As luck would have it, I didn’t have to wait until 42 weeks to meet our baby. On Saturday, October 12th at 40 weeks and 5 days, I had 9 noticeable contractions. Just 9, and they were really far apart and pretty wimpy feeling. But still- I was just excited to have had an actual contraction.
The next morning, Sunday, October 13th, I was woken by another contraction. A contraction strong enough to bring me out of a deep sleep and make me think, “Huh, that was interesting.”
A few minutes later, I felt another. I almost brushed it off because there was no way I was in labor at 40 weeks 6 days. Waite babies do not come that early! But for my own entertainment, I decided to track them. 4 minutes passed and I contracted again. Another 4 minutes and another contraction. Then 5 minutes passed, another contraction. I was intrigued. Could the full moon actually “work its magic” and trigger labor a full week earlier than I expected?
I continued tracking contractions throughout the day and for 16 hours they came every 4 to 10 minutes and lasted for 30 seconds each. They weren’t overly annoying and didn’t stop me from living life, but they were definitely happening. I made banana bread muffins for the kiddos for breakfast and we enjoyed some family time in the morning. Then we went to church and I wore 5-inch stiletto heels, just like I did the day I was in labor with Lincoln. My labor and delivery nurse bestie sat by me in church and watched me track my contractions. She was sure things were happening. I, on the other hand, talked myself out of believing there was even a slight chance this baby could actually be coming.
After church, Cecelia offered to make dinner while I relaxed. By this point, the contractions were starting to wear me out but they were still nowhere near strong enough for me to consider it active labor. I put the kiddos to bed but Lincoln asked me so sweetly if he could have a late-night with me. I was starting to feel super emotional (perhaps a lesser-known sign of labor?) so I agreed to him staying up. We watched a movie and snuggled in my room while I continued to time contractions. Still 5 to 10 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds.
Around 10pm, just shortly after Lincoln had fallen asleep, my contractions changed. They got farther apart! To some, this might seem like a step backward, but as I look back on my deliveries, I’m now seeing a pattern. My contractions went from being, at most, 10 minutes apart to now stretching from 10 to 15 or even 20 minutes apart. But! They were lasting a full minute to a minute and a half. I was starting to get super restless and antsy. I called Scott at work and asked him to head home.
He walked in around 10:30 and basically asked: “now what?”. And to be completely honest, I wasn’t really sure! I didn’t feel ready to go to the hospital but the restlessness also made me sure I needed Scott close. I wandered the house pretty aimlessly. I made sure my hospital bag and the car seat were ready to go. And I fidgeted. A lot. A little after midnight, I asked Scott to call his dad to come to stay with the kiddos. My contractions were still relatively bearable (in the grand scheme of things) but I was ready to go.
We woke Cecelia to come sleep in our bed, so my father in law could lay down in her room and rest. Plus, if Lincoln woke up during the night and came to our room, he would have someone to snuggle with. I really wanted Cecelia and Eva to come to the hospital with us, just like they had when Lincoln was born but Scott was so skeptical that I was actually in labor and wasn’t having it. I was almost in tears as I knew Eva would be so disappointed if she woke up and found out the baby had arrived without her. Cecelia could tell I was upset and she fought for her sister. She convinced Scott that Eva had to go to the hospital with us and she graciously said she would stay home to help with the boys. It was the sweetest thing!
I called my birth photographer and told her to head to the hospital, just in case. Then I got Eva up and we headed out. The drive to the hospital took about 20 minutes during which I had only one or two contractions. Scott was even more skeptical that this was the real deal.
Around 1am we arrived at the hospital and entered through the ER. I’m pretty sure the nurses checking us in thought I was nuts. To the outside observer (and Scott) I didn’t appear to be in labor AT ALL. Up in triage I was given a gown and told I could just put it on over my dress if I wanted to, in case I wasn’t admitted. I went ahead and changed fully because I finally believed that I was not going home, even if no one else believed it yet! I had two sizable contractions while in the bathroom changing and another two while being asked approximately 500 questions about my health history.
Finally, the triage nurse asked if I wanted to be checked for dilation. Up until this point, I had refused being checked at all my midwife appointments but I was ready. I wanted to know that something was actually happening. Scott kind of shook his head, saying he bet I was only a 2 or a 3. When the nurse announced I was a 5, Scott was shocked. The nurse went on to say that she would call my midwife to confirm but that she was pretty sure I was staying.
