I have been so excited to sit down and write my birth story to share with you all. I am currently starting it while wearing my sweet new babe in my Solly baby wrap on his one week birthday. : ) Pretty hard to believe he has already been with us for one week! It went so fast, and yet, labor and our hospital stay feel like a lifetime ago.
I wanted to get this done as soon as possible while all of the details are fresh in my mind. Mostly because I want to come back and read this and relive it whenever I want. The fact that y’all are interested in hearing about it is a nice bonus. ; )
Other posts on pregnancy / baby that you might be interested in:
- First Trimester Recap
- Second Trimester Recap
- Third Trimester Recap
- My Favorite Things During Pregnancy
- What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag
- Must-Have Items To Put On Your Baby Registry
- AdventHealth Shawnee Mission Birth Center — if you are local and interested in learning more about AdventHealth Shawnee Mission or looking for an OB/GYN practice
Disclosure: this post is sponsored by AdventHealth Shawnee Mission and I am being compensated monetarily; however, all opinions expressed are my own. I had an incredible experience with AdventHealth throughout my pregnancy journey and I was so happy to be partnering with them during this special time.
Okay, here we go!
JANUARY 16TH, 2020: DUE DATE
At the start of my pregnancy my due date was January 17th, 2021, but I believe it was at my anatomy scan that the system switched to 1/16/21 based on his size. I stuck with 1/17/21 in all my pregnancy apps, but as we got close to the end, I happily claimed the earlier due date, haha. One day makes a big difference when you’re very done being pregnant. January 16th also happens to be Ethan’s twin sisters’ birthday!
When I woke up on January 16th, my due date, I was NOT in a good headspace. I was feeling frustrated, impatient and disappointed that he hadn’t arrived yet. In the weeks leading up to that, I went back and forth between feeling anxious and trying all the things to induce labor, and feeling patient and at peace just letting him decide when the time was right. (Some of the things I tried included eating 6 dates/day, walking as much as possible, including “curb walking”, sitting on my birthing ball for a large portion of the day, etc., etc.)
But once it’s actually your due date, things change. You’re like, “Okay. Now it’s OFFICIALLY time for you to come out, dude.” I know a due date is nothing but a “guess” date, but by the end of pregnancy you are so uncomfortable and just ready to meet your babe. I also was having more anxiety at the end just wanting to make sure he was okay and healthy.
I had already made the decision that I did not want to be induced until 41 weeks if he hadn’t arrived by then. As badly as I wanted him out, I also wanted to trust the process and my body to tell us when it was time. I know induction is a fine option and a lot of people do it these days and have great experiences and like knowing *when* it is going to happen. But I still wanted the experience of going into labor, despite the stress of the unknown. It’s a little bit scary, but also exhilarating.
EARLY SIGNS OF LABOR
Like I mentioned, on January 16th, I woke up in a mood — not a good one. I was tearful and cranky and I was just letting myself feel all the emotions I needed to feel. I wasn’t going to fake happy all day when I was feeling so bummed.
However, we ended up going to my niece’s birthday party that afternoon (socially distanced, with masks), which cheered me up a bit. While I was getting ready beforehand and doing my hair/makeup, I noticed that my legs were a little red/purple and I felt a little short of breath.
Of course I was concerned about it so I sat in bed and cried and did kick counts for a while, and he was moving fine. We decided to go to my niece’s party and obviously just monitor how I was feeling. I’m glad we did; seeing family and having a distraction was nice, and those symptoms subsided.
Afterward Ethan and I decided to get Mexican for lunch. Not a strategy to induce labor… it just sounded good. But hey – maybe it didn’t hurt. ; ) I had a chicken quesadilla… nothing really spicy besides some normal salsa, so I don’t think “spicy food” gets any credit here.
Anyway, once we got home I continued to have mood swings throughout the day. I also got the strong urge to “nest” and clean a bunch of random stuff. I was doing more baby laundry, cleaning random things out of the pantry, breaking down boxes, decided to get my breast pump out for the first time and clean all the parts, vacuum the whole house, etc. Again, I was mostly just distracting myself, but I did have this sudden, weird urge to clean.
