(this is long and detailed and has too many pictures, so feel free to skim, skip completely, or read on if you love a birth story)
I had really hoped this baby would decide to come early. I was huge and feeling it. My hands and feet had started to swell, I was getting stretch marks in places I didn't know were even stretching, and I was just all around uncomfortable. I was supposed to have an appointment with Kristi (my midwife) on Wednesday, June 28 (5 days before due date). I was really antsy for it because she had agreed to strip my membranes which I still believe is what put me into labor with Spencer, and I was hopeful it would work again. As I was getting ready that morning, Kristi's office called and cancelled my appointment because she had too many other women in labor and wouldn't have time to see me. I cried.
My appointment was rescheduled, so the morning of Friday, June 30 (3 days before due date) I was again antsy to get things going. Luckily this appointment happened as promised and when she checked me I was already 2-3cm dilated so she went ahead and did the sweep. Afterward she said "I got you good so if it worked I'll see you in the next 24 hours." I left feeling crampy and hopeful.
Nate called and invited me to lunch at his office where his coworkers were throwing him a party for finishing his master's degree that same day! It was a great way to take my mind off the appointment I'd just come from and the anticipation I was now feeling! It was even better that I got to go spend some time with just Nate (and co-workers) but without Spencer as he was at my parents (napping no less) during my appointment and they let me leave him to have lunch with Nate. Maybe we all secretly knew it might be the last time we'd have together for a while?
After lunch with Nate, Spencer and I headed to my sister's to let her try some voodoo magic by rubbing my "labor inducing" pressure points with "labor inducing" tinctures. Really though she just massaged my feet and lower legs which felt so nice considering the heat and swelling. Then we went for a little walk on the greenbelt to try and walk the baby out! Friday night we ordered take out (again, I think we secretly knew life was about to change) and some sushi and just took it easy in hopes the night and sleep would bring on labor.
Saturday morning, July 1 (2 days before due date) I woke up feeling the same as I had when I went to bed, crampy but not too uncomfortable. We ran some errands, Spencer threw a huge fit at the library, and again at Home Depot. By this point I was pretty sure the sweep hadn't worked because I was feeling back to how I had before the appointment, so I came home and took a nap while Nate and Spencer worked in the yard and we all went to bed early. That night Nate told me he wasn't going to fast on Sunday in case I went into labor, he didn't want to go to the hospital on an empty stomach and who knew when he would have a chance to eat again?
Sunday morning, July 2 (1 day before due date), I woke up at 6:30 just wide awake. I didn't feel any different except I just couldn't fall back asleep. I said to Nate, "I'm getting in the bath but not because I'm in labor." for the last few weeks, every time I'd taken a bath Nate would rush in asking if I was in labor since that was how he had figured out I was in labor with Spencer. I had been sitting in the bath for a while when around 7 I had really uncomfortable abdominal cramping. My eyes popped open and I thought, was that a contraction?? But I thought I'd just imagined it until 3 minutes later it happened again, and then again. I was certain I was having contractions and began keeping track. From the get go they were consistently 30-60 seconds long and only 3-5 minutes apart.
I didn't want to get my hopes up so I stayed in the bath for an hour. When I got out Nate was still asleep in bed so I just whispered to him, "I'm pretty sure I'm in early labor." He shot out of bed ready to go. I told him to calm down, eat breakfast, start getting Spencer up and ready and to pack a bag, I was going to take a shower. Then I realized my parents and sister both had church at 9 and if I didn't give them a heads up, they may not hear or check their phones. I called my mom, no answer. Called my dad, no answer. Called my sister, who luckily answered. I told her to be prepared to take Spencer at some point as neither of our parents were answering. Finally, my dad texted me to say he was in a meeting. I let him know what was going on and he said he would be fine to leave church any time to take Spencer. I felt some relief at that point to at least know someone was aware and Spencer would be taken care of.
I finally connected with my mom so I just tried to relax and labor as much as I could at home. I tried to keep myself busy by putting on some makeup, and eating a little bit. I remember being starving but I was afraid to eat too much or the wrong thing so I just had a piece of toast and rocked in my rocking chair while Nate and Spencer got ready. I kept telling myself we couldn't leave our house until 9:30 because my parents sacrament meeting didn't end until after 10 and my mom is the organist and my dads in the bishopric so I thought there was no chance they'd be able to sneak out. I decided if we got to their house too early I would just labor there as long as I could.
