Ep 263: Erica’s Birth Story – Loving Every Moment of Birth

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Erica experienced two miscarriages prior to the birth story we're going to hear today. After over a year and a half of heartbreaking loss, this pregnancy was completely normal - no nausea, no sickness, no pain.

Now at 38 weeks, some symptoms developed that caused her doctor to recommend induction. Erica wanted an unmedicated birth and you’re going to learn all about how she used movement for pain management in this great episode. I felt so inspired by her strength and I know you will too!

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why Erica’s OB recommended induction
  • Which medications were used to induce labor
  • Why she felt unhappy with the initial on-call doctor
  • How she describes the sensation of her water breaking
  • What made her feel better about the new doctor at shift change
  • Why the presence of a travel nurse trained as a doula was serendipitous
  • Why she opted for a hands-and-knees birthing position

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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Speaker 1 (00:00): In this birth Story episode, you're going to hear about a successful unmedicated vaginal birth after labor induction.

(00:13): Welcome to the All about pregnancy and birth podcast. If you're having a baby in the hospital, you are giving birth in a system that too often takes away power from women over what happens in their own bodies. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a practicing board certified OBGYN, who's had the privilege of helping well over a thousand babies into this world. I've been a doctor for over 20 years, and I'm here to help you take back your power, advocate for yourself, and have the beautiful pregnancy and birth that you deserve. This podcast is for educational purposes only, and it's not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now, let's get to it. Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 263. Whether this is your first time listening or you have listened before, I am so glad you are spending some time with me today.

(01:09): In today's episode, we have Erica. Erica was born and raised in the Bay Area in California. She's been married to her college sweetheart for almost nine years, and they welcomed their rainbow baby boy in 2023 when she's not busy running her business as a professional portrait photographer. You can find her at the local park or pool with her son Ariel. Her passions include traveling to new places, hosting movie nights at home, and eating whatever delicious meal her husband whips up for them. I love that. I do the same around my house. Now, Erica experienced two miscarriages prior to the pregnancy and birth that we're going to hear about and after over a year and a half of trying to have their first baby, their prayers were answered in May of 2022. They actually waited until she was four months pregnant, just to be certain, to announce the pregnancy.

(02:06): And unlike with the miscarriages, those heartbreaking pregnancies, this entire pregnancy was completely normal. She had no nausea, no sickness, no pain, nothing that made her believe she was pregnant. It almost actually felt too easy, and she's going to talk about that in the episode now at 38 weeks. Some things did develop that caused her doctor to be concerned and recommend labor induction, and you're going to hear why in the episode she did have a successful labor induction, and after 21 hours of unmedicated labor, her sweet son was born. You are going to learn all about it and hear this beautiful story in this great episode. Before we get into the episode, I do want to share something with you. If you are not part of the All About pregnancy and birth Inner Circle community on Facebook, you definitely want to join. The community has over a thousand folks in it, and it's a great place to drop questions, to get feedback, not just from me, but from other pregnant mamas, from people who are postpartum about their experiences, the things that they've gone through. It's a lovely, supportive, wonderful open community. You can get to it and facebook.com/groups/dr. Nicole Rankins, or you can just search all about pregnancy and birth on Facebook, and you can find the link there. Okay, let's get into the birth story episode with Erica.

(03:39): Thank you so much, Erica, for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I'm really excited to hear your birth story today.

Speaker 2 (03:44): Thank you for having me. I'm excited to share it. Yes.

Speaker 1 (03:47): So why don't you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and your family? Of

Speaker 2 (03:50): Course. So I am a wedding photographer and portrait photographer. I got married to my husband eight years ago, and we've been together for 11 years now. We actually met in college, so he's my college sweetheart. We both went to uc, Santa Cruz, and we studied film and digital media there. We now live in Livermore, which is just east of San Francisco, and we have a one-year-old son. Okay.

Speaker 1 (04:22): Alright, and we are going to hear about his birth story today. Now, I know that before you gave birth to your son, you had two miscarriages. Can you briefly, and that kind of informs I think how things went with your pregnancy, so can you share a little bit about your experiences with those?

Speaker 2 (04:38): Of course. I love sharing my experience about that. It's actually gotten a lot easier to tell that story because I've told it so many times, but I had two miscarriages, both happened within the same year. It was in 2021. The first time I got pregnant. It was early 2021, and it was actually a surprise. We weren't trying to get pregnant at the time, but we also weren't really doing anything to not get pregnant. We always said, if it happens, it'll happen. So yeah, it was a surprise and we got really excited about it. I didn't have an OB at the time. I was only seeing my primary physician, so I gave his office a call. He had me come in that same day and take a test and confirmed I was pregnant. We went through him to get an OB referral, but I ended up having to search for my own through my insurance to find someone closer to me, and then I found one. But after that experience, I was not happy with that doctor. And so throughout those few weeks of pregnancy, I actually only saw her once.

