Birth Story: Griffin Dale

Photography by Robin Rogers

I never expected my pregnancy, a seemingly healthy one with minimal complications, to come to the abrupt end that it did. My entire pregnancy had been wonderful: low blood pressure, great bloodwork, and despite some hip pain, no other issues. I was considered high risk because I have Chiari Malformation which can cause complications when delivering, but I experienced nothing out of the normal for nine months.

At 35 weeks I went in for a check up: my blood pressure was slightly elevated and I discovered I was anemic. I was given an iron supplement, but this was the first sign that my blood pressure was out of my normal range. At 37 weeks I woke up with a bloody nose two nights in a row, but on the second night I had a horrible headache. Using Dr. Google’s advice, I went to the nearest Walgreens when Caleb got off school to have my blood pressure taken. 146/110. I immediately called the labor and delivery (L&D) triage line and the nurse told us to come in. Luckily at this point I had my hospital bag packed and everything lined up for my pugs to be taken care of. 

Caleb and I ran home grabbed the bags and packed our dogs bag for their sitter. We were on the road shortly after as we made our one hour drive to Darnall Army Hospital. Upon arriving at L&D, I checked in and told them I had elevated blood pressure. The wait to get in a room was agonizing. I could feel something was off. I felt anxious and on edge from the blood pressure. I was called to a room finally where I had to yet again wait for the longest 10-15 minutes. The nurse came in and took my blood pressure; that’s when everything changed. She immediately paged for several doctors. The tiny room filled up with as many staff as it could fit and my husband went outside to update our families. I was being admitted for preeclampsia, a condition that occurs only during pregnancy that is marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Preeclampsia occurs in pregnancies that are over twenty weeks and effects 5-8% of all pregnancies (

I had a feeling. The Sunday before while at church, I had this gut feeling that the upcoming week would be the week I would meet our baby. We had maternity photos the Friday before and I had felt slight cramping, but otherwise felt great. I usually would lazily wait to take my weekly photos on Wednesdays, but I told my husband I wanted to take it earlier this week just in case. We got our 37 week “bumpie” taken just in time, the night before I was admitted.

Once admitted many calls were made to our families. I was told that my dream of mobile laboring was no longer possible. They needed to get me started on magnesium as soon as possible to combat my blood pressure. Magnesium unfortunately has some horrible side effects. I was now a fall risk because of it and needed a catheter. I would not be able to get out of bed as the medication made me feel hot, flushed, and irritated. I’d frequently get headaches and feel as my chest were heavy and painful. I also dealt with persistent nausea. My nurse compared the effects of magnesium to chemotherapy. A good way to start my labor no?

I didn’t realize how many times I could be induced. I received the foley catheter, a catheter that blows up in hopes of widening your cervix, cytotec (a pill that is used to cause abortions in early pregnancy) right against my cervix (the most painful causing contractions), cytotec taken orally that I was given several times, pitocin, and I had my water broken. Nothing helped me dilate. It was the slowest progressing labor of all time. I was determined to go all natural so I labored for 18 hours with no assistance, but once they put the cytotec next to my cervix, I contracted for 3-4 hours straight with no breaks. This whole time I screamed in agony. I checked out a few times when the pain became too much. It got to the point where I was silent screaming and I was just going to a state of delirium. I finally asked for an epidural.  

It took the anesthesiologist about 3 hours to come in to finally proceed. They had me on a horrible uncomfortable position and I was in so much pain. My husband and mother were not allowed in the room. I made the mistake of allowing a student do the epidural. She had a tough time advancing it and I ended up with a hot spot on my left side meaning I could still fill contractions on that side. I don’t think she necessarily did a bad job, but I would have preferred someone who has done them numerous times for numerous years. One of the reasons I wanted to labor naturally is because of my Chiari. The risk of accidentally puncturing something could mess up with my cerebral spinal fluid. I just prayed the entire time as she gave me the epidural. I then got so entirely sick that I began vomiting everywhere because my blood pressure dropped so fast. 

Once my husband and mom returned the laboring continued. I felt some relief with the epidural. They started me on pitocin and oral meds to “kickstart” contractions. I could feel my abdomen tightening with contractions but the pain was almost gone with the exception of the left side on occasion. Every shift change I’d have a new OBGYN come in and check on me. I was not dilating. At this point I was beginning to feel hopeless. I had a labor and delivery soundtrack of Lauren Daigle and other soft tunes played on an endless loop in order to breathe through it.

