Our sleeping son’s chest is rising and falling on mine as I soak in the early Fall sun on our back porch. I’ve been dreaming about and praying for these newborn snuggles; I’m savoring every moment and feeling so grateful for this season. 

Before my birth experience is too far in the rear view, I wanted to write down the details of Sawyer’s labor and delivery. 

If you’re interested in Judah’s birth story, I shared it here. Judah’s labor was about 5 hours total from the very first sign (my water breaking) to his entrance into the world at 10 pounds and 3 ounces. I had a third degree tear and transferred from the birth center to the hospital for repair and recovery. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to labor for long, but my labor pains went from barely noticeable to CONSTANT without a break. It was intense, so I simply barreled through. He was also 10 days early; Jeremy and I just felt overwhelmed and a bit unprepared as new parents. My postpartum experience was also more challenging than I anticipated–with a third degree tear and some very challenging breastfeeding issues.

I still have wonderful memories of Judah’s birth, and I’m so grateful that he made it safely into the world with a wonderful team around me, but I hoped that Sawyer’s delivery would be simpler. Our prayer for this labor, delivery and postpartum experience has been that they would be PEACEFUL, JOYFUL, and UNCOMPLICATED. I have repeated those three words over and over in my prayers and pep talks to myself like a mantra. 

At 28 weeks pregnant, I found out that I had gestational diabetes which risked me out of delivery at the birth center and meant that I would need to have a hospital delivery with the Vanderbilt Midwives team. At first, I was honestly devastated. I wanted the peaceful, beautiful, natural-focused birth center setting, and I worried about delivering at a hospital during a pandemic. 

But God redeemed that and gave me an even MORE peaceful and natural delivery experience than the first time. 

Early Labor 

I began to notice some labor warning signs on Tuesday, September 14–at 38 weeks exactly. That day, Jeremy and I recreated our last date before Judah was born in hopes that we could somehow channel labor vibes. Haircut for Jeremy, thrift shopping, and a coffee shop. That was the start of a wonderful week of quality time and connection for our marriage–such a gift! I actually began to lose my mucus plug while on that date (just like I did with Judah). While I didn’t go into active labor like I hoped, that date did seem to kickstart a week of frequent contractions, pelvic pressure, wacky hormones, and occasional nausea. I sensed that my body was preparing for labor; I just wasn’t sure how imminent it would be! 

The ensuing week seemed to move at a snail’s pace. I checked off nearly every last item on my pre-baby to-do list and tried to soak in the memories we were making in our final days as a family of three. My work responsibilities began to wane as I managed final organizational details in anticipation of maternity leave. Life was slowing down exactly as we hoped and planned, so I tried my best to enjoy the slowness even though I was anxious for pregnancy to be over and our baby to be out in the world. 

We made a lot of sweet family memories that week. Long walks after dinner, deep life conversations, slow afternoons in the backyard with Judah–all intermixed with red raspberry leaf tea, pelvic floor exercises, chiropractic appointments, and every trick I could think of to kickstart labor

Now that I look back on that week before Sawyer arrived, I see God’s grace all over it and realize that those slow days with intermittent contractions not only prepared my body well for labor, but they were also part of the answered prayer for peaceful, joyful and uncomplicated. 

False Alarm 

On Sunday afternoon, September 19, I began to really feel like labor might be ramping up. Around 3pm, I started having painful and intense contractions between 4 and 8 minutes apart, and they didn’t let up for several hours. The more I moved around the house, the more intense the contractions became. I still didn’t have a lot of clarity, but after speaking with the midwives, we decided it would be wise to head to the hospital.

My parents came to pick up Judah and Todd the Dog so that we could make our way to Vanderbilt. We said goodbye to the two smallest members of the pack, and after Jeremy finished watching a very intense football game (priorities), we made our way to labor and delivery. 

We got to Vanderbilt late on a Sunday night, and the whole campus was quiet and calm. 


Jeremy and I were in great spirits and decided that–regardless of the outcome–we were going to treat this night like a date night. We laughed and joked and had so much fun together. 


