This week I should have been writing Baby K’s 39 week update. Instead he is already 8 days old and I’m writing his birth story. I still can’t believe he is here and that he came two weeks early at exactly 38 weeks! I am also still in shock that he is boy- I was convinced he was a girl since the very beginning!
Kevin Troy Spaulding III was born at 7:49 am on Wednesday, September 12th, which is the same day that his daddy was born 25 years ago, as well as my mother-in-law 24 years before that! So Baby Kevin is a third generation Spaulding to be born on September 12th, which is so amazing! His journey into the world was definitely an interesting and beautiful one. We had our birth wishes about what we wanted for our baby’s birthday, which was a natural and unmedicated birth, but went in with a flexible attitude knowing that anything could happen. I was very glad that we had this mindset going into it because we had to adjust and adapt as certain things came up. But let’s start at the beginning…
As I wrote about in my 37 week update, I was already experiencing many pre-labor signs. I didn’t want to get too excited though, because I knew that we could still be 4 or 5 weeks away from meeting our baby. However, in the back of my mind I just knew that he was going to come early. I just didn’t know when.
On Monday morning when I was 37 weeks 5 days pregnant, Kevin and I went for a 3 mile run and I actually felt great. Little did I know this would be my last run! Afterwards I went to school and felt off all day while I was teaching. I had an upset stomach and was very crampy. I noticed my stomach tightening and knew they were Braxton Hicks contractions. I ignored them and just went on with my day. But I did tell Kevin about them and he looked some things up online and said it might be time… I didn’t believe it though.
After work that day my friends at school threw me a baby shower and Kevin met me there. It was so nice and distracted me for a bit, but I still didn’t feel right. After the shower we went to dinner at one of Kevin’s favorite restaurants to celebrate his birthday which was on Wednesday. A bunch of his friends showed up and we hung out for a while there. I didn’t have much of an appetite and could only eat half of my dinner. Kevin had quite a few drinks and we went home. I joked that I would probably go into labor that night while he was not sober and we wouldn’t be able to get to the hospital. We laughed about it then went to bed.
I woke up at 1:30 a.m. to a weird warm gush of liquid coming out of me. It was just a little bit, but when I sat up more came out. I stood up to go to the bathroom and even more came out. I was confused because I knew it wasn’t pee, could it be my amniotic fluid? It wasn’t anything I could control and would come out a little bit every few minutes. I decided to lay down for another hour and see if it kept happening. After that hour I was convinced that it had to be my water leaking, so I woke up Kevin to tell him. He didn’t believe me at first and in his half asleep state told me to go back to bed. Eventually he woke up and realized what I was telling him.
We talked about what to do next. I knew I was GBS negative so I didn’t necessarily have to rush to the hospital. However, I did have to go sooner rather than later because there is a risk of infection after your water breaks. I started to worry because I didn’t have any contractions yet and I was disappointed because I had wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I really did not want to show up at the hospital without contractions because I knew that was a recipe for induction, which is something we were obviously trying to avoid. I knew that my water breaking before having contractions was a possibility, but in our Bradley classes we learned that most labors start with contractions and the water breaks later. When your water breaks first you are put on more of a ‘timeline’ and if labor doesn’t progress they start talking about Pitocin for induction and even the possibility of a c-section if your body won’t pick up strong enough contractions. I decided to call the midwife that was on call at the hospital to see what I should do. My heart sunk when the only midwife I did not like from my practice picked up the phone. She has always been negative towards us and just doesn’t make me feel comfortable at all. She told me to come in immediately. I asked her why, since two other midwives had told me that I could wait about 6 hours since I am GBS negative. She said to come in and that I shouldn’t wait. I didn’t agree, but rather than argue with her, I just got off the phone.
I called my doula who was also our Bradley teacher to tell her what was going on. She said she didn’t understand why they told me to come right in, and that she had also been told it was okay to wait a little bit when she delivered her baby with my doctors 2 years ago. She recommended that I go back to sleep, and try some natural induction methods (walking, bouncing on the ball, taking a shower, nipple stimulation, even thumb sucking!) if I still didn’t have any contractions when I woke up. She also told me that most likely the midwife I didn’t like would be leaving probably around 8 a.m. and a new one would come in, so that made me feel better.
