• Informed Pregnancy and Parenting Project
  • Jan 17, 23
  • 29 min read

44. Informed Pregnancy Podcast – Isabella Zar (After)

Air date 12.12.2022 Listen here!

Elliot: You have tuned into the after episode of the before and after birth story. My guest today is a nutritionist and founder of Medicinal Mushroom Focus Company, Fungirl. The last time I spoke to her was incredibly pregnant with her first child and now she’s incredibly not pregnant with her first child. Congratulations.

Isabella: Thank you, thank you.

Elliot: Isabella Zar, welcome back to the podcast.

Isabella: Thanks for having me back.

Elliot: I don’t know anything about your birth story other than that you had a baby. And, I’m excited to hear all the little details of it. Let’s start here because, I mean, I always say this like when I introduce, “Oh, she’s really, really pregnant. Could have the baby any minute.” You’re very at the end. Like where in your timeline did things start on your 40, 42-week calendar?

Isabella: So, when we spoke, I was 40 weeks. I can’t remember exactly 40 weeks and how many days. But, things started for me I think the 40-week and 3-day mark.

Elliot: Okay. So, we literally were just a few days before.

Isabella: Yeah. I think it was a day after we spoke actually, when I think about it.

Elliot: Excellent. So, with the magic of podcasting, it’s like the cooking shows. They put it in the top oven and they immediately open in the bottom oven and it’s fully cooked. So, your birth was that simple. So, okay. How did things start?

Isabella: It was so not simple. Oh, man. It was a journey. I started just having little signs and symptoms like losing a bit of my mucus plug and the Braxton Hicks were getting stronger. But, it was on Tuesday, I woke up on Tuesday morning and I felt like I’d woken up in a bit of a puddle. I hadn’t peed myself.

Elliot: Okay.

Isabella: So, I was texting my midwife. I was like, “I think my water maybe just broke, but it doesn’t feel like a lot. I’m not sure what to expect because I haven’t done this before.” And, she was like, “It was probably a bit of a hind leak. Like see how you go throughout the day.”

Elliot: I have hind leaks all the time.

Isabella: It’s not good.

Elliot: Okay.

Isabella: So, I had a totally normal day. I went and got a pedicure with my mom. We went for lunch. We went shopping. I had two of my good friends come over for dinner that night. It was a normal day. Throughout the day, I was still having a little bit of cramping and the leaking was still happening.

Elliot: Can I ask you a question about your mucus plug? What did it look like?

Isabella: It was just like — well, there was a little bit of blood but not really. It was more just like a clear kind of mucus-looking.

Elliot: Goopy?

Isabella: Yeah, a little bit. But, it was clear and it looked stringy.

Elliot: Okay. So, we’re like — oh, did you know what it was going to look like?

Isabella: I’ve seen pictures of various mucus plugs so I didn’t know what to expect.

Elliot: I have posters all over my bedroom.

Isabella: Beautiful.

Elliot: Yeah. I mean, it’s nature’s art.

Isabella: Oh, yeah. I’m sure that’s a really beautiful bedroom environment.

Elliot: I’m picturing my college dorm room.

Isabella: Yeah, just postebbrs.

Elliot: “Hey, what’s that dude?” “You don’t want to know.”

Isabella: “Don’t worry about it.” So, I knew what it was, but like it was only little bits of it. Some people, they lose the whole thing it seems like. I didn’t have that. It was just little bits here and there with the leaking. So, it wasn’t like anything was like, “Oh, it’s go time.” It was more gradual. So then, my friends left our house after dinner that night. And, my husband and I were like, “Okay, my contractions are getting stronger. Let’s just try and relax, watch a movie, had a little wine, put on a funny movie.” I was like, “Maybe we’ll just laugh the baby out.” So naive of me.

Yeah, that night I was just having contractions all night and I was basically just trying to rest in between. But, there’s only so much rest you can get in between a contraction. It’s like, oh, I’m going to have a micro sleep for like 5, 6, 10 minutes.

Elliot: Can you describe what those contractions were feeling like at that point?

Isabella: It was just like this band that was tightening around my lower belly like below my belly button. It was just this surge that would come on. It was like the whole band would really constrict, like a really intense period pain, and then ease after a little.

Elliot: Okay. I mean, now you have your whole scale. But, on a scale of 1 to 10, how intense would you say? And, 10 being the most.

Isabella: It was probably about a 5 or a 6.

Elliot: Okay. So, tolerable. What would you do when it would happen?

Isabella: Yeah. It was tolerable. In between each contraction, I could walk around and do my thing. And then, when it would come on, I’d have to stop just like brace myself. If I had a wall near me, I just lean on the wall and breathe into it. But, they were like stopping me in my tracks.

Elliot: Okay. At that point, is that exciting to you like, “Oh, this is happening?” Or, is it unsettling because it’s something you never really felt before?

