21 Days As A First Time Mom | Birth Story + Albert Shares
If you’ve been following my pregnancy journey via social media, our baby girl, Harley Love decided to arrive earlier than expected. She made her grand entrance on Christmas and she is the greatest gift EVER! Christmas will forever be the most special holiday celebrated with our family.
So… what happened? When did I go into labor? How did it all go down!?
I will admit that my pregnancy as a whole had been going great. I felt really good, strong, healthy and happy to still be exercising and working. I noticed that during my third trimester things were harder for me. Like moving around and I would find myself a little more tired than usual. Everything I expected.
Things started to change for me the week before Christmas. I was heading into Week 35 and I was feeling more uncomfortable and crampy. By crampy, I mean period like cramps but a little more intense. However, my energy levels were pretty high that week for the most part. With holidays coming up, I had so many things on my mind and things I wanted to get done before Christmas — it was all I could think about.
On Tuesday, December 17th I had a pretty productive and busy day. I had a great workout, my energy was high, I trained clients and finished off the night with filling in and Coached Megan’s 6pm ReignFIT Class. I was on my feet for three hours straight which led to me spotting that night, not being able to sleep, feeling more uncomfortable, having contractions and not feeling well the following day. I was freaking out a little bit because I didn’t want to have Harley come early and I had never spotted before.
My midwife asked me to come in for a stress test and they told me Harley was already really low and my water could break at any time. Meaning, I needed to take it easy and rest. Oh, and I was told I couldn’t workout for 10 Days.
I took it easy the rest of the week & weekend (well, as best as I could) and worked from home. There were still things I wanted to get done like wrap gifts, write thank you cards (which, by the way I still need to finish), last minute Christmas shopping, pack baby bag, etc. Now when I look back, I did notice that my contractions were starting to feel a little more uncomfortable than usual but I just figured that it was normal.
Mesha turns to me one night and tells me she's having some bad cramps.
Okay, this can mean a lot of things coming from a pregnant lady so I used my newfound pregnancy husband IQ (from all the "you're going to be a dad" books I bought and "What you need to know online articles") to help narrow things down. Not very helpful at all …
Didn't eat any spicy food, nothing that could cause excessive gas, we tried drinking water and laying on the side, elevating hips? check.
"Braxton Hicks Contractions?"
"No." She said.
Okay, that was pretty much the extent of my pregnancy IQ so we decided to call it in to our midwife and they said come on in. As a husband and soon to be father, my biggest goal is for my wife and baby to safe so our trip in was a little more tense then the usual "let's go see how big our baby is" visits. This visit had a little edge to it.
After a bunch of tests with our Midwife (She was amazing by the way) she pretty much concluded that baby was in prime position to come out, really low, and told us that Mesha just needs to take it easy from here on out. She reassured us that everything was still looking great and because Mesha was Healthy, we would were in a good position whenever Harley decided to come out.
Thank you Jesus!
I was so relieved to hear that everything was okay and as soon as we left that Hospital, I made sure Mesha didn't do anything but eat, breathe, and relax. I've never wrapped so many presents in my life but on the bright side I did learn how to use ribbon and make them twirl up!
On Christmas Eve, I wanted to see the Reign Fam, especially since it was a holiday workout so I went to the gym with Albert and while he coached classes, I sat at the front desk and worked on my laptop. I also went and got a pedicure next door to the gym before going to my parents house for dinner. I remember not feeling the best on Christmas Eve but I really wanted to enjoy the holidays along with the food and all the cookies! Albert kept telling me that we didn't have to stay long at my parents if I wasn’t feeling good so I could come home and rest— I think he knew I wasn’t feeling 100 percent.
As the night progressed, my contractions started to feel stronger. I was enjoying spending time with my family, it was super low key and my mom made a spread! Of course my mom told me to relax, lay on the ouch and she made me a plate of food. A lot of people have asked me, ‘What do contractions feel like?’ The best way to describe them for someone to understand is they feel like really really REALLY bad period cramps. But of course sometimes it’s hard to describe what that pain feels like. Throughout this whole pregnancy, I had a tough time recognizing the difference between cramps and contractions. Of course, now that I’ve been through it all and gave birth, I know the difference!
We ended up staying at my parents a little longer than we had planned. I loved watching everyone open up their gifts and I wanted to try at least a bite of all the cookies my mom made. On the drive home Albert and I were talking about religion and Christmas and how we want to raise our daughter. How do we want to introduce her to the church? What church do we want to go to? It was a good conversation for us to have since it was Christmas after all.
We got home pretty late and my contractions were starting to feel more intense. I was feeling a bit worried that I may actually be going into labor and Albert’s jokes all night of us having a Christmas baby were coming true. I started my contractions and as they were getting more intense, Albert started timing them. We were lying in bed and I would squeeze his hand every time I had a contraction. The breathing exercises we practiced in our birth class helped me get through each one. It such a crazy feeling because some contractions felt more intense than others. After tracking my contractions from around 1:30AM until around 3AM that were occurring every 8-12 minutes and lasting anywhere from a minute to a minute in a half; I made a call to my midwife to ask her if I should come in.