I finished the second half of my chicken quesadilla for dinner, so I ate Mexican food twice that day, lol. Again, coincidence? I don’t know.
That evening, Ethan and I were hanging out in the basement just watching some live music on YouTube (our faves Morgan Wallen, Tyler Childers and more) and I actually have a video of both dogs around 7-8 pm laying on my lap. They were both being particularly clingy that night, especially Harley.
I noticed that I was having Braxton Hicks contractions every 30 minutes or so. I started taking note of the times in my phone just in case, but I was trying not to get my hopes up. I had been having Braxton Hicks the past several weeks, so I really didn’t think much of it. I doubted that they would progress into something “real”. (Per my notes, I had them at 7:16, 7:47, lots of fetal movement until 8 pm, more BH at 8:20, 8:47, 9:05, 9:50, 10:23 pm).
when labor actually started
I headed upstairs to get ready for bed, and around 10:30 pm, I went to the bathroom to pee. On the way there, I felt like I had my first “real”, painful contraction, as opposed to a Braxton Hicks. I went pee, and then I noticed that some extra fluid seemed to come out. I thought, “Hmmm… I’m not sure that was all pee.” I even took a picture of the toilet water on my phone because it was very clear and I wanted to make note of the appearance and time. I was trying to decide if it had a different odor from just pee, but couldn’t really tell.
I didn’t want to get too worked up about it, so I crawled back into bed. A few minutes later I felt the urge to go pee again, so I got up, went to the bathroom, started leaking more fluid, and had another painful contraction. At this point I started thinking, “Okay, I think something is happening.” I even texted my mom from the toilet, “I think something might happen tonight. I think my water may have just broken.”
I went back to bed with a big towel to lay down because I planned to wait just a little longer and see if this pattern would continue. I clearly wasn’t convinced that this was real. Ethan had just laid down and closed his eyes, but I said “Uh, babe. I think maybe my water just broke, but I’m not sure.” I could tell he was skeptical too, but he was basically just waiting for a cue from me as to what to do next.
I made note of contractions at 10:35, 10:40-something, 10:59, then more contractions on the way at 11:08, 11:14, 11:25, and 11:31.
At first I felt dramatic making the call to go to the hospital after that, and I still was in denial, but I continued to feel like I was leaking fluid. At my recent OB appt they told me that if your water breaks, the timing of contractions doesn’t matter — you just head in ASAP. So I made the call and told Ethan we needed to go. We literally grabbed all of our stuff and were in the car on the way within 5 minutes.
Thank goodness we left when we did, because things started to progress fairly quickly. I checked in at the Birth Center and told her “I think my water just broke”, and they sent us to the waiting room before we headed to triage for me to be assessed. Contractions were still coming and going, but they weren’t super close together or that painful yet.
EARLY LABOR AT THE BIRTH CENTER
Once we were in a triage room, a nurse hooked me up to two monitors; one monitoring baby’s heartbeat and the other monitoring my contractions. She checked all of my vitals and asked a lot of questions about my medical history. Contractions were progressively getting stronger and closer together at this point.
Thanks to the monitor, Ethan was able to see when a contraction was coming too, so we could brace for it together and he helped SO much during this process. He was holding my hand (which I’m sure I was squeezing extremely hard), rubbing my leg or massaging my shoulder and reminding me to breathe through it, deeply and slowly. Focusing on your breath helps SO much, but it’s easier said than done on certain contractions when you just want to scream and cry, haha.
It’s impossible to describe the pain of contractions, but wow, do they HURT. They are no joke and no one can prepare you for that feeling. It’s overwhelming.
It was probably around midnight by this time. When she checked me in triage, I was dilated to 3 cm and “very thin” in terms of effacement, so that part was almost there. She asked if I was planning to get an epidural and I told her yes, but not quite yet. I didn’t want to get it too early.
TMI, but I know a lot of you are pregnant and want to know what to expect, so I promised some of the dirty details. At some point while we were in triage I had the urge to have diarrhea, which may have been a blessing in a way, because I didn’t have to do it later, ha!
