This is the story of my friend Renee, her husband Cody, and her baby girl Willow’s journey into the world (as told to me via interview 6 days after Willow’s birth).
Renee’s due date was October 24th, but baby Willow loved being in her momma so much that she didn’t want to come, even a week later! Renee (with Cody’s help) tried everything to coax Willow out—walking, sex, spicy foods—to no avail. Not wanting to be induced, Renee tried waiting patiently, but after 10 days, it was time. She said, “I didn’t mind being overdue. I wanted her to come natural so bad.” Cody told Renee, “She’s not going to come on her own.” And so Renee was induced, after days of daily check-ups to monitor the baby’s heart rate. On Wednesday November 3rd, she and Cody went to the hospital to get induced at 7 AM. Renee took 4 pills to get the process started.
The contractions were immediately very strong. They were 3 minutes apart, but Renee was only dilated 2 cm. She didn’t take any pain meds (brave girl!) and she only managed a few minutes of sleep here and there. By 9 PM that evening, she had been in 14 hours of severe pain, with no drugs to take any of the pain away. “I was being very stubborn and wanted her to be all natural,” Renee says. She and Cody spent that night in a family room at the hospital. Her contractions brought her to tears, so she finally gave in and got the walking epidural within 4 hours of Willow’s birth. Her midwife, Katie (“the best midwife ever!” proclaims Renee), had all the while been checking everything: the baby’s heart beat and Renee’s dilation, and she brought water and talked Renee into getting the walking epidural after so many hours of painful contractions. Once Renee got the epidural, the dilation increased, and soon it was time for Renee to push. As she stood up to switch from the hospital bed to the delivery bed, her legs quivered: “I was like Bambi for a little while.”
There almost wasn’t time for Dr. L. to make it to Renee’s room. Willow’s head was coming out, and Katie asked Renee, “You don’t feel that?” but she didn’t. Dr. L. arrived just in time. So with one foot on Katie and one foot on Dr. L. for stability, Renee pulled on the rope hanging from the ceiling, and pushed. “That was the easiest thing in the world compared to what came before that!” She pushed a few times—the doctor saying “Push, push! Ok stop pushing!” That scared Renee a bit, so she asked “How come I can’t hear her cry?” Then she reached down and felt Willow’s head (“then I was like, ‘Ok now I’m so pumped and ready!’”) and with one final push, Willow came into the world. “Then there was a little tiny cry, and her eyes were open and looking at me as soon as she was on my chest…Her eyes were bright blue, looking up at me… She had lots of hair too, that was a shock!” The doctor placed Willow on Renee’s chest immediately, so she got 15 minutes of skin-on-skin time with her. There was no suctioning, and no gel in the baby’s eyes.
Cody proved an extremely supportive husband throughout the entire day and a half of labor. He brought water and food for Renee, since the Germans love sparkling water and prefer lunch as their main meal. He said to Renee afterwards, “I was feeling like I was giving birth!” He even breathed with Renee when she was breathing hard. When Willow was born, Cody cut the umbilical cord (and maybe cried a few tears!). When the nurse gave Willow her first bath, Cody was right there, watching protectively over his first child. Willow didn’t cry; she loved the water right away. Cody took the first pictures of Willow, then Katie took the first family picture of the 3 of them.
After the bath, they placed Willow on Renee’s chest again, and Renee asked if she could feed her. Willow latched on right away. Three days later, however, the feeding issues would come. But on November 4th, at 4 in the afternoon, baby Willow came safe and sound into the world…all 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and 21 inches of her sweet baby self, to her loving parents, Renee and Cody.