It’s been 8 weeks and I still can’t believe we have a newborn. Some nights are hard and the worries are constant: Does he have a cold? What’s that around his eyes? Is he eating enough? Is he eating too much? Is his head too big? (LOL!) But I wouldn’t change a thing. Dallas is everything I’ve ever prayed for and completely God’s grace and mercy. I so don’t deserve him, but oh how great a God we serve! I want to share our birth story to show that God is a God over the big things and a God who cares about details. So without further ado, here is the tale of how DJD entered this world and made it a whole lot more beautiful.
It was Saturday night and Logan and I were getting ready for what we called our “Last Supper” at Rick’s Chophouse in McKinney. Scrambling to find something to wear, I put on my one hot pink mumu top that wasn’t for pregnancy, but at 9 months, something had to give! Along with my stupid pregnancy jeans that I wore over and over, we hit the town for a 5:15 reservation. Talk about old…that’s all we could get – lol! We sat down to a nice dinner and I even ate gluten because at that point I just didn’t care, and I also thought “Maybe if I eat gluten he’ll just come out quicker!” His due date was April 26th but we were anticipating him at any point. After all, I was going to be 39 weeks that next Monday. If I made it to my due date, I’d be induced the following day.
Before we got to the restaurant, I was a tad concerned but didn’t want to say anything. I noticed some…fluid, if you will. On and off throughout the day it appeared and I ended up telling Logan that evening. I know the doctor said to call if anything like that appeared, but I had an appointment that next Monday morning, so I just thought I’d wait until then! Well, I did, but it slowly kept progressing all day on Sunday. Because of that, Sunday evening and Monday morning I made sure the house was ready and my bag (ahem…rolling suitcase) was all packed.
Then, Monday morning came around. It was the most gorgeous morning, the sun was just beaming through our house and I woke up full of anticipation, just feeling like this day was going to be different. I was in the best mood and felt so well rested. I always looked forward to my doctor’s appointments but today was especially exciting because I just wanted to meet my baby and not have tree trunks for legs anymore! I packed my lunch because it was still a regular work day and headed down to Dallas for the appointment.
A waddle to the office later and the nurses laughed at my desperation to get this baby out and also had a chuckle to my reaction on the scale. It was official: I’d gained 49 lbs. Lol!!! How can a 7 lb 13 oz baby make you gain so much weight? Obviously, it was his fault. I had nothing to do with it whatsoever. (; I headed into my examination room, got undressed, and waited. This day was especially busy for them so I waited a while. Deciding to kill time on Instagram, I reached for my phone and that’s when I saw it: more fluid! I couldn’t wait for my doctor to get here. Finally, she walked in and heard my concerns and looked right away. After several moments she looked up and said, “I think you have a high leak and have been ruptured for a while. Let’s do an ultrasound just to be sure, but I’m going to send you up to L&D. You’re having a baby today!” I KNEW IT. I JUST KNEW THIS DAY WAS DIFFERENT! I headed to the next room so she could have a look at him and sure enough, he was low on fluid. So, to all moms out there – if you feel that something is not right, CALL YOUR DOCTOR. The two nurses that I’d seen for all of my appointments came in and were so excited for me. They asked “How do you feel?!” and I said, “I knew this day was different!”
I headed back to my car to grab my school bag since I was, in fact, NOT going back to school. I just stayed there for a few moments. I had to take this all in – my heart was racing! This day, April 19th, was the first day of the rest of my life. I called Logan, asked him to grab allll the things, and we both laughed in shock that today was THE day! (Or, so we thought…) I then texted my boss and colleagues at work, which is when the emotions began. That prior Friday I’d made sure my classroom was cleaned out, but I hoped that I’d get one final goodbye to my students. Realizing that wouldn’t happen was so hard for me. Once I felt a little more collected I headed back into the hospital, ready for whatever was next!
Once admitted at 10:30, I finally called my parents, which was such a fun surprise to ask them, “Are you ready to be a grandparent? It’s happening!” I had the sweetest nurse upon arrival and got all set up with my IV and medicine to start the induction process. Even though I was leaking fluid, I still had to be induced because I just wasn’t dilated or progressing on my own yet. While I continued to text friends and family, I even (!!!!) finished my grades. Yes. That was my Monday plan when I got into work, so I literally finished grading in the hospital. YOU’RE WELCOME, KIDS.
