Perfect timing. I had been praying for perfect timing for this birth for months, but I had no idea how perfect it would be.
Back in June, we found out Kelley was nominated to attend a leadership conference for work. It was a really big deal because only a ridiculously small amount of eligible employees were invited to attend. Cool, right? Absolutely. Except for the fact that the conference was out of town … and scheduled from August 20-22 … 2 days before my due date of August 24th.
If that wasn’t enough, BFF Angie was scheduled to be out of town almost the entire month of August … including August 20-22. Plus, she had to leave again on the 25th. Perfect timing. So between Angie’s travel schedule and Kelley’s trip, we were working with small windows of time and risking one or both of my “persons” (shout out to Grey’s Anatomy) missing this baby’s birth. And so the prayers for perfect timing began.
This being my 3rd baby, I feel like I’m pretty in tune with my body. And even though I had hit the “get this baby out of me” wall around 35-36ish weeks, I knew the chances of this baby showing up early were slim to none. Sydney had to be evicted induced at 41 weeks and Myles was born on his due date, so I was pretty sure this one wouldn’t come early. I was so sure that I didn’t even bother to have Dr. Flowers check me at the 36, 38 or 39 week appointment. There was no point.
What ended up being my last appointment was the same day Kelley was headed home from his conference and 2 days before my due date. Even though I was absolutely sure I hadn’t made any progress, I decided to have Dr. Flowers check me anyway. And just like I thought, Dr. Flowers said, “your cervix is up high, thick and closed”. Shocker. I was hoping that being checked would spur some progress, but I wasn’t optimistic.
The next day turned out to be a day like any other. Both kids had school but instead of using my “free” time to do something productive, like pack my bag for the hospital, I did nothing except screw around on the computer, nap and beg this baby to come within the next 24 hours.
After picking up the kids from school, it occurred to me that I should probably make room for pictures on my iPhone in case the baby did decide to make an appearance, so I ushered the kids into the office/craft room to watch tv while I started downloading pictures to my computer. Two minutes later I was completely irritated with both of them. That should have been my first clue that labor was coming.
I sent the kids back to the living room and decided to catch up on some blog reading while I waited for the pictures to download. Coincidentally, I happened to be reading the birth story of my friend, Jill (from Baby Rabies), when I felt the first contraction. It was 4:23pm.
The contraction caught me off guard and I wasn’t even sure that it was a true contraction until the next one came a few minutes later. Instantly, my mind started racing. If this baby was coming tonight, I had a lot to do. Being the master procrastinator, I wasn’t at all prepared. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. I had typed out a packing list. But that was as far as I had gotten. I hadn’t even bothered to print it.
I was making a mental list of whom to text first when the third contraction hit me. I immediately texted Kelley and told him the baby was coming. Next I texted my mom, my sister and Angie and told my sister to come get the kids.
After the first few contractions, they slowed down to almost a standstill so I decided to check myself to see if I was dilated. Clearly I’m not a medical professional but I’m pretty familiar with my body so I decided to go for it. I wish you could have seen the look on The Husband’s face when I told him about this later! Anyway, I estimated that I was dilated a couple of centimeters so I knew this was it. That’s when I decided to text Dr. Flowers and tell her it was go time. I knew it would still be a while, but I wanted to give her a heads up. I also wanted her to know since I planned to get to the hospital early enough to avoid having another baby in the car!
My sister arrived soon after that to take the kids to her house. It was a good thing she showed up when she did because not only had I not packed my bag, I hadn’t packed theirs either. As I wandered around with a million things going through my head, Stacie (my sister) picked up my slack. I had decided not to tell the kids that the baby was coming because they were already bouncing off the walls about getting to go to Tia Stacie’s. The last thing I needed was a million questions about the baby!
Kelley made it home before the kids left and after moving the car seats into my sister’s car they were finally ready to go. That turned out to be a good thing considering her mental state. Stacie does not do well with blood (she’s a fainter) and every time I had a contraction, I could see the color drain from her face. Under normal circumstances I would have played it up to make her crazy, but since she was taking my kids, I thought it was better to help her get out of the house instead.
I kissed my babies knowing the next time I saw them, there would be 3, but I still didn’t mention anything. But Sydney must have sensed something was up because as she got in the car, she said “Maybe you’ll have the baby while we’re gone”. I didn’t think much of it since we’d been counting down the days until my due date on the calendar but clearly she knew something I didn’t.
