Brantley’s Birth Story

I know I’m still a little behind on the weekly updates, but I’ll get to those soon. Our little baby boy, Brantley Thomas, was born on July 12th at 3:31am. I was just a day short of my 40-week due date. This is his birth story.


Dear Brantley,

Welcome to the world, baby boy! The story of your birth starts a few nights before your due date. You were due on a Sunday and all day on Thursday while I prepped for maternity leave, making sure that my fill-in therapists would have everything they needed, I also felt like it could easily be 2 more weeks before you arrived. I was reluctant to put patients in my planner for the following week as I just didn’t have the heart to accept the fact that I wouldn’t be able to meet you yet, but I didn’t think you’d be going anywhere anytime soon.

Thursday evening rolled around and I started having contractions around 6pm. I had Braxton Hicks contractions over the last 2 weeks or so, but I could feel these ones lower in my abdomen and they were coming pretty consistently every 20 minutes. Still, I thought there was no way it was really happening. By midnight, with very little sleep so far, they increased to every 10 minutes and I did what every first-time Mom of the 21st century does and googled the difference between Braxton Hicks and “true contractions.”  It looked like this could be the real thing, but I also read that they could last for days before progressing any further. Although only slightly painful, the contractions kept me awake until 4am when my body finally figured out how to sleep between the contractions… so a whopping 8 minute span at a time. It was a long night.

I had a doctor’s appointment already scheduled for that morning so Daddy called work to let them know that he was going to go see the doctor with me and I called my parents to let them know they might want to delay going out of town (they were going to the OBX for the weekend) until after we heard news from the doctor. Come to find out, I WAS having true contractions but only slightly dilated (1cm) and the doctor also told me that I could continue with these contractions for days. Ugh… that’s the last thing I could imagine. Three days and nights of these, which were getting increasingly painful.

Daddy drove me to get my allergy shots – cause life goes on even when you’re in active labor – and then home. All the while, I was still having contractions every 10 minutes or so and while they were becoming more painful, I was still able to get up and do things around the house between each contraction so I settled in for a day of up and down off my yoga ball. Blake packed his clothes in the hospital bag and ran some last minute errands just in case we did end up in the hospital by the end of the weekend (we were still on this “it’s gonna be a few days” thought process). Every time a contraction would come on, I’d sit down on the ball with the heating pad on my back, which really seemed to relieve the pain I was feeling in my lower back, and as soon as it was over I was up and moving around, cleaning the house, vacuuming, doing the dishes, etc. (Looking back, I have NO IDEA how I was doing all that!!!) By 4pm the contractions had increased to every 6 minutes and I was in a routine of breathing with slow deep breaths and letting out a long “ooo” sound with each one to get through the pain that was increasing as time went on. My pain tolerance is pretty low to begin with so even at this point, I didn’t think I was very far along and figured it would get a LOT worse before we were anywhere close to meeting our baby boy.

Daddy came home, we ordered pizza for dinner, and by 7pm we had a page of timed contractions that ranged from 3-6 minutes and lasted 45-60 seconds. The rule is, when your contractions come every 5 minutes, last 60 seconds, and occur regularly over an hour, it’s time to go to the hospital. Mine were definitely coming every 5 minutes on average but ranged in duration so we weren’t sure if it was time yet. We called the doctor and she told us to come on in, get checked out, and if I wasn’t yet at 4cm I could walk around the hospital for a while and see if I could get my body to progress a little more so that I could be admitted that night.

We called our dog-sitter, dropped Shadow off with the neighbors who would let him play with their dog for the evening, and headed to the hospital. The drive was not too bad. I was still having regular contractions but my breathing patterns seemed to be getting me through ok. When we got to the hospital, I grabbed my purse because I knew I would need an ID and insurance card, but we left everything else in the car expecting that the doctor may say I’m not yet 4cm and we would have to go home and come back in a few hours.