Through this all I was told an OB asked me what I wanted to do at this point and I apparently said I wanted to push. I do not remember this conversation as I was incoherent from the analgesic I had requested. Had I been coherent perhaps I would have requested the c-section I needed much earlier in this process. On night number two they broke my water. I had more cytotec orally and that when I begin hearing of my secondary problem: hyponatremia: A condition that occurs when the level of sodium in the blood is too low. 

The doctors noticed that my sodium level began to drop rapidly as I was urinating it all out. Let me just state that this is a very rare situation; so rare, fact, two different teams (one from OB and one from internal medicine) asked to do a case study on me, which I happily obliged. They believed that the cause of the drop in sodium was due to the preeclampsia, but the issue is both conditions can cause seizures and they wouldn’t be able to know or treat which one. I was on strict fluid restriction (down to 400 mL a day in the ICU). My mouth craved water, but they didn’t want the water to interfere with my sodium levels so I went like this for over 48 hours.

On October 5th, 2018 I had a doctor from internal medicine who was a pulmonary doctor come in and tell me the problem with my sodium levels. Immediately after my obstetricians came in to update me on the seriousness of my situation. They told me an emergency c-section was needed to prevent me from having seizures. At this point I had been in labor for 46 hours and my baby’s head was in my birth canal. All this waiting only to have a c-section was a bit disappointing, but I was so ready to have my baby, I immediately said let’s do this. I had to have my epidural redone because it had failed and a spinal would take too long. 

Before I knew it the epidural was done (it went so much better than before: I had a pro at epidurals put it in) and I was being wheeled to the operating room. I was terrified. I began praying and crying. I had the difficult discussion with Caleb that if it had to come down to my life or the baby’s to choose the baby. It was incredibly difficult. They discussed all the risks and stated I was at higher risk for bleeding out, but they’d have blood standing by. They told me I’d go to ICU afterwards because of my sodium levels. I knew their was a chance I wouldn’t make it. I was at risk for losing my life. I couldn’t stop crying. 

The anesthesiologist was trying to make sure I was completely numb, but she was asking if I could feel her pricking so quickly that my brain was overloaded. I told them no on a spot I could feel and then immediately told her I did feel the left side after they were getting prepared to start. Luckily she listened to me and went in an adjusted the amount of medicine in my epidural because sure enough I had sensation still. They finally agreed I was numb and my husband joined me in the OR. He sat by my head holding my hand as tears streamed from my face. They started and it went so quickly. I could feel the pressure of tearing and pulling and it made me instantly sick. I began vomiting which throughout this whole ordeal from admittance to this point was a recurring theme. I just prayed the entire time. The OR team let me pick the music, so I went ahead with Lauren Daigle again because her voice soothes me and I needed to hear the message she sings in her songs. 

The delivery was so fast. I heard a cry and they told Caleb to announce the gender: “It’s a Boy!” I couldn’t stop crying. Caleb went over to cut the cord and take photos of the baby in what seemed like an eternity. I just wanted to see him. The team shifted their focus on me. Making sure I was okay and that all the bleeding was under control. They finally brought my baby boy to my side. The first time I saw him. He’s so perfect. I gave him kisses and held his little hand. Griffin. Our sweet baby was finally here after a devilish ordeal. I was happy he was here but sad I would have to be away from him. I attempted to get him to latch on for breastfeeding but the side effects from the magnesium made him too tired. I cherished those brief few minutes. I could not hold him for obvious reasons, but I gave him kisses and told him how much I loved him. He is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen and he looks so much like me, which was a surprise as I thought Caleb’s genes were much stronger.

Saying goodbye to my husband and baby was the hardest thing I had to do. I was transferred to the ICU while my husband went up to the mother and baby unit to bond with our little man. I had requested donor breastmilk, but they would not let him since he wasn’t a NICU baby. So he had to be fed formula via syringe. Caleb got to do skin to skin and couldn’t leave him at all to come see me because only his guardians (mom and dad) could be with him in the room. In the NICU I felt isolated and it felt like a dream. It didn’t really hit me I had my baby because I didn’t get to bond with him after birth. 

