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Everett’s Beautiful Birth Story

Two and a half years ago I walked into the hospital completely prepared for caroline’s birth. & by prepared, I mean I scheduled my induction, showed up on time and got the pit going. I read a dozen books on parenting. A half dozen on what happened week by week during my pregnancy. But not a single one on birthing. I mean…that’s what doctors are for, right?

Boy, did I learn my lesson.

I spared the details (as I am not into scaring anyone) but it was not a great experience. I do not remember the entire first week of my daughter’s life & I vowed that would never, ever happen again if I was lucky enough to have a subsequent pregnancy.

& I didn’t let it happen again. I got my perfect birth–my drug free, doula assisted beautiful delivery. & I remember every single moment of it. & I am still on a total high. Two weeks postpartum. Not taking any drugs at all. Eight pounds left to lose. With an alert, beautiful baby boy at my side. I swear he is so alert because he was never exposed to the cocktail of drugs that most infants get from their mamas. His big blue eyes are wide and open most of the day. I could stare at them forever.

But my birth…magical. It was absolutely magical. So this is how the story goes…

I woke up on my due date bummed that I hadn’t had a baby. I was almost certain that I was going to go early. But February chugged right along. I was having sporadic contractions here & there but nothing to get worked up about.

On Feb 17th I had some very strong movement–not contractions exactly–but painful movement and pressure that was regular and extremely uncomfortable. A few texts back & forth with my doula with suggestions for some positioning & they ceased. & so we waited. My doctor was out of town until Feb 20th so I was perfectly comfortable waiting for her to get back. She was who I wanted to deliver my baby. She is the one who not only recommended my doula, but gave me her own birth plan and encouraged the use of one. The first day I met her, she called herself “a midwife trapped in the body of an OBGYN.” & it was then that I knew she was the perfect one to manage my care. If you want an OBGYN who is supportive of natural birth–I cannot say enough positive things about Dr. Schwope with Lonestar OBGYN. Call her. Tell her I sent you. It’s the best decision I made–because I always knew that I could have the birth I wanted & she reminded me of this every time I saw her.

Ok. Back to the story…I had my inlaws head down from Dallas because I was stressing about what to do with Caroline if I went into labor in the middle of the night. We had a backup plan. And a backup for the backup. But I just felt better about having them in the house, knowing that the chances of going into labor alone were pretty good, as my husband’s hours were crazy, as usual.

The inlaws arrived on Saturday, February 18th. No baby. Sunday came & went. No baby. No signs of baby. I was super uncomfortable but my heartburn was suddenly gone. Hmm. On Monday I finally lost my mucus plug and started to bleed a bit. Soon?! Maybe?? Contractions here & there. But again, nothing painful. When the bleeding didn’t stop on Tuesday, I went in to get checked out. I dragged my poor post call hubby along & it was confirmed that I was still dilated to 3cm (no change from 39wk appt) but my cervix was 70% effaced and she could feel the baby’s head. Good news–but I was so uncomfortable. It had to be soon. So I pulled out my pump–spent 15 min on to see what it would do. & it did…nothing.

On the afternoon of my due date, Wednesday 2.22.12, I decided to complete the last thing on my baby to-do list: the slipcover for the rocker in the baby’s room. I pumped at about 2 pm for 15 min and then locked myself in the nursery to sew during nap time. I was sitting on the floor a lot. Moving a lot. Standing a lot. My hubby called about five times asking if it was baby time. I assured him it wasn’t. But by time he called to say he was heading home from work, I was starting to have regular contractions.

I started writing them down at 6:30pm. They continued, very regular (2-5 min apart) but not anything to get excited about until about 8:30. By 8:30 I was starting to sweat with each one and I could feel my body getting really warm but they still weren’t painful.

By 9pm the contractions were making me well up with tears. They were uncomfortable and emotional–for whatever weird reason. Still not terribly painful. I went up to my bedroom, and used the edge of my bed to breathe through each one.  By 9:30 I decided to take a shower and get ready to go to the hospital. It was time. They were getting intense.

