Gone are the days of giving birth alone… or so we thought. It’s as if we’ve stepped back in time a few decades in a scary way.
I’m here to tell you that giving birth during the coronavirus isn’t all bad… and from my point of view, it was actually really great.
Professional Newborn Pictures Credit 📸 Sarah’s View Photography
⬇️ Read below for full story ⬇️
Here is my story of giving birth in a hospital during covid.
Let me catch you up on my history of having babies real quick. I’ve been pregnant 8 times. I have 4 babies in Heaven and 4 here on Earth. They were born in a mixture of hospitals and birth centers. I’ve had experiences that were heartbreaking and others that were beautiful.💔❤️
I actually wrote a book about my journey to motherhood called Joy In Suffering that shares all the details from my first 7 pregnancies.
Telling our children about our new baby.
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our eighth child, we were surprised. We were not planning to have another baby yet. In fact, we had a cruise planned for spring break. We wanted another baby but decided to wait till after the cruise… That sounded silly to me, but that was our plan. Clearly, it was silly to God too. He had other plans.
We had to cancel our cruise because I would have been too far along to be allowed on the ship. Breaking this news to our kids was tough because we knew we would have to explain why the trip was canceled and we weren’t sure how the news would be accepted.
Breaking the news didn’t quite go as we hoped. There were tears and feelings expressed by the change of plans, but it was actually quite comical to see our kids’ reactions.
An easy pregnancy…
As we went through the weeks and months, everything surrounding the pregnancy went really well. I checked off all the milestones and the more I felt this little baby move, the more I found myself at peace. Thank goodness we had a little mover.
Coronavirus?! What’s that??
It was about some time in January when my husband started to speak of the coronavirus. I didn’t think much of disease as it was “non-existent” here in the United States.
…. Although, I did come down with a mysterious respiratory illness right after Christmas. 🧐😉
As the weeks went by there were more talks of this virus and towards the end of February/beginning of March, there was speculation of quarantine here in the United States.
We prepared like most and “hunkered down” as we say here in the south. We did not want to take the chance of getting sick since I was expecting. 🙅♀️😷
Deciding to give birth at home.
About this time, our midwife started doing virtual prenatal appointments. My husband also has a friend, who is a pharmaceutical rep for the hospitals in our area, that said to stay away from hospitals at all costs.
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our eighth child we figured we’d have another birth center birth. We delivered 3 of our babies at one so it was assumed we would plan for another birth center birth.
As we saw our world change around us and given the information we had been told, we decided to plan for a home birth. I wasn’t nervous because it really wasn’t much different from a birth center. In fact, it brought me more peace thinking of how great it could be to already be home.
Giving birth any day now… Maybe?
At 39 weeks (April 21st) my midwife checked to see how dilated I was. Much to our surprise, I was already at 5cm, 40% thinned, and the baby’s head was at a 0. In layman’s terms, I was already halfway through labor. 😲
I honestly was not in labor though. No meaningful contractions.
My due date (April 27th) came and went. I was still pregnant. I hit the 41-week mark and still had no real signs of labor. This was surprising since I measured so far along 2 weeks before.
My midwife came by to check dilation and strip my membranes again on Wednesday, May 6th. I was now at 7 cm and still not in labor! 👀🤯 We talked of going ahead and breaking my water, but I couldn’t get a hold of Bobby so we decided against it.
I talked with Bobby when he got home and we made a game plan. Every day that passed was another day closer to us needing to go to the hospital to deliver. My midwife said if I didn’t deliver by the time I turned 42 weeks, then we’d need to give birth in a hospital. Our time would have been up on Monday, May 11th. Our plan was to break my water on Saturday and if I still had not delivered by Sunday then we’d transfer to Baylor Dallas (my hospital of choice).
We went to bed Thursday night without any signs of labor. 😴😴
Could it be time to give birth?
A little after 4:00 AM I woke to a gush. I thought my water broke and went to the bathroom to check. With every step I felt more fluid. I couldn’t turn the light on fast enough. Once the light was on, it was apparent my water didn’t break. My chest suddenly got heavy from what I saw. Blood.
