Name: Aylah Tadala Mahowa
Date + Time: Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 8:32pm
Size: 7 lbs 8 oz and 20.5 in
It’s surreal to me to think that just over a month ago we were welcoming our baby Aylah in to the world! After months of wondering what she would look and be like, we finally got to meet our sweet girl who has changed our lives for the best. I enjoy reading other people’s birth stories so I wanted to take the time to reflect and write out our own story. I personally was so terrified of giving birth beforehand, but my experience was actually amazing. If you are giving birth soon, my advice is to never be scared of something you have not experienced before and understand everyone is different- believe in yourself and envision the best!
Giving birth during a pandemic was also a very unique experience. My husband was not allowed to be at any of my prenatal appointments so he wasn’t able to see any ultrasounds and had to wait outside the doctor’s office. When the time came to go to the hospital I had to be tested twice for COVID-19- once at my doctor’s appointment the day before my induction and another time after I was admitted to the hospital because the results didn’t come fast enough. The hospital requested that we wear masks whenever the doctor or nurses were present. It was a weird experience being in labor, getting an epidural, and giving birth with a mask on. I also had envisioned my family being able to be in the hospital, but I was only allowed to have one person in the hospital with me. Regardless of it not being exactly like I had expected, it was still an absolutely incredible birth experience and went more smoothly than I could have imagined!
Her due date was March 20, 2021, which was a week after she arrived. My pregnancy had been normal- she was at a healthy weight, had a strong heartbeat, and all my vitals were good too. Up until week 37, I had been having check ups every 4-6 weeks. At the week 37 appointment, we did our final ultrasound and Aylah was measuring 7 lb. 8 oz. I was one cm dilated and opted for a membrane sweep. Although I was anxiously anticipating that the membrane sweep would help me go into labor, my sweet girl did not make her appearance yet!
Around this time, my face and upper right section of my stomach were becoming extremely itchy- to the point where I couldn’t sleep at night. I tried allergy medicine and everything I could think of but nothing helped. So I brushed it off as hormones until week 38 where it was becoming unbearable. I called my doctor in the afternoon to ask if there was anything we could do and she was concerned it was possibly cholestasis, which is a liver disease that can develop late in pregnancy. She wanted me to go into the hospital for them to check my blood levels that night! When we arrived to the hospital, I went to triage where they checked the baby and my contractions which were about 4 minutes apart. It was strange to me because I couldn’t feel anything! They did another cervix check and I was 3 cm dilated. Aylah’s heartbeat was strong and they weren’t able to do blood test because I would have had to be fasted for 8 hours so they sent me home for the night.
I had a scheduled doctor’s appointment the next day around noon, where the doctor told me she thought it would be best to do an induction to be safe since I was already so close to 39 weeks and cholestasis can be very harmful for the baby if I did have it. She told me that she wanted to get me in the hospital that night or early the next morning which I was not expecting to be so soon! She scheduled the induction for the next morning at 11am and did another membrane sweep before I left. Since I was dilating so quickly and having steady contractions, the doctor thought the baby might even come on her own without an induction. After leaving the doctor’s office that afternoon, it was an absolute whirlwind knowing that I was going to be having a baby the very next day! It was the last day that I was working before maternity leave as well so I was trying to wrap everything up at work and prepare the house/last minute things to be ready for her to come home. I had planned on having a week at home to prepare before she came, so we didn’t have everything quite set yet. That night when I was getting ready for bed, my mucus plug came out and I really felt like she might come that night! Meanwhile I tried to get some good sleep but my mind was racing- it’s such a strange feeling going to sleep and knowing that within the next day, we were going to be parents!!
My doctor had told me to eat a good breakfast before heading to the hospital, but because I was trying to get everything together I just made a quick smoothie (not a good decision lol). We made it to the hospital around 10:30am and checked in after having breakfast and making final preparations. It felt so weird to show up to the hospital and “checking in” while not in labor or anything. We went up to the labor and delivery floor around 11am and waited there for about an hour waiting to be brought back. Our doctor came to say hi to us and to see if I had any questions which I thought was SO sweet.
We were brought back to L&D where we got all settled in, went over paperwork, and the nurse got me all hooked up. The nurse did a quick check and I was almost 4 cm dilated. The doctor came in and broke my water which REALLY sped up contractions. I could barely feel the contractions before even though they were still happening around every 4 minutes but then they started to get really intense all of a sudden. The nurse asked me if I wanted to do the epidural then and by the time the anesthesiologist came in, I was READY. I was super jumpy during the epidural so the nurse was talking to me and holding my hands to get me to calm down. It was mostly psychological though because the actual epidural wasn’t bad at all!
After the epidural, they started pitocin and checked on me every two hours. I was feeling very relaxed and even took a short nap! At 5pm, I was around 5 cm dilated and they increased the pitocin a little. My blood pressure levels kept dropping and were very low but I couldn’t eat anything except liquids. Around 6:30, I started feeling extremely nauseous but thought it was probably because my blood pressure was low. I ate a jello but it didn’t help. Thankfully the nurse came in a little after 7pm and when I told her I was nauseous she thought it was probably because I was close to giving birth. She did a cervical check and I was 10cm dilated at that point. It was go time!
After that, everything happened so quickly! The nurse started prepping me on how to push and once she had me push a few times she told me to stop because the baby was so close to coming! She called the doctor who was about 20 minutes away. Once the doctor came, I pushed for about 10 minutes and Aylah made her grand debut at 8:32pm!!
They put her on my chest and it was the most wonderful feeling I’ve ever experienced. She was so tiny and beautiful! They let Humphrey cut the umbilical cord and I held her for a little while before they took her away to clean and weigh her. There were a lot of women ready to give birth in the hospital at that time, so we were moved to another room pretty quickly where they helped her latch for nursing and I got cleaned up.
At this point, I was shaking from the adrenaline and was sooo hungry! If I had known that I couldn’t eat anything the whole day, I definitely would have eaten a bigger breakfast! Humphrey went to go grab some food and we were moved again to our final room. The nurse gave her a sponge bath and helped go over postpartum and newborn care with us. My sweet hubby came back with In-N-Out and it was the best thing I had ever eaten. Then the nurse left and we had started our wonderful journey as new parents!
We are so in love with our sweet Aylah and can’t imagine life without her now. Her middle name means “blessing” in Chichewa which is my husband’s first language. She most definitely is our greatest blessing and I absolutely love being her mama. Thank you for reading and for all your kind words and encouraging messages! We are so grateful for the support that our family has received throughout my pregnancy and since Aylah arrived!