Isabella: Oh, no. I felt like it was happening. I was like, “I’m going to give birth tonight, this morning, at some point in the next –”

Elliot: Game on.

Isabella: Yeah. I thought it was game on.

Elliot: Is this going all through the night?

Isabella: This is all night. I remember looking at the clock and it was 11:11, and my contractions were pretty strong and regular by that point. And, that happened all night. It was like that until the morning. And then, it was interesting. As soon as the sun started to come up, the contractions started to settle down. So, they got way longer. They became longer apart. They were like every 30 minutes now. And, I was texting my midwife the whole time and she was telling me that it’s quite common that that can happen. When the sun comes up, your hormones just relax a little, the labor will slow down.

Elliot: It does seem somehow tied into the night-day cycle.

Isabella: Yeah, I mean —

Elliot: When everybody talks about in relation to the moon, which is nighttime. And also, just at a time where you generally feel more safe and relaxed, I think. And so, your body can push things forward. Not everybody, everyone’s got their own pattern. But, that seems to be pretty prevalent. So, does that afford you the opportunity to get some rest?

Isabella: Yeah, I got a little bit of rest, which is really nice. My contractions are about 30 minutes apart like most of the day. So, I was getting some naps in between. But, you know, when I was lying on my side, that’s when my contractions were the most intense, which is really annoying because I wanted to rest so badly. But, every time I lay on my side, they were so much more intense than any other position.

Elliot: So, what would you do?

Isabella: I was walking around and moving on all fours just trying to stay somewhat active. But then, when I was trying to rest I just had to kind of rally and get through them.

Elliot: Yeah. I just wonder if it’s either a semi-reclining or sitting in one of those lazy chairs, something like that. You didn’t have the option. You just powered through your intense side lying?

Isabella: I mean, I can’t remember if I tried a semi-reclining position. I’m sure I did on the couch or something. But, I just remember them being more intense when I lay down, so it kind of deterred me from wanting to actually lie down.

Elliot: Okay.

Isabella: Hard.

Elliot: And, at this point, the only presence is you and your partner?

Isabella: Yeah. It was just me and my husband.

Elliot: And, also your doula assistant, Bubba, the Morkie.

Isabella: Of course. He was there the whole time.

Elliot: I mean, did he have a reaction to you being in labor?

Isabella: He was really chill. He was honestly such a sweet little pup that entire labor. There was a lot of it and he was by my side really sweet and calm like didn’t make a peep. He was an angel.

Elliot: Hmm, wow. They all react so differently. It’s interesting.

Isabella: Yeah, I’m sure.

Elliot: Okay. So, this whole thing started Tuesday night when you had a hind leak and you felt like you wet yourself and were having little strings of mucus plug coming out. And then, contractions all night. And then, in the morning, they space out. So, now it’s Wednesday and they’re spaced out and you’re walking around being active, trying to get a little rest. Anything change over the day?

Isabella: No, things didn’t change until that night until things got dark.

Elliot: Oh. Like dark outside or dark in your story?

Isabella: Dark outside.

Elliot: Oh. Okay, fine. I was like, “That was ominous. Halloween.” Okay. So, I did have one question. Are you still losing fluid?

Isabella: Yes. I was still just having like a little bit of leakage and little bits of mucus and blood like the whole day.

Elliot: Little drops of blood, not like soaking through pans of blood?

Isabella: No it was definitely not like soaking anything through. It was just like little bits here and there.

Elliot: Okay, alright. Great. Then things get dark outside. I don’t know. Let’s maybe take a little break and then we’re going to find out what happened after dark. We’ll be right back.


Welcome back to the Informed Pregnancy Podcast. We’re talking to Isabella Zar. And labor, you thought it was going to be quick. It was not quick I can tell already because a full day has gone by. What happens when it gets dark?

Isabella: Okay. So, it got dark and my contractions by like 10:30 went out a minute long, so it’s 3 minutes apart, so they were happening. And, it was still just me and my husband at this point. I really just wanted to have —

Elliot: And Morkie.

Isabella: And Morkie. I really wanted to have just a sacred space to kind of lean into the intensity without having anyone around watching, waiting.

Elliot: Oh. So, that’s by design it’s just you guys?

Isabella: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t want to call anyone until I felt like I really needed them and it was go time. So, that time actually was really special. It was really nice just to have the two of us, three of us. But, by 1:00 am Thursday morning, that’s when I called my mom who’s also my doula. She came over and then text my midwife Katie, and she arrived about 1:30 am. So, we had the whole team there at that point. And, the pool was up. It was partially filled. And, we were just all ready to go. And, my contractions were super strong, super regular. I was trying all the positions.

Elliot: Trying them for what?

Isabella: Just trying to progress. I was having these regular strong contractions and I was pushing, but the baby wasn’t coming down far enough.

Elliot: So, does this mean your midwife checked you already?

Isabella: She didn’t check me.