I called for Bobby to come to the bathroom. When he walked in there and saw what was happening he immediately called my midwife. We spoke briefly and she asked us to send her a picture. In the moment of seeing the picture, she demanded we get to the nearest hospital with a Labor & Delivery unit right away.
As we got dressed Bobby called a neighbor to come stay with the kids (who were still asleep) until family could be with them. The only things I grabbed were my purse, phone, and a towel. There was no time to pack bags.
Was I really about to give birth in a hospital during a pandemic?!
We sped out of our driveway and Bobby called 911 to find out which hospital (with an L&D) was closest. “UT Health in Athens,” The dispatcher said and offered several times to have an ambulance take me. I insisted we would be taking ourselves. This was too much of an emergency to wait around for someone else.
I had already experienced what it was like losing a baby. Every moment I wasn’t in L&D was another moment gone by. We could not chance it.
While speeding down the road, I kept pressing on my stomach to entice our baby to move. Every kick back confirmed our baby was still here. I was in and out of prayer nearly the whole drive.
I called ahead to L&D and let them know we were on our way and what to expect.
I’ve never had a cesarean and tried my best to not have one, but I always knew if that’s what it would take to have my baby safely in my arms then I’d be the first to say, “Let’s do it.” After I got off the phone, I told Bobby to be prepared for an emergency c-section. He was shocked by what I said and I affirmed that if that’s what it took, I’m okay with it… we needed a game plan and to prepare ourselves for whatever happened next. He nodded in agreement.
He pulled up to the entrance of the emergency room. I got out while Bobby parked the truck. I remember walking past the abandon Covid testing tent. At this time, the virus hadn’t hit hard in Texas and it was like a far-off problem in another state.
Regardless, as soon as I walked through the sliding doors, I was met with a paramedic. I told him our situation and he insisted I get my temperature taken. I fussed a moment, telling him I didn’t have time for that…. I was bleeding!
He understood and talked with someone at the front desk about letting me through. He returned and said, “I’m sorry mam. I have to take your temperature.” I complied. I knew it would be quicker to have my temperature taken at this point then to resist.
➡️ For clarification: Any normal moment, I wouldn’t mind having my temperature taken, but at that moment I had no clue what was going on inside me. Was my life about to turn upside down AGAIN? I didn’t want anything standing in my way.
Praying for patience 🙏🏼😩
After my temperature came back normal, I was directed to check-in at the front desk. I questioned again asking, “Can’t this wait till later? I’m in an emergency situation.” The lady at the desk was firm in the hospital’s procedure.
I took a deep breath and prayed silently, “Lord, you knew every obstacle I’d face. I trust you.” As soon as I finished that prayer, our baby started moving again as if to say, ‘no worries, I’m still here.’ This calmed me enough to fill out paperwork.
Was I about to give birth in a hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic?
I walked back to Labor and Deliver by myself. Bobby had to stay back in the waiting room.
The nurses were there waiting for me as I came through the doors and they directed me to a room. Immediately they started asking questions.
“Soooo… are you in labor?” One nurse asked. I replied with a slight chuckle and said, “Well… I don’t know. Maybe?” I explained that I was checked by my midwife a couple days before and I was already dilated to 7cm, but was not in labor.
I chuckled because I knew they were about to think I was crazy. In the modern-medicine world being dilated to 5cm is considered labor and here I had been at 7cm for at least 2 days. 😳😲
I was right. They didn’t exactly believe me as the next question was how long my midwife had been in practice. I laughed again and said, “A looonnngg time.” I didn’t care what they thought about my answers. I was prepared for them.
As we were having this conversation, they were helping me get into the hospital gown, in bed, and hooked up to the monitors. We were moving very quickly.
I just want to know if my baby is okay.
In the middle of all the questions one nurse sticks the heart doppler on my stomach. We all collectively paused with a sigh of relief. There was the sound of my baby’s heart proudly beating away- just as it should.
