Tried to think of a more clever title for this blog post but didn’t get far. Oh well! I have always loved reading or hearing people’s birth stories and many people have been curious to hear how things went this time so here goes.
To follow suit with how the rest of this pregnancy has been, spoiler alert, everything was harder. I’ll try to keep the story to the point while still giving you the details.
Here is Shepherd’s birth story.
Below is a timeline with how things went down. This will go into some graphic details but I’ll try to keep in pretty tame. Also, it’s fairly long so scroll down if you want to just skip to the pictures.
- Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend I hit 40 weeks pregnant. Baby was in a good position, cervix looked good and I was a little over 2 cm dilated. Our medical professionals will tell your due date is just a number but then once you start getting closer to 41 weeks they want to start talking induction. It was incredibly frustrating as I was beginning to feel the pressure to speed things along. I did not want to be induced. So of course I amped up doing even more things than I already had been doing to try to naturally induce labor.
- Thursday I went to chiropractor (I had been seeing one for a handful of visits to help with my lower right back pain during my pregnancy. (Had I known they could help with morning sickness I would’ve started going way sooner!) Told them to work all their magic to try to get things going naturally. I left and chiro predicted a Saturday birth. Yay, hope!
- Also started losing my mucous plug.
- Friday night I thought I was having some very real stuff . Cramping, back pain, emptying my bowels, super nauseous and couldn’t sleep but then I used the heating pad and felt better. Jeff didn’t feel in his gut anything was really happening but I knew how thing could progress quicker since this was my second pregnancy.
- My mom was already debating coming in town because of the long weekend and mostly because she thought for sure either I or my sister-in-law who lives a mile away would go into labor and need help with our kiddos so she went ahead and came over to Tallahassee from Pensacola.
- Saturday and Sunday hung with family and did some walking and stretching and bouncing on the birthing ball but no other symptoms were felt.
- Monday I had a little bleeding and started having similar symptoms as Friday night. Wasn’t sure if it was the real thing or not so I finished up some errands and decided to rest just in case and then I went for a walk and quickly started realizing I could begin timing contractions since they were coming at a regular rate. That’s when everything began to speed up very quickly. By 7:40 PM my contractions were coming close enough together and were intense enough where we decided to stop laboring at home and go to the hospital where our doula, Rocky, planned to meet us. She would’ve come to the house but by the time they started ramping up so much, it didn’t make sense, we cut straight to going to the hospital. My mom had Pfeiffer over at my brother’s house but hindsight, they could’ve just stayed at our place because by the time we finished up dinner to the time we went to the hospital it was so short and P would’ve been in bed but we didn’t know what we were getting into.
- Update on my overdue pregnant sister-in-law: she went into labor earlier that morning and get this, she was using the same doula as us. There would’ve been a backup had we needed one but we didn’t! I’ll continue the story now…
- Get checked in at the hospital and taken to triage after doing a lap around the parking lot to try to get one finally good walk in to progress things further (due to COVID, you can’t walk the hospital halls). At triage things are getting really intense (glad I didn’t wait any longer to go to the hospital because triage took longer than I expected and that would’ve been miserable). I swear it took 48954 hours to get my signed in and check and a port put in. Meanwhile, we discover that the woman next to us had suffered a miscarriage at about 20 weeks. Jeff and I just kept looking at each other like WTH is going on and why haven’t they gotten her into a private room?! Finally they did and I sent up some prayers for her and I knew later I would morn her and her husband’s loss.
- Contractions kept getting more and more intense and I needed Jeff’s help for some pain relief (up until this point I was riding them out alone) along with a Phenergan for my nausea. Can we just have a moment to honor the incredible drug that is Phenergan. Only discovered it during this pregnancy and I’m not sure where it’s been all my life. Okay, now to continue. Since only one person was allowed in triage, Rocky waited until we got to our room to meet us. Here is where I had my first thought of not being sure if I wanted to do this without any pain meds but I committed to at least seeing how Rocky could help and waiting it out a bit longer. They told us we were 4 cm and took us to a room.
- Because I was GBS positive, I had to be hooked up to an antibiotic line but luckily, I was still able to get into the tub so that was the first thing I did. I also took more anti nausea meds. This combo allowed me to eat some crackers and gave me new life. I labored in the tub for a few hours but then my contractions were slowing down so Rocky insisted that if we wanted to keep things moving along that I needed to get out. Let me back up and say that before getting into the tub, I said out loud to Jeff (Rocky was getting us water) that I didn’t know if I wanted to do this. He insisted I could and gave me words of encouragement in which I came back with a response that I knew I could do it but I didn’t know if I wanted to do it. But again, I decided to ride it out a bit longer and see.
