Shepherd's Birth Story
Wednesday morning felt like a combination of the first day of school and Christmas eve. I was so insanely excited and so insanely nervous all at the same time. The only other sensation that it fully compared to was the morning of my wedding. A feeling so totally surreal that I can’t fully seem to wrap my head around the reality of it. So yes, I was overjoyed, but at the same time it didn’t seem quite real.
I was 41 weeks pregnant and scheduled to go in to get induced at 5:30 PM on August, 9. The upside of getting induced was that we could somewhat plan for it all. There was no dramatic scene like in the movies where my water breaks in a restaurant and we rush to the hospital and barely make it into the labor room before the baby pops out. No, instead we calmly (well, sort of haha) gathered our things at home before heading to the hospital. Although being able to be prepared sounds super ideal, the downside was the internal struggle I was having with my body. I felt almost let down by my body because it just wouldn’t go into labor on its own. I had been dilated 1cm for a month with no change. Expectations will get ya every time and my expectations for going into labor on my own and dreaming up what that would look like kind of left me disappointed over the alternative course of events. I kept reminding myself that it was all in God’s hands. That He was in control and that he had Shepherd’s birthday planned out exactly the way He wanted it to go.
I stood in the doorway of our apartment at 8:30AM and kissed Chase goodbye as he headed to work, knowing the next time I saw him our lives would be about to change forever. At 10AM my mom and little sister picked me up to take me to get my nails done and run a couple of errands. It was the most bizarre feeling going about my day knowing that I’d be going into the hospital to get induced that night.
Chase got off work around 3PM and after a quick lunch, we headed home to get ready! We took a little nap, seeing as we knew we wouldn’t be getting much sleep for awhile haha. I took a shower, made myself somewhat presentable, grabbed a few last minute items like chargers and snacks and wandered around aimlessly feeling like I for sure forgot something. Chase and I gathered our bags and looked at each other both feeling a little anxious and strange about the fact that the next time we’d be in our home we’d have a little baby with us. At 5:15PM we left our apartment to head to the hospital. Of course I had forgotten to get gas, so we had to stop and then were running late (we were supposed to be there at 5:30PM), but then again what did I expect- I’m always late! We listened to country music as we drove, and said a little prayer for Shepherd’s health and for a smooth delivery.
We entered the hospital around 5:50PM, and were immediately taken to our room. The woman who brought us into our room handed me the hospital gown and told me to put it on and then just left. We were so confused on what to do next. We sat for about 30- 45 minutes before we saw another human haha. We goofed around and explored all the drawers and cabinets in the room, and Chase made fun of the fact that you could see my butt in the hospital gown as we waited. Finally, a nurse came in and told us about the whole induction process. She told me that they would give me 3 doses of Cytotec (I’m pretty sure that’s what it was called) to ripen my cervix and to try to send my body into labor on its own. She said if I didn’t start labor on my own during the night, then they would start me on pitocin in the morning. Around 7PM we heard a knock on the door and a familiar face stepped in. Allie, a friend of ours from church, came in to see how we were doing. She is an L&D nurse at the hospital where we were delivering. We got excited and asked if she was our new nurse. She wasn’t, but said she could switch if we wanted! And man, what a blessing it was to not only have a familiar face in there with us, but to have a fellow believer to encourage us and to speak so much truth to us. I was then given my first dose of the Cytotec.
My mom, sisters and niece stopped by and brought us a bunch of snacks since I had a few more hours until I wasn’t allowed to eat anymore. Our good friends, Connor and Hillary, also stopped by and brought us dinner at around 9PM. For my final meal, I had a bean and cheese burrito, of course. At this point I could feel my contractions coming in more consistently. They weren’t painful but just uncomfortable, kind of like period cramps. We spent the next couple of hours hanging out with Connor and Hillary and just laughing about a bunch of random stuff. At 11PM my contractions were more painful and it hurt for me to talk and laugh. So Con and Hill said goodnight and we were left alone again. Chase and I got ready for bed but at this point my contractions were making it hard for me to really move. Allie came in to check my cervix and I was still at 1cm so I was then given the second dose of Cytotec. She asked me how my pain was and if I wanted any painkillers or an epidural. I didn’t really have a birth plan. I knew that things always change and rather than setting my mind on something, I just wanted to see how my body handled it all and then make a decision. However, I knew I didn’t want any painkillers because of the risk to the baby with slowing his heart rate down. I told Allie I would probably get an epidural at some point but just wanted to see how things go for awhile first.
