Sharing my very own birth story today, of my 3rd child Shiloh! Thank you so much Breanna with Blooming Images for documenting this special day for us! This was my first time having one of my births photographed and I can say from personal experience, it is so important for a mother to have images to look back on in clarity at her birth! So here it goes…
I have heard it said that 3rd babies can be wild card births. Just when you think you know what to expect and have it down from doing this thing twice already, baby number 3 comes along and completely confuses your pre thought out notions for birth, and this was definitely the case for me with Shiloh’s birth.
Prodromal labor…I had heard of it, and figured it was basically just a lot of braxton hicks. But when steady, consistent contractions started the night of Sat, May 13th, I was 100% convinced real labor had started. I had consistent, strong, painful contractions steadily 3-5 min apart that started at 1-2am. As I timed them, I knew labor had started and planned to give it a few hours before heading to the hospital around 5am. Throughout the night I nervously packed my bags and got ready. But then at 5am, just when I was about to head out the door, they began to slow down. 7min apart. 10 min apart. Weaker. Confusion set in as they stopped altogether. I went back to bed and figured it would pick up as the day progressed.
Well I was wrong. Not a single contraction that day. Or the next day. Or the next. I was officially confused. Every time I had ever had contractions like that, it had ended in baby being born a few hours later. I had no clue what my body was doing! I am a birth photographer. I have had 2 births at home in a tub! Surely I know the birth process by now!! As the days went on I had contractions here and there and thought they could be real each time but they never turned into anything and only added to my confusion.
By Wednesday the 17th, I began to notice more contractions throughout the day. They were feeling the same as that first night so I tried to ignore them and figured once again they were false labor. By around 4 pm I had noticed a pattern to them. 3-4 min apart and a minute long. I couldn’t ignore them, as they were strong and building in intensity, but I didn’t know if I should trust them either, being that I had been so wrong before. I told Jesse and my doula and birth photographer that I was having contractions, but to not worry about it yet as they would probably just go away. My mom came and picked up the kids just so we could be ready to leave if needed, but by around 8, contractions were still the same so they came home and Jesse put them to bed. I spent the next couple of hours on the fence going back and forth about what the heck to do. The contractions felt so strong and really painful. I could compare them to what it felt like maybe an hour or two before transition from my other two births. I needed to focus and breath for each one. But I couldn’t shake the confusion of not knowing if these were going to stay legitimate and keep progressing. Then I worried, what if I was ignoring them wrongfully and I ended up having this baby on my living floor or in the car because I waited too long!? I felt like a complete newbie! I emailed my doctor, the best doctor on the planet, Dr. Leeman and let him know.
Finally by about 10:15 Jesse decided we needed to get off the fence and go in. I think he was getting scared that he was going to have to deliver his daughter, since my previous births were pretty quick, and that wasn’t something he necessarily wanted to do! Having had both of my two kids at home, going to the hospital was a new experience for me! Exciting, scary, nerve wracking, but somewhat of an adventure as well! Dr. Leeman called right as I arrived to triage around 10:30pm and asked how I was doing and he let his colleague know I was there are to update him asap on how things were going. After getting into triage and getting checked the doctor informed me that I was at 2 CENTIMETERS. TWO. TWO measly centimeters after the entire day of labor!! I felt devastated. I wanted to cry, I could not believe that my body had deceived me again and I felt so so stupid for even going in! I knew how strong these contractions were feeling, they were intense to me, and I felt like a complete and total wimp. Why were they so strong but I was not progressing?? I worried and I knew that I couldn’t make it to the end if they were so strong already and I was only at a 2. Dr. Leeman then arrived at triage, I’m sure figuring he needed to hurry judging from the sounds I was making on the phone! He checked and said I was more like 3. Probably just to help me not feel so bad haha! He said by looking at the pattern of my contractions that he felt great about going ahead and admitting me and he said he had no plans of leaving as he had an intuition things would pick up quickly at any time.