Halfway into the drive I texted Kristi to let her know we'd be heading to the hospital soon. She surprised me by saying she was already there. Then I texted my dad even though I knew they still had 15+ minutes of sacrament left. He surprised me by saying he was on his way to meet us right then. As we turned onto their street I told Nate, "I'm not getting out of the car, I need to go to the hospital." Luckily, my dad turned into the driveway just ahead of us. We unloaded Spencer and his stuff and took off again.
At the hospital we slowly trekked our way to triage on the 2nd floor where they were waiting for us so we quickly got changed and hooked up to all their monitors. When I finally got checked everyone was surprised to learn I was already a 7, especially me! The triage nurse asked, "have you thought about how you want to manage the pain?" My response surprised me since I felt like I was doing so well between contractions and for being a 7. I said, "I had wanted to do this naturally but I'm starting to second guess the idea." She kinda laughed and thankfully ignored me saying, there was the birthing tub to try and gas too.
We had to stay in triage and let the baby be monitored for ~20min before they would admit us. Kristi came by while we were there to encourage me and congratulate me on being a 7, ha. When we finally got taken to our delivery room there was already a bath waiting and I quickly jumped in even though I was feeling really hot. I made Nate text my mom and my sister letting them know we were being admitted. About 15 minutes later my mom was there and not too long after that my sister showed up.
Throughout my pregnancy I had wondered whether or not Katie would make it to the birth since she had her own little kids and coming to the birth would mean she'd have to find someone to watch them and it just seemed unlikely that she'd make it. Well I owe Kade for coming when he did, the timing couldn't have been much better since it was a Sunday and she was able to just leave her kids with her husband and make it to the hospital. I wouldn't realize until later how much I needed her there.
I labored in the warm tub for a while and would go through phases of being cold and then just being so hot. So I was sitting in the hot bath and nurses/family/whoever would bring me ice cold washcloths to put on my chest and neck and face. It actually felt wonderful. For about 2 hours I went back and forth between the bath and sitting on the birthing stool with a fan on me. I thought we still had quite a bit of time before things kicked it up a notch because I was still getting about 2-3 min breaks between contractions and though I felt awful during a contraction, I felt completely normal and was talking in between.
A little after 1pm I had been in the bathtub when my mom and sister mentioned it looked like I lost my mucous plug, or something similar. Shortly after I climbed out of the tub and was sitting on the birthing stool leaning onto the end of the bed just feeling hot and sweaty, even with a big fan blowing right on me. Suddenly I knew I was going to puke and puke I did. I was in transition. Kristi then asked if I wanted her to check me which I did. I was a 9 and she asked if I wanted her to break my waters which would really get things going. I said yes and after that everything was faster and more intense.
I got out of bed to try and rock the baby down but I could tell my body was really just fighting the contractions at that point. I asked for the gas and then climbed back onto the bed as I was just feeling a lot of intense pressure. I tried to do some on my hands and knees but it was so uncomfortable I eventually just collapsed and Kristi had me turn on my side and start pushing as she could see his head!
My mom and sister stayed on my left side holding my leg and hand, Nate was on my right, and Kristi and the nurse were at the end of the bed trying to coach my pushing. I had a few surges of energy/pushes that everyone was proud of/cheered for that I guess made good progress, and then he started crowning and the pain was incredible. I started crying because it was so much pain and I could hear and feel both Nate and my sister crying on either side of me.
At that moment I was ready to give up, I wanted nothing more than to be knocked out. My body was fighting against the urge to push because of the pain, so my pushing was only half effective. But the pain of him crowning and being right there ready to enter the world was furious too. So there was no relief from pain at this point. Kristi had me flip to my left side and keep going. I pushed for at least an hour if not longer, but I just didn't feel like I was making any progress and I thought I was being ripped in two with every contraction/push. I remember saying "I can't do this" and "just get him out of me" or "I don't want to do this anymore" but I couldn't even cry because I had no strength left. Contractions and trying to push hurt, and the in between hurt. Everyone kept saying "there's only one way out of this" "you got this" keep going". What was finally a little more effective was them counting for me as I pushed.
