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Hope Taylor is a photographer specializing in senior portraits serving both Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.

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Clara Jane Blow: Her Birth Story Personal

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I am currently typing this blog post with a 2-month old Clara snuggled up asleep on my chest. I can’t believe it’s already been two months…but, at the same time, I can’t remember what life was like without her. Being a mom is already the greatest joy of my entire life. There is truly no way to put into words the transformation that happens when you become a mom…and the moms reading this already know exactly what I mean. This blog post is going to serve as a “journal” for me to look back and read Clara’s birth story (while I still remember the details!) and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I love reading other women’s birth stories! I will be including details of my induction so if you’re squeamish or that bothers you, this is your warning! 😉

Clara is my first baby, and her due date was March 10th. From the beginning of my third trimester, I told my close friends that I had a gut feeling she would come early. I had no idea why and ZERO experience to know what I was even talking about (LOL) but my mom and sister even agreed they had the same gut feeling! I was grateful to have a generally easy pregnancy, and felt pretty great my entire third trimester. Even until she was born, I still felt good despite the usual aches and pains! But, I was definitely SO ready to meet her and welcomed the idea of her coming early!

Including this part because I think it’s hilarious now looking back: I lost my mucus plug on February 14th and had early labor signs all day that day. Upset stomach, consistent contractions…all the things. I was SO convinced that meant baby was coming! First time mom probs. I literally finished packing my hospital bag in a panic. But, then I learned you can lose your mucus plug WEEKS before you actually go into labor…which was the case for me 🙂 And those contractions only progressed me to 2cm when I got checked later that week. I was so bummed because I had gotten so excited!

I spent the next (almost) 2 weeks bouncing on my birth ball every night, drinking the raspberry leaf tea, eating the dates, curb walking…anything and everything I could do to kickstart labor. I was already SO ready to meet our baby girl…and thinking I was in labor made me even MORE ready for it to be “go time”. I had contractions here and there throughout those 2 weeks, but nothing consistent.

Then, on the night of February 24th, I noticed a little bit of blood when I went to the bathroom before bed. I didn’t think much of it, but then was up with some relatively strong cramping throughout the night. When I went to the bathroom around 3am, I had bloody show…and I knew that meant it really WAS almost go time!!! I was too excited to go back to sleep, so I stayed up and patiently waited for Hayden to wake up to tell him. I continued to have bloody show and contractions throughout the day, but my doula and I agreed it wasn’t time to go to the hospital yet. So, I decided what any nesting pregnant woman would decide…we needed ferns. From Costco. And we needed them now. A baby can’t come home to a house without fresh ferns!!!

Photo proof of me waddling around Costco in early labor with all my ferns (I’m dying laughing looking back at this hahaha):

So, February 25th was spent trying to ~play it cool~ and prep for labor that we knew would come in the next few days. But, the important detail here: when we were walking through Costco, I noticed what felt like water leaking as I walked around. I didn’t think much of it, because I was already having bloody show and just assumed it was a normal part of early labor. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t!!!

We tidied up the house, hung ferns, finished packing the last few things for our hospital bag, etc. I didn’t sleep much the night of the 25th because contractions were getting more intense (and the excitement was SO real!!!) On Monday the 26th, I woke up a little discouraged because contractions had totally stopped during the night. But, I was still having light bleeding (and still felt like maybe fluid was leaking but what do I know!? I’m a first time mom!!!) Baby girl was still moving around and doing totally fine, so I kept telling myself I needed to just wait it out…but my gut was telling me to call my doctor. After chatting with my doula (shoutout to Mother Well! My virtual doula was SUCH a blessing to me!), I decided to call. Long story short, the nurse pretty much told me I should have gone in the day before if I was still having bleeding and to get to the hospital to get checked ASAP.  Hayden and I still didn’t believe it was real, because I was not having ANY contractions at this point and it felt like all progress had totally stalled. We took a video on the way out the door saying “we’ll probably be home in an hour, but JUST in case!”

When we arrived at triage, they checked and I was still only 2cm dilated. A whole week later!!! I was so bummed. I mentioned that I thought fluid may be leaking, so they did the test to check and told me my water had NOT broken. During all of this, Clara’s heart rate declined out of nowhere – so they ended up keeping me for 3 hours just to monitor her. This ended up being SUCH a good thing!!! After 3 hours, they would check me again to be sure I hadn’t progressed – then we’d be sent home. So, Hayden and I made plans to go get tacos, told all the family it wasn’t go time like we thought…and started packing up to head home.

But, the doctor came to discharge me (was literally telling me goodbye and what to look for to know when to ~actually~ come in), and she suggested we check one more time to see if I had progressed at all since the monitor was showing consistent contractions. This doctor was different than the one I had seen 3 hours prior. When she went to check, she said “they told you your water hasn’t broken?” I said yes, and she said she wanted to do the test again herself to be sure. Turns out, my water HAD broken…and it had been slowly leaking since being in Costco the day before (!!!)