Another thing I thought was weird during labor that I didn’t expect — UNCONTROLLABLE SHIVERING. I was shaking like crazy and it was so bizarre. I couldn’t stop. Warm blankets helped a little, but they told me the shaking is totally normal and common, and unfortunately you can’t really do anything to stop it. It’s due to the rush of hormones and changes going on in your body at the time, but it was so strange.
The nurse went away for a few minutes and within that time I quickly changed my mind. “I’M READY FOR THE EPIDURAL!” Haha. I’m sure that’s always how it goes. Ethan had to track someone down and let them know, because I was desperate at that point.
I also had to get a COVID test while I was having very painful contractions in triage. AdventHealth Shawnee Mission will test you during labor if you come in unplanned. If you have a planned C section or induction, they test you a few days before and then you just quarantine. That was my first COVID test, and it was just as awful as I expected. I’m sure the contractions made it a lot worse, haha. They also placed my IV at this time.
They do not test your partner for COVID; however, support people do get screened for symptoms, temperature taken upon arrival to the Birth Center, hands sanitized and masks worn. (I was told once we got to labor & delivery that I tested negative.) If you have more questions about the COVID precautions that AdventHealth is taking, click here. I have felt very comfortable with all of the measures they have been taking throughout my pregnancy journey.
Soon after that, we were heading to labor and delivery with me in a wheelchair, still having horrible contractions and probably screaming/crying and making a scene, haha. It’s a bit of a blur. I think this was around 1 AM or so.
LABOR & DELIVERY ROOM: EPIDURAL, PROGRESSING
Shortly after we got to labor & delivery, my childhood neighbor and family friend, who happens to be a labor & delivery nurse at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, arrived to help with the delivery of our sweet boy! It was so nice to see a familiar face, especially when I was in so much pain.
At that point we were still (anxiously) waiting for the epidural, which arrived around 1:45 AM. I personally thought the part before the epidural (the shot to numb beforehand) was painful. I remember wailing when he did it, but I was also still actively having painful contractions, so it was just a lot all at once. I remember asking how long it would take to kick in, and I think they told me 10-15 minutes, so I just had to make it through a couple more contractions.
At the time 10-15 minutes felt like an eternity away, but once the epidural hit, I was truly a new person. It was an interesting feeling. You’re not completely numb and can still feel some pressure, but the pain of the contractions was basically gone in comparison to before. I could still feel when they were happening in the beginning. They could look at the monitor and see that I was having one, and I’d say, “I’m having one right now, right?”, which just goes to show that that stuff WORKS. Whoever invented epidurals — bless you.
Once I had the epidural, Ethan and I were just in the room chatting with the nurse and hanging out. It was a night and day difference. She checked me again after the epidural and Ethan texted my mom around 2:22 AM that I had progressed to 5 cm.
After that, the nurse gave me a peanut ball to put between my knees and lay on my side, and she actually told Ethan and I to lay down and nap for an hour or two. That was something I did not expect to be able to do during labor!
She told us that the peanut ball would help open my pelvis and allow me to further progress, and that I needed to rest up for the pushing. Rest was needed, since we had already been awake for almost 24 hours at that point. Ethan texted my mom again around 4 AM saying that I was “feeling good and just resting”. This part is a bit of a blur, haha.
I do remember that Ethan wouldn’t let me have my phone at that time. He said, “you’ll hate me for this now, but you’ll thank me later”, and he’s right! I am SO glad I really took that time to rest. Otherwise I would have gotten caught up texting my best friends with updates, and the rest was what I really needed.
At 4:29 AM, he texted again that I had progressed to 9.5 cm and would be ready to push within the hour! After 2 hours of just laying on my side (we did switch sides somewhere in the middle) with a peanut ball between my legs, I went from 5 to 9.5 cm. Again, I continued to have contractions throughout this whole time, which also helped me progress, but thanks to the epidural I barely noticed them and was able to sleep through them.
