Lennon's Birth Story [Part 2]

Thank you so much for your sweet comments from Part 1 of Lennon’s birth story. This is the second and final post about her birth. I realize this is a food blog, but if you’ve been a longtime follower, you know I enjoy sharing personal stories as well. If you don’t enjoy reading birth stories that might have some TMI parts, please feel free to skip over these posts. I’m going to discuss certain labor induction methods we tried, but please talk with your doctors/midwives before trying any of these out on your own.

41 weeks + 6 days. Friday.

We arrived at the hospital at 8:30pm and checked into labor and delivery. We met with our nurse and midwife that would take the first shift until 7am the following morning and talked about a plan. They were both wonderful and so reassuring. The midwives at our birth center were fully confident about the care we’d receive at the hospital and have a great relationship with the midwives on staff there. They wanted to start me on oral induction meds overnight to see if things would get started. I changed into a hospital gown, had my IV line in place, and monitors were set. This was a bit startling, as I didn’t think I’d need to be so tied down during labor. I tossed and turned all night long, wrestling with the hospital gown and monitors that kept sliding out of place. I could not for the life of me get comfortable. I remember waking up in a panic, constantly checking to make sure Lennon’s heart still looked good on the monitor. I tried to keep telling myself if there was a problem the nurse would come in and let me know. However, trying to reason with myself in the middle of the night was not working.

42 weeks. Saturday.

Wow! Here we were at 42 weeks. Unreal! The oral meds did get contractions to start throughout the night and they were coming every minute or so but weren’t too intense feeling. Because of the rapid contractions they decided to stop the oral meds and move to pitocin. Since you can’t stop the oral meds from working until they wear off (about 4hrs), they wanted to avoid putting the baby in any sort of distress. Pitocin was now a safer option since you can unplug and stop the meds much more easily. Before starting pitocin I was able to take a break from the monitors and cords to shower and eat breakfast. It felt so good! I also asked and was able to wear my own clothes, which helped me stay much more comfortable.

Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective

They started the pitocin, slowly increasing and monitoring the baby. Contractions came nearly every minute for almost 12 hours, but they still weren’t intensifying. I felt them but wasn’t in much discomfort. Throughout the day I stayed as active as possible, bouncing on an exercise ball, squatting through contractions, and pacing the room. Luckily, the babe looked great on the monitor all day, but I had zero progress when they checked me that evening. During the evening hours they tried to place a cook catheter, similar to the foley balloon I had placed a few days prior. The difference with the cook catheter is that 2 balloons are involved. I’m going to skip a lot of the TMI details of that, but they unfortunately weren’t able to place it. Also, ouch.

42 weeks + 1 day. Sunday.

At this point I had basically been experiencing contractions for 36 hours (still on pitocin). I wasn’t in horrible pain this whole time but it was taxing nonetheless. I was able to sleep much better in my own clothes and with a dose of benadryl. It felt great to get some sleep! I was also lucky that I got a couple breaks each day from the monitors to eat and clean up. I know this isn’t always the case, but I think since real labor wasn’t starting they were okay with it. Baby girl still looked great on the monitors, and they were starting to suspect that she wasn’t descending because of how much amniotic fluid was around her head. This wasn’t a bad thing but might be holding her up.

Our midwife came in to try and place the cook catheter again. She told me, “We’re getting this thing in today!” And finally, they got it. Hooray! But also, ouch, again. I kept it in for 12 hours and contractions really picked up. There was only one position I figured out that was “comfortable” to be in. I had to kneel on the bed backwards, draped over an exercise ball and breathe through the frequent contractions for hours. Pitocin was also going at this time. The 12 hours couldn’t have felt any longer, but we were hopeful things were really getting started! It was finally time to have the balloons removed that evening. We met with the midwife who would be on for the next 24 hours and who we had the first night at the hospital. We absolutely loved her and were so happy to have her for a full day. Around 11pm she checked me, and I was 3cm dialated! Tears of joy. FINALLY. Progress! I immediately emailed friends and family with the update.

42 weeks + 2 days. Monday.

