We never sent out birth announcements, so the above is what it would have looked like. ;-)
I debated for a while whether or not to blog this (the blog has been so silent over the past year!), but I, personally, LOVE reading birth stories. Each one is so unique and personal and beautiful. Whether it was spontaneous labor or a planned induction date; Vaginal delivery or C-Section; Unmedicated or fully drugged, carrying a baby and delivering that sweet newborn is INCREDIBLE no matter how you do it! So, with that in mind, I wanted to share mine! If this isn’t your sort of thing, then you may want to skip this one. ;-) Also, before I begin, I just want to say that I believe there is no “right way” to give birth. Every story and momma and baby are different, and everyone has the same end goal: a healthy baby and a healthy momma. I give mad props to those mommas who deliver completely unmedicated, and you know what? I give mad props to those mommas who deliver with epidurals too (that’s me haha, can I give props to myself?). :-) You are all amazing!! After Wyatt and Brynna’s births, I actually started feeling a little ashamed I had succomed to epidurals with both. With Wyatt, I was determined to have an unmedicated birth, but after laboring for 14+ hours with solely back labor, I couldn’t do it anymore, and went with the epidural (you can read his full birth story here and here). With Brynna’s birth, I was shocked they even gave me the epidural, seeing as how she was born a mere 20 minutes after they administered it (you can read her full birth story here). I found myself reading birth stories of people I didn’t know (Instagram explore tab for the win!), and some of them were a bit extreme in their dedication to unmedicated births, making me feel embarrassed or that somehow I wasn’t a good mom because I chose an epidural. I started to feel the pressure that this was the only “right” way to do it, and I wouldn’t be able to be proud of my birth if I went another route. However, the morning of his birth, I read a birth story that gave me SO much peace about getting the epidural. Gosh I wish I could find it, but I seem to have lost it. But anyways, it was like the Lord just knew what my heart needed to hear. I was no less of a momma if I chose to get an epidural. So I hope to pass that along to anyone who may be in the same boat. <3
One quick note, before I begin…we chose NOT to find out the sex of our baby this time around! With Wyatt we did a big gender reveal party, with Brynna, we found out at the ultrasound, and we decided we wanted to be surprised with our 3rd. We are both SO glad we did that! It was SO much fun not knowing, and added that extra layer of excitement to labor, wondering who we were going to meet!!
From early on in my pregnancy, one of the things that would legitimately keep me awake at night fretting about, was how I was going to get to the hospital, if I would even make it to the hospital, and what would happen with the kids. Wyatt’s birth was a good 23+ hours, but Brynna’s was 5 hours and we made it the hospital with only 45 minutes to spare (which is cutting it super close if you ask me!). I was terrified of this labor being even shorter than Brynna’s and giving birth in the car. Ben works nearly an hour away, so I knew that if I went into labor in the middle of the day, my parents would be the ones taking me to the hospital and helping with the kids. I knew that worrying about how it was all going to play out, was pointless (aren’t most worries!?) because there was nothing I could do about it. We did switch hospitals for this very reason though, as our old hospital was nearly an hour away and I surely was not going to repeat that drive again (the drive there with Brynna was probably one of the worst hours of my life). Our new hospital was still about 30 minutes away, but much closer! All this to say though, God worked it all out PERFECTLY. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect way, and a more perfect time for how it all played out.
It’s a funny thing, when your first two babies have come pretty early. Even though I was told from the getgo that the 3rd baby is often a wildcard, I couldn’t help but assume this one would come early like the others. When I reached 38 weeks (further than I ever had before), I was relieved. When I reached 39 weeks, I was over it. :-) I felt grossly overdue, even though, in reality, I still had a week left until my due date! From my 36 week appointment on, my doctor always came into the room with an excited, “You’re still pregnant!”
At my 39 week check-up (39 weeks and 1 day), my doctor asked me how I was feeling. At this point, I was really bummed that the baby hadn’t come when my sister was here the entire week before, and I was definitely ready to NOT be pregnant anymore (anyone with a 3 year old and a sweet but clingy 1 ½ year old would understand). She asked me if I was interested in her sweeping my membranes, saying that if my body was ready, this would be the nudge the baby would need to come. If my body wasn’t ready, then nothing would come of it. I decided to go for it, because what did I have to lose? My doctor was also in the hospital the following day, so we thought this would be a great chance of her being able to make it to my birth! I left the doctor’s office feeling crampy and weird, but that’s exactly what happens after a membrane sweep. I finished up some last errands on the way home, and called Ben and updated him, basically saying we could have a baby tonight, or we could have a baby next week…no way of knowing!
