a birth story : shepherd willard allers

his birthday

1 week old

almost 3 weeks old

I woke up on Sunday morning, October 18th, with some cramps. I didn't think much of it until I started about my day. We were planning on going to the Calabasas pumpkin festival that day, but soon realized that wasn't going to happen. As we made breakfast and did our usual lazy Sunday activities (i.e. Nintendo), I figured out that I was getting contractions. They picked up in intensity pretty quickly, and Patrick and I started to time them. I was getting about 30 seconds of contractions every four minutes. My doctor told me to labor at home as long as possible, so that's what we did. I busied myself with Purusha work just in case I was going to the hospital and would be out of commission for a few days. (Later on I was SO thankful I did this!!) At around 3 PM we took the dogs on a walk and I got super irritable. At one point on our walk I just stopped and cried. I had been laboring since 10 AM that morning and had been having contractions at least every four minutes. Our doctor said to go to the hospital when the pain was unbearable and I couldn't speak through the contractions. Patrick asked me if I could talk when I was having a contraction and I said bitterly, "Why would I be talking right now?!" Haha that was a big indicator that no, I could not talk through the contractions.

As the evening approached we kept trying to distract ourselves from the labor. I played more Wooly World on Nintendo and Patrick made us dinner. I was beginning to feel nauseous too, so dinner was not something that I wanted. Around 10 PM we noticed the contractions were lengthening and getting closer together. They were coming about every two to three minutes and lasting one minute. The pain was becoming really unbearable, especially because I probably had hundreds of contractions that day as they were coming so frequently. We got ready for bed and thought maybe I could sleep through the pain. Wasn't happening. I didn't want to leave our house and enter the unknown, I just wanted to go to bed with Patrick and the dogs and have a baby sometime in the future. But at the same time I wanted to just do it. My work was done for a day or so, and I didn't want to do all that laboring for nothing. Between each contraction I decided I was fine and we could stay home, but with every contraction I felt like I was dying and we had to do something. It was a lot of back and forth, crying from me, and the dogs were getting nervous that we were getting out of bed and walking around the house. At 11:30 PM we decided it was time to go to the hospital. If they turned us away at least we would know what was going on, and I wasn't going to fall asleep that night anyways. We gathered our bags, kissed the doggie boys good-bye, and headed out.

It was the perfect time to drive to the hospital around midnight, there was no traffic! Which was good for me as the pain was really getting horrible. We got to Good Samaritan Hospital downtown in about 35 minutes, which in LA time is amazing! I kept on wanting to just go sit on a toilet, like if I could release something I would feel better. That's the first stop we made when we went in the Emergency entrance at the hospital, but sadly it did nothing for me. Patrick said, 'Let's get excited! We're here, we're going to meet the baby!' I groaned. We went to the triage and the nurse measured me at 80% effaced and three to four cm dilated. They said we should stay at the hospital, and that kind of absolutely terrified me. I was going to have the baby! We texted my sister to come take care of the dogs, and like an angel she was there the next morning early. That alone did wonders to ease my mind, though the pain in my body continued to become more severe.

The nurse said she was going to bring us to a delivery room, and I should try to get some sleep because I had a long way to go. First labors are slow. Sleep sounded totally impossible with my contractions coming every 2 to 3 minutes, feeling like a menstrual cramp from the gates of hell. I can't even describe, or truly remember now how bad it felt. The worst pain I've ever had in my body. I was starting to get really grouchy, tired and frustrated. They moved us to our delivery room and we both laid down and tried to sleep. With every contraction I felt weaker and weaker and my mind was going to a dark place. It's so interesting to see where your thoughts go when you're in intense pain. All of my meditation, breath work, yoga, and preparation made no difference in that moment. I was present, that's for sure! Present with a knock you on your ass pain that I felt would slowly destroy me.

Patrick and I debated back-and-forth if I should get the epidural. Just like at home when I was between a contraction I thought I could press on naturally. When a contraction arose and peaked I felt all my resolve go out the window. I was exhausted, I felt like we'd been beaten down. It was around 4 AM and I didn't know if I could survive and actually have the strength to have a baby at this rate. I knew I'd have a very hard road ahead of me if I was not able to sleep that whole night and God knows how many hours that day. I decided to get an epidural. Pat later told me he didn't want to persuade me either way, but was secretly so glad that I decided on this. It's hard to see someone you love in such pain.