We were on the road at 10:30. I was having strong and painful contractions in the car and as we were about to get on the freeway (it’s a 30 min drive) I realized that somehow my hypnobabies was deleted off my iPhone and I flipped out. I wanted to turn around but the contractions were long and strong. My husband made the executive decision (as I grabbed the ceiling through a contraction) to keep going & reminded me they were on my iPad. I pulled out the iPad and just listened to the tracks on that. I only had about three contractions on the way to the hospital, and he was convinced that I was slowing down. He thought it was another false alarm. But oh my goodness. It sure wasn’t. I was breathing deeply and really focusing on relaxing. I was listening to the hypnobabies deepening track–and it was perfect. I swear it was the only reason we even made it to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital just after 11. I took about three steps out of the car and was slammed with my strongest contraction yet. It brought me to all fours in the parking garage. Quite a sight, I am sure! After I got through it, we made it to the stairs/elevator. Never one to pass up the stairs, I opted for the elevator & we made it to the right floor. I had another terribly strong contraction in the skyway and was able to get to l&d after I made it through. I remember walking through the doors & looking at my husband and whispering “just tell me it’s okay to use drugs if I need them” and I remember him laughing and saying something like “you don’t need them…you can do this.” & I could. I just had this fear that I’d arrive and have still made no progress–but it turns out this was likely in the heat of my “transition.” It was intense. So intense. I was on all fours getting checked into triage when my doula,Vera, arrived. I remember telling her that it was going so fast–and I couldn’t believe that I was progressing so quickly & her gentle words were so soothing: “you’ve been laboring for days, girl.” & she was right.

They had me come back & I had another contraction that brought me to the floor in the hallway. This was [allegedly] when I firmly told my husband that he was “NOT HELPING” despite his best efforts to ease my back pain. Ha! I was whisked into the bathroom with my doula to put on a gown before they’d check me in triage (as per hospital protocol). In the bathroom I had another contraction and felt like I needed to pee. The minute I sat down, I felt the urge to push & as quickly as I said that, they had me on the table in triage and confirmed I was 9 cm with very little cervix left. Whoops! Might have waited a wee bit too long at home!

I had one contraction on the table in triage after they checked me and my water broke–full of meconium. I remember having three more contractions after this. I had one in the hallway on the way to the room and had the urge to push so badly but everyone was telling me to breathe through it. HA. Tell a laboring woman not to push. Let me assure you. That just cannot happen. I did my best.

By the time we got in the room I heard them call for the doctor and the NICU team and I had my second to last contraction. I had to push, they told me not to–as there was no doctor–except my husband & he hadn’t delivered a baby in years! I tried my best not to push, but of course I did. It cannot be stopped. The on-call doctor ran into the room & put on his gown and seconds later I was having another contraction–and I felt the “ring of fire” as they call it and then I felt a huge pressure release as I could feel the baby move through all at once. My husband whispered into my ear “it’s a boy.” and the rest is a glowy mess of emotions. After 20 minutes and 8ish contractions at the hospital…at 11:34pm on 2.22.12 (his due date!) Thomas Everett Percival arrived. Our family was here. We were complete. Nothing else mattered.

& because I have edited less than a dozen pictures in photoshop since his birth–here’s life through the instagram lens of my iPhone–which is pretty much all I have time for right now!

Due to the speed of it all, I did tear again. Not the extent of my last tear, but I am still recovering. My tailbone was not feeling great at first, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be. Certainly not as bad as last time. My hope is that my body went through this labor in such a natural way that the bone fragment that led to the recommendation for an elective c-section just shifted out of the way & is in a better place now. Who knows. All I know is that it really isn’t a problem. & that makes me happy.

I’m going to put together another article (eventually) on how I successfully prepared for a natural, drug-free childbirth. But the short answer is: I was in a really good mental place. I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (a must read) and used Hypnobabies for my preparation. I don’t like to over complicate–so those two tools were pretty much it. I firmly believe that pain is mental–it will only hurt as bad as you think it will hurt–and I can honestly tell you I thought it was going to be more painful. Hence, the almost-too-late trip to the hospital. The worst part was the tear repair after delivery. But my doula insisted my baby be on my chest for that, so I got to stare (and fall in love with him) during the pain. Which somehow made it ok. I mean…those lips are so delicious…who could focus on anything else?