She recommended that we head to Overlake to get checked out and see what’s going on. Good thing I finished packing the baby bag! I took my time getting ready which was needed any way because my contractions were getting intense. I kept thinking, ‘Is this really happening? Am I in labor? But my water didn’t break yet… this can’t be happening. It’s too early. It’s Christmas!’
Albert couldn’t believe it either… the drive to the hospital felt like a blur. It was surreal. Nothing like you see in the movies. I was feeling a little nervous because I had never experienced this before and had no idea what I was about to experience these next several hours.
After getting checked in and my stats checked, my midwife came in to examine me and see if my water broke. They told me I was four centimeters and my water did break a little so I was here to stay. Baby Harley was coming! I couldn’t believe this was really happening. Our baby girl was going to be born on Christmas Day!
At that moment… I told myself, ‘Alright Mesha, time to do WORK. You can get through this. If you can handle this, you can handle anything in life, anything life throws at you, any hard workout, ANYTHING! You are STRONG and you CAN do this!’
Oh Lord, where do I begin…
Christmas Eve we had a plan.
The plan was to get over to Mesha's parents house to celebrate Christmas and have dinner like we do every year. We would stay for a few hours, have dinner, open gifts, and create some good memories then be back home in no time. Well, whenever you have a plan - you're just asking for challenges.
Dinner gets pushed back a bit.
No worries, time away from home would still be the same.
We get there and enjoy a delicious meal and indulge in some of my mother in laws famous deserts. Things are looking good. We're full, happy, and having a good time.
Presents get delayed some. Okay no problem, we can still make this happen.
Some time passes and I glance over at Mesha. She's looking a little funny and has to lay down on the couch. At this point, I'm like OMG we need to get this show on the road, we need to get Mesha Home. However it's Christmas, it's my in-laws, and I'm not about to start rushing everyone through "Christmas" so I casually make a few suggestive comments like "So, how about those presents?"
A little more time passes, gifts start getting cracked open and I"m focused. Focused on getting gifts unwrapped, organized, and packed ready to haul back home efficiently because I knew we were pushing Mesha's body clock outside of the home.
We finally get everything together and hit the road. I knew as long as we get her home she could relax and really be stress-free. It's funny that she mentioned the conversation we had about Church, Jesus, Harley, and Christmas because I swear God had a plan. He had a plan for a baby to come out and we didn't know it at the time but we were neck deep in it.
1:30am Mesha looks over at me and let's me know that she's having some contractions. My heart rate elevates, sweat glands activate, and brain starts racing.
In all the "You're Going To Be A Dad books" there's multiple chapters about this very moment and how to prepare for it. We even took a birthing class where the instructor spoke directly to all the fathers about what to do when your wife starts labor…
Well my my mind goes blank and I turn to google.
Thank God for google.
We start tracking contractions by duration and frequency.
As they grew closer, we knew that this baby was coming.
As we checked in around 5am Christmas morning, I could tell that Mesha was 100% having contractions and clearly in a different level of discomfort, things were getting real.
After some tests, our midwife catches us walking around the hallways and let's us know that we're not leaving. Up until this point, there was still a little part of me that thought okay, maybe it's just some contractions, they'll get in under control and we'll go back home.
But when she said "You're going to have a baby today."
It was go time.
I remember looking at Mesha and seeing No Fear, she was getting into a zone, nature was taking over and it was pretty amazing to watch!
I was in labor for about 16 hours from the start of my contractions at home around 1:30AM. To keep things moving and manage pain levels, I walked around the hospital loop several times, did squats, lunges, rested my head on the hospital bed while standing, took a bath, a shower and was on all fours on the bed at one point as well. The only time I laid down in bed was when it was time to push Harley out. I did lots of breathing! So much breathing that I was always thirsty and drank so much water. I was hungry but couldn’t eat anything in case I felt nauseous (which I did feel when I had to start pushing!) Jolly Ranchers and juice were also my friend.
I was 7 centimeters around 1pm on Christmas Day. It was just Albert and I along with my midwife and nurse. Mind you, they were not my in my room the entire time as they were in and out checking on other moms who were in labor too. Since it was Christmas Day, Albert and I didn’t want our families waiting in the hospital for several hours, so we told them we would keep them posted on the labor and when Harley arrived!
At around 3pm, I was only at 8 centimeters. My water had not fully broke and my midwife told me to get things moving, she was going to break my water. Man oh man! My contractions literally jumped up a few notches after that. My body started shaking uncontrollably from the intense contractions. The only thing that kept me going was breathing, grunting, some yelling and knowing that there was an end point to these contractions and Albert coaching me and being there for me the entire time.
What seemed like eternity of hours was me pushing Harley out in only 30 minutes. I was so exhausted while I was pushing that I was falling asleep after each contraction and push. I also had to hold back my own legs as I pushed. I was so hot, thirsty, sweaty and uncomfortable. Albert was holding a fan on me the entire time and kept waking me up in between sets and giving me water. He kept saying, ‘You’re doing great! Keep pushing, she’s almost here. A couple more sets. One more rep!’ I was feeling frustrated because I wanted to know how many more pushes I needed to do to push her out. I did ask my midwife that and she couldn’t give me a straight answer. She didn’t want to give me any false hope in case I had more pushes to do than she said.
