35 Weeks | Family History



Confession: I’ve started losing sleep over the anticipation of giving birth. The baby books and iPhone apps warned me about this and I was all “Psah. I’m a warrior. I got this.” I still try to give myself a good dose of positive affirmation mixed with a little delusion that it’s going to be no big deal but sometimes the middle-of-the-night gremlins get the best of me and I start to let my mind wander to the pain and the worst case scenarios. I try to put a stop to the horror stories and remind myself that I’m going to be a birthing badass and fall back asleep while imagining how I’d like the experience to go down.

One of the things that gives me comfort and confidence is my family history and genetic predisposition to birthing a baby like a champ. With my mom’s first pregnancy and delivery she simply thought she had eaten some bad food one night. After a few trips to the bathroom she realized that my sister was crowning (that means the top of the baby’s head is visible and coming out). Her and my dad waddled across the street to the local hospital and a few minutes later my sister was born. My brother and I arrived in similar fashion. Though, I just discovered the other day that my mom would have epidurals just before pushing. This information shocked me – I always thought my mom did it all natural, plus she’s terrified of needles. But she revealed that she was terrified of feeling the pain of her vagina being cut by the doctor (episiotomy) to make it more convenient for him to get the baby out. I hear this is no longer a common practice at most mother-baby friendly hospitals.

And then there was my sister. She was the first pregnant person I had daily interactions with. She was so sick, puking 8 times a day, for pretty much the entire 9 months of her pregnancy. But her unmedicated labor and delivery was a breeze that lasted about 3 hours total. Tara didn’t have a strong stance against a medicated birth but just simply couldn’t be bothered. My mom and I were on pins and needles in the waiting room while my sister labored (we’re not a party in the delivery room kind of family). I decided to get up and walk by her room, even though loitering in the hallway at a hospital is strongly discouraged. Through the closed door I could hear her pushing – it was unlike any noise I’d ever heard come from my sister and honestly, it scared me. Then I heard a baby cry – I ran back to the waiting room to tell my mom. After the delivery I remember being with Tara in her room – in my memory it was just the two of us – or maybe I was just laser focused on her. Even the baby had been taken to NICU for observation over a case of the hiccups. She had her knees bent under the stiff white hospital sheet and her legs were trembling – blood slowly soaking the sheets under her. She was so blissed out and happily chowing down on some cherry pie after 9 months of keeping nothing down. I was so proud of her and had her recount all the details to me. Tara has always been the best story teller even after giving birth.

I don’t need to be reminded that every woman has a different experience when it comes to birthing babies. But I’ll absolutely be drawing on the power of my mom and sister when it comes to delivery day.

Field Notes & Other Observations: 
• My belly is measures 33.5 weeks. That’s a little on the small side but it’s getting bigger with each appointment and continues to measure within 2 weeks of my actual pregnancy, which means it’s no big deal.
• I mentioned about half-way through the pregnancy that I had gained a significant amount of weight rather rapidly. So I only feel like it’s fair to share that that the big gains seemed to have happened more at the beginning of the pregnancy and my weight gain in the latter half hasn’t been nearly as dramatic. In fact, over the last two weeks I haven’t gained any weight at all.
• I mention above losing sleep over labor & delivery anxiety but I also lose sleep over the fact that this kid doesn’t yet have a car seat, washed laundry, or you know … a name.
• Baby boy is kicking and moving around like a champ. He seems to have super active days followed by more chill and restful days. It’s fun to feel him wake up and start moving to our voices when we wake up in the morning.
• We had our last Hypnobirthing class last week. Our key takeaway from the whole experience is the more chill you can be going into labor the less tension, fear, and pain you’ll feel. And what Hypnobirthing gives you are a bunch of tools for chilling out – from breathing to scripts for visualization to practical and specific information about what’s happening to your body as you give birth. It was a good experience and I’d recommend it to anyone.
• Both my mom and sister had their first baby 2 weeks early. I’m due mid-January. You can probably do the math.

Anatomy of an Outfit: 
• Sweatshirt – Gap (I think this is Maternity…)
• Tee & Leggings – BCBG (not maternity)
• Wool Socks – I have no idea…
• Boots – Uggs
• Hat – Aldo

P.S. I was hoping the marker I had been using for the overlays would hold out 40 weeks… but today it finally ran out of ink. Maybe this is a sign baby will come sooner than later? 

  1. Celeste

    I remember measuring small with my first child; one of the OBs actually thought I would have a small baby. I’m 6’1″ and the bio dad is 6’9″ and so I laughed because I knew there was no way this statement would be true. 8lbs 13 oz later and she’s still a tall, beautiful, creative, intelligent girl 10 years later.

    She was a pretty easy L&D experience and I pray that your experience is absolutely everything you hope for.