Speaker 1 (05:52): Okay. What didn't you like about her?

Speaker 2 (05:54): So it was a private office. I didn't feel like she gave me her full attention while I was there, especially the day that I went in about the miscarriage. She was just on her phone. I understand she had other patients too and clients, but I just didn't feel like I had her attention. She didn't do ultrasounds in office, so I had to go to a separate clinic to have that ultrasound done, and I was at 13 weeks and I was barely going to go see my baby in an ultrasound for the first time. So when I went into that appointment to get that ultrasound done, I knew there was something wrong right away. You could tell when they're doing the scan, just you could tell by their face. And they asked me, how far along are you? And I told them I should be almost 13 weeks now.

(06:46): And then they just went silent, didn't say anything. Okay. So then a doctor came in right after, and they told me, so are you sure you have your calculations right? Because the fetus that we're seeing is measuring much smaller about nine weeks long. And I told them, yeah, that's not possible, because I went into my position almost 13 weeks ago, or at that time it would've been 13 weeks. So they said, okay, well, we're going to contact your doctor, so they'll call you with more information, more results. I remember driving home crying. I was so upset. I knew there was something wrong, and of course, as soon as I got home, my doctor called and told me, oh, it doesn't look too well. You can expect a miscarry within the next couple of weeks. Give me a call if you start bleeding or if you feel discomfort, let me know.

(07:41): One week later, I did end up starting to bleed, and then I remember texting her because she did give me her cell phone number, told me to text me if something happens, and a couple hours had passed and I didn't hear from her. So then my husband ended up taking me to the emergency room because I hadn't stopped bleeding and I was in pain. Looking back. Now, I know that I was having contractions, but I didn't know what that at the time. Sure. So then, yeah, I went to the emergency room and they confirmed that I had had a miscarriage already. So that's what had happened, and when I went in to see the doctor for a follow-up, like I mentioned, that I didn't have her attention. She was just on her cell phone the whole time while she was there, supposed to be comforting me and talking to me.

(08:29): So it just was not a good experience. I just did not feel good about it. So six months later, I got pregnant again, and at that time I decided, okay, I need to find a different doctor. So I contacted my insurance and I was able to find another OB through Sutter Health. So they have their big building facility here locally, and they have multiple obs within building. So I was assigned to one OB and I made my appointment for when I would've been eight weeks along. And then of course, I didn't make it to that appointment because at seven weeks I started bleeding again.

(09:07): I ended up going to urgent care that weekend because it was a weekend and her office was closed. But a couple days later went into her office, she did an ultrasound and confirmed there was no heartbeat. So then she said, you're going to miscarry again, unfortunately, and she had already known my history because I'd already informed them about it, and she saw how distraught that my husband Miguel and I were. So she offered to run some blood tests to see if there's anything that she could see, and she even offered to refer me to a fertility specialist if I wanted to get further answers. So we did do that. My blood test came back normal, and she said, I don't see anything wrong with you. I just think it was unfortunately just another bad luck. But she did say if I wanted more answers, contact the fertility specialist. So I did. We had a video consult with that doctor, and they told me we would have to do a surgical procedure to check to see if there's something in your uterus, maybe there's a blockage. So something's going on in there. And we found out that our insurance wouldn't cover that, so we would have to pay out of pocket if we wanted to do that.

(10:25): After that, my husband and I talked about it and we decided, let's just keep trying naturally. Let's just see if we can try again. And yeah, we opted not to go that route. And prior to starting our family, we had actually discussed the possibility of adoption. So we even said, if we can't get pregnant naturally, then it's our sign. Maybe we should look into adoption instead. Gotcha.

Speaker 1 (10:48): Gotcha. Okay.

Speaker 2 (10:49): Okay. So that happened and then six months later, it was funny that they happened both all six months apart. Six months later, I ended up getting pregnant again, and that's the one that stuck.

Speaker 1 (11:01): Gotcha, gotcha. And did you go back to the same doctor you had the second time?

Speaker 2 (11:07): Yes. I was much more happy with her. The way she was comforting and actually seemed like she cared. I felt more comfortable going back to her. So I did. She had also mentioned to me at that second pregnancy visit, she told me, send me a message if you do get pregnant again, we could also try some progesterone. Maybe that's something that could help. So then when I did get pregnant again, I did send her a message and she prescribed me, what was it called? Prometrium? Yes. So she prescribed me Prometrium right at the start of that pregnancy. So I had to take that for the first trimester. Got

Speaker 1 (11:45): It, got it, got it. Okay. All right. So this sounded like a better experience then. So then at what point did you go in for an ultrasound with that pregnancy?

