Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
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It’s been almost a month since we welcomed our little Boden Grey into the world, which still feels so surreal. Trevor and I created a human together and he’s now a part of our family. All of the time, planning and build-up over the last nine months came to one culminating moment on July 23rd and our lives have been forever changed for the better. Today I wanted to take the time to reflect and share my birth story. I know how helpful it was to learn others’ stories to help me prepare for the unknown, so I’m hoping this can be helpful to you in the same way. This experience was something I was terrified about for the longest time and am here to say I lived to tell the tale, with only a few bumps and bruises from along the way.
As I approached my due date of July 18th, I was really hoping to be on time. I was doing everything I could do naturally speed things along… daily walks, date shakes, evening primrose oil, clary sage, squats… I’m a planner, and as I’m sure many of you planners can relate, I just wanted to know what kind of timeline we were looking at to prepare for this new life ahead. But, as you learn with pregnancy, you have to be ready for the unexpected and just roll with the punches. So I learned to do just that…
My mom was planning to come stay with us for a little over a week to be here for the birth and to help in any way that we needed. She’d call every day leading up to my due date, asking how I was feeling, and I’d relay — “still pregnant!” I experienced Braxton Hicks contractions a lot less than I thought I would. Here and there throughout the last two months, nothing too unbearable, just uncomfortable feelings of tightening in my stomach. So when it came time for us to plan when she should arrive, I really had no idea what to tell her. We decided she’d come on the due date unless we learned of any news from my weekly checkups beforehand.
During these final weekly appointments, my doctor would check my cervix (which FYI, gets done a lot less than you’d think during pregnancy). She’d look to see whether I was dilated and how things were looking. I had a LEEP procedure done 10 years ago so she was also monitoring that. On my 39th and 40th week appointment, she reported all looked well and that I was measuring at about 1cm with no increase. To help progress things along, she offered to conduct a membrane sweep — which I hadn’t heard of before. After doing research online (not always the best idea), I became terrified of having it done, learning it was painful and rarely led to helping. In addition, I had experienced my mucus plug falling out the last 2-3 days so thought it wouldn’t be necessary, as I had read that was a sign labor was near.
But as luck would have it, my due date came and went and when I showed up for my 41st week appointment, I decided to suck it up and give it a go. I talked with several female friends through Insta DMs that gave me the confidence to give it a try if I didn’t want to go far past my due date. So I asked my doctor to do it while she was already checking me (which was an uncomfortable process already as they “scoot” your cervix down), to please be speedy, and before I could even let out a yelp she was done. This was on Monday, July 22nd, four days past my due date. We scheduled an induction for the upcoming weekend in case nothing happened, but I was praying something would.
Trevor and I came home that morning from the appointment and rather than just sit around waiting for something to happen at home, my mom and I decided we’d do a terrific lady day. We got ready for a park walk, a little shopping and some dining al fresco in Bellevue, for a change of scenery from our Seattle neighborhood.
We joked as we left the house, packing a garbage bag to sit on as I drove just in case my water broke, laughing. When we pulled up to Meydenbauer beach park, I mentioned to my mom I thought I was feeling a light aftermath of the membrane sweep. Little did I know this was the start to a slow and gradual water break that would continue from that moment at 3pm, throughout shopping Bellevue Square, eating lunch at Monsoon, all the way to when I arrived at home.
We came home to Trev sunbathing on the deck and I went out to join him. Still joking that at least I’d be ready in my swimsuit if my water broke! Then I felt something that felt a bit more significant. I came in the house to sit down with my mom to fill her in, and then I felt something even more… similar to that gush they tell you about. We all looked at each other, googled what it was like to have your water break and then realized, oh my god, it was go time. We called the hospital to confirm whether we should come in or not (we weren’t sure since I wasn’t having contractions yet). I’m so glad we did as they said yes, you’ll want to come in soon — no need to run stop lights, take time to get ready and come in when you can.
I wish I had a video of what we all looked like at this moment. I immediately decided I’d jump in the shower and do a face mask (I wanted to wash my hair and be clean going into the hospital). My mom downed some coffee so she could stay awake here while watching Smalls, awaiting our call to come to the hospital (she falls asleep easily). And Trevor after pacing around nervously decided he’d speed walk to Bartells to get hair gel he was out of and pick up burritos for dinner for us… #hilarious.
It was 10:30pm on that same Monday night when Trevor and I checked into Swedish Hospital’s Birthing Center in Ballard. We showed up over-prepared with four bags (side note, I packed far too much), fresh faces and fresh hair. The car seat was ready to go in our ride and so was I. It was finally time to see what this whole birthing a child thing was all about.