Everyone in that room with me was awesome, they just kept encouraging me and telling me how close I was and reminding me that once I got through this I'd get to hold my little baby. They were great at telling me to just relax everything in between contractions, not to think of anything or clench anything and just let it all go and then gather my strength for the next one. The next one would come and I'd feel like I made 0 progress. Every contraction I was screaming/making noises I didn't even know I could make or where they were coming from, into the gas mask (so luckily I think they were very much muffled). At one point my sister even started grunting/moaning/squealing/yelling with me while she squeezed my hand and something about that gave me a burst of motivation to keep going. To know that she was behind me and she knew exactly what I was going through was just really helpful and motivating! I don't think I could have pushed that baby out without her crying next to me and cheering me on like that.
Just after 2 some nurses came in to get Kristi because another mom in labor next door was starting to involuntarily push without being fully dilated and they needed Kristi. I was so annoyed and mad at that point thinking "I'm not done!! I still need her!!!" so that may have been the last bit of encouragement I needed because finally, at 2:28pm it was over and our baby was here!
Kristi quickly placed him on my stomach and then booked it out of there for the next mom. I couldn't even open my eyes or cry tears of relief because I was so exhausted. Shortly after, Dr. Lovelace, who Kristi works under, came in to deliver the placenta and the rest of the delivery. He was great and I was more than ok to have him finish as I knew the hard part was over and I could just relax, I didn't really have to put forth any effort for the rest of delivery. He delivered the placenta which he said was big ;) and gave me 3 stitches and that was it. While the baby was laying on my stomach/chest during the placenta delivery, he pooped all over me not once but twice! Welcome to motherhood, again.
Our baby Kade weighed in at 9 lbs 8.4 oz (and that was after he pooped on me twice!) was 20in long, and had a huge noggin, at 14.5 inches. After hearing those stats I did feel a wave of accomplishment! I remember while Dr. Lovelace was still stitching me up just saying over and over "I am never doing that again" "natural childbirth is so overrated." But already I think I'm forgetting some of the horrific-ness of the events and instead am feeling strengthened and empowered by knowing I DID THAT! So we'll see what the future brings :)
Kristi later told me that her worst fear the whole time I was crowning and stretching was that my episiotomy scar from Spencer's birth was going to bust open causing more pain and more damage. She was amazed that I came out of that labor with only a tiny 1st degree tear that only required 3 stitches. I am so glad that she was the one directing this huge baby's birth! I should also mention because I know a couple people were confused that I would deliver laying down rather than upright where gravity could help, that at one of my previous appointments Kristi had told me one of the best positions to birth in that greatly reduces the chances of tearing/retearing is on the side. And she was right. In the moment I was willing to try whatever she suggested without question, but it was nice to have that knowledge beforehand of why this would be a good idea. The other thing to be mentioned is that throughout the hour, hour and a half pushing process, while Kade was stuck in the birth canal and crowning, his heartbeat never dropped. The nurse even commented on what a funny and care free guy this must be as most babies get stressed during all that squeezing and it drops their heart rate. But not our big guy, he was just hanging out like it was no big deal! :)
I also have to give it to Nate for being awesomely supportive and telling me I could do this. Without him I certainly would not have been so sure of myself and my capabilities. He has mentioned before that he likes the epidural simply because he hates to see me in pain. I was afraid that going the natural route this time meant he would just kind of hang around and "be there" without really doing anything because he just didn't know how to help. But I was so wrong and he really stepped up and I couldn't have asked for a better partner through this. Though I think he was still a little uncertain how to be helpful, and maybe still a little fearful of me in pain, he was so great at helping me in/out of the tub, rubbing my arm, back, leg, offering me water or juice or anything, and then when the time came he was right by my side holding my hand/leg, whatever he could. When I wanted to give up during the pushing stage he was telling me how great I was doing and that I could do it and how amazing I was. Hearing him have that confidence in me was just what I needed to keep going. And then of course he cried in pain right along with me, then recovered and kept encouraging me. I think it made him a more active part of this birth and I wouldn't trade it. He's the best.
What a whirlwind the last few days have been. I still can't believe Kade is here and that he's ours. He has been such a good baby too. He sleeps wonderfully, though he just wanted to cuddle, he doesn't like to sleep alone. He hates to be swaddled, he wants his hands right up next to his face and that goes for eating too. He can't eat without his hands up by his face either. But he is a good eater too.
We are so blessed to have had everything go so smoothly and wonderfully. There is little I would change about Kade's birth experience (maybe his size??) it was amazing, powerful, hard, serene, painful, miraculous, and empowering. We are so in love with our little boys!