I’ve been so excited to write out Theodore’s birth story, but it’s taken me a while to get the photos edited and to feel like I could sit at my desk and write it! Life is just a bit busy now, you know!
If you’re not into reading birth stories, you can just skip over this post. But I thought it was appropriate to post on Labor Day! ha!
I’m not exactly sure when to say Theodore’s labor began, since I had prodromal labor for about two weeks. I would have contractions for several hours at a time, but they didn’t get stronger or closer together, so I knew they weren’t real (when they stopped). But on Saturday and Sunday night, I started experiencing ones that felt much more “real.” They were stronger than I had had before, and that, combined with other symptoms I was having, made me know that things were definitely getting close.
Tad’s mom came down Sunday night (she was planning on watching the children for us when we went to the hospital), so on Monday I really felt relaxed knowing she was already here (she lives 2 1/2 hours away). I had an appointment with my midwife that morning, and I was 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. We spent some time walking around town that morning.
Monday evening we went to our park which has a track and we sped-walked around for quite a while, for a total of 3 miles. I knew that walking can really help you dilate when you’re already somewhat effaced! I was so tired and sore when we got home, and when I got out of the shower around 8PM I was pretty sure labor was beginning for real (though my confidence was shaken because of all the prodromal labor!). Tad, his mom, and I played Dutch Blitz and Fast Scrabble, then Tad went to bed and I labored for a few more hours.
I texted some of my friends around 2AM to tell them I was in early labor, but that we weren’t heading to the hospital until things got stronger. I decided to lay down and take a nap, hoping that I would wake up in stronger labor. Around 3:30 I woke up, alarmed that I wasn’t having contractions anymore. I frantically woke up Tad. I texted my mom, and she called me. I told her I just knew I was in labor, and I needed to “do something” to get it going again! She assured me that what I most needed was some rest, and that my body would pick back up where it left off the next morning.
Rest was exactly what I needed, so I went to bed and slept for about three hours. I woke up to a contraction around 6:30AM and started getting ready for my day. My bags were of course packed, but I added my last-minute things, got ready, and ate a hearty breakfast of oatmeal with honey and dates. I read that often times when a labor starts slowly and naturally, your body will take a break in the night, but after a breakfast of oatmeal, the labor pattern will be restored. Spoiler alert: that’s what happened!
Tad and I decided to load the car and head to the track to do some more walking. We walked another two miles around the track (with contractions picking up again… about three a lap) before I got too hot and wanted to walk somewhere air conditioned. We drove to the town where our hospital is (about 30 minutes away) and headed to the mall to do some more power walking.
I had to take a picture with the expectant mother sign, because, could I BE more expectant?? Well, maybe if I were overdue!
From 10:30-11:30 we walked briskly around the mall. At 11:30AM I decided to call my practice and see if they wanted me to come in and get checked. They did, so we got there around noon for an “Am I really in labor?” exam. My midwife told me I was a good 4cm (and she stretched me to a near 5cm), 50% effaced, and definitely in labor. She could tell by the fact that I was still talking/happy during contractions that I didn’t need to head to the hospital yet (though I was welcome to whenever I felt ready). I told her I would head in when things started to get intense, but that we’d stay in town so we’d be close by.
Meanwhile, my mom was on her way down and was about an hour away. Tad and I decided to go to Panera for lunch (such a huge perk of spending your early labor not in the hospital… eating and drinking freely!). I got a bowl of chicken noodle soup, a baguette, and a smoothie. I didn’t feel hungry, but I ate so I’d have the energy I needed! While we were in Panera, I had several “bigger” contractions, and as we walked to the car (not a long way), I had three more close together. I felt like I wanted to head to my “birthing nest” and get settled in. I can’t explain it… I knew the birth wasn’t imminent, but I knew I “needed” to get to my hospital while I still could talk through the contractions to answer questions at check-in.
We arrived at the hospital around 1:30PM or so, but by the time we got all checked into the room, it was about 2:00PM. My mom arrived shortly after that, and I hugged her, saying that Baby Apricot had just been waiting for her to get here!
I didn’t have to be hooked up to anything. I just had a saline lock in case it was needed later. Every hour they wanted to do a few minutes of monitoring, so I was free to move around (walk the halls, sit on the birthing ball, stand, etc.) during labor. I actually could sit on the ball during the monitoring, thanks to my nurse who held the monitors in place!