I was really hungry, so Kevin made me oatmeal around 3 a.m. and then I tried my best to relax and willed my body into having contractions on its own. I fell back asleep until 6 a.m. and when I woke up realized I still had no contractions at all. However, I was still leaking fluid randomly. I woke up Kevin and we decided to go on a walk. We walked 3 miles very fast, hoping that would get things going. It didn’t. Next I took a hot shower and tried to relax more- still nothing. We tried everything and the most I felt were very mild menstrual-like cramps. Marisa said this was a good sign but I was still worried.
By this time it was around 9 a.m. and I knew I was past the recommended 6 hours. We reluctantly gathered up our things and headed out to the hospital. I took one more belly shot before we left and tried to remain positive. It was so strange to know that we would be returning to the house with a baby in a few days!
There was a lot of traffic on the way to the hospital and we didn’t end up getting there until a little after 10. We checked into labor and delivery and then went off to the triage area to confirm that I was leaking amniotic fluid. As I leaked all over the floor while changing into my hospital gown, the nurse said it was pretty clear that my water had broken and that I would be admitted. I was also so happy to see that a new midwife was on shift- one that I really, really liked. She as well as all of our nurses were very supportive of our natural birth plan and told me that nobody would talk about any sort of induction or Pitocin until 24 hours after my water started leaking. She told me to go start trying everything I could once we were admitted to get things going- starting with walking the stairs.
We walked the stairs for about 40 minutes before I had to be back for 20 minutes of external fetal monitoring. We repeated this cycle a few times and I FINALLY felt my first real contraction at 1:30 p.m.- 12 hours after my water started to leak.
I was so happy that my body was contracting on its own that I switched into a “bring on the pain” attitude to keep it going. Kevin and I got in the shower for a little while and that intensified them a lot, especially when the hot water was combined with nipple stimulation. I got out of the shower to be monitored again and saw my contractions had gotten a lot stronger.
After that, we went back and forth between walking the stairs and getting in the shower in between each monitoring session. My contractions were getting more consistent and I had to concentrate through them. At one point around 5:00 p.m. we went to the cafeteria so Kevin could get some food, and I had to hold onto him every time I had a contraction. Things were getting serious! They were about 3-4 minutes apart and I was moving from the exercise ball to the toilet to the wall- trying to find what felt comfortable. Kevin called our doula and she made her way to the hospital, thinking it wouldn’t be too long. Little did we know that it would be another 12+ hours!
At 5:30 my dad and sister arrived at the hospital. We had called them early to give them plenty of time to get to VA since they live in Philadelphia. We also had to call Kevin’s mom early because she lives in South Carolina, so she was almost there too. I was very happy to see our family but I noticed that when they got there things started to change. My contractions became less intense and were coming less often. I started to get nervous and began to feel anxious to get focused again and have it just be Kevin and me in the room.
Right after we asked my family to move to the waiting room I got back into the shower, hoping to get my contractions back to where they were before. While I was in there I heard Kevin’s sister and brother-in-law come into the room. He told them I was trying to focus and they understood and left. Then our doula Marisa arrived. I heard him explaining to her that my contractions had slowed down and she said that labor can definitely stall out if you lose concentration or something changes in your environment. I had to get out of the shower to be monitored, and this time the hot water didn’t help as much. The contractions were still coming few and far between, and they were not as strong as before. To make it worse, the midwife that I liked was leaving soon and the one I didn’t like was coming back on shift. Again, this was getting into my head, causing my contractions to slow down.
Before the midwife left for the night at 8 p.m. she gave me my first internal check. I was 3 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced. She was very encouraging and said I was making progress, and the fact that I was 100% effaced was a very good thing. She said he was also -1 station, which meant he was making his way down. I was told to do all I could to keep things going, because the next midwife would check me at 2:00 a.m., which would be 24 hours after my water started leaking. If I hadn’t progressed by then we would need to start talking about Pitocin. I knew I could make good progress in 6 hours if I could get back in the right state of mind.