Speaker 2 (11:53): So I was closer to nine weeks when I was able to go in. I saw the same doctor, and she told me that she didn't see any reason for me to miscarry this time. She said, everything looks good. I found a heartbeat and measuring at the rate they should be. So she reassured me. She made me feel a lot better about it. So we left happy, smiling for the first time ever. It was our first positive ultrasound experience that we've had.

Speaker 1 (12:22): What was your pregnancy and prenatal care? You had some interesting feelings about your pregnancy?

Speaker 2 (12:29): Yes. So let's see, with prenatal care, I continue to see that doctor. It was a big office. Of course, they had other obs, so she did tell me, if by chance I'm not available or I'm on call at the hospital and you need to come in, there's other doctors here that could see you. There was also a nurse practitioner that I think I saw once, which everybody there was great. I'd never had a bad experience with any of them there. Okay, good. I also was seeing a chiropractor, and it was the same chiropractor that my husband sees because my husband has back issues. So we knew him already. He already knew our story, our experience. Got it. So he wanted to help me feel a little bit better, and I do think that helped as well. Awesome. But overall, my pregnancy was great. I didn't experience any nausea, any morning sickness, food aversions. I had a very positive experience with my pregnancy, which did help make me feel like this is too good to be

Speaker 1 (13:36): True.

Speaker 2 (13:38): Is this going to last? Is this going to be like this the whole time? Am I getting my hopes up? So I did have those thoughts, of course, especially in the first trimester.

Speaker 1 (13:47): Sure, sure, sure. Yeah. Did you feel like you felt, I'm sure you felt some relief at that first appointment. Did you also feel relief when you started feeling movement?

Speaker 2 (13:57): Yes, of course. It didn't happen until much later. I think I was closer to 25 weeks when I first felt movement. So up until then, I was just nervous the whole time like, oh, is there anything in there, baby? Are you there? But every appointment I had up until then, I did get an ultrasound because I guess I was considered a higher risk in a sense, because I've already had two miscarriages. So the doctor did do an ultrasound at each visit just to make sure things were looking good, and that was reassuring for sure. Okay,

Speaker 1 (14:32): Good. Good, good, good. So what did you do to prepare for your birth?

Speaker 2 (14:37): So I listened to your podcast. That's kind of where I started, and I think I started listening to your podcast from my first pregnancy. So it was further back that I had begun. It was very helpful. I think hearing other birth stories just gave me a positive outlook that I'm going to get there one day I'm going to be able to get pregnant again. So then after listening to your podcast and being pregnant for a few months now, I ended up buying your birth prep course. So I love that. That was helpful, and creating my birth wishes. I loved it. My husband and I watched it together. Awesome. And there was one other on YouTube, another channel. Her name was Bridget Taylor. She has some videos on YouTube that I found helpful as well on breathing how to manage pain through labor. I found her page to be very helpful as well. Okay. I'm

Speaker 1 (15:34): Not familiar with her. I have to look her up. I always like to look for different resources to share with folks. I'll definitely have to look her up. Well, I'm glad y'all didn't pay her to say that about my resources, but I am very glad that you found them helpful. Yes,

Speaker 2 (15:46): Thank you. We're grateful. I also continued working out the whole time I was doing Orange Theory Fitness.

Speaker 1 (15:54): Oh,

Speaker 2 (15:54): Yes. I had actually started doing that before I got pregnant that last time I had started. So I do think that having that regular workout did help a lot with relieving stress, making myself healthy to prepare for the pregnancy. So I started them before and I stuck with them until the very end. I actually had to go in after I left labor and delivery after I left the hospital to go pause my account because I was still on their roll sheet there. I had to tell them, sorry, I gave birth. I can't come

Speaker 1 (16:27): Back. Well, I guess, did they help you, I assume, help you modify your exercise based on how far along you were getting?

Speaker 2 (16:34): Yes, absolutely. There's coaches there at every class, so they're there to help me through. Gotcha,

Speaker 1 (16:40): Gotcha. I love that. I love that. So what are some things that you wanted for your birth experience?

Speaker 2 (16:44): I know from the start, my goal was to try to do it unmedicated and try to have a vaginal birth. That was my main goal. Of course, if I had to make some changes here and there, that's fine, but I really wanted that for the most part. I also really wanted to have that golden hour with my baby. If all was well, I did have other things on my birth wishes, but I think I wanted to just kind of go with the flow. You don't know what's going to happen. So I didn't want to make too many birth wishes just in case, but I knew that was my top goal.