I somehow slept most of the night with pitocin going and another dose of benadryl. I remember fuzzily waking a few times for the nurse to adjust my monitors but that’s it. I felt calm and rested once I was up and able to shower and eat breakfast. I took a few morning hours off from pitocin, because they said sometimes doing that can help to kick things into gear once you restart it. The midwife also said she was going to break my water early afternoon and surely that would get things going. She was convinced that all of the water around the baby’s head was really holding her in there.

Sidenote: I can’t tell you how times people said to me, “She must really be cozy in there!” By day 3 at the hospital, this was my least favorite phrase to hear.

They hooked the pitocin back up and it was go time. They were increasing the dosage faster today and contractions were picking up. I was finally feeling them a bit more and still squatting, bouncing, and walking the halls to try and help things progress. The contractions were more spaced out than in previous days, though, and less regular. With how much pitocin I was on, they really should have been picking up more at this point. The midwife came back in around 1pm to break my water. And, wow, there was a LOT of water in there. I kept looking off the side of the bed because it felt like a waterfall. There was also meconium in my water, which they weren’t at all surprised about with how late I was. I continued with the pacing while hooked up to pitocin.

All this time, Chris and my mom were right by my side keeping me company, watching too much HGTV, playing yahtzee, and trying to get through this marathon birth.

Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective

Around 4pm our nurse came in to check on me and mentioned the next step would have to be a c-section and most likely pretty soon. WHAT? This caught us so off guard. I mean, in the back of my head I knew if I wasn’t in active labor after 24hrs of having my water broken that it would have to happen, but I still had so much time! We hadn’t really discussed this with the midwife yet, so it felt like a gut punch. I think the nurse could sense our frustration and said she’d send in our midwife. I decided to take a long bath to try and stay calm. (They were still able to monitor me in the tub.) I had really been holding it together well up until this point. Our midwife came in and we had a major heart to heart while I sat, tears streaming down my face--barely able to speak, in the bathtub. We trusted her completely and her words were so kind and gentle. She told us while we technically have more time, they didn’t want the baby to end up in distress.  They were starting to get concerned as to why she still hadn’t dropped, thinking maybe the cord was wrapped or too short, etc. We agreed I would be checked one final time and if there was no progress we’d start getting things in order for the c-section.

I sat in the tub, Chris by my side, and continued to cry. I knew what needed to be done, and I knew it was the safest option, but it was the mental shift that I was trying to work through. It was similar (but more intense) to when we left the birth center, knowing we weren’t going to have our baby there. The nerves were also setting in about the actual c-section. The pain. The sterile feeling of the OR. The recovery time. The longer hospital stay. It was all becoming a reality.

I got out and dried off and the midwife checked me. There was zero progress in 24 hours, after a heck of a lot of pitocin and breaking my water. We were still at 3cm, not fully effaced, and the baby was in -2 station. At this point the decision was clear to me. It was obvious a c-section was the only way we were going to get this sweet girl into the world. After we agreed, there was flurry of people in and out of our room. Our midwife explained everything that would happen during the procedure and how recovery would go. We met with the amazing OBGYN who would be delivering the baby and then the anesthesiologist. Everyone was so kind and reassuring, though it still felt like an out of body experience. Everything was happening so fast. Before I knew it, I was in a hospital gown and cap, Chris was in scrubs, and I was hugging my mom before walking to the OR.

I sat on the cold operating table and the midwife let me drape over on her as they put the block in my back. They got everything ready and then Chris came in and sat by my side. The nurse put music on and I remember feeling more at ease. We asked to have a clear screen behind the typical blue screen, so that when they pull the baby out they could lower the blue screen and we could see her being born. I also wanted to do skin to skin as soon as possible, but I knew with the meconium in my water they’d need to give baby girl a full check before handing her to me.

Surgery started and I remember feeling a lot of pushing and pressure. It’s pretty hard to describe the feeling. Time was creeping by for me, and it did seem to be taking longer than expected. Chris and I were talking throughout the whole procedure, which helped get me through it. I think maybe a nurse mentioned they were having a hard time getting the baby out but that she still looked good on the monitor. Geez! She was really in there! They even had to attempt using the vacuum on her head (which I didn't even know was a thing in c-sections), but it popped right off and they didn’t try again. I could feel the midwife and doctor pushing down on me with all of their weight. The anesthesiologist finally told us they were about to pull her out and they would lower the blue screen. I felt so much relief hearing she was FINALLY going to be here. And with one more big push and pull we saw little Lennon Eyre McLaughlin come into the world. She cried immediately, and I’m pretty sure we were both crying at that point as well. It felt so unbelievable that she was REAL.

