I apologize in advance for the millions of photos in this blog post. We did a “fresh 48” shoot with Abbeigh while we were still in the hospital – probably 36hrs after Shiloh was born. And I love all of these photos + they are so special to us. So, I couldn’t narrow down which ones to share with y’all! Second of all – this is going to be a long post. I mean, how can you possibly condense the story of how your precious baby made their debut into the world? Childbirth was hands down the most miraculous, life-changing, challenging, spiritual experience of my entire life, and I’m really excited to share my birth story with y’all today. I went back and forth for a while on whether or not I would share on here…but after getting TONS of requests, I decided to share since it’s something y’all are interested in. Also wanted to share it in hopes that any part of my experience might be helpful for your own birth story one day. But let me warn you in advance, I get pretty detailed and there will probs be some TMI moments!
So before I get into my birth story, let me share some background info with y’all. For as long as I can remember, I always thought I’d want to give birth naturally (aka sans epidural or medication). I won’t get into all the “why’s” behind that decision (maybe another blog post on that soon!)…but once we figured out we were pregnant and I did more research on medication/epidurals/natural childbirth, I knew natural was the route I wanted to go. We still delivered in a hospital, but I chose to use a midwife instead of a doctor. We delivered at Boulder Community Health so it’s kind of best of both worlds – you’re in a hospital just in case you need medical intervention, but their midwives are very encouraging + supportive of going a more natural route if that’s what you want to do. I absolutely loved this hospital and the midwives there. So that’s the first thing you should know about my birth story. Next, we hired a doula and it was one of the best decisions we have EVER made. Michael would 100% agree. I think she was just as helpful for me as she was for Michael. Honestly a God-send and I can’t imagine my labor without her. Lastly, Michael and I took a 4 week childbirth class back in September and I highly recommend doing that if you’re like I was – totally clueless about giving birth haha. It was really helpful for both of us (for both labor and delivery and postpartum education).
So, now onto the birth story! As most of you know, I’ve had major trouble sleeping for the last month or two. I always have trouble sleeping but it was consistently awful in my third trimester ha. So, at 2am on Friday morning (thursday night / friday morning), I woke up, went downstairs and got a bowl of cereal. While I was making my cereal, I noticed a little bit of liquid come out of me. It wasn’t a lot and it wasn’t a gush…it was just really random and confusing. I kind of wondered if my water broke, but it was nothing like what you see in the movies ha. I went back to bed…and while I was in bed I noticed my back was kind of hurting periodically but didn’t think much of it.
The next morning I woke up and my sister and doula encouraged me to just go get checked out by the midwives to see if that was in fact my water that broke. So Michael and I went in on Friday morning around 10am to get checked. The midwife confirmed that it was in fact my water that broke. (She said just bc your water breaks doesn’t always mean it’s a ‘gush’). She hooked me up to a fetal non stress test to see if i was having contractions (i told her i was having back pain but I didn’t know what contractions felt like ha), and also to check on the baby’s activity. Baby’s activity and heart rate looked great, and I was in fact having contractions! She predicted that labor would probably start sometime that day (Friday), so she sent us home…said to relax and come back when labor really picked up and I couldn’t handle the contractions anymore. This was the most surreal exciting scary feeling ever! [FYI – my amniotic fluid showed no sign of infection and the baby’s HR and activity level were all still great. And I didn’t lose a lot of amniotic fluid slash your body is always making more…which is why they sent me home! I’m so glad they did].
So Michael and I grabbed lunch at Modern Market lol and went home to wait. Oddly, by time we got home, my contractions had really slowed down. They went from 3minutes apart to just really random and sporadic. I bounced on a stability ball, we went for a walk…but they just weren’t picking up. The midwife said if contractions didn’t pick up by Saturday morning, to come back in to the hospital and we’d discuss our options. (Since my water had broke, we were on somewhat of a clock).
So Friday night when contractions still hadn’t picked up, we went to an acupuncturist to try that. (Apparently acupuncture can be really helpful in inducing labor / contractions). I don’t think it really helped my contractions pick up, but I’m still glad we did it. It was actually a very relaxing / therapeutic experience that kind of calmed me down before labor. After acupuncture (around 8pm on Friday night) and contractions didn’t pick up, we went home. That night I couldn’t sleep AT ALL…but contractions never picked up. (FYI ever since my water broke at 2am that morning, I was in constant communication with my doula which was super helpful). Friday night though when I wasn’t sleeping, I was definitely starting to stress. How will they induce labor? What if they have to do a C-section to get her out? I was pretty much a mess…until Saturday morning. I woke up pretty early, made sure our hospital bags were all ready to go…and spent some time praying and in the Word. I read Isaiah 43: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” The Lord reminded me that He is sovereign over everything – including my labor, including Shiloh’s life…everything. He calmed me that morning.
Saturday morning, we put our hospital bags in the car and drove to the hospital where we met our doula. Michael and I took a moment outside of the hospital to pray together, then went inside. We met with the midwife and she suggested they start me on pitocin to get contractions going, which we all felt great about. So they started an IV on me around 10:30am with pitocin. When you’re on pitocin, they also typically have you on a monitor to monitor the baby’s activity and your contractions constantly. I started to notice slight contractions within an hour. Michael and I did a loop around our hospital floor (tons of loops actually ha it felt good to walk), as contractions started to pick up and get closer together. They were uncomfortable and consistent, but I was managing fine. Until 4pm.
At 4pm, I went from a 6 pain level on a scale of 1-10, to a 10. It was insane. I’m not sure if it’s because of how Shiloh was positioned or what, but I 100% felt my contractions solely in my back and it was excruciating to be honest. Contractions were now coming probably every 2 minutes and they were insanely intense and painful. Michael and my doula were amazing in helping me breathe through contractions. My doula knew where to press on my back and Michael would fan me or visa versa. They were so encouraging and knew exactly what I needed to hear.
