I sat down to write this story a million times, started writing and stopped, started again, etc. But I’m now a mama of one angel, one two-year-old, and one one-month old. Between my kids, family, and running a business with my bestie, I do what I can when I can. I often don’t remember to drink my coffee – and some days I just don’t have the energy to shower (my kids won’t tell me if I smell – ha). But I’m thankful for it all. I get to be a mama to two beautiful babies on Earth, and while I’m allowed to feel overwhelmed because I’m outnumbered for 12 hours a day, I’m still thankful.

Elizabeth at home with Nathan and Delilah

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

I could start off this story by saying everything went just as planned and I had the birth story I had dreamed of. But I’d be lying.

Part of me knew things weren’t going to go how I’d hoped because let’s be real, three pregnancies later, nothing had gone according to plan. Nevertheless, Delilah is here, and no matter how this story went, that’s all that mattered at the end of the day.

One last photo with Nathan before Delilah's birth

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

We were trying to wait her out. After a PPROM at 21.5 weeks, and another PPROM at 36 weeks, it was safe to say I didn’t expect to have a full-term pregnancy. I’m pretty sure my family and I all anticipated Delilah making her entrance in February. But the weeks went by and I found myself scheduled for an induction at 40 weeks 1 day. I. Tried. Everything. Bouncing on the exercise ball, hip circles, taking walks with my son, sex, evening primrose oil, a membrane sweep. Nothing I did seemed to entice Delilah to move. She was as stubborn as her mama. So, we planned for Friday, March 4th as my induction day. I had breakfast at a local restaurant with my mom, son, bestie, and husband before we made our way to the hospital. 1:00 was our check-in time, and we were ready.

Elizabeth and her husband in labor and delivery

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

My husband and bestie both got to be with me for my stay in labor and delivery.

Elizabeth and her bestie in labor and delivery

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

Slowly but surely, we got through the check-in process. The gown change, the mountain of questions, then began the Pitocin, and they broke my water. I was 4 cm dilated when we arrived, and that in itself felt like a sliver of hope! I was already 40% of the way there! We broke out the cards and played Uno while my contractions began. The intensity grew quickly, and soon enough I wasn’t able to concentrate on our game play. Delilah’s heart rate began to dip during some contractions, and I was being moved in all sorts of positions to try to get her to tolerate the Pitocin. After receiving the epidural, it was on again, off again, when it came to the Pitocin, but it seemed like all was going well as the next check I was at 5 cm.

A while after the epidural was placed, my catheter was placed along with internal monitors, both of which Delilah did not like. Her heart rate dropped for a prolonged amount of time and the room felt chaotic. I remember the medicine they gave me made my heart race and it felt like I was having the worst anxiety attack, but they said that it was normal. For what felt like forever, I was on my hands and knees while the epidural was in and my legs felt like Jell-O, because that was the position Delilah was tolerating. The next check I had moved to 6 cm, and I was still hopeful although things had seemed a little crazy.

We watched movies and I tried dozing off a few times. Everything felt like a blur. I was exhausted and I know my bestie and husband were too. At one point it felt like a constant cycle of the nurses coming in to move my position, because Delilah’s heart just kept dipping. With every position change, my hope continued to drop. I was feeling defeated, my body just was not cooperating and I just wanted it to do what it was supposed to. I wanted to push. I wanted to avoid another surgery. We don’t always know why our bodies disagree with us, but this is exactly why I had no birth plan because I couldn’t plan for how this would play out.

After 11 hours I asked for one final check to see if I had progressed from my last check. 6 cm. No change. And I called it.

It had been hours since my last check and we hadn’t moved. The only thing moving was me. Every 10-15 minutes I was switching my position because of the dips in Delilah’s heart rate. So, I asked to call it. I just wanted her here. I felt like a zombie. I was so tired and felt so discouraged, but I gave it 11 long hours, and I was ready to hold my daughter. What felt like just a few minutes later, I was rolled off to the OR.

I was all settled on the table, nauseated beyond belief, and felt like I could take a nap. My first c-section was not pleasant. I felt so much pressure and it was borderline painful. This time, however, felt like a cakewalk. I felt calmer, knowing what was happening. The pressure felt like nothing–maybe my epidural was just stronger this time, but I didn’t feel like I was in the middle of surgery. The doctor kept commenting on how she was going to be a big baby before everything even started.

It wasn’t long before they told us she was out, and lifted her just barely above the curtain for me to see her face.

They took her away quickly for clean off and soon we heard them say “10 pounds, 13 ounces!” Considering I’d only seen her face, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Nathan was 6 pounds on the nose – a little guy. Almost 11 pounds?! I was expecting a rollie-pollie little girl. Her estimated weight two days prior was an entire pound lighter, but they say weight estimates are just that, an estimate. I was not anticipating giving birth to an almost 11-pound baby! Holy crap! No wonder she wasn’t coming out!

Delilah's birth story - Doing skin-to-skin with mama

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

I felt almost relaxed as they closed up, knowing the nausea would pass soon. My husband was handed our daughter and I couldn’t see much as moving my head made the nausea worse. But, soon enough they were finished and she was placed on my chest for skin to skin, and I became a puddle. She was here, she was finally in my arms. My last, but not least, child had finally made her way earthside–safe, sound, and beautiful.

Delilah and auntie at the hospital

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

Delilah and Daddy at the hospital

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

We were wheeled back to our room to be greeted by my bestie, welcoming her niece with open arms and all the snuggles. Two days later, we brought our sweet girl home.

So here we are, a month later and Delilah is a chunky, sweet princess.

Delilah is one month old!

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

It’s been an adjustment, moving from one child at home, to two. My husband is an accountant and while he did get two weeks off, he’s back to 12-hour days while I’m home with the kids by myself. Nathan loves his sister, but he has a lot of feelings when it comes to sharing attention. But again, it’s an adjustment. He’ll get used to having a sibling, and I’m already getting a handle on balancing everything (and eventually I’ll finish my coffee).

Nathan and Delilah

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

My pregnancy after loss journey has come to an end, but my parenting after loss journey will continue on, forever. I will always be a mother of three, with one you can’t see. I will forever be balancing my grief and joy, missing one of my babies from my arms. Teddy will always be my first, the first baby to make me a mama. The first baby to hold my heart hostage. I never knew I could love someone so much until there was life growing inside of me. We had a beautiful 22 weeks together; I will cherish them forever and share his love with his siblings as they grow. Every teddy bear I see makes me think of our sweet boy. He’s always with us.

Delilah and Nathan with Teddy's Molly Bear

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

I thank PALS for giving the opportunity to share my journey and for my village for supporting me through it.

Baby Delilah dressed in rainbows - Delilah's Birth Story

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

My husband and I are extremely lucky to have wonderful parents, best friends, and family who were with us every step of the way. Pregnancy is hard. It takes a lot out of you to grow a human. And growing a human while grieving a loss is unimaginable until you have to experience it. PALS gave me a voice, a community, and a reminder that I’m not alone, that my most intrusive and terrifying feelings are valid. Pregnancy loses its innocence after loss and while there’s no comfort knowing someone else is suffering, there’s comfort in the community. My heart is with the families who are riding a similar emotional roller coaster after suffering the loss of their sweet child. Whether you have your rainbow or not, your angel knows how wonderful of a parent, grandparent, sibling, etc. you are to them, even if not on Earth. I hope our angels are dancing together, in the skies.

Baby Delilah - Delilah's birth story

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

Daddy reading to Delilah and Nathan

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

Delilah dressed in flowers

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

Delilah and Nathan

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Michalski

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