Dear Isla - A letter To You About Your Birth

Dear Isla,

The day you were born was one of the greatest of our lives. You came into the world quickly and peacefully, forever growing our hearts. I no longer remember what life was like without you. 

Our Tuesday morning started out just as it had for the past few weeks. I was still exhausted as Brody walked into our bedroom at his usual 6:20am. Dad was at work starting his workday. Not ready to get up yet, I told Brody to go find the iPad and jump in bed with me. Screen time before breakfast had become the new norm over the past few weeks, as I needed every extra 30 minutes of sleep I could squeeze in. 

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

I woke up a few times during this short nap thinking these little cramps almost feel like they were coming more often. At 6:45ish I sent my usual text to your dad to say good morning and let him know I'd actually had a few small contractions. To our surprise he said he was heading home, as he was able to get off extra early today. By the time we finished eating breakfast, he was walking through the door. We hung out on the couch for a while, then dad decided to bring Brody to the splash pad for some fun (with a stop for donuts on the way home--donuts seemed to be a theme during my pregnancy with you). While they were out I took a nap. I sent your dad a text and with "every 9 minutes like clockwork" he responded with "baby time?" Nah I said, figuring they would fizzle out since they weren't painful. 

When Brody and your dad got home, I ate a donut and Brody went down for a nap. Your dad and I relaxed together while Brody snoozed. We decided the 8th would be a pretty cool birthday--easy to remember 8/8 and we were married on the 8th, so it had to be a pretty lucky number for us.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

We thought it might be a good day to go install the car seat in gramma'a cars since we knew at some point this week Brody would be over there. I head upstairs for another nap while your dad and Brody head to gramma’s. It's 2clock and the contractions are starting to get a bit more powerful, but still pretty far apart. 

By 3, I'm up and hungry. I start ravaging through all of our hospital snacks. I send your dad a text about this and he responds letting me know he can pick up some In-N-Out burger on his way home--always a jokester. That was my last meal before Brody came and let's just say it didn't settle well.

By 3:15 contractions are around 7 minutes apart and I send your dad a text that maybe he should start heading home. We decided to call GiGi to take Brody for the night--still not thinking you would be making an appearance, but just to be safe in case something quickly changed. We tell her no rush, just come pick him up in the next few hours.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

Around 4, I send a text to our midwife, Jennifer, letting her know that I'm having some contractions that are still manageable, about 7 min apart and lasting 40ish seconds. Maybe we will be seeing you tonight?! I say and she responds with "oh, that's great! Keep me updated"

A little before 5pm came the hardest part of the day--saying goodbye to Brody as he headed off to Gigi's. I wasn't prepared for the emotional roller coaster of this moment and tears wouldn't stop flowing. But you quickly kept me distracted with contractions starting to get more powerful and more consistent.

By 5:30pm I send a text to our doula, Denise, wondering at what point we should get ready to go to the hospital. The contractions are getting more painful and closer together. I chat with her in the phone briefly and we decide I should try a bath to see what that does. Your dad fills the tub with hot water for me. He brings up a bowl of ice water and a towel to put on my neck. We put on the birth playlist we made and I manage to completely zone out. As each contraction hits, I imagine my abdomen on fire and I use my hands to splash water on my belly until the fire goes out. It is the weirdest thing, but I am so focused on this action that I am able to get through each one without losing myself in the pain. Your dad sat patiently next to me with the contraction app timing each time I began splashing water and keeping the doula in the loop.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

At some point we decide to have the doula make her way to our house since I am not sure how much longer the tub will offer me relief. It’s nearing 7pm and I suddenly decide that maybe we should just have the doula meet us at the hospital instead of coming to our house. I tell your dad the last thing I want to do is be in full blown labor driving in the car.

Dad loads the car with our hospital bag and I wait for a contraction to end before jumping in the front seat. My belly is so big he has to pull out of the driveway in order for me to squeeze in the door. The 10 minute drive to the hospital feels like an eternity.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

We park and head into the emergency room. The admissions lady can’t locate our pre-registration paperwork, so dad spends the next 5 minutes filling her in on all of the information she needs. Just as they are getting ready to wheel me up to the labor and delivery floor, Denise (our doula) walks in. She gives me a little pep talk between contractions. As we get into the room, I tell your dad that they better not try sending me home or making me walk the halls!

Judy, the sweet nurse we were lucky to have by our side upon arrival, quickly reads over our birth plan and announces that we can definitely do everything on there. A feeling of peace settles over. Next, she does a check to see how far dilated I am. “Were you dilated at your last appointment?”, she asks. “Yes, 3.5 centimeters yesterday” I quickly reply.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

She starts checking and starts counting aloud “1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9”. 9 centimeters! HOLY HELL I say to myself in complete shock that you are coming and you are coming soon. There’s no sending me home now. We move rooms and Judy heads off to alert Jennifer (the midwife) to start heading to the hospital.

As we settle into the new room, Denise (the doula) and your dad are godsends in helping me stay focused and breathing through the contractions.  Denise holds my chest and reminds me how to breathe each and every contraction. They are painful and getting closer together, but I welcome the small moments of relief in between. I labor in the bed, I labor hunched over the birthing ball---we try different positions and different comfort measures as the contractions come. Your dad never leaves my side, keeping me hydrated with ice chips and cooling me off with cold towels then warming me up with blankets and a heating pad as my body goes from freezing cold to burning hot.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

At some point, Jennifer shows up. I start wanting to quit. Wanting you to come out so badly. The pressure is strong and hard to manage. Jennifer asks if I want her to check my progress. I say yes and move up to the bed between contractions. She quickly announces I am fully dilated and the only thing that is keeping you from being in my arms is my bulging bag of waters. I ask if manually breaking it would help speed things up. She replies with a yes and without hesitation I am ready. The mood of the room starts to change as Jennifer scrubs up, the nurse starts bringing in gear and Darla, another nurse on the floor comes in to help.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

It’s 9:15pm and I am ready to start pushing. Jennifer has me try different positions for pushing and guides me as I try to figure out how to best bare down. The pelvic pressure is intense. I ask Jennifer how much longer I am going to have to do this. I want to quit. “You’ll have Isla in your arms by 10”, she replies. And that’s just the motivation I needed to keep going.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

Soon after, I catch a glimpse of your head emerging and the biggest smile fills my face. I look at your dad in disbelief that you are about to be here. The ring of fire. The burning pain. It all dissipates and pure euphoria fills me. That’s the only way to describe it. Jennifer and Denise guide me through a few more pushes and at 9:41pm you are in my arms. Your dad and I can’t stop smiling. We can’t stop staring at you. Our hearts have more than doubled in size in one short instant.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures
Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures
Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

Midnight quickly rolls around and we ring in dad's 29th birthday with you--the greatest birthday gift.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures
Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures
Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures
Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

Miss Isla Harlow, on August 8th your entrance into the world forever changed our lives. It was peaceful and calm. Empowering as hell and one of the happiest moments of my entire life.

Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures
Birth Story | Isla Harlow | Natural Unmedicated Hospital Birth | Birth Pictures

I’ll love you forever, my sweet baby girl.

Mom


PS: I’ll be back later this week to share all of the pictures and details of Brody and Isla meeting for the first time. I can’t even look at the pictures without crying. I am so excited to share them!

A special thanks to our birth team. I am forever grateful for them. Jennifer Wright-Bennion (Midwife), Denise Franklin (Doula), Dana Mooney (Photog and Friend)--this birth experience would not have been what it was without your incredible support. I am also so thankful for the labor and delivery support at Banner Ironwood. This hidden gem of a hospital is filled with wonderful nurses.