Sitting down to write out Maxwell’s birth story has been something I knew that I wanted to do before more time has gone by. I knew that I wanted to write everything that I can remember (and what Matt took down in his notebook) down somewhere. We kept our pregnancy so private so figuring out what, if anything, about Max we wanted to share online. But looking back on my own memories and photographs, and how I wish I had written more down, I think that sharing here our family updates makes the most sense. We’ve loved being able to share personal stories, photographs and work growth here. But the goal with keeping up our blog is for us to see our growth as people, as a family, and see how we evolve as business owners. Knowing that one day Max will read these things – whether we keep pubic forever or make private – is so special. That is why we’ve decided to share Maxwell’s birth story here. This post is extremely vulnerable but I absolutely adore the photographs, the emotions captured and every little thing in between.
From the start of my pregnancy, I seemed to know exactly what I was wanting to happen and naively expecting. I knew that I wanted to see how strong my body was, and go through labor unmedicated. I knew that I didn’t want to find out what we were having and wanted our little one to be a surprise. I knew I wanted to work with a midwife and doula. I knew that no matter what happened, the end goal was to have a healthy baby and for me to be healthy too.
My first trimester was brutal. I was extremely sick and couldn’t keep much down. I remember going on a trip with our friends to Palm Springs for a week long conference. I was so excited for the trip and learning opportunity, but I also was so worried that I was going to be sick. Luckily, we were so busy that the sickness didn’t linger. But the majority of my entire first trimester was filled with nausea and a lot of couch time. I’ve got to say, as someone who likes being busy and filling her schedule with social activities, the forced break was needed. It gave me time to think and readjust certain things in life and work. I took a step back from accountability group, a networking group that I was a mentor in and started saying no to a lot of social outings. It was hard at first but ultimately gave me time to think. During this time we decided to list our Rowhouse on the market and no longer host Ivy Events.
My second trimester came and the sickness lightened – but then my blood sugars were high and I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This put me into a frantic worry. Being the person in charge of taking care of this little baby growing inside of your body was a lot of pressure. Adding on something else to the mix that could potentially throw my birth plans out the window was extremely upsetting and I cried a lot about how “my body was failing me”. I recognize now that my body is capable of SO much more than I ever could have imagined.
By the third trimester, Matt and I had figured out a really solid diet plan to keep my gestational diabetes completely diet controlled – which was incredible because I did not want to be put on medication. If I were to be put on medication, I was at a higher risk for needing to be induced or get a c-section. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any form of birth and labor, I just felt extremely passionate about being able to do this naturally.
On October 8th, we had our weekly appointment to check on my health and baby’s health. It was at this appointment that my blood pressure read high. It had never been read at a high reading. It was a little shocking that now, only 2 weeks from my due date, was my blood pressure reading high. The next week, at my next appointment on October 15th, my blood pressure was even higher. “I am not going to say you need to be on bed rest, but I want you to take the next 24 hours as slow as possible. Pretend you are on bed rest. We will do a 24 follow up and if your blood pressure is high again we may need to get you induced,” I remember one of the midwives telling me. They scheduled me for the next day and the rest of that day I took as low key as possible. I remember texting Amanda, my doula, for any advice or tips she could encourage me with. Trying to avoid getting induced was really important to me and that needed to happen by keeping my blood pressure low.
The next day, on October 16th, we left to meet the midwives thinking that nothing would happen. They took my blood pressure and the reading was even higher than the day before. That is when Tiffany, one of the midwives, came in and shared that she would like us to head to the hospital right away. “Your body is sick and the cure is having your baby. Don’t go home and get your stuff, just go straight to the hospital. I will call over and make sure you do not go to triage and get checked into a room right away.” This truthfully took us both by surprise. It was happening… we were going to meet our baby soon!
That afternoon, I remember sitting in the car and I started crying. I was completely overwhelmed. Not only was I eager and excited to meet our baby, I was scared and disappointed that I was needing to be induced. We sat in the car, prayed and called our parents telling them that they would be meeting their grand child soon. We didn’t know what to expect with the induction, but we knew that in order for me to stay healthy, we didn’t want to risk it by being stubborn.
We walked into Mercy Gilbert Hospital, right up to the birth floor, and they got me all checked in. I was shown to my room with a huge tub for laboring, the baby station all set up, and a kind nurse getting us all situated. About an hour later, we were greeted by another midwife who was on shift, and we went over the plan. I was checked in about 1 1/2cm dilated, which was great! The midwife on shift said that I probably would have had our baby within a week had they not needed to induce me. This was a little hard to hear but also discouraging to know that I wasn’t starting off at a zero. That night was my first type of induction and that is when things started to happen. I remember feeling my first contraction and saying “oh wow – I think I just felt my first contraction!” I was really excited but definitely feeling naive to what was to come. That night we had my parents come to the hospital and bring our bag with us. It was nice to see them and have those special quiet moments in the room together.
The next day, October 17th, we started with a second type of medication that was going to move along my induction. It was an oral pill and definitely my favorite out of the four different types of inductions they did on me. It was the easiest and least painful. We had my best friend, Erica, come by and visit. She is actually the wonderful human who captured all of these incredibly special photographs. We are insanely lucky and will forever be grateful for these incredible memories. We watched Impractical Jokers and laughed together. One of Matt’s notes mentioned he had gotten chicken tenders for him – I find that beyond cute and I write it here to remember how adorable it is that he found that detail to the experience important enough to write in his notebook.