Elliot: So you’re just pushing on instinct?

Isabella: Yeah, yeah. So, she likes to go off reading the situation like where I’m at, and how my contractions are, and everything that comes with that. So, I was just pushing on instinct. It kind of got to the point where I was like I feel like I needed to push like I got that urge, so I was pushing into it.

Elliot: With the proverbial rectal pressure that everyone talks about?

Isabella: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very much had that.

Elliot: So, this is 1:30 in the morning?

Isabella: Yeah. This is 1:30 am on Thursday.

Elliot: So, when you started the whole thing on Tuesday night, you went to Wednesday night. Well, this is Wednesday night/very early Thursday morning?

Isabella: Yes, yes.

Elliot: Like 28 hours or something like that into it.

Isabella: Yeah.

Elliot: Okay. And, you said that the surges were closer together and lasting a bit longer. Were they more intense?

Isabella: They were more intense for sure.

Elliot: Same sensation just on steroids or was it like a different sensation entirely?

Isabella: It was different in that the constricting feeling, it felt like the surges were more of my tummy as opposed to just that lower part. Like they had spread further up my stomach. So, it felt like my whole tummy was contracting.

Elliot: Okay. Because before you said kind of belly button down. Now, like your whole uterus all the way up to underneath your ribs?

Isabella: Yeah, yeah.

Elliot: But still, all in the front?

Isabella: I had a little in the back, but not a ton.

Elliot: Okay. What kind of things were you doing for comfort?

Isabella: I was in the tub at one stage, which felt really nice. But, I felt like it was actually slowing things down for me because it felt too nice to be in there and I just felt like it was slowing them down. So, I actually didn’t stay in the tub for long.

Elliot: Okay. Was that before the midwife came?

Isabella: No. That was once midwife was there.

Elliot: So, before that, were there any other comfort measures?

Isabella: I would [indiscernible 00:15:43]. I would hang out with my husband okay he would squeeze my hips and that felt really nice. Just applying like some even pressure on my hips or even on my lower back like around my tailbone, that helped. I also was using doing the comb trick, which was —

Elliot: In your hand?

Isabella: Yeah. So, you have the little tips in like the line where your fingers in your palm meet and squeeze into that. And, I actually really liked that. It just took my mind off the pain happening anywhere else in my body.

Elliot: Yeah. Oh, that’s so cool. I’ve heard a few people now say that. I haven’t really seen it in practice. But, heard a few people say it was very helpful.

Isabella: Yeah. I definitely recommend the comb trick. I think it’s such an easy thing to do and it definitely helps.

Elliot: Yeah. I do the honeycomb trick. It’s surreal for sure. It helps. It definitely helps.

Isabella: For sure.

Elliot: Alright. So, those are your comfort measures. You got the comb trick, you got your partner. I am curious, were there any mushrooms involved at any point?

Isabella: You know what, there were no mushrooms.

Elliot: I can’t believe it.

Isabella: I couldn’t stomach the whole thing.

Elliot: Oh. You couldn’t eat anything. It wasn’t a fun birth. So, there’s that. And then, what music were you listening to? What kind of things?

Isabella: Oh. I had a playlist, which is really nice. It was a whole mix. I had Fleetwood Mac, I can’t even think. I’m blanking. But it was a nice one. It wasn’t too chanty, meditation music. It was a little more upbeat. It was just music that made me happy.

Elliot: That’s great.

Isabella: Yeah.

Elliot: Music that generally makes you happy.

Isabella: Yes, exactly.

Elliot: It makes you happy in the moment. I can kind of you’re setting a good scene here.

Isabella: Yeah. No. The setup was beautiful. The music actually was really nice because when a more upbeat song came on, I actually tried to just kind of dance through the contractions a bit as well, which is good. I just moved my hips side to side or in circles

Elliot: That felt good?

Isabella: Yeah. It did feel good.

Elliot: You didn’t end up sitting on the toilet for a long time like people do?

Isabella: I did. I tried sitting on the toilet. I tried —

Elliot: Were you facing normal or were you facing the other way?

Isabella: I was facing normal. I think I tried the other way but I didn’t like it, so I faced normal.

Elliot: Okay. But, did that give you any sense of like more opening? People sit on there because you’re used to opening up.

Isabella: Honestly, not really.

Elliot: No, okay.

Isabella: We tried that and the birthing stool and neither of them felt like they helped a ton. One thing that we did do was the peanut ball.

Elliot: Oh, yeah.

Isabella: Laying in bed was torture. I hate to say it but it was excruciating.

Elliot: Really? So, you’re like in bed laying on your side with the peanut ball between your legs?

Isabella: Yeah. Katie was like, “Do 15 minutes each side.” I did 15 minutes on one side and then about three on the other. I was like, I physically cannot. It was too much for me. It was a lot. So, at this stage, Thursday early morning, we’re doing all the tricks. It was just a whole night of that basically, and then same thing happened as the night before like the sun started to come up and things slowed down a little bit but not a ton. But, Katie was basically giving me like all her midwife tricks. So, I had my breast pump on.