My alert little man. I am head over heels!

Now…off to figure out this mother of two thing. Going from zero to one was cake. One to two? OOF. Holy challenging.


& just for good measure–my absolute favorite image from 2.22.12. It pretty much needs no words.

(photo credit: my awesome doula, Vera!)

If you are contemplating, or preparing for a natural childbirth–let me assure you–it is an amazing experience.

The highlight of my life so far. :)

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  • Jamie - This is super encouraging. I am 8 weeks pregnant with my second. My first birth was traumatic and not anything that I prepared or hoped for, and I read some natural birthing books! Thanks for sharing your beautiful story.ReplyCancel

    • Beck - Rest assured Jamie that it is REALLY common to have an easier subsequent birth so I’m sure you will do great! My second birth was almost exactly like Shawnas yet my first was difficult and long (It’s all worth it in the end though isn’t it??) Best of luck :)ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - Beautiful! I went epidural-less with both of mine (6y & 8m), but did have penicillin for GBS and the dreaded pit, so I wasn’t completely natural. I think every woman has a right to have a baby however she’d like, but I was more scared of a needle going in my back than the pain I’d endure! The pain was excruciating the last hour or so, but otherwise, I didn’t think it was awful. The ‘ring of fire’ is no picnic, but once the baby slips through, you’re exhausted, but so relaxed at the same time. I wouldn’t change it at all either. And yes, going from 1 to 2 is completely kicking my butt, and #1 is in kindergarten all day! Those mommas with 3 or more are complete rock stars IMO!ReplyCancel

  • Megan - BEAUTIFUL!! He is so precious. Your story is so inspirational! Thank you for once again sharing. I wish I could consider a natural birth; however, am fairly certain I’ll be having another c-section. You have a wonderful family :) I look forward to continuing to learn from you on managing 2 – I know you’ll figure it out in no time – just remember to be patient with yourself!! Congrats!!ReplyCancel

  • Mariko - Got such goosebumps reading this. Can’t wait to give birth again (although I’m not even pregnant) I was in such a drug dazed state with the 1st one, in such pain with the 2nd that the 3d one I pray will be my perfect birth. Thank you so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - I had a relatively wonderful birth experience for being induced, and I absolutely loved my epi, but this story definitely makes me consider trying to go without meds! A beautiful account of your son’s birth, thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Denae @ New Mom Adventure - I love birth stories. It is always amazing how unique and beautiful each birth is. The Ouch photo just kills me. My birth was 100% natural too. Recovery was so much quicker (I believe) because of it. I wonder about how that ramp up feels. Mine was like being hit by a freight train. Very quick (6 hours total)and intense. One minute I was thinking is this labor? To the next when I was thinking I need hospital NOW how will I survive the 30 min car ride? My daughter was born a little less than 5 hours after that last thought. Congrats Shawna. He is beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Christin - Love your story, I did mine naturally also, and had her on 2/20/12. I was at the hospital for less than an hour before having her and can relate that a natural birth is the best, contractions were not bad at all. This is also my second, so I am trying to figure out the 2 kids thing also. Love this blog and your story!ReplyCancel

    • thalla-Marie - Our daughter, born naturally at a birthing center also has the date of 2/20/12!!! Great day to be born, was it not?ReplyCancel

  • A. Berkoski - A lovely story for an amazing experience. So glad your family is complete :)ReplyCancel

  • Zantia - I couldn’t agree more with you about the magic of a natural, med-free delivery. I still feel like Superwoman haha and my pain tolerance is through the roof! Recovery was so much better too. I was so grateful for experience with my second. You have such anamazing way of putting things into words. I’m so happy for your family. He is beautiful and thanks o sharing your story. They are always fun to hear :)ReplyCancel

  • kaley - so sweet! I had to have a c-section with my breech daughter, and want nothing more than to experience this. congratulations!ReplyCancel

  • xomichelle - Beautiful and amazing, just like you!!! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. And yes, going from one to two kids is a lot harder than you think it should be!!ReplyCancel

