Rio’s Birth Story
I almost wasn’t going to write this birth story. It didn’t go as planned, definitely didn’t go as I wanted. But her story still deserves to be told. Her birthday will still bring joy and happiness for years to come. A lot of this was written in the first weeks of her birth when it was still raw and emotional – but the further I get from it, the easier it’s been to accept. I’m determined to come back swinging from this birth. It has lit a fire under me for more advocacy within the birth domain. I keep telling Kenny that my next career will be something in the realm of birth education and advocacy because it’s something I’m so passionate about.
Our experience has reinforced our choice more than ever for home birth. I’d like to make it very clear that this wasn’t an emergency hospital transfer or anything of the sort. I literally went in for a casual ultrasound and left the hospital 2 days later with a baby!
If you don’t know me personally, one thing you should know is that I am a big advocate for informed consent – in all aspects of life but especially in birth! I could talk forever about all the things I believe about birth and the ways in which it should be without interventions but I will save that conversation for a different time and platform. If you missed my first birth, I had a beautiful home birth with our first daughter. It was intimate and sacred and calm. This experience was a complete 180 from her birth and I think that’s one the things that has been so hard. All my worst fears about hospitals were confirmed with Rio’s birth and that sounds dramatic but there’s a reason I chose to birth at home with Rueka.
When we drove home from the hospital, I told Kenny that I didn’t want to hate my birth, despite really feeling like I did then. We were determined to focus on the positives of her birth and not let our own trauma overshadow her precious life. Cause dang – she is worth all the working through and processing!
I’d also like to note that there are a lot of things that could have gone worse and I understand that there are harder birth traumas to work through for people. But it was really scary and rushed and stressful for us. And while I was awake, I really felt out of control of the situation and like I had no idea what was going on. It truly felt like an out of body experience. And for us, especially me, it was really traumatic.
As we dive in – there’s a few things you should know as you read this birth story.
First, like with Ru, we didn’t find out Rio’s gender until birth – that’s important later.
Second, Rio was breech my whole pregnancy and we were planning a breech home birth with our very experienced midwife. I felt empowered, confident, and ready for delivering our baby breech. I’ve got some great resources in case you want some education on breech birthing! I think it’s such a travesty that providers no longer have the training to birth any other way than head down or surgery. That’s just my two cents.
Third, if you’ll recall – Ru was 42 weeks at delivery and only 5lbs 6oz. Important later as well. Rio was measuring about the same amount of “weeks” behind as Ru always was. Kenny and I make small babies and we, along with my midwife, know that.
And last, a C-section delivery was literally my worst fear when going into the hospital. I understand true emergencies happen. I consider ours ‘urgent’ but I believe that hospitals dole out C-sections like candy because birth has become a business. That’s also a separate conversation for another day. I know families have their reasons to elect for a C-section but for us it was our worse case scenario. I was scared of the recovery, the surgery itself and especially the after effects on future pregnancies. I’m determined to heal well so I can have a home birth VBAC for our third baby!
Okay, now that you know those things – here’s the birth of our sweet Rio Jones.
Thursday, April 27th, 2023
I went in on a Thursday afternoon for a casual ultrasound to check baby’s position. Since she had been breech my whole pregnancy, I was just going in to make sure there was no reason that she couldn’t move from that position like a wrapped cord or low fluid or something of the sort. We were supposed to see our midwife Diane right after the appointment but she had to reschedule because of a birth.
One of our friend’s works in imaging and had given my ultrasound order to his coworker since we didn’t want him to see the baby’s sex. After about 10 minutes of looking at things she started asking me if baby has been measuring big/small/normal this pregnancy. I gave her the shpeel about how Ru was 42 weeks and was only 5lbs 6oz and how we just have tiny babies. She looked around a little longer and told me she wanted to call my midwife before I left. She went out to try calling Diane and my friend came in to tell me that he’d feel comfortable with me going upstairs to the triage area. He wanted me to do an amniotic fluid test because my it was scary low and he was worried for the baby. Her little booty was basically corking my cervix at the moment but there wasn’t any pockets of fluid left beside one small one. They asked me if I had been leaking fluid – not to my knowledge – but on Tuesday early morning I did wake up out of a dead sleep thinking I peed the bed a little. I know, I know, I’ve had a baby before, I should’ve known better, especially that late in the pregnancy. But, it wasn’t as much water as I had with Ru and I had drank A LOT of fluids before bed. I had taken a picture of it so I could show my midwife on Thursday just in case. I hadn’t started contracting but I did tell Kenny it was weird and said “what if that was my water?” before going back to sleep. With that knowledge, my friend encouraged me to do the swab to just make sure. I would be going on 48 hours with my water broken if that’s what it was. Plus, the other ultrasound tech was worried baby was measuring too small for “where it should be”.