Elliot: Oh, wow.

Isabella: Walking around the house. I started taking a certain herb. Every 30 minutes I’d have a dropper of this herb. I was doing the side steps. That really helped. Every time I did like the crab walking, that definitely brought on a really strong surge.

Elliot: Oh, really?

Isabella: But it was just like another day of intense active labor and she still was not progressing. I wasn’t progressing.

Elliot: So, it kind of sounds like a much more intense version of your stepping on the gas, the engine’s revving, but the gears aren’t engaged?

Isabella: Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Elliot: That seems frustrating.

Isabella: It was. I remember in the moment, well, this was a Thursday during the day. I remember just feeling so disheartened because I’d done so much work already and I was becoming really, really exhausted. I couldn’t sleep and then my husband came to me and he was like, “We need to get this baby out.” He’s like, “I’m going to help you in every way I can.” And, he was incredible. Like he was the birth partner. I honestly could not have gone through this without him. But, he just put a pep in my step and he was like, “Okay. Let’s do the pumps. Let’s do the herbs. Let’s walk around.”

He just got me doing all the things to try and bring on those contractions even stronger to get things going because that’s what I needed. I just needed to kick into another gear that I wasn’t getting to. So, he was just like, “Let’s go.” So, that whole day Thursday, we were doing all the tricks.

And then, I mean, it went into the evening again and it was about 1:00 am and I was in the bedroom at this point. I had my whole team with me and I was lying on my side. Aaron was holding up my top leg and I was pushing in that position. And, I felt like I was making progress like that, and then I just wasn’t. I could reach down. Katie, she said to me, she’s like, “See if you can feel the baby.” And, I could. I could feel the baby’s head.

Elliot: With your fingers from the outside?

Isabella: Yeah, yeah. I put my fingers inside of me and I could feel her in there, but she was still like two inches up. She wasn’t quite far enough down.

Elliot: Did you do that during a push?

Isabella: Yeah. It was during a push. She said, “Just put your fingers in.” And then, a contraction came, and then I could feel.

Elliot: It seems like sometimes that gives the person a little more perspective if you can feel what the baby’s doing in relation to your push. Okay. Well, this is not the quick birth you were hoping for. I mean, it seems like you must have had to reheat the water in your tub.

Isabella: We definitely had to reheat the water a few times.

Elliot: A couple of times, yeah.

Isabella: Yeah.

Elliot: Is there — I guess two things. One is, are you still leaking fluid and stuff? Did your water break at any point?

Isabella: No. So I was still leaking fluid. And, at this point, before I felt the baby’s head, my midwife, she checked me and she could actually feel my bag, not the baby’s head. So, she was like, “Okay. Your bag is still intact. You’re leaking. It’s just a hind leak, but your bag is still there.” So she just kept her fingers inside of me while I was going through a few surges. And, that pressure against the fingers basically burst the bag. So, she didn’t intervene, but she just applied a little pressure there for it to break.

Elliot: Okay. So, this is after? Because you said you kind of had one leg up. You sort of felt like you’re progressing, but then you weren’t. This is after that?

Isabella: Yeah, yeah.

Elliot: Okay. Great. So, my other two things is once she’s in there, is she checking your cervix at all?

Isabella: Yes. So, she was checking and I was fully dilated. She could feel a little like lip of my cervix was kind of in the way. And, she also felt that baby’s head was posterior.

Elliot: Oh.

Isabella: I know.

Elliot: The double curse. The dreaded lip and posterior baby. But, were you feeling back labor because you never mentioned it?

Isabella: I was feeling it more in my hips. And, that radiated to my back like the back of my hips as well, but I wasn’t having crazy back labor like some women experience. It really was like more in the front.

Elliot: Wow. Okay. I don’t know. I’m exhausted. I’m going to take a little break. I feel defeated. Alright. Let’s take a little break. Obviously, the baby’s out so there’s more to the story. We’ll be right back.


Welcome back to the Informed Pregnancy Podcast. I had a bread bowl so I can hear the rest of the story here. Isabella is in labor. Started on a Tuesday night with some contractions, water breaking. Not water breaking, water leaking, hind leak, and it’s a mucus plug and blood. And, that just continued all through the night. In the morning, it slowed down a little bit, then at night it picked up a lot, then no progress. Now we’re on Thursday night?

Isabella: Well, Thursday night/Friday morning.

Elliot: Oh, my gosh. Okay. Well, you’re 10 centimeters. You’re trying all sorts of things to help your baby into your pelvis and you find out two not-great pieces of information. There’s a cervical lip, a little piece of the cervix blocking the baby from coming through. And, the baby skulls against your spine, bone on bone. Alright. What happens next?