Speaker 1 (17:21): Okay. Okay. All right. Was there anything at all that you were particularly scared about when it came to giving birth?

Speaker 2 (17:27): I was afraid of being pushed towards a c-section and me not being able to say no or being too scared to say no or let me keep trying. So I was afraid of that. Hearing all these stories. My sister actually went through that as well, of not really being given an option to keep trying.

Speaker 1 (17:47): I was

Speaker 2 (17:47): Also afraid of tearing, which I did, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Speaker 1 (17:54): Okay. Okay. Well, good.

Speaker 2 (17:55): I think I just was imagining it to be some horrible sensation, but I didn't even notice it. Okay.

Speaker 1 (18:02): Okay. All right. Well, that's good to hear. All right. So then what was your labor and birth? Tell us about what happened.

Speaker 2 (18:08): Okay. So I ended up having to get induced.

Speaker 1 (18:13): Okay. Why is that?

Speaker 2 (18:14): At 38 weeks, I went in for my normal appointment to see my ob, and my blood pressure was coming up high. So they actually had to take it three times just to make sure, and it just kept coming up high. So they sent me to labor and delivery at the hospital that I delivered at Stanford Hospital, and they wanted to run more tests just to see how I was doing, how baby was doing. And then I had to call my husband like, oh, so I'm going to labor and delivery to have some tests done. Just get the bag ready, meet me there, just in case. Luckily, he was working from home that day, so he was nearby, and once he got there, they had my results ready, and they said that I guess there was protein in my ear and my blood pressure was still high.

(19:03): So they contacted my OB and my ob, they had her on the phone, and she told me, I highly recommend we induce just to prevent any health complications. We don't want you to develop preeclampsia because you have kind of the signs that that's where it's going. And she did tell me though, that unfortunately she was not going to be working that weekend because this was a Friday when I went in. Gotcha. And so I was a little sad that she wouldn't be there, but she assured me her colleagues are working that weekend. You should trust them. They're great doctors. So we stayed, got admitted. So that was on Friday, and the induction process began around 4:00 PM that day. Okay.

Speaker 1 (19:47): What did they start with, do you remember?

Speaker 2 (19:49): So they hooked me up to an iv, and then they did put the wireless fetal heart monitor because I told them I wasn't planning to get an epidural, and I wanted to be able to walk around. And so they did that for me. Then I believe they started off with a cervidil to start the process. They didn't want to start me on Pitocin until much later, they said. And then while we were there, we met the doctor that was working that night, and honestly, I wasn't too fond of him when he came in. He introduced himself. We had our birth wishes, so he was looking them over in front of me, and he started asking questions like, well, why do you want this? Or, where did you get these ideas from? They seem so old school. And I'm thinking, why are you making judgmental? Whatcha

Speaker 1 (20:43): Talking about

Speaker 2 (20:44): Comments about my birth wishes? But okay. So he said, okay, well, we'll do our best to follow these wishes. And when he left, I looked at my husband and he looked at me and I'm like, oh gosh. I hope I don't give birth tonight. I don't want him to be the doctor. Luckily, he was not my doctor. Okay.

Speaker 1 (21:02): Okay. And had you already discussed things with your regular doctor and she had been fine with things?

Speaker 2 (21:07): Yeah, she was totally fine with everything. So she didn't have any, the only thing she told me I remember about birthing positions. She's like, oh, yes, we try to do other different types of positions, whatever's comfortable, but just keep in mind if you do end up getting the epidural or some positions, we won't be able to do. So she gave me all the scenarios just in case. So yeah, that first evening on Friday, it was okay. It wasn't bad. I had mild contractions starting up, but nothing I couldn't handle. I'm a big Harry Potter fan.

Speaker 1 (21:44): I've read all the books too.

Speaker 2 (21:47): We actually made our son's nursery Harry Potter theme. I'm a big fan, and so when we turned on the tv, there was a Harry Potter marathon happening.

Speaker 1 (21:56): Oh, see, there you go.

Speaker 2 (21:58): It was meant to be. So I remember just doing all the birthing ball exercises and watching Harry Potter and just enjoying my time there with my husband. Yeah, it was pleasant. It wasn't too bad that first night. That night though, I think it was closer to the morning time was when contraction started coming a little stronger. So I didn't sleep much because of it. And on top of that, the night nurse comes in every 30 minutes to check on me. So I didn't get much sleep, but I think I got in a couple of hours. So by the morning, the new doctor had shown up, and I was familiar with her because I've had actually heard good things about her from other local moms that actually had her deliver their babies. So I thought, oh, great. I know who you are. I've heard about you. They checked my cervix, but I think I was only at three centimeters in the morning when they checked me.