The next 4 hours (from midnight- 4AM) I tried so hard to get sleep but just couldn’t. Between the contractions that were way too painful to sleep through and having to get up to pee every 15 minutes because of all the fluids being pumped into me, I maybe got 10-20 minutes of sleep. I just kind of laid awake and cried because it was just not going how I expected and because I knew I needed to get rest to have energy for the whole next day, but I just couldn’t. I felt kind of alone because since we were both trying to get sleep, I didn’t wake Chase up to be with me during contractions which made it tough. I was getting frustrated because I was in a lot of pain, exhausted and felt so much pressure to try and get rest. Shepherd’s heart rate would also drop every now and then after contractions and Allie would come in to give me oxygen, tell me to flip to my other side, or sit me up to try to get his heart rate back up. At 4AM I asked Allie what I should do. I didn’t want to get an epidural that soon, because I didn’t want to be stuck in my hospital bed and because I had too much pride to get it that soon. But after talking with both Allie and Chase, and praying about it a little I decided to go ahead and get it so that I could finally get some sleep. The anesthesiologist came in at 4:30AM to give me the epidural. I was really nervous about it hurting, but knew it’d be worth it. Chase sat in front of me and held my hands as the needle went in. It really didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would and the anesthesiologist told me I had a muscular back which made me feel good haha.
20 minutes later the pain subsided. And so did all the feeling in my lower body. I knew that an epidural was supposed to take the pain away, but I had no idea I wouldn’t even be able to wiggle my toes! It was for sure the most bizarre feeling. I was excited to finally get some sleep now that I wasn’t in pain. HOWEVER, sleep just wasn’t in the cards for me haha. Shepherd’s heart rate kept dropping and a nurse would have to rush in to give me oxygen or sit me up or flip me over or give me more fluids after my contractions. This happened about every 20-30 minutes, which made sleeping kind of impossible. This process continued for the duration of my labor.
At 7AM we said goodbye to Allie, as the nurses rotated out, but were left in the wonderful hands of our new nurse Bethany, who was also an angel. My cervix was at 2cm at this point, which was pretty discouraging to me. I had really hoped that I was progressing faster. They started the pitocin drip to speed things along and to make my contractions more consistent and strong. My doctor stopped in a couple of hours later to see how I was progressing. At 9AMish my water had broken and I was at 3.5 cm. I continued to be in labor without much change all day. Throughout the day, Chase and I tried (without success) to nap, ate some popsicles, watched Suits, listened to worship music, prayed and fantasized about what our baby would look like/ be like. 5 hours later, around 3PM I finally got to 9 cm and Bethany told us that I would get to start pushing soon! My epidural was also starting to wear off a little and I could mildly feel my contractions again. Shepherd’s head was what they call “sunny side up” and he needed to be flipped to face the other direction before I could really start pushing. It took about an hour, but we were finally able to flip him so that I could start pushin for real. Allie was back again for the next nurse rotation, but Bethany decided to also stay with us. It was such a blessing to have two such amazing nurses with us! At 6:00PMish I finally began to push! Chase held one leg and one nurse held the other leg (I still couldn’t feel my legs or move them on my own) as I pushed. I would push for 10 seconds 3 times during each contraction and then take a break. It was really hard to push considering I couldn’t feel anything waist down, but apparently I was doing a good job at it. After several pushes they said they could see Shepherd’s head. They asked Chase if he wanted to see, he looked kind of nervous but did it anyways. His face was HILARIOUS! He looked a mixture of uncomfortable and amazed. Chase was so sweet to me during that next hour and a half (and that entire day). He held my hand, kept kissing my forehead and encouraging me. I felt like we were really a team and doing it together even though I was the one in actual labor. My doctor then came in and after a couple more pushes they said he was about to come and all of a sudden like 5 other people came in, they pulled the bed stirrups out, and people started putting on scrubs. It all happened so so fast and all of a sudden it go SO REAL. I couldn’t look at Chase in the eye because I was too overwhelmed with emotion and knew I’d start sobbing and not be able to push. I held back tears and was bursting with excitement and nerves.