Isabella: We are in that same position, the side-lying position because I felt like I was making the most progress like that and I was just pushing and pushing and pushing. I was putting everything that I had left in my body into those pushes, but my eyes were literally starting to shut like I couldn’t keep them open. I was so exhausted. I had barely slept. I had like two slices of apple in like the past three days.

Elliot: Oh, you glutton.

Isabella: I was just a shell of a human. It was a lot.

Elliot: Did it feel different after your water broke?

Isabella: It did. It felt more intense.

Elliot: Okay. But, not more productive?

Isabella: Not really, not really. And, I think it’s a combination of things like the position, the cervix. But, also just me being so exhausted. I don’t think I had the energy behind the pushes that I really needed to bring her down.

Elliot: Out of gas.

Isabella: Yeah. I was so out of gas.

Elliot: No, I remember from the pre-birth episode you said it took you a minute to get behind home birth, and then you did. But then, along the way, I think normal natural fears bubbled up about this, that, or the other thing. And then, you went in fairly excited, confident, with a little bit of anxiousness like everyone. But, I remember you saying distinctly, which I was sort of excited about for you, that you had processed a lot and you’d come around to the fact that maybe it’ll happen at home, maybe it’ll happen at the hospital, maybe it’ll happen medicated, maybe it’ll happen unmedicated, maybe it’ll happen vaginally, maybe it’ll happen cesarean. It’s going to happen the way it needs to happen.

But, your wish, your goal, your desire, if you can pick anything, would just be have an intimate birth setting at home surrounded by your Morkie and a few other people. Are there thoughts at this point of like maybe I should go to the hospital?

Isabella: Oh, my God. Yes. I was having thoughts well before this.

Elliot: Okay.

Isabella: I even had moments where I was like, “What am I doing? Why didn’t I just go to the hospital and get an epidural?” But, they’re just moments of weakness. When you’re going through something intense, it’s only natural that those thoughts pop into your mind. But, they’re exactly that. They’re just thoughts. So, I allowed them to come in, and then I allowed them to leave. And, I didn’t think much more about them.

Elliot: Were you the only person having those thoughts?

Isabella: I was. And, my husband, when I voiced that, he would remind me that this is ultimately like what I wanted to do and that I needed to stay strong and he was really supportive. But, at this point, it’s about 2:00 am or something in the morning after laboring since Tuesday night. I just said to everyone, because everyone was with me at that point, “I physically don’t have it in me and I think I need to go to the hospital.”

I mean, personally, I was feeling a lot of guilt, and disappointment, and defeat in that moment. And, I could tell that everyone around me as well. Everyone wanted me to have the bath that I ultimately wanted, so there was definitely a bit of disappointment amongst the birth team. But, I think everyone knew that it was the right thing. That they could see what I’d gone through and the state that I was in, and that I was just physically too exhausted and mentally. And, that I just needed relief and I needed to rest.

So, once I made that call, everyone was just like up, and scrambling, and getting all the things together. And, Katie’s on the phone to the hospital. And, she notified them that we were doing a home bath and that —

Elliot: [indiscernible 00:29:07]

Isabella: Yeah, exactly. So, she was just getting everything lined up.

Elliot: I know you live very close to the hospital. Did you have a specific doctor?

Isabella: No, we didn’t have a specific doctor lined up. But, the doctor that I ended up getting, he was amazing.

Elliot: Okay. How was the drive?

Isabella: So interesting. It was a lot. I was in the front seat facing the back gripping my nails into the headrest. I thought I was going to puncture holes into that thing. My husband’s driving, my mom’s in the back, and my midwife went in her own car. And, there was just this silence in the car because it was just this intense period of trying to get somewhere, and then there was just me just going through the motions in the front just, you know, the deep groans, and the breathing.

And, as soon as we decided that I was going to the hospital, it was like everything unraveled. I felt like I became weak. So, I couldn’t stay strong for the contractions. I just felt everything, the most intensity that I had.

Elliot: But also, you’re in a very confined space in a moving vehicle.

Isabella: Not ideal.

Elliot: I mean, not ideal. On top of everything else, it’s hard to focus, concentrate, feel strong, and free, and open in that environment. So, when you got there, how was the handoff?

Isabella: It was great. It was quick. They got me in there. They had to check me.

Elliot: But, you knew you were 10.

Isabella: Yeah. I knew I was 10, but it was just protocol. They had their baseline to work from. They administered the IV really quick, and then they got the epidural in. And, that was all within like half an hour. It was quick, which is amazing.

Elliot: How was the epidural, both the placement and the effect?

Isabella: Placement was all good. There were no issues and it started to take effect within like 20 minutes. And, it was just like, “Oh, my God.” Everything started to ease and I cannot tell you the feeling that I was experiencing was just so much relief. I so badly needed that. I fell asleep immediately. As soon as they put me on the bed, they came out, the nurse put like three blankets straight from the dryer on me. They were so warm and toasty. I’ve never felt more comfortable in my life. I passed out for like six hours.