So I walk up to triage, check in and preregister myself – even though I told the girl at the desk that I would be going home quickly. They tuck me in a little room overlooking Mt. Rose and they put the monitoring equipment on to watch baby’s movement and heartbeat. I sat here for literally HOURS until the OB on call could come talk to me and let me know what was going on. Luckily (or so we thought at the time) she happened to be an OB we were familiar with since she was my established gynecologist. We had seen her for Ru’s confirmation ultrasound and for our miscarriage ultrasound and we liked her well enough in the office. I’ve gotta say in this scenario we couldn’t have liked her any less. Won’t be going back to her office ever again.
While I was sitting, I called Kenny to tell him that he should maybe start to get a bag together just in case because I didn’t like where the day was heading. My mom headed over to our house to get Ru situated.
When the OB did finally come in, she made it very clear that I wasn’t leaving the hospital without having this baby. She read from a little handwritten piece of paper what was going on with Tinier Tav. She deadpan explained a few things.
1. My amniotic fluid was at a 3.5 – anything under a 5 is an emergency situation.
2. Baby was “way too small” so my placenta was probably compromised and “bad”.
3. Since baby is breech that means you’re getting a C-section!
4. Any longer that I stay pregnant I will likely be giving birth to a stillborn.
I started to cry and told her that I felt like she was throwing a lot at me and I’d like to call my midwife and husband. I asked if I could go home and pack a bag and she said, “I can’t force you to stay here but my recommendation stays the same.” I’d like to note that all of this time Rio’s heart rate had stayed consistent and stable my entire time of her being monitored. I told her again I’d like to talk to my support team before I made any decisions. By the time all was said and done, I was at the hospital alone trying to make decisions for close to 6 hours. I had text Diane and told her what was going on and about halfway through me being there she called me. After talking through everything, she told me she thought I should just listen to what they were saying. She too was concerned about my amniotic fluid and reassured me that this was just this birth and our next birth could absolutely still be a homebirth. I was actually not expecting her to tell me to stay in the hospital and I kept asking her if there was any possible way for me to not have a C-section. Could I go home and get my fluid back up? Could I induce labor and still be able to birth at home? With the information that she knew, she didn’t feel like there was any other options for me. Had Rio been head down I would’ve been induced and been able to still deliver vaginally. I just got a double whammy of low fluid and breech babe.
With Diane’s opinion I called Kenny again and told him to definitely start heading to the hospital. One of the things I’ve struggled with in processing this birth was if my midwife would have been able to read the ultrasound report if the answer would’ve changed. The OB hadn’t looked at the ultrasound and also didn’t know the results of the amniotic fluid test yet and had already scheduled my C-section. When we processed our birth together, one thing we’ve been really bummed about is the lack of support from the OB. She didn’t take any time to tell us the risks of surgery, recovery, future pregnancies, anything. We felt completely in the dark about everything that was going to happen.
The doctor came in again when Kenny got to the hospital and told us that our surgery would be scheduled for 8pm since I had a coffee when I got to the hospital at 12. The anesthesiologist Dr. Huang comes in to explain to me the procedure of the spinal tap and how if I needed more he could completely knock me out. Yikes. We had various other people in and out of our room having us sign paperwork and starting IV’s. My mom and Ru arrived as well as my father in law to keep us company as we waited until surgery. Kenny and I decided on our names since we hadn’t really nailed down what we were choosing. Nothing like a major surgery to help you decide what you’re going to call your child forever! We had for sure decided on Rio’s first name a week or so before she was born at least. Jones was a name I had loved for a while and when my uncle died in February of 2022 I had wanted to honor him in some way for our next baby. It’s an ode to him so her name is even more special.