    • My midwife suggested the baby may be on the small side. Jeremy was a healthy baby weighing in around 10lbs – so I wouldn’t be surprised if this little guy doesn’t lean towards the large side. Thanks for your prayers! I’ll take ‘em!

  2. I’m not an interfere or scare the goop out of you kinda gal but seriously… get that car seat!

    If you are anything like me (and probably 95% of creative folk / designers bothered by aesthetics as well as function) you’ll absolutely want the one you want and be miffed if you don’t have it (especially as you have such a cool car, you can’t put any old crap in a MINI!).

    I’ve known a couple of people who have thought they had a while before the big day went down only to find themselves without bag packed and no car seat – January predicted births, maybe January babies just get over excited by the Christmas cheer hormones?

    As for birth, my greatest fear was always that I wouldn’t get to give birth and I’d end up having surgery, which I did, twice.

    The one time I had a natural birth was drug induced (after a normal induction not working) so the pains were apparently more intense than normal but even then, I can honestly say that I found the contractions in the build up to it all far worse than the actual birth because there wasn’t so much focus.

    You’re a brave soul with a surviving and fighting spirit. you’re gonna do great.

    • Ha! Telling me to get a car seat is by no means going to scare the crap out of me. ;) I’ll have one in place by the end of the weekend, hopefully.

      My greatest fear is that my fears themselves are a self-fulfilling prophecy!

      Thanks for your support and good vibes, Nicole! XO

  3. Bridey

    To me giving birth automatically equals badass status, no matter how it happens. I wanted a home birth with my son and ended up with an emergency c-section, and you know what? It was still awesome.

    A person was cut out of my body while I was conscious, we both survived, and now I have a wicked scar. That makes me feel like a warrior ;)

    You’ll be great, you’ve got history and attitude on your side!

    • Agreed! I like to think that should I need surgery, an epidural, or any other procedure out of my preferences I’ll go into it just as brave and fearless as I would going about it all natural.

  4. I’m surprised you’ve been using an actual marker for the overlays. I thought you were doing it 100% digitally.

    PS – You’re fierce & badass.

    • Yup! I actually write it and scan it! Last week the post was late even because I was snowed in and couldn’t make it to my office (where the marker and scanner are).

  5. Alien Mind Girl

    From a family which to my knowledge typically has 8-12 hour birthing sessions (requiring emergency trips part way through to get food to feed the troops), that story about your mom giving birth in minutes is pretty wild.

    You’ve done your homework.

    I bet you’ll ace it. :)

    • I hope my only emergency trip involves eating more food. ;)

  6. Good Luck!!! You have such a powerful mind-body connection, I’m sure you will do wonderfully! I will send positive, pain-free vibes your way!!! Can’t wait to “meet” him :) !

  7. Michele

    You look a.maz.ing! I was 4 weeks early with my son (he’s an only) …I had my first internal exam (when down to once a week) and that night (in bed -ugh!) my water broke…I seriously thought my hubby was playing some sick pregnancy joke, because I wasn’t in labor, or so I thought, but after 2 hours of packing mine & baby bags (4 weeks early = wasn’t ready) I was in labor…. 17 hours and 4 epidurals (I’m such a wimp!!) later = baby! Please don’t let your mind wandering out of control bother you especially at bed time- your mind/body/soul all know what is happen’ and its your body/minds way to condition your body for minimal sleep you’ll experience for the next 3-6 years)
    And you will worry more in the 1st 6 months with JJ (Jeremy Jr…ha!) than you prob have in the past 5 years about anything, ok maybe not Braid………….My advise: Relax and enjoy the ride sister………Best of luck to the Shannon Family of 3 :-)

    • Oh my gosh! I registered for a big mattress cover for after baby arrives (in case he pees or pukes or otherwise releases fluids in our bed) but now I’m thinking I’ll get it early in case my water breaks in bed!

  8. My daughter will be 2 on Christmas Eve. Yep. December is busy.

    I was freaked about giving birth. Panic. Then, in a birthing class I took, the instructor gave us little index cards with different scenarios on them. Some good. Some bad. She told us to choose and remove our favorite 3 cards. Then she told us to pick our least favorite 3. She told us to put the least favorite in front of us and visualize them. Really sit with them. Experience the emotions that were coming up. The fear and anxiety.

    After a few minutes of sweaty panic, she pointed out that now we had been through our worst case scenarios. If we were confronted with them at the end of our pregnancy, our body and mind would be more prepared because we had emotionally encountered them already.

    Totally helped me out…that and some good old fashioned yoga breathing. I can not tell you how it will be for you, but I can merely remind you that your mind and heart are powerful and every other Mama out there will be with you in spirit. Prayers to you and your family that everything goes well.


    ps I still use this technique if something unpleasant pops up. Visit the worst case scenario. Empower myself emotionally and move on.

