If you’ve been following along for a little while, you know that my husband and I have been expecting our first child!
She finally arrived, and it was love at first sight!
Arriving on August 21, 2020 at 3:51am, 8 pounds 1 oz and 20.5 inches, our little ball of love is doing well. We waited until birth to find out the sex of Baby Shedd, and honestly it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! I had to talk my husband into it at the beginning, and by the end the roles were reversed. We’re both happy we waited, and would have been happy either way, but we are overjoyed with a girl!
The story behind the name: Noelle Lynn Eggers Shedd
In the first few months of dating, Taylor and I attended a Halloween Party together dressed as Jurassic Park. Ruby was even a little dinosaur! Yes, I found photos because it was such a fun night! (Please don’t judge us too hard. Taylor had a man bun back in the day, and regrets nothing!) Two of our friends were pregnant with their first child, and we were all suggesting baby names.
When asked what he would name his daughter, Taylor quickly replied “Noelle.” I remember my jaw dropping to the ground because I have always loved the name! So much so that I named my beloved American Girl Doll Noel.
That night was the first night I could really see a future with Taylor, and I’m so thankful that our love has continued to this day, and we finally got to welcome little Noelle into the world.
Lynn: My middle name, along with my mom’s middle name, and my grandma’s middle name
Eggers: My maiden name that Taylor and I added as middle names when we got married
Shedd: Our last name
Her arrival into this world was pretty exciting, but I know birth stories aren’t for everyone. You can find Noelle’s Birth Story below the photos, but I won’t be offended if you decide to skip it. This was one of my first times taking newborn photos, and it was a journey! I wanted to capture her cute little fingers and toes, as well as her fading stork bite and moody scrunched face. It was basically impossible for me to do on my own though! Thankfully, I was able to call in reinforcements and Taylor, my mom, and Ruby came to help. It really was a team effort because every time I tried to move and reposition Noelle, she would wake up. Did you know that newborns can smell their mother’s milk? Crazy! I took these photos less than a week ago, and she has already grown–her body is gaining weight and her overbite is evening out as she learns to breastfeed. These photos mean so much to me, and I know they will only continue to mean more to us as Noelle grows. Let the journey continue!
Without further ado, here are the baby photos you’ve been waiting for! Please meet Noelle, the newest member of our family:
Noelle’s Birth Story
At our 20 week anatomy scan, we were told that our baby had a partially circumvallate placenta. It is super rare (less than 1% of pregnancies) and happens when the sac that the baby is in starts growing over the placenta, potentially cutting off nutrients to the baby later on in the pregnancy. Although later ultrasounds could barely detect the circumvallate placenta (thankfully!), our midwives continued to advise us to be ready for baby before our due date. Given this advice, and the fact that I was born 2.5 weeks early and my brother was born 3 weeks early, my husband and I had our hospital bag packed and things in order to have Baby Shedd at 37 weeks. I’m writing this all in because Noelle definitely did not arrive before her due date. She arrived over a week after it and the waiting was probably the hardest part of the entire birth for me!
I spent every day from 37 weeks on drinking the tea, eating the dates, and following almost every old-wives-tale that is supposed to help induce labor. In addition to staying active throughout my pregnancy (shout out to all you wonderful couples who adventured with me as I waddled through the mountains!), I’d walk over 3 miles a day in hopes to “walk the baby out.” Nothing happened, and answering “no baby” over and over throughout the day had me avoiding my phone and all communication.
By our 41 week appointment, I had barely dialated past where I was at 39 weeks, and they recomeneded we be induced. This news was hard for me to swallow at first because my goal was to have an unmedicated labor, but I quickly remembered that the real goal is the delivery of a happy and healthy baby, which made me excited for the process to begin. Taylor and I walked into the hospital and checked in very calmly, nothing like you see in the movies. We were also surprised that most births are induced nowadays. Our nurse even said that she’s always surprised when someone comes in already in labor because it’s no longer the norm. Taylor put up our string lights to make the windowless room feel homey, as I changed into my hospital gown and found Gilmore Girls on the TV.
Our induction method of choice was the Foley Bulb, where they inserted a balloon into my cervix, then filled it with saline solution. The added pressure on my cervix was a natural way to encourage both dilation and effacement (two of the three things that need to happen in order for the baby to come out). One of my fears going into an induced labor was that my body wouldn’t join in helping. I worked hard to have a healthy pregnancy and read just about every book out there on how to have an empowering labor and delivery. I craved that “goddess” feeling that happens after delivering without an epidural, and I was afraid an induction wouldn’t give my body a chance to reach that feeling.
We checked into the hospital at 12:30 pm, and by 3:00 pm I had to shut off the TV because Lorelai and Rory Gilmore were annoying me. That was my first clue that the cramping I was experiencing was actually contractions! Taylor and I spent most of Early Labor in the bathroom slow dancing to 90’s country love songs as I rode through each wave, excited and empowered to find out what contractions actually felt like. Yes, I was ready to have this baby! After a few hours, the nurse recommended I lay down and rest before the real action began. Laying down was nice, but my contractions really slowed down with the lack of movement. Labor became a mind game for me at this point because resting felt good, but I wanted things to continue to move along. My midwife recommended we add a small amount of Pitocin (artificial oxytocin that encourages stronger contractions and labor) just to make sure things didn’t stop completely.