STARTING TO PUSH
Around 5:15 AM it was time to start pushing! At first it was just Ethan and our main nurse and myself. Each time I had a contraction, she had me push at the PEAK of the contraction. I would push three times for 10 seconds each, and then rest in between. The nurse would tell me when to take a biiiiiiig inhale, then PUSH PUSH PUSH as hard as I could for 10 seconds, then breathe. Having her countdown and Ethan cheering me on throughout each one was so helpful and motivating.
In between pushes, the nurse was doing perineal massage which I think was helpful, too. For the pushing, she told me to pull back my legs (basically with my hands behind my thighs) and bear down, like you’re trying really hard to poop, essentially. Then they told me there were some handlebars on the sides of the bed and I found it SUPER helpful to grab onto those during the pushes. It just gave me a little more leverage and power behind them.
They told me that most people do great on their first push and slowly lose steam on the second and third, but that I was the opposite, and got stronger with each one (probably just because I was feeling so motivated and determined). But they said this really helped move things along and move baby down quicker!
After a while, the OB/GYN showed up to join the party. Unfortunately, my own OB happened to be out of town for 24 hours when I went into labor, so someone else from my OB practice had to come step in. She was awesome though and I didn’t mind! She also happened to be the OB I had to see the day that I found out Rhett was breech (at 36 weeks, but he flipped head down by 37 weeks), so she saw me at my worst on that day when I was distraught from that news. I remember apologizing to her for that while I was in labor, haha!
After pushing a while longer with Ethan, the OB/GYN and my nurse, they said he was getting close, and soon enough they could see the top of his head and hair! Suddenly several more nurses came into the room to prepare for his arrival. So surreal. Through the next few rounds of pushes, I had about 8 people in the room cheering me on and encouraging me and it was amazing. It felt like a movie.
I honestly wish I had some video of it so I could relive it, because it was truly the most empowering moment. I felt so strong and proud of my body, and just knowing I would see him so soon didn’t feel real. It kept me going even though I was exhausted, as well as the crazy adrenaline!
Before I knew it, they told me “he’s coming!” and out he came! I will say that him actually coming out wasn’t painful like I expected. Again, I had an epidural, but I still figured that part would hurt a lot more than the pushing (and like I said, the perineal massaging throughout may have helped?) But pushing + birthing him were comparable in my opinion.
The second he exited my body, it was like a huge release physically, mentally, and emotionally, and I just started bawling. Soon enough there was a bloody, messy baby in front of me, but it wasn’t long before he was whisked away. He wasn’t making any noise and the nurses took him to check on him and assess him, and I was of course terrified.
I was still bawling and he was across the room surrounded by nurses. I just remember asking over and over, “Is he okay?” and they told me, “Yes, he’s just a little stunned”, and kept saying “He’s so tall/long!” (Which is funny because my husband and I are pretty short people, lol.)
They said he took in a lot of amniotic fluid since he exited the birth canal fairly quickly, so they had to do a lot of suctioning and I think they even had to give him oxygen for a minute. I couldn’t tell you what else they did, but he was nice and clean when he came back to me, haha!
It felt like the longest 5 minutes (or however long) of my life while I waited for him, but before long, he was on my chest, and the tears just kept flowing. I did it. He was here. I got the vaginal delivery I wanted. And it was amazing and beautiful and powerful, and our baby boy was healthy and perfect. I have never felt so thankful. I don’t take ANY of that for granted.
More dirty details: apparently Rhett pooped on my tummy the second he came out, LOL, but I did not poop during delivery, which I always wondered if I would! If you do, no shame. Apparently a lot of women do, haha. My placenta also came out shortly after he did, which I did not feel and I didn’t see it, which I was bummed about. I was curious to see it!
Next the doctor stitched me up very quickly and they told me that I had a second degree tear that was mostly internal, so it should heal fairly quickly. I didn’t feel this at all either.
Pushing started around 5:15 am and he arrived at 6:07 am on 1/17/2021, his original freaking due date. Who would have thought!?
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER DELIVERY
Once he had arrived and everything calmed down, they gave us a few hours in the labor and delivery room to have skin-to-skin time with him and I think they may have helped me breastfeed him for the first time in there. Honestly, it’s a bit of a blur. I do remember being wheeled to a mother/baby room in a wheelchair after that time and Ethan pushing Rhett in a bassinet next to me and into the elevator.
