It’s been 6 weeks since our sweet baby James entered the world and I’m finally sitting down to write his story. Life with three kids has been wild and crazy and yet, as I sit and look at all three of my kids, I feel like having three feels so natural; as though each and every one of them have always been a part of our lives.
Since this was my third baby, my OB was very casual as to when I “wanted” to give birth to this baby (as long as I was over 39 weeks). With Leah, I went to 41 weeks before I decided to wave my white flag and schedule an induction. Then, when I was in labor with her, my OB realized my amniotic fluids had decreased to a dangerous level. Luckily, I was able to avoid a c-section thanks to an amniotic infusion which allowed Leah’s heart rate to regulate while I labored. Because of that “scare,” my second OB (fun fact, I have had a different OB with every baby) decided to induce me at 39.5 weeks (since at that point I still hadn’t dilated at all and she didn’t want me to have a repeat of my first labor when I inevitably went overdue). So! That brings us to baby number 3. I deeply desired to go into labor on my own, something that, even with this being my third baby, I had never experienced! I was feeling pretty optimistic about my chances when I was already dilated to 1.5 centimeters at 36 weeks (which was more than I had EVER been dilated before being induced with my previous two!) From 36 weeks on I vowed to do everything in my power to get this baby out on my own!! We live in a very hilly, mountainous area, and every single day (and I mean EVERY day) I would lace up my running shoes and pound up and down those hills on 4-5 mile walks, willing my water to break or at least my cervix to continue dilating. By 39 weeks I was dilated to 3 cm, but my daily walks had no luck in getting my water to break on its own. At my 39 week appointment my OB was pretty convinced that, if I just had my water broken, I would “easily go into labor on my own” since my body was “so ready.” I thought about it and decided to go ahead and schedule a time to head into the hospital at 39 weeks and 4 days to have my OB break my water.
On Tuesday, June 13th, Brett and I headed to the hospital at 6 am and by 7:30 am the paperwork was all filled out, my IV was placed, and my OB had come in and broke my water (SUCH a pleasant experience!! :-P) And then…we waited! I wasn’t feeling anything along the lines of contractions yet so Brett and I chatted as we walked and walked and walked numerous laps around the unit, trying to get my labor to kick in. By 11:30 am I was still feeling basically nothing and the nurse asked me if I was ready to “get this party started” aka get some pitocin going. Before going into the hospital I had voiced my concerns about needing an induction to my OB-mainly that getting pitocin equaled having to labor in bed (since baby would then need to stay on a monitor) which is pretty much HELL. My OB reassured me that the hospital had wireless monitors that would allow me to labor however I would like, should I need pitocin. Because of this, and because I was getting bored of walking the halls, I gave a huge thumbs up and enthusiastically (more enthusiastically then anyone should EVER be regarding pitocin!) agreed with the nurse to start the pitocin drip. She started at a low level of 9 and assured me that I would need “just a bit” before my body kicked in and, once contractions kept rolling on their own, she could turn it off all together.
Once the pitocin started, contractions were soon to follow, but I knew they were no where near as intense as they needed to be. I could still walk and talk through them and, as I sat bouncing on the birthing ball, joking with my nurse, she said “girl we have got to bump this up.” She started bumping up the levels every 15 minutes and the contractions started getting longer and more intense. It was crazy because when she came into the room at 12:15 pm to bump it up (to 22!!!) I was breathing through the contractions but could still handle them just fine on the birthing ball, and by the time she walked back in at 12:30, I was hunched over the bed and moaning like crazy.
At that point she checked me and I was 6 cm dilated. Both the nurse and my OB had asked me at the start of the day if I wanted an epidural and I said that I wasn’t sure. They both told me that this was their one and only time they would ask and, after that, I would need to tell them if I wanted one because they were not going to ask again. When we heard that I was at a 6 Brett asked me if I wanted to go ahead and request an epidural, but I gritted my teeth and shook my head no. He reminded me NOT to wait for the “okay I can’t stand this anymore” moment because it may take the anesthesiologist awhile to get to me, but I (naively) told him that I had control over the situation.
