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10 Nov

Baby Boy Tripp: Taz’s Birth Story

Taz's Birth Story | sassy red lipstick

*Please be advised that this blog post deals openly with the birthing process and thus the photos/video contained herein are real, raw, and natural. If you are made uncomfortable by imagery of childbirth, blood, or medical situations, please consider skipping this blog post.*

I’ve sat down to write this multiple times but with taking care of a newborn and the simple fact that I’m still so emotional over Taz’s birth, it’s taken me longer than I originally intended to write this post! Our little guy is four weeks old as of yesterday and here I am, happy to have this wonderful story written down to share with all of you and for my own memory. I can’t wait for Taz to read this someday in the future. Before I start, I just want to thank each one of you who sent your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes the weekend Taz was born. The love and support was overwhelming and we truly appreciated each one of you.

A collection of my favorite photos from labor and delivery, as well as the birth video are all below! I’ve gone into detail with Taz’s birth story below for all those who have been so interested, but for those of who are just here to see the photos and video, you can find it at the end of this post. Thank you for stopping by!

Let’s start from the beginning! Taz’s due date was October 13th, 2019. I never shared his due date publicly {although I’m sure some of you guessed by counting my pregnancy weeks!} simply because I didn’t want to get stuck on the number myself. Does that sound silly!? Maybe! I know babies come when they want but I knew I would get impatient if I fixated on it! Typically babies come between weeks 38-42 and that’s why your due date is set at the average of 40 weeks. Secretly, I hoped he would come on his actual due date because 13 is my lucky number, but I also knew the probability of babies coming on their due date is pretty low. Regardless, we were just very excited about having an October baby! As many of you know, Robbie’s birthday is the 8th of October and he’s a very proud October baby. I loved the look on his face when I told him the due date!

Now, many of you know that my doula is actually my sister-in-law Shan Tripp! She’s also a pediatric ER nurse and certified lactation consultant–basically the whole package! I asked her to be my doula ages ago when we first started trying to get pregnant back in the spring of 2018. Fast forward over a year and a half, and she and her sweet family had actually moved to Hawaii to chase their dreams! We are so happy for them and pushed for them to take this leap for so long… but it definitely complicated things trying to plan when to fly Shannon {who was so crucial to my birth plan and mental well-being} across the ocean to get here on time for his birth. Basically, we booked and cancelled and rebooked several flights and luckily it all worked out perfectly. :)

I had my membranes swept at my 39 week appointment {I was still only dilated at 2cm}, which was Tuesday, October 8, Robbie’s birthday! Shannon was set to fly in two days later on Thursday, so we figured that would give me just enough time to hopefully go into early labor and hopefully he’d come sometime in the following days when Shannon was here. Well, we stripped my membranes pretty aggressively on Tuesday {it wasn’t exactly painful, just very uncomfortable} and I started to go into early labor on Wednesday night. Contractions were weak at that point, but I definitely didn’t sleep much that night! By Thursday, we were just kind of waiting around at home. We got dinner at Zupas as our last date night and then did a TON of curb walking! I still credit this method for going into actual labor the next day! Basically, you walk with one foot on the curb and one foot on flat ground. This uneven movement helps move the baby down your pelvis and get labor started! I’ve talked with so many gals {and professionals} who swear by it! After that, we picked Shannon up from the airport. When we got home, I had some liquid dripping down my leg, which Shannon told me was a good sign that my water was starting to leak and should hopefully be breaking soon.

The next day, we did lots of walking and more curb walking. We walked around our neighborhood, went to the park, I bounced on my yoga ball, etc. By the late afternoon around 3pm, I was in active labor and having actual contractions, the kind where you have to stop what you’re doing and breathe through them. It wasn’t too painful yet, but I’ll be honest in saying I have a pretty high pain tolerance. By dinner time, my water had been leaking for 24 hours, so Shannon called the hospital to let them know we would be on our way after we ate dinner. My other sister-in-law Chantel, Robbie’s sister and ultra-talented photographer, was also staying with us that week so she made us a yummy last dinner. After we ate, we packed up our last little things, and then headed to the hospital! It was such a special, peaceful feeling at home being surrounded by loved ones and knowing we’d be bringing a baby home next time we were here. It was a beautiful, surreal moment!

