A final birth story…

We welcomed our third child in November 2021! We call her “baby sister” and every once in a while by her name, Audrey.

Natural childbirth is a powerful experience. I am proud and humbled at the same time to have experienced it three times. With that being said, I also feel a sense of relief that I don’t have to do it again. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting and I’m happy to say our family is complete.

The support team…

Have you ever had someone in your life that you feel you were destined to meet? Daphney is that person for us. She was our nurse for our first child’s birth and retired shortly after. She then returned as our doula for our second AND third birth. This beautiful soul helped all of my babies come into this world. My only regret is not thinking to get a photo of her with my first born at birth.

Daphney & Audrey

My husband, Darren. Going through childbirth with him makes me realize how good of a team we are. He’s all-in with my natural birth choices and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect partner.

The details…

At 38 weeks & 3 days pregnant we had a kid-free weekend planned to get some things finished around the house to prepare for baby sister’s arrival (like the nursery!). That Thursday night I lost my mucus plug in the middle of the night and felt crampy when I got back in bed. The next morning I took the boys to swim lessons and felt a couple of mild contractions. I had a feeling baby sister was not planning on letting us have a kid-free weekend! My mom came to get our two boys (4.5 & 2 years old) as planned on Friday afternoon and I let her know about my early labor signs.

I started timing my contractions Friday evening and they were closer than I thought, about 5-8 minutes apart. I would classify them as mild contractions but I still had to stop and breathe through them. Darren and I ordered in sushi (vegetable sushi for me, of course) and I took a shower while Darren started packing the car. I had been texting with my doula, Daphney, to keep her up to date and she encouraged me to try to fully fall asleep between contractions since they were mild. I got in bed at 8:00pm and slept for about 20 minutes at a time all through the night. We left for the hospital the next morning (Saturday) at around 9:00am and I was admitted at 3cm dilated.

Once we got to the labor room, I got in the tub and enjoyed riding out my contractions in the warm water and talking with Daphney and Darren. My water had not broken yet and my contractions were still mild to moderate on the pain scale. Once I got out, I moved around from sitting on the bed to laying to standing. As my contractions got more intense, I stood and hugged Darren around the neck while rocking back and forth (“the labor dance”) and that was my favorite position for a while. I found lots of comfort in just holding Darren’s hand through my contractions when we weren’t “dancing.”

By that afternoon, I was so tired from not sleeping well the night before that I really wanted to go to sleep. I even told Darren that getting and epidural and going to sleep until it was time to push was sounding really nice. But he didn’t even entertain the idea since he knew that’s not really what I wanted.

Taking a break after a contraction (photo by Daphney)

I had a few bouts of nausea (usually after a contraction was over) and agreed take medication to help. It seemed to work at first but as my labor progressed it was like I hadn’t even taken medication.

At some point around 5:30-6:00pm I consulted with the OB on call and asked if having my water broken would speed things up. She said yes, broke my water, and immediately my contractions were more intense and painful. I sat on the bed for most of them and was nauseous a few more times (the vomiting and riding a contraction at the same time was my least favorite). Next, I laid on my left side and held Darren’s hand through the contractions. I suddenly felt the urge to push and while pushing I hugged Darren around the neck and let out a guttural scream. After one push I could feel her head and said “Is that her head? Pull her out!” With the next contraction I pushed and she was all the way out. I was exhausted and just laid there while Darren said “don’t put your leg down, she’s laying on the bed.” When she came out the cord was wrapped around her neck and body and Darren later said the doctor was “unwrapping her” and once the cord was long enough to give her to me they put her on my chest. The nurse warned me that she had some bruising since she came out so fast and that she was fine and it would go away quickly. Her eyelids and forehead were a purplish color when I first saw her and I feel it was due to her head being halfway out in between contractions. The nurse then did her evaluation of baby on my chest and Darren cut the cord after it stopped pulsing.

(Photo by Daphney)

Once she was on my chest and I got settled more comfortably on the bed, I looked at Darren and he looked very worried and emotional. He later told me that it was really hard seeing me in pain and I scared him with the screaming. Then she came out with the cord wrapped around her neck and he said time stood still. But she started crying and the doctor and nurses were all calm so that helped.