Elliot: Oh, my goodness. I can’t believe there were still six hours left here.

Isabella: It was still going.

Elliot: Okay. So, six hours later.

Isabella: Six hours later, I wake up in the hospital. I wake up, I’m having contractions.

Elliot: Is it Friday afternoon now?

Isabella: It’s Friday morning. It’s about 9:00 am now.

Elliot: So, you went in the middle of the night?

Isabella: Yeah. I went in about 2:30 am, I think.

Elliot: Okay.

Isabella: Yeah. So, I wake up. I’m not feeling the contractions, but I’m feeling the pressure. I didn’t realize, with the epidural, you don’t feel the intensity or the pain that comes with the surges, but you still feel the pressure.

Elliot: Would you say it’s like you feel muscle contracting and relaxing? Like not painful but the tightening and releasing?

Isabella: I guess that’s what it is. But, I was feeling more like a pushing down kind of —

Elliot: Like into your pelvis?

Isabella: Yeah. Into my pelvis and into my rectum as well. That whole area, I was just feeling like a downward pressure every time I had one. So, that was a good sign.

Elliot: All that pressure through the epidural?

Isabella: Yeah, yeah.

Elliot: Catheter? I assume you got a catheter too.

Isabella: I had a catheter, but I had to count that up but I was asleep when they did that. I didn’t feel a thing.

Elliot: That’s nice. Great.

Isabella: My mom said she saw them start to get it ready to put it in. And, she came over and held my hand and I was just a zombie.

Elliot: You couldn’t care less.

Isabella: I don’t remember any of that. I was fully passed out.

Elliot: That’s nice. Well, Isabella, this is what happens sometimes. The birth goes on for a long time and three segments doesn’t do it justice. So, I say we take one more little break and then find out the rest of the story. We’ll be right back.


Welcome back to the Informed Pregnancy Podcast. Believe it or not, we’re still with Isabella and her labor went at home for a very long time. They went to the hospital. Everything’s fine. Epidural, six hours of sleep, and you wake up and?

Isabella: And, I felt like a whole new human being.

Elliot: More energy. You had energy.

Isabella: More energy. I felt rested. I felt strong. I felt motivated to get this done. Yeah. So, I was having the contractions, and then my midwife arrived. And, she could see me having the contractions, but you know, they were —

Elliot: Wait, how did your midwife get in there? Oh, the hospital midwife?

Isabella: No, my —

Elliot: Your midwife?

Isabella: Yeah.

Elliot: Wait a second, how did you get extra people on there?

Isabella: I don’t know, but I think it’s because you can have family members in there. So, I had my husband and my mom. They slept on the little pull-out sofa together.

Elliot: And then, you were able to bring your midwife?

Isabella: And then, my midwife came the next day when I woke up, yeah.

Elliot: I think they lost track. Because right now, the protocol is you plus two.

Isabella: That’s what I thought. But, I don’t know. We got an extra one.

Elliot: Yeah, they probably didn’t know. Whatever. Okay. Lucky for you. So then, your midwife came. She saw you having contractions. But, you can see them on the monitor too, right?

Isabella: Yes. That’s what I mean. They could see them on the monitor, but they just needed to be a little closer together. There was too much space in between.

Elliot: I’m smelling a tiny bit of Pitocin.

Isabella: Tiny bit of Pitocin, you’re right. And honestly, that was like exactly what I needed. It just kicked them into gear and then it was happening. And then, my nurse that I had, she had the most amazing nurse. She was incredible.

Elliot: Wow. So, you had a great doctor who you never met before and a great nurse.

Isabella: I felt so lucky I had —

Elliot: A great hospital experience.

Isabella: Great experience.

Elliot: Wow. Okay. And, just to be clear, it didn’t sound like you hated the hospital from the beginning. It just sounded like for birth, you were wanting a more intimate experience. Less clinical, less random people around. And, it’s not like you were anti-hospital or anything. You were just like, “That’s not my first choice.”

Isabella: Yeah. I mean, there was totally a time and a place for the hospital, you know, all the medicines and everything that they use there. I’m definitely not against it. But yeah, as you said, it’s not my first choice. I much prefer a more intimate, natural route. But, at the end of the day, it’s like I just wanted my baby to arrive healthy and safe.

Elliot: It is for sure a part of the plan.

Isabella: Yeah.

Elliot: So, okay. Alright. So, you get a little bit of Pitocin. Things kick into gear finally, that second gear that you were looking for.

Isabella: Things kick into gear, I’m pushing, and —

Elliot: Can you feel the pushing?

Isabella: Yeah. It’s the same thing, I could feel the pressure. Can I tell you what was helpful is it was helpful that I’d also labored without epidural because I knew where to push the energy into. Like you have to push into your butt, basically, which doesn’t feel quite right.

Elliot: Not intuitive, yeah.

