Note: Olivia’s birth story mentions delivery complications and maternal mortality. If you are currently expecting a baby or planning for pregnancy, I do not recommend reading her birth story — at least until after you’ve given birth. Thank you for your understanding!
Olivia Joy’s Birth Story
Today, I am honored to share the birth story for our daughter, Olivia Joy! She was born in June — and being her parents has already been such a big, fun, and love-filled adventure.
For those who have followed along with our pregnancy or who know us personally, you know our decision to grow our family was one made with over a decade of consideration; we did what we usually do for all big decisions in our lives — we overanalyzed each and every detail for much longer than necessary! 😉
While Ben and I have discussed many deciding factors over the years, one deciding factor I haven’t shared about here was my fear of maternal mortality. I realize my fear may sound like unfounded anxiety, but it is actually rooted in data: The maternal mortality rate in the United States is among the highest for developed countries. While a variety of factors play a role, advanced maternal age — delivering a baby while over the age of 35 — can be a factor. A few credible sources of information about maternal mortality in the United States can be found here: Yale Medicine, NPR and CDC, and TCF.
During pregnancy, when Ben and I attended our pregnancy and labor classes, wrote our birth plan, and communicated with our doctors, we always communicated openly about my #1 fear — bleeding excessively, and ultimately, dying during childbirth.
I won’t bury the lede: After 1.5 days in labor, I had an emergency c-section, where postpartum hemorrhage due to uterine atony occurred. Postpartum hemorrhage is a rare but serious condition which can lead to death, and my hemorrhage was caused by uterine atony — my uterus failing to contract and stop my bleeding following a long labor.
Following delivery, I was relieved — but also in shock, because my #1 fear had nearly been realized. I also grieved the delivery experience I didn’t have. During pregnancy, I had romanticized what our delivery experience would be like. I truly enjoyed pregnancy and was lucky enough to have a healthy and “easy” pregnancy — so I had always envisioned a quick, simple, and even easy delivery. The gap between what I hoped and planned for and what actually happened truly couldn’t have been wider.
Beginning recovery was challenging, because I had always pictured my able body being able to begin caring for our newborn. Instead, we had a prolonged hospital stay followed by continued physical challenges once we returned home. For a couple of weeks, I needed Ben’s help with just about everything. Needing so much help while also needing to be helpful was an emotional experience. Now, weeks have gone by, and I’ve continued to recover both physically and emotionally from our unexpected delivery.
Separately, Olivia has been such a wonderful joy in our lives. Ben and I may be in a newborn haze — but we feel we’re already seeing her calm, happy personality shine through. She is simply the best!
With our delivery behind us, I simply wouldn’t be me if I didn’t notice the lessons I learned from our experience and share them with you now:
- Expect the unexpected. This can be taken positively or negatively, I suppose. But in my case, I realize I should have planned and prepared mentally for delivery to go differently than I had planned on paper. This is life, after all! I had spent so much time focused on how I wanted Olivia’s birth to go, I didn’t leave enough room for the unexpected.
- It’s OK to grieve the experience you didn’t have. For about one week, I worked to wrap my mind around what happened and to understand how my emergency c-section was actually more helpful than harmful. I eventually found peace with how our story unfolded. I also realized:
- The end result is what matters most. In our birth plan, our top priority, regardless of means, was for Olivia and I to come through the delivery process alive and healthy — and we did! Focusing on our positive outcome has made all the difference for me, and has made me feel less discouraged by the path required to get us there.
- Things take time. Upon returning home, I wanted to immediately “bounce back” and begin doing everything the way I always had — which was simply beyond my physical limitations. But during week 2 postpartum, my swelling had gone down, I was able to begin moving without Ben’s assistance, and I began to feel a bit more like myself — and less like a sleep-deprived person recovering from a major surgery. 🤪
- Lean on people. Upon sharing our story, the outpouring of love and kindness we received from family and friends made me overcome with emotion. From mailing c-section recovery essentials, giving gift cards, and delivering flowers, to sending encouraging messages, I felt so seen and supported by everyone’s love. I hadn’t realized how a community of people could be so willing to share and give so much.
About Olivia Joy
We are truly overjoyed Olivia Joy is here and healthy. A few things we can excitedly share about Olivia so far:
- We call her “Ollie” and we have already made up way too many songs to entertain our Ollie Girl.
- She is calm, yet alert, and loves her black-and-white books and toys.
- She has patience beyond her days, and although we are tired, Ollie has made the newborn phase smooth for us. She’s excellent at giving cues!
- She’s not yet a fan of car rides — but walks in her stroller are much more pleasant.
To protect Olivia’s privacy, we plan to share very few photos of her online; for now, we plan to share photos without her face showing or photos we have professionally taken. Here are just a handful of photos our dear friend Lauren of Lauren Kirkbride Photography captured for us when Ollie was just a couple weeks old!
Thank you so, so much for being here, for your patience while I gathered my reflections on Ollie’s birth story, and for being part of our community. Your support and encouragement have made all the difference for our family — and it truly, truly means the world.