Once they left, it was pretty quiet with just Kelley and me. For the first time since I felt the first contraction, I felt really relaxed. The contractions were still coming without a set pattern and they didn’t really seem to be getting stronger, so as is par for my labor course, I decided to jump in the shower so I could do my hair and makeup. Yes, I’m that girl. The one who wants to look good during labor.
After I got dressed, I finished packing. I was ready to go but Kelley’s BFF stopped by to pick up Cowboys tickets. The boys milled around for a while (like I didn’t have anywhere to be) and finally it was time to head out. It was right around 8:30pm and the contractions were getting stronger so I took one last picture and we were off. But not before I made Kelley stop and get me a sno-cone. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of the sno-cone lady’s face when I responded to her “When are you due?” question with “Right now!”
I don’t know much about hospitals but I guess Friday night isn’t action packed in the ‘burbs because the place was a ghost town. They’d done some remodeling since the last time I was there, so instead of heading straight to Labor and Delivery, I wandered the halls for a few minutes trying to figure out where I was supposed to be. Seriously, L&D should really be on the first floor.
My mom met me in the hallway and stayed with me while Kelley parked the car. After we got checked in and settled into the room, I quickly realized why women give birth at home! Due to various circumstances, I ended up not hiring a doula this time around. Which of course meant I would leave my Birth Plan with all of my birth preferences at the house. I had a copy on my laptop but I thought it would be easier to just give the nurse a basic overview. Except … contractions.
“Natural birth … don’t offer drugs … minimal monitoring …”
Sure, no problem. But first, we have to get an hour of consistent fetal monitoring before we can let you get out of the bed.
Seriously? How the hell am I supposed to labor comfortably sitting in the bed?
I tried to wait out the hour in the bed like a good patient but the contractions were getting stronger and I knew that wasn’t going to work. So I compromised by laboring on the bed in the most confortable position I could find … on all fours.
Angie showed up soon after and just like when I was in labor with Myles, it was a party. I had been trying to time the contractions on my Contraction Master app but if there’s one thing I really suck at, it’s that whole keeping track of time thing. Even though I was holding the phone in my hand, I would consistently forget to start or stop the app so it was hard for me to keep track of any pattern. Despite that, I could tell the contractions were picking up so I texted Dr. Flowers again to let her know where I was and soon after, the nurse came to check me and estimated me at around a 4.
Things were moving along pretty well and we spent the next hour talking and joking around while I alternated between walking and swaying, rocking on all fours and sitting on the labor ball. I know this sounds crazy, but I kinda dug being in labor. I loved being connected with my body and trusting the process. I was still able to talk through the contractions and as soon as I felt one coming on, I would get into position, breathe through it and then move on. And then things changed.
It was getting close to midnight when I got one really strong contraction followed by teeth chattering chills. That’s when I knew we were getting close. I called the nurse and asked her to start the whirlpool because I was ready to labor in the tub. She headed down the hall to start the water while me and my posse prepared to follow her. All of a sudden, I was freezing to death and the contractions were coming quicker. I knew it wasn’t time just yet but I also knew I needed to get in that tub quickly.
As soon as I stepped foot in the tub, an overwhelming feeling of relaxation came over me. The water was scalding hot but as soon as I sat down, it was instant relief. I’m not sure why I have no desire to have a water birth. For some reason, the idea freaks me out. But I love to labor in water and I totally understand why women give birth in water. It’s just not for me. That said, I could have sat in that tub all night!
Once I was settled in the tub, the party was up and running again. Kelley, Mom and Angie stayed in the room with me while I sat in the tub. The water temporarily slowed down the contractions but it wasn’t long before they picked up again. I told Kelley to run down to the nurse’s station to see if they had called Dr. Flowers yet and when he opened the door, there she was. Talk about service!