When 8 o’clock finally rolled around, I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I was so nervous. We kissed Ru goodbye and told her we’ll see her tomorrow with a new baby to meet. I have never had surgery or had anesthesia before so I didn’t know what to expect walking into the OR. I got the spinal tap, which surprisingly didn’t hurt like I had anticipated. I was starting to get nervous because I could still feel my legs for a long time after he told me I wouldn’t be able to. He kept reassuring me that if anything he could give me more drugs and knock me out completely. Finally my body went numb. I laid down on the table and they asked if I wanted the clear drape in front of me or the regular blue one. I told them I don’t want to remember or see any of what they’re gonna do to me. Now I kinda wish I would have done the clear so I would’ve been able to see what Rio was first.
They bring Kenny in at some point after the prep is done. I start getting the shakes from the medication and really feel like I don’t know what’s happening to me. The doctor tells me she’s gonna start cutting and gets to work doing the surgery. Kenny asked if I wanted my birth playlist and the anesthesiologist tries to pull out his phone and ask what I want to listen to. By this point everything was happening so fast that I couldn’t even tell Kenny what to put on. Right then the OB pulls the baby out and just exclaims the the room, “we’ve got a girl!” after we told her probably 3 times that we didn’t know the gender and I wanted to be surprised by Kenny. That was the final strike for me. Kenny quietly asked if I heard what she said and a single tear rolled down my face. I really felt like this was not real life. He says sweetly, “another girl! Ru was right all along!” as the doctor showcases baby to me over the curtain. They ask her name and Kenny says, “her name is Rio, Rio Jones” and they whisk her away to the little baby station. We got no immediate skin to skin, no delayed cord clamping, no golden hour in bed. They wrapped her up and gave her to Kenny and he brings her over so I can look at her sweet, tiny body. She hadn’t opened up her eyes until I said, “hi it’s your mama”. Dr. Huang tells us he’ll take our picture – even though I literally can’t even move my head and this photo now makes me laugh at how awkward it is.
She says, “she was definitely breech. Frank breech”. 🙄 I asked what my placenta looked like and she said it was in perfect condition. No calcifications, just small. Uterus looked good, just small. Baby was perfect, just small. Good thing I couldn’t move at all because I think I might have jumped on top of her at this point. All that fear mongering about my baby having growth restriction for nothing. Everything with Rio was literally perfect. I wish I would’ve kept my placenta to be able to take some pictures for myself but everything was happening so quickly that I didn’t think that far ahead.
They stitch me up and get me onto the postpartum bed. That was an interesting experience. They wheel me to a postpartum room and I finally get to hold Rio for the first time. It took her a second to latch but when she did I almost cried. Ru was able to latch immediately so I was hoping the same for little Rio girl and she’s honestly been a champ eater. Little victories!
We only stayed in the Labor and Delivery room for a bit and they carted us off to our actual postpartum room finally. By this point I was already so tired and had the gnarly headache you get from crying for hours on end. Not to mention all the drugs pumping through my veins from surgery. When all was said and done, I didn’t sleep for close to 46 hours while I was in the hospital. I was so exhausted.
They monitored Rio’s blood sugar since she was small and she passed with flying colors every single time. But they came in every 2-3 hours to prick her little foot and get her results so really no one in our room was sleeping. She was born at 8:40pm and by 4am I was up and walking and in the bathroom to pee on my own. I was terrified of the catheter and I’ll say it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be thanks to the meds. I felt great that first day while all the drugs were coursing through me! A C-section was never on my radar so I was completely unprepared for what to expect for recovery. Here’s your reminder to always have a bag packed and do some research for a C-section just in case!
Ru and my mom were the first to visit and Ru’s first time meeting Rio was one I will always cherish. It wasn’t the moment I was hoping for at home but it had it’s own beauty still. Ru is such a sweet big sis. Always wanting to help her “teeny tiny”. She’s slowly started to understand the new life that has been bestowed upon her. I’m really proud of her for where she’s at even though it was a whirlwind situation and she didn’t get to be involved. She still remembers a lot from that night and it’s interesting to hear how her little brain has coped with the situation.