That night, after a third type of induction medication (my LEAST favorite and insanely painful option), the contractions started getting closer together and stronger. We were given the green light to walk the hospital halls to continue progressing things along. Anne, Matt’s mom, joined us for some hospital hallway walks and kept us company. Mike, Matt’s dad was taking lead on work for us that weekend with our crew. It is just my luck that we were having our first baby during our busy season. A little later, my parents and brother, Rick, came back and brought us dinner. The hospital food in the cafeteria was great (see chicken tender reference above haha) but the food they brought their patients was a real bummer.
All through the night, they continued to use the god awful gel (third type of induction medication that I dreaded) for two more rounds. This continued to progress my dilation and by 8:30 PM that night, I was halfway there. At 2:00 AM on October 18th, I had progressed more, and by 7:00 AM, my contractions started slowing down again. The next step was one that I had been dreading sine before my second trimester – Pitocin.
I had heard horror stories of Pitocin and was really hoping I didn’t need to use it. But, we did and it kicked everything up a whole hell of a lot. I was handling all of the other contractions great. I was able to focus on the pain, and move past them without letting them take over. I was able to get to an 8 1/2 cm before the Pitocin, but at this point, I had also been laboring in my room for a few days. I was worn out, tired, ready to meet our baby and knew that I needed to kick start things to finish the final dilation. We had our doula, Amanda, come early morning on the 18th. She walked with us in the hospital hallways, continued to encourage both of us and helped focus on breathing and working through the contractions.
At about 8:30 AM I was hooked up to the IV and the Pitocin was given. We called my mom and Erica to come to the hospital because our baby was going to be making an appearance today. The Pitocin made my contractions much more painful and I couldn’t keep track of them. I was already at a 8 1/2 cm when this happened, so I (naively) thought it wouldn’t be that much longer! haha! My contractions were sneaking up on me and they felt much different than all of the others. At 10:45 my water broke and I started laboring in the bathroom. This next part all happened so quickly in my memory but it was actually hours. Amanda stayed in the bathroom with me, coaching me and encouraging me to keep my focus on my breathing and was absolutely a savior during this time for me.
When I say that this was the most painful thing I have experienced, I am not kidding. I chose to not use any pain medication through out this entire process up until my body started giving up. I wasn’t progressing after hours of laboring and I was exhausted. I had been a champ laboring unmedicated up until this point, and I just needed some sort of respite. Through sobbing and feelings of defeat, I made the decision to get en epidural around 2:45 pm on the 18th. I was still only around 9 cm dilated at this point and needed to give my body a break. It felt like I was torturing myself. The room was cleared other than Matt and our nurses, and the epidural was given.
I’ve been telling people that I think it was almost like a placebo effect. Because I was so far along and almost ready to push, the anesthesiologist said it could take up to an hour to get the right amount of medicine to really take the edge off. I fell asleep almost instantly. In between contractions, I closed my eyes and held onto Matt’s hand.
Then it happened… the urge to push after a contraction was there. I was fully dilated and ready for the final stretch of laboring. At about 4:00 PM (that’s right, only about an hour after the epidural was given), my incredible support team came back into the laboring room and we started the process of pushing. And then, at 4:43 PM, we got to meet our baby! Our son, Maxwell Robert was here. Matt and I both were more surprised that it was a boy and for some reason, we both thought it may have been a girl. Maybe because of how sick I was or because of where the baby had been sitting during the entire pregnancy. Regardless, we were beyond overjoyed to meet our Max. It happened so fast. The pain was gone and everything was bliss. We had a healthy baby in our arms. Maxwell was born at 4:43PM on October 18th, 2019. He weighted 7lbs and 11oz, and was 21in long.
The rest of our experience was special, intimate and something we will look back on remember. The first first seconds, minutes, hours, days… those first moments of our family turning into one of two to now one of three was so magical.
I was surrounded by the most incredible support team. The nurses who took care of us during our entire labor experience (I think we had about 7 nurses total). My best friend who took photographs for us. Our doula, Amanda, who was a sounding board and incredible support through out the entire pregnancy and birth. My mother, who has been there for me since birth and is always there. My dad and brother in the waiting room as well as my in laws, waiting and praying for a healthy delivery for mom and baby. And last but certainly not least, my incredible partner and husband, Matt.
Matt, can you believe we did this? I am truly so lucky to have a partner like you. Someone who gave me water, rubbed my feet, tickled my back, and constantly puts me as a priority in your life. I can’t believe that we get to be parents to Max and can’t wait to see you fall more and more into your role as father. We are so lucky!
We left the hospital a few days later. Nervous and driving slow, listening to the “Baby Theo” playlist I had put together with songs I knew would make me cry. I sat in the back seat with Max, singing him words from songs as tears rolled down my cheeks. I remember asking Matt if we could drive around a little more, because I really didn’t want that moment to end.
Maxwell was born at 4:43PM on October 18th, 2019. He weighed 7lbs and 11oz, and was 21in long at birth. Forever a moment we will cherish. We love you, Max! You are our greatest adventure.