    • This is such good advice. I think it helps knowing that A) everyone worries and B) we’ll deal with whatever happens as it happens. In my experience I’ve found that the anticipation is far worse than just being in it.


  9. Heather

    I think it’s natural to be a little freaked about giving birth… it’s a pretty big deal, after all, and something you’ve never experienced before. I don’t really have any advice because my two deliveries were completely different experiences – the first really long with a few complications and the second much faster than I expected… it actually freaked me out how fast it was all happening because I was not at all prepared for that possibility. Ha ha. I shall hope that you take after your mom and sister, though, and there’s really no reason to think you won’t… plus you’re really fit and healthy, so I would imagine you’ll handle it like a champ and your body will do exactly what you need it to.

  10. jenn

    you’re not human if you’re not a little afraid. that doesn’t take away from the badass status at all. in fact, owning up to your fears makes you a bigger badass imo, because it gives you something to conquer! there are lots of good birth stories, but we don’t hear them very often. i had a great natural, unmedicated birth with my daughter. she nursed and i was up and walking around on a euphoric high immediately after even though i labored throughout the night and hadn’t slept. you have the right idea being open-minded, since we don’t have total control over aspect of our birth experiences. you’re going to do great, no matter how that baby arrives.

  11. Katie

    Can’t wait to read all about your special delivery :) You look fabulous btw. Do you feel like you have dropped?

    • I feel like the baby drops way down into my crotch (yowsa!) and then rises back up into my ribs again (ow!) on a day-by-day basis. My chiropractor said this is normal and he’ll continue to rise and drop up until I deliver.

  12. Olivia

    A few things:
    1. I’m the older sister and when my younger sis walked into the room right after delivery (it was just me and Eric in there), the first thing I said to her was, “You could totally do this!” We laughed about that for hours.
    2. GET THE CARSEAT. We thought we had time, and the day my water broke we got my car washed!
    3. You’re going to be great, I just know it. You’ll approach it like you approach everything: like an adventure! (and tell J to make you laugh in the delivery room, it helps!!)

  13. Luna

    I thought labor was very intense and strenuous but not painful (and I did have a significant tear). It’s just like climbing a mountain, stay focused on the step right in front of you and keep plugging along. How you frame your experience makes all the difference. You’ve totally got this!

    • That’s kind of exactly how I imagine it!

  14. Janel

    Good luck! I’ve started assisting with a midwife & I hear a lot that you birth a lot like your sister, so from the sounds of it, you’ve got this!

    I was also really scared the last few weeks of my pregnancy at random moments. It would just sneak up in me. But I figure it’s normal. It’s something brand new & momentous. Of course you’ll feel scared or nervous from time to time. For me, I’d take a moment to acknowledge the fear & then I’d remind myself how prepared I was & how I was going to rock at labor & delivery. ;)

    I had a water birth & loved it. If you have access to a birth tub for laboring, it could really help. That & having my other half remind me if I needed to let tension go after a contraction ended. Relaxing your face does wonders to relax you all over.

  15. First – You found a hat! I’m so glad!

    Second – Actually, there is no second. I don’t have any advice to give you as I have never been through this experience (and at this point never will) but I do think, from everything that I’ve read in your maternity posts, that you have giving birth to this little guy covered…

    • The hat isn’t right! I’m still keeping my eyes peeled for an extra-large slouchy (and most likely hand made) knit hat.

  16. Margie

    Kathleen, you look beautiful. I have no doubt you are going to have the birth you want.

    I feared the episiotomy. Ever since I heard what it was at about 15, I lived in fear. 20 years later I had my son via an unscheduled c-section.
    :( But, I’m glad he’s okay and I’m okay.

    You are going to be okay. OMG, I’m getting excited.

  17. julie

    I have no particular stance on medicated or non-medicated childbirth, with my own births i left all options open because, hey, you never know.

    But i always thought my mom did it right. When she was in labor with me, she had my dad drive her to the hospital, but wouldn’t let him check her in. She wanted to be close by, but preferred to walk laps around the parking lot while she labored for a while. It all depends on how you feel at the time.

  18. Jill

    I was terrified of giving birth (because I felt like I was just not in control of anything) and I have to say, I wish I would have been more calm about the whole thing because I ended up with a C-section. Do your very best to be calm and roll with the punches because the reality is everything will be fine. I think that fear is not your friend in this process. You look great!

    • It seems as if lots of the mental game in giving birth is letting go of that control and letting your birthing body (that inner gorilla!) take over. I’m definitely going to do my best to remain calm and roll with the punches – especially if that means a c-section.

