Birth Story: Lilah Mei-Li Chiu

Hi friends! It’s finally time to share Lilah’s birth story with the world…before she was born I loved reading birth stories and now I finally have my own to share! 

In the weeks leading up to Lilah’s birth I’d been (understandably) freaked out by the prospect of labor. People kept telling me to resist the urge to research everything on the internet, but of course I was lured in by the endless amount of forum posts, birth stories and other tales available online. From reading these stories I expected to come away from labor as a torn, tired, sore and sickly shell of a mom, but I’m happy to say that labor was a FAR different experience for me than I anticipated!

The Big Day

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Monday was a pretty typical day for us. I was feeling more uncomfortable than usual because of my big belly, but I still had enough energy to run errands. For days I’d been putting off a trip to the clinic to fill my prescription for a breast pump, but on Monday I had no more excuses left. With Lilah’s due date looming near we needed that darn pump! My doctor said that baby could come any day because of how low Lilah was situated in my pelvis, so I was feeling hyper aware of any changes in my body. But things had been surprisingly quiet so far. I hadn’t felt any dramatic contractions and I wasn’t especially tired or uncomfortable. It seemed like baby was going to take her sweet time before making her grand entrance.

After picking up the breast pump, Taylor and I drove over to Liberty Park to take a walk. Walking was my preferred form of exercise at this stage of the pregnancy; long gone were the second trimester days where I’d hit the climbing gym to burn off extra energy. We ambled around the outer ring of the park, talking and enjoying the weather as we went. When we were about a half mile away from the car I felt an odd sensation: several bursts of warmth and wetness that certainly couldn’t compare to the average amount of discharge that many women have during pregnancy. I stopped in my tracks.

“I think my water broke,” I blurted out. Taylor looked at me quizzically, and I felt that we both had a million questions crop up in our minds at once: was this for real? Did we need to go to the hospital? How quickly did we need to leave? What if this is a false alarm?!

Even if we’d been mistaken about my water breaking, we figured that we should head home as quickly as possible. I sat down on a bench and waited for Taylor to bring the car around, which felt like it took an eternity! Turns out that he got a little lost while trying to track down our getaway vehicle.

On the way home I felt surprisingly calm. I was running through a checklist of things to do in my mind once we arrived: grab my hospital bag. Eat food. Make sure all the doors and windows are locked.

Taylor, on the other hand, seemed a bit frantic. When we got back to the house he slapped together a sandwich for me (which was a lifesaver…once labor starts and you’re in the hospital, eating is a no-no!), tossed the carseat in the car and hurled our bags into the trunk. As we drove up to the hospital everything felt like a blur. It was starting to hit me that this was the real deal: I could be meeting my baby within the next day!

Finally at the Hospital

At the hospital we got checked in and the nurse helped me settle into the room where I’d labor, assuming that baby was truly on her way. The room was huge. There were enough couches and chairs for a large audience. But the centerpiece was a hospital bed surrounded by monitors, tubes and all kinds of other ‘hospital-y’ equipment.

“Do you plan to have an epidural today?” the nurse asked casually as she strapped a blood pressure cuff to my arm.

“Uhh…” came my response. I’d been mulling that question over in my mind for months now, and truthfully, I had no idea. I didn’t know what the pain of labor would be like and I’d heard so many pros and cons about epidurals that I decided to take the “wait and see” approach. But to be safe–and realistic–I told the nurse that I’d probably end up wanting some pain relief.

We’d confirmed at this point that my water had broken, but there was one little problem: I wasn’t feeling any contractions, and I was only dilated to a four with few signs of progress. My uterus needed to kick into high gear if this baby was going to make an appearance!

Pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin used to stimulate labor, was the answer to my problem. The nurse began assembling all of the equipment to administer the drug. Meanwhile Taylor had mobilized the masses: my mom and brothers were on their way to the hospital and Taylor’s family had plans to join us later in the day.

birth pregnancy hospital baby new mom

The Pitocin coursed through my system, but the effects were gradual over 4-5 hours. At first I felt a few twinges of discomfort. As the nurse increased the dosage, my back began to ache. Sitting on a peanut-shaped “birth ball”, watching Planet Earth II and chatting with my family were enough to distract me from the aches and pains. However, as the evening progressed and the Pitocin took hold, the contractions got intense enough that I had to focus on deep breathing to get through them.

“Now how do you feel about the epidural?” the nurse asked.

“I’m ready for it!” came my reply.

The anesthesiologist was there in moments. I was tense from knowing that a large needle would be inserted into my spine, but the jovial anesthesiologist and the prospect of relief from the intense contractions was enough for me to get over my silly fear. Within 10 minutes I felt noticeably different: my legs were heavy and numb, but I could still feel the contractions as they came and went. Such a weird sensation! It was nearing midnight at this point so we settled into rest. I was basking in the sweet relief from the epidural, but sleep evaded me: I wanted to meet my baby!

Baby Day!

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

The nurse periodically came in to check on my progress. My jaw dropped when, at 1 AM, she told me that I was dilated to a 10 an that it was time to push. She called my doctor and a bevy of nurses and medical students entered my room. Everyone was awake and aware, and mama got her game face on.

The nurses positioned themselves around my bed and began tracking my contractions closely. “Do you feel that?” they’d ask every time that a big one hit. And my answer was always yes. The sensation is hard to describe, but the urge to push a baby out is intense and undeniable. Every time a contraction hit the nurses would grab my feet and encourage me to push. I’d breathe in…push as hard as I possibly could for 8 seconds….exhale….and repeat three times. Then I’d rest. When I rested my body felt like jello and I could barely open my eyes. It was beyond exhausting!

When the doctor showed up things really started to “get spicy”, as Taylor would say. With each push we’d see the top of baby’s head, and one point I reached down and felt the baby’s skull. That gave me the motivation I needed to push even harder, and at 1:44 AM, Lilah came into the world with a piercing cry!

birth baby pregnancy new mom infant

birth baby new baby infant

The nurses immediately laid her on my chest, and that moment felt sublimely peaceful. I was aware that my body had gone through an intense experience. I was aware that I was gushing blood and in pain. I was aware that I was so, so tired. But holding that tiny, soft baby to my skin was blissful! She quickly quieted down when we were close, and at that moment I knew that she and I were connected forever in a way that only a mother and daughter can experience.

Recovery Time

The hours following labor were chaotic and surreal. Lilah underwent a bunch of tests, I went through some tests and got transferred to a different room for recovery. I was elated to learn that I hadn’t torn during labor! This is rare for first-time moms, and I knew my recovery would probably be easier since I wouldn’t need to care for stitches. Heck yes! 

Prior to giving birth I always wondered how and why women would endure such a tough experience multiple times, and now I knew the answer(s): 1) modern medicine can make the experience A LOT less painful and risky, 2) our bodies are built to go through this and 3) you get a sweet little baby out of it all, which is of course the best part!

I’m so grateful for my special birth story. The staff at LDS hospital is amazing; they were so attentive to Lilah’s needs and exceptionally caring and kind. I’m also thankful to my family for supporting me and caring for Lilah when I needed rest. Taylor and I are truly blessed!

baby new parents family birth story

Your mama loves you, Lilah Mei! Life is better now that you’re here

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