I can’t believe I’m already sitting down to share Peter’s birth story with him snuggled up next to me as I write! His due date wasn’t until April 28 but he surprised us with an early arrival just after 37 weeks on Friday, April 9. I had Teddy just two days before his due date so I assumed we still had at least another week or two to go, but clearly this little guy had his own schedule and was ready to make his presence known. I went to my 37 week appointment and was surprised to learn I was already 3 cm dilated since I’d been admitted to the hospital with Teddy when I was only 2 cm. It was a little bit of a heads up that this baby was coming early, but I had no idea he’d be in my arms less than 48 hours later!  

I’d been planning to write a full post about this before giving birth, but I went into this delivery feeling genuinely excited about having a sort of “do-over” for my experience giving birth to Teddy. I was determined to leave the delivery room feeling strong and proud and not like I’d somehow been a disappointment, and I spent a lot of time and energy in the eighteen months between their births trying to get in the best possible headspace to do it all again. I talked to a therapist to process feelings of shame and disappointment around Teddy’s birth, had conversations with Will and the doctors at my new OBGYN practice asking them to communicate openly throughout the delivery (to avoid the surprise factor of finding out I’d had an episiotomy after the fact with Teddy), and tried to stay as active as possible during my pregnancy for both my physical and mental well-being. I think there’s a powerful mind-body connection in labor and delivery that I didn’t fully appreciate before giving birth to Teddy and I’m glad I spent some time envisioning what a more favorable experience might look like with Peter. Of course there’s always an element of the unknown when it comes to giving birth and my second delivery experience could just be pure luck, but I at least wanted to be able to tell myself I’d done everything in my power to manifest a different experience the second time around. My two deliveries were so night and day different from one another and I wish more than anything that I could give that gift to any mom who’s had a challenging previous delivery, whether emotionally or physically. Peter’s birth story was more incredible than I thought possible and I’d love to think that gives a little hope to any expecting moms reading this! 🙏🏼

design darling peter's birth story

I started having intense contractions around 8 p.m. the night of Thursday, April 8, but similar to my third trimester with Teddy, I’d been experiencing prodromal labor (real contractions that stop short of progressing to dilation and active labor) for a little over a week, so I wanted to give it as much time as I could at home before heading to the hospital in case it was a false alarm. But by 1 a.m., I had showered, spent an hour on the exercise ball, started timing contractions, and become pretty convinced that this could be the real deal. I woke Will up so he could throw some things in a bag, rounded up a few last-minute additions to my hospital bag for me and Peter, and had a tearful goodbye picking Teddy up out of his crib, knowing it was the last time I’d hold him as an only child. Will set up the carseat while I let my parents know we were heading to the hospital and then off we went!

We got to the hospital around 1:30 a.m. and I was a little bummed to learn I was only 3.5 cm dilated, but my contractions were strong and close together enough that they admitted us and got us situated in a delivery room. Even though I told myself after Teddy’s birth that I’d get an epidural earlier on in the process next time, I found I wanted to be upright and walking around for as long as I could to let gravity help move things along. Still, by 3:15 a.m., I was pretty desperate for pain relief and decided to call for the anesthesiologist. Will was able to rest for a bit while the nurse helped move me from side to side to evenly distribute the epidural and even though I couldn’t fall asleep, I instantly felt so much more relaxed and excited for what was to come. My water broke on its own around 4:00 a.m. and I went from 4.5 cm to 9 cm over the next hour and a half! I really think getting the epidural when I did allowed my body to relax and do its thing without me tensing up at every contraction — huge props to any mom who gives birth without an epidural but I am a big fan! 😂

design darling peter's birth story

striped onesie

By 6 a.m., my doctor had arrived and it was time to push! I pushed for around an hour before Peter was born at 7:08 a.m. and his delivery was one of the most magical experiences of my life — even better than I’d spent my entire pregnancy envisioning and praying for. Where the on-call doctor who delivered Teddy had been loud and gruff, the doctor who delivered Peter was warm, encouraging, and honestly nothing short of heaven-sent. We made small talk between contractions and she offered constant guidance and reassurance that every push was getting us one step closer to meeting our little one. The moment Peter was placed on my chest, I felt equal parts overjoyed and empowered and I couldn’t have dreamt of a better outcome as someone who left her first delivery feeling so small. I wish I could go back and tell my first-time pregnant self to trust my gut and keep searching for an OBGYN who felt like a better fit, but I’m so deeply thankful to have found that person and practice this time around. I feel like I got the positive birth experience I’ve heard so many other moms rave about, and my emotional and physical recovery has been so much smoother as a result. 

