March 9, 2024

Shandi's Birth Story

"My wish is that every mother could have the beautiful experience that I did."

I found out I was pregnant in February of 2019, just months after my husband had suffered brain and spinal cord injuries, due to a work related accident. We honestly weren’t even sure if we would be able to have more children, and were overjoyed to find out we would be welcoming our fourth child.

Other than some morning sickness, my pregnancy was wonderful. I looked forward to my appointments at Brookhaven. I appreciated the cozy atmosphere and holistic approaches to health. They understood that I was pregnant during a very stressful time of my life and they were amazing in helping me work through that. My Husband and children were always welcome to join me, and with each visit I grew more excited to have my baby at the center.

At 37 weeks, I started dealing with bouts of prodromal labor that would come and go. Over the next few weeks it continued, leaving me exhausted. My due date came and went, and then my 41 week appointment. The Midwives were so encouraging that labor would kick in eventually, and kept a close eye on our baby.

On October 30th, I woke up vomiting with back pain, and informed the midwife on call. She told me that since I was having no other flu like symptoms, it sounded like my body was clearing itself out for labor. I was able to get out and about for a doctors appointment and to run some errands. My contractions continued, but didn’t seem “bad” enough yet to be true labor.

Finally, that afternoon, the midwife on call and I agreed that since I would be in town anyway, we would meet at the Center and assess the situation. I have a history of very short labors and this felt like the safest way to go.

Once arriving at the center, my contractions seemed to slow down, and I was afraid it was just another bout of prodromal labor. Kai assured me that it was normal for labor to slow down as I settled in and acclimated to new surroundings.

I went ahead and had my mom and sister come to the center to help with my other 3 children. Knowing my family was right down the hallway was such a huge comfort to me.

At around 5:30pm, my contractions started to feel more like “true” labor and I told my mom to go ahead and take the kids out for something to eat. When they arrived back at the center a little after 6, I was in more pain, but still anxious for things to get rolling. I spent this time bouncing up and down on an exercise ball, walking back and forth to go visit my family in the classroom, and watching The Office to distract myself from the time.

At around 6:30pm, I got off the exercise ball to get a snack, and my water started breaking. I was so excited, I ran right out to let Emily and Kai know. When they came in to help get me cleaned up, I started losing a lot of fluid. I started having a bloody show as well, and was so happy to know I was finally in “real” labor.

I had been 3 cm dilated for 3 weeks, so I didn’t ask for a cervical check, in case I wasn’t as far into labor as I was hoping. From about 6:30pm to 7:30pm, I continued to bounce and rock back and forth on the ball, often squatting through contractions. My husband and I were still watching Netflix on the iPad and laughing. He was great about offering me sips of Labor-aid in between contractions and reminding me to breath. Somewhere during this time, I started getting really nauseous and figured I must be at least 6 cm.

At around 7:30pm, I had to cut all the noise off and go lie in bed to rest. I spent contractions on my hands and knees, because the pain was becoming less bearable. Emily and Kai came to check on me and give me some advice on pain management. They had a very quiet, calming presence that I really appreciated. At this point, I was having to moan through contractions and started shaking. I knew I must be in transition, and the hard part was coming soon.

Emily suggested that I spend a few contractions on the birthing stool and then move to the tub soon.

At 8:30pm, I moved to the birthing tub. My contractions were becoming very painful and the water was so soothing. The kids came in for a quick visit, but I wasn’t able to do a lot of talking. The room cleared out again, and I was able to concentrate on my breathing. I started getting a little overheated, and Kai brought in some cold washcloths to keep me cool. During this time, she also put some flowers in the tub my Mom had picked up. My husband sat next to the tub, continuing to offer Labor-aid between contractions.

At around 9:10pm, I started feeling more pressure on my bottom, and knew it was almost time to push. Kai could immediately tell by the way I sounded that it was almost time as well. My mom, sister and children quietly came in. I was excited and terrified all at once. I kept reminding myself that our baby boy would be there soon.

The next 10 minutes, I could feel more pressure on my bottom with each contraction. I knew his head was about to crown and the pain and exhaustion was becoming more than I thought I could handle. In between each contraction, I prayed, “Lord, please get me through just one more.” Finally, at 9:20 p.m, with plenty of grunting and yelling on my part, his head was born. Kai told me to pant, and with the next contraction, his body would be born. I can’t even describe the pain and exhilaration of pushing out a tiny human, and the relief when my body was emptied. I leaned back and Kai handed me our beautiful baby boy. We name him Gideon Ryker. The high that I felt at that moment is like nothing else.

I spent a few minutes cuddling and talking to our baby in the tub, but felt like I’d be more comfortable in bed. With the help of everyone else, I was safely moved out of the tub and laid down.

Once we were in bed, our baby latched on to nurse, and nursed off and on for 2 hours. During this time I delivered the placenta and my husband cut the umbilical cord once it stopped pulsing. I appreciated that this special time wasn’t interrupted by our baby being whisked away for weighing and such. My kids sat on the bed around me, taking in their baby brother. The lights were low in the room, with some flameless candles flickering and I could hear it raining outside. I felt like we were in our own little bubble, safe from the world.

Around 11:30pm, Kai did Gideon’s newborn exam. She took the time to check over my placenta and explain to my kids what it was and the amazing things it did during my pregnancy. Around midnight, my kids were exhausted, so my mom took them home to sleep in their own beds.

Since my husband and I were so tired, we opted to spend the night at the birth center to get some rest. Emily and Kai let us know that they were right down the hallway if we needed anything. It was so nice spending the night snuggled up in a real bed with my Husband and Baby, and no interruptions.

We woke up around 6:00a.m. and decided to head on home. I surprisingly felt really good. Usually the next morning, I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. Emily and Kai helped us pack up and get in our vehicle safely. I was so happy to be going home to be with my children and be in the comfort of my own space.

On Friday, Emily and Danika came over for my home visit. They did the 24 hour newborn tests while Gideon was tucked safely in my arms. They assured me that I could call or text If I ever had any concerns, and that was so comforting.

I returned to Brookhaven for 2 week and 6 week checkups. It was nice to go back and visit and know that my baby and I were recovering well. I have texted several times over the course of my recovery when I had any concerns. They are always very quick in getting back with me and never make me feel like I’m bothering them.

If you are considering Brookhaven, I would highly encourage you to go check them out! I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful birth and wonderful care. From the start of my pregnancy to postpartum, I felt completely cared for and supported. The support doesn’t stop once your baby is born, which is when it’s often needed most. You will never be forced into making a choice you don’t feel comfortable with and will be encouraged to research and read to make medical decisions that work for you. My wish is that every mother could have the beautiful experience that I did.

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