Monday, April 28, 2014

Irelyn's Birth Story

Irelyn’s actual birth story is not that long but I have a lot I want to preface it with. I feel like I learned so much from both of my birth experiences and I think it is so important to share what we learn with those around us so I’m going to start Irelyn’s story with a preface. If you want to skip forward to the actual story you are welcome to (I bolded where it starts)!

Holland’s birth twenty months ago was a pretty hard experience for me. (You can read about it here—part 1, part 2, and some of the after effects here). If you don’t have time to read all of that you mostly just need to know that I ended up having a C-section when I had planned to have a natural, unmedicated birth. I honestly did not realize the implications of having a C-section until I was in the OR and my midwife happened to mention that the doctor doing the surgery was really good about stitching me up in a way that would make me a great candidate for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). That is when it really hit me: Holland’s birth would affect all of my future births.

When I got pregnant with Irelyn I knew my goal was to have a VBAC. I immediately went on a local Facebook forum and asked if people knew of any VBAC friendly doctors in my area. I was so grateful to get TONS of recommendations from the ladies in this group. I was also told about a forum on Facebook all about VBACs (VBAC Facts Community—anyone who has had a previous C-section should check out this forum and website to learn more about VBACs/RCS (Repeat C-Sections)). I joined the group on Facebook and started researching the many doctors recommended to me.  

I found a wonderful doctor and my pregnancy passed quickly (thanks to Holland keeping me nice and busy!) without any complications. I made sure to talk to my doctor about my plans to have a VBAC at every appointment and the more I talked to him the more supported I felt. I would come home from each appointment just so grateful to have such a supportive doctor.

As I got closer to my due date I felt like I needed to mentally prepare for whatever birth experience I would end up having. I felt like I needed to face the reality that things might not go the way that I wanted. At this point I really felt like the most important thing I could do to prepare for this birth experience was to take my concerns/fears/desires to my Heavenly Father and then let things happen the way He planned. The last few weeks of my pregnancy I went to the temple a few times, read my scriptures, wrote down scriptures and hymns that I could read before/during/after labor for comfort, and said a LOT of prayers. I knew that having a C-section again was something that I might have to face and I wanted to be able to feel peace with whatever birth experience I ended up having.

My due date came and passed uneventfully, just like Holland’s. Let me tell you, going over your due date is not fun at all! I do not wish it upon anyone. With Holland I remember crying every day I went over my due date. I would go to bed every night thinking, ‘Tonight could be the night!’ and waking up every morning was really disappointing. This time I wasn’t quite so upset but I didn’t know if I could emotionally handle going two weeks over again and then going through the same labor experience just to end up with a C-section again. So just after my due date passed I started praying about whether or not I should schedule a Repeat C-Section. This was something I had not even seriously considered my entire pregnancy and honestly, before I started considering it I had thought it was absolutely ridiculous for people to schedule Repeat C-Sections for their personal convenience. But, here I was considering it. And as I prayed about it I felt peace. I felt like it was an okay decision for me to make and this was a reminder to me not to judge others for their decisions.

I had an appointment the following Wednesday (40 weeks and 3 days) and I talked to my doctor about scheduling a C-section. I went over the pros and cons with him and explained my reasons for coming to this decision. He was very supportive and understanding of my decision and we scheduled the C-section for one week later (41 weeks 3 days) with the hospital. He reminded me that if I went into labor before then that of course we would still try for the VBAC. I cried on the way home from that appointment because I felt like I was giving up on my lifelong dream of experiencing natural, unmedicated childbirth. I prayed and let Heavenly Father know that I was trusting in Him that things would happen the way they were supposed to. After getting my tears out I again felt at peace with my decision. I knew that I was still giving my body/my baby time to start things and I also had a week to come to terms with having a C-section if that’s how things turned out.

And then things actually started happening.