design darling peter's birth story

Unfortunately Peter was quickly whisked to the nursery and later to the NICU as he was having trouble regulating his breathing on his own, so our hospital stay was still not without some very trying moments. I’d been able to breastfeed Teddy for the first time while still in the delivery room and then we had both our families popping in and out for two days to meet him, so our first hospital stay felt like it went by in the blink of an eye. With Peter being moved out of our room before I could nurse him and COVID preventing any family or friends from visiting us in the hospital, the hours ticked by much more slowly as Will and I waited desperately for updates from the NICU and I tried not to be sad that I was hooked up to a breast pump instead of nursing Peter in my arms. The maternity nurses tried to reassure us that Peter was going to be okay and that this was fairly routine for babies born before their due dates, but I’ll never forget the sight of our itty bitty newborn baby hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires and the desperation of wanting to take him back to the maternity floor with us. Thankfully Peter’s breathing steadily improved over the course of two days and nights, but I still look back with incredible longing when I reflect on hearing babies crying in the rooms next door while Will and I sat alone in our room waiting for any new news. I’ve since connected with several moms whose babies spent time in the NICU and I know I’m not alone in those feelings of sadness over not spending those first couple days together and wondering whether there’s anything I could have done differently to achieve a different outcome. We’re incredibly relieved that he was able to come home with us and I have infinite empathy for parents awaiting the same outcome for their own little ones. Getting home, hugging Teddy and my parents, and having Peter cozy and safe in my arms was the greatest relief and I’ve thanked my lucky stars every day since.

design darling peter's birth story

So far Peter has been a pretty easygoing baby (knock on wood!) — he’s sleeping well, slowly but surely getting the hang of breastfeeding, and very tolerant of Teddy patting him on the head or trying to brush his nonexistent teeth. 😝 My postpartum recovery has been a breeze relative to last time — hallelujah for no episiotomy this time around!!! — and I have enormous gratitude for all the doctors and nurses who made Peter’s delivery and homecoming so special. I can’t believe how much I already love this little person who was still in my belly two weeks ago and I feel like I spend half the day just staring at him in grateful disbelief that he’s here and home and healthy. I’m determined to soak up every second of this newborn phase with lazy days in bed, him falling asleep on my chest, and marveling at every little coo and snore. Will has been an absolute godsend running around after Teddy and I’m excited to venture out as a family of four now that the weather is warming up and I’m feeling more like myself. I also can’t wait to see Peter’s personality shine through in the coming weeks and months and watch he and Teddy develop their own bond. I so appreciate each of you following along and wishing us well as we enter this new chapter — two under two, let’s do this!

design darling peter's birth story

Teddy’s sweater  //  Peter’s onesie

P.S. I still tear up rereading this post about our first month with Teddy. 💙


31 thoughts on “PETER’S BIRTH STORY

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  1. Late to the party here- but I’m so glad that you had the empowering experience you deserved this time around! I am a nurse practitioner and was appalled and heartbroken to hear about how you were treated by the covering physician while giving birth to Teddy. Not only were his actions evidence of terrible bedside manner, but I would also say that it falls under the category of obstetric violence.

    You are really strong for seeking help and working through that trauma with a therapist. I am sure that you have already selected your prenatal care provider for your third pregnancy, but I really cannot recommend midwives enough for healthy pregnancies. I have never worked with more compassionate providers who prioritize consent, trust maternal intuition, and minimize unnecessary and traumatic interventions.

    Anyways, Congratulations on baby number three!

  2. I’m so happy for you. I am late to your party so I had to go back to read your birth story with Teddy. I am so sorry that you had some negativity surrounding the birth of your first child. I had to have a C-Section because my daughter was breach and several attempts to turn her were unsuccessful. Honestly, those “turning sessions” were more difficult for me than the C-Section. 🙂 I’m glad I was somehow oblivious to the mommy shaming that goes on surrounding the different ways to give birth. I had no idea until later that I was somehow “less than” to some moms for having a C-Section. I just don’t get why there isn’t more support for moms from doctors and other moms surrounding the birth process. If you have a baby, who cares how you get there? You did it! You did beautifully both times and I hope you know that. My daughter says she loves the fact that she was such a bad-ass that she had to be “extracted” rather than delivered. 🙂 And that little bad-ass is 23 years old now. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Hi Mackenzie! Congratulations!! I am so glad you had a positive experience. I delivered my son Charlie in August 2020 and after a anxiety-filled pandemic pregnancy, I had a birth experience that was difficult. I also had an episiotomy and an on-call doctor that I did not know and was not super encouraging. What a tough thing, and surprising how much it sticks with you! I actually read your post about Teddy’s delivery as well as your recovery posts and really felt encouraged by them shortly after Charlie’s arrival — so thank you very much for being so open! All the best to your family.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you had a similar experience — it really does stick with you and you’re so not alone in that! Thank you for the well wishes and congratulations on your little guy. I looove the name Charlie! 🙂

  4. So happy for you that this birth was more empowering! Peter looks beautiful and is perhaps preparing for a career as a violinist? (Third pic, lol) Hoping the rest of your recovery is peaceful!