I was 4cm dilated, but once I got into triage, my contractions had slowed to a grinding halt. After an hour or so spent on the monitor (baby looked healthy and strong), the midwives suggested that we go for a long walk around the hospital to see if I could kick labor into gear. They recommended I really make the most of contractions by moving my hips as much as possible, incorporating sideways stair walking, and ramping up oxytocin in my system by holding hands with my husband. All of those suggestions seemed particularly funny at 10pm, and Jeremy and I had the most fun wandering the nearly empty hospital halls like two high school kids on a date. I did lots of hip circles, stair walking, laughing at how ridiculous I felt, and holding hands with my best friend. Those are memories I will treasure forever. 

Joyful. Peaceful. Uncomplicated. 

Although the contractions came at a steady clip on our walk, as soon as I laid back down in that triage bed, they stalled again. Another cervical check showed that I was still at 4cm. The midwives suggested we head back home until I was truly in active labor. With my history of fast labor, they knew it would come quickly when it did, so they sent me on my way with the warning “come back quickly when you know things are ramping up.” 

Rainy Day Waiting

The following day (Monday), the sky opened up and poured down rain the entire day. Jeremy and I slept in past 9am (the perks of having no toddler or dog at home. Thanks Mimi & G-Pa!) while the rain poured down outside. We woke up and had coffee and a slow breakfast, watched TV in the middle of the morning (no toddler shows), and spent the entire day just enjoying each other’s company. We decided to leave Judah with my parents because we knew things could kick into gear at any moment. Looking back now on what was our last day before the chaos of newborn life, I am so completely grateful for that rainy Monday. 

Joyful. Peaceful. Uncomplicated. 

I continued to have steady contractions anytime I was up and moving around, and they would slow as soon as I sat down. I had almost constant cramps, and I knew my body was continuing to prepare for labor. 

In the middle of the afternoon, I went on a walk (or perhaps a waddle) down the street by myself in the pouring rain. I’m sure it amused all of the neighbors who saw the VERY pregnant woman in the raincoat power walking down the street alone. During that walk, my contractions were intense and almost nonstop. “This is it!” I thought. But, again, as soon as I got home and sat down, everything stalled again. 

Delivery Day

On Tuesday morning, my patience was running thin. Early labor felt so unpredictable and slow, so I didn’t trust my body to know when it was time. 

Around 9am, I started to feel things kick into a higher gear. The contractions were painful and regular and I had to stop to breathe through them. My doula suggested that I sit in the bathtub to see if the contractions slowed down, and while I did notice them slowing, they didn’t fully stop. Jeremy and I were preparing to meet a furniture delivery for a client, but after I started sobbing with one particularly painful contraction (because of both the pain and my emotional overwhelm), Jeremy insisted that we were skipping the furniture install and heading toward the hospital instead. 

We gathered our things and got in the car. Of course, when I sat down, things slowed again, but we decided to just begin driving toward the midwives office and Vanderbilt. In another effort to recreate the things that happened before Judah was born, we stopped for smoothies at the Juice Bar. Then we went to Gas Lamp Antiques to walk around and browse. 

Joyful. Peaceful. Uncomplicated. 

I called the midwives, and they suggested we come into the clinic for a cervical check. 

I had progressed to 5cm dilated, and the midwife told us she would be shocked if we didn’t have a baby in our arms in 24 hours. She also said it was too late to go home, but she suggested that we go get some lunch and go for a walk to see if labor continued to pick up speed, and if it didn’t, we could opt for a midwife to sweep my membranes or break my waters in order to really move things along. 

We made our way to Hugh Baby’s for some double cheeseburgers, and I continued to barrel through painful contractions throughout lunch. After finishing my meal (so thankful for the energy that burger gave me before labor!), I went to the bathroom and found myself struggling to cope with contractions. Determined not to give birth in a bathroom stall at a burger joint, we decided to forgo a walk and head straight to the hospital. 


We checked into labor and delivery at around 2:30pm, and they already had a room prepped for us. After spending a few minutes hooked up to the monitor, signing forms, and meeting various members of the Vandy team, my midwives, Alexandra and Ana, came in for a cervical check and confirmed that I had made it to 7cm! I had still been doubting whether I was in active labor; I could hardly believe I had progressed that far.

Due to a high volume of mamas giving birth, we were put in an overflow section of labor & delivery, and I was less than thrilled about the room when we first got there. Once our doula, Anna, arrived, however, she dimmed the lights, diffused essential oils, and hung scripture on the walls. We started my instrumental playlist on the bluetooth speaker, and suddenly that sterile hospital room felt like the peaceful birth environment I needed. 