Contractions continued to get more and more intense from 4pm until about 8pm. During those 4hrs, I tried several different positions on and off the bed, and got in the tub at one point which was SUPER helpful. I didn’t want to sit in bath water (because I was bleeding and that grossed me out), so I just sat in the tub without water in it and turned the shower head on, and Michael would put the warm water on my back during contractions. It was so helpful.
I asked my doula and the midwife how I would know when it was time to push or how much longer these contractions would last. They said I would know when it was time to push because I would just get a really strong urge to start pushing. That ‘urge’ for me started around 7:35pm. The midwife checked me though and I was dilated to an 8. So, technically shouldn’t start pushing yet. TBH at this point my pain was at an all time high and I was almost regretting not getting the epidural.
The midwife never told me I was dilated to a 10 and it was time to start pushing, but I literally couldn’t control it. Around 8pm I just had the strongest urge to push and I couldn’t resist. So, push I did. This part was obviously also painful but at this point I was just so happy to maybe see a light at the end of the tunnel that I pushed with all my heart and soul. I felt so exhausted, and honestly scared that I wouldn’t have the strength to push her out.
After several more super intense contractions…I pushed for about an hour and Shiloh came out!! AAAHHHHH I have chills everywhere even as I type this. As soon as Shiloh came out they put her on me so we could have “skin to skin” right away. I mean…I have no words for that moment y’all. Tears, chills, everywhere as I write this. She was perfect, she was mine. She was here. Michael and I were both sobbing and it was the most beautiful moment of my life, times 10, hands down.
There’s a lot of stuff that happens after birth – delivery of the placenta, and then they “massage” your uterus to make sure all the placenta is out (ouch), and some other stuff…but I don’t really want to get into the ‘after birth’ story haha since this is my birth story with Shiloh. I will tell y’all, I did have a small tear (first degree) but didn’t need stitches which I’m really thankful for. the tear should heal fine on its own!
Shiloh was born at 8:45pm on Saturday, October 27 and weighed 6lbs 5oz (she was born at 38 weeks and they said this is the perfect size for her gestational age). We stayed at the hospital for two nights and left on Monday morning. Labor was the most incredible, empowering, spiritual experience of my life. To be honest, it was also 100x harder than I ever imagined it would be. I wouldn’t change a THING about my birth story, but I went into it thinking “I’m pretty tough. I have a really high pain tolerance. I ran a marathon. This will be painful but I know I can handle it.” All of those things are true, but the pain of labor was more intense than I ever imagined. I’m sure in part because I was in labor for SO long (my water broke at 2am on Friday morning and Shiloh was born on Saturday night at almost 9pm. so it was a LONG two days). I don’t say that to scare any of you guys, because here I am! i did it, I survived, and got a beautiful perfect baby girl out of it. I just say it so that you can have accurate expectations…because my expectations were pretty off haha.
There were a few things during my labor that helped me tremendously that I wanted to share with you guys, in case it might help you during your labor as well.
First of all, Michael and my doula were both rockstars. I couldn’t have done it without them. I highly recommend considering a doula, especially if you’re doing natural childbirth. Yes labor was still so hard and painful but they did everything they could to get me as comfortable as possible and encouraged me when I felt so scared and tired.
The next thing that was insanely helpful for me: we brought a speaker and had my worship playlist playing the entire time I was in ‘active labor’ (from 4pm on). This was a game changer for me. When I felt scared or like I couldn’t do it, I would hear truth from Scripture in these songs. It would remind me that God was with me, helping me. It would remind me to cry out to Him for help. It would remind me of HOW GOOD he was that I was even in labor at that moment. If you are a believer, I highly recommend having worship music playing! It was so helpful for me, and Michael as well.
The next thing I would suggest is eat good, hearty meals while you still can. You’ll get to a point in labor where you won’t want to eat at all..so before you get there, have good protein, good carbs…fuel your body for what is about to come. (Again, take this for what it is! Helpful for me, but maybe not for everyone).
Something else that was helpful for me: we brought a few essential oils – lavender and peace & calming. We didn’t diffuse them, but my doula put them on a rag and would have me just occasionally smell it between contractions (we used lavender). This was helpful for obvious reasons that we all love essential oils (calming, stress relieving etc), but also (without going into too much detail lol)…certain parts of labor just SMELL BAD. Like, I had stuff come out of every orifice of my body at a few points during labor (sorry if TMI lol just being real) SO having those essential oils really helped with any foul odor. (Michael appreciated them too ha).
The last thing I’ll say here that was insanely helpful for me during labor was having some kind of mantra I could keep telling myself over and over again when things got really hard. This will be different for every woman going through labor, but something I kept telling myself was “your body knows what it’s doing. you are in pain, but your body is doing everything exactly right. breathe, lean into this, let the contractions come, let your baby come.” I just kept reminding myself of that over and over. I kept reminding myself that my body knew what it was doing and that this was a natural and miraculous thing taking place. It would help me breathe through contractions instead of tense up and freak out.
photos by abbeigh blake photography
I always wondered how someone could go through the pain of childbirth and choose to do it again and again with baby #2, #3, etc. This was hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m only 10 days out from it and can honestly say I would do it all over again in a heartbeat because of the insane and overwhelming love I feel for our Shiloh girl. If you feel afraid of childbirth, don’t be. As women, our bodies were created to do this and it truly is incredible how instinctual childbirth is! I know I’ve said this multiple times, but our labor and delivery was truly the most empowering and spiritual experience of my life, and also brought Michael and I closer than I ever could have imagined.
Thanks for letting me share part of our story with y’all. Your support, encouragement, and prayers through this season have meant more to us than you know!
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