We got to the hospital at 8pm and decided to do a bit more curb walking around the parking lot before checking in. Shannon wasn’t sure how far I was dilated {she told me: “I’ll be shocked if you’re dilated to anything more than a three”} and the only reason we came to the hospital when we did was because I had been leaking water for so long at this point that she wanted to be cautious I didn’t risk getting an infection or affect the baby’s health. Originally I had planned to labor at home as long as possible in my bathtub but that never ended up happening! When we checked into triage at 8:30pm… I was already dilated to a FIVE! Needless to say, we were all very surprised I was so far along already since everything had been pretty manageable up until that point. We were also pumped because THIS WAS IT!!!!

Before I continue with the sequence of events, I just wanted to share a bit about my “birth plan.” I never shared any parts of my birth plan because I didn’t want any unsolicited advice or opinions and just wanted to be in a good headspace to do my thing. As many of you might now if you follow Shannon on Instagram, she is a doula that specializes in unmedicated births, so I’m sure some of you figured that was the route I was going. I had a ton of followers ask about my birth plan prior to giving birth and that was info I decided not to share publicly for a few reasons: 1) Typically birth plans don’t actually go to plan! I knew the type of birth I ideally wanted, but I also knew I needed to be flexible if things were to change in an instant. 2) I knew I was capable of having an unmedicated birth, but I also knew it was going to be very difficult and painful {in fact, there was actually a point toward the end where I told Shannon that I didn’t think I could do it. I’ll get to that part soon…}. Needless to say, I didn’t need a ton of people chiming in on my birth plan and making any assumptions before I even gave birth. :) 3) Lastly, I’ve noticed that women tend to be very sensitive about unmedicated births. Even just me and Robbie posting on Instagram when Taz arrived that I labored for 16 hours unmedicated {remember, we had a million questions over nine months asking us what I was going to do!}, I still had several people tell me I was “shaming” women who didn’t have unmedicated births, which is silly and not the case at all. All types of births are beautiful and I would never shame a woman for her choices. I am only sharing my own experience because that’s what you all follow me for, right?!

Okay, back to the hospital: Once the triage nurse told me I was dilated to a five, I honestly figured he would be born a few hours since I was already dilated to a five…


Of course I was very wrong and very naive. For a first-time mama, you’re creating a whole new path for your baby and it’s a long and difficult process. I plan to do a post all about having an unmedicated birth with a lot more details {and a Q&A with Shannon included in the post!}, but I’ll sum it up here. Basically, I didn’t receive Pitocin or an epidural. I used breathing techniques to move the baby down my pelvis. Specifically Shannon sent me this video and this video. ‘J Breathing’ is what i used during transition and was so crucial at the end. Breathing correctly is SO essential for unmedicated birth. I am prone to panic attacks and anxiety {I’ve even momentarily blacked out during small medical procedures before like shots or invasive exams because I unknowingly clench up and hold my breath}, so I knew I had to come very prepared, and it’s something I worked on weeks in advance. I highly suggest watching those videos! Focusing on my breathing is what got me through labor. It was also helpful having Shannon and Robbie use counter-pressure on my hips and the small of my back, another incredible technique used during unmedicated labor that makes all the difference!

I mentioned we entered triage around 8:30pm, but I actually didn’t even get admitted to my labor and delivery room until about 11pm. Luckily, I had eaten dinner before we came, but by 11pm I was already so tired from not sleeping the night before because of contractions, tired from contracting all day, and honestly just tired from being pregnant for over 9 months. We walked a few laps around the labor and delivery wing, but I mostly wanted to labor on the exercise ball at that point. I tried laboring on all fours, which I did not like at all. I also tried laboring with the squatting bar, which I also found very uncomfortable. I tried almost every position and was always back to the bouncy ball! I had to be hooked up for monitoring so they could hear the baby’s heartbeat and for some reason I really hated being tied down {it wasn’t cordless like some hospitals}. I almost always had to go to the bathroom as soon I was hooked up! However, laboring on a toilet is actually another good position to keep things moving though. At around 1am or so, I was at a 6 and we decided to call my photographer {Ashlie} and videographer {Shannon} to let them know they could head over to the hospital. It ended up being a long night for them as well! When they both got there, we got a few shots I knew I wanted before the really intense labor started.

It’s at this point–3am and on–where everything becomes a blur because it was so hard and so painful for so long. Transition is when you’re dilated between a 7-10 and I felt like I was stuck there for hours… because I was! We tried several different positions to get baby to drop more, like laying on my side and using the peanut ball between my legs. I absolutely HATED this position because it hurt like hell and I felt like if I wasn’t sitting upright I couldn’t control my breathing well. Also, it was around this time that the portable fan I bought burned out and died after running it for six hours straight. In the photos below you’ll see Robbie fanning me with the laminated room service menu {HAHA}… which he did for six more hours straight. What a guy!