Since my water had been broken for over 24 hours, it can cause a major risk of infection for the baby…so it meant that we needed to induce and do it quickly. She suggested inserting a foley balloon AND starting Pitocin to get things moving ASAP. This was when I slightly panicked. It truly felt like whiplash! We were JUST planning to go home and get tacos (it was almost 4pm and I had barely eaten anything that day) and now we’re being told it’s time to have a baby…like, FAST. I had painted a mental picture of slowly laboring at home, going to the hospital once I was progressed MUCH further than 2cm and having minimal intervention…NOT an induction that included Pitocin after no sleep and no food. WHEW.

Once I grasped what was happening and we took some deep breaths, the EXCITEMENT kicked back in. We were meeting our FIRST BABY!!! We called all of our family and told them to get on the road because a baby was on. the. way! After talking with Hayden and my doula, we decided that we wanted to hold off on Pitocin for a little bit and try the foley balloon first. My body was consistently contracting on the monitor, so I wanted to see if things could progress quickly with the help of just the balloon. I had heard so many nightmare stories about how painful contractions can be with Pitocin…and I was TERRIFIED of an epidural needle (literally more scared of the needle than labor LOL), so I wanted to try everything else before Pitocin. My doctor agreed, so they inserted a balloon around 4pm. It definitely wasn’t fun, but the procedure itself wasn’t nearly as painful as I expected it to be (I was told it was because I was already somewhat dilated). But, the thing that caught me off guard was how FAST this made things ramp up. I was expecting to spend a few hours eating dinner, watching a movie and chatting with family while my contractions ~slowly~ got more intense…NOPE. Things went from 0 to 100 REAL QUICK. Within an hour, I couldn’t talk through my contractions. I did my best to keep moving and dilated to 6cm by about midnight. I was so excited to get the balloon taken out!

Removing the balloon was the biggest relief. But, it was short lived 🙂 Taking it out broke my water even more, so contractions continued to ramp up FAST. The hours of 12am-5am were the worst part of labor for me. At this point, I had barely slept in 48 hours and had not had any food since a single egg bite the morning before. I was throwing up during contractions, and my body was so exhausted. I continued to do my best to stay active, walk the halls, bounce on my birth ball, stretch, etc. to encourage baby to move down. Remember how I said I was terrified of an epidural needle? Well, the nurse checked me around 5am and I had not progressed at all. I decided in that moment that I needed to get an epidural, because my body was so exhausted and I wasn’t going to be able to progress quickly at this point (keeping in mind that there was urgency because of a risk of infection).

Getting the epidural was not nearly as bad as I made it out to be in my mind. And I have to pause here to thank Hayden: he was truly my biggest advocate and support system throughout the entire labor. I could NOT have done a moment of this without him. He never suggested the epidural until I asked for it myself (he knew I wanted to labor without it as long as I could), and then he encouraged me that I was strong and brave and it would be okay. He held my hands and talked me through the entire thing. The RELIEF of getting to have some rest after getting the epidural was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It was once I was able to rest that Hayden told me how stressed he had been during the previous few hours. He said I didn’t say a single word for 5 whole hours…and he’s never heard me be that quiet in his whole life HAHAHA. That’s how he knew I was hurting!!! But he did counter-pressure on my hips for every. single. contraction. He never sat down the entire time. The best teammate I could ever ask for!!!

Once the epidural was in, the doctor manually broke the remaining water (yes, somehow there was still more!) in hopes to progress things more quickly. At 8am, we decided that it was time to start Pitocin because we were approaching 48 hours since my water had broken. And, whew – people weren’t kidding about Pitocin contractions. Some of those contractions were just as painful WITH the epidural as unmedicated labor. During the next few hours, things got a little scary as Clara’s heart rate dropped a few times with strong contractions. I was having to consistently move and be on all 4’s to help her heart rate stay up.

Around 11am, I started to feel a lot of pressure and could tell Clara’s head was really low. I mentioned it to the nurse, and she said the doctor was in a surgery but would be in to check me as soon as she could. It wasn’t until about 12:40pm on February 27th that she came to check…I was 10cm dilated, fully effaced and baby’s head was at +2 station. It was GO TIME!!! We had a bunch of family in the room at this point, so they all headed out while I got ready to push.

The craziest part about my birth story: I started pushing at 12:52pm, and Clara arrived at 12:56pm. I pushed for less than 4 minutes. Hayden and I didn’t even have time to process how fast it happened!!! After one push, Hayden yelled “she has a full head of hair!!!” and I said “WHAT DO YOU MEAN!?” Haha!!! It was the most magical moment to have her placed on my chest and meet our daughter! There are truly no words. I will never, ever forget it.

I chose not to have a birth photographer, but here are some phone images taken right after she was born!

I took these the next day in the hospital (and the hospital photographer took some, too!) We took Clara home the next night, February 28th, and have only fallen more in love with her every day since.

These were taken a few days after we got home! I was so tired, and it was the first day I got ready since having Clara. I remember how nice it felt to feel like myself!

She was so tiny! She was under 6 pounds here!

The best big brother!

I’ve taken her monthly photos in this sweater and plan to do it until she can’t fit it anymore!! 🙂

Our beautiful Clara Jane Blow. You are loved more than you will ever know, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also love:

Our January 2024 Baby Shower in Fredericksburg

Our November 2023 Baby Shower in Savannah

Our Savannah Home Tour

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I'm Hope Taylor, an international Senior Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Charleston, SC. I'm also an educator, international speaker, and the host of multiple sold-out workshops each year!

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