I'm an Orlando maternity and family photographer. I want to capture the important moments in your life. Fleeting moments of growth and change.

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Lanh Balagtas






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Lanh & Joey: Braydon’s Labor and Delivery


We welcomed our baby Braydon in to the world on Tuesday May 7, 2019.  It was a rough labor and delivery but the reward was well worth it.  After 40+ weeks of carrying Braydon, we were finally able to meet him.   It was one of the toughest yet  most joyous days of our lives.

Although the 40 weeks of pregnancy were good to me, it felt like it took forever to get to his birth day!  During his first trimester, we were cautiously optimistic (as I think every parent is) but we were also sooooo soooo excited and we could barely keep the good news to ourselves.  I was the one of the lucky few who did not have any morning sickness but I did have instant hungry to hangry moments.  The moment I felt hungry, I knew I had to eat.  If I didn’t, I would almost immediately get a headache.

I remember how exciting each ultrasound was!

Our very first ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy was probably the most exciting of them all.  Even though all we saw was a white ball, it was the CUTEST white ball ever.

I remember watching the screen and grabbing Joey’s hand when we saw the fetal sack and the ultrasound tech confirmed a heartbeat.  Each subsequent ultrasound got even more exciting.  If you’ve ever had a child, you know that from the first US to the next, there is a huge change!  Our second US we were able to see human features- a [big ole] head, and the smallest arms and legs!)  These ultrasounds were something I always looked forward to!

I remember the first little flutters I felt.  A part of me thought it was just gas but as they became stronger and more consistent, I knew it was our baby.  I have to admit, it was a little weird at first.  During this journey, I had become very in tuned with my body so it felt odd to have something moving inside of me that had a mind of its own and that I had no control over.  The flutters soon became stronger and I saw my entire belly moving as he danced around.

The final two weeks were a waiting game.

We actually had a false alarm around 38 weeks.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I had gas pains and went to the restroom to see if it would go away.  It kept me up for an hour until I woke up Joey and told him that this could be it.  We got ready and headed to the hospital where they hooked me up to all the monitors.  The midwife on call checked me and it was THE most painful check ever.  None of my cervical checks have been (and even after going thru labor) that painful.  Turns out I was only 1 cm dilated and was then sent home.  (This was a $$$ rookie mistake!)

On Tuesday 5/6, I was at work and started getting mild cramps around 2pm.  I thought that this could be the beginning (and deep down inside, I got a little nervous) but told myself that I was gonna wait it out since we already had one false alarm.  I finished work, went to the gym, showered, and relaxed.  The mild cramping continued until around 9pm when they became more regular and a little stronger.  We got our things ready and waited until the contractions got stronger.  Around 11, I told Joey that I couldn’t wait any longer.  We packed the car and arrived around midnight.

By the time we arrived, the pain was bearable but, no lie, it hurt.  The triage Dr. checked me and said I was 3 cm.  If THIS was ONLY 3 cm, there was no way I was going to make it through without epidural–

I KNEW I was going to need those meds!

The nurse told me that I would have to walk for 2 hours and they would check me after.   There was no way I would be able to walk for 2 hours.  Although the pain was bearable, the contractions were coming every 3 minutes.  The moment I felt like I could rest, another one would be on the way. Soon, the pain got stronger and stronger and I started screeching during each contraction.

After about an hour, the pain became so bad that I was screaming.   The nurses gave us the option of checking me again but the only caveat was that if I wasn’t progression, that I would be sent home.  Joey made the decision to go ahead and check and turns out that I was about 6 cm.

YAY- that was my admission ticket to go upstairs to the labor and delivery floor.


They let the anesthesiologist know that I wanted an epidural and to prepare for it.  Ten minutes later, I was in my room.  As they transferred me to the bed, I had an excruciating contraction that left me unable to even breath!  I was screaming and crying at the same time. Joey told me to breath and all I could do is scream, “I can’t, it hurts too badly!”

The anesthesiologist finally came.  When I say finally, I mean after about 10 minutes.

She prepped me and when it was time to insert the needle, Joey was directed to sit down.  They advised us that even the strongest men have fainted watching an epidural.  (This made no sense to me since Joey was allowed to watch the entire C-section, which was much more graphic).  As soon as the epidural kicked in, I was in heaven!  I applaud women who do this without meds!!!  I would have probably passed out if it weren’t for the epidural!   They say that epidural slows down the process and I think it did (but absolutely no regrets).  The midwife on duty came in and thought that I would be giving birth within the next hour or two.