And then we settled into our new home for the next few days. At AdventHealth Shawnee Mission you stay for two midnights after a vaginal delivery if mom and baby are both healthy. Since we had him at 6:07 AM on Sunday morning, we stayed overnight on Sunday and Monday night and left around lunch time on Tuesday. But since we went in on Saturday night around 11 PM, it was kinda like we got a bonus night. I’m honestly so thankful for it!
While you are in the hospital, they frequently come into your room to check mom and baby’s vitals, give mom pain/other medications as needed, etc. Also, prepare yourself for them to push on your belly after delivery to help your uterus contract down. You will also experience some post-labor uterine contractions, especially while breastfeeding as your body produces oxytocin, that helps your uterus contract down further.
Not gonna lie, this HURTS and totally caught me off guard. It felt very similar to labor. But just like labor contractions – focus on breathing through them! They didn’t last super long. I can’t remember which day they stopped happening, but if they go away within the first few days, don’t be surprised if they come back again for a bit. Maybe when your milk starts to come in? (Things I should’ve written down, ha!)
Same goes with the bleeding after delivery. Everyone will experience vaginal bleeding or “lochia” afterward, whether you delivered vaginally or had a C-section. This mostly comes from where the placenta was attached to the womb and is your body ridding itself of extra blood and tissue, etc. it needed to nourish your baby.
I felt like my bleeding improved pretty quickly after discharge from the hospital, but then it came back, along with more pain, at home and has continued. I have found it to be very important to stay on top of pain meds to help with prevention rather than waiting until I’m miserable.
I’ve just been taking prescription strength ibuprofen they provided at the hospital, as well as Colace (stool softeners). This helps reduce the need to strain when going to the bathroom while you’re still recovering down there.
I’ve been warned by other moms to continue wearing a pad for at least a month just in case, and the bleeding will likely linger a while. I’ll do a separate post on postpartum care essentials or you can find those on my Amazon page here.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT ADVENTHEALTH SHAWNEE MISSION BIRTH CENTER
I truly cannot say enough good things about our entire experience at the AdventHealth Shawnee Mission Birth Center. From start to finish, we had incredible care. All of the nurses and other staff (lactation consultants, physicians, anesthesiologist, foodservice employees, etc.) who cared for us during our stay were attentive, kind, compassionate, informative and caring.
They answered our long list of first-time-parent questions and never made us feel silly, and checked on us often to see if there was anything we needed. They always graciously brought whatever I needed, and always explained what they were doing and the why behind it. They didn’t just talk to us like healthcare workers — they spoke to us like real humans who really understood, and wanted to put us at ease every step of the way.
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I felt completely confident with the care I was receiving at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission. My OB/GYN and all of the nurses I encountered at each of my prenatal appointments always addressed my questions and concerns and did all they could to give me peace of mind when I was having anxiety (which was often, unfortunately). They would offer to let me come in for extra fetal heartbeat checks, etc. as needed. It is so apparent that they care about your journey, your health and your baby’s health just as much as you do.
I am so glad that we did the 5-week childbirth/newborn classes at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission prior to delivery, because it really did help us feel a lot more prepared. During those classes, as well as our maternity navigator visit + Birth Center tour, we also took some time to create a rough “birth plan”. I knew that this was a loose plan, and tried to keep an open mind as much as possible, since there is only so much planning you can do in these situations.
With that being said, it was nice to take time in advance to think about my wishes and discuss them with my provider. That way they knew I wanted an epidural, a peanut ball, and other specific things relating to the labor/delivery experience.
The team at AdventHealth taught us SO much about how to care for our sweet boy in the first few days of his life and gave us the confidence and resources we needed to be successful when transitioning home. Throughout my pregnancy, whenever I shared about AdventHealth on social media, I would receive tons of messages from other women who have delivered there in recent years and had nothing but amazing things to say about their experience.