The night in ICU was horrible. I had a male nurse that didn’t want to massage my uterus (something’s that incredibly painful but has to be done to ensure that mom doesn’t bleed out). I was at higher risk because I couldn’t be give pitocin (due to my sodium issue) after birth which helps the uterus contract to help blood vessels from bleeding. He told me I could do it myself; like I would know where to massage let alone be able to put that much pressure on it. He didn’t want to do essential thing for post partum care. He said I’ll get a female nurse to do this. I requested someone from L&D to come down so I could express my concerns but no one came. On top of that he brought me a pump and said “you know how to do this.” How the hell would I know how to pump when this is my first baby. He tried to lazily show me and put the pump somewhere I couldn’t reach. I began crying out of frustration and texted my dad what was going on. 

Luckily my dad was an officer in the Navy and retired with a high rank so he called up the ICU and asked to speak with the head nurse. He basically told them it was unsatisfactory what they were doing and that if my nurse was incapable of doing what was needed of a post-partum patient that they would be reported. I could tell my nurse’s tune changed. He came in acting all rude and then eventually cooled off and said he would do what he was supposed to do. I was still in fluid restriction, still had my catheter in, bed ridden, and on magnesium so I was utterly miserable. I just wanted to see my family. In the morning all my doctors came by to check on me. I was asked if I could be part of case studies and my labs were redrawn every 2-4 hours around the clock. I was exhausted. 

The day I was supposed to be transferred to be reunited went on way too long. I was told one hour after lunch I would have my lab results and be able to go to mother & baby if they were good, yet the doctor who was in charge of transferring me over got called in to an emergency and I had to wait and wait. It’s ironic because he was part of a medical team of about six doctors yet it had to be him to put in the orders. I cried in desperation. I finally was reunited after twenty-six hours of being apart. I finally could hold my son and bond with him. It was an overflow of emotions. All this pain, suffering, and trauma was worth it to have my little Griffin. I was so happy to be reunited with my hubby and baby boy.

After staying in the hospital for five days in total I was discharged. I suffered a few set backs battling my blood pressure, which sent me to the emergency room three days after being discharged and suffering from delirium. I finally made it home and am working on my recovery. Griffin is healthy and we are truly blessed for this. I had been struggling with my health since being discharged: pain, medication side effects, and my blood pressure kept me from doing normal mommy things after arriving home, but I’m learning to cope with these things until I’m back on my feet.

I have set up a Venmo (@CassandraShea) and Paypal, just in case anyone would like to make donations towards my uncovered emergency visit and baby necessities for Griffin. We’re at a tough spot right now financially and asking for help has always been a hard thing for us, but we’d greatly appreciate it if you have the means to donate just a small amount or share. Your love and support means the world to us especially as we go through this tough transition. If you have any questions about my delivery or situation please feel free to ask. I thank God so much for getting me through this difficult time as well as the love and support of my family and friends who have generously given their time to aid us. We are so blessed to have people who truly love us and want the best for us.

Much Love,


Pregnancy, Moving, and a Shower!

Long time, no write. It has been so hectic these past couple of months. Caleb, first and foremost, went to California and we were away from each other for two months which was incredibly hard and extremely draining. He stayed with his parents to save up some money for our new place and to pay off some bills, while I stayed with my mom and her boyfriend back in Texas. It was a definite test of strength in those months; being pregnant exasperated my loneliness and I just felt miserable until he came home.


Once Caleb came back to Texas, we made plans to start looking for a home near Austin so that he could attend Austin Community College and use his GI bill to earn his degree. We struggled for a couple of weeks on figuring out what we would be able to do, but with lots of prayers we finally found the perfect duplex and things have fallen (or have been shoved) into place. We are now slowly settling into our new community and have found some great friends through our church. It’s hard not to over worry about getting all our ducks in a row before the baby is born, but were doing our best to just have faith that everything will work out for us and that God will provide for us and our child.

Once we get everything unpacked and set up, I’ll take pictures of each room (especially the nursery!) and document my experience with moving while 32 weeks pregnant (MAN! Has it been absolutely draining). We are only down to a handful of boxes and a couple of rooms need some extra tidying, but we are making progress and I am hopeful we will have our house completed before the baby’s arrival.