We were greeted by the friendliest staff of nurses who checked us into our suite for the next 24 hours. We were able to get settled in, hear the rundown on what to expect and sign any papers upfront before I was hooked up to anything. My doctor wasn’t scheduled to be on call over the next 12 hours, as they usually say happens, but I was able to meet the doctor who was and really liked her. She relayed the plan and we got ready to begin.
At midnight, the labor officially began. I was hooked up to an IV and put on Pitocin — as I was measuring 3 cm dilated, but not feeling any contractions. The doc stressed that this would be the best route since my water had broken 9 hours ago, and the longer the window you have from breakage to delivery, the more at risk you are to infection. I started off on the Pitocin, and sure enough started feeling contractions. I practiced breathing techniques — no crazy lamaze, just what felt right to me to get through each. The time they would last and amount of time between each would vary, but the intensity always grew as time went on… deeper feelings of tight cramping.
Trevor and I had made the decision to hire a doula to help us before, during and after labor during postpartum. After interviewing several amazing ladies (Trev was a trooper), we fell in love with Amanda, the owner and operator of Seattle doula services team Atlas Birth. She was knowledgeable, had a passion for the birth process and we just overall really enjoyed hanging out with her. She was someone we could really see there by our side during the action, and boy was she about to be. We decided to give her call at 4:00am on Tuesday (god bless her soul), when my contractions really started to kick in and I was getting close to not being able to take much more.
Which brings me to the epidural. The birth plan I had created with the help of Amanda involved trying to hold out as long as I could without getting the epidural, even though I was sure I wanted to get it. I was also terrified of ever getting to a point where it would be too late to get it. My thought process around this was that as an active person who thrives on movement, I figured I’d want to try and walk around as much as possible to cope with pain — vs being unable to use my legs. I envisioned bouncing on birthing balls, trying different positions and maybe taking a bath in the center’s jacuzzi. But that thing they tell you about going into labor accepting that you might not stick to your plan is so dead on. Once those contractions began to get so painful, I couldn’t even fathom moving. I just wanted the pain to stop and any breathing I was doing to get through it seemed to help less and less. As I waited for Amanda to get there (I had envisioned her being there before getting the epidural), the night nurse who happened to be my favorite throughout our time there proceeded to give me the best analogy…
Think of the epidural as a shiny new car. Why would you let your beautiful, new car sit to collect dust in your garage if you’re planning on driving it eventually?– MY SWEDISH NIGHT Nurse
That’s when I said in relief — “call the anesthesiologist!” Amanda arrived right before he came in and for all of you who are terrified about having a baby, specifically labor and delivery as I was, let me just tell you… the epidural was a godsend. The last hour of heavy breathing and hovering over in pain turned into relaxed, smooth sailing from there. At least for a bit…
From that point on I was able to sit tight in my bed comfortably while we waited for the Pitocin to further dilate my cervix to 10 cm. I had reached 5 cm and was actually there for quite some time. I was so relaxed, I was able to finally sleep — since I hadn’t yet from the night before. Both Trevor and Amanda stayed by my side, reading, taking in power naps here and there, all the while watching my monitor and asking me repetitively in disbelief, “did you feel that big one?!”. The answer was always, “nope”. Our room smelled of eucalyptus and lavender, Amanda gave me the most wonderful massages and I was pleasantly, contently waiting to dilate.
Somewhere between 7-10:00am, I had a new doctor come in to introduce herself. She was wonderful. She did a checkup, found that I was at 7 cm and explained the new plan moving forward. Because I was slowly approaching 24 hours since my water began to break, the ideal case would be that I’d soon reach 9 cm to which I could begin to push. But since I had that LEEP procedure I mentioned previously in the past, the scar tissue on the cervix might prevent a gradual dilation. Rather at any point, I would jump up out of nowhere, so to be prepared. So I sat tight, and waited for this time to arise. Still very comfortable. My bottom half was tingly, but I could move my legs slightly when they’d ask me to move from side to side. Trevor alerted our family that I could be ready to push at any moment, so they all headed to the hospital and got cozied up in the waiting room.
Finally at noon (after 12 hours of laboring), the doctor came in to check me and sure enough I had jumped as she said I would to 9 cm. “Oh my god… this was it”, I thought. Except instead of being scared, I felt a feeling of eagerness. It was time for me to show up and do so in the best way so I could finally meet my son. The doctor and nurses explained to me what I needed to do, which was essentially push as if I was going to the bathroom and take deep breathes in between while they would count. We explored a variety of positions, to which both Trevor and Amanda were very involved in. Holding my legs, me crunching up, to the side, using my arms… Trev and I playing sheet tug of war (the most vivid memory I have, haha). But after over an hour of pushing, I came to realize the task would be much more difficult that I had thought, because I couldn’t actually feel where I was supposed to push. The epidural that had gotten me to this point, actually was hindering my ability to push effectively.