The most cheerful little Asian man anesthesiologist came in about an hour after I requested the epidural, an hour of complete agony, and merrily put the giant needle in my back. I loved him so much. It was now 5:30 AM on Monday, October 19th. The pain of the epidural was like heaven compared to the contractions. They set me up with my IV and my catheter and within about 15 minutes I was a changed woman. I can honestly say getting an epidural was one of the best and most mature decisions I've ever made in my life. It's tough to put aside what you planned, which was a "natural" birth, and do what makes sense for your situation. For me, labor isn't the time to prove yourself a warrior, it's the time to deliver your baby safely. Within an hour I finally found blissful, incredible sleep. Throughout my sleep I woke up every hour or so because I could still feel the sensations of labor, just not the pain. I also would hear babies screaming from time to time as another woman nearby would have her baby. It was the most beautiful and scary sound. This is real!

My doctor, Dr. Chang, arrived shortly after I fell asleep, around 6:00 AM. He told me I was still only about 4 cm dilated and I should try to sleep and he would be back around noon. I was in epidural heaven and was like, sure no problem! I can't wait to go back to sleep. The only problem with my sleep was I kept dreaming of Wooly World! In this game you wrap everything in yarn and no matter what I tried to think about I would end up knitting it into something. It was so lame and frustrating! Shouldn't I be dreaming about my newborn son?! Not some silly (though awesome) video game!? As I rested I could feel the contractions intensifying so I got even more epidural. Best. Invention. Ever.

Dr. Chang came back at noon and said that my labor wasn't progressing because my water wasn't breaking. My body was doing a great job with the contractions, they were nice and strong and frequent, but the baby wasn't descending because the water bag was very tight. He decided it would be best to break my water, so that's what we did. Dr. Chang left after that and said he'd be back around 5 PM to see where I was. I ate ice chips and drank a little water, but still felt nauseous so was OK with not eating.

Patrick and I slept or went on our iPhones. It felt funny to be able to text and talk to people as I was in such active labor. At 5:30 PM Dr. Chang woke us up. He asked me how I was feeling and I said it felt like somebody was blowing up a balloon in my butt. He laughed and cheered and said wonderful! He measured me and said I was fully dilated and we were ready to have the baby! We just had to wait for the nurse Angela to come help. I was absolutely terrified! The baby was going to come!! When I get really nervous and excited I throw up, so I threw up in a little cup. After that I felt ready for the challenge, down for anything! Bring it!

Dr Chang dimmed the lights and gave us a pep talk. He told us how our lives would change and that we should be as present as possible in the next moments because we would never feel anything like this again. This was it! What we'd been waiting for and planning and thinking about for the past 9 months was here! At 6 PM Angela arrived and we were ready to start pushing. They got me all set up, lifted my heavy as lead legs into some stirrups, and with the next contraction we started pushing! I took a huge breath in and pushed! Dr. Chang said I was doing amazing and he was already crowning. I touched his head, and they asked if I wanted a mirror to see what was going on. I said no. Haha not this time. I pushed maybe 10 more times and he was out! It was so easy! Our sweet boy was ready to meet us and the world. Patrick delivered him and out came our little alien love child, arms and legs spread and crying like a baby bird! How could this be real?! A perfectly formed being just came out of my body! He was so much smaller than I imagined and looked shocked! Poor little guy. Dr. Chang and Patrick placed him on my chest and I stroked his cheeks in a complete love coma blissed out stupor. I told him how much I loved him and said everything was always going to be ok. He cried, stopped crying, cried, and we put him on my breast. He started sucking right away! I've dreamt of breastfeeding before, so it seemed familiar, like something I was designed to do. I felt like we were made for each other, destined always to be mother and son. After holding him for a bit the nurse took our precious sweet boy and weighed him and all that good stuff. He was 6 lbs 4 oz, 19 inches long. He screamed as they did his footprints and I felt an urge to stop that crying like I've never felt before. My baby. At 6:17 PM on October 19th our lives changed forever.

I told Shep in the womb everyday, "You're such a good boy. We love you so much already." It couldn't be more true. The word love doesn't begin to explain my feelings for him. Something beyond love exists, and he's teaching me what that is.

Shepherd Willard Allers, we are so ready and honored to be on this adventure with you. We love you so much already.

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