Daphney said that the fact that my water stayed in tact for most of my labor was a good thing that she was in the fluid with the cord loose around her neck. If it had broken earlier it could have gotten tight (and possibly caused distress that hopefully would have been picked up by the intermittent fetal monitoring).

In the next hour they took her measurements, weighed her and Darren held her for the first time. Once we got to our room Darren mentioned how crazy, emotional, and intense it is then just a few short hours later we’re sitting in a room relaxing with a new baby as if all of the screaming and contractions were a distant memory.

Born at 6:41pm. This photo taken at 11:08pm.

Labor did feel different this time. With my last two I felt the urge to push with every contraction from pretty early on. Maybe that was because my water had broken and it hadn’t this time? Looking back I should have warned someone that I felt the urge to push since she came out in 2 pushes! The urge came on so quickly that I didn’t think to alert anyone.

I was also a little scared this time. With my first I was scared of the unknown; with my second I had a false sense of confidence because I had done it before. Then my second labor was so different than my first that I was back to being afraid of the unknown for my third. I don’t know if I was afraid of the pain or that something was wrong with the baby (like a cord around the neck, perhaps) but either way, I was emotional.

The yoga…

Our lack of. I made it to ONE prenatal yoga class this pregnancy. I struggled with prioritizing time for myself with 2 small children. We also moved into a new house and I focused on unpacking roughly a gajillion boxes. However, I enjoy decorating and turning our new house into a home so while not yoga, it was good for my soul.

The yoga-ish things I did make time for: a lot of deep breathing before bed each night and poses that could be done in my PJ’s in the bed. Hero’s pose is my favorite pregnancy pose. There’s something about the way it stretches my knees and ankles after being on my feet all day that just hits the spot!

Life as a family of FIVE…

Since the boys couldn’t visit us in the hospital (Covid precautions) they didn’t meet baby sister in person until we got home (although we did have some really cute FaceTime chats). They have both exceeded our expectations in their big brother roles. With Walker having just turned two, I was worried that he wouldn’t understand a baby being in my arms all the time but he has adjusted very well and loves his “baby sisser.”

I ended up with mastitis at 10 days postpartum and it was miserable. Thankfully, my mom was off work and was able to help me while Darren went back to work. With the stress of sickness and having three small kids, I wasn’t eating and drinking enough and my milk supply took a big hit. I didn’t realize it until Audrey started losing weight which was very scary. I had an in-home lactation consult with an IBCLC and she gave me a plan to triple feed and power pump (along with supplements and lots of quality high-calorie snacks and electrolyte drinks). Following her plan was hard work but it worked and Audrey was above birth weight in a weeks time. We are still working hard on our breastfeeding goals but I feel like I can see the light.

We are so grateful for our amazing friends and family that have really stepped up to help us with the boys, dinner, and even giving me their frozen breastmilk to get Audrey & I through my supply dip. I know we won’t have small children forever and we’re trying to enjoy the small moments around the chaos. Having high quality friends & family definitely helps ease that chaos and we don’t know what we’d do without you (you know who you are and we love you BIG).

Love & baby snuggles,

Beau’s birth story: A birth story…

Walker’s birth story: Another birth story…

A birth story… 

14 hours of labor starting at 10:00am, ending with 3.5 hours of pushing and the most amazing ending at 11:57pm on February 25, 2017.

You should know that the majority of this post comes from writing on my wordpress phone app during 2am nursing sessions. I apologize in advance for typos and grammatical errors… let’s just call it baby induced insomnia writing.

My due date was Monday, February 20 and this magical thing happened… pregnancy became unbearably annoying. I was cruising along loving pregnancy except for the occasional ache and back pain. But on Monday my body decided to rebel against being pregnant and I was miserable. My back hurt constantly, I couldn’t sleeep, and I just felt enormous. Four days of this and I was ready to get this baby out! Maybe that’s what the third trimester is for… mentally preparing you for the next stage.