My contractions continued to get stronger, but laboring 100% naturally felt very different than my last two labors where I was on Pitocin. On Pitocin, the contractions were extremely regular and didn’t come with breaks. My contractions this time were easier to manage and gave me more breaks where I was able to rest. I was not in pain during my labor at any point. Things felt intense at times, but not painful.
Throughout my labor at the hospital, we listened to this album, which gave me so much encouragement. My mom kept cool washcloths on my neck and rubbed my back.
I remember at one point my mom saying to Tad that I was getting more focused on the contractions. Tad asked me if I could still talk through them, and in my head I thought, “I could talk through them, but I don’t want to!” I must have been nearing transition at that point.
During each contraction, especially as they got stronger and longer, Tad put counter pressure on my lower back and would shake my hips back and forth (a technique we learned from this book). It felt great!
Around 4:00PM I knew things were getting close. At 4:20PM my midwife Lisa checked me and said I was 8cm! She asked if I wanted her to break my water, and I said yes! After she broke my water I wanted to use the bathroom. While I was in there, I started feeling the way I feel right before it’s time to push. Tad heard me vocalizing through a contraction and said that the baby would be here in less than 20 minutes!
Lisa came in and I assured her that, no, I was not going to give birth on the toilet and that I was coming out!
I clung to Tad as I had a strong contraction in between the bathroom and the bed. We swayed back and forth and I felt his strength. It was such a beautiful moment during my labor!
I had the birthing chair in the room and I had been planning on using it, but my midwife asked me if I wanted to try something different. She suggested I lean up against the back of the hospital bed (raised at a 90 degree angle), leaning on a stack of pillows, and push while on my knees. I agreed. My mom gave me ice chips, and Tad, my nurse, my midwife, and my mom all rubbed my back.
My body took over for me and brought the baby down. I didn’t feel like “I” was doing anything except not fight against my body. I knew we were close, but I didn’t know that the contraction that caused him to crown was “the one”! As I felt him crowning I breathed through one contraction without pushing, then pushed out his head with the next one. I reached down and could feel his head and the cord, pulsing and loosely wrapped around his neck. I pushed again for his shoulders and grabbed his slippery body, bringing him up to me.
At 4:46PM, Theodore Haddon was born. “It’s a boy!” we shouted. I struggled to maneuver my body to a comfortable position, as I was currently on my knees, hovering over a “tarp” filled with blood and everything else! The position was great for pushing, but a bit tricky to get out of!
I was so excited to hold my beautiful boy!
He didn’t cry right as he came out, which I have now learned is common for babies born to mothers who are not in pain while giving birth. When the mother isn’t traumatized, often the baby is not either! He was so calm and peaceful as he entered the world, though he did cry a few moments later.
He was so pink and perfect, with an Apgar score of 9. I just couldn’t believe he was here! In some ways his labor felt long (days of prodromal labor!!), but the “active” labor was actually quite short compared with my other births. We were only at the hospital about three hours before he arrived!
Fun little note: I once again wore my pearl earrings that I wore at all my other births and on my wedding day.
I loved having about an hour of skin-to-skin contact with Theodore immediately after birth. He breastfed during that time and we definitely bonded!
Tad was so happy to have another son join our family. He was so supportive during my labor! Could not have done it without him!
My sweet boy had dark hair like his big sister Vera did when she was born.
After the cord stopped pulsing (45 minutes, maybe?), Tad cut it. We do delayed cord clamping so that our babies get all of that valuable cord blood that is so beneficial.
I really enjoyed having Theodore all to myself for a while.
I grabbed a picture with my midwife and nurse before my midwife had to leave! They were both so great and so supportive of me during my natural birth.
This would have been a really sweet photo if Theodore hadn’t decided to spit up exactly as the picture was being taken! #reallife
After our “magic hour” of bonding, Theodore was weighed and measured. He weighed 7 lbs. 12.5 oz. and was 20.5 inches long (the same length as all of my other babies)!
Tad got to hold him for the first time.
My mom also got a well-deserved turn holding him after driving down from VA to be at the birth! She was an amazing support and encouragement to me as I labored.
I grabbed a super quick shower to get cleaned up, then grabbed that sweet baby again!
I felt great… the endorphins rushing through your body after giving birth are awesome!
I am so, so thankful that God gave us our precious Theodore on August 25 (three days before his due date… is this real life??)! I am also tremendously grateful that I was able to have the natural birth I so desired, and that I had amazing people surrounding me to support me. It was a beautiful birth and I will always treasure the memory of it.
We are so very blessed.