- Okay, so out of the tub and laboring on and off the hospital bed. About 30 minutes into doing this, they decided to hook me up to oxygen to ensure the baby was good. From staying very active throughout my pregnancy, my cardiovascular system felt stronger than it maybe ever has (along with my overall body feeling strong) and I was I was trying my hardest for deep breaths through the physically demanding process but I didn’t mind being on the oxygen. It sort of was distracting or helpful in some way. Meanwhile, Jeff and Rocky are tag teaming pain relief for me. Mostly pressing on my back and hips to apply counter pressure from the hell I was enduring. Rocky later told me she never has had to use so more strength/force on anyone but the harder they pressed, the more relief it provided or at least served as a distraction. About 45 minutes out of the tub, when I was continuing to hate my life, doc came in and cautiously suggested that they could break my water. I remember thinking WTH haven’t they said this already? Jeff told me I responded by saying, “Oh f*ck yes.” I don’t remember cursing so strongly but the medical team is use to anything and everything during labor and delivery. So that happens and my contractions continue to grow stronger and stronger at which point I’m starting to have a harder time with my breathing and I’m making the most guttural noises to try to get through the pain. I recall doing that when I was in labor with Pfeiffer but Jeff said these were noises he had never heard me or anyone else make. I don’t know where these noises come from. I’m not sure I could replicate them again if I tried. I’m starting to feel like I have to push and tell the team I don’t know what I’m going to do if I can’t push soon. Begging them, saying something along the lines of “please let it be time”. As if they could grant me that wish. I get checked and I’m close but not quite there. I insisted I needed to and I felt the urge but even though I wanted to, I knew that I didn’t have the feeling of an uncontrollable need to push (that’s when it’s go time). At this point the team saw me push something else out and helped me clean up. I remember before having P, pooping myself was one of my biggest concerns. Now, granted, I never want my husband to witness that but the shame and embarrassment in the moment goes out the window. You just have to do whatever you have to do to get through it. And if shit happens, it happens. Hate it but it kinda just is what it is. Pain relief from Jeff and Rocky continues with counter pressure and cold washcloths and then finally, almost exactly an hour after my water breaking, they checked me and it was go time. Doc barely had time to get into the room. I pushed for a few times and baby was born. The pushing to me is the ‘best’ part of the process because at least you can channel your pain into something that feels productive instead of just riding it out. (I know each contraction gets the baby closer to coming out so they’re all productive but you know what I mean.)
- They say that the labor and delivery of subsequent births are shorter, sometimes with the time being cut in half. This was the case with me. I was actively laboring with P for about 12 hours and with Shepherd it was about 6. Because I was hopeful I wouldn’t have to use any Pitocin with S like I needed to with P (read all about her birth story here) I was expecting less pain. That, coupled with shorter time, I was thinking that this go round would be easier. Better. Boy was I wrong. Yes, things were much faster but that just meant for me that things intensified faster. This time was harder. I’ve never felt pain like that. Every part. Laboring. Delivery. Delivering the placenta. Having them massage my abdomen afterwards. Even him latching was more difficult. And you know that I’ve mentioned the entire pregnancy was harder.
- But he’s here! We did it (and without any pain meds or Pitocin or intense medical interventions like I wanted). At 1 AM on June 1st he joined us (his sister joined us at 1:11 PM so I’m thinking 1 is a lucky number for us). He was 8 pounds 1.5 ounces and 20 inches long. Jeff cut the cord, all looked good, and he did finally latch and get his first meal. I thanked our entire team for all their help. My doc was great. Our nurse who I felt was in there the entire time, even though we came to find out that she did have other patients, was a rock star. Rocky was amazing. And I just wanted to cuddle up to Jeff for being my rock in it all. I was so thankful and grateful to have this incredible group of people helping (in fact, during our entire stay at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, we would have the greatest staff helping). And of course, I was thanking God for allowing me to get through it and for me and the baby to be healthy and for it all to be over. Lots and lots of time spent in prayer before, during, and after all this. Meanwhile though, my entire body was shaking profusely. Jeff asked if it was because I was cold. Nope. It was just everything. Adrenaline. Exhaustion. The emotional toll I just went though. We said goodbye to Rocky to let her get some sleep (I can’t imagine assisting for back to back births like she did for me and my sis-in-law). A few hours later we were able to get settled into the room we’d stay in for the next few days. I kept feeling as if I was dreaming and I’d wake up and have to endure that entire process again. It didn’t feel real and I was feeling a PTSD of sorts imaging I’d have to go through it again. I’d mentally calm myself down and remember that Shep was here and I will never go through that again. That PTSD continued for a handful of days and I definitely wasn’t ready to talk about the entire process right away. Maybe part of the reason why I’m finally writing this at 6 week postpartum.
- Pfeiffer was the first person to meet the baby. This and hearing her say how this means she is finally a sister are memories I will always remember. We also got it on video so there’s that.
- They were monitoring his bilirubin levels but all turned out fine and I was all good so we were able to go home relatively quickly.
- A side note about doulas if you aren’t familiar. Doula is defined as a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. They help support throughout pregnancy answering any question and being an experienced companion but, in my opinion, they are the most influential during labor. The pain relief techniques, help for husbands, the way they lead the show and keep things moving along, and amazing photos they can capture (at least ours have) make them priceless and I truly don’t know how anyone has an unmedicated labor and delivery with minimally unnecessary medical interventions without one. I could sing the praises of the doulas we’ve had all day. (We used Christa Sonnier in Pensacola for P and Rocky Pogge with Tallahassee Birth Services for S.)
- I’m also grateful for our doc, Dr. Dixon with North Florida Women’s Care, who was on call (P’s doctor was in Italy and her backup wasn’t on call so we delivered with a rando doc but we ended up really liking her) and checked in with us before and after.
- Another thing that helped me along mentally for both of my labors was music. Here is my playlist.
Well, there you have it. My sweet boy’s story. Hope you enjoyed reading. Welcome to the world Shepherd James Bell.