Officially in labor.
We then moved back to the questions and I was able to explain to them my situation. I was asked if I was having contractions. I said, “Yes, but I can’t tell if they are anything because I’ve been stressed about my baby.” One nurse responded, “Well you’re having contractions 3 minutes apart.” I smiled again saying, “I guess I’m in labor.”
In case you’re wondering, I have a history of Braxton-Hicks contractions starting fairly early in my pregnancies. Because of this, I tune them out. I usually don’t know I’m in labor until one stops me in my tracks and takes my breath away.
The nurses paged the doctor to see how dilated I was. He confirmed my progression saying I was exactly where I said I was. 7cm, 40-50% thinned out, baby’s head at a 0.
To give credit to the nurses, they had every reason to think the way they did. If you are planning a delivery in a hospital, it’s common practice to consider a woman dilated to 7cm in labor. Those women were not at fault for questioning as they did… I expected it.
I did not want to be alone during labor.
Eventually, Bobby was able to come be with me, but due to Covid-19, once he entered my room he wasn’t allowed to leave or he wouldn’t be let back in.
Game planning for a hospital birth.
Over the next couple of hours, our baby and I were monitored. To my surprise, the doctor said as long as everything continued smoothly I could go back home to deliver my baby as originally planned. The bleeding had subsided by the time we got to the hospital and all the vitals were where they should be.
I was incredibly thankful for his willingness to full-fill my wishes. I shook my head no and said, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m delivering my baby in this hospital.” In hindsight looking back, I don’t think he knew how much I had bled before I got there or he would not have offered to send me home.
Checking on my baby some more.
Since it was decided I was to deliver in the hospital, the doctor wanted to check my baby with a sonogram. He needed to double-check my baby was head down and the location of the placenta. I smiled and nodded in understanding of procedure while letting him know exactly where everything was before the ultrasound. 🤓😉
He confirmed what I told him.
The staff was pretty surprised I knew as much as I did. One nurse said I knew more than most mothers that come through there. In all honesty, I used to be like most… I didn’t realize I needed to know things. I was young and brushed everything off as no big deal. Life experiences taught me to be aware and in tune with my body.
Breaking my water.
There was a shift changes. A while later a new doctor entered. We decided to break my water. Every single baby I’ve delivered before came quickly, within minutes, of my water breaking. Since this was the case, we thought why wait any longer?
After breaking my water I dilated to 8cm. The doctor wanted me to lay on my side. He said it would help my baby’s head come down. So I did. Not long afterwards contractions intensified. Pretty soon they seemed as though they were on top of themselves coming one after another with very little break.
What did I just ask?
I told Bobby I wanted an epidural. He didn’t question me much. He told the nurse what I wanted. I could hear her at the nurse’s station. “Really?!”, she exclaimed and repeated herself when she entered my room.
She reminded me of my history… The last time I had an epidural (when I delivered my daughter, Mary Alice) my body had a bad reaction to it. My last three deliveries were without pain medication.
My nurse was actually trying to sway me against an epidural. No. Joke. I’ve got to say… I really appreciated her willingness to full-fill my wishes. She suggested I try waiting through a few more contractions to see how I was doing then. I agreed.
About that time, another nurse came in to check my progression. To my disappointment, I was still at 8cm. Talk about a total let-down. I trucked through a few more contractions and decided I’d had enough. 🙅🏼♀️🙅🏼♀️🙅🏼♀️
I told Bobby I wanted an epidural. Without hesitation he got the nurse. She still tried to talk me out of it- given the reaction I had before. I couldn’t take it anymore knowing I had the option to not feel this pain. I said, “I’m not trying to be anyone’s hero. I don’t care what you give me, just give me something.” She nodded and said she’d be back in a few minutes.
Literally a few minutes later, in walks my nurse and the anesthesiologist. They had me sit at the edge of the bed. I held onto the nurse and Bobby as I powered through the next few contractions while the epidural was being administered.
