Thursday, March 24

Not According to Plan (Brock's birth story)

Well, tomorrow I will be 38 weeks pregnant. Oh, wait, no I won't because we have a 5 day old son now! Brock Grayson Vandegriff decided he was coming early so last Saturday, March 19, he made his entry into the world. The entire process was completely different than everything that I had expected, anticipated, or planned for and I was completely thrown for a loop, but the end result was a healthy, beautiful baby boy and an incredibly happy, new little family. In this blog, I thought I'd break down the actual experience that we had last Saturday. Warning: It's a long one because I wanted to remember every detail.

Friday Evening: I wasn't feeling anything out of the ordinary, no contractions or any indication that I had less than the expected 3 weeks until Brock arrived. We went to JC Penney to get Blaine some clothes and then had dinner at Carrabba's with some friends from church. My mom came over to visit when we got back home and still insisted that Brock was going to come early. We went to bed around 11:00 pm.

3:30 am, Saturday: My water broke while I was sleeping. Disoriented and a little confused I went to the bathroom and realized what had happened. I walked back to the bed and said with a little uncertainty, "Blaine, I think my water broke?" Blaine jumped out of bed ready for anything and asked what I needed him to do. I still wasn't sure what was supposed to happen next even though I'd been to the birthing classes, read 3 books on pregnancy, and made all kinds of plans. All I could think was My doctor is leaving to go out of town today; My mother-in-law is leaving to go out of town today; Blaine is supposed to go to Atlanta to teach today; I was supposed to clean my house today; We were supposed to have dinner with friends tonight; I'M NOT READY!!!

3:45 am, Saturday: I called my doctor's office to get the on-call doctor's number. I called the on-call number and a very kind nurse calmly explained to me that Dr. Brody was the on-call doctor and that she was putting in a page to him and would call me right back. In the meantime Blaine was busy starting the car, getting our things together, and playing the role of steady, level-headed rock that I desperately needed at that point. I had packed a bag for the hospital just three days before. This was so fortunate because I didn't even have the presence of mind to figure out what I was going to wear to the hospital. I stood crying, staring into my closet when Blaine asked what he could do to help, and I sobbed that I didn't know what shirt to put on. Where was the rational, calm, collected Shelby I always prided myself on being?? Still crying, I kept saying to Blaine, "I'm not ready; I had three more weeks."

4:00 am, Saturday: At this point the nurse had connected me to Dr. Brody (whom I had never met) and he informed me that I was going to have to come downtown to Erlanger because he was the only doctor on call and that he had two other deliveries to take care of there and wouldn't have time to make it to Parkridge for me. "Ok, thank you," I said. I hung up the phone and started crying even harder as I told Blaine we'd have to go downtown. I took the tour at Parkridge; I knew where to go at Parkridge; I had timed the drive from our house to Parkridge and knew what to expect; I don't even know where to park at Erlanger... the emergency room garage? the parking garage? As we headed out the door, I glanced around at my house and panicked again: My house is a wreck! I was going to clean today! I can't bring a baby home to this! We got in the car and headed downtown, Blaine calmly assuring me it would be okay and he would come home and clean everything.

4:30 am, Saturday: We made it to the emergency room and someone sent a nurse to get me a wheelchair. At that point, Blaine and I had to separate because he had to park the car. My rock was being taken away! I started to cry again and the nurse consoled me as she pushed me to the labor and delivery floor. All I could think was I hope Blaine knows where to go; What if he can't find me? I don't want him to be upset. They checked me into Triage and put me in a room by myself to examine me and figure out how far along I was. I heard Blaine's voice just a few minutes later so I was able to calm down some, and slowly my sanity started to return as I realized we made it to the hospital; we were in safe, knowledgeable hands now and everything would be okay. <Insert deep, dramatic, heavy sigh of relief here>