A little while later, Logan arrived wide eyed, excited, and nervous, and we settled in to begin the waiting game. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything and by 6 PM I was starving! I hadn’t eaten since about 7-8 AM that morning. After seeing her patients, my doctor came to check on me, and seeing that I really wasn’t getting anywhere, she predicted Dallas wouldn’t be born the 19th (her birthday – how cool!), and allowed me to eat something. So, we ordered in Liberty Burger and it was amazing. I thought I had some large contractions that evening, but I don’t think I knew what “large” meant at the time. (; We got some rest that night and waited expectantly for the next morning.
At about 9 AM that morning we started Pitocin because I was still at a 1 (ughhh, really Dallas?!). I was still stalled for a few hours after that, so my doctor came in again and said we were going to start some more intensive processes to see if my body would progress. Per a friend’s amazing advice, she told me that if I had to do a Foley balloon to not get an epidural yet, to save it for the real deal. Well, my doctor wanted to proceed with the balloon in hopes that my body would dilate more. When I say it was the most pain I’ve ever experienced…oh. my. gosh. IT WAS SO PAINFUL AND SO BARBARIC! But, it worked at least a little bit and in the next few hours when she took it out, I was at about a 3. I spent the rest of that afternoon in an off-and-on dazed state because I was put on Demerol and Phenergan for pain and nausea. Somewhere also that day my doctor broke my water and that was an experience! Even though she said I’d been leaking fluid for a while, I felt like I couldn’t stop peeing! Lol – our bodies sure are something. *I’d also like to mention that I had the best nurses throughout this entire process. I only had one per shift, and at this point I’d already met three of them. During this time I had nurse Sarah. I’d say she was old enough to be my mom. Since my mom couldn’t be there, I so enjoyed her company and her support because she was gentle and encouraging. I felt so taken care of and supported. L&D at Medical City Dallas does a great job of listening to you, being patient, and also doing the least intensive intervention (in my opinion). They even had me in different positions all day (one of which was a bouncy ball!) to try and get Dallas to move down, which I don’t believe all hospitals do.
At 4 PM I couldn’t take it anymore. My body felt like jello, contractions were getting stronger, and I didn’t know how much longer this was going to take, so I asked for an epidural. I always planned on having an epidural, but I just wanted to see how long I could go naturally. I was proud of myself for the work I’d done that day and decided it was time to rest. Sarah encouraged me with this decision and I think Logan was in shock of what my body had been through that day – lol! I think he was ready for me to chill out, too. Additionally, I was now ONLY at 4 cm and 80% effaced. I knew I couldn’t go the rest of the evening without one. When the anesthesiologist came in, I got a little nervous because I’d heard this needle was big. However, I’d just experienced the WORST pain of my life that morning with the Foley balloon, so I knew if I could handle that then I shouldn’t worry about this epidural. This sweet angelic man had me sit at the edge of the bed to prepare. Logan held my hands and I did not look back! When he started the needle, the weirdest thing happened – you know those glow stick necklaces we all raved about as kids? The ones where you crack them to make them glow? Well, imagine that sensation IN YOUR BACK. I started freaking out and he told me to widen my stance because Dallas’ head was probably interfering with the space. When I did that it helped, but I will never forget that feeling. Now that I see my son’s head I know what he was talking about…lol.
After that it was peace on earth. Modern medicine is such a beautiful thing. We hung out until 8 PM and I said goodbye to nurse Sarah and hello to nurse Jessica, who was my guardian angel and lifeline for the next few hours. Sadly, I was still at 4 cm and after 9 PM she came in to tell me she’d talked to my doctor on the phone and my doctor wanted to know “where my head was at”. Immediately my heart sank because I figured I was going to have to have a C-section. Honestly, I’ve always been terrified of the birth process. I’ve been to counseling for it – BEFORE I WAS PREGNANT. Lol! I don’t know if it was my anxiety or just how Dallas was positioned, but I never got to have a vaginal birth and that is okay with me. My body just wasn’t going to do it.