  • Cristin - Hypnobabies got me through the car ride too! Can’t say enough about the tracks. You did so great! I am so happy you got the birth you wanted!!ReplyCancel

  • April - Thank you for sharing your story. I love hearing birth stories. We are so blessed as mamas to experience this labor. I really think that. I wound up having to have a c-section with both my kids. Not fun…maybe we’ll have another one?!!? We’ll see. It gets better because the oldest gets older/more independent (mine are 2.5 years apart too) but man..three…I don’t know…??!! I love your story…you are very blessed little lady indeed!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny @ Practically Perfect... - I loved reading this – it brought tears to my eyes :-) Your story was similar to mine in several ways (waiting to long to get to the hospital, having our son very soon after arriving, drug-free) and it brought back all of those memories. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - What a beautiful birth story!! I am 5 months along in my pregnancy and am planning to deliver naturally in a birthing center… I’m excited and anxious for it all at the same time :) thanks for sharing, I love reading natural birth stories. Everett is simply precious by the way, glad you are taking a break from electronics and enjoying him!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - Beautiful story. It is really similar to my most recent birth story to my 3rd babe. Although he came just a wee earlier than than 2 weeks before my due date. But down to finishing the sewing project the day of his birth thats pretty much how it went for me too!! And I will say the high lasted about 4 months for me and my husband thought i was nuts cause i just wanted to do it over again!! The first month is the hardest and it just gets easier and easier. By the fourth or fifth month you will be a pro!! Good luck.ReplyCancel

  • Theresa - I’m really happy that you had the birth experience that was important to you. I am an Obstetrician and I meet women everyday that come to the hospital hoping to achieve what you did. However, not every woman is lucky enough to have a smooth uncomplicated delivery and I think you the way you portray your birth story makes it sound that having a delivery with analgesia ie epidural is somehow a failure. I think this is a misrepresentation. It is not unsafe or as you put it “a cocktail of drugs” that leave the child stoned. The medications that are given with an epidural never even reach the fetus. Also, most OBs and midwives just want to achieve a delivery with a healthy baby and a healthy mom at the completion and sometime this is best achieved with the use of medications and pain control. I know from reading your blog that your first delivery was not how you had imagined it. Most of the time that is the case. The one constant with labor is its unpredictable nature. I think its fine for patients to come to L&D with a “plan” as long as that plan is flexible and understood that the “birth experience” should not be more important than a healthy child. I’m not trying to imply that you were suggesting that but for some women a good result means pitocin and interventions that often aren’t listed as apart of the “birth plan”. I want other women to know that its okay to get pain control and follow your doctors recommendations, it doesn’t mean you will end up with a somnolent child that is drugged or a tragic delivery as you describe your first to be. Congratulations on your beautiful son!ReplyCancel

    • -shawna- - Hey Theresa! I am glad you brought this up–[not that anyone cares what I think about their personal use of an epidural] but I think there is definitely a place for it!! I watched my two best friends achieve their perfect births, both with the use of an epidural, and one even successfully achieved a VBAC–and wouldn’t have without it. My choice regarding this delivery was based on my very poor experience with anesthesia last time & I am glad that it worked out the way it did–but I had great discussions w/ my OB about pain relief choices going in. I am not against pain relief!! I just know that the drugs I took last time during delivery did reach my baby and the mess I was on after got to her through my breast milk and I can most definitely see a difference this time around. :) My ultimate birth plan was having a healthy baby–everything else I experienced was icing on the cake! Each woman has an idea of her perfect birth & what I love about birth stories is how amazingly different our experiences with the same process can be. I am sure you see it every day!ReplyCancel

  • Danica - What a fun birthstory! I have been a labor and delivery nurse for 12 years- and while ALL deliveries are amazing to me, whether medicated or not- there is something magic about that special cocktail of hormones Mom’s experience after birth. It is absolutely amazing to watch and I never ever tire of it. Way to go!!!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - As usual, you knocked my socks off with this! I must confess, I’ve always said that an epidural will be mandatory when I give birth (I think even once said that, in its entirety, would be my birth plan…). I’ve yet to have babies, but this makes me think very differently about that approach. Thank you for sharing your honest story and helping me to see the other side.

