If you follow me on twitter you might know that my intention from the beginning of my pregnancy was to have an at home water birth in a birthing tub.  I was super excited about it and had visions of an amazing birth most of my pregnancy.  I had two midwives that routinely checked baby and I alternatively.  They were wonderful and I felt so confident in the both of them.  They suggested to all their patients to meet their recommended back up doctor for emergencies.  I met the backup doctor when I was around 32 weeks, we did an ultrasound and saw that baby was measuring at around 4 lbs, about a week ahead of her due date.  I was so happy that she was healthy and growing in there, after a miscarriage..it’s of course all I wanted.  That was my last ultrasound (midwives don’t do ultrasounds, they feel for baby with their hands and check the growth of your stomach).  I anxiously waited for her to come.  We set up this awesome birthing tub in our living room and I continued to prepare to make the experience as peaceful and pleasant as I had hoped for.  Soon I had made it to 39 weeks.

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39 weeks, my last belly photo

I went to see one of my midwives for a routine checkup and let her know everything was fine but that day I had noticed a little less movement in my belly.  We chalked it up to the baby getting bigger and having less room to move in there, but that I would keep an eye out.  To be honest, I was panicked.  I was used to her moving a certain amount every day and I was unsure of the decrease in movement. Something felt off to me.  I went to sleep and woke up the next day to literally, no movement. I chugged multiple glasses of ice water, played music, took a shower…I did everything I could to get her to move but couldn’t get much.  At this point I was terrified (but trying to keep the panic to myself because at this point in my pregnancy my husband, parents, and siblings seemed to think that I was some sort of hypochondriac).  Everyone kept insisting to me that is was ‘fine’ and I just didn’t feel ‘fine’ at all.   I called my midwife, she told me to do what I had already done for another 30 minutes and see.  Nothing.  I called her again and she said, “ok enough. you need to head to the backup doctor for an ultrasound so that we can see what’s happening.”  My husband took me in for the ultrasound and we saw that baby was measuring small compared to our last ultrasound 7 weeks ago (she was only around 5.something lbs when at 32 weeks she was already 4 lbs). The doctor said that’s ok, some babies are just small but also maybe my placenta had stopped working.  (Side story, I was definitely wanting to do placenta encapsulation but for some reason I kept having a weird feeling about consuming my placenta and had already decided to follow my gut and not consume it way prior to hearing that my placenta had maybe stopped functioning) From there he hooked me up to the fetal monitor where we would be able to see if she was moving or not.

For 40 minutes I sat there, panicking, not understanding what had or could go wrong…what I knew was that she was not moving.  I was sick to my stomach and when the doctor came back in we looked at the graph for the third time.  We could see I was having pretty big (but didn’t know or couldn’t feel it) contractions and that the baby was barely making movements (she was moving a little so we knew that she was alive, thank the universe).  He told us to head straight to the hospital which was about five to ten minutes away and that he would call them and let them know that we were on the way and he’d meet us there.  He wanted to let me try for a vaginal birth, but it wasn’t really up to him, it was up to Cedar Sinai doctors/staff and of course we both knew they’d push for me to have a c-section especially with the huge concern of baby not moving much. I barely had time to call my parents, I was able to get ahold of my sister and let her know that I was going in for an c-section and baby would be here soon.  My husband and I got to the hospital and literally in 10-15 minutes I was being drugged up and shaved for an emergency c-section.

 I was calm, but upset and scared.   I had already prepared myself for worst case scenarios (this) and at this point, truly, all I cared about was getting my baby out safely.  From this point to the next few days, was honestly a huge blur for me.  I was exhausted and drugged and if it wasn’t for the photos on my phone taken by my husband and midwife (who they allowed to be in the surgery room) I really am not sure I would have remembered my daughter’s birth.  I remember crying out of fear and shock but the Cedar Sinai staff was kind and reassuring. Before I knew it she was out, I heard a quick yelp, no cry and then all the commotion in the corner of my eye.

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Naaz Lilia Carrots, 5.7 lbs, 19 in.