Joyful. Peaceful. Uncomplicated. 

After the midwives left and told me they would come back to check in a few hours, I got up and walked around. I had no clue what to do with myself. My doula recommended some positions for labor that might help get things moving along. I relied heavily on a peanut ball throughout labor and tried the Miles Circuit for labor positions. 

At the beginning, I was really coherent between contractions. Jeremy was able to relax in a recliner, and the three of us talked and laughed in between the waves of contractions as my body made steady progress. 

Joyful. Peaceful. Uncomplicated. 

Our nurse, Kaitlyn, was absolutely wonderful. She knew exactly what I would want in an unmedicated labor and was incredibly supportive. She came in every 15-20 minutes for intermittent monitoring, and she cheered me on through my contractions and helped my doula apply counter pressure to my back. 

Jeremy was such a rockstar during labor. He was calm and easygoing and spent over an hour fanning my face with a clipboard. I prayed so much in advance that labor would be less overwhelming and stressful for Jeremy this time around, and it really was. We had so many sweet moments of connection before, during and after labor. I love that man. 

Soon, labor began to progress at a steady clip. Once things really started going, they went FAST! Anna had me move into a position that she suggested might speed things up a bit, and she was right. I found myself leaning over the peanut ball on the bed and fully in transition. I remember thinking “everything I’m feeling is exactly what the books say about labor.” Eventually, Anna and Jeremy could tell by the sounds I was making that something was shifting, so they called in the midwives for another check. 

I was 9.5cm dilated; there was just a small cervical lip in the way. My midwife pulled back the lip during a contraction, and it was extremely painful but effective. Soon, I was ready to push. The idea of moving into any position other than the one I was in was completely overwhelming, but they managed to get me switched to the other side of the bed (still on hands and knees) so that they could be in a position to catch the baby. 

After 10 minutes of pushing (which was much more painful and difficult than I remembered), Sawyer was born! He came at 5:44pm–a little over 3 hours after we checked into the hospital.

The feeling of relief and flood of joy was incredible. He was perfect and precious and worth every bit of waiting and pain. Jeremy held our sweet baby while I got off of my knees and into a position that would allow me to snuggle him. I love that he got a chance to hold him briefly right after he was born! 

I held him while the midwives finished everything up. Only a couple of simple stitches were needed after a minor first degree tear. 

After they finished, everyone left the room so that Jeremy and I could soak up the “golden hour” alone with Sawyer. I wish I could go back and relive those first moments holding my sweet boy. There is nothing like it!

Sawyer Timothy Quarles
9lb 9oz
Born at 5:44pm on 9/21/21

Joyful. Peaceful. Uncomplicated. 

Rest and Recovery 

Our 29 hours spent recovering at the hospital were easy and relaxing. We watched Ted Lasso, snuggled our baby, slept (some), and got Bella Napoli pizza–our absolute favorite wood-fired Italian pizza in Nashville. I hadn’t been able to eat pizza in months because of gestational diabetes, so I had looked forward to that meal for weeks.

Sawyer was born with triphalangeal thumbs which are symptomatic of a genetic condition that runs in Jeremy’s side of the family that can also be linked to heart defects. The pediatrician noticed his thumbs at his first check, and it triggered a series of additional checks to make sure all is well with both his hands and his heart. While we were admitted to the hospital, he had an EKG, an echocardiogram, and x-rays on his arms. Everything looks normal at this point, but they will be keeping an eye on him over time, and his thumbs may require some sort of surgical treatment or therapy as he grows. 

Looking back, we can see how God provided by ensuring that I delivered at the hospital instead of the birth center because it allowed us to see all of the specialists (geneticist, cardiologist, etc) that we needed to see within the first few hours of Sawyer’s little life. 

We checked out of the hospital at around 10pm on September 22, and we made our way home with our little bundle. Our time spent as a family of four since then has honestly been so beautiful. Our parents have been so helpful in taking care of us and Judah, and it has allowed me to really rest and enjoy this postpartum season. 

Judah is already an amazing big brother, and he is handling this major life transition like a champ.

Recovery has been easier than I expected, and I have just woken up every morning feeling so grateful for our boys and grateful for a season of rest to soak up motherhood. 

We love you forever, Sawyer. Welcome to our family.