5:15 am, Saturday: Blaine was allowed to come back to be with me after they asked some personal questions they thought I might not want to answer in front of him (one in particular made me laugh "Is your husband the father of this baby?"). Blaine sat next to me holding my hand and said a quick prayer when we had a moment to ourselves. I was a little worried because the triage nurses seemed to be doubting whether my water had, in fact, broken since I wasn't still gushing or leaking and wasn't having any contractions. I was a little frustrated because the questions they were asking seemed to suggest that they thought I might have just peed myself instead. I told Blaine I was going to be so embarassed if that was the case, but I was pretty sure I could tell the difference. At 5:15, Dr. Brody came in, introduced himself, and did a pelvic exam where he confirmed that I was 4 cm dilated and even though he wasn't positive my water had broken, he was going to admit me and we were "having this baby today". Whew, at least I wasn't going to have to go back home in shame because I had confused incontinence for labor.

6:00 am, Saturday: I was moved to a labor and delivery room, given a popsicle, started on a Pitocin drip, and gained full recovery of the logical side of my brain. Blaine and I began to get really excited. The nurses, although numerous and constantly coming in and out of the room, were all so kind and compassionate. I was repeatedly asked whether I wanted to start my epidural yet, but I kept putting it off because I still couldn't feel any of the contractions that I was apparently having. I didn't want to start the pain relief until I actually had pain.

7:00 am, Saturday: Blaine and I called and texted our parents, siblings, and a couple of close friends to let them know what was going on and that we were in the hospital. Excitement was continuing to build.

10:00 am, Saturday: The resident doctor came to check to see if I was any more dilated and to make sure that my water didn't need to be manually broken (which I've heard is pretty painful). I had progressed to 5 cm and she couldn't feel the bag of waters anywhere so they decided they were going to put in an internal monitor to measure the intensity of my contractions since I still wasn't feeling any pain but they were coming in pretty regularly now. Ok, that was painful! Our nurse, Laura, couldn't get the internal monitor to insert correctly after several attempts and I was writhing every time she tried. Finally, Laura called a nurse tech to try because she had more experience and her "hands are smaller". Oh, please let the nurse tech get it right the first time. She did, thank goodness.

11:00 am, Saturday: I began to feel slight pain with my contractions so I went ahead and asked for the epidural since they had told me over and over how it could take a while to get it prepared and that I should ask for it before I was really needing it. I was told that the anesthesiologist was just about to start a C-section with another patient so it would be about an hour but they would get it to me as soon as possible. This was fine with me because I still wasn't hurting bad at all. Blaine was still by my side and displaying very un-Blaine-like characteristics, such as answering his phone every time it rang, responding to every text he received, sending out periodic text updates to people in the waiting room, and completely ignoring the French book he had brought in case he wanted to read or study (he constantly keeps a book with him everywhere we go so that he can take advantage of every free moment).

11:30 am, Saturday: Pain was starting to get stronger and contractions were getting closer together, but the anesthesiologist was still sitting in on the C-section, so nurse Laura gave me a temporary pain killer called Stadol. She told me before she administered it through the IV that people either love it or hate it because it can make you dizzy and loopy. And that it did. I had to keep my eyes closed, but I didn't hate the medication. It caused me to have a sort of out-of-body experience. At one point, I remember the thought coming into my head I think there is a baby in me that I have to get out today? and I remember at another point, I wasn't worried about my house anymore because I was able to get home and get it cleaned up. Stadol was an interesting experience.

12:00 pm, Saturday: The anesthesiologist made his grand entrance at noon. They set me up and he instructed me to relax my shoulders, rest my chin on my chest, and arch my back like an angry cat. He administered the local anesthetic which was just a slight sting with a warming sensation. Then came the epidural. "Relax your shoulders, rest your chin on your chest, arch your back... Relax your shoulders, rest your chin on your chest, arch your back." He repeated the mantra over and over and I found myself doing each action each time he said it. The epidural was over, my toes and legs began to warm and tingle, and then the lower half of my body became dead to the world. Ahhh, sweet relief. Alright, bring on the baby; I could do this forever.