By that time, I had completely given up on timing the contractions and I was totally dependent on my body to tell me what was going on. The 5 of us had been hanging out in that tiny room talking for about a half an hour when suddenly I got a hot flash. I had been sitting in the whirlpool for about an hour and had been fine but out of nowhere, I was dripping with sweat. The nurse came back in to check the baby’s heartbeat and as soon as she finished, I knew it was time.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I said and tried to stand up. I was able to get about halfway up when I realized that I couldn’t get out of the tub. “I need some help. I can’t get out of the tub.” That’s when I started to panic a little. I really needed to pee and I didn’t want to pee on the floor but I also knew I couldn’t move quickly. Somehow Kelley and the nurse got me seated on the toilet but the urge to pee was gone and I had another urge. I looked up at Dr. Flowers who was standing in the doorway and said, “The baby’s coming now!”
This is when things went from zero to sixty. All of a sudden there was a wheelchair in front of me and I think someone draped me with a blanket. I tried to sit in the wheelchair but I couldn’t turn around. Then another contraction hit me. I grabbed the arms of the wheelchair desperately trying to keep it from moving. “I’m not gonna make it back to the room. The baby’s coming NOW!”
I looked up to see Dr. Flowers taking off her sweatshirt and all of a sudden she was behind me.
“How do you want to do this?” I heard her say.
“On my knees,” I responded.
“Okay,” she said.
I felt the urge to push and leaned into the wheelchair.
“Oh my God,” I moaned as another contraction hit me.
“The head’s already out,” Dr. Flowers said.
“Wait … what? The head’s out?” I was totally confused. I never felt the head come out and I hadn’t felt my water break but Dr. Flowers repeated herself, “The head is out!”
I pushed again and then one more time and I immediately felt the baby fall out of me. The relief was instant and as Dr. Flowers caught him, I turned around to see the baby. I was having a hard time because the umbilical cord was still attached and I couldn’t completely turn around but I was able to get a quick glimpse and yelled, “It’s a boy! Oh my God, it’s a boy!”
I spent the next few minutes trying to sit in the wheelchair while the nurses tried to suction the baby and cover us with warm blankets. Somehow I managed to swing my leg over and around the baby (and the umbilical cord). While everyone was laughing and talking, I was finally able to hold my baby. My nurse reminded me that I wanted to do skin-to-skin immediately and helped me tuck the baby inside my tank top.
As we paraded back down the hall to the delivery room, I think we were all in shock. Did that really just happen? First I give birth in a car and now in the whirlpool room? Only me. And it was so easy. It was like he just fell out of me. Even Dr. Flowers commented on how easy I made it look. The time between the first urge to push and the time he was actually born was a matter of minutes. 3 pushes and I had a baby! That’s when Dr. Flowers told me that the baby was born in the caul. I knew it!!
I thought something was strange because I never felt my water break. When Myles was born, it literally felt like a balloon had fallen out of my vagina when my water broke. But I never had that feeling this time. For about a half a second, I thought to ask when she said the head was out but he came so quickly, I never had a chance to ask. That’s when I remembered to ask what the official birth time was. I’d heard someone say 1:11am but when the nurse confirmed it, I got chills.
Angie had immediately Googled “babies born in the caul” and was sufficiently freaked out because there are several myths and superstitions associated with babies born in the amniotic sac. I choose to believe that caul babies are intuitive and psychically gifted. And as a believer in angels, 1:11 and 11:11 are the times when angels are trying to communicate with you.
Separate from each other, those things may not have meant anything to me but the combination confirmed what I believed. From the time I got married, I’d always felt like I was supposed to have 3 children. And even after miscarrying last spring, I still felt like there was another baby that was meant to be here. I didn’t just want a third child, I needed one.
We were standing around talking (Well, everyone else stood. I was still in the wheelchair) when I looked at Dr. Flowers and said, “I need to get in the bed. The placenta’s coming.” She literally laughed at me. “You make this so easy because you do everything for me!” she said. I don’t really remember delivering the placenta with Sydney and Myles but this time, it hurt. I think it hurt worse than delivering the baby!
Once I delivered the placenta, it was time to cut the cord. Kelley had already settled back into his chair so when Dr. Flowers asked him if he wanted to cut the umbilical cord, he declined. That’s when she asked me if I wanted to do it. Whoa! Really? I was all over that! I cut the cord and prepared to spend the night snuggled up with my baby boy.
And then there were 3. This is the family that I hoped and prayed for. If circumstances were different, I’d love to have a few more kids. But this is it. We’re done and my family is complete. I no longer feel like someone is missing. Jude Nathaniel Hall is here, the way it was meant to be. And now the real journey begins …