You will hear this time and time again...the only thing certain in birth, is how unpredictable it is.

When Casey and Kristie reached out to me to document their birth, their plan was to give birth at Saige Birthing Center in uptown New Orleans with the same midwife who had attended my own birth. While it was expected that she would go into labor earlier than most first time moms, she did not expect for her dream birth plan to go so array. I have the pleasure of sharing her birth story in her own words for you, with my documentation to pay tribute.

My Birth Story; by Kristie Babin

"Not everything will always go as planned, and that was my hardest lesson through my birth journey. My wife and I did Reciprocal IVF last year and had a confirmed pregnancy on Sept 22, 2022 with a due date of June 4, 2023. Since I was a little girl, I've always known I wanted to have a natural, intimate, water birth at home, and that is exactly what we planned for. We were living in Covington with all family over an hour away. Once we found out we were pregnant, reality sunk in and we decided to move further down the bayou to be closer to family before the baby got here. We packed up our lives and headed down to Thibodaux where we found an old cottage-style house in the downtown area. Once we got settled in with our 2 dogs and 2 cats, it became harder to picture myself birthing in the new home. Thankfully, our midwife had her own birth center in New Orleans called Saige Birth Center, so we made the choice to move forward with the idea of having our natural water birth at the birth center instead of our home and we were ultimately very happy with that decision. The birth center gave off the same type of vibe that our home gave, without worrying about our dogs in the process. Once I hit the 20 week mark of pregnancy, we immediately noticed the swelling in my legs and feet increasing. With my blood pressure reading perfectly normal, it was chalked up to just one of those annoying side effects of pregnancy. Fast forward to the 38 week mark. On a Wednesday, we took a trip to meet with our midwife at the birth center and for the first time, my blood pressure was reading high with protein detected in my urine. We took my blood pressure again that evening to closely monitor it and unfortunately, it was only getting higher. I immediately called my midwife and I remember her exact words being "Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry. You're going to have to go to the hospital." This was my ultimate worst fear coming true. I had told my wife through the entire pregnancy that if anything were to happen that could put me or our baby at risk, of course I'd go to the hospital. Now that this was my reality, I couldn't wrap my head around it. I also remember my midwife telling me there was a very strong chance that once I go to the hospital, I was not leaving it. My mom and wife were already grabbing our bags and necessities and I felt like I had no time to process what was going on. I knew I needed to grab toiletries and hop in the shower. I remember sitting in the tub and everything hitting me like a freight train and I couldn't stop sobbing over how quickly everything just took a turn. We packed the car and the last thing I remember before we pulled out the driveway was my mom giggling saying "Of course you would drive yourself to the hospital" (I hate being the passenger). Upon arrival, I was immediately brought to Labor & Delivery for an induction due to severe preeclampsia.

I was given my first dose of Cytotec orally at midnight. It would take another 3 doses (4 total) of Cytotec before I began to progress with dilation. Because of the slow progression and my blood pressure being so high, there was so much talk about a C-Section and I was forced to make a decision: Epidural or Anesthesia? The doctor warned me that if I chose the route of Anesthesia, I would be asleep as well as my baby and I would not witness or remember the delivery. This was extremely difficult because I continuously refused an epidural until this point. At the end of the day, I would not have gone through all of this just to be asleep for the birth of my baby. My mom and wife stood on each side of me as we all bawled our eyes out crying. This was the first time I felt like I was able to mourn the loss of my birth plan. All the birth exercises I practiced with my doula would be tossed out the window. At this point, I can honestly say I was at the hardest part of my birth journey. The mental and emotional toll that had taken over was horrible. I was so devastated and felt like I was drowning in the loss of my dream birth. It took some time (and an epidural) before I was able to put that behind me and focus on moving forward. Regardless, I was there to meet my baby and one way or another, I was going to do exactly that. Safely. And that's what was most important. My doula had arrived, followed by my birth photographer.

Even though I was not able to implement the labor exercises we practiced with the doula, having her there was such a sense of relief for me. I felt like an angel had just walked into the room and that everything was going to be okay from here on out. She even gave me a foot massage that I swear had to have lasted for like 2+ hours. She was amazing and someone I will hold close to my heart forever.

24 hours have passed and I'm finally 10cm dilated and it's time to start pushing. I had the most incredible push nurse named Jade that I will truly never forget as long as I live. She put the mirror at the end of my bed so that I could watch my baby crown. My wife stood at my side and constantly cheered me on and I could feel the excitement beaming from her once she saw his hair. We pushed for about an hour spacing out each push session. After an hour, Fetal Ejection Reflex had taken over and it was definitely time to get the doctor in the room. Once the doctor arrived, it was only one or two pushes before my baby was born and was on my chest. It was truly surreal and overwhelming at the same time. I honestly didn't realize that he would come so quickly with that push! We communicated that we wanted delayed chord clamping - apparently this caps out at 50 seconds when you deliver in the hospital. My wife cut the chord and my placenta was handed to my doula.

What follows just felt like a dream, honestly. I had torn so I was getting stitched up while my doula was taking me through a quick latching session with my baby. I remember seeing him grab my wife's finger and crying at the sight of something so beautiful. It had been well over 24 hours at this point, my body was so tired, my mental was drained, my hair was an absolute fricken mess, and none of it mattered anymore. We welcomed a beautifully healthy baby boy at 3:16am weighing 8lbs 1.4 oz. I was lucky enough to have my mother and my mother-in-law in the room to bear witness to the birth of their grandson, and this is probably the only thing that remained in tact from my original birth plan. I drove myself to the hospital Wednesday evening and it wasn't until Sunday afternoon that we were able to leave and go home to settle in with our newest addition. To say this was the complete opposite of everything I planned would be an understatement. I spent an entire year preparing for the birth of my dreams only to have the harsh reminder that we do not control everything in this life. And that's okay, because I have the most beautiful, 2 week old, healthy baby boy in my arms today and I wouldn't change anything about my birth journey. It wasn't a physical task but more of an emotional one I had to overcome.

This is my birth story and as my doula and I said a hundred times during my hospital stay, "it is what it is."

And I'm okay with that. "