The triage doctor did an ultrasound to check baby’s position. Head down. But face up. Face up!?!?! Now this was the nail in the coffin for me. Sunny side up!? Was this why it hurt so so bad but nothing was happening!? As a birth photographer I have seen women deliver sunny side up babies….it isn’t glamorous. It is way more painful and extreme. This solidified for me that there was no way I was ever going to be able to do this. In my mind, all my birth plans went out the window. If I did somehow make it through this It was going to be with an epidural. I told my birth photographer and doula to go back to bed, we would be here for forever.
We got settled in our room and contractions really picked up. I tried moving around, but couldn’t find a position that actually helped with the pain. With my other kids, certain positions brought relief, but not this time. No matter what I did it was just plain bad. At 12:45am, as I stood there leaning against Jesse, moaning and groaning, I heard a loud thud on the monitor and it felt like baby gave me a good punch! Immediately I felt warm water flowing down my legs. Great, now I peed my pants. This couldn’t get any more embarrassing anyway so who cares at this point. As I tried to make my way to the bathroom to clean up, more and more kept coming and it hit me, hey I think my water broke! And I simultaneously felt relief that maybe something was finally happening and sheer dread bc I knew the pain was going to get worse. And sure enough with the next few contractions things got really real. I told Jesse to call my birth photog and doula to come as I knew things were picking up. I asked to try nitrous oxide as I was starting to have trouble coping. It was amazing those first few contractions with it…super dizzy, spinning head, eyes rolling around, and I even felt like giggling! But the best thing it did was help me to remember to breathe because you have to hold the mask to your face and breathe deeply in and out. It didn’t take away any pain but it at least helped muffle my yelling if nothing else!
The nitrous stopped helping and I started to feel my screaming turning into the kind that was letting me know that I needed to push soon. I was surprised at how loud i was being! I reminded myself being loud is ok too, I told myself I wasn’t failing bc i was loud. Loud is beautiful too! I begged for someone to check me because I knew baby was coming soon…they did around 1:30am and I was only at 6!! No way this could be right I thought, I was about to start pushing! Things got totally out of control at that point and I was basically writhing around in bed like a crazy person screaming in pain. I asked for the epidural, there was no way I could do it, I was only at 6. They ordered it for me but said it would take a little while as the anesthesiologist was occupied. I yelled at Jesse, get Dr. Leeman in here!! And a few minutes later he came in like a boss, not even wearing scrubs, and leaning in towards my face and said, “Lori! you can do this!” I felt a lot of comfort knowing he was there. He checked me again and said, I was at 8 around 1:40am. I kept yelling, where is my epidural!! I looked around the room at all these random medical staff and started asking each one if they were “the epidural guy”. But none of them were and Dr. Leeman said there was no point in getting it, I was about to have my baby! A couple contractions later and I couldn’t help but push. He said I had a little bit of cervix left. But within a few more contractions I was at 10 and ready to go!
Although the pushing stage was so painful, it was almost a relief to be able to channel the pain out somewhere. It became more purposeful and i knew it was going to be over soon if I could just push a few more times. I was burning up and started yelling for someone to fan me and put my hair up, so Jesse grabbed a pillow and started fanning me which felt amazing, and a nurse attempted to put my hair up, but that didn’t work so well with the writhing lol. The pressure was immense and I kept yelling that I was pooping everywhere, but Dr. Leeman said it was just the baby. He had me feel her head with my hand and I could feel that she had lots of hair! I could hear everyone around me saying I was doing great. Then the terrible fiery burn of crowning, a big scream, and Dr. Leeman announced that her head was out! Then a few plops and she was born!! She went straight to my chest and was so sticky and covered with vernix!! She cried right away! I looked up to find Jesse crying and I couldn’t believe I did it and she was here!! 7lbs, 7oz, 20 inches long, born at 1:50 pm. We kept her cord attached until after the placenta was born, about 5 min later.
My beautiful Shiloh Evangeline!! After such a long early labor, only a few hours of active labor, no tearing, and I think she may have turned to head down at the last minute coming out, but I still am not sure about that! I like to believe she was sunny side up the whole time because that would explain my crazy out of control screaming! haha!! I can’t thank my birth team enough for your patient support…Dr. Leeman, Jesse, MJ, Breanna, and nurses and staff, love you all!!