Isabella: Not what you want to be doing, but that’s where you’re meant to push the pressure.

Elliot: The baby does kind of back out first and then come forward.

Isabella: Yeah.

Elliot: You have to push back first.

Isabella: Exactly. So, I was doing that. Even though I couldn’t entirely feel it, that’s where I was directing my pushing energy. So, I was doing that, I was pushing with my nurse, and then my doctor came in. He saw me go through a surge and he was like, “Okay. This baby is coming. Your pushing is looking great.” He checked me. He could feel baby’s head, but he could also feel that she had her hand up —

Elliot: Oh, no. Now, you have the trifecta.

Isabella: Another thing.

Elliot: Blockages here. At this point, is the cervical lip gone?

Isabella: Yes.

Elliot: Is the baby rotated into a better position?

Isabella: No.

Elliot: So, posterior, skull against your spine, and hand up by the face.

Isabella: Yeah, yeah.

Elliot: Dreaming.

Isabella: I was like, “Great.”

Elliot: Alright. Just quickly, two thoughts that popped through my head. One is what position are you in while you’re pushing here?

Isabella: I was on my back at this point with my knees up.

Elliot: Like legs up, stirrup kind of thing.

Isabella: Very classic hospital position.

Elliot: And then, my other question was along the way, did anybody think that you were going to end up in a cesarean birth

Isabella: No one mentioned the word C-section.

Elliot: Okay. So, you never felt like this wasn’t going to be vaginal?

Isabella: No. And, I knew that if this pushing stage went on too long, that they would bring that up.

Elliot: Bring it up, yeah.

Isabella: And, I really didn’t want to because I felt like I could do it. So, I was just putting everything that I had into that pushing. I was just like, “I’m getting this baby out of me through my vagina.”

Elliot: Yeah. So, if the baby’s by the head, is there any practical advice with that?

Isabella: The doctor was amazing. He basically, while I was pushing, he was able to get in there and he basically just sort of swiped her hand down from her face to her chest. So, her head was able to just come out on its own.

Elliot: Oh, my goodness. Wow.

Isabella: So, he just maneuvered her a little.

Elliot: Oh. Okay.

Isabella: Yeah. I mean, that totally helped because then her head started coming out and I could feel it.

Elliot: Feel it with your body or feel it with your hand?

Isabella: Feel it with my body. I didn’t feel it with my hand. I was holding my knees at that point.

Elliot: Did they bring the mirror?

Isabella: I had the mirror until the doctor arrived because then it was obstructually awkward. But, I actually liked having the mirror there. It helped because I could see things happening.

Elliot: Yeah.

Isabella: Yeah, it helped me.

Elliot: The visual is important.

Isabella: Yeah, I agree. But, yeah. Once I felt her head coming out, it was strange. It was like, “Oh, this sensation…” but the sensation kept going. I was like, “Oh, my God. That’s her head.” And, everyone was excited around me and starting to cry. And, I was like, “Oh, my God, it’s happening” I could barely believe that it was happening myself because I’d been going through it for so long. And then, her head came out. And then the doctor told me to stop. And, they used some oil on you —

Elliot: To avoid tearing.

Isabella: Exactly. And then, her little body just like one more push, and then she just came out.

Elliot: Oh.

Isabella: Oh, my God. It was the most emotional thing. The nurse was crying, my midwife, my mom, Aaron, me. I was bawling. There’s the most ugly cry photos of me when she came out.

Elliot: Oh. I can’t wait to see those.

Isabella: They’re not cute.

Elliot: Who cares. It’s a cute moment.

Isabella: No. There’s nothing cute about it. It was so emotional. Oh, my gosh.

Elliot: I can feel it right now.

Isabella: Yeah, yeah. It was a lot. It was a lot.

Elliot: You worked hard for this one.

Isabella: Yeah, I know. And, you know what, the entire time the baby’s heart rate stayed around the 140s.

Elliot: Strong like mama.

Isabella: I know. I was like this strong patient baby. She wasn’t distressed. And, I think that’s why we stayed at home as long as we did. It’s like the baby was fine, absolutely fine.

Elliot: You made a prediction on size. You said 7.2.

Isabella: Yes, and I remember you said bigger.

Elliot: I said 8.

Isabella: She was 6 pounds 14 ounces.

Elliot: Dang.

Isabella: I know. I was surprised. I was like, I’m having a larger baby than I’d like to.

Elliot: I don’t think that you didn’t. I mean, I was wrong. Wow, that’s interesting because I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years and I never get the gender right and I don’t really get the size right either.

Isabella: You’re so intuitive.

Elliot: Yeah. I feel it. Alright. Well, I just guess in a quick moment, I would ask two questions. One is how is the postpartum? We started this and you were just feeding your baby. How’s the breastfeeding going? How old’s the baby now?

Isabella: She’s on day nine of life.

Elliot: Oh, wow. Okay.

