Just over two weeks into welcoming Sadie Amelie into our lives, I still can’t believe I’m a mom to another daughter! My heart has expanded further than I ever could have imagined and I feel like the luckiest mama alive!  Excited to share Sadie’s birth story with you today as well as some of our favorite photos from the first few minutes she came into the world.  Phil and I will savor these shots forever and we’re so grateful they’ll help us to relive one of the most incredible moments of our lives for years to come.

Sadie’s Birth Story

For those of you who have been following along for a while, you may know that throughout my pregnancy with Sadie, I dreamed of having a successful V-BAC. Naiya’s birth a couple years ago was quite traumatic for me.  I was  induced at 41 weeks, was in labor for about 12 hours and then had to be rushed into an emergency c-section because I ended up getting an infection and we also lost Naiya’s heartbeat (more about that here).

My c-section ended up saving Naiya’s life and I’ll be forever grateful that all went so well.  That said, it was such a scary experience that this time around, I wanted to do everything in my power to try to avoid having another one.  My doctor said she wouldn’t be able to determine if a V-BAC would be possible for me until the very end of my pregnancy.  For 39 weeks, I kept my fingers and toes crossed that it would work out but I also tried my best not to have high expectations.

When I went in for my OB check-up a week before Sadie’s due date, I learned some exciting news:  I was already over three centimeters dilated and 80% effaced!  Likewise, even though I had a c-section scheduled a week out, my OB said that I was actually the ideal candidate to try for a V-BAC!

From there, she scheduled me for an induction. I was grateful but equally terrified. What were the odds that a V-BAC would actually work? Would Naiya have fit through the birth canal if I had dilated enough the first time around? Would I be in labor again for hours and hours again only to find myself in the same boat and have to have another c-section?

The Induction: Power Outage

On October 25th, 2019, Phil and I arrived at Cedars Sinai here in Los Angeles for our induction.  My heart felt like it was quite literally beating out of my chest.

Our nurse started the induction process right away by inserting my IV.  I happen to be completely phobic of needles and the moment she put the IV in, the power at the hospital went out.  It was the weirdest thing! It took a number of minutes for generators to turn the power back on.  In this time, my IV ended up bursting, blood went everywhere and my nurse had to call in a specialist for help. It wasn’t the best way to start out an induction and I hoped everything would go up from there!

The Pitocin

Once my IV situation was fixed (very bruised arm and all!), my nurse started me on a Pitocin drip. I had terrible memories of Pitocin from Naiya’s birth because every time nurses would turn the levels up to bring on contractions, we’d lose her heartbeat. That said, this time, Sadie was tolerating Pitocin incredibly well! I progressed from 3 centimeters dilated  to 3.5 to 4 and then 5 within a few hours.

About 7 hours later, my contractions were becoming crazy painful so I decided I was ready for an epidural. When it comes to birth, I have no shame–give this mama all the drugs!  With Naiya, I waited for the last possible moment to get an epidural because I was so nervous about getting a giant needle in my back (rookie mistake!). This time, though, I knew it was a lifesaver and not that scary at all. I also wanted to ensure it was in just in case I needed to be rushed in for an emergency c-section.

If your epidural is not put in before you need a c-section, doctors have to put you to sleep for the surgery itself.  If Sadie’s birth needed to go down this way, I wanted to ensure I’d be awake when she came into the world!

The Epidural

Within 20 minutes of getting my epidural, my legs ended up feeling  pretty numb but I could still feel my contractions intensely when they hit. My anesthesiologist added an extra dose of drugs to help in the moment.  He said that by the time I’d be ready to push a few hours out, they’d wear off. He said it’s better to have some feeling when you’re ready to push so that you don’t push too hard and ultimately tear.

Next, my water broke on its own (unlike with Naiya!) and everything started moving really quickly.  My entire body started shaking uncontrollably. I remembered this feeling from labor with Naiya so I was ready for it.

What I didn’t know at the time was that I was simultaneously dilating from a 5 to a 10 extremely quickly.  Phil was so nervous about my shaking that he kept saying it was okay for me to go ahead and get a c-section.  He said that my doctor would be coming in and that I could ask for one. I mentally prepared myself for a c-section just in case but I was still holding out hope that a V-BAC was still in the cards!

Ready, Set Push!

Next, my doctor came in to discuss next best steps and she decided to check me to see if there was any progress.  She was thinking I was maybe at a 6 or so and that we could start discussing a c-section after all.  But–to her surprise and mine,  the baby’s head was now crowning!  I was officially fully dilated and it was time for me to push! So grateful she checked me at exactly the right moment!

I was still shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t believe this was real! I never got to this stage with Naiya so I had no idea what to expect! I hadn’t even wrapped my head around me actually having to push since I didn’t think a V-BAC would really be possible!

When it was time to push, all I felt was pressure. The extra drugs the anesthesiologist had given me about an hour before had in fact left me completely numb. That said, I only had to push for 9 minutes!  I had no idea what I was doing but my body took over.  I remember feeling a profound sense of determination and calmness throughout.

At 8:34pm, Sadie Amelie was born! She weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces, and measured 19.9 inches long. My heart exploded and I fell instantly in love.

A Healing Birth

From there, I was able to do all the things I never got to do with Naiya! We were able to delay cord cutting and Sadie was put directly on my chest for skin-to-skin as soon as she came out. Phil was later able to cut her cord!

Sadie was covered in vernix from birth and we got to keep that on her (you can see it all over her in a number of these photos). Vernix has amazing healing properties and I was so happy it was able to seep into Sadie’s skin.  From there, Sadie was even able to try nursing right away and found a quick latch! Phil was able to do skin-to-skin too!

All-in-all, while my anxiety levels were extremely high until the milisecond Sadie safely came into the world, her birth was incredibly healing for both Phil and myself. For the past couple of years, I constantly found myself wondering what it would’ve been like to birth a baby in this way and the fact that I’ve been able to experience a V-BAC is the most amazing gift I could have ever asked for.

The not so great part of a vaginal birth is possible tearing and unfortunately, I had a couple of them that are still killing me! Now I know the pluses and minuses of c-sections versus vaginal births and I can honestly say all mamas are truly warriors.  I can’t wait until I’m fully healed so that I can finally move around and truly soak up this special time with both girls.

What’s Your Birth Story?

What type of birth or births have you had? Any V-BAC mamas out there? I’d love to learn about your experience! Tell me all the things in the comment section below and as always, thanks so much for reading!

XO, Arielle Photography: Forrest Leo