1:00 pm, Saturday: Waiting...

2:00 pm, Saturday: Waiting...

3:00 pm, Saturday: Waiting...

4:30 pm, Saturday: Dr. Brody comes back in to check my progression and see if I have dilated anymore. When he informs us that I'm still only at 5 cm, I feel slightly disappointed. Then I'm blindsided once again. He tells me that by now I should have progressed more, and the baby should have dropped further into the pelvic floor. It has been more than 12 hours since my water broke, and the risk of infection to myself and the baby will go up from here. He has a suspicion that my pelvic cavity is too small to birth the baby, and I need to start considering the possibility of a C-section. Here come the tears again... ugh, I never knew I was such a cry baby! He says he'll come back in about an hour and check me once more, then we'll talk about our options. The doctor leaves, the news is sent to the family in the waiting room, Blaine and I talk it through with each other, I cry some more, Blaine and I pray together, and we decide this is what we want to do.

5:30 pm, Saturday: Dr. Brody joins us again, checks me, finds the same result, and takes a seat next to the bed. We discuss the risks and possible complications of C-sections and he asks what we want to do. I told him we were ready, and he tells me he's really excited about our decision because he's "read a lot of literature on this procedure and he's been dying to try it" (haha). So he initiates the protocol and a flurried frenzy of activity takes over the room that had been so quiet and boring for so many hours. For some reason I became extremely sleepy at this point. I don't know if it was the drugs, the anxiety, or just the relief of knowing this was all about to be over, but I could not hold my eyes open so I rested while nurses bustled all around me. I am prepped and given a stronger dose of anesthesia (which brought on the worst case of chills and shaking I've ever experienced) then moved to the operating room.

6:30 pm, Saturday: They roll me from my bed onto the operating table and stretch me out, crucifixion style, then hang up a curtain just above my abdomen in front of my face. Dr. Brody comes in and tells me he's a little upset because he just went to his locker and his Vodka bottle is empty (haha again), then he goes into his zone and I hear him setting everything and everyone up for the procedure. They bring in Blaine who looks completely adorable in his scrubs, hairnet, and Coach's shirt. I think how much I love him and how thankful I am that he's there with me.

7:18 pm, Saturday: Our son, Brock Grayson Vandegriff, is born. This is the exact point in time that our lives were turned upside down and everything we thought we knew about love was completely obliterated and replaced with a new definition. This 7 pound, 5 ounce little human joined our world and turned us into weeping, sentimental, anxious, overwhelmed parents all in an instant.

Nothing about that day went according to my plans, but at some point God put an impression on my heart that made me realize I am not the one in control of my life. I told Blaine that this was my first lesson in parenthood: I am not in control. We will be this child's guardians, his disciplinarians, his protectors. We will love him, teach him, scold him, and direct him, but we will never be able to control him. He is his own individual, and he will make his own decisions, and we will guide him and pray that he makes wise ones and that he will seek to honor us as his parents and that he will one day recognize his need for a Savior, but we have to trust God to be in control and take care of this little person from now on for the rest of his life. So ultimately, all those things that I thought went wrong about that day served to show me my smallness and to magnify the greatness of our God. What a day!


  1. Congrats, the Vandergriffs plus one. :) Your journal of the birth brought tears to my eyes!! I am so happy for you all! :)

  2. Shelby - First of all I am SO happy for you and Blaine. What a gift God has given you both and I know that He is confident you will be super parents.
    Second - Your account of Brock's birth is too sweet, tearful and FUNNY. Having had two c-sections, I know of what you type. Everything you thought would happen - doesn't but in the end, SUCCESS - a baby!
    Love him, cherish him, bring him up the way God intends and most of all MAKE MEMORIES<>

  3. Ok Shelby you made me cry, Congrats!!! - Janna

  4. Oh Shelby Brock is beautiful and so is your post! Congrats so proud of you!