Speaker 1 (22:55): Okay. That's not

Speaker 2 (22:55): Bad in my head though, thinking, oh my gosh, I have so much more to go through still, it's going to be a while. But it started getting stronger in the morning, I think, when was it at eight? Around 8:00 AM was when they finally administered the Pitocin. And so this was on Saturday morning. The new nurses had also come in and introduced themselves, and they were fantastic. One of the nurses was a travel nurse, and she told me that she also was a doula. Well, there

Speaker 1 (23:26): You go.

Speaker 2 (23:27): So I got to have a doula there without having to request one, so I got lucky.

Speaker 1 (23:32): Okay. Had you considered the doula

Speaker 2 (23:35): Before? I did at the time, while I was pregnant though, there was still a limit to how many people you can have in the room.

Speaker 1 (23:43): Ah, gotcha.

Speaker 2 (23:44): So was between having a doula there or having my mom there, and I wasn't sure. In the end, we opted not to have one, and my mom ended up not even being there. My mom was sick the week that I ended up being admitted, so she couldn't come to the hospital.

Speaker 1 (24:02): Okay, gotcha. Gotcha.

Speaker 2 (24:04): But yeah, it ended up working out. I got one there.

Speaker 1 (24:06): Okay. So you had this lovely nurse and she was also using her doula gills, and so how did things go from there?

Speaker 2 (24:13): So I continued moving around that morning. I remember trying to eat breakfast, but I just could not, just, nothing seemed appetizing. I did not want to eat anything at that point.

Speaker 1 (24:23): But they did offer you food?

Speaker 2 (24:25): Yes, they did. They let me order something and my husband pushed me to order something. He's like, please at least just get some oatmeal. So I think I ordered oatmeal, but I could not. I just took two bites and I just was not hungry, but I continued moving around. He was using the birthing ball a lot, and that continued for a few hours, I think around noon. So this was about four hours after they started the Pitocin. I went to use the restroom, and I noticed what looked like the mucus plug. So I paged the nurse and I let them know, I think I just passed the mucus plug, and they told me over their intercom, okay, we'll be there in a few minutes to check on you. So I was still sitting on the birthing ball, and then I felt a pop and release, and then I thought, I think my water just broke.

(25:17): But then the contractions got so much stronger. I been in there and I looked at my husband after a few contractions. The nurse hadn't come in yet, and I told him, oh my goodness, these are so much stronger now. And I told him, if they come in and they check my cervix and I'm still not there, I'm going to see if I can get the epidural. I might have to give in. And he looked at me a little sad because he knew that I initially did not want to get one. Sure. So then the nurse came in and they checked me. They did the swab. They checked my cervix, and then they said, okay, yes, your water did break and you were at nine and a half centimeters. Look at

Speaker 1 (26:00): That.

Speaker 2 (26:01): And they looked at my husband and said, are you ready? You're about to become a dad. And then him and I looked at each other and we started tearing up because we were so happy that we were almost there at the very end to meet our baby. And then we didn't know the baby's gender at this point

Speaker 1 (26:19): So

Speaker 2 (26:19): That we were especially excited to find out what we were having.

Speaker 1 (26:22): Sure. Right. Right. So did that give you that extra oomph to I can get to the finish line? Yes.

Speaker 2 (26:30): Yes. Once they told me that, I thought, okay, I'm there. I can do this. And that's all it was for me. I can handle pain, and that's why I knew going into it, I would be able to do this. I know I can handle it. I know I'm strong enough. And a lot of it is a mental game of telling yourself, you can do this. Sure. So at that point, my husband had also told me, you can do this. I know you're strong. And so that helped me get there. I think the toughest part though, was having to hold the baby in because the doctor wasn't in the room yet.

Speaker 1 (27:00): Oh, okay.

Speaker 2 (27:01): So they had paged the doctor, but the doctor was, well, I don't know where she was, but she hadn't arrived yet. So then they told me, okay, don't push. Just breathe. Just breathe. And I remember I was laying on my back on the bed and I was thinking, I need to, this is so uncomfortable.

Speaker 1 (27:16): Okay, so you were just feeling the urge to push? It was like, I have to push.

Speaker 2 (27:19): Yeah. So as soon as my water broke and it checked my cervix, it was like I needed

Speaker 1 (27:23): A

Speaker 2 (27:23): Push right after.

