It was so “calm and peaceful,” she describes.
Angel Taylor never expected to be in labor for four days, but as pictures of her long-haul birth are going viral, the mom of three tells Motherly the multi-day labor was actually a positive experience, despite what other reports say.
“I was happy and comfortable for the most part," she says, stressing every single person on her birth team—from her OB to the nurses, the anesthesiologist and her doula—were super supportive.
The team had planned a slow and steady induction at 37 weeks due to Taylor's medical history of gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension. She kept herself busy changing positions frequently, editing videos for her YouTube channel, watching TV, and visiting with the nurses, her husband and her doula.
“Even though I was contracting for basically that entire time, and most of it with contractions every two to three minutes, I was still pretty comfortable and relaxed for the majority of that time," she says.
It was a stark contrast to Taylor's first birth experience.
Six years ago while delivering her oldest son, Caledon, Taylor needed an emergency C-section. Her baby had gone into distress, and the whole thing was super stressful (as emergency surgery often is).
Her next birth, that of 3-year-old daughter Kerrigan, went smoother. She was in labor for about 38 hours and had a vaginal delivery. That was the original plan with Sullivan, too. Her doctors determined a slow induction at 37 weeks was “not only very likely to be successful, but also a safe and appropriate option," Taylor says.
“I was hoping that this birth would be shorter than [Kerrigan's], but since I was starting with a totally closed cervix, we knew we might be in for a long haul, at least for those first few [centimeters]."
Things got off to a promising start, but obviously stalled. By day four, when Taylor had a strong contraction pattern but no additional progress, her doctor recommended a C-section. While the induction didn't end as she thought it would, Taylor says her birth experience was still totally amazing.
“[This] C-section itself was a million times better than my first. It was so calm and peaceful," she tells Motherly. “Everyone made me feel very loved and cared for, and it was so emotional when I heard him cry for the first time and knew he was okay."
Photographer Laura Shockley was there to capture that moment. A mom of four herself, Shockley had never personally experienced or shot a C-section before Sullivan's birth. “I wasn't sure what I was about to see," she tells Motherly, adding that she was definitely feeling some nerves when she was called to the OR.
What Shockley saw though, was a mom being supported by her birth team and a baby entering the world triumphantly. She captured Sullivan's first moments in the world and in his mom's arms—an experience Taylor didn't get to have with her oldest son because the emergency nature of that C-section meant she was on some powerful medications.
Shockley had no idea the picture she snapped would go viral, but she knew she was seeing something special, and Taylor felt it. “They dropped the drape to show him to me when that picture was taken of him all outstretched," Taylor recalls. “He just looked so good to me because I could tell he was doing well since he was not limp and his cry was really strong. It was just a huge wave of relief."
Mom and baby stayed in the hospital for a few days where they got amazing support from nurses and lactation consultants as feeding was a bit of a challenge at first.
“It took a lot of work for a couple of days to supplement him with more colostrum and even some formula with syringes and tubes and such, but we were able to turn a corner and he has been doing great ever since," Taylor tells Motherly.
Now at home with his family, Sullivan is enjoying time with his siblings, his mom and tons of snuggles with his dad (who is in the Navy and will soon be going out to sea).
Taylor says she laughs at certain internet reports and comments about detailing how she suffered during the four-day labor, “because really I didn't." It took a lot longer than she thought it would for Sullivan to come into this world “but it was all so worth it."