    Oh, and little man is ADORABLE! I’m loving the pictures, especially the ones with both of your littles. She looks like she’s truly embracing her new role :)ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - Totally amazing! Natural childbirth is the most amazing thing…sometimes I wonder if I do have another if I should get an epidural to see what that is like, and then I think no way. Your post makes me want to go back and read my little mans birth story (cant believe it was almost 2 years ago!)! Congrats on your beautiful family!! xoReplyCancel

  • Molly from Anthromollogies - A happy, teary (after reading this!) congratulations to your sweet family! Way to go! Truly, there is nothing like the natural high of giving birth….naturally! So happy Mr. Everett is here, healthy and handsome as can be. All the best to you. You look gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Irma - LOVE to read this story — it’s flown me back to the day when I gave birth to my baby Connor. It wasn’t an easy one for me, hours of pain, agony and tearing at the end…but reading this, makes those moment so worthwhile, makes me feel so proud of being a mom…and Shawna, let me tell you, you’re the most beautiful mama ever, goodness!!! and the baby is just gorgeous! Congratulations to you & your growing family, what a blessing! Enjoy your second time caring for a newborn, it’s just a precious moment in motherhood!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Thank you so much for sharing this story. I’m due to give birth to my daughter in ten weeks, and reading stories like this makes me feel like a drug free birth is possible. I’ve already started hypnobabies, but I will also order Ina May’s book immediately! Thank you! And congratulations!ReplyCancel

  • Margaret - I really want to have a natural childbirth. I’m hoping that when I have my first child everything will go smoothly with Hypnobabies and being in an overall positive mindset. So proud of you for doing this and sharing with everyone. It seems like such an empowering event.ReplyCancel

  • Christina - Congrats!!!!! It must be great! I spent months walking, doing prenatal yoga, sitting on a ball, having chiropracty (sp?) care, meditating, talking to people and I had a long drug-free first labor that ended in a c-section and the second time, I did the same prep and I had a short (12 hour labor including 3 hours of pushing). My baby didn’t budge so I rode to the hospital in the front of my husband’s truck STILL trying to push that baby out!! Second c-section. I came out of these experiences feeling gratitude for modern medicine but also I know, know, know, it wasn’t the “pain” of labor etc. that prevented the baby being born. That was good to know since the movies/tv shows can scare the hell out of you! I totally second your recommendation (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth). I also want to tell mamas that an epidural will not always mess up your childbirth – and sometimes can help you. It wouldn’t have helped me but it definitely has helped some people. Whatever way you can do. The human body is (usually) built to do this but in my case, I don’t think it was.
    Congrats on your son’s birth!! Remember: parenting is a marathon & not a sprint. Pace yourself.ReplyCancel

  • Jelli - I also had a natural birth and I loved it. Unlike you, I think it was pretty painful (perhaps because it was my first?) but very manageable. I pray I get the opportunity to do it again!ReplyCancel

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  • Jen - I just LOVE your story. You are so strong and you did an amazing job. I don’t know how you handled transition with all that moving around. Way to go girl!!ReplyCancel

  • Preparing for a Drug-Free Childbirth (the no-fuss way) » styleberry BLOG - […] has been brewing in my head? Every time I think about it I smile, because every time I think about my last birth experience, I smile. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was exactly what I prepared for it to be. Emphasis […]ReplyCancel

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  • Michal F - Love this story!! It reminds me that what happens on your baby’s “birth day” is such an important day in our lives, and how it happens really does matter! I had an unmedicated birth with my baby girl in February 2012, too!

    Loving the pictures. Congrats on your baby boy!ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - Wow, this is an amazing story. I’m balling. We will start trying for our second pretty soon here, and this was so encouraging! Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - I’m due in 5 days and I’ve had two natural birth experiences before. Even though I’ve been through it and I know how amazing it is, it’s still a bit scary to think about! Thank you for sharing your story….it helped me get excited all over again!ReplyCancel

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