  5. Mackenzie, I am so happy for you that this was a much smoother birth experience – congratulations on little Peter! He is so precious.

    Also, I was actually a NICU baby – I was born with a hole in my lungs and spent the first three days of my life in the NICU while they healed up. My poor mom! I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that, but I’m very happy that Peter is safely with you and breathing great now.

  6. I can relate all these years later as my now 20 yr old was whisked away to the NICU for blood sugar issues …. after 3 days there our 10 lb baby girl came home. Glad all is well for you!

  7. Congratulations!! Peter is adorable and I appreciate your honest writing about the positives and negatives of both delivery experiences. I think your posts will help other women realize the benefits of self-advocacy after a negative experience – it sucks that it’s needed and that good care isn’t guaranteed, but it’s always good to share the tools that have worked best for you.

  8. Congratulations on a healthy baby and happy delivery!
    I’m truly happy that you had your do over, it’s crazy how much the birth experience affects and stays with us for ever. I had an amazing experience with my first and still, 6 years later, relive it fondly. With my second, she came in a matter of minutes and I couldn’t get an epidural so I felt very out of control, and my OBGYN was not encouraging or understanding of my feelings. Although it was over quickly and recovery was great, I still have feelings of failure and regret.
    Welcome to the world, little Peter, you sure are cute!

  9. Congratulations on your new little guy! I too struggled with the birth of my now 13-month old son. I had an unplanned c-section after pushing for nearly three hours and still wonder if there was anything I could have done differently to bring him into the world the “traditional” way. Like you, I look forward to the opportunity to going into my next pregnancy/birth with a more positive experience–although just like with the first, there is never a guarantee! Happy that you were able to have the experience you hoped for–he is so adorable!

  10. Congratulations to you and your family! After having an emergency c-section and a really brutal hospital experience, reading this gives me so much hope for a better experience the second time around. Thank you so much for your honesty and courage in sharing even the tough parts on this parenthood journey.

  11. reading this brought tears to my eyes and i’m admittedly a bit jealous. i have twins, and do wish i got to do it again, but we don’t want anymore kids. i desperately wanted to have the experience of going into labor, but first of all, baby A was breech and you can’t safely attempt a vaginal birth when baby A is breech (you can if baby B is), and then i developed preeclampsia and had to be admitted to the hospital early and had a c section, during which i lost a ton of blood and ended up with a blood transfusion. didn’t even hold either twin until hours after delivery. twin A went to the NICU and i didn’t even meet him for almost 48 hours and twin B i only got to hold hours later. i also spent a lot of time in therapy but even so almost 2 years later thinking about it makes me teary. i love my kids dearly, but the day they were born was honestly one of the worst days of my life. fortunately they are both healthy now. i am SO SO glad that you got a more pleasant redo and I am glad that Peter is ok, though i know NICU time is really hard. congrats!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear this — I can’t imagine not meeting your son for 48 hours and I totally understand still getting teary about that! So glad that you’ve been proactive about seeking help to process it all and that they’re both healthy now but have the utmost empathy for what you went through to get them here!

  12. You are remarkable. I love how you focus on the joy of his arrival and not the sadness of his NICU visit. I’ve commented before that you have a special way of being both aspirational as well as relatable and you’ve done it again. Blessings to you and your beautiful family—how lucky those boys are to be born into such love! ❤️

  13. Thank you for sharing your story and SO happy for you and the beautiful experience the second time around! I can very much relate to your experience, I just had my second baby a month ago. My kids are 21 months apart and my first birth story was similar to yours (doctor I didn’t know and didn’t end up liking for delivery, plus a very painful recovery experience) and the second time around I had a doctor I loved and recovery has been a breeze in comparison. It’s such a relief and I’m so glad to hear you had a positive experience after a less than ideal first birth. Sending love to your sweet family.

  14. Definitely got choked up at this. Congratulations, what a nice balm on a rough first experience. Glad to hear your new baby is doing well after a tough start.

  15. Thank you for sharing your story..beautiful written: humble, honest, and grateful.. I have a NICU (and PICU) baby..and it was hard going home without him at first… wishing you lots of good health, good sleep, and peaceful time to bask in being a family of 4…