For anyone who has had pitocin knows, things get crazy REAL fast! By 1 pm the contractions were basically on top of each other and I could barely catch my breath before another one took over. Basically you feel like you are transition….but you’re not. I went from bouncing on the birthing ball to curling up on my side in bed, clutching the hand rail and moaning (yelling??) through each contraction. Brett would talk to me here and there….the nurse would come in and adjust the baby’s monitor or click away on the computer, but I never opened my eyes for the next 2 hours and I don’t think I talked to Brett or answered his questions once during this time. I was just willing myself to make it through one more one more one more, while secretly thinking I may just up and die right there on the bed. I know I’m not the only woman in labor who thinks “that’s it! I’m done!” but it was like I truly believed I could give up, step outside my body, and let someone else finish up this awful task.
Through it all we were trying to decide when to have my mom come meet us at the hospital, since I wanted her there for the delivery. She was there for Claire’s and I wanted her there again. Brett was nervous that we would run out of time because she was home with the girls and, once we told her to come, she would have to wait for my dad to make the 15 minute drive from their house to ours, before she then made the 10 minute drive to the hospital. Brett kept asking me if I wanted him to call her but I kept shaking my head no. I was in so much pain and I was being so loud during each contraction I was worried that it would be too stressful for her to see me this way. (Which, obviously, is silly. She would have been fine but no one ever admits to thinking clearly and rationally during labor).
Close to 3 pm I was feeling D O N E. This baby, like his sister before him, was sunny side up and the back labor felt like a truck was literally backing up again and again over my lower back. During one particularly lengthy contraction, as I clutched Brett’s shirt by the collar and howled, I yelled at Brett that “I NEED AN EPIDURAL NOW!!” Brett ran out to the nurses station and calmly stated, “yeah, I think we will take that epidural now….” 20 minutes later (and what felt like a million more contractions) I all but screamed at Brett that the anesthesiologist was “never coming!!” and I think it took pure power of will for Brett to bite his tongue and not say “Remember when I reminded you not to wait until the last minute??”
Our nurse (whose name was Brandi by the way, and was truly an angel during my entire labor) checked me and said I was at an 8. She told me I was in transition and I probably didn’t have all that much longer before I was ready to push. I didn’t care. At that moment you could have told me I only had 5 minutes left and I still would have told you to shoot me up with drugs. The sweet anesthesiologist finally came in and talked away while I kept my eyes shut and basically ignored him. He said that a true epidural may be a bit of a waste on me because they take awhile to set in and, by that time, I would most likely have a baby in my arms. He offered to do a “spinal surge” which is fast acting but not as long lasting. I said I didn’t care, but please, for the love of all things holy, just give me the drugs already. They allowed Brett to stay in the room (something that I don’t think is all that common) and the anesthesiologist said the quote that makes every laboring woman want to punch them in the face; “It is CRUCIAL that you do NOT move for the next 20 seconds!” He was efficient, quick and painless and not 20 second later did I feel the most blessed relief.
When we heard that I was at 8 cm, Brett had gone ahead and texted my mom and told her to come over. She walked in a few minutes after the surge placement and I had done a total 180–smiling and saying “hey mom!!” like I was the most relaxed person in the world. Oh the power of birthing drugs. 😛 I didn’t have much more to go at that point, but just having a 20-30 minute breather before the pushing began felt like the greatest gift in the world.
At 3:45 pm, my nurse checked me and said I was complete. She had me do a practice push and then immediately told me to “stop pushing!!” when baby’s head started to make an appearance. My OB had run back to his office to try and see a few patients when he heard at 12:30 pm that I was still at 6 cm, but thankfully the office was just down the street. Our nurse joked that she called him and told him to “run, don’t walk” back to the hospital, which he must have since he arrived 10 minutes later. I had told him in previous appointments that I push my babies out quick (20 mins with Leah and 10 mins with Claire) so he knew I was a “quick pusher,” but I was a little anxious that this baby would be different (I had heard MANY times “those third babies like to throw you a curve ball!”) and I was so afraid that I would be pushing for an hour or more and he would be thinking “why the heck did she tell me she was quick at this?!”