Speaker 1 (27:24): Okay. Wow. I wonder maybe you were just kind of moving along and then that just really did

Speaker 2 (27:32): It. Yeah. And then so they had me on the bed laying on my back, and my birth wishes I had put there that I didn't want to labor on my back. So when the doctor arrived and started putting gloves on and everything, she asked them, why is she on her back? Can we move her different positions? Please?

Speaker 1 (27:49): Okay. I like it. Alright.

Speaker 2 (27:52): And so then they had to help me because at that point, I'm not thinking about the position that I'm in. I'm just thinking I need to start pushing soon. So they all had helped me. I ended up pushing on my hands and knees. They had me actually the bed upright so I could rest onto the top of the bed. I think it only took me no more than 20 minutes to push. And the baby came out and they held the baby up to my husband and had him tell me. And it took him a minute. He says, looking back, you're like, I didn't know what to look at. There was just so much going on.

Speaker 1 (28:28): So

Speaker 2 (28:28): It took him a while to realize what he was looking for. And then he is like, it's a boy. Oh my god. Goodness. The tears just started flowing after that.

Speaker 1 (28:38): Right, right. Oh my goodness. You actually, so did you give birth on your hands and knees or? Yes. Okay. All right. I

Speaker 2 (28:46): Did the entire time. Okay.

Speaker 1 (28:48): Okay.

Speaker 2 (28:49): So it was kind of funny. I was still in my hands and knees when they were trying to hand the baby to me. And I was holding up with one arm, holding myself up the gun arm, and then trying to hold the baby with the other arm. And I told them, I don't think I could hold this much longer. They're like, okay, let's turn her around.

Speaker 1 (29:04): Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, that sounds like it was just such a lovely moment. It

Speaker 2 (29:11): Was well worth it. Oh, and Harry Potter was still on the tv. We kept the TV on the whole

Speaker 1 (29:17): Time

Speaker 2 (29:18): Without meaning to, we just forgot that it was on. So he was born to Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix movie. Okay.

Speaker 1 (29:24): Alright. There you go. I love

Speaker 2 (29:27): It. So we're like, we're going to tell him that when he is older.

Speaker 1 (29:29): Absolutely. This

Speaker 2 (29:30): Is your movie.

Speaker 1 (29:31): Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So I assume if they did all of those things, and I know they did delayed core clamping and skin to skin contact and things like that.

Speaker 2 (29:39): Yes, they did all the things. It was great. I was nervous, of course, with, of course, my doctors told me, yes, we can do all these things. But I was worried without her being there that day that whatever doctor was going to be there wasn't going to respect my wishes or they were going to push other things. But no, none of them pushed anything. They were all respectful and I got everything I wanted.

Speaker 1 (30:01): Okay. Okay. I love it. I love it. And then you said you did have a tear. What was that part like?

Speaker 2 (30:07): Yes. So they said I had a second degree tear, so they stitched me up. Of course, they had to use the numbing spray because I didn't have an epidural. They had to use that. But they sewed it up and everything else was fine. Nothing, no other issues besides my blood pressure. They did ask to keep me an extra night at the hospital just to monitor my blood pressure.

Speaker 1 (30:30): Got it.

Speaker 2 (30:31): Got it. But the baby was healthy. He was tiny, five pounds, 14 ounces. So he was on the tinier side, but they said he looked healthy. He did have a little bit of jaundice, but they said just keep breastfeeding him because it was January, there wasn't much sun out, so they just keep breastfeeding him and he'll do better. And he did. Okay.

Speaker 1 (30:53): How was breastfeeding?

Speaker 2 (30:54): We got the hang of it pretty quickly. I think I just got lucky that he did very well, and he latched on very quickly. But I did still request to speak to lactation consultants just to get some help in case I wasn't doing it. So they did have me speak to the one there at the hospital. She came in to help me. I think she came twice to help me out, and then I still made an appointment to still see another lactation consultant a couple days after I left the hospital. Okay.

Speaker 1 (31:24): Did you go see them or did they come to you? I

Speaker 2 (31:27): Went to them. Okay.

Speaker 1 (31:28): All right. And you felt like that was helpful also?

Speaker 2 (31:30): Yes. So that consultation, she told me I was pretty much doing everything, but the only thing was to just be mindful of my hands and wrists because I was curving my wrist a little too much where she's like, that's going to end up hurting you later. Gotcha. So just be mindful of that. It's funny because I ended up having mom hand several months later is what they call it, where your wrist just kind of locks up and you have pain. So I had to do therapy later because of that.

Speaker 1 (32:02): Gotcha. What was the postpartum period for you in terms of healing and having a new baby? What was that like?

