In general, pregnancy is difficult. Pregnancy after our loss is extremely difficult, complex, and hard to describe to someone unless they’ve gone through it themselves. I had imagined what going into labor would look like, but it was always hard to allow myself to get excited about it. This is why when I went into labor, it felt so surreal – we made it!

I knew from the day we found out we were pregnant again that I would have three goals for the birth of our baby:

  1. Work towards an unmedicated birth
  2. Strive for a redemptive birth
  3. Bring home a healthy baby

I prepared as much as possible to ensure that I surrounded myself with people who would help me reach those goals, and I’m so proud and excited that we were able to accomplish all three!

If you’ve been following along, you know that I had a cervical cerclage placed during week 21 of the pregnancy.

I discussed this with my doctor, and it was advised that I remove the cerclage when I was about 36 weeks pregnant. At 36+2, I went into the office for the quick procedure, and the waiting game started. Although, I wasn’t expecting to go into labor as quickly as I did. The next two days I had mild contractions off and on, but I had been feeling these most of my pregnancy, so I didn’t think much of it. At 36+5, I went through most of the day with no additional signs of labor, but at 2:15 pm, I went to the bathroom and heard an audible popping sound and some leaking. My water broke!

I was home alone at this point, but I started laughing and crying at the same time because it was over the same toilet that my water broke during my pregnancy with Sophie. It seemed like the world’s weird way of reminding me that Sophie was with me and helping to bring this baby into our family. I called my husband and texted my doula, and we were SO excited because we knew this meant we were meeting our baby boy soon.

I also knew it could be a while for contractions to pick up so my doula suggested taking a walk around the neighborhood.

When my husband got home, we walked down our street once, but this proved to be more challenging than I thought. We made it back home, and I took a shower and folded some laundry to help myself relax. About an hour and a half had passed and I could feel contractions picking up. I was so glad things were moving along because I know there is sometimes added pressure for delivery soon after your water breaks. I laid down for a bit to “relax,” but it was tough with the contractions I was experiencing. I felt like there was a little bit of a pattern and they felt pretty close together, so around 4:15 pm I had my husband start timing the contractions. We were both surprised they were 45 seconds to 1 minute long and about 3-4 minutes apart. They felt like intense period cramps that also made me want to crawl out of my skin.

Within the next hour of the contractions getting even stronger, we texted our doula and told her it was definitely “go time” and asked if she could head over to our house. She arrived close to 5:30 pm, and within one minute of walking in the door, she told us we should head to the hospital. I was excited and surprised, but I was also hoping I wasn’t overreacting.

Shannyn checking into labor and deliver - Shannyn's bump day blog: Owen Mitchell's Birth Story

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

The ride to the hospital was only 10 minutes, but anyone who has had to manage contractions in a car knows that 10 minutes feels like an hour.

We got checked in and made it up to our labor and delivery room, and although I was planning on declining cervical checks, I was too anxious to see how my body was progressing. I heard my doctor claim that I was dilated to a 6 ½ and I was really excited that I had made that much progress at home. It was around the same time that I was feeling pushy and contractions were taking every ounce of energy to get through. I had several mottos that kept me moving through contractions:

  1. This pain is temporary
  2. This pain is productive
  3. My baby and my body are working together
  4. We are going to meet our rainbow baby so soon!
Labor - Shannyn's bump day blog: Owen Mitchell's Birth Story

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

Over the next couple of hours, I moved back and forth from the hospital bed on all fours to the toilet. My doula encouraged me to also get through several contractions in a side lunge position while holding onto my husband, and that really felt productive in moving our baby boy down. I was pretty miserable at this point and thought hard about an epidural, but my doula and my husband kept giving me affirmations and making me feel strong.

Breathing during labor - Shannyn's bump day blog: Owen Mitchell's Birth Story

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

I got another cervical check and was dilated to an 8 ½, but my doctor noticed I had a cervical lip that was preventing me from dilating completely. They gave me the option to manually move the cervical lip out of the way during the next contraction, and I decided to go for it. This was way more intense than I was anticipating. However, immediately after that, I got the great news that I was complete, and our baby was in a +2 station, so I was ready to push! I never envisioned myself pushing on my back, but at that moment, a seated position on my back felt like the best way to cope.

I started pushing a little after 8:00 pm, and by 8:23 pm our baby was born!

Pushing - Shannyn's bump day blog: Owen Mitchell's Birth Story

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

Pushing felt so intense but also exciting. I could feel how open my body was, and pushing through the pressure required some vocalization. I hardly noticed the 6 (or maybe more) people in the room, and I kept roaring our baby out. I have never felt more powerful in my entire life!

After his head came out, I took a small break, and on the next contraction the rest of his body was born.

Shannyn's relief - Shannyn's bump day blog: Owen Mitchell's Birth Story

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

The shock and relief that washed over me hit me like a ton of bricks. I could not believe what just happened and how incredible it was to have our baby in my arms.

Shannyn's relief on Owen's arrival

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

Looking up at my husband and smiling through the tears while holding our baby is something I will never forget.

Sharing relief as a couple - Shannyn's bump day blog: Owen Mitchell's Birth Story

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

Owen Mitchell Hanson was finally here!!

Shannyn holding Owen after delivery

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

We got to spend about 2 hours with our son before the nurses, and my doula noticed that his breathing was a bit labored. Since he was just shy of full term, we all decided it was better to admit him to the NICU and make sure he was healthy with strong lungs. We spent five days in the NICU with him before he was able to come home. They wanted to make sure Owen was eating enough, didn’t develop jaundice, and put on weight. He was a trooper over those five days, and we were so thankful for the excellent care we all received.

Owen Mitchell Hanson - Birth Story

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

As I reflect back on everything, I can not explain how proud I am of myself and how much gratitude I hold for every person and provider that allowed me to have this redemptive birth. Walking into the hospital this time on my own terms and leaving with a healthy baby is all we could ask for. We are so in love, and this impossible journey feels a little lighter now!

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