since it was only 11PM, and I was only 3cm dilated, my OB still recommended that I go to sleep for the night. I didn’t know how that was going to be possible because once the foley balloon fell out, I started to feel contractions coming on and they were uncomfortable enough that sleep seemed highly unlikely. 

I was still on the fence about getting an epidural (which I will get to in a moment), so to manage the pain my OB suggested morphine instead, which sounded pretty good to me! Before I knew it, I felt great and could barely keep a conversation going or my eyes open.

To epidural or not to epidural

Thankfully, the morphine allowed me to sleep for about three glorious hours before I woke up and felt really uncomfortable again. I could feel that things might be progressing so I let the doctor know and she checked to see how far along I was - 6cm!

It was right around this time when my nurse came in (very flustered) and said that if I wanted an epidural it had to be now since the anesthesiologist was going into an emergency surgery, and given how fast I was progressing, waiting until he was done probably meant it would be too late. 

I had thought about this moment for months. Let me be clear: I never felt the need to be a hero. In fact, I am a horrible wuss when it comes to pain; if you can imagine the lowest possible threshold for pain, mine is exponentially lower than that. With that said, I still had my fears surrounding an epidural - from the needle itself to concerns about having a bad reaction to it. 

Like I said, I debated about this moment for months.

Ultimately, more than anything else, I wanted to labor and deliver my baby in a calm and fear-free environment. If I didn’t get the epidural, I knew I would be in immense pain while laboring and potentially again if I needed to be stitched up (which, having never had stitches before, made me nervous and queasy to the max). 

So with all of this in mind, I decided an epidural was absolutely the right call for me. And I am so glad I had one because it did its job. I was able to relax and felt virtually no pain - only an intense pressure when I contracted.

For about 20 minutes, I felt great. Little did I know, things were about to go off the rails.

Our late night scare

From the moment we checked into the hospital and were hooked up to monitors, we were warned that our baby’s heart rate was low and we watched it jump around for several hours. We were never all that concerned since we knew that even minor contractions can slow a baby’s heart rate down.

But right after I received the epidural, the baby’s heart rate continued to drop and then couldn’t be detected at all. 

Before I could even ask a single question, I was being rushed to the OR for an emergency C-section. 

At this point, I had no idea what was going on. I was surrounded by 7 different doctors, all of whom were ‘suiting up’ and moving really fast. No one was talking to me, and even though I felt fine and in control of myself mentally, my body began to vigorously shake. When I looked around the room I didn’t see Noam anywhere and then when I asked for him, a doctor I had never met told me that the room wasn’t sterilized so he had to remain outside the OR, and that they had to act now.

I could not believe that I was about to deliver my baby, via an emergency C-section, without Noam…and only had a handful of minutes to really process this. Like I said earlier, my take on having a birth plan was simply to be prepared for nothing to go according to plan. But never in a million years did I imagine that Noam wouldn’t be by my side when we delivered our baby.

My body continued to shake uncontrollably and with no one around to comfort me, I decided I had to do what I could to calm myself down. So I meditated, right there on the operating table. I closed my eyes, took deep breaths and repeated one mantra over and over and over again: ‘I’m healthy, I can do this, my baby will be fine.’

Eventually, one out of the seven doctors in the operating room noticed me. He walked over to me, came right up to my face and told me that his wife was in this exact situation and they now have a 10 month old baby, and both mom and baby are perfectly healthy.

That was exactly what I needed to hear. I felt my body begin to relax. And pretty much in the same moment, my baby’s heart rate could be detected again. 

We monitored his heart rate in the OR for another five or so minutes and because it remained stable the doctors gave me the choice: proceed with the C-section or go back to my labor suite and wait it out to deliver vaginally (at this point, I was about 7 cm dilated).

Obviously, if the doctors were confident enough to give me the choice, I preferred the latter. When Noam was finally allowed into the OR I filled him on the details, and together we decided to try for a vaginal delivery. 

We went back to our labor suite, and spent the next moments tripping out together about what went down over the last hour. I remember thinking how great it felt to be with him again and laugh.

Meeting Mickey

Somehow, I was able to drift in and out of sleep for another hour or two. Noam stayed up and watched the baby’s heart rate, which I am sure is the reason I was able to relax and drift off for a bit. 

Then, at just after 5am, I woke up and felt an intense pressure in my vagina. This was it, I was sure of it. I told Noam to call the nurse and doctor, because I needed to push…like NOW.

The doctor came in about a minute later, checked to see how far along I was and confirmed that I was 10cm dilated. It was time to start pushing. 

After everything we had been through in the last few hours, I was desperate to get this baby out and into my arms. And so with every contraction, I pushed with what I can only describe as an animal-like intensity.

Looking back on these short moments, there are a couple of things that truly amazed me.

First, all of my child birth-related fears seemingly disappeared. I had spent the last 9 months (or several years) worrying about how I’d be able to push out a baby or tearing, for example. But in the moment, I had no fear. All of the thoughts that I held onto about delivery for years of my life literally did not cross my mind even once while I pushed.

Second, was how strong and powerful I felt. I truly knew that everything I have ever done in my life to take care of my mind and body was going to pay off. I work hard on me, every single day. But I am also very hard on myself. However, this one time in my life I didn’t doubt myself for even a second. And it was the best, most powerful feeling I have ever felt. 

After about 40 minutes of non-stop pushing, my sweet Mickey entered this world and into my arms. I didn’t sob or even cry the way that I pictured I would. When I looked at him, all I could do was just smile. After these 9 months together, I was so happy to meet him. And the sense of gratitude that I felt was (and still is) overwhelming; there was no greater gift I could have asked for than to deliver a perfectly healthy baby. 

It’s now 6 weeks later and that happiness and gratitude has only grown. Caring for a newborn isn’t easy - the night feeds, the lack of sleep and time for yourself are all difficult adjustments, don’t get me wrong. But I truly enjoy every minute of it. Even the hard stuff. Because just being with him makes everything better. 

Need to boost your milk supply? Try these quick and easy lacation energy balls.

Need to boost your milk supply? Try these quick and easy lacation energy balls.

Thinking about a plant-based diet? Read this first.

Thinking about a plant-based diet? Read this first.