I was so tired and in so much pain during transition! Contractions were coming so fast that it was hard to even catch my breath between them as I sat on the ball. I tried so hard not to cry because when I cry that’s when panic attacks start for me and then I can’t control my breathing anymore. It got to a point around 5am that I told Shannon for the first time that I was too exhausted and that I didn’t know if I could go the rest of the way without an epidural. I’m sharing this because I don’t want anyone to think that because I went unmedicated that it somehow wasn’t tough for me. It was the most tired, most excruciating, most exhausting moments of my life. But luckily Shannon and Robbie were there for me and both so encouraging to keep me on my birth plan, telling me during every single contraction that I could do it and that I was so strong and that I was going to meet my baby soon. Only after did I realize how this was one big white lie because “meeting my baby soon” was very much up for interpretation, haha.

By this point I was also laboring in the hospital bed with the back raised completely upright like a chair so I was sitting up, and Robbie and Shannon were on both sides of my hips doing counter-pressure. Robbie was fanning me with one hand, pushing on my hips with the other… but I needed a hand to squeeze! So he quickly grabbed a pair of his Stance socks out of his bag, rolled them up in a ball, and handed them to me to squeeze like a stress ball! Another funny moment looking back. You’ll see the rolled up socks in my fists in photos below. It got to the point of exhaustion that I would even fall asleep between contractions for about 20-30 seconds or so. Completely asleep! That’s how tired i was. I would nod off on Shan or Robbie’s shoulder. Then I would wake up instantly as the pain from the next contraction would start. I’d get through the contraction and then I’d fall back asleep for a few seconds until the next one came. It was so exhausting! This is the point in the photos below where you can see Robbie’s pure look of love and concern for me. He started to tear up as he looked at me because he knew I was in so much pain and there was nothing he could do. He knew that I was doing the hardest thing he’d ever seen me do and that there was going to be no relief until the baby came. That shot of his face looking down at me with the most unconditional love and concern is so special to me.

Note: My J breathing during transition was key here! You’re literally pushing air down your chest and moving the baby down with your breath. It’s pretty incredible! I knew as long as I could control my breathing, I could keep going.

Remember when I told you my water had been leaking for 24 hours prior to going to the hospital? Then, in triage when we checked in, the nurses had told me that my water had already broken. Well… turns out all along it hadn’t actually completely broken. Baby’s head had plugged my water from completely breaking, and that’s why I was stuck in transition for so long {and the reason for the slow leak}. We knew as soon as my water was fully broken, baby boy would hopefully arrive soon after. BUT the hard part was that my doctor wasn’t around to do it {my OBGYN was out of town unfortunately, and the doctor on call wasn’t at the hospital at the moment.} When she finally arrived and broke my water, then it was time to really get things going.

By around 8am, I was finally ready to push. I was always told your body would just know when it was time to push, and boy was that right! There’s a sudden shift in your body and breathing that turns your exhales into actual grunting pushes. At this point, there was also a change to day nurses {because we’d been at the hospital for over 12 hours} and I was SO thankful for the new nurse who came into our room prepared, focused, and confident. She was just the surge of new energy I needed. When I was ready to push, I was still only dilated to a 9 because there was a lip on my cervix preventing me from getting to a 10. She was able to stretch it out {so painful} and allow me to fully dilate. Then after an entire sleepless night of pure physical exhaustion and pain, it was truly time to push!

Breathing during pushing is completely different than breathing during laboring. When you push, it’s basically your breath being pushed out your backside {kind of like pooping when constipated? TMI?}. Hard to explain, but it’s no longer the breathing down your chest as before. Robbie later told me he thought my eye blood vessels were going to pop because I was pushing so deep and hard. There was lots of grunting and moaning here and my voice even became a little raspy due to pushing so hard.

Even through all the pain, I knew at this point that baby boy was really finally on the way! I got a surge of adrenaline that last hour, even though previously I was falling asleep in between contractions. The nurses brought in a big standing mirror for me to see but I was little too busy to be looking down. It was when everyone else could see the top of his head and his hair and started encouraging me to push my hardest, I knew we were so so close!!!

A few things happened next that weren’t part of my “birth plan.” First, the doctor told me she needed to perform an episiotomy because baby boy was so big. I really, really didn’t want one and vocalized that my entire pregnancy to my doctor and nurse practitioner, but she explained that I was going to tear regardless so it was best to “guide” the tear by snipping me. I looked up at Shannon and she agreed that it was probably for the best to get the baby out and try to minimize some of the inevitable tearing. In the moment, you just have to trust what the doctor says will be the best and healthiest for the baby. Come to find out later, Shannon told me she overheard the sweet nurse talking to another nurse and wondering if it was even going to be possible for the baby to come out vaginally because he was so big and this first-time birther couldn’t quite get dilated to a 10.