The moment that everything changed was when they checked how far along I was and to EVERYONE’S surprise, I was at 6.5 cm!!! When they told me this, my jaw about dropped to the floor. I was WAY farther along than I thought and this girl, with a lower pain tolerance than a 5 year old, who would probably be the one to get an epidural for a scratch if it were legal, had pretty much labored entirely at home without meds for the past 26 hours! The nurses were impressed, Daddy was impressed, and felt like a superhero.

We were admitted and by 8:30pm, and I labored for about an hour in my room with Blake by my side, still in great spirits. I was probably still in shock that I had come so far all on my own without meds but as time went on I decided I was far enough along to get an epidural and not risk stalling my labor. I received an epidural around 9:30 and had progressed to about 7cm in the hour I was there… it wouldn’t be long!

Unfortunately, the epidural didn’t take in one area on my right side and I was feeling increasing pain with every contractions, in my abdomen and back. The nurse had me lay on my right side to see if gravity would help the medicine work its way into that area, but every time I would shift to that side, your heart rate would drop after a few minutes on my side. A quick change of position and it would jump right back up so after a few attempts at laying in a slightly different position to get the medicine moving but the same result we decided to get an extra dose of the epidural medicine. That seemed to do the trick and by 3am I was finally feeling relief from the pain and Daddy and I both fell asleep preparing for a long road of pushing ahead.

Before I go on, many of you reading this may be in the field or have significant knowledge about labor and delivery. Any details I am about to give are from my hazy epidural/adrenaline-induced recollection and may not be accurate. I’ve heard more than enough advice from people about what I should do, should be doing, and should’ve done and I really don’t care to hear anymore. I can tell you one thing: when my baby was not safe inside the womb, I wanted him out and safely in my arms as quickly as possible. The following represents the best choice for ME and MY baby. It may not be what you would’ve done or what you would recommend, but please keep those opinions to yourself. He’s in my arms right now, he’s safe, and Mama is doing exceptionally well in recovery. That’s all that matters.

All of a sudden, the nurse came bolting into the room, quickly followed by another and another. Your heart rate had dropped again and was not jumping back up like it had before. She asked me to change positions – I was still able to move around fairly well in bed – but every time I would move to a different position, the external heart rate monitor would lose your heart rate completely and they couldn’t tell if it was bouncing back or staying down. After a minute or two of failed attempts to get an accurate read on the external monitor, they decided to use an internal monitor which immediately picked up your heart rate and we were finally able to find a position in which you stablized. Eight and a half minutes had passed.

Obviously, I could not deliver you on my hands and knees with my face flat on the bed, which was the only position you seemed to tolerate, so the doctor crouched down beside my bed and explained that we had to make a choice right then. She and Daddy discussed the possible options while I cried and prayed and ultimately we knew the fastest and safest way to get you out without risking further drops in your heart rate was an emergency C-section. (As we would later find out, your umbilical cord was wrapped around your body which caused your heart rate to drop and also prevented you from dropping lower into my pelvis. In addition to that, you had flipped since our last ultrasound 3 weeks ago so that you were facing “sunny side up”, which was causing my back pain during labor. Both of these situations are dangerous to the baby and can result in a C-section.)

Through tears of fear for my baby, I signed the release forms while Daddy dressed in scrubs for surgery and I was wheeled into the OR. They administered anesthesia to numb me from the chest down. While the medicine took effect, they had to lay me propped up on my left side to avoid further drops in your heart rate, but this resulted in portions of my right side yet AGAIN not receiving adequate amounts of anesthesia and I could feel dull pain when they started the first cut. No thanks.

The anesthesiologist asked the doctors to let the meds take effect and after about 20-30 seconds they tried again, no luck. “Give her 2 minutes” I could hear as he asked for more time, and although they must’ve been trying to hide their concern because they knew I could still hear them, I could tell from the seriousness in their tone of voice that they didn’t think we even had 2 minutes. They tried one more time after about 20 more seconds and when I could feel that one too, they told me I would have to receive general anesthesia. Within seconds everyone in the room was moving around, repositioning, etc. and the last thing I remember was asking “Is Blake here?” Then I was asleep.