I was in a severe daze but they said she was fine.  I was trying so hard to be present through the drugs.  My husband cut the cord and took some photos while they cleaned her up and then they brought her to me.  My midwife helped me latch her and it was amazing.  The latching was amazing.  I was so thankful that my midwife was in the room with me, she made me feel safe and I knew she was watching everything they did and had my best interest.  It made me feel good, because I was mentally not there at all.

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Our first look at one another
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First latch, still spitting (non stop spitting most of pregnancy stopped 3 days after birth), and severely swollen from preeclamsia (that’s MY hand!)

In the midst of everything my blood pressure shot up and they told me I had preeclampsia (a dangerous abrupt rise in blood pressure).  I was very swollen, I barely recognize myself in any of the labor room photos.  I’ve stared at them a million times and decided not to share more, because they make me so uncomfortable.

For me what followed this was the most difficult part.  They were monitoring me for the next 24 hours giving me magnesium sulfate to reduce the risk of seizures.  I can barely remember my interactions with Naaz (which even now thinking about it hurts my heart) and I was in so much pain from the c-section.  I wanted her with me, but I was so drowsy I didn’t think it was safe for me to hold her as much as I really wanted to.  The nurses said that her temperature was low (common for low weight babies) and we tried skin to skin, it wasn’t working to help regulate her body temperature so they took her to the nursery to keep an eye on her.  The next day she still wasn’t able to regulate her temperature so she was moved to NICU.  I literally started to lose it.  I didn’t understand why she wasn’t with me and I felt completely anxious and sick not knowing where she was or how she was.  I was still in severe pain and my blood pressure was really high for the next few days so the nurses weren’t recommending me to leave my bed to be in the NICU as much as I felt I needed to.  I pumped every two hours to do something for my baby.  I was completely exhausted, but the pumping gave me so much happiness to be able to do something for her.  My husband was able to spend a lot of time with her and go up and feed her for as many feedings as he could.  (He was also exhausted which back then I couldn’t understand.  I just wanted him to be there with her since I couldn’t be.  I felt extremely guilty.  I was also angry…at everyone.)   I just spent 9 months growing this baby in me with all the love and care and now she was here (not in the way I had planned and hoped for AT ALL) and I couldn’t even be with her.  We were all of a sudden apart and it hurt me extremely.

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My husband sending me selfies from the NICU to make me feel better 
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One of my first favorite photos I took of her in the NICU

I spent 5 days in the hospital and the whole time Naaz was in the NICU.  Those five days were by far the worst days of my life.  I was super depressed, drugged, crying, didn’t want to sleep, but the drugs forced me to…and the nurses would wake me up every 2 hours to check on my blood pressure which wasn’t getting any better because I was totally distressed.  I know that the pumping and colostrum was helping Naaz, because she was maintaining her birth weight and after the longest five days of my life she was allowed to go home and me as well with the help of blood pressure medication.  I was so happy to have her but also afraid.  At 5.7 lbs she was the tiniest human being I had ever held and I hadn’t even been with her the first five days of her life.  Looking back I think I thought…does she know that I am her mom?  Did she wonder why I wasn’t with her?  Was she sad that she was alone?  Those thoughts killed me and caused me so much postpartum depression and guilt.  I was terrified of breast-feeding alone, it was so hard with such a small baby.  My midwife helped me and suggest I get a postpartum doula and I did.  It helped me and my anxiety tremendously but I’ll save the details for my next post.

I’m the type of person that goes to sleep each night with an entire plan for the next day.  When those plans don’t go as planned, I’m completely thrown off.  I was completely thrown off by the birth of my daughter.  I was completely thrown off by my pregnancy.  I was also thrown off by having a previous miscarriage.  I always thought that getting pregnant and having a child would be so easy, because everyone does it.  I never thought it would have so many challenges.  Now I am in the process of healing and preparing myself for the next time I will do this.  After Naaz I definitely know that I want more children.  I am afraid of the process, but I refuse to let it stop me.  I pray that I will be able to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section), but if I have to have another c-section then I will.  The preeclamsia kind of shuts the door on a future home birth, but it is what it is.  I didn’t get the dreamy birth that I imagined for years and now I am ok with that.  It still hurts definitely, but I don’t feel that I failed or anything like that.  It’s just life.