As for the episiotomy, the doctor numbed the surface area before performing the procedure. Over the course of the next few minutes, I pushed and pushed… and baby boy’s head came out! Here’s the second part that wasn’t part of my “birth plan.” His umbilical cord was wrapped tight around his neck, so as soon as his head was out, the doctor had to cut it. I really wanted to do delayed cord clamping so baby could get as many nutrients as possible. But it wasn’t realistic or safe to do so with the umbilical cord being where it was.

I pushed again and his shoulders came out next… which is it what ended up giving me a 4th degree tear because his shoulders were so wide. I had no idea that happened in the moment though and didn’t feel a thing because of so much adrenaline.

As soon as his shoulders came out, the doctor said “Reach down, reach down!” and before I knew it I was pulling my baby boy out of me and onto my chest which was so, so special! It was entirely unplanned, but I’m so glad it happened!

As you can see in the photos, he came out really bloody and limp and purple. He never actually cried either! Just a few small whimpers a few minutes after he was out and was being massaged. Robbie and I were so emotional and it was such a sweet, tender moment when we finally became a family of three. I just kept saying “my baby” over and over again in my raspy voice. Robbie was crying and caressing my head and just looking into the eyes of his son. It was so surreal and special! I love that our photographer captured these emotions so well: our tender facial expressions, the tears, the look of pride on Shannon’s face, our love for each other and our new baby; it was all so beautiful and surreal.

Robert Taz Tripp was born on October 12th, 2019 at 8:55am. He was 21 inches long and weighed 8 pounds and 15 ounces. He was super alert when he was born, as you can see in photos! His eyes were wide open while the nurses weighed him and cleaned him off and he didn’t cry at all. They remarked how big his hands and feet were and how broad his shoulders are. So you can say we are hoping for another little basketball star, haha! He latched right away during his first feed, which was nice. We still had to navigate breastfeeding together, but he’s always been a good little eater.

Just a few things to note post-birth: My placenta came out with one or two pushes and was not painful. Honestly, I barely even noticed with all that was going on and the emotion of having my baby in my arms. I hear this is different for everyone though. While we were still swooning over Taz, the doctor then numbed me and stitched me back up for a good 20-30 minutes. This wasn’t necessarily painful, but I could feel pressure and some parts were uncomfortable. A fourth degree tear is no joke.

I’m four weeks postpartum and still healing, but the healing process hasn’t been too bad for me fortunately. I mostly have just been sore but I’ve taken good care of everything down there and just have given myself plenty of time to heal. Now I’m only sore after we go for longer walks. I think I will have to do some work on my pelvic floor after tearing so bad, so I will keep you all updated on what I do for that.

I couldn’t have done an unmedicated birth without my support system. I’m so thankful for Shannon, her help and knowledge throughout my entire pregnancy and birth, and that she left her own family of four kids for a week to be with me and mine. Taz will always have such a special connection to his Auntie Shan for helping bring him into this world happy and healthy.

I’m so incredibly thankful for Robbie! You guys, all me and Shannon could say afterward is that he stepped up big time. Anyone who knows Robbie knows he has a really hard time with blood/medical anything and he traditionally doesn’t do well without sleep and he hates seeing me in any discomfort or pain {AKA all aspects of labor haha}. So I was definitely a little concerned for him going into this whole process. We didn’t have a great nurse during the late night and early morning hours of my intense stages of labor and delivery, and he just rose to the occasion in a major way. He pressed on me for hours for counter-pressure, waved his arm up and down to fan me with a room service menu for soooo many hours, and was just my cheerleader and rock the entire time. I felt like he truly became a dad during that time and he’s been so incredible taking care of me and Taz every minute since.

I’m so thankful I had an incredibly encouraging nurse to push me through the delivery so shout out to Leslie! And of course, so thankful for all our family and friends and followers for all the words or encouragement, love, and well wishes before, during, and after Taz was born. We love you all and are grateful for all of Taz’s internet aunties and uncles. :)

Sharing some of the most special photos and the full birth video below! I am so happy we decided to document Taz’s birth with photo and video; It’s so special to have these memories forever and we cry every time we watch it. So happy to be able to share some of these moments with you! xx

photos by Shannon Burke

video by Ashlie Bailey