The pain that I felt is something that I can’t even put into words. There were moments where I felt like I was going to die because I didn’t know if I could push anymore or feel any more pain. Then there were moments where I felt a burst of energy to keep pushing her out and I am strong enough to handle anything. I do remember Albert saying to me ’This is just like a heavy deadlift, you got this!’ I really had to zone in and listen to my midwife, nurse and Albert and focus on breathing and pushing. Of course there were swear words, yelling, grunting and sounds coming from me that I didn’t know I could make. I felt like an animal! (Yes, it is true that you poop while giving birth.)
Before I knew it, I pushed the hardest I felt I ever could push and Harley came out beautifully, screaming at the top of her lungs and flaring her arms out wide ready to take on the world at 5lbs, 13 ounces and 19 inches. I felt in shock when they placed Harley in my arms. I couldn’t believe this all just happened. I am a mother and I shit, I did it! I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. I had no pain meds. No IV and did everything all natural. I watched Albert cut the umbilical cord as Harley laid in my arms. I thought ‘Oh my god, this is crazy!’ My body was still shaking afterwards. I was in shock.
Harley latched onto my boob immediately and starting eating. That moment felt so amazing and special as a mother because I know that some babies have a tough time latching right away. Breastfeeding was painful the first couple days, and truthfully it still doesn’t always feel the best to this day, but I was happy to work with a lactation nurse for helpful feeding tips.
While Harley was feeding, I still had to deliver the placenta, which was pretty fast but not painful. They put my placenta in a bucket (Albert had to get ice for it) and we held onto it for my sister to pick up that night to store in her freezer until my doula returned from Christmas vacation. I made the decision months and months ago that I wanted my placenta to be made into pills to help with postpartum recovery.
You may be wondering if I ripped or if I needed stitches… no I did not rip. I had a couple cuts on the inside that needed a couple stitches, but nothing serious. The most painful thing after the labor was having the nurses come in and press on my uterus. They did this every 30 minutes for a couple hours then it’s every couple hours after to make sure my uterus goes back to it’s original size. Getting up to pee was also challenging and painful. It took a while for me to pee and I made it a mission to drink a ton of water and gatorade because I did not want a catheter.
My whole body was exhausted and sore. I was thankful for the hospital underwear, ice packs and witch hazel cooling pads. They gave me Advil for swelling, Tylenol for pain and a stool softener because yes world, pooping after giving birth is for real a challenge.
They moved all of us into a new room, Albert and I ordered food from the hospital because everything was closed due to it being Christmas. We were both so hungry and thirsty! We spent two days in the hospital because Harley was small and she also had jaundice so they wanted to keep her to make sure she was doing okay. That first night at the hospital was hard to sleep. Nurses were coming into the room to check on baby Harley and me.
The next couple days family and friends visited and brought us snacks and flowers. We also had newborn pictures taken of Harley which came out so amazing. I felt like I was in shock for a while. I was no longer pregnant! We had a healthy baby girl. My body felt pretty beat up the next couple days and I was experiencing cramps and bleeding which are all normal things women go through post pregnancy. Kudos to all mothers! We are all bad ass and amazing for giving birth to a new life!
Sigh… When we finally got to go home, the drive was slow and memorable. I kept thinking, 'This is for real now. We have a baby and she is beautiful. (She looks just like Albert!)'
21 Days Later… I’m still alive and I’ve learned so many things as a first time mom. Sure, people tell you their story and experience as a mother but it’s different when it’s your own child.
Harley loves to eat every 2.5 hours. Cluster feeding is something she also likes to do; she is always hungry… she is growing! Sleep Deprivation is REAL! I sleep when Harley sleeps at night. During the day I work during her nap times and try to eat. The first two weeks were challenging at first because I was waking her every 2.5 hours from her last feeding to feed her again to make sure she was eating to put on weight. What am I saying!? It is STILL challenging because she is waking up every 2.5 hours to eat. I average about 3-4 hours of sleep a day, (I think.) Yes, I feel delusional some days or like a zombie but somehow I still manage to keep my eyes open.
TMI here…. My nipples hurt. All. The. Time. I think this is something you just get used to? The nipple creams, gel pads and the hot compressions I am doing are helpful, but my nipples still hurt. Period.
Harley goes through 10-12 diapers a day. We feel like she’s always pooping and babies fart loud.
The best thing about Harley is watching her grow every day. Her eyes are getting bigger, she makes the cutest faces, weird sounds when she sleeps, she is a mover! Always kicking, moving her arms and already keeping her head up. We know our little one is strong.
It’s been so amazing to receive all the love and support from our family and friends. From the food, gifts and visits; we are so grateful to be surrounded by a community and tribe who already love Harley just as much as we do. Thank you Everyone from the bottom of our hearts! We love you all!
Our life has forever changed. We love Harley so much and our love continues to grow for her every single day. We can’t wait to watch her grow up and embark on this world.