It has been a whirlwind 10 days since our little Amos arrived. All of my fears and anxieties about bringing a second child into our family are gone. I shared Lilly’s birth story shortly after she was born and I wanted to share Amos’s birth story now – mainly so I force myself to write it all down before I forget it all! Mom brain is a real thing, people.

Heads up, this post may be long and have a lot of pictures. Sorry, I’m not sorry. 🙂

A little backstory… my birth with Lilly was long, rough, and ended in a c-section. Despite every effort I made to go totally “natural” and “drug-free” during my labor with Lilly, after 26 hours, it just wasn’t happening and they had to cut her out. At my postpartum checkup after she was born, my midwife checked me and said that I have a very narrow pelvic arch and that was likely what kept Lilly from ever engaging in the birth canal.

SO, needless to say, going into this pregnancy, I knew I was going to keep a MUCH more open mind when it came to labor and delivery. I chose to stick with using midwives for my prenatal care and I really wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), but again, I kept an open mind.

I took much better care of myself this pregnancy. I worked out a lot and kept seeing my awesome trainer, Rachel. I did everything I could “control” and left the rest up to God. 

At about 25/26 weeks I ended up cracking two ribs… yes, I cracked two ribs and it was awful. That made my already uncomfortableness even worse… it’s really hard to breathe, laugh, cough, sneeze, etc. when you have cracked ribs. Then, I started experiencing a lot of terrible pressure and pain in my pelvis. Things just started getting… tough.

I hit 28 weeks and my Braxton Hicks contractions started up and they were much more intense than they were when I was pregnant with Lilly. And, as the weeks went on, they only got worse. They weren’t like labor pains, but they were extremely uncomfortable – it made it very tough to breathe, very tough to walk / sit / do any sort of lifting, etc. I basically was contracting on and off all day.

At 35 weeks I started having a sharp pain in my lower right abdomen and my midwife put me on the NST monitor to check on the baby… she was basically afraid that my previous c-section scar was opening. I ended up having to go to the hospital for the day to be monitored and while I was there, it was determined that I had “irritable uterine syndrome” – which is, apparently, a thing. Basically, it’s like horrible Braxton Hicks… but constant. Which, yep… that’s what it was for me. So, that explained my discomfort. 37 Weeks with Baby Stillman 2.0

My midwives determined to just keep an eye on the baby… but as my pregnancy progressed… especially at 36 and 37 weeks, we were noticing that the baby was still very high and nowhere near engaged in my pelvis. We sat down with my midwives and started discussing birth plan / options and they basically told me I had about a 10-20% chance of a successful VBAC. And trust me, these are midwives who are EXTREMELY pro-vbac and hate to ever say to a mom, “You just probably can’t have a vaginal birth.” 

It was at that time we decided to go ahead and schedule a repeat c-section with the hope / prayer that maybe I’d go into labor on my own… but that the date would be set and we’d have it if need be. I will be honest, I was really unsure as to whether or not this would be the right decision and I had A LOT of anxiety about the choice, but I really trust my midwives and their advice and counsel meant the world to me. They know me, they know my history, they were with me through my whole pregnancy with Lilly and this whole pregnancy… I knew they had the safety and best interest of me and baby at heart.

I will share more on my thoughts on all this later… but let’s get to the actual birth!

So, the repeat c-section was scheduled for Friday, February 19th at 8am. The day before I was a nervous wreck. I found myself crying randomly, unable to focus, and just completely and utterly stressed. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I just was terrified. My c-section with Lilly was after such a long labor and I was so drugged up by that point, I had no idea what was going on… but this time, I was just so AWARE of it all.

Thursday was our wedding anniversary and we had a totally glamorous dinner from Bojangles. I finished packing the night before and getting everything ready for the weekend, and basically couldn’t fall asleep. I think I got like an hour of sleep. Terrific.

We got up at about 5am, I showered, put on some makeup, got in comfy clothes, and we headed to the hospital to be there for check in by 6am. It felt so surreal to drive there and know we were not going home without a baby.

We got checked in and they took us to triage where they hooked me up to monitors, got my IV started, and asked me about 700 health history questions.