Everyone RAVED to me about the nurses at AdventHealth, and I can see why. Because of that, I have been looking forward to this part of the journey for such a long time. I am happy to report that our time at the Birth Center exceeded our expectations and we could not have been happier with our care.
I made a few small goodie bags for the staff in labor & delivery as well as in mother/baby full of little snacks like granola bars, candy, gum, mints, etc. as a little thank you, and I honestly regret not getting them something more extravagant, because man, do they deserve it!!! I know it’s not expected, but we cannot express our gratitude for all they did for us enough.
WHAT DO THEY PROVIDE AT ADVENTHEALTH SHAWNEE MISSION?
I was amazed at how much they provide at the Birth Center. You’ll be surprised to find that you really don’t need much outside of what they provide! We used very little of what we packed, haha. Figures!
- Postpartum care for mom: perineal ice packs, witch hazel pads, Dermaplast spray, mesh undies and varying sizes of pads, peri bottle, pain medications/supplements as needed
- Hospital gowns and sticky socks (I stayed in these the entire stay — didn’t see the point of changing and getting my own clothes potentially bloody/dirty and it made breastfeeding easy)
- Clothing for baby — he was in a little sleep shirt and swaddle and/or down to the diaper the whole stay. Diaper for skin-to-skin time and breastfeeding.
- Multiple hats/beanies.
- Diapers, wipes, gauze/Vaseline for post-circumcision care
- They provide a Halo swaddle and Rhett LOVES it and so do we. (Continuing to use this at home for bedtime)
- Mom gets three meals a day from the cafeteria — I personally loved the food!!! The meals were very substantial and I took full advantage of it. Labor & delivery / breastfeeding are no joke and I was super hungry.
- Dad/partner gets a few meal tickets to use their Harvest Kitchen cafeteria as well, but you’re also allowed to order food in. Ethan really enjoyed all of the food from the Harvest Kitchen cafeteria, too, and they have lots of healthy options available!
- Large water jug for mom with handle and straw — the BEST thing ever
- Pillows/blankets for mom and dad, and multiple swaddle blankets for baby (we still liked having our own pillows though)
- Burp cloths
- Stuff for baby’s first bath
WHAT SHOULD I PACK IN MY HOSPITAL BAG?
The main things that we used from our hospital bag (or wished we had) were:
- A few changes of comfy clothes for your partner (maybe some slippers or cozy shoes)
- Nursing bras
- Our own pillows from home
- An extra blanket or two from home
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shower stuff, any medications/supplements, hair brush, glasses/contacts case, face wash/lotion, dry shampoo, etc.)
- We packed shampoo/conditioner (Ethan used), but I just used dry shampoo and waited until we were home to wash my hair. If you think you’ll want to wash your hair, bring a blow dryer.
- Mittens for baby (we also brought nail files but didn’t end up using them. Waited til we were home to trim his nails and kept mittens on most of our stay)
- Snacks (I had easy things like granola bars, pretzel nuggets, mixed nuts, etc.)
- Vava night light
- Peri bottle (the one they have in the hospital is sufficient for the few days there, but I definitely prefer this one for home and wouldn’t have hated using it there)
- Portable sound machine!!! (this helped a lot — it can be noisy in the hospital at night)
- Sleep mask — it was also pretty bright in our room from the hall lights, so this would be nice for both mom and dad for sleeping
- An outfit for baby to go home in (and any cute outfits / name signs, etc. if you think you’ll want to take cute/fancy pics — I did not have the energy or desire to do much of this lol)
- Car seat / car seat cover and/or small blanket for going home
I hope you enjoyed reading about my birth story and how Mister Rhett entered the world and immediately stole our hearts! If you have any more questions about labor/delivery that I didn’t cover, or about AdventHealth Shawnee Mission specifically, please feel free to message me on IG and I will address it!
I will try to do a separate post on breastfeeding specifically, as this is something that we started in the hospital obviously, but it’s a loaded topic that I could go on and on about! Stay tuned and in the meantime check out my “BF” highlight on IG!
Thank you for reading and for all of your love for baby Rhett! We are so lucky to have lots of people cheering us on! 🙂