All afternoon I felt crampy, but nothing crazy, and there was no rhyme or reason to the cramps, and it was exactly what my doctor said I would be feeling, whether the baby was coming or not. Ben got home around 5, and started in on making a coffee cake (no idea why this day in particular, but he had been craving one for a while haha). I was still just feeling crampy off and on at this point, but as I started in to making dinner I thought I would at least start timing the cramps, to see if they were coming at regular intervals. I downloaded a contraction timer, and at 5:47pm, timed my first contraction. For the next half hour or so (as I made spaghetti for dinner – ooooo was our kitchen a disaster when we came home a couple days later!), I watched as everything started at about 2 ½ minutes apart for 45 seconds or so, give or take. By 6:30 I definitely noticed a pattern (seriously, those contraction timers are AMAZING, I don’t know why I never used one for my other two), and Ben and I decided that it was probably best for my dad to come and get the kids. I ate a few bites of my dinner, but things were definitely getting a little stronger, and I realized that I needed to get into the bath. As I tried to keep conversation going with the kids, without letting on the pain that was coming in waves, I mentioned to Wyatt that it looked like Goosie (the nickname of our baby) was coming soon. He looked at me and said, “I will come visit you in the morning and you can introduce me to Pst Pst!” (It was our long running joke that he wanted to name the baby Pst Pst…he thought it was HILARIOUS, and I love that he threw it in right at the end). But this just made me want to cry big, fat, happy, sappy momma tears. I hugged the kiddos before I headed upstairs, doing my best to hold in my tears because I knew everything was going to change from that moment on (even though they had no idea, they were just stoked to have a surprise sleepover with their grandparents!), and as exciting as it was, it was also a bit heartbreaking…one more stage over.
I was in our bath for what seems like a very short time looking back, but was probably a good hour. Contractions were getting stronger, but I was still able to easily breathe through them and talk in between. I figured we still had a while before we had to head to the hospital. Thank goodness Ben insisted we head in when we did. I kept telling him, “no, I can still talk through these! We’re good!” but he kept insisting it was probably time. By the time we got everything together and headed to the car, it was a little after 8pm. As we turned out of our driveway, Ben floors the gas, speeding off up our road, almost running smack into a rather large family of deer who chose that moment to meander across the street. :-) I assured him that I wasn’t going to give birth in the car, and that he was ok to drive normally.
About half way to the hospital, I noticed a huge change in my contractions. They became noticeably stronger, noticeably harder, and they came at a much faster rate. I had stopped timing at this point, but they were probably every 2 minutes apart, if not quicker (my labors have always progressed extremely quickly to contractions every 2 minutes apart…even Wyatt’s, whose labor was 23+ hours, my contractions were 2 minutes apart about 5 hours into labor…that was awful). I could still tell I wasn’t necessarily close to pushing, but things were definitely progressing nicely. As we drove to the hospital, I told Ben that I was going to get the epidural. I had been wavering back and forth the entire pregnancy on if I wanted one, and I could audibly hear him breathe a sigh of relief. ;-) When we got to the hospital, Ben ran in to the ER to grab me a wheelchair (there was NO way I could walk in myself at this point), and wheeled me up to L&D. I had initially asked for a tub room, but was happy to inform them that I would just like the epidural, so they could save the tub room for another brave soul who was going to do it naturally. :-) The nurses told me, “We love epidurals!” Haha. Once they got me into the bed, they checked me and I was at a 4, only a slight improvement from my 3 earlier that day. I had had a feeling I wasn’t quite as far along as I was with Brynna (where I arrived at a 6), so it also helped me “relax” (if that’s even possible during the unmedicated part of labor), knowing we had made it to the hospital in plenty of time. They put in the order for my epidural, and I proceeded to labor with very hard contractions for the next hour-ish (these things take time!).
At one point, the nurse told me that they normally like to ensure that patients have an entire bag of fluid in them before they get the epidural, at which point I looked up at my bag, and it was still probably 80% full. Ha, yikes!! She then told me that they were going to make an exception for me since I was progressing very quickly, and that the anesthesiologist was moseying her way down to my room…and she literally did mosey in! It kind of made me laugh, despite the pain. After about 15 minutes after getting the epidural, the drugs were in full effect. The major pain was gone, even though I could still feel every contraction…they were much more bearable at this point, and exactly the way I had been hoping. With my epidural during Wyatt’s labor, I was SO numb, I had no idea what was happening, and didn’t even know when he was actually coming. With my epidural during Brynna’s labor, I could still feel every single thing, it just took the edge off, and that is exactly what I had been hoping for with this one too. I liked feeling everything, but much preferred it a muted feeling. ;-) I couldn’t actually talk through my contractions, but they were bearable, kind of like early labor.
At this point, the nurse told me that they had called my doctor. I mentioned that she had told me she wanted to be at my birth, but I wasn’t sure about the timing. My nurse told me that so often patients tell them that their doctor had said they wanted to be there, but it isn’t necessarily true…but my doctor had written it in my chart, and she had told the nurse she was on her way. LOVE my doctor!! My doctor showed up around 9:30 and checked me, and at that point I was around 6cm, so she assumed I had another hour or so to go. For the next hour, I labored through my muted contractions and Ben and I chatted and joked and tried to guess what baby Goosie was going to be. Ben kept our families apprised of the situation and my mom, his parents, and one of his brothers all showed up in the waiting room. Around 10:30, I felt my body shift, and felt the urge to push. We called my doctor, she checked me and confirmed I was ready to go!