Last belly pic before baby!
Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (2)

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (3)

I met the doctor who was going to do the surgery and he was hilarious and let me joke around with him, so I knew I liked him. I also loved that my midwife, Leigh Ann, was going to be in the operating room with me. The nurses were also AMAZING.

They got me all prepped and sent John away to get dressed in his “operating room rags” and it was time to head into the operating room. It was so strange to just WALK into the operating room… Again, to say I was scared / nervous / anxious is a bit of an understatement.

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (4)

They took me into the operating room (which was EXTREMELY FRIGID… MY GOLLY. SO COLD) and they got me prepped for the spinal block. I was actually most nervous for this part. The anesthesiologist was so helpful in walking me through what was going to happen. I sat on the side of the bed and they had me lean over into this “massage chair-like” thing. They prepped my back and then they put in a little stick of lidocaine. It basically felt like a bad bee sting. So, not comfortable, but certainly not the worst pain I’ve ever felt.

After the lidocaine, I basically just felt “pressure” and I could feel him touching around on my lower back. I never felt the spinal block needle at all and that whole deal was WAY less scary than I thought it was going to be. The only strange part was I was sitting there and suddenly I felt like my legs were going to sleep. I said, “It feels like my legs are all tingly, like there is bees in them…” And then the anesthesia team went, “Go! Go! Go! Get her down!” And in a fury they laid me down on the bed. Nothing serious, but that’s how fast the spinal works and they wanted me laying flat before I was totally numb.

They laid me down on the operating table and begun the rest of the prep process. The numbing from the spinal was crazy… so different than the epidural. I went completely numb from basically the sternum down and couldn’t feel anything. I did immediately get the labor shakes (which I had with Lilly) and started shaking like crazy. Then, I got insanely nauseous and started dry-heaving. That’s fun. Dry-heaving when you’re totally numb and your muscles are relaxed and your stomach is completely empty. And by fun, I mean not fun at all. They gave me some medicine for the nausea and I pretty soon felt relief.

Now, the hospital where I delivered has been moving to a “family centered cesarean birth option” for c-section moms. Basically, they are trying to do everything they can to mimic a “vaginal birth experience” in a c-section birth. Skin-to-skin soon after birth, and they even had the option of a clear drape. They had JUST gotten the clear drape as an option for c-section births THAT WEEK and so I was the first person to request it. I was kind of nervous about it, but I wanted to give it a try. When I say clear drape, basically, it’s a clear piece of plastic. But here’s how it works… They put the blue drape up in front of me, but behind it was a clear sheet of plastic. So, they so all the prep and initial parts of the surgery behind the blue drape… but when it comes time for baby to be born, they drop the blue drape so you can see the baby being born.

Now, once I was totally prepped and numb, they brought John in and he sat down next to me. I kept making him sit down because he wanted to just watch the surgery. Creepy. Haha!

The surgical team had just started and once they got “in there,” if you will, both my doctor and midwife immediately said, “Oh, Molly… you made the right decision… this baby is just floating up there and your birth canal is just way too narrow. There’s no way a baby would fit through there.” 

Pretty soon I started feeling A LOT of pressure. My midwife had to basically LEAN on me to push the baby down to get it out. I remember making guttural-like sounds as they pressed on me to get the baby down and out. The baby was so high that the surgical doctor had to actually use forceps to get him out. John made the comment, “It looks like a shoehorn they’re using to get the baby out.” 

Everyone then said, “We got a head!” And they then dropped the blue drape so only the clear drape was in front of me. Don’t worry, I couldn’t see anything “gorey” – all I could see was the surgical team and they said, “You ready for a baby, mama?” As they were getting the baby out with forceps, some blood splattered up on the clear drape and they made a joke “And that’s why we have that there!” It actually wasn’t as creepy as it sounds. I kinda laughed…

But then, all of a sudden, the team called out, “Here we go!” And I watched as they pulled the baby out of me. My husband said, “We got a kickstand!” And I cried, “It’s a BOY?! We have an AMOS!” I couldn’t believe it! He was here. It was the most amazing experience watching them pull him out of me. I’m SO thankful I chose the clear drape because honestly it was just like what you would see if you had a vaginal birth as far as lifting the baby up and out.