It never occurred to me to talk to her about any other type of situation than home birth. She was fully prepared for being in the water with me. We watched hours of birth videos together to prepare her for baby coming out of mom’s vagina and what that would look like. She is a mini midwife I swear. She was so unphased with seeing a baby being born. Now we’ve had to explain that Rio had to come out of mommy’s tummy instead and the big cut prevents me from doing a lot right now. I really hope with our next baby that her and Rio will both get a redemptive experience.
We had all our parents visit over the course of our two days and everything really remained overall uneventful. We wanted to get home and sleeping! They let us leave the morning of the 30th. On the ride home we talked a lot about what happened and how it was effecting us. Kenny felt big emotions about it in different ways than I did and it was good to process them before we got home. It was emotional coming back to all my birth supplies and everything that I had prepared for a vaginal birth. I felt robbed of the birth I had planned for so long.
It’s been hard for me not to compare my births. Literally everything was different. Recovery this go round has been so much harder emotionally and physically than I could’ve imagined. We’re all learning life as a new family unit and the shift from 24/7 mom has been difficult on Ru and I. It’s been hard not being able to pick her up or do the daily things I was used to. The first 4 weeks were the hardest – I felt so useless – even though I’m still literally caring for a newborn and healing from major surgery. I’ve been trying to give myself a lot of grace.
Each story has its place in my life for a reason. Rio’s may just take me longer to figure out why.
This might sound like a rant about hospital care or lack there of and in some ways it is. We had a plan to do things out of the norm and I truly feel like we had the experience we did because the doctor didn’t agree with it. I know plenty of friends who choose to birth in the hospital and have had great experiences, ours unfortunately just wasn’t that. A vaginal hospital birth would have been a much easier pill for me to swallow. And really, an urgent C-section birth would have been easier to cope with had we gotten adequate information of how things would go and a validation of all our fears and sadness. Had we even gotten a conversation of what exactly was going to happen in the OR and our options. That’s been a hard part of the processing for me – that we didn’t get any of the respect that we should’ve as patients. It really felt like to our doctor, we were just another number – she had already done 7 C-sections that day. Kenny describes our experience like going in for an oil change and it really is a good descriptor.
I will say – we had great nurses for our stay. One of our nurses stayed on shift to be my nurse in the OR and into the postpartum room. She had been so sweet and consoled me when I was alone and crying in the monitoring room. Every nurse and person walking into our room knew I absolutely did not want to be there and they were very gracious and kind throughout our stay. Dr. Huang was also so kind and sweet to us in the OR. There was definitely a few people who made the days in the hospital a little more easy.
I’m grateful for modern medicine and its appropriate uses – but I also think its okay to ask for more from our care system. I’ve second guessed every decision I had to make alone in that monitoring room. I’ve talked through everything with my midwife extensively and processed a lot of the things that I didn’t understand. Every time I come back to this – we made the best decisions we could with the information we had been given. And at the end of the day, God wrote Rio’s story in a completely different way than I could’ve imagined. It wasn’t one I wanted, but I’m trusting that He got her here the way He best saw fit. I’ve also been learned that its okay to feel both grief and joy in this birth. It’s okay to feel so happy she’s here and we’re both healthy AND feel completely heartbroken that it didn’t go how I wanted. Life is always a juxtaposition of emotions.
We prayed for a healthy baby and healthy mama my whole pregnancy after miscarrying in May. Rio Jones was our rainbow after a storm of loss and sadness in 2022.
I didn’t get my water birth or my playlists played or Nitro boy giving me comfort.
I didn’t get Ru cheering me on or my mom or grandma there as support.
I didn’t get the birth pictures to cherish forever.
I didn’t get to make any of the decisions.
But I got her.
She is the picture of God’s faithful to us.
And that is enough.
Rio Jones Tavener
Tinier Traveling Tav
Since we didn’t get birth photos, our sweet photographer Meg who did Ru’s birth pics came and did these in home newborn photos. Here’s a few more favorites!
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! We’ll be back to our (ir)regularly scheduled travel blogs soon.
Til next time,