Immediately after being checked I went into the shower with Kevin. I knew that was what had worked really well last time so I was hoping it would again. This time it worked! My contractions came back and got stronger. I had to get out of the shower after 40 minutes to get monitored again, and we could see on the screen that they were becoming more consistent. I was so excited to be in pain again! After disconnecting from the monitors I decided to sit backwards on the toilet. Marisa said that was a good position to open up and let the baby come down. This position worked really well too. I was feeling strong contractions every few minutes again. For the next few hours I alternated between the shower, the toilet, and the exercise ball. I walked around as much as I could and tried to relax everything when I felt a contraction coming, to put all my energy into the work that it needed to do. However, when it started getting closer to 2 a.m. I got worried because I knew the midwife I didn’t like would be coming in to check me soon. My contractions started to space out and lose intensity again. When she came in she was quiet and dismissive. She checked me quickly and forcefully, then informed me that I was still 3 centimeters dilated, and that we needed to start Pitocin since my water had been broken for 24 hours.
We asked her for a few minutes alone to talk about our next step, so she left the room. I was so disappointed and confused. I felt bad that my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. I felt bad that our families were still waiting in the waiting room for something to happen. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the very intense contractions that come with Pitocin. I was tired and hungry and felt weak. I had a million thoughts running through my head. Marisa and Kevin reassured me by telling me that many people need Pitocin to jumpstart things and then go on to have a beautiful, vaginal birth without an epidural. They said that if anyone could handle it, it would be me, because I was strong physically and mentally. So we decided to go ahead with the Pitocin and I decided to change my attitude. Instead of dwelling on the fact that my body wasn’t progressing on its own, I got myself ready for what the Pitocin was going to do to help my baby get here safely. Instead of focusing on the one person in the hospital that was not supportive, I thought about all of the wonderful nurses, the other midwife, Kevin, Marisa, and our families and how much support I had from all of them. I trusted my body, I trusted my coaches, and I trusted my Bradley training. I knew I could do it.
We called the nurse and midwife and told them we were ready to go ahead with the Pitocin. The hooked me up to an IV and fetal monitor that I would have to keep on the entire time. I knew this would restrict me more than I was before, but I was determined to stay active through the contractions anyway because I knew it would help. The nurse told me that they would be back to start the drip of Pitocin but had to deliver a baby first, so I used the extra time to rest up for what was ahead. Kevin, Marisa, and I all napped for a good hour and a half. By this time my contractions had completely stopped.
Finally at 4:00 a.m. the nurse came in to start my Pitocin drip. She explained that she was going to start me on the lowest dose and increase it every 30 minutes until my contractions were consistent. It turns out that a little bit was all my body needed, because I started feeling them 30 minutes later and they were STRONG. I had fallen back asleep while I waited for the Pitocin to kick in and I was woken up by the pain. It took my breath away and I knew I was in for a challenging morning.
When the next one came only a few minutes later, I woke Kevin up because I needed him to help me. Marisa woke up too and they started coaching me. I couldn’t believe how strong the contractions were and how fast they were coming. They were so much worse than before and felt like my insides were being destroyed and crushed with every one. I started to vocalize and make low moaning noises to get through them. I was going back and forth from hot to cold, and shaking intensely from hormone overload. Marisa put cold washcloths all over me after each contraction was over because I would get so overheated. I lost all modesty and stripped down to only my sports bra. With each contraction I could feel the baby moving down and more amniotic fluid kept coming out of me. I was trying to find positions that felt good but nothing did. I decided I wanted to try to squat on the bed because I knew that would help the baby come down more quickly. Marisa and Kevin supported me on each side and when I felt a contraction come I would lift myself up and squat. I was so thankful that I had kept up with my running and Body Pump at this point! Squatting made the contractions WAY more intense but I could feel so much happening inside when I squatted, so as much as it hurt I kept doing it over and over again. Kevin kept telling me to take it one at a time, and that each one would bring me closer to meeting our baby. Each contraction was harder than the last and it got to the point where I had hardly any breaks in between. At some point I just gave into the pain and let it overtake me. My whole body would go limp and I would shake, moan, and cry. I even threw up during a few contractions. Even with all of this going on I remember clearly knowing that I was in transition. I had all of the classic signs of it and was screaming that I couldn’t do it anymore. I totally understood why most people choose to get an epidural at this point. I kept asking how many more contractions I would have like this (like they could really know that), and saying “I want my baby, I want my baby.” As much as it hurt I knew it would be over soon.