It was amazing! I can’t even begin to tell you how much it meant to me and it really took the “unnatural” and “sterile” aspect of the surgery away and made it feel much more like a personal, emotional, and raw birth experience. John walked over with the team as they cleaned the baby up and weighed him.

Our little Amos James Stillman was here and he weighed in at 6lbs 13oz and was born at 8:41am. Lilly was almost 9 pounds… so Amos is our little peanut!

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (5)

After they cleaned him up, they brought him over to me and I got to do skin-to-skin and I got to hold him the rest of the time… even as they cleaned and stitched me up. It was truly a completely different birth experience. After Lilly was born, I didn’t get to really see or hold her for over an hour or two… to be able to hold my SON on my chest within a few minutes was amazing. I just kept laughing and crying and I was just in disbelief that Amos was here. Everyone thought we were having a boy, but I just wasn’t convinced. I still believe not finding out is the best EVER!! It made finding out at birth such a fun surprise.

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (6)First photo together!

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (7)

I loved just getting to hold Amos while the cleanup was happening. John kept just wanting to watch the surgery in between petting Amos… at one point, he leaned over the drape and was asking what organ that was they were stitching up. Apparently that’s a no-no (leaning over the drape) so he got scolded a bit – hahah!

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (8)

When they were ready to take me and Amos back to recovery, John left to go tell the family in the waiting room.

All the following images were taken by the AMAZING Becky Keller of Rebecca Keller Photography. I literally cannot thank Becky enough for coming and being a part of our “birth story” and capturing these images. I cry basically every time I look at them and I will treasure them forever. Thank you, Becky. Thank you. If you are in the Raleigh / Durham area and you are looking for a birth / hospital / newborn / family photographer, contact Becky… she is AMAZING, y’all. And no, she is not paying me to say this! 🙂 

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (9)

Waiting to hear the news…

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This picture, y’all. Daddy showing big sister a photo of her new baby brother.

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Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (15)

Then John brought Lilly back to the recovery room to see me and meet her baby brother. This picture gets me every time.

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (16)

Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (17)

I am still shaking (I had the labor shakes for about four hours after surgery), I am barely 15-30 minutes post-op, I’m totally numb from the waist down, and I am swollen and emotional… not the most flattering photos of me ever, but I will treasure these for years to come. Lilly meeting her brother Amos for the first time. So precious.

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She was so calm and stoic and mesmerized by him.

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First snuggles with my babies.

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Holding her baby brother for the first time. <3

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My babies. <3

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Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (30)

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Then it was time for the grandparents to come in and meet Amos!

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I love the emotion in my mother-in-law’s face!

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Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (39)

My dad coming to meet Amos!

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Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (41)

Another picture that just gets me right in the feels. <3

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Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (43)

Love my daddy.

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Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (46)

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Lilly opening her present from baby Amos.

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Pop Pop and Amos

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Papa and Bomma with Amos.

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In our postpartum room…

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My favorite picture. Possibly ever. I love my boys.

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My family. <3

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Family Centered Cesarean C-Section Birth Story | (C) 2015 Rebecca Keller Photography (71)

And that’s the (long) story of how we welcomed our sweet Amos James into the world. 

I’ll definitely share more in the weeks to come about recovery and all that (which have been tough, I will say that…), but overall… my birth this time was a completely different experience than the first time and I owe it in large part to the awesome doctors, midwives, and nurses at Duke Regional Hospital and for the family centered cesarean approach they are now taking. I’m forever grateful. <3 

I also can’t thank my husband enough for his love, support, encouragement, and ability to calm my nerves and make me laugh in even the “scariest” of situations. I love being your wife and I love raising kids with you. So, so grateful.

I am also forever grateful, again, to Becky for these images. Check out this slideshow she put together of our images. It’s beautiful:

Thanks for reading! If you have written a birth story, please share a link in the comments. I LOVE reading birth stories! <3
let it shine logoWelcome to Let it Shine…..the new, revamped Funday Monday! After two years….we decided to rename our link up to something we felt would be a better fit.  Thus, Let it Shine! Why the name? Because we want this link up to be just that…..your chance to let it shine.  We’ll be sharing our favs here each week and on social media……

/ plaid shirt / double halo braid tutorial /

Another place we will be showcasing our favs?  The Let It Shine Pinterest Board



“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” {1 Peter 4:10}

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