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Gretchen Heil

Gretchen Heil

Meet Gretchen! She is a new mama to baby Quinn. Gretchen tells us her birth story. Of her ability to stay calm, of being induced and of meeting her precious little one, earthside!

What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare yourself for birth?  Honestly, I kept my focus on keeping myself healthy and active and I'm so thankful I did. I really listened to my body and if I felt like i needed the extra sleep I let myself have it and if I felt like I needed to get out and move that's what I did. I'm so grateful for the team at Haumea, too. With this being my first pregnancy, it was comforting to know that the workouts catered to pregnancy and that I didn't need to worry about modifications. I truly believe it paid off during my labor and it really helped with my stress level throughout my pregnancy.

How and why did you decide to be induced?  My husband and I made the decision to be induced after my doctor offered the option based on the ARRIVE study. I was induced in week 39, five days before my due date. I had a very healthy pregnancy, and for us it made sense to have some time to plan so that our parents, who are both from Indiana, could make the trip to be there when Quinn arrived. It also just really helped me to feel at ease at the end of my pregnancy because I knew if i didn't go into labor before my induction we had a plan in place.

Everyone was very supportive of our choice, though I did get a lot of questions about why I was being induced since so many times it's because there's a complication or concern. In our case, it was purely out of choice and it worked out for the best for us. I also had some reservations about it, since it didn't feel entirely natural, but looking back I know it was the right decision for us and my husband and I both agreed we're so happy we chose to go that route.

Once you were induced, how did your labor start (fast, slow, as you expected)? We went in to be induced at 7:30am on a Monday morning and I started having contractions at 2:30 that afternoon. Quinn was born at 5:38am the following day. It was really crazy how quickly the time seemed to pass. The nurses did such a great job of telling us what was happening the whole way so that kind of set my expectations for how the labor unfolded.

Did you have time to rest? What are some of the activities/positions you tried for comfort? My husband and I both agreed that it was so nice to have the morning to read, watch TV and to just spend time together for the first half of the day while we were waiting for labor to really begin. If I were at home, I would have been keeping busy with house projects, so it forced me to just relax a bit and I'm so grateful we had that time together. During the time I was in labor one of the best things was bouncing on the birthing ball and taking a bath. I definitely had no interest in getting in the bath at first, but the nurse really encouraged it and I was so happy I tried it. She was so sweet and set the bathroom up with a string of white lights and some lavender essential oils and so it was incredibly relaxing.

How would you describe your contractions or surges in the various stages in labor? There were about two hours where my contractions were really intense. At that point I chose to get an epidural, and I'm so glad I did. During the intense contractions I focused on breathing and just staying in motion on the birthing ball or just walking around in my room which seemed to help.

What were your moods like at various times in labor? For fun, how would those around you in labor answer this? I think I was pretty even keel during labor which I didn't really expect. For some reason I thought I'd be much more emotional and irritated, but I wasn't at all. I did ask my husband how my mood was during labor and he said, "I would say you were pretty calm" (haha).

What surprised you about your labor? I'm not sure if I should actually say this, but it wasn't as bad or as painful as I had anticipated. I anticipated just being so much more stressed and uncomfortable, and only at few points was I truly uncomfortable.

What would you describe as the high and low points of your labor? I would say the high was the end result and first seeing Quinn's sweet little face. I don't know if there really was a low other than the pain of getting the epidural and I had a few complications with it kicking in, but once that part was over it felt like smooth sailing.

How long did you push? Were there complications with your delivery? If so, what were your feelings and reactions to the intensity? I only pushed for about 15 minutes which really surprised me. The nurse had talked me through how pushing could go and told me it could take quite a while, so I was really surprised when after just a few rounds of pushing the doctors were in the room and Quinn had arrived. It all went so quickly. The delivery of Quinn was uncomplicated, but when they were delivering my placenta, it detached from the umbilical cord and things got a little intense. It's always a little unnerving to see the physicians getting in action and calling other physicians in, but it all turned out ok and luckily I was distracted with Quinn in my arms. 

How did your baby first look to you? What were the feelings when you first met your baby?
She was so sweet and just kind of snuggled into me, it was such an overwhelming feeling to finally have her in my arms. She was so tiny and had the cutest little features.

What are some other things that are memorable to you or that you now laugh or cry about? My husband is going to love me for sharing this, but when the complications with delivering the placenta happened, he got a little nauseous and had to make his way to the hallway. He said it was partially the blood and partially from the worry that something was wrong. We laugh about it now, but it was definitely intense for a bit.

Did you surprise yourself in any way as you dealt with the circumstances of your birth experience? I really didn't think I would be as calm as I was, especially as the contractions go more intense. I also just didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did and think overall I just had a really great experience.

What was it like meeting your baby on the outside? It feels so surreal at first, like you really can't believe you're holding this little thing that you've been waiting for for a really long time. My husband and I had about a year and half journey to getting pregnant and then you wait 40 more weeks after that and it seems like forever getting to the point of holding this little human that's all yours. It was definitely one of the best moments of my life.

How did COVID19 impact your birth experience? It didn't directly impact my birth experience, but it did all start to unfold in the few weeks after giving birth. It was really hard at first. It was quite scary and it caused me to feel extremely lonely. I had planned to have our parents come back up to help out and be able to spend time with Quinn. I was also really looking forward to having visitors when we were home, so it's been really tough to just be so home bound. The silver lining for us though has been having my husband home these last few weeks while he works from home. We've been able to share so much more time together and I'm so grateful for that.

How has it impacted your experience of having a newborn? I really feel like other than not being able to have visitors and not being able to be out in public, having a newborn kind of requires a bit of a quarantine anyway. I tend to be someone who's always on the go, so i think for me it's really made me slow down and enjoy this time.

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