After a change in shifts, the new labor and delivery Dr. on duty came in.  To our surprise, it ended up being Dr. Hill, the Dr. that we came to the practice to see.  Throughout our pregnancy, we tried to schedule appointments with him but he was always booked.  Dr. Hill is the senior practitioner at the office and has a wonderful reputation so we were pretty excited to see that he would be delivering Braydon.  After examining me, he estimated that we would be giving birth in about 8 hours, which ended up being pretty accurate!

So we waited for me to fully dilate and finally around 2pm, I was given the ok to push.

During the process, Braydon’s heart rate kept dropping..  Dr. Hill was concerned and gave us the options of assisted vacuum delivery or C-section.  I was pretty against both options and wanted to keep trying.  Dr. Hill said he would give me 3 tries.  Each try, I pushed as hard as I could.  It was hard.  I was exhausted.  I took deep breaths between contractions and tried to muster up the energy to push.  I knew that I had to try my hardest because I desperately wanted to give birth vaginally.  The entire time, Dr. Hill was perplexed as to why he wasn’t coming out and why his heart rate kept dropping. (TMI: the Dr is sticking his whole hand inside of you to help widen the birth canal and to feel the baby’s head.  My Dr. checked to see if there was a cord around the neck that could have caused the decreased heart rate)



After trying without the vacuum, the Dr. tried a few more times with the vacuum.  I heard him say that it had been over 20 years since he had a failed vacuum delivery.  This entire time, he kept on calling out orders– call ahead to the OR for a possible C-section, start this drip, prepare that med….  At one point, there had to be 15-20 team members in the labor and delivery room.  Joey said they had the regular pediatric team in there and that a second team came, just in case.  There were additional labor and delivery nurses as well.

Through all this controlled chaos, I continued to concentrate on trying to get Braydon out.

As soon as the last attempt to delivery had passed, I was immediately wheeled out and in to the OR.  Everything happened so quickly.  Joey said that they had me transferred to the OR, prepped, and open in less than 10 minutes.  While on the table, I started to feel all the aches in my body from the pushing I had done.  There was a sharp pain in my upper back from me pulling myself up to push and I kept asking the anesthesiologist (who sat right at my head) if it was normal.   He was amazingly reassuring and let me know everything I was feeling was completely normal.

Once Dr. Hall pulled Braydon out he says, “wow, this is why he wasn’t coming out, he has a big knot in his cord.  You’re a miracle baby.”

I couldn’t see anything other than Joey’s face as he watched the entire process.  He looked worried but at the same time he had a look of aw on his face.  He later told me that he didn’t know what to feel, he was worried for me but overjoyed by seeing his son.  Joey watched the entire process and said that he saw ALL of my insides.  The Dr. pulled out the placenta and Joey said that it was HUGE.   He then watched the Dr. pull out my uterus and, literally, punch it back in to shape.  He described it as a huge disc like a blood cell.  The entire time, Dr. Hill was dictating his every move.  He had a resident along side of him and was explaining everything that he was doing.  I actually enjoyed listening to this-  if I can’t see what he is doing to me, at least I can hear what was going on.  I even made mental notes on questions to ask him later on (which he graciously answered).

Soon after they took Braydon out, I began to shiver uncontrollably.  It got to the point when the shivering made me exhausted!  I was more tired from shivering than from pushing!  My body was in shock.  This baby that it had nurtured for 40 weeks was suddenly ripped out of it.     They put blankets on me to help warm me up but it didn’t help.

All the while, I was watching as the nurses cared for Braydon.  There was a screen right on top of me that allowed me to watch.  I saw them inject Vitamin K in to him and he barely flinched (probably because he was so in shock of everything that was going on around him!)  I watched as Joey cut his cord and as he carried him for the first time.  Then the nurse came over to ask me if I would like to do skin to skin.  My birth plan included skin to skin ASAP but I was fearful that my shivering would cause me to lose control of him.  So, I waited.


When I was ready to be transferred to the recovery room, they put Braydon on my chest and at the very moment he touched my chest, my shivering stopped.