I told Scott there was no way I was going home. We’ve done this a time or two before and we both knew what was about to happen. Once I get to 5 centimeters, I’m having a baby in a hurry.
My midwife Amanda also knew what dilating to a 5 means for me. She told them to admit me and that she was heading our way. Less than 30 minutes later she walked into the delivery room. Things had been interesting up to this point. The nurses struggled to place my IV which is always fun. In between contractions I felt great and was laughing and joking with everyone, even showing Eva how to use my phone so she could be the one to text the news of the baby’s arrival.
But once a contraction came, the back labor was pretty intense and I could not relax or calm myself. My delivery nurse was awesome and would massage my back during each contraction and Eva was so sweet and held my hand tight in support. Amanda gave me my options saying she could rupture my water or we could wait things out and if I wanted, she could check me again to see if things were progressing. I said I wanted to wait things out but that I would like to be checked again and see if I was dilated further. And I was. 7 centimeters. A few more intense contractions and some pressure had me asking to be checked again. 9 centimeters.
And this is where things got really intense. My back labor was so bad and my contractions were suddenly coming one on top of another. There was literally no relief in between. I forgot EVERYTHING I knew about delivering a baby and was almost in tears because I couldn’t remember how to push and I couldn’t relax. Eva struggled with seeing me struggle and she started to cry. My midwife was amazing, explaining to Eva that while I was in pain, it was momentary and soon we would have a baby. One of the nurses, Tiff, took Eva under her wing and held her close as I tried to push.
The pushing is still a bit of a blur. Thank goodness for birth photographers! I remember saying I couldn’t push, that I didn’t remember how. I remember being told I needed to push and someone saying that the cord was around the baby’s neck. That scared me. I’ve seen enough births to know that cords can cause problems! I did my best to push productively while Amanda worked her magic, making sure the cord didn’t get too tight around the baby’s neck. I think at some point, she told me to feel my baby and guided my hands down to the baby’s head. Scott was helping to catch and Eva was by my head, still teary but watching intently as our baby came into the world.
Once the cord was safely removed from around the baby’s neck, I gave one final push and she was out. They held her up and I remember thinking “this baby doesn’t look like any of my others!” I immediately started asking if it was a girl and no one was answering me. I thought I got a glimpse and all I could say was “It’s a girl, right? Am I right? Is it a girl?” I had felt for so long that a girl was supposed to join our family and when I finally knew that she was here, I felt such peace and such relief. Our family was finally complete!
Nora Ann Ivy was born at 2:18 and by 2:22, Eva had my phone and was texting everyone she could think of, announcing that it was a girl. Did I mention it was 2:22 AM?? Scott realized what she was doing and told her to leave people alone. But then the phone started buzzing as everyone who had been anxiously awaiting the news started to reply. Eva took her job of announcing Nora’s arrival very seriously and had Scott help her take a picture to send out. Nicole, my friend who works at the hospital I delivered at (but wasn’t working that night) asked if she could come meet the baby and was at the hospital by 3. She found Nora a cute bow hat and sat with me while Scott ran Eva home to get some sleep before school.
Before she left, Eva helped Scott cut the cord and then snuggled with Nora and I. It was a sweet moment and those photographs are some of my favorites from the delivery. I know Eva will forever remember being part of Nora’s birth, even if it was a little intense at the end.
One thing everyone commented on in the delivery room was how perfectly round Nora’s head was. We think that the intense back labor came from her being in an awkward position that kept her head from being in the birth canal, which typically causes baby heads to cone a little bit. She must have moved herself into the perfect birthing position immediately before she was actually born, not giving her sweet head any time to take on a funny shape because her head was (and still is) perfectly round.
It took some time before I was ready to let Nora out of my hands but eventually, my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know her stats. My guess was the lower end of the 7-pound range, so I was SHOCKED when she weighed in at 8 pounds 5 oz, making her my second biggest baby. Turner was 8 pounds 5.5 ounces. And he was born at 41 weeks 6 days. Imagine if she had waited another 6 days to arrive!
After a few hours in the delivery room we were moved to our recovery room where I couldn’t stop staring at my perfect little bonus baby with her round face and pouty lower lip. She is the sweetest little thing and we all just adore her. While it took a while to get her here, she was absolutely 100% worth the wait.