Another extremely exciting event happened this past Saturday; our baby shower! We headed down to Waco and had the cutest summer “Let’s Flamingle” themed shower at a little café branch of a downtown bakery called Olive Branch Express. My mother-in-law hosted this wonderful blue-and-pink shower with the decorating help of my aunt and what a perfect turnout it was!


We had a great time catching up with family and opening presents for our little squish as we call him/her. We are extremely blessed by the love surrounding our baby. I know that  they will be completely loved by us, our families, and our church family. Thirty-four days left and anxiously counting to meet you little one. We do have names picked out, but are waiting to announce until we know if the baby is a girl or boy, so shortly after birth!


I can’t believe how fast this pregnancy has gone for me. There are times where it feels like it’s going so slow and I just get overwhelmed because baby is riding up into my lungs and I feel like I can’t breathe, but really it’s been like a blink of the eye. Here we are 35 weeks into this baby-baking business and trying our best to manage birthing classes, learn cloth diapering, breastfeeding, and the ins and outs of infant raising!

I can’t wait to meet our little blessing and once we have everything  unpacked and put aways, I will be ready for them to enter the world! I’m so blessed to have had a healthy pregnancy. I’ve had hip and back pain, but I’ve managed to push through it and focus on the bigger picture. We’ve gotten this far with no gestational diabetes, great blood work, and good blood pressure with minimal complications. GOD is great in his many miracles.


Much love and here’s to next time!



Twenty Weeks


How in the world am I already half way through my pregnancy?! It’s been an overwhelming, but incredible ride so far.

On May 22, we had our anatomy scan which identifies the gender of the baby and ensures baby is on track with growth. Since I have solely committed to not finding out the gender of our little jalapeño, we both agreed to turn our heads away while the technician confirmed the baby’s gender, although there was a struggle for me to keep my hand over Caleb’s eyes as he desperately tried to move it out of the way! No way! There is no way one of us could know and not tell the other, so too bad for you hubby. Our baby is looking healthy as can be and we are growing more and more excited for our little one’s arrival.

Wow. What a little miracle we have here. I am truly in awe at how baby is growing and developing. I felt Baby Robinson move for the first time on the 24th of May. Caleb and I were traveling back and forth from our storage unit (lots of lifting in this heat has made me almost reach my end!) and I felt a little roll from the inside! I exclaimed to Caleb I felt it!! I felt the baby! I called my mom immediately with excitement. It’s such an unbelievable feeling: like a little massage roller from the inside out and Baby R made her/his presence known. Now baby moves daily and sometimes she/he won’t stop! I can no longer comfortably lay on my belly, which is a bummer for me because that was my go to sleeping position prior to baby, but it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

Health wise, I am hanging in there. My biggest issue was dealing with hip and back pain. When I was working my hips would dislocate and hurt often, but now that I am resting, I am feeling better.

What’s getting me through this horrendous summer of being pregnant? The indoors are a must. I cannot go outside for long. I am dying to go swimming and cool off in the water. I wish we had a community pool here, but we sadly do not so it’s either to my dad’s house to go to the lake or they have a crappy lake here, but we have no boat to access it. There is a “beachfront” access (if you can call it that), but the water is so dingy and unsanitary. Lots of cool drinks: water, sparkling juices, and an occasional diet coke help keep my hydrated. I am constantly drinking throughout the day to make sure we keep healthy! Apple slices, grapes, kiwis, strawberries, and blueberries are the perfect summer treats to cool off too. To keep my busy on the inside, I am watching Hart of Dixie, knitting, and playing Neopets (yes, once again.)

On to the fall please! 139 days left until we meet our little one.

We are registered at BabyList and Amazon although we don’t officially have a shower planned yet.




And Then There Were Five…

Here I am, once again running behind on blog posts and updating on my oh so glamorous life. I turned the big 25 on February 26th. I always have low-key birthdays, so I spent the day relaxing at home and my husband and I went out to Olive Garden for dinner. My husband did gift me a pair of vegan Birkenstocks and I got some Juicy Beauty products (thanks to my mama) that I had been dying to try out, but in more important news, we’ve been keeping a bit of a secret. This may or may not have contributed to my lack of posting…

Proud Sisters

We are expecting! Our very first baby is due on October 22, 2018!

Continue reading if you want to know the story of how we found out, my symptoms and cravings, how the ultrasounds went and how having Chiari while pregnant is going.

Continue reading “And Then There Were Five…”