I was amazed!  At that moment, I became a true believer that skin to skin is the most beneficial thing for BOTH baby and mom.  My body relaxed and I looked down at my baby.  He was beautiful.  AND he had his daddy’s lips (something I joked about during my entire pregnancy)!  After all this time, he was finally in my arms.  *all of the feellllssssss*


In the recovery room, the shivers returned and they administered a medication that was supposed to help.   As soon as it was injected, I threw up.  The nurse assured me that this was a normal side effect of the medication.  Aside from the initial vomiting, the shivers stopped and I was able to rest.  The R&R didn’t last long as  Dr. after Dr. came in to check both me and Braydon.  The pediatrician came to check on Braydon.  Two specialists came in to check on Braydon’s scalp- it had been injured by the vacuum.  He had a big, round, superficial wound where the vacuum had been attached.  It looked scary.  It was red and bleeding and the skin had been scraped from the area.

Soon, the lactation consultant came and helped Braydon nurse.

He was a natural!  I’m lucky that he latched immediately!

She showed me different positions to nurse in and showed me tricks on how to breastfeed.  I vaguely remember the visit since I was still pretty drugged up.

After a C-section, the labor and delivery nurse is required to come in every 30 minutes for 2 hours and press on my abdomen to allow for the blood to expel.  It was mildly painful.  I think the medications (although wearing off) helped alleviate some of the pain from this.  Post partum bleeding isn’t as bad since the Dr. cleans out the uterus and the nurse helps to expel some of the blood.  (TMI) I bled for 3 weeks following delivery but it was very light and by week 2.5, it was just spotting.

After about 40 minutes (or what felt like it), I told Joey it was ok to allow the family in to see us.  I was still exhausted and luckily, the family was quiet and allowed me to relax.  After 2 hours we were transferred upstairs to a room.



With a C-section, they don’t let you get up until 12 hours after the birth.  You are hooked up to compression machines (to prevent thrombosis) and a blood pressure monitor.  The catheter stays inside of you and you continue to get IV fluids.  The nurse checks on you VERY often during that 12 hour period but you’re so exhausted that you may not even be fazed by the visits.

I remember how ITCHY I was (due to the meds).  Every inch of my body itched.  I woke up multiple times to just scratch!  My face, my feet, my legs— it was sooooo annoying.

When I was allowed to get up, it was very difficult.  I had been laying in bed for 24 hours straight.  My legs were weak.  I had to take baby steps and it took a good 5 minutes to move 5 feet.  The nurse then required that I use the restroom but assured me that it was ok if my body wasn’t ready to urinate.  She turned on the sink water and that gave my body the little nudge it needed to expel.



The first night wasn’t as bad as I thought.  Braydon woke every 2 hours to nurse.  Since my body was weak, Joey had to pick him up from the crib and lay him on my chest (something we had to do for 4-5 days due to the C-section pain).

In the morning, I remember waking up and just staring at Braydon. I was still in disbelief that he was finally here!  I was in loveeeee!


The amount of coordination and organization was CRAZY given the amount of people involved.  Looking back, I am SO SO impressed with the entire experience!  The Advent Health labor and delivery team was on point!  The vacuum and C-section wasn’t what I wanted or expected but it all led to the safe delivery of our healthy baby and I’m so thankful for the nurses and Dr. Hill.

My Tips:

  1. Have a birthing plan but be flexible
  2. TAKE THE MEDS- after giving birth, I didn’t think I needed the Tortol (IV NSAID) until I was hit with the most excruciating pain where I couldn’t even move. Don’t wait for the pain to come, take the meds BEFORE you feel the pain.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say no to visitors- your body has been through a LOT, let yourself rest.  Visitors can always come later!
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or allow the nurses to do things for you or the baby.  They’re there to help!
  5. Do skin to skin immediately
  6. Walk as soon as you can after giving birth.  It allows blood flow and (TMI) releases gas.


BIG, HUGE thank you to my sister in law, Linda, for being with us during the whole process and helping capture it!  Love you, little butt!!


For more from our pregnancy:

Our Maternity Session in Snow

the Adventure begins | Our Baby Shower


  1. Maria-Stella Fountoulakis says:

    It is so generous of you to share your story – all the details! Even the TMI! It’s so very important that these experiences are here for us to learn from – and feel less alone in the journey. Congratulations on your beautiful baby and your successful birth! We are warriors!

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