Isabella: Yeah. Breastfeeding has been great. Honestly, she latched really quickly in the hospital. I went through a couple of days like day three and four like my nipples are definitely sore. My midwife also happens to be a lactation consultant.

Elliot: She’s huge on lactation.

Isabella: So nice because she helped me with any issues. She was like, “Send me photos.” I sent her the close-ups of my nipples and all the things, and she’d give me all the tips and helped me a lot. But yeah, breastfeeding has been great. Feeding on demand. She eats a lot. She’s a happy baby. She’s already like 7 pounds 8 ounces.

Elliot: Oh, wow. Still not my predicted birth weight, but still.

Isabella: She’s getting up there.

Elliot: So, my final two questions. One is, what, if anything, did you learn about you, about your partner, about life from the experience?

Isabella: I am so much stronger than I ever thought I could be. I came out of this whole experience feeling so empowered and just honestly feeling like I could do anything. Nothing phases me right now. I went through a really intense few days and I saw a side of myself that I didn’t know I had. It’s very animalistic. Like it just comes out. You’re like this mama bear and you’ll do and go through anything to get your baby here.

And then, same with my husband was just a literal angel like I could not love him more. Having him, just as he is, he’s such a good human, and was there for me, and was not grossed out by anything. He was down in the action like wanted to be there just allowed me to fully lean into it, and open up, and be myself, and not feel awkward. There was just no shame, or judgment, or anything like that. So I was yeah, it was really special definitely.

Elliot: Really beautiful. Very cool. Very cool. You said “mama bear.” It reminded me of when you said koala bear in one of our sessions. And, I was like, “Oh, koala bear.” I don’t know if you realize this, but they’re kind of mean. Most of them have chlamydia.

Isabella: Yeah. It’s true.

Elliot: Yeah. It’s cute. But, I mean — And, I was like, “Wait a second. First of all, I had no idea.” Not good for tourism. I’m just going to say right now. But also, I was trying to put that trio together because it sounds so familiar. Then I remembered, it’s all the girls from high school. So cute, but they could be so mean to me. And, I’m sure some of them have chlamydia I’m sure.

Isabella: For sure.

Elliot: Yeah. I guess the last big old question is maybe too soon nine days afterwards on round two, would you do anything different?

Isabella: Round two, I’m for sure going to go for a home birth again round two. I’m not scared of the experience. I know it’s going to go differently. I think what I’ll do differently is I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just watch my positioning throughout my pregnancy. Maybe I was — I don’t know. It’s funny, we always take the blame on ourselves and her position was her position . But, was I sitting too much? Was I slumping too much? That comes to my mind. Maybe I should have done more Spinning Babies or whatever. I don’t know. I really felt like I was doing as much as I could throughout my pregnancy.

Elliot: No, there’s like a million things about that. You definitely, from day one, the first time I met you, you have the athletic pelvis. You have a very strong musculature that was also quite tight. It takes time for babies to push through that. Even if you’re at 10 centimeters, even if your cervix is open, it takes time for your baby, a lot more time to push through that than someone who is not strong, or not tight, or weakened type. Those babies come out easier.

If your baby’s not 100% lined up with the runway, which clearly points wasn’t, then it’s a lot more effort to maneuver through you than somebody else. I mean, it’s not extremely surprising. The good news I can tell you is this. When I’ve seen this exact scenario in the past, around two-tenths ago, a heck of a lot easier.

So, I guess you have to have a baby so we can do a follow-up podcast and see if I’m at least right about that.

Isabella: You’re going to have to wait a little while.

Elliot: I’ll give you three months.

Isabella: No, oh, my God.

Elliot: Isabella, you’re an amazing person. I just noticed all the mushrooms on whatever it is that you’re wearing there.

Elliot: My mushroom robe.

Isabella: Your mushroom robe.

Elliot: And, that’s a reminder, Fungirl mushrooms. Your mushroom fanatic. And, eat, and live, and breathe the medicinal power of mushrooms, and you put them into your cool products. Where can we find you online?

Isabella: You can find me at @fungirl on Instagram, Facebook. You can find all the mushroom things there.

Elliot: Amazing. Can we find the mushroom robe there?

Isabella: Unfortunately, not.

Elliot: Not yet.

Isabella: Nope, not yet. Maybe in the pipeline.

Elliot: See what I did there? Okay. We will find you there online. And, if you’re looking for us online, the Instagram is going to be @doctorberlin, D-O-C-T-O-R-B-E-R-L-I-N. But, we are literally going live right now with our new streaming platform, Informed Pregnancy Plus, which you can find at informedpregnancy.tv. And, this week, we’re going to do a video version of your birth story. The one thing I now can’t wait to see is the little pictures of you all weepy. Tears of joy.

Isabella: They’re so ugly.

Elliot: Ugly sweater pictures. And, that is going to be at, again, informedpregnancy.tv.