They quickly moved and checked her to make sure her lungs and breathing were okay because of the meconium. She continued to cry and they told us everything looked great. She weighed in at 7lbs 9oz, 20.5 inches long, and had a big head! Chris was by her this whole time and it was directly to my right, so I could see everything that was going on while they were still working on me. Chris cut the cord and put on her first diaper (and his first diaper, haha). The nurse brought her over and put her right on my chest. It was a little awkward being flat on my back, but I remember bursting into tears thinking this was the absolute most amazing moment ever. I remember saying, “Where did she get those lips from??” as we checked out every little detail on her. She was perfect. And hungry! This little babe was trying to bob her head for food immediately. It was too adorable. The nurse tried to help me, becuase it was hard to bend my arms with all of the cords and monitors. She kept rolling into my neck, as there wasn’t too much room for her on me.

Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective

As soon as they were finished with me, the doctor came to my side and told me that this was trickier than she thought it was going to be. The size of Lennon’s head (thanks to her dad), made it hard to get her out, and she had to cut a larger incision because of it. She also told me there was no problem with the umbilical cord but she did find that my sacrum bone is tilted pretty far up and it was actually keeping Lennon from descending into the birth canal. She could only figure this out while they had me opened up and after Lennon was out. I was stunned, as was the doctor. So Lennon wasn’t super cozy, she was super stuck! The doctor also told me that during the past 3 days I was never actually in labor. My uterine muscles were still fully intact (they thin out during labor). She was shocked, as was I, since I was experiencing contractions for so long. Thank goodness for modern medicine. It’s a complete fluke that my bone is shaped this way, and I’ve never had any other issues because of it.

Finally, we were ready to move to recovery. I remember my body shaking for hours after the surgery. They said it was from the meds and would wear off soon. I even remember it being hard to talk because my teeth were intensely chattering. I’m sure it was a combination of the meds, adrenaline, emotions, etc. Chris went to tell my mom and his brother and sister-in-law that Lennon arrived and everyone was healthy. He met me in recovery, they placed Lennon in my arms, and all was right in the world. My mom came in the room, and the tears continued. It was such a special moment for my mom, meeting her first grandchild. Then, with the nurses help, I finally got to feed this hungry little girl. It’s all a bit of a blur but she latched and started eating right away. We moved out of recovery and into our room and started to settle in. Lennon got to meet her uncle and aunt, we face-timed with grandpa in Ohio, and then we all tried to get some rest. By this time it was already midnight.

Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective

Lennon was born at 7:59pm, almost exactly 72 hours after arriving at the hospital, and 17 days late. What a journey. We are so thankful to everyone who played a part in keeping us safe and bringing a healthy baby into the world. A few of the midwives from our birth center (Baby & Co.) visited after Lennon was born and wanted to hear the full story. This meant so much to us.

While our story was such a complete 180 from what we expected, it worked out so perfectly in the end. I had prepared for a vaginal delivery and was truly ready to for the experience (pain and all), but things had a different way of playing out. However, I was lucky to feel immediately at peace with our journey. It was still so special and memorable and it was unique to us. The only thing that bugged me for a few weeks after her birth was not knowing when Lennon would have tried to come on her own. For some reason it left me feeling a bit unsettled, but I eventually let it go. She was here and healthy and that’s all that mattered.

Thank you so much for reading and letting me share our experience.


Ashley (and family)

Lennon (We love gender neutral names for girls and the Gaelic version of the name means “lover.” It felt too perfect. It also included part of my grandma’s (mom’s side) name, Lenore.)

Eyre (This is last name from my dad’s side of the family that I’ve always loved. It’s pronounced “eye-er,” not “air.”)

Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective
Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective
Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective
Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective
Lennon's Birth Story Part 2 | edible perspective

Lennon's Birth Story [Part 1]

Lennon's birth story Part 1 | edible perspective

I’m going to be sharing the birth story of our daughter in the next 2 posts. Things are about to get wordy. I realize this is a food blog, but if you’ve been a longtime follower, you know I enjoy sharing personal stories as well. If you don’t enjoy reading birth stories that might have some TMI parts, please feel free to skip over these posts. I’ll be discussing certain labor induction methods we tried, but please talk with your doctors/midwives before trying any of these out on your own.

The story of how our sweet Lennon entered the world is not even close to the story I thought we’d be telling. She was due on 12/31/16 but ended up arriving 17 days late. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined she would go past the 42 week mark. Finally, nearly 3 months later, I’m working on typing up all of the details. I’ve always loved reading birth stories, so I definitely wanted to write about our experience before the detailed memories start to fade (I think they already have a bit!). I also hope that maybe this will help someone out there who needs to (or chooses to) stray from their birth plan, in knowing you can still make the experience a memorable one. Our story is the furthest from what we expected, but none of that mattered the second Lennon was finally born.

We’re lucky to live in an area with a few amazing birth centers. Chris and I were both fully on board with this type of plan for my prenatal care and birth. The centers all have certified nurse midwives (CNMs) and the center we chose is about 1/4 mile from an excellent hospital. (They run drills for emergency situations, which only happen about 1-2% of the time, and are fully prepared for all types of birth scenarios.) We absolutely loved our experience at the birth center and it was definitely the right fit for us. The midwives were all so kind, patient, and loving. The birth rooms felt like a swanky but incredibly comfortable hotel.

Lennon's Birth Story Part 1 | edible perspective

There is so much more I could say about the care we received, but I will just wrap it up by saying I can’t imagine the care being better anywhere else. We felt so loved and taken care of, even as our plans changed. They fully supported any reason for needing to transfer to the hospital before, during, or after labor (whether it be for an emergency or simply deciding you want an epidural). They weren’t going to risk our comfort or safety and we felt very confident about that.

My pregnancy was pretty amazing, and I still feel so unbelievably fortunate for that. I wasn’t struck with morning sickness, I didn’t experience food aversions or bizarre cravings, I worked out right up until I gave birth, and I was able to keep photographing and cooking through mid-December. I was somehow able to shoot 2 complete cookbooks and quite a bit of other freelance work during my pregnancy. Such a gift! Sure there were aches and pains, tons of peeing, restless nights, crazy fatigue (especially in the first trimester), but I generally felt pretty great. We had one little scare with Lennon’s heart rate in early December, but got checked at the hospital and everything was completely fine.

We attended birth classes at the birth center (they don’t teach any specific type of method, which we liked) and also hired a doula in preparing for the birth. I didn’t want to set a rigid birth plan, because I really had no idea what would feel right while in labor. The only thing I kept saying was, “Our plan is to hopefully have the baby at the birth center.” To birth at our specific BC you must be between 37 and 42 weeks, for safety reasons. We toured the hospital so we would have some familiarity with it, just in case we needed to transfer. There are reasons you might need to transfer mid-labor and post-delivery and also reasons the baby might need to transfer post-delivery as well. We mentally prepared as best we could, but pretty much assumed all would go as planned since my pregnancy was going so well. It’s easy to say you’re mentally ready if there’s the need for a transfer, but you can never really fully prepare.

Lennon's birth story Part 1 | edible perspective

Friday, December 30th (39 weeks + 6 days) we had an appointment at the BC. Everything looked great. Our midwife estimated the babe to be about 7lbs (solely from touch on the outside of my belly). They checked my progress for the first time and I was at 0cm. For a first time mom, they said this was completely normal and really doesn’t mean much. You could go into labor that day or it could still take awhile. We were prepared for a late baby and a long labor, so I still felt really good about everything. The plan from here was to have an ultrasound at 41 weeks to make sure my amniotic fluid levels were okay. Then, I would check in with the midwives each day after that and try different natural methods for labor inductions, under their advisement. My mom came out on January 3rd and Chris was back at work while we waited. It was so nice to have my mom here while Chris was working, so I didn’t lose my mind at home alone. I was still working out at this point, lifting some and going on daily walks. (I had also been going to barre classes all throughout my pregnancy, but around week 37 it became a bit too much.) I walked up and down our stairs and did squats through braxton hicks contractions, hoping it would help get things moving. There were a few nights I was up for hours thinking things were starting, but they obviously never did.