Thursday through Saturday I had Braxton Hicks for a couple hours each night but they would inevitably fizzle out and be gone when I woke up the next morning. I did not have these with Holland at all though so that was definitely a positive change! Saturday during the day I did some serious nesting. I am not an awesome housekeeper (just ask Race) but Saturday I deep cleaned our kitchen and bathroom and just did other general house cleaning things. I spent hours cleaning and organizing. I’m sure we’ve all heard stories about people doing serious nesting RIGHT before their babies come and I’m not going to lie, I was hoping this all meant something for me but I also didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. So I went to bed hoping I would wake up to contractions in the night or to my water breaking or something but I woke up the next morning a little disappointed. I couldn’t be too sad though because it was Easter!

Race, Holland, my brother Solomon, and I headed to church and enjoyed some wonderful talks and musical numbers speaking of Christ and His wonderful sacrifice for all of us. I was pleasantly surprised to notice that I was experiencing Braxton Hicks (during the day!!) so we headed home after Sacrament meeting so that I could get some rest and see if the Braxton Hicks were going to turn into anything more.

At home we ate a delicious Easter dinner, hid Easter eggs for Holland, ate lots of yummy candy, rested, and just enjoyed the afternoon together. The Braxton Hicks got a little bit stronger but they weren’t any closer together or really regular at all. I wasn’t getting my hopes up that Irelyn was on her way just yet. I did start looking up some information on Spinning Babies about how to turn a posterior baby while in labor. I was pretty sure that Irelyn was posterior just like Holland and I didn’t want to end up with a C-section because I couldn’t push this baby out. So around 8:30 PM with my contractions becoming a bit stronger but still somewhat irregular I decided to try some abdominal lift and tucks. In between/during contractions I did some work, showered with Holland, tried to rest, helped put Holland to bed, and just tried to see if things were progressing. I was totally in denial that things were really happening until 11:13 PM when I texted my mom telling her that the contractions were stronger and closer together but that I was going to try and rest and time them for a few minutes before we decided to head out the door.

I didn’t end up being able to rest at all. Race and I started getting last minute things ready to go, and over the next 45 minutes while we rushed around things finally started to feel real to me. I really had to stop and concentrate when I had a contraction and I didn’t have much time between contractions. I kept trying to braid my bangs so they would be out of my face during delivery but after trying to quickly do that between 3 contractions I gave up and just twisted them back quickly.

At 12:00 AM we headed out the door to the hospital. My mom has always said that you don’t leave until you don’t want to get in the car. I hadn’t intentionally done that but the car ride was absolutely the hardest part of my labor. It was not fun to labor in the car at all. My contractions were close and very strong the whole drive so the drive felt like much longer than the 30 minutes it actually was. I responded to a text from my mom asking how close contractions were saying “Not sure. 1-3 minutes. 1 minute long. Really strong. Car is bad.” So eloquent. Haha. On the car ride I was a little ridiculous during contractions but Race just kept comforting me—letting me know that we were getting close and holding my hand.

We arrived at the hospital around 12:30 AM and I had to stop two or three times on the very short walk from the car to the ER to squat through contractions. At this point I had realized that I was feeling the need to push and I couldn’t really help trying. We were taken up to labor and delivery and I was admitted into triage at 12:35 AM. I got into my gown quickly and the triage nurse checked me. She didn’t actually say how dilated I was but as she walked out of the room she said to the other nurses “She’s good to go.” I wasn’t sure what that meant but immediately after she walked out I kind of pushed through a contraction and my water broke…all over the triage floor. It was seriously so loud and so much water that I was convinced for a half second that my baby had just shot out of me! Super ridiculous, I know, but it was really super loud! All the nurses heard it so they rushed right in and got me moved into a labor and delivery room right away. By 12:39 AM I was hooked up to monitors and by 12:50 AM I was pushing.  Pushing felt AMAZING. It felt so good to push through the contractions and to know that my body was doing just what it was supposed to. The entire time I was pushing I was just thanking Heavenly Father for this wonderful experience. At 1:09 AM Irelyn Sage Ashby came into the world and was immediately placed on my chest where she stayed for the next hour or so. Eventually we found out that she weighed 7 lbs. 12 oz. and was 20 3/4 inches long. I was so in shock at how wonderfully things had gone and so grateful and happy to meet my sweet baby girl and to have had such a wonderful delivery experience.

