Jauchy and Jeff are such a sweet couple and we were so grateful to come along side them and get to share in such an awesome experience. Jauchy prioritized walking and preparation during her pregnancy and her body responded beautifully to labor. She was able to rock an unmedicated induction - no easy feat! Jeff was an informed, supportive partner and together they made a beautiful team! I'm so excited to share their birth story with you.
My mother had always told me how difficult it was for her to conceive both my brother and me. It took her over a year to get pregnant with either of us, so she warned me over and over again to start trying early and to expect it to take a while, but not to lose heart. Heeding her advice, my husband Jeff and I decided to start trying a year into our marriage, right after our honeymoon (so that I could eat and drink to my heart’s content), but also to keep our expectations low.
We got pregnant our first month. That’s the way life goes, I guess.
We were shocked, but also incredibly excited. It was happening! Here we go! ..and then my nausea and back pain started almost immediately. I always saw those pictures of glowy women smiling serenely down at their bellies and thought that pregnancy would immediately transform me into one of them. I felt betrayed and lied to when, instead, I spent my first trimester nauseous all day, every day, exhausted, and perhaps only “glowy” from sweat after throwing up.
Then the second trimester rolled around. Magically, my nausea disappeared, my energy perked up, and--the best thing ever--I began to feel my little potato move and kick in my belly, as if saying, “Hi mom, I’m here! We’re in this together.” The little kicks, plus the fact that I wasn’t constantly miserable anymore, helped me begin to bond with this life growing within me. I wanted to do anything and everything I could to provide the best for her. I started reading about labor and births to better prepare, and began feeling very strongly that I wanted to do a natural, unmedicated birth. However, the more I read, the more I realized I was actually terrified. I mean, I’m supposed to push a human baby through my body? How is that even possible??
I shared my fears with Jeff and he replied that billions of women have given birth before me and I was sure to be fine. I wanted to punch him.
In addition to reading about births, I was also talking to my mom friends about their own experiences. One of them had used a doula and couldn’t rave enough about the positive effect her doula had on her birth. I’d read about doulas before, but had never really thought to use one myself, so with my friend’s encouragement (thanks, Kathleen!), I began to consider it more seriously and research local options.
I broached the topic with Jeff. He said he didn’t really understand the point of a doula (“Isn’t that what the doctor and nurses are for?”), but he was open to it, so we lined up a couple interviews. We didn’t connect with any of the first doulas we met and began to feel like maybe a doula wasn’t in the cards for us. But then, we met Kersti and Wendy, and instantly clicked and felt so comfortable with them.
Choosing Kersti and Wendy to be a part of our birth team ended up being the turning point of my pregnancy. Up until meeting them, my fear and anxiety surrounding the birth process was only growing and growing. Rationally, I knew it would somehow work itself out, but, mentally, I honestly didn’t see how I was going to get through it. However, Kersti and Wendy had this warm, supportive energy that was just what I needed. They checked in with Jeff and me constantly (I had gestational diabetes, so lots of tests and monitoring), educated us on what to expect, and made themselves available to us at all times, no matter how small or stupid our questions or concerns. I couldn’t believe it, but they actually made me excited to give birth. I had been alternating between feelings of dread and terror regarding my due date, but suddenly, I found myself looking forward to it!
Finally, we were nearing the end of the pregnancy. The doctor observed Lily’s growth rate slowing down in the womb and recommended we induce the week before the due date. Since I’d had my heart set on an unmedicated birth, I was immediately crushed. However, Kersti and Wendy were quick to reassure us that, while trickier, it was entirely still possible and they would do their best to help me achieve my goal. My doctor said I could choose the birth date and mentioned that many of her Asian patients like to consult the Chinese Almanac. I thought it was a fun idea and asked my mom to help, and she came back with 4/21 as an “auspicious” date.
The evening of 4/20, Jeff and I had our last dinner “just the two of us” at Naschmarkt, where we’d had our third date just four years before. We finished up with our favorite apple strudel dessert, then went home to pack and prepare for the hospital. We checked in at Good Samaritan around 11pm, got a large corner room (woohoo!), and began to settle in for the night. Around 2am, a nurse came by to insert Cervidil, which caused mild cramping, but it wasn’t even as uncomfortable as period cramps, so I was still able to get a good night’s rest.
In the morning, Kersti stopped by to check in on us. She brought an oil diffuser for us, let me choose a scent, and, afterwards, our room became the favorite for the nurses to visit, because they loved how nice and calming it smelled. Kersti also brought us a TENS unit and showed Jeff and me how to use it. She hung out with us for a while, showed Jeff massages he could do for me, and just made sure we were relaxed and comfortable before leaving.