I pushed two times and they said his head was crowning and asked if I wanted to feel it. I reached down and felt my baby’s tiny head. It was such a crazy feeling. I could not believe I was actually pushing a baby out! Two more pushes and he was out! The doctor held up our tiny little baby and I immediately burst into tears. They all kept telling me I did it. Chase and I looked at each other, both of us in tears as they put our little boy on my chest. He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, cone head and all. Chase kept kissing my forehead as we both cried and told our little boy how much we loved him. A few seconds later, Chase said “I want to do this again!” Me and the nurse laughed and I was like, “What do you mean, you want to do this again? You’re not the one that just pushed out a tiny human!” But I knew what he meant. It was the most unbelievable feeling in the world to see a life entering the world and to experience that kind of immediate love for another soul. It was the most worshipful moment of my life. I was all of a sudden so overwhelmed not only by my love for little Shepherd and for Chase, but also by the love of God and by the beauty of birth and how He created it.
Chase got to cut the umbilical cord and they washed Shepherd off and got the gunk out of his nose and ears while he was on my chest. I guess I delivered the placenta during that time but I didn’t feel anything/ wasn’t paying attention. I just could not take my eyes off of his tiny face! And gosh was he tiny! He was born at 7:05pm, weighed 6 lb 14 oz and was 19 in. long. He was perfect. Chase and I got to spend the next hour with him alone while I did skin to skin with him and fed him. We were both so in awe. Even though I never wanted to leave that precious moment, I knew we had friends and family waiting to meet little Shep. When our close friends and family entered the room, the moment felt even more surreal. The best part was that I finally got to eat and one of our friends brought me a large smoothie from Smoothie King, which was all I could imagine stomaching after 24 hours without any food. It was around 10PM when they all left us again.
When it came time to move up to our postpartum room, it was actually the most comical thing to try and transfer me from the hospital bed to the wheelchair. I still couldn’t feel my legs from the epidural and I collapsed twice just trying to get into the chair, even though I had the help of Allie and Chase. I don’t know why that was so complicated but it took forever haha. We arrived in our recovery room around 11PM and had to say goodbye to Allie which was super sad! Our new nurse came in to give us some information and when she tried to leave I kind of freaked out and was like what the heck are we supposed to do now? Like when am I supposed to feed him? How do I feed him? Is he allowed to go to sleep? How do we swaddle him? How do I get to the bathroom if I can’t feel my legs? Etc. She probably thought we stole someone’s baby because of how clueless we seemed! Once she left the room, Chase and I just stared at each other. It was so crazy to us that Shepherd was still there! I know that sounds strange, but all of it was just so darn surreal and it was just so crazy that we had a baby!
We didn’t sleep that night because we just stared at him. We were just so in love with him and couldn’t understand how that kind of love was possible. We cried together and just thanked God for choosing us to be the parents of this little angel baby. Because of Shepherd, and experiencing a parent’s love for their child first hand, I now am better able to understand how it could be possible for God to love His children so much. Before, I could never seem to grasp the concept that I could do absolutely nothing and Jesus would still love me all the same. Even though I knew that His love and grace are given freely, my heart still struggled with feeling like I had to earn it in a way. Like I had to make Him proud. But now, I understand. Shepherd does nothing but eat, sleep and poop and my love for him is just so overwhelming. I’m so thankful that God has allowed me to experience motherhood, not only because of the gift it is in and of itself, but also because it has allowed me to better understand my Savior and to better understand the depths of His love for me.
Shepherd is now 7 weeks old. We’ve loved every minute with him. Watching my husband become a dad has been so amazing. Chase is already the fun parent *eye roll*. He plays with Shepherd and talks to him and sings to him and it’s the sweetest thing ever to watch! Shep is growing so fast and I just want time to slow down so that I can breath it all in. He LOVES bath time, hates getting his diaper changed, gets incredibly hangry, can hold his head up really well, is starting to smile, has two chins, weighs 10.8 lbs and is getting cuter every day! I’m so obsessed with my little baby boy and SO thankful that God chose to give me this path. Our biggest prayer for Shepherd is that he would never go a day without knowing how loved he is by God and that he would grow to be a man who brings others to Christ by the way he lives his life and loves the people around him.