After a few minutes, the epidural started to numb the left side of my body. In order for the epidural to take full effect, I turned on my right side.
Things got serious again. We needed to act fast.
While I was laying on my right side, my baby’s heartbeat started plummeting. This didn’t concern me too much. I’ve learned over the years that when this happens a lot of times you need to move to a different position. Since this happened though, the doctor wanted me to deliver fast. I was fully dilated at this point; it was go-time.
I moved to my back for delivery. Almost instantly my baby’s heartbeat came back up. Praise The Lord! 🙌🏻
I’m not sure how long I pushed for. Maybe about 30 minutes total and our sweet baby girl was born. 💝
Her cord was wrapped around her neck twice (something I suspected during the last couple of months given the way she would swivel inside me). The doctor unwound it. Immediately she started crying, her color was beautiful, and he laid her on my chest. Per my wishes, he delayed cord-clamping until it was time for Bobby to cut it.
🌻Our Precious Baby🌻
Engi Love Pope
Born: May 8, 2020
Time: 11:03 AM
Weight: 8 lbs 13 oz
Length: 21 in
Where: UT Health East Texas in Athens
***Engi (Ang-ee) is named after an amazing woman from our church who passed away. Her namesake was a true living testament that, through Jesus Christ, God can save anyone, regardless of your past. 🙌🏼
Being alone in the hospital
Since the hospital had coronavirus polices no one was allowed to visit or bring us anything. Thankfully, Bobby was able to be with us the whole time. Over the next 24 hours, it was just us three (Daddy, Mama, & Baby). We were also the only patients in that unit so the nurses were able to be there anyway we needed. It was pretty sweet.
As a woman who has delivered many times, I found this to be a very beautiful thing.
The first day after giving birth is HARD. You’re tired from giving birth, dealing with after birth pains that take your breath away, and learning how to be a mom to this new little being. As much as I love our supportive village of people, it was a nice change of pace to be able to just focus on us three.👨👩👧
Even though hospital policy stated that no one could bring us anything, they did make an exception. We left our house in such a hurry that we didn’t pack anything at all. My mom and sister packed some stuff and dropped it off with the paramedic at the entrance and a nurse brought it to us from there.
Later that evening, my father-in-law came to switch our vehicles. Again… we didn’t think about the truck we left in and we’d need the infant car seat when it was time to go home. He brought our older two kids with him and they were able to come to our window and see their new baby sister. It was seriously such a precious moment despite all the crazy in the world.
Reminiscing on giving birth during the Coronavirus…
Even though sweet Engi’s birth went nothing like we imagined, I couldn’t have asked for a better hospital experience and outcome. 😌
I did mourn the birth I had planned, but I was able to work through those emotions. There were small moments I experienced with my older three that didn’t happen this time (i.e. herbal bath, professional photographer, etc). I chose to cherish other things that were sweet in their own way… (i.e. hospital bands, hospital onesies, clear plastic bassinet pictures, etc).
I know, I know… some of you may think I’m crazy, but most of you get it. You get wanting to remember the sweet things surrounding your baby’s birth even if things didn’t go like you wanted.
I wanted all her siblings to be there, but being able to have that close one on one time with my new baby and husband was just what I needed. 💟
While I was in the hospital, it wasn’t exactly determined what caused the bleeding. After talking with medical professionals, it looks as though I had a small, partial placental abruption.
I’m so incredibly thankful everything turned out well. 💗
When asked what my silver-lining is through the Covid- 19 pandemic, I always point back to her birth. 🤱🏼
➡️If you love birth stories and are interested in my journey to motherhood, check out my book, Joy In Suffering.
💕It’s for anyone who has lost a loved-one and needs a story of hope.
💕It’s for someone who needs to know they are not alone in their grief.
💕It’s for those who are wanting to live a life of JOY.
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➡️➡️ You may cry some sad tears, but I promise there are MANY happy endings 💕
✅ Tip: Joy In Suffering can also be found at many online retailers & Kindle.