Around midnight, the nurse was able to pull my Foley Bulb out, indicating that I was around 4cm dilated. My goal was to slow dance and exercise-ball-bounce through contractions for as long as possible before getting into the bathtub. I’m a water girl at heart and having a bathtub in my delivery room was the only part of our “birth plan” that was non-negotiable. We waited an extra hour to see if my water would break on it’s own, but when it didn’t, they broke my water at 1:30 am, and I got into the tub to help ease the growing waves of contractions.
The next couple hours are a bit of a blur for me because things really progressed quickly! Unfortunately, the tub didn’t calm my soul as I expected it to. I basically floated around for 45 min, got annoyed with Taylor, and decided I was too uncomfortable and hot to be in the tub anymore. As I moved from the tub to the toilet, I understood why so many women get epidurals. I’m definitely not against epidurals, just the thought of something being inserted into my spinal cord gives me the hebie jeebies. My contractions were intense and coming closer and closer together. It was harder to relax through each wave. They wanted to check my dilation progress around 2:30 am, but I started throwing up, pooping and having the strongest contractions yet ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Up to this point, I felt in control of my body and my breath. However, when “transition” hit, all I could do was demand that Taylor breath with me. His reenactment of this moment is pretty funny, and I’m just now getting to the point where I can laugh about it. The transition stage of labor is no joke!
At this point, I was ready for the drugs. I distinctly remember the nurse saying “I can get you something, but let’s check your progress first. Either your pain tolerance has gone down, or you’re about to have this baby!” Once I hopped up on the bed, I had a contraction that left me no choice but to push. It was such a necessary feeling! The room buzzed around me as my MIA midwife quickly appeared and confirmed that I was 10cm dilated and the baby’s head was almost crowning. She didn’t really confirm it, she just checked me, and gave a deer in the headlights look that left the nurses asking questions, and gave me permission to push. Pushing felt so good and with the next contraction, I could feel the baby move through my body and then back up when the contraction was over. Feeling the baby move through me was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. It was also the most motivating thing I’ve ever experienced! “We’re going to have a baby!” I remember shouting at Taylor. With two more pushes, Baby Shedd’s head popped out, followed by her body. At 3:51 am, everyone shouted with joy, “It’s a girl” as I laid down on the bed and got to hold her for the first time.
I wish I could end Noelle’s Birth Story at her delivery, but we spent 6 more days in the hospital. Noelle’s arms were a bit shakey and didn’t really want to eat. These can be normal newborn traits, but the nurses continued to check her blood sugar levels every few hours. A normal newborn’s blood sugar range naturally increases to about 50-70 mM. Noelle’s however, dropped to 23 when she was 23 hours old. I cried as the nurse took her away in the middle of the night, and Taylor and I joined her in the NICU to celebrate her 24 hour birthday.
Having a baby in the NICU is one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. The flood of hormones that hit after having a baby didn’t help. We had to wear a mask while holding her, and she could only move about 5 feet from the middle of the room because of her IV and monitors. Noelle was labeled as a “sugar baby” with low blood sugar, however, she didn’t have any of the usual symptoms other than she had low blood sugar and high insulin levels. She was not small or born early, I did not have gestational diabetes (at least I did not have it when I was tested during pregnancy), and our labor wasn’t especially stressful. The first few days we were in NICU were spent giving Noelle time to level out her sugars on her own and testing to see if there was a big underlying cause we didn’t know about.
While I was still in the “Women’s Care” section of the hospital after birth, Taylor and I stayed in our room and we walked to the NICU every 3 hours to feed and hold Noelle. It felt like a bad dream where all we could do to help was hold our baby girl. One morning was especially terrifying: At the 5 am feeding, Noelle was almost unresponsive and limp. She barely opened her eyes when I fed her. When Taylor and I returned at 8 am, we heard her crying from down the hall. In the room we found her surrounded by a team of doctors as she was screaming. Her IV had fallen out the evening before and her body wasn’t ready to be without the helpful fluids. The veins of sugar babies are extra fragile and the doctors and nurses were having trouble placing a new IV in her brittle veins. They tried to place one in her forehead and found an artery instead of a vein. It blanched, turned white, then bled under the skin giving her a gigantic bruise on the front of her head. This was terrifying to watch, and it was this moment that the nurses pointed at me and told me to jump in, hold her hand, and talk to her to try and calm her down. She was screaming, I was crying, and the NICU team continued to poke her in different parts of her body. They eventually got an IV into her wrist, but also placed a continuous feeding tube as a back up. Between the IV poking and blood testing, Noelle got used to being poked. She eventually stopped crying at every bleed, which honestly broke my heart. At under a week old, Noelle showed strength, patience and trust, and we are so proud of her.
Over time, Noelle was weaned off her IV and feeding tube. The NICU team decided it was time to challenge her with a six hour fast. As long as her blood sugar remained over 60, then we could go home. The goal was to have her sugars drop, then have her body stabilize by offsetting her sugar levels with glucose stored in her body. Throughout the fast, she was starving (another good sign!), and she and I spent the night continuously rocking in the chair to try and stay calm through the hunger. Over the 6 hours, her tests came back 75, 88, 65, 61, and then… 74! She passed and we were over the moon! Thankfully, she did not have underlying issues and just needed more time to adjust to life outside the womb. After 6 days in the NICU, and 5 nights of Taylor and I sharing a 1-person cot, we were able to go home as a family!