The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.
Steve Maraboli 

One last thing, please remember everyone’s pregnancy and birth experience is different.  There is no need to be afraid by other people’s experiences.  This is just for me to share my story for those who wanted to hear it.  A book that helped me feel very confident in giving birth was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.  Regardless of how you give birth, it’s a great read.

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24 replies on “My Labor & Delivery Story

  1. My goodness.
    What a stunning, beautiful, and powerful birth story. Naaz & mama were so deeply connected, you both knew flexibility, a shift in plans, and support from additional healers were necessary. The universe whispered into Naaz’s heart to prepare her for the nurturing you would need in mind, body, and spirit to survive and THRIVE through this major ritual of birthing. Thank God your midwife’s wisdom extended to leading her to trust & lean on the obstetricians at the hospital as well. I am proud of your bravery & proud that you are going yourself the room to celebrate and mourn your birth while recognizing the abundance and bounty that came with the birth you were given. You are amazing. BRAVO MAMA!! My two deliveries were completely different from each other. May your daughter continue to amaze and wow you, and may you get a bit more pieces of your birthing dream the next time around!!

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  2. I wish so badly that you did YouTube videos like time to time to document these type of things. Would you be open to something like that?

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  3. I started following you recently & I absolutely love you! I loved your honesty about every single thing. Your story is amazing for me cause I’m not pregnant yet but I’m so terrified of childbirth, thank you for sharing such an honest story. I think Naaz is so beautiful & blessed to have such a loving & thorough mum & such a supportive dad. I wish you ALL the best! Love from Nigeria ❤️

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  4. 💗 Thank you so much for sharing. Your daughter is beautiful. I wish you guys all the best & smooth sailing through the future of building your family.

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  5. So happy that you and your family overcame all of the difficulties. Your baby is so gorgeous! I was wondering if you would mind sharing your midwifes information i am looking for one:)

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  6. Hi Stella! This is truly a beautiful story. I had my baby a few days after you (myself and Protoje) and it was also not exactly what we had expected. Lots of love to you and yours- thanks for sharing as it makes the healing process so much more endurable.

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  7. Amazing piece! I too had similiar experiences as you did. Its amazing how we have this idea of what birth will be and we make a plan but due to God’s plans it’s ends up being something else. The most high gives the hardest battles to his strongest soilders! Glad you’re doing better. Enjoy your beautiful girl, supportive hubby and motherhood! Love and light xoxo

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story. It resonates with me and I am sure it will for others. I too hoped to have a non medicated water birth, took hypnobirthing classes and thought that if I willed it it would be. Wasn’t the case for me and what got me through is stories like these. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in my birthstory not aligning with my vision except for a healthy baby on the otherside and knowing that the birthstory is such a small part of the story of motherhood. Blessings to you!

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  9. Love your delivery story. Thank you for sharing. Like you mentioned, we all may have a thoughtful plan for how you would like things to be but sometimes we do not control the outcome of events in our lives. Despite all that, I am so pleased to see you progressing and love your daughter endlessly. I also admire your hands-on motherly experience with her…You are a confident mother/wife. Thank you for sharing the insights of your delivery story.

    I was having my first baby at 33 so I was so anxious about everyone’s experiences and was always looking to read about others view on pregnancy. I followed you on IG, your posts give me positive and reassuring vibes that i will be “just fine”. My baby girl is 1 month old already and it has been the best month of my life so far. All the sleepless nights, swollen feet, peeing trips to the loo, etc, has been worth it. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I told my husband we were just having 1 baby after my first but now that I see her growing up, I definitely want a companion for her and another baby is definitely on the list for the future.

    God bless you and your beautiful family. May this year be filled with his grace and ongoing blessings and protections.

    Cindy

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing your highly anticipated birth story! I followed you throughout your whole pregnancy while I was pregnant at the same time and your post and updates helped me tremendously because I too had one of the worst pregnancies imaginable. Hearing about your morning sickness and constant spitting along with the anxiousness of it all made me feel not as alone through the process. I’m so happy for you and Antwan and your little bundle of joy is such a precious miracle. Thank you so much for being my guide throughout pregnancy and my postpartum experience. Keep killing the motherhood game your doing an amazing job! 💕

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  11. This was so beautiful. Your immediate love for her is a common mom thing but the way you thought so deeply about her in her absence is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this, I cried, hard. Much love to you, babygirl, and your husband. Thank you for sharing your babygirl with us.

