Arlen Shepard – Birth Story

8:02 am : July 4th, 2017.  Our son came into the world and greeted us crying.

Arlen Shepard Carpenter. 6 lbs 13 oz. 21.5 inches long.

If you asked me 3 years ago if I thought this moment would come, I would tell you honestly — I wasn’t sure. My husband and I had been trying for almost 3 years when we discovered we were pregnant. We had what most refer to as – “unexplained infertility.” We didn’t know why or what was causing it, and we may never know, but I’ll never forget the moment my doubt turned into surprise.

Thus my journey into pregnancy began last November.  A lot has changed in my life since then, but that’s another post for another day.

I have had many people ask about my birth story, so I wanted to take the time to organize thoughts, pictures and moments to share.

I’ll begin with our birth plan and a shout out to the wonderful people who made it happen. When I discovered I was pregnant, I knew immediately I wanted to be at a birthing center and not a hospital. I had been researching natural labor, doulas and midwifery for several years. I had even trained to be a doula myself. I was sure this was the way I wanted to go.

So with the support of Kenny, we went to visit Baby + Co Charlotte when I was just 6 weeks pregnant. I instantly knew this is where I wanted to be. The birthing suites were beautiful, it had a family atmosphere, and I felt comfortable with everything they were telling us as we toured the facility. I signed up and never looked back.

I also knew I wanted a doula. I mentioned I had trained to become a doula, but had not completed the process as we unexpectedly moved to Mexico for a couple of years. I reached back out to my doula instructor who referred me to our wonderful doula Rebecca.   I set up a meeting with Rebecca during my first trimester. I knew once we met that her energy would be exactly what I needed during L + — and it was. My husband was an amazing support throughout the process, however, we could not have made it through the process together without her. We were so grateful for her support and guidance.

Fast forward to 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

I was pretty over being pregnant at this point. I was getting a little anxious that he would be long overdue and I would get pressure to start to naturally induce however I could, but the Lord had other plans. Our little guy woke me up on July 3rd at 2 am with cramps. I also had what is known as the “bloody show.”

I think something I was entirely unprepared for was how quickly my contractions came and how close together they were for my labor. Many mothers experience contractions starting at 30 min apart, then slowly getting closer together over time. Out of the gate mine were 5-7 min apart and not allowing me to get any rest or sleep. They continued at this pace and increased with intensity over time.

I labored for 5 hours at home before heading into the birthing center to be checked. To my dismay, I was only 1 cm dilated. I definitely felt a bit defeated. We were sent home where I continued to labor for another 5 hours before calling the midwives and heading back in for a second time. Thankfully we only live about 15 minutes from the birthing center. I remember talking to Alex, our midwife, on the phone and saying “I don’t want to come in if you all are going to send me home again.” She assured me they had 3 birthing suites open and even if I wasn’t far along, she would let me stay. 10 hours in and I was getting exhausted and felt I needed support. We called Rebecca and had her meet us at Baby + Co.

Again, to my disappointment, I was only 3 cm dilated and had been in active labor for 10 hours with consistent and strengthening contractions. From here — things got blurry as I leaned on Kenny and Rebecca to sustain me. One of the wonderful things about having Rebecca was she kept a timeline of events for me as well as took pictures for us.

Below is her timeline of events for my labor once I reached Baby + Co. I checked in at 5:30 pm and had been in labor since 2 am that morning.

 

July 3rd, 2017
5:30pm arrive at birth center and checked – 3cm
5:40pm Doula arrives at birth center
5:40pm Swaying and leaning on chair
Sitting is uncomfortable
Standing is best
6-6:45pm used the bars to hang on during contractions, moved to Kenny for support which seemed better.
7:15pm shower was relaxing but legs getting tired of standing
7:30pm tub was calming but made the contractions slow
8:00pm out of tub to the heating pad and hands and knees
8:30pm swaying and walking
Contraction more intense when standing
9:05pm sitting in chair with head on pillows on bed
10:00pm tub
10:30pm checked at 5cm
Antibiotics
July 4th, 2017
12:30-1am shower with hand shower on lower back
1:15am heart check took a while because head was so low, it was hard to find. Shows progress of baby moving further down
1:50am lay down in bed for the first time, which doula and kenny urged because you were nodding out a little between contractions. Nervous at first that this position would hurt or possible slow progress. Used peanut ball between legs to keep pelvis open. Now comfortable.
2:40am antibiotics and sat up
3:00am laid back down to snooze.
4:00am water broke
4:15am threw up
4:20am mentioned nitrous possibility
4:45am asked for nitrous
4:45-7am was able to rest more between contractions and through transition
7:20am called Alex in to check – felt something pop
Alex checked and baby was already working his way down the birth canal
7:30am baring down
7:45am moved over to birthing stool
8:02am birth

At hour 25, I was exhausted and going through transition. I was mentally and physically breaking down. While the birthing center does not offer any pain medication, they do have nitrous — AKA laughing gas. I asked for it to help get me through that final push of contractions. Between laboring in the tub, the shower, and the nitrous — those breaks allowed me to push little Arlen out and welcome him to the world. Could not have made it through 28 hours of natural labor without the love and support of my husband, Rebecca, and the Midwives at Baby + Co. It really does take a village — and mine was more than I could have asked for.

 

Below are some sweet moments of surrender and support throughout my labor. As I sit here and type up my Birthing Story, I am immensely grateful not only to be given the gift of our son Arlen, but that we were given such a peaceful and complication free pregnancy, labor and delivery. We could not have asked for more.