Speaker 2 (32:09): It was, besides not sleeping as much, having to wake up every two to three hours, it went pretty well. We're grateful that my husband's job gave him paternity leave. He was actually able to split it up. So he did two months with me when the baby was born, and then he saved the other month right before the baby turned one. So it was around the holidays and he got to be home for the holidays.

Speaker 1 (32:34): Oh, that is nice.

Speaker 2 (32:35): So he was a big help because my husband cooks and cleans, so he took care of all the stuff while I just took care of

Speaker 1 (32:41): Babies. Gotcha. Gotcha. I love it. I love it. And did you have any help from family? You said your mom

Speaker 2 (32:47): Or? Yeah, my mom came to help a few times. She didn't get to come as much because she was sick that

Speaker 1 (32:53): First week. Sure, right. And you didn't want to get anything around the baby,

Speaker 2 (32:56): So she had to wait a little bit to come and meet her new grandson. But yeah, she was a big help. And my sister as well. My sister has one son as well, who was 10 months older than my son, so they're close in age. So she was very helpful too. I did continue to take prescriptions for blood pressure. I think it was

Speaker 1 (33:17): Ine.

Speaker 2 (33:18): Yep, that one. So they did have me take that for 30 days, and I had to go back to my obs office to have my blood pressure checked, just to make sure it was going down and going back to normal.

Speaker 1 (33:28): Got it. And then after that, you got off of the medication and everything was good?

Speaker 2 (33:32): Yes. Back to normal again after that. Good,

Speaker 1 (33:34): Good, good. So how do you feel about your birth experience?

Speaker 2 (33:39): I would do it again in a heartbeat. I really enjoyed it. I know not a lot of moms would agree, but to me it was a great experience. I just think I got lucky because I didn't have a lot of the other symptoms that most moms get. I really enjoyed it, feeling their little kicks and movements, looking at my belly in the mirror. Just such a beautiful experience. I loved it and I loved giving labor. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Now having done it without the epidural, I know I can do it again. I can do it not as bad as they make it seem.

Speaker 1 (34:19): Yeah. And I will say, so it sounds usually, it sounds like you mostly used movement to help and position changes. And did you ever get in the shower or anything like that, or tub?

Speaker 2 (34:30): They had a shower. They did not have a tub. But no, I never used the shower, so the only thing yeah, I did was movement. I used the birthing ball a lot, so I kept going from walking around or doing squat positions and just switching between those. And thankfully, the doula kept coming in to check on me and showing me new positions that I could try as well. And I think just switching it up really helped and not being in the same position the entire time.

Speaker 1 (34:56): Yeah, definitely. Definitely. So then what is your one favorite piece of advice that you would give to someone who's about to have a baby?

Speaker 2 (35:03): I say listen to other birth stories. So listen to your podcast, because I think listening to both the easy and the tough stories, I think is going to prepare you for any case scenario that could happen. I went in knowing, okay, I could go this way, I could go this way, but either way, I'm going to get my baby and it's going to work out. Gotcha.

Speaker 1 (35:27): Gotcha. I love that. I love that. So where can women connect with you? You can say nowhere if you're not on social media.

Speaker 2 (35:34): I am on Instagram. If anybody wants to reach out, send me a message. My Instagram is Erica Verna, so it's just my full name spelled exactly. E-R-I-C-A-V-E-R-N-I-S. Okay. Alright.

Speaker 1 (35:47): Alright. Well thank you so much for agreeing to come onto the podcast. Oh, if you want to mention the doctors specifically, I do like people to know if they're good doctors, if you want to mention their names, please feel free.

Speaker 2 (35:57): Yes, of course. My ob, she works at Sutter in Dublin. She's Nancy fam Thomas, but the doctor that actually delivered my baby was Dr. Laura Silverstein. Okay. Both were great doctors. Awesome. I would highly recommend them. Okay.

Speaker 1 (36:15): Alright. Well thank you so much for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I so loved hearing your story and I know everybody else will too.

Speaker 2 (36:21): Yay. Thank you so much for having me. It was great to share it.

Speaker 1 (36:31): What's been a great episode? I so enjoyed hearing about her story, and I always love a surprise birth when you don't know the gender. So love it, love it, love it. Now after every episode when I have a guest on, I do something called Dr. Nicole's notes where I talk about my top takeaways from the conversation. And I have several from my conversation with Erica. Number one, find another doctor if something isn't right. Erica mentioned that her first doctor was on the phone during appointments and things like that, just not showing her the intention that she deserves. So she found another doctor and there she had much, much clearer communication. So please, if something is telling you that your doctor is not right for you, find another doctor. The sooner you do it, the better next step. Regular workouts are really important for mental and physical health, and it really doesn't have to even be workouts really.