Daddy would not get to see your birth. He was left in my labor and delivery room and was told someone would come and get him when I was prepped for surgery. A few minutes after they wheeled me out, a nurse came back and in and told him I would be under general anesthesia and showed him to the room where they would bring you after you were born. Within 3 minutes, you were out and in your Daddy’s arms, with an overall clean bill of health.

While I remained in the OR for another 50 minutes to complete the surgery, your two grandmothers were able to watch through a window as you got your first bath in the nursery and they commented on your enormous toes… we think you get those from your uncle Cameron, somehow they hopped through the hereditary line.

When I woke up, over an hour after your were born, a nurse brought you to me in a rolling crib and placed you in my arms. Daddy was there, too. The moment I first saw you was a rather low point for your Mommy and still brings me to tears whenever I think about it. I have heard that the moment a mother first sees her child, she loves him in a way she never thought possible. A mother is supposed to have this connection to her child that cannot be broken, as if she already knows him solely because he has grown inside her body for 9 months and he has been a physical part of her for so long.  It hurts my heart that I did not have this experience with you but I will write about it in hopes that other mothers who may read this and have similar experiences will not feel alone in their pain.

I remember the moment vividly. I was still under very heavy medication and when they handed you to me, my first question was, “Is this really my baby?” When they told me yes, I looked up at your Daddy with an unsettled confusion: “I’m just supposed to believe them?” You see, I didn’t get to watch your birth. I didn’t see your little face, fingers, and toes as they lifted you up for the first time. There were no tears of joy as we heard your first cry. I did not get to hear the doctor announce your birth time, weight, and length with a smile that you can hear through his surgical mask. Your daddy and I didn’t get to look at each other with tears streaming down our faces because you had finally arrived. We missed all of that and so when they brought you to me for the first time, you were still a total stranger to me. It was like they just handed me a baby who I had never seen before and I was supposed to just know that you were mine. I was supposed to just love you and trust that they were telling me the truth. It was a surreal moment and one that I won’t easily forget. Fortunately, you, me, and Daddy would have plenty of time over the next few days to bond, laughing and crying together, and growing into the little family we are today.

I spent my first day in the hospital in a rather hazy fog from the multiple anesthesia medicines I was given in addition to the intravenous Benadryl to tackle the severe itching response I had from the anesthesia. I was also on some pretty serious pain killers, so I can’t remember much of what happened that day. Your grandparents came to visit after you were born and then eventually went home to get some sleep since it was still early in the morning and no one had slept all night. They all came back later to hold you and talk with us about the delivery.

Daddy did all the work that first day. Well, he really did all the work the first day, first night, and most of the second day because I still wasn’t allowed out of bed. He is amazing and not once did he complain. We had you in our room on the first night, thinking “he’s our son, we can handle this.” Boy, were we wrong. For starters, you cried almost every 20 minutes for different reasons but we didn’t always know why so we would just try different things – changing your diaper, holding you, patting your back to see if you would burp, feeding you – yet, sometimes you just kept crying. Not to mention, I was stuck in bed and high on all those drugs I was taking so I would wake up when you started crying but immediately fall back asleep within seconds of Daddy getting out of bed. I know it was a very long and frustrating night for him as I drifted in and out of sleep while he dealt with a crying newborn all by himself during his 3rd night without sleep. But he never once got frustrated with me. He did at one point say, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” and when it was almost morning and we were both beyond delirious, he turned to me and said “This is all YOUR fault.” Even in my drug-induced high, all I could do was laugh. We quickly decided that you would go in the nursery at night time from then on.

Our next few days were filled with intimate moments between new parents and their newborn.