My doctor was unable to make it to my crazy fast delivery but the doctor on call was wonderful! Dr. Bradley did some massaging of my perineum while I pushed to help avoid serious tearing, which I was so grateful for. The nurses were also amazing. They coached me a little on how to push more efficiently and then just let me do my thing. Afterwards they said they wanted me to come back and teach classes on how to have a successful VBAC and one nurse kept telling me that I had such amazing control while pushing at the end that it seemed like I had an epidural. I was so grateful for the loving, encouraging words and was just so overwhelmed with joy at how wonderfully the whole experience had gone. Even though our experience with Holland was a little scary and loooong and exhausting for Race and I both, Race was still so supportive of my decision to have a VBAC. He was my constant support and he was so happy to have had such a wonderful experience this time around. I am so grateful for him and I am so grateful that we were both able to experience such a healing, beautiful birth. I am also grateful to have learned so much from my birth experiences, and I feel like because of my very different experiences I can be more understanding and empathetic towards people who have had all kinds of births.

And now for some photos! 

Last bump photo on Easter Sunday {41 weeks} 

Sweet new baby with Mom. 

Meeting Dad for the first time.

So tiny and adorable.

Our first "family picture". Holland is holding her new baby doll while Race shows her Irelyn and I'm hiding back behind the faucet in the reflection. Haha. Holland is absolutely in love with her "baby sisser"!


  1. Love this! Congratulations on cute little Irelyn.

  2. I am SO SO SO SO SO happy that you were able to have such a wonderful birth experience this time around!! You are a wonderful mother and I cannot wait to meet Miss Irelyn :)

  3. This story nearly brought me to tears!!! I am so happy that things worked out just how you hoped they would and I would absolutely LOVE to have you share your story on my birth blog (which really will happen someday. Turns out having a baby puts a lot of things on hold). Love it! You did amazing and your family is just so sweet and cute!

  4. Emma! I haven't gotten a chance to tell you congratulations! I'm so glad everything went so well. She is darling!

  5. Emma, this is beautiful! I am so happy you were able to have such a wonderful experience! She is absolutely precious.

  6. Emma I'm so happy for you! You are so wonderful to learn empathy and understanding, and be willing to take whatever happened and make the best of it.
    But I'm so so happy that you had a wonderful and successful VBAC! And you got that baby out quick--good job haha! Congratulations on another beautiful little girl!

  7. Wow you make it sound so easy! It's incredible how smoothly it went for you, I am just in awe! My husband and I have recently started trying and ALL I HEAR are horror stories! So thankful for your happy story. I think I learned something here: go to the temple often before birth. I've never heard that advice but it seems pretty obvious doesnt it?. So happy for you and your family, she is beautiful!

  8. I love a good birth story! I tried for a VBAC my second time and ended up not dilating. So i had to have a repeat C Section. You have NO idea how jealous I am that your VBAC was successful!! She is beautiful, congrats! You make darling kids!

  9. Oh Emma, what a beautiful birth story! I am so happy that you were able to be successful with your VBAC. I remember reading your birth story with Holland and thinking while I was pregnant that I had to accept that my hope for a totally natural birth might not go as planned with Denver, (which it didn't but I am pretty okay about it), but this gives me hope to try for natural birth again! It sounds like Irelyn's birth was truly healing and what a blessing she is. Congrats to you, girl.

  10. Congratulations! What a sweet birth story.

  11. Emma I loved reading this!! I know both of your births were a huge strength to me, in helping me prepare. All day after Irelyn was born all I could think about was how happy I was for you and how grateful I was that all our prayers were answered. And I think for me it was a blessing that you had Irelyn first and were able to tell me about the abdominal lift and tucks because I really think that's what finally got Iris coming out! Anyway, we love you!!! And you are the greatest sister I could wish for!

  12. This is so beautiful Emma! I too had a C-Section with Abbi and am planning/really wanting to have a VBAC with this baby! Thank you so much for writing out your birth story! I'm so glad everything worked out! Irelyn is perfect!

  13. Love both of your girl's names! Such a good birth story.

  14. I'm so happy this time around was so much better! Congratulations on a new baby!

  15. Oh my goodness I'm so happy for you, I mean in crying here haha! So glad she arrived here safely and that your labor went quick (:

  16. Wow! What an amazing story! I love it. Thanks for sharing.