After she left, around 12pm, a nurse came in to inform us that they’d be putting me on a Pitocin drip, starting at level 2 and increasing by 2 units every hour. We relayed this to Kersti and Wendy, who reminded that we could go slower and start at level 1 and increase by 1 unit, given my smaller size. I felt much more comfortable with this approach, but when we conveyed this to the nurses, they resisted, saying “2 and 2” was “standard” and that I’d be “fine”. If we didn’t have Kersti and Wendy’s support, Jeff and I probably would’ve just caved, but we felt empowered to advocate for ourselves and what we felt comfortable with, so we kept insisting on 1 and 1. Finally, the nurses relented, and GOOD THING!, because by 1:15pm, only an hour later, I’d jumped from 0cm to 5cm dilated and 70% effaced. It honestly scares me a little, thinking about how much more dramatic the jump would have been if I’d followed the nurses’ “2 and 2” approach and how my body probably wouldn’t have been able to handle it.
By 1:45, my contractions were close and lasting about a minute each, so the Pitocin was switched off. However, I still felt great, walking laps around the nurses’ station with Jeff and my IV stand. We were chatting and having a good time, to which the nurses laughed and joked, “Don’t tell the woman in room 4!”
By 3:30, I’d taken a short nap with the peanut ball and the contractions were starting to feel more intense, and by 4:15, the contractions were melding together and I was “not as smiley,” per Kersti’s birth notes, so this must’ve been something Jeff texted to her, haha.
The doctor noted that I seemed to have gotten stuck at 5cm, so the Pitocin was turned back on at 4:50pm, still at level 1, which kicked me to dilate to 10cm by 5:45pm. Kersti arrived around this time as well and was a godsend to both me and Jeff, helping direct me through different positions and also just being a source of calming, supportive energy.
Unfortunately, my own doctor was unavailable during my birth, so I had a doctor who was not only a stranger to me, but also surprisingly cold and unsupportive. She would huff into my room, brusquely check on my condition and inform me that I wasn’t progressing along as well as I “should” be, then huff back out. During one of her lovely visits, she told me that she can always tell, from her many years as a medical professional, if a woman is pushing correctly or incorrectly, and I was most decidedly doing it incorrectly. She warned me that “other measures” would have to be taken if I didn’t quickly improve. (Truly, this woman had the sweetest bedside manner.) After her exit each time, Kersti would always lean in to reaffirm that I was doing great, to remind me to listen to my body and do what it was telling me to do, instead of letting the doctor scare me.
By this time, perhaps about 7pm, I was experiencing levels of pain and bone-deep exhaustion that I’d never imagined possible. I kept alternating between wanting Jeff to rub my back and not wanting anyone to touch me, wanting the TENS unit turned all the way up and wanting it completely off, wanting some more ice chips hurry hurry please! and just wanting to be left alone. This manic switching back-and-forth probably wouldn’t have been a big deal, but each contraction put me in so much pain that I literally couldn’t talk. I began to doubt myself-- could I really do this? I’m so tired… I don’t know how much more I can take.
Ultimately, ironically, I think it was the unfriendly doctor that gave me the push I needed. I felt like she was just waiting for me to give up, so that she could call a C-section, and I didn’t want to give her that satisfaction. I mustered up my last bit of strength, soaked in Jeff’s cheerleading and Kersti’s quieter encouragements, listened to my body and put everything I had left into one final, big push when it told me to. I know I screamed, but it sounded really far away.
Lily slid out and, in that instant, I was so happy I insisted on no medication, because feeling her come out of me--all her little limbs and wiggly life--was the most amazing, indescribable, magical thing ever. They scooped her up and put her on my chest, and Jeff and I just looked at and smiled at each other. All the pain and ordeal of the last couple hours instantly evaporated. The doctor started stitching me up, but I barely felt it, because we were so consumed by this itty bitty baby breathing on me.
Now, 10 months later, we’re going through a very different sort of pain (sleep training…) but I still remember that day so clearly. My husband was such a wonderful partner throughout the entire process, but even he is immensely grateful for the support and guidance we received from Kersti and Wendy. We both know that the birth could have gone in a wildly different direction, had we not had them with us, and are incredibly thankful that they were able to help give us the birth that we’d hoped for.
Jeff made them promise they’d be there to help us with #2.