41 weeks came and we had the ultrasound (at the hospital) to check the amniotic fluid. There was plenty. Yay! We joked she must be having fun in her wave pool. At 41 weeks + 2 days (Monday) we headed to the birth center to be checked. The baby’s heart looked great and I was close to 1cm. Finally. Something! We were scheduled to come in the next day and they would start pulling out their “bag of tricks” to hopefully get things moving.

At 41 weeks + 3 days, the first thing the midwives suggested trying was a foley balloon. Basically the opposite of fun. Since I wasn’t dilated at all, they couldn’t do any membrane stripping and they told us it doesn’t really have a chance of working unless you’re at least 1.5cm. I’m not going to go into much detail on the balloon, but they inflate a small balloon inside the cervix with saline and leave it there for up to 12hrs, to hopefully start the process of dilating. It will fall out on it’s own once you’re at 3-4cm, or it can easily be removed at the 12hr mark. I remember the car ride home after having it placed, wincing in pain. It did not feel natural to have something going up where the baby should be coming out. It was one of the first times I had cried during my pregnancy, not from the pain but from the uncertainty of everything.

Once we got home I rested a bit and then I started having contractions every minute or so for hours, some more painful than others, and some that I had to really breathe through. We were thinking this was the start of labor. We got some of our bags out and ready. I was feeling good and as prepared as I could be for labor. Around the 10 hour mark we had to remove the balloon because of a slight issue. I was beyond relieved to have it out (and everything was fine), but from then on contractions faded. I was still feeling positive overall and had so much support from Chris and my mom (and of course other family and friends). It kept me busy sending everyone updates.

At 41 weeks + 4 days we were back at the birth center for the next step. Still no more progress. Now it was time for castor oil. I was NOT excited about this, mainly from stories I had heard from others about how awful it was. Many of these interventions can send you into false labor as well, which is a major bummer and also exhausting (mentally and physically). Our midwife said this works about 75% of the time, so we were hopeful. After a not so enjoyable evening, nothing happened. I was getting pretty discouraged at this point and knew in just a couple days we’d be at the hospital for a real induction.

We headed to the birth center again the following day. 41 weeks + 5 days. The last thing we tried was breast pump stimulation and taking special herbs mixed with water. I did this for 10min on, 10min off for 2 hours, while bouncing on an exercise ball (something I did for hours each day at home). We had a heart to heart with our midwife about the next step, which was heading to the hospital the following day at 8:30pm to start an induction. Cue the tears. I had so many emotions as we said our goodbyes to the amazing midwives and staff we grew to know and trust so well during our pregnancy. It was difficult leaving the birth room, where I mentally prepared myself for birthing our baby. All of our prenatal care took place in the birth rooms, so they really felt like home to us. It was scary not really knowing what was ahead and how things would feel once we were at the hospital. The hospital has their own team of midwives who would take over our care, along with the labor and delivery nurses. We were confident everything would work out, but it was still a mental hurdle to overcome.

We arrived back home and updated family and friends. We tried our best to have a relaxing evening at home, still hoping maybe it would happen.

Our deadline day came, 41 weeks + 6 days. I of course made a big waffle breakfast for Chris, my mom, and my amazing friend Ann. I knew hospital food would be sub-par, so waffles were necessary. Ann brought a bunch of my very favorite cookies from a nearby restaurant, and I stashed them in our hospital bag. We repacked our bags for a longer hospital stay (you only stay at the birth center for 4-6hrs after birth), took a long walk with the dog, ran last minute errands with my mom, cleaned the house (me...neurotic), and ate Chipotle for dinner. I remember eating about 5 bites and then only being able to stomach the rice. Nerves were majorly setting in. We hugged my mom goodbye (she stayed at our house) and headed to the hospital. I remember texting updates on our way there and thinking how uneventful the car ride was. I had always imagined lots of screaming and pain, but this was so different. We walked into the hospital with our bags and joked that it felt like we were checking into a hotel. It was all a bit surreal.

Lennon's Birth Story Part 1 | edible perspective

Part 2 coming soon!

Thanks so much for all of your love and congrats over social media these past few months, as well as for your patience as I slowly make my way back to this space.