  19. Meg

    Here is the thing. It’s going to be fine because it’s going to be fine, and you’re going to make it through, and you’re going to have an experience, and then it’s going to be done, and you’re going to have a baby, and that’s the point.

    There is a lot of talk about getting the birth you want, or medicated or un medicated, and it’s all beside the point. You’re a birthing warrior, because you’re going to have that fucking baby, and you’re going to do what needs to be done to get that baby into the world. The bravery isn’t having everything go the way you’d like it to go. The bravery is that you’re going to face whatever happens, and you’re going to be brave and get to the other side.

    Did I get a dream birth? Fuck no. Six weeks of early labor, one nonstop contraction/ transition for my whole labor. Hours of nonstop screaming. (“YES I CAN” to stay positive.) Epidural that wasn’t exactly my first choice. Emergency c-section for fetal distress. NICU after the baby stopped breathing.

    But that’s not a horror story. It doesn’t mean I’m not a birthing bad ass. (To the contrary: I was terrified of a c-section, I’d never had surgery, and I went through it like a motherfucking champ. I’m the world’s MOST bad ass birther, if you ask me.) All that is is MY story, and my baby’s story. It’s one I own and treasure, because I became a mom that day, and it was awe inspiring.

    So draw on the power of your mom and sister and everyone who came before you, and know that you’re going to get through whatever the universe throws at you. And if you can own the shit out of it, expected or unexpected, what you dreamed for or what you didn’t, humbling or not… all the better.

    But you’re going to be a birthing bad ass no matter what.

    Don’t panic. That was my birth plan. Don’t panic.

    What you don’t know till you’re done is that it’s going to be awesome. AWEsome.

    • YES. To all of this. I couldn’t agree more. I hope you don’t for a second think I would discredit the way any woman births her baby. When I wrote this post I was feeling a bit scared of ALL of it. But drawing on the experience of the women closest to me makes me feel a little more confident. Drawing on the bravery and power of my extended tribe (like you!) helps too – so thanks for sharing a glimpse of your story here, Meg. It’s valuable and important.

      I totally agree that ALL women are badasses regardless of how the birth experience goes down. Maybe I said it in my last post (or in the comments) but my goal is to be brave no matter WHAT is thrown my way. Whether that’s an epidural, a C-section, or anything else outside of the scope of my preferences (which are a 2-hour labor and orgasmic birth – ha!).

      Own it. Check.
      Don’t panic. Check.
      Be awesome. Check.
      Birth a baby. (YES I CAN) Check.


    • Margie


      I fucking planned and pretty much everything didn’t go as planned but the only thing I wanted was for my son to be here no matter what. Boom. Done.

      You, my friend, win the internet!

      • This is exactly why I have ZERO plans and only preferences.

  20. Neisha

    I recently gave birth to my little boy in October and I was starting to lose sleep anticipating the birth (plus I was SUPER uncomfortable at that point).

    I would sit and think…How would I know what to do? What would it feel like? I’m a bit scared of the pain!? Epidural or natural? Can’t I just skip the scary birth part of all this and the stork can deliver him?

    But in the end everything will just happen the way it’s supposed to. I know that’s sounds silly but it’s true, you can’t stop it and in the moment, you’ll know what is best for you and your baby.

    The day I gave birth I woke up thinking I had an upset stomach, sat in the bathroom on and off from 7am. I realised that it could be contractions, I tried to time them, they were either REALLY close together or super far apart. I couldn’t even tell when they were beginning or finishing, thought I had LOTS of time to sit around and prepare.

    I stood up around 10AM, my water broke (Feels COMPLETELY different to peeing yourself, you can’t stop it!), we went to hospital and I managed to quell the contractions to get up the elevator by myself as my fiance had to park our car, the midwife thought I wasn’t having contractions as I somehow stopped them and said I might have to go home for a few hours/a day, they then started coming back worse, she checked how dilated I was and uh oh… 7CM! I had him au naturale in the bath at 1:17PM. I didn’t even have painkiller options it was so fast! I was so so scared when I realised I couldn’t ask for an epidural if I needed it… I did not expect this kind of birth as my mother was induced and she sat around all day long waiting and got an epidural too. I ended up more like my grandmother, she had fast births and was home later that day from hospital. I knew the ladies in our family were tough though and drew on that when I needed it. I felt strong and capable. And now I know I definitely want another water birth next time. Best thing ever! Helped with the pain immensely.

    I think you will be fine. Know that your family history means you’ll have a good birth experience, feel positive, don’t be intimidated and be strong. :)

  21. Kathy

    You cant be brave unless you are a little bit scared. I say this to my four kids (#1 a section, the rest unmedicated vaginal). I also say that preganancies and babies are like buying used cars. You don’t really know whats going on til you drive it off the lot.

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