We held you, laid with you asleep on our chests, listened to your little grunts and noises, “ooed” and “ahed” over practically every move you made, and took an insane number of pictures. We limited visitors to just parents while we were in the hospital and while we knew this would upset some of our family members, we knew it was the right decision. I was still going through a lot physically post-surgery with frequent follow-ups from the nurses, and Daddy and I needed this precious time to bond with you. Not to mention, there were moments when all the sweetness and cuteness of newborn-ness was gone and we just cried in frustration because we didn’t know what we were doing, we didn’t know what you needed, and we didn’t know how to fix you. Luckily, we had an incredible staff of nurses who would watch you in the nursery so we could take naps during the day whenever possible.

We were discharged home on the 4th day and as we got in the car, your Daddy and I both had a moment of clarity. This was our new “normal”. Daddy, Mommy, and Baby Brantley. And it was perfect.

Brantley, you are the most perfect little creature. You were born with a full head of hair, skinny fingers and long legs. When you’re awake you seem so alert, like you’re taking it all in, and you have the baby bobble-head thing down to a science. You love to sleep in our arms and you hardly ever cry unless you need a diaper change, you’re hungry, you need to be burped, or you just want to be held. And as soon as you hear our voices as we come into your nursery, you quiet down. The sound of your cry is just starting to change and we’re beginning to notice your distinct voice amidst the wails. While we don’t want you to ever get any bigger because we love you just the way you are right now, we can’t wait to see your first real smile, hear your first laugh, and walk through all the little milestones with you.

Daddy and I have said over and over again that this is the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do, and for different reasons. I carry a lot of responsibility and put a lot of pressure on myself because I am fully responsible for your food source. Yes, we can always supplement with formula. My brain knows that but my heart believes and responds as if you’ll die without the precious food only I can provide for you. Meanwhile, Daddy’s biggest struggle is listening to you cry, listening to me cry, and sometimes listening to us both cry at the same time and not being able to fix it.

But as each day passes, we’re realizing that we really can do this. I love our little family and we love you more than you’ll ever know.

IMG_8139Welcome home, baby boy.


  1. Tears of joy and tears of sadness for you 🙂 thank you for sharing your perfect story. God is good, isn’t He?

  2. Almost cried. So beautiful. So, so happy for you both!!!

  3. Hi. I can appreciate your birth story as my little one was an emergency c section due to dropping heart rate and the cord around her neck!! I also felt that distant feeling and not that immediate love that new mothers talk about. However that feeling quickly leaves and these little monsters attack your heart! We are 10 mo into breast feeding and we had more than out share of struggles in the beginning. She would cry and struggle to latch and I would be crying my tears falling on her. Woo it was a struggle. BUT!! We it is a different story now. I was lucky to have a husband ( similar to Blake) who was extremely supportive of whatever decision I made but supported me in my struggle to BF. I did supplement a little in the first to weeks for my sanity as well as pump. But once my supply was established I am now able to BF when I am with her and she takes a bottle when I work. Sorry this is long but know that a mom far away is thinking about and rooting for you! Also look into a group call ican (c section awareness and vbac group), they usually have state chapters. As well as the La Leche League. The are a breast feeding group that meets once a week usually and can be very supportive and knowledgable!! Congrats!

  4. veronica says:

    Beautifully put! Your family, your baby, your choice! Everyone else can leave their opinion at the door! Unfortunately being a mom also means getting unwelcome comments all the time. I wish people would realize that everyone has the right to make their own decisions and do what’s best for them and their family! Congrats and the best of luck!

  5. Lindsey says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story! I needed a good cry! I had a similar experience with not remembering any of the birth of my first and always felt guilty about it. But you know, he doesn’t remember any of it either and now our bond is unbreakable! Brantley is so lucky to have 2 wonderful parents that love him unconditionally. He doesn’t care how he got here :). Rest up momma! It gets easier!

    • Anonymous says:

      You made me cry Momma! Sad you missed out on those first moments with Brantley but so glad you’re both safe. Scary stuff! Thank God for modern medicine 🙂

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