Then come around 1:30pm was when things started to get scary. Out of nowhere, I began shaking… all over. From my teeth chattering to my arms and legs… uncontrollably. The nurses told me it was a common side effect due to a surge of hormones that rushed through a woman’s body right before she’s about to deliver as an assist to get the baby out, but this hindered me from delivering if anything. It lasted two whole hours, and it was awful. It felt like I was having a seizure. Luckily, Amanda had a blanket technique she had learned from her doula mentor that helped calm me down mid-way through, which ultimately put me to sleep for a half hour before coming back again. All the while trying my best to push, which just was not working.
Finally, come 3:30pm the shaking stopped and the doctor came in with another revised plan. This time, she stressed she really needed me to show up and give it my all, otherwise we were facing some serious next steps that would include using a vacuum assist and then, if needed, an emergency c-section. Being in labor for so long had resulted in me coming down with a 102 fever — which was a risk to not only myself but the baby, so the entire team was concerned and determined to have him out as soon as possible.
At this point, I was so exhausted and now pretty scared. As was Trevor and our awaiting family. I was trying with all of my might to follow everyone’s instructions and push as much as I could. But not being able to feel exactly where to push had me grunting, groaning, popping blood vessels in my face — without the proper results. So the doctor offered another idea.
Since the epidural had treated me right, but was not wearing off as it should, she suggested we call the anesthesiologist to come back in and turn it down, so I could feel exactly where to push. He came in shortly after, and stressed we cut it entirely, since we were really cutting it close with time. I was terrified. I didn’t want to feel what I had felt back at 4:00am — the strong and oh so sharp contractions. He reassured me that by the time he cut it, I would be pushing the baby out before getting back to that level of pain. I trusted and we moved forward.
The time was now 4:00pm and after pushing a few times post cutting the epidural, I was finally beginning to feel where to focus my efforts. “I can see the head!” Trevor yelled. “You’ve got this Cortney!”, Amanda cheered. The room of people were counting and looking at me with excitement and encouragement. The doctor told me he would be out in one more push. She tried to ask me if she could conduct an episiotomy and explain how and why and I interrupted her saying “just do what you need to do”. I trusted them all and finally trusted in myself. Sure enough, after what felt like the 100th attempt to push, I heard a cry and felt a warm, small body being placed onto my chest. It was 4:08pm and Little Bo was now out to the world.
The surge of emotions that followed are some I won’t ever forget. Tears filled my eyes with so much joy, relief and love — and as Trevor stood over beside Bo and I, we hugged him and both sobbed in disbelief. It was as if a miracle had happened in those final moments. And at long last, we were now a family.
Please excuse me for a tissue break…
After 16 hours of labor, including 4 hours of pushing — Boden was finally resting in my arms. The doctor and nurses proceeded to do what they needed to do post delivery to both of us. I continued to take the ‘out of sight, out of mind approach’ and asked the doc to just not mention to me what she was doing so I didn’t panic or stress. I could barely feel my bottom half still, so I was able to sit there semi-comfortably. I did have to push once to deliver my placenta and once that was over, any stitching and cleanup was also done. Luckily I only had to endure a first degree episiotomy so was told the recovery wouldn’t be as bad. After a few pushes to my uterus from the doctors to help compress and return flat again, I was able to be left alone to be with Bo, Trev and start my healing.
What a wild ride.
Looking back, the entire birthing process really taught me to embrace the unexpected and what ultimately lies out of your control. What seemed so terrifying and unachievable was actually much more doable than I imagined.
The female body is seriously an amazing thing. Trevor has told me he sees me differently now, so much stronger as he ever imagined. And I’d have to agree. I am proud. Oh so proud to be Boden’s mama finally.
That evening and the next morning, we were able to enjoy time with both sides of our family, introducing them each to their new nephew / grandson. It was the best feeling, seeing Boden already so incredibly loved by many.
Trev and I were so grateful to be able to have some alone time all together as a family of three. In addition, rest overnight with the help of the amazing nursing team. Tired was an understatement, even for Bo.
The next day, we were given the clearance as Bo and I had passed all of our tests, with our temperatures back to a normal degree. At around 6:00pm on Wednesday, July 24th we packed up our room to leave and put our sweet baby in his first outfit. It was the wildest thing, walking out of the hospital with this precious new life we had created. I waddled behind Trevor and watched him carry the carseat with such pride.
I want to thank you for all of your love, support and words of encouragement and congratulations. Our lives are forever changed and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s ahead.
Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor.
I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Get To Know Me
Mother. Wife. Blogger. Photographer. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Hi, I'm Cortney
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