Pushing is so strange to me. You concentrate SO HARD on what you are doing, and you hear everyone around you saying encouraging things like “great job!” “you’re doing so well!” or “that was a great one!”, but really, you have no idea if they are being truthful or not. ;-) After my first set of pushes, they had to rearrange my bed a bit so that I had something to grab onto, and that made a huge difference. A couple more pushes, and our baby BOY was born at 10:39pm!! One thing that I hadn’t realized was that if you don’t know the sex of the baby beforehand, they let the dad announce it. I think that’s the coolest thing! As I was getting ready to push, my doctor asked Ben if he was going to be the one to announce it (ensuring that no one else in the room accidentally said it before Ben could), and I loved that! In all honesty, it was quite obvious to me that Cole was a boy before Ben got around to saying it (he was choked up in the moment), but goodness I loved hearing it from him! It’s a BOY!! A boy with a very healthy, hearty set of lungs at that, haha.
Also, a quick shout-out to my dad who self-lessly watched our 2 older kiddos for us, meaning he couldn’t wait at the hospital with the other grandparents. He was a lifesaver, grabbing our kiddos, and we so appreciate it!!!
The next hour was filled with skin to skin time between our sweet boy and me, followed by all the hospital rituals (weighing, foot print, etc) and then introducing him to our sweet family members waiting in the lobby. In that hour when it was just the 3 of us (and the nurses and doctor stitching and cleaning me up), Ben and I threw out names. He opened up the list I had on my phone, and that’s where he first threw out Cole. Funny thing is, I had it on my list, but I had totally forgotten I had it. I was surprised when he told me he got it from my list. As soon as he said it, I think we both felt it was right, but we needed a bit of time…really we needed time to make sure it fit him, and to decide on a middle name. The obvious meaning of Cole is “dark”, and we wanted something to balance that out, so we went on a search. We landed on “Lucas” which means “light bringer”, and we loved the intertwined meanings. Cole can also mean “victorious”, as a shortened version of Nicholas, so his name can also mean “Victorious Light Bringer” which is really, really cool.
My parents brought Wyatt and Brynna to visit us the next morning, and meet their new little brother. The first thing they say to us when they walk in the room…”what snacks do you have here?” :-) Ha! They are such kids! And then they played on my bed (up and down and up and down) for so long, but it was fun to have them visit! That first day was amazing, but tough too. Having a baby so late in the night means VERY little sleep. By the time we finally got settled into our Momma-Baby room and all acquainted with our nurse and everything that invovles, it was around 2am. I think I got a collective 30 minutes of sleep that first night (thus the exhausted look in the image above), something I am still recovering from today, because, let’s be honest, who sleeps well in the first 3 months of a babies life?! Not I! But although I was utterly exhausted, the day was so, so, so sweet! It was so fun not knowing if we were having a boy or girl, and that made that first day with Cole that much more special. It took us most of the day to finally settle and agree on a first and middle name for our sweet baby boy, but once we did, we knew it was perfect.
I’m often asked if going from 2 to 3 was harder than going from 1 to 2, and honestly? For me, I would say no (Ben would say yes). ;-) Brynna was a HARD baby (shes’s still a really tough toddler), and Wyatt was 20.5 months when Brynna was born. It was hard learning to balance everything, AND we were in the midst of purchasing our house and doing renovations on it, while living with my parents for the first 3 months of Brynna’s life. Now? We’re happily settled in our house, and Wyatt and Brynna are the BEST of friends. They play so well together, Wyatt is Brynna’s “calm” when she needs it, and they are both AMAZING with Cole. Brynna and Cole are about 21 months apart, and she is much more interested in him than Wyatt was with her at this stage. Cole is a pretty chill baby (at least in terms of our babies), and he just kind of goes with the flow of our days, which is so helpful! There are definitely times that are hard balancing 3, but overall, I would say the transition has been easier than I thought. We have our fair share of really hard days (we DO have 3, 3 and under), but we have our fair share of wonderful days as well. My recovery was also a LOT faster this time around. I don’t know if it was because my body just thought, “Oh this again? I’ve got it, you’re good,” or what, but things went really well on that end as well.
This next one obviously wasn’t the shot I envisioned, but hey, it’s real life right? Brynna was SO happy and smiley right before these, but then I made her take off Wyatt’s green froggy rainboots, and she was not happy (I wish I had just left them on!), and Wyatt was sad we pulled him away from a show haha. Life. ;-)
Cole has been an incredible addition to our family…someone we knew was missing, but weren’t exactly sure who. We love our little Cole SO much! And, if you’re interested here’s a few more images from his early days at home.
I had the vision for the image with the greens and berries before Cole was born, thinking that went well with Christmas time. And then, after shooting those, I found the plaid scarf below and went for a cozier look, which I love even more!
Hospital images above are a mix from my phone and from my dad.
The full family pictures were taken by my best friend, and edited by me.
I took all the other newborn images.