On Saturday morning my husband, Darren had gone to the office to get a few things done and I was hanging on the couch with my heating pad trying to get comfortable. At about 10:00am I started to have intense period like cramps but didn’t think they were contractions. As they got more intense and seemed to come in waves I called a friend for advice. I invisioned contractions being this whole-belly tightening like I had experienced with Braxton Hicks but for me that wasn’t the case. My friend said it sounded like early labor to her and so I started timing my contractions.

I was sitting on an exercise ball and leaning on the couch for support during the contractions and thought I had it under control… until I called my husband. It’s like hearing his voice made me realize how much I needed him and I broke down in tears. He rushed home and started packing the car, completing his list of things to do, and cleaning up my vomit (yep).

After talking with the doctor we headed to the hospital at about 1:00pm. I rode to the hospital in the back seat on my knees hugging the head rest. My water broke in the car and it wasn’t like I imagined either. There was no gush of fluid, just a feeling like I had just accidentally wet myself.

When we finally got to the delivery room I was freezing. I had been cold most of the morning and had a blanket around me and it definitely didn’t get better in that paper gown. As soon as they finished my hep lock IV port I got in the labor tub. The warm water felt amazing. I stayed in the tub for a few hours and it made the contractions much more bearable.

Labor tub

When I got out of the tub I had progressed from 3cm to 6cm dilated. Once in the bed I moved from my hands & knees to laying on my side to squatting to standing… whatever worked. I was constantly moving.

You hear about women cursing their husbands during labor and I’m happy to report that I had exactly the opposite experience. We had this unspoken communication during the whole thing. He gave me water, put a cold cloth on my head, held my hand, told me how amazing I was, squeezed my hips for counter pressure… he was completely amazing. I’ve never been more in love with him.

In the end I ended up on my back for delivery because that’s where I made the most progress with pushing. I had an amazing labor & delivery nurse that recommended me pulling on a towel “tug of war” style while pushing. She looped it around and I pulled on one end while she pulled back. In between contractions it was so uncomfortable to lay on my back that I stood up on the bed using the squatting bar for support. When I felt another contraction coming I would reach my hand over to Darren and he would help me back down. That was the most intense part of my labor. My doctor liked this up and down movement because the baby’s heartbeat dropped slightly between contractions when I stayed on my back. When I stood up his heartbeat returned to normal. I think it’s amazing that my body knew what I needed to do to keep myself and my baby healthy.

After 3.5 hours of pushing he was finally on my chest and just like that all the pain and intensity was gone. The next few minutes were scary and seemed to last forever. I noticed that the number of nurses in the room had multiplied and they were all looking at my baby. My doctor quickly explained “I know you wanted to delay cord clamping but we need to get him…” then it became a blur. I shook my head enthusiastically thinking “yes, do it!” I could feel the worry in the room. They took him to the warmer and suctioned, rubbed, and gave him the APGAR test. Darren stayed by my side and I assured him that I was fine and to go get a closer look. After what seemed like an eternity I saw his little arm move and heard a little cry. A few minutes later he was back on my chest and we spent the next 2 hours skin to skin. It turns out that my doctor called in for extra support when he was in the birth canal for so long. She was worried that he might get stuck at the shoulders and need assistance coming out. He came out on his own but I am very thankful for the help of the NICU nurses in that moment.

We arrived in our hospital room around 2:30am and the most amazing thing is that I, who can’t even stay awake during a movie, wasn’t even tired. I think women’s bodies and brains are wired with this survival/nurturing/protecting instinct that can run on literally no sleep. I stayed wide awake with him skin to skin, completely in awe of this tiny little human, for the rest of the night. I got approximately 5 hours of sleep in the span of our 2 day hospital stay and still didn’t feel tired.

The next morning I felt wonderful. After refueling with a big breakfast (hospital food is surprisingly good) I took a shower while my little man spent some  skin to skin time with his daddy. Going through labor and delivery without medication was definitely worth how good and energized I felt the next day.

And then there were three…

And now, 5 weeks later I still remember the events that transpired, but the memory of labor and pain has faded. And I’m left with this amazing little dude to love and care for. Darren asked me after that experience if I would go natural and unmedicated again. Absolutely. Labor is supposed to be shorter the second time around, right?


2 weeks old, Ann Wade Photography

Lots of love,