Logan and I looked at each other as she explained what was going on. I’d been ruptured for a while (again, probably since Saturday). Because of that Dallas wasn’t really protected anymore so both he & I were at risk of infection. If I waited any longer I’d develop a fever. He had, at this point, been down in the birth canal for so long that his head was starting to get some molding and they wanted me to make a decision soon. He also decided to turn and be “sunny side up” – that rascal! They said a few hours was not going to make a difference, and I honestly was already starting to feel a little “off”. We called my mom and told her what was going on, and after texting friends and asking for prayers, we called Jessica back in to tell her we were ready and to call my doctor to come to the hospital. I felt a bit embarrassed when Jessica came back in because at this point I got very emotional. She was putting her surgical cap on and all I could think about was that I was about to have major surgery and my parents weren’t here, this wasn’t “the plan”, and I was terrified. I was also mourning the loss of a normal experience, even though I’d been so anxious about it! We prayed, talked to my doctor when she got there who really encouraged me, then headed down to the OR at around 10:30.
Now, I’ve always had an obsession with Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve watched it from its very beginning and have been a ride or die fan. When I got into this operating room it was so surreal because the lights were SO BRIGHT above me, there were about 20 people in the room all doing their different jobs to prepare, and it was SO LOUD. Clanging of instruments mostly and a loud murmur, like an air conditioning unit. I started panicking because Logan wasn’t there yet – they had him take our things from the L&D floor to postpartum. While waiting for him, they transferred me from my bed to the operating table and strapped me down. They didn’t strap my arms but did have me spread them out like a T. My heart rate was only increasing!
While getting me ready, Nurse Jessica informed everyone in the room of who I was. She was incredible! She had such authority in that room and spoke with a very loud voice. She was like the captain of the ship! My doctor came in along with her assistant. Logan thankfully got there and started playing the playlist I’d made for the event. (: I think “Promises” was playing, which was so comforting and made me emotional. The anesthesiologist was right above my head and gave me another epidural. Before they began, my doctor touched various parts of my stomach to make sure I couldn’t feel anything. What’s odd is that you can tell that they’re touching you but you still can’t really feel it. When I told them all was good after some more panicking, Nurse Jessica said “WE HAVE A LEVEL”, which means surgery can begin because I’ve been numbed and medicated, to which the whole rest of the room repeated loudly “WE HAVE A LEVEL.” I’m telling you – it was surreal!
While I wanted to be in the moment, the thought of major surgery and having my arms out was sending me into a panic. Seeing all of those people with their surgical caps on didn’t help either! I started shaking uncontrollably, which made my teeth chatter and shoulders tense up. It was getting to the point where I couldn’t talk and I told Logan I needed help, so the anesthesiologist gave me Demerol to calm me down. Sadly, the next thing I heard was “SHELBY! DALLAS IS HERE!” I looked over to my left and Logan was holding our little boy. I know it was essential for them to calm me down but it was odd realizing I didn’t hear his first cry when they took him out. I was also a little embarrassed – was I snoring?? Was my mouth open?? Was I really asleep? I’ve been sure to keep perspective though – I have a healthy precious baby boy and my surgery went incredibly. I have an amazing doctor and I know how blessed we are. I am so thankful.
My doctor was so kind. She talked to me for a few minutes and held and rubbed my hand. She has three young children of her own and at that point it was after 11 PM – she is DEDICATED! We said our goodbyes, they put Dallas between my legs because I still wasn’t “with it” enough to hold him, and the anesthesiologist wheeled me into triage, where we stayed with Nurse Jessica for the next two hours. Logan held him for a while until I was well, then Dallas and I got to do skin to skin. I couldn’t believe I was holding my son. A former nurse that had taken care of me the night before was back at work and came to visit me, which I thought was so special! We texted and talked to family and friends, and at about 2 AM we were finally whisked into our postpartum room where Dallas had his first bath. And then the sleepless nights began. (:
This is long and probably over-detailed, but it was the most surreal moment of my life and I never want to forget Dallas’ birth story. How he came into this world will always be my favorite story to tell. If you are reading this and are on the fence about having children, or maybe are pregnant and are undecided on your baby’s future, I am here to tell you that having a baby is the biggest responsibility you will ever take on, but it is the sweetest love you’ll ever experience. Your baby has a purpose. If you have any questions about anything I am here. <3
Dallas James Downing was brought into this world on April 20th, 2021 at 10:50 PM, weighing 7 lbs 13 oz., and measuring 20 1/2 inches long. (I joke that my son’s birthday is what I get for teaching public high school for the past 6 years.) He is named after where Logan and I met and started our story – a story of new beginnings and grace, plus Logan’s late maternal grandfather, James Fred “Bubba” Smith.
Dallas is 8 weeks tomorrow and I wish I could relive this day over and over again. I know this is just one of many incredible days that I have yet to experience. Babies don’t keep, and I’ve got to cherish it while I can!