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  12. I didn’t get the birth I wanted either, I feel your pain there. It took a while for me not to feel like a failure. One reason I want another baby is to prove that I can do it. Long story short, I My midwife made me transfer to a hospital bc I had been in labor for so long and the baby was stalled at 8 cm.
    I’m happy you and Naaz are ok. I didn’t have PPD but I know it’s hard and I’m so happy you’re feeling better now. It’s so brave of you to be so real and raw and about your experiences and especially important to hear for other women who desired a birth like yours. Things don’t go as we always plan. You have your beautiful Naaz and I especially loved following you thru your pregnancy ( you gave birth a month after me) and even now as a mommy ❤️❤️

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  13. I was born prematurely at 6 months and I had to stay in the hospital for 3months. My mother told me my family would visit me everyday. She also said she was so hurt that she had to leave me everyday. She said its probably why I’m sure abd independent person now as an adult. I’ve been following your pregnancy through your twitter. I literally just wanted to hug you and tell you everything will be okay. I had an experience through birth control where i felt the same way you did before having your daughter. It’s was hard to get dressed I refused to do my hair. I couldn’t sleep I had headaches I even put my shoes on the wrong feet. I don’t want to say I absolutely know your pain but I’m glad you shared your story with us. Blessings

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing this ! You’re so courageous and have such a beautiful heart. Your daughter is so beautiful. I’m pregnant and i look at your profile for guidance . Look forward to more insight !

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  15. Thank you for sharing your birth story. You’re very strong. I can relate to your situation.

    I had a VBAC with my second child and it went wonderful. A vaginal birth is much better than a csection. Don’t let anybody try to talk you out of trying for a VBAC-try try try!! Many people will say it’s risky but their are actually more risks in having another csection.

    I have been following you online for many years now. We are both Virgo’s and I feel like we have similar personality’s. I am a mom of two (3 year old son and 1 year old baby girl) Congratulations on your marriage and beautiful baby girl.

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  16. Thank you for sharing you story Stella god bless you and your family! You and your daughters strength and courage are so inspiring. Wish you more love sis 💕💕💕

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  17. Thank you so much for sharing your birth story. That quote alone has helped me on what has been an incredibly hard couple of days. I too had an emergency C-Section but after being induced (something I didn’t want but was very overdue) I had my baby in October but it seems the frustration of the situation crept up on me and has made me feel incredibly upset by the whole thing.

    But thank you again you have really helped me.

    So happy for you and your husband
    Your daughter is gorgeous ❤️

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  18. I’ve followed you and Anwar since a little bit before your wedding and have loved your light ever since! I admire your love and connection and it often reminds me of the one I have with my soul mate. I was so happy for you at the announcement of your pregnancy and following it as it progressed was such a gift as that is such a personal intimate time and you were always so honest with your experience. Thank you for sharing with me this experience. I don’t have children yet and probably won’t for a few years but thoughts you touched on in your writing frequent my mind. What if how I am expecting it to go doesn’t occur? What if my worst case scenario becomes reality? The unknown isn’t so scary when you know like minded souls have taken the journey and come out the other end a stronger wiser being. I hope nothing but bliss, good fortune and health comes your way Shamira. I admire you in so many ways and can not thank you enough for sharing your art, life and love with us ❤

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  19. Wow wow wow. Your vulnerability is empowering. Still in my first trimester but you’ve made me cry, laugh (I’m angry at everyone already lol), and feel more than capable from reading your post. Thank you so much for your bravery, Stella. I’ve been following you for a while (since Tumblr) and you’ve always reminded me of a very soft, orange kind of power. Forever grateful for the moments you share. ❤ jasmine

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  20. Thank you for sharing your story. Reading your story has helped me get over my unplanned delivery. I was induced at 41 weeks and 3 days which I then needed to get an emergency c-section. Although my baby boy was born healthy and beautiful I had such a tough time feeling that my body has failed me. Everyday it gets better. Thanks again for sharing.

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