So, where to start...those of you who are close with Shauna and I know that our road in getting to this point hasn't exactly been the smoothest. We've stumbled and staggered over numerous obstacles and endured some incredibly tough times since our first pregnancy back in 2011...but at last here we are and we couldn't be any happier. I've always been a believer that enduring the darkest days will always help us to appreciate the brighter days just a little bit more...and our road to parenthood has only solidified that mentality even more for me. Shauna and I decided to use the Bryn Mawr Birth Center for this pregnancy...we've always liked the idea of natural childbirth that is free from the restrictions placed on pregnant women in a traditional hospital environment and thus the birth center was the best fit for us. Everything was going according to plan for the majority of our pregnancy until around the 30 week mark. Shauna started having sporadically high blood pressure, at first no one seemed to be overly concerned but as the weeks went by it became more and more persistent and our midwives were concerned that Shauna might be developing preeclampsia...a fairly common complication that can become dangerous if not managed quickly. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had just returned from a snowboarding trip to Vermont. Not hours after I had pulled into the driveway we got a call from the birth center saying that due to their concerns regarding the potential preeclampsia they wanted to induce labor ASAP. Because we were now being induced our plans of having this baby outside of a hospital environment went out the window...though we would still have the birth center midwives there advocating for us and coaching us through the whole process. We were a little bummed but also brimming with excitement that Go Time was finally here.
We called the hospital and scheduled everything for Tuesday night, the earliest they could fit us in. Upon arrival, we settled into our room and the midwives gave Shauna a dose of Cervidil to help soften her cervix and we went to bed for the night. The next morning they started her on Pitocin, which got us some small contractions...but nothing earth shattering. Around 7:00pm there was some talk about possibly manually breaking her water to help get things moving but it was later decided that it would be better to do that in the morning after we had both had a full night of rest...and thus we hit the sack with another dose of Cervidil and an Ambien. Day two started out very similar to the previous day, lots of sitting around watching HGTV waiting for the Pitocin to kick in and do its thing...which was slow going. Around 2:00pm our midwife came in and broke her water...and just like that, we were immediately on our way.
Things happened pretty quickly from that point on. The birth classes that were provided by the birth center were so important for me at this point... it really became such a team effort. I felt like I had a part to play in pushing on certain pressure points during each contraction that Shauna said really helped to ease her pain (she was doing this without any pain medication BTW). For me this was one of the most amazing aspects to the whole experience...popular culture always portrays the male role of birth as sitting in the hall drinking scotch and smoking cigars or sweating, swearing and possibly fainting in the corner of the delivery room. I enjoyed every minute of the hands on, front row seat experience that I had and can't imagine doing it any other way. Shauna and I chose to not find out the sex and to be honest, I didn't even realize what we had once he popped out because I was so absorbed in making sure he was breathing and all was ok...it wasn't until a few minutes later that I heard one of our midwives say that it was a boy. BOOM...I felt like I was just hit in the chest with a wrecking ball. Amazing. So there it was, at 8:20pm on Thursday March 6th 2014, we finally had our son. Over the next 8 hours or so we waffled back and forth between a few different names...finally settling on Rider.
I really can't say enough amazing things about my wife and the midwives that coached us through. They did such an amazing job and it was truly an amazing thing to witness. If you are considering a natural birth or using a midwife and have any questions, both Shauna and I would be happy to chat with you...after our experience we are 100% true advocates.
So, I should probably talk a little about the photos below. I brought a couple cameras along with me unsure of whether or not I would actually have the time or energy to use them...but I really wanted to have a few images of the experience for us to look back on down the road. Before they broke her water and things were calm it was fairly easy to snap shots here and there...but once things started rolling it became increasingly difficult as I had so much to do in helping Shauna through each contraction. Though I did manage to snap a few frames here and there through the birth. I also continued to shoot our first few days at home with him, which we spent doing a lot of sleeping and cuddling...I know we will be so glad to have those photos years down the line. If you haven't already peeked at the images below I will let you know that they are all tasteful and shouldn't make anyone uncomfortable (as I think most people probably are when they hear "birth photography") there is one fresh naked baby shot...but otherwise they are all G rated. These photos were all shot on Kodak Tri-x and developed in my kitchen sink.
If you've read this far you deserve a medal or at least a strong drink...but this was just such an amazing experience for me I really wanted to write it all down somewhere. I suppose I should probably print this post out as well. Anyway...thanks so much for reading along. :)
Also, If you are pregnant and think you may be interested in having your birth story documented, feel free to drop me a line and we can chat.