(37:22): I mean, just moving your body during pregnancy, we know that moving your body in general is good for our health and it certainly continues to be helpful for you both physically and mentally during your pregnancy. Erica did orange theory, but you don't have to do orange theory. You could do yoga, you could do walking, you could ride a stationary bike. Anything that works for you just regularly moving your body. It's just really, really important and a good habit to build for overall health and wellbeing. Okay. Next up. I really loved Erica's advice of listening to both good and we'll say bad in air quotes because of course, of course no birth is bad, but unquote bad birth stories. So you're prepared for whatever may come. Sometimes people only want to listen to positive birth stories, and I get that. There's some thought that if you listen to things that are negative, you don't want to hear those negative stories or be scared by them.

(38:17): But really understanding all of the possible things that can happen during your birth, it's just a really important part of being prepared. The only thing about birth that is predictable is that it's unpredictable and you really want to know all of the possible things that can happen and how scenarios unfold so you can deal with whatever comes your way. So listen to all of the birth stories. Of course. Another thing that you need to do is childbirth education. I have a great option, the birth preparation course, you can check it out at drnicolerankins.com / enroll and use the code Dr. Nicole to get an additional 10% off. But do listen to all of those good and bad birth stories so you are prepared for anything that may come your way. You are not going to manifest negativity by listening to a bad birth story. It's only going to help you be more prepared.

(39:10): And speaking of prepared, Erica was prepared with that lactation consultant just in case postpartum. I love that idea of having someone lined up so you have that resource available just in case you really need to start preparing for the postpartum period while you're in your third trimester. That's not something that we do very well in the traditional medical system is helping people start to prepare while they're still pregnant. Because once you have that newborn baby, it's going to be tricky, it's going to be tiring, lots of different things. So you definitely want to have a lactation consultant or someone you know who you can reach out to if need be. A good place to check is with your insurance company to see what options they offer. For lactation consultant, it's much better to have that person in place and not need it than the other way around.

(39:56): And then the last thing I want to say is just to comment on all of the constellation of things that made it just so lovely and that are really truly possible in the hospital to help support an unmedicated birth. Even in this setting of labor induction, she had wireless monitoring so she was able to move around. So important to help manage pain, important to help get the baby in a good position for birth. She had a nurse who was incredibly supportive of her having an unmedicated birth. Her nurse also happened to be trained as a doula. But you definitely want a nurse who is comfortable with unmedicated birth. You can certainly ask for a nurse who is supportive of and does well with supporting folks with unmedicated birth who has an interest in it. Not all nurses are. And if you find that you have a nurse who is not, then you can ask to speak to the charge nurse and see if you can get assigned a different nurse who is more supportive of folks having unmedicated birth.

(40:51): The hospital also supported her eating it during her labor induction. I don't know why we starve people. Well, I do know why we starve people. It's because of this very small risk of if you need to go under general anesthesia for an emergency c-section, that you may aspirate the contents of your stomach into your lungs, which can be dangerous. That very, very rarely happens. I have not seen it happen in my career, although it is certainly possible. But in the early part of labor, you really need to eat. The uterus is a muscle. Muscles need energy. Energy comes from food, so you need to eat. So it's great that the hospital supported her eating during her labor induction. Once you get into active labor, you're not going to be as hungry and want to eat. So it's really the early part of labor where you're building up that you're going to want to eat something and the hospital should support that, especially in lower risk circumstances.

(41:39): And then finally, she gave birth on her hands and knees. This is absolutely 1000% possible in the hospital. It's just that some doctors aren't comfortable with it. It's a shame that we're not trained on it. We're trained on people giving birth on their backs because that allows us more control. It is not necessarily what the patient may want to do. Now, some folks instinctively want to give birth on their back. They actually feel comfortable with it so that it's not that there's anything necessarily wrong with giving birth on your back. What is wrong is that we can't support people who don't want to give birth on their back, whether that's hands and knees, whether that's on your side, whether that's even squatting. So I love that she had that opportunity to give birth on her hands and knees and had the support to do so.

(42:27): Alright, so there you have it. Please share this podcast with a friend. Also, please subscribe to this podcast wherever you are listening to me right now. And if you listen in Apple Podcast in particular, I'd appreciate it if you leave a review in Apple Podcast. I love to hear what you think about the show. It also helps other women to find the show and helps the show to grow. And do come on over and check out the all about pregnancy and birth Inner Circle community on Facebook. I would love to see you there. It's such a great supportive place to be, whether you're pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or postpartum. So that's it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.