However, as soon as I started pushing I knew this wouldn’t be the case. Within one push I could see his head crowning and I knew he was coming fast. Now, if you remember, we did not know the gender of this baby, and I was emotionally overwhelmed at the thought that we would be meeting this surprise baby in a matter of MINUTES. After months of rubbing my stomach, wondering who was in there, the moment had finally come to meet our son or daughter. Every time I thought about this, I would inevitably start to cry, which made effective pushing impossible. I had to basically yell at myself to “GET IT TOGETHER!” and not think about anything but pushing until baby was out.
Brett was going to be the one to announce the gender, but my OB had jokingly said that he was going to make his guess when just the head was out. Within 5 minutes of pushing, the head was out and my OB announced that his guess was a girl. We laughed and with one final push, at 4:08 pm (and a total of 8 minutes of pushing) our sweet baby was out.
My OB flipped him upside down and faced him towards Brett and we all could clearly see that baby was A BOY! I will always remember the joy and wonder in Brett’s voice as he announced the gender; we had a son! It felt so surreal in that moment. As much as I thought this baby was a boy during my entire pregnancy (and I mean, the feeling ran deep and I had only called the baby a boy the entire time) I still felt, in the back of my mind, that after 2 girls we couldn’t actually have a boy! We only made girls! The nurse placed our son, our sweet James Paul on my chest and I kept laughing as tears of joy streamed down my face. A boy!
The baby nurse was worried because James wasn’t crying, instead he was just making these little grunting noises, and she kept whacking him on the back trying to get him to cry. I never felt anxious, however, that something was wrong. Instead I felt this overwhelming sense of peace, just looking at my son and I knew he was just fine. After getting him to cry a bit, and putting a pulsox on his little foot twice to check his oxygen level (which both times were perfect) they finally concluded that he was just fine and he simply liked making that grunting noise (which, 6 weeks later, I can confidently say is 100% true because he makes them at night all. the. time).
I had torn during my speedy delivery (in my “weak spot” from Leah and Claire’s birth) and my doctor quickly stitched me up while I continued to stare and marvel at this perfect baby on my chest. Once he was done with my stitches, and before he left, he asked if he could say a prayer over us and the baby, which was such a sweet and loving offer it brought tears to my eyes. We quickly said “of course!” and my OB knelt down on the floor, placing one hand on my knee and the other on James’ back, and spoke the most heartfelt, pure prayer of thanks to God. Brett secretly filmed it on his camera and it’s a moment in time that I will truly treasure forever. Such an amazing experience!
After James was born, my mom had called my dad and told him to bring the girls over to meet their new brother! As much as I tried to mentally prepare myself for the moment, I was a total puddle of tears when those sweet girls walked into the room for the first time. Seeing their loving, but anxious faces made me break down and it was all I could do not to jump out of bed and hug them (but lets be honest, jumping out of bed was really the last thing I wanted to do….)
The girls gave me big hugs and then they both gently and lovingly held their new brother. I knew Leah would do great (and during my whole pregnancy she voiced nothing but pure excitement over having a new baby sibling), but I was a little worried about how my sweet little Claire would do who, up until this very moment, was still very much my baby. She was so gentle and curious with him, but I could also see confusion and nervousness in her little eyes. She gave him a quick hug before handing him back and giving me lots of snuggles instead (before discovering the even better joy of playing with the birthing ball and pushing it around the delivery room!) Even still…being surrounded by my three amazing, miraculous, beautiful babies, (not to mention my wonderful husband!) I felt such a sense of pure and total happiness, as though our family was complete. (Maybe. Ask me again in 2 years. 😉 )
And there we have it. The birth of my third baby and my first boy! Each birth has been so different and yet so incredibly special in their own way and I wouldn’t change one single minute of any of them. Each labor, each individual contraction, led me to three amazing and perfect babies. And now we are home. A family of five. And I am loving every single wild and wonderful moment.