During this time I realized I had to go to the bathroom. I asked to be unhooked from the monitor and tried to walk there, but it took a while because I was having contraction after contraction and basically would collapse onto Kevin with each one. I finally got to the toilet and sitting on the toilet made the contractions get even worse. It was starting to change from pain to pressure, which I knew meant that it would be time to push soon. After using the bathroom I got back in bed and kept squatting through each contraction. I was feeling so much pressure that I felt like all my insides were just going to drop out of me, but I wasn’t feeling the urge to push yet. All of a sudden during another contraction, I felt an overwhelming feeling that I had to push. It was so intense and my body was pushing without me being able to stop it. I started yelling that the baby was coming and that I was pushing and couldn’t help it. They called the midwife but she took forever to come, so I had a few more of these types of contractions and the pushing was uncontrollable and involuntary. My body was pushing this baby out and there was nothing I could do about it!
Finally around 7:20 a.m. the midwife came and I asked her to check me so I could start pushing. At first she seemed doubtful that it could be time already, since I was only 3 centimeters when I started Pitocin only 3 hours before. She watched me through my next contraction and I think that convinced her. She checked and told me I was complete at 10 centimeters and that the baby’s head was right there. The nurses rushed to get everything ready and she told me I could push when I felt my next contraction. When I felt it I held my legs back and pushed down with everything I had. The noises that came out of me were like crazy animal noises but I didn’t care. With each contraction I was able to get 3 really good, long pushes in and everyone was around me telling me I was doing a great job and the baby was coming quickly. Nobody counted loudly in my ear or told me what to do. Somehow I just knew, and the pushing felt like such a relief at this point.
Someone asked me if I wanted a mirror to see what was happening, and when I saw the baby’s head crowning I couldn’t believe it. At this point I was calm and motivated. I wanted that baby out! With each contraction I focused on bringing the baby down, and slowly I saw more and more of the head coming out. The midwife told me it would only be a few more good pushes and baby would be here. I started to feel emotional and with the next big push I felt a ton of burning which I knew was the “ring of fire” – the baby’s head coming out. The midwife was massaging baby shampoo into me to try to prevent tearing at this point. They told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head so I did, and I felt a head of hair! I could not get over the fact that I was feeling my baby coming out of me and that I would be meeting him or her soon!
The burning was really intense, and with my next contraction I knew the baby would be here. After only 30 minutes of pushing, the midwife asked Kevin if he was ready to help deliver the baby and he got into position. I gave it all that I had and pushed out his head and the rest of his body while feeling horrible, sharp, stabbing pains, and I soon realized this was due to me tearing in three separate places. I saw the baby come out and Kevin caught him. He started screaming immediately, and Kevin was trying not to drop him because he was so slippery. He brought the baby up to me and he tried to look to see if it was a boy or a girl but the umbilical cord was blocking it so he couldn’t tell. He finally moved the cord and said, “It’s a boy honey!” and I was SHOCKED. This was the moment I had been waiting for and it was so worth the wait! I was flooded with emotion and just held the baby close saying, “My baby, my baby,” and a little while later, “I can’t believe I was wrong!” (About the sex of the baby). He was so alert, healthy, and perfect. He scored 9 & 9 on both of his Apgar scores. I was so proud 🙂 We knew that we had to name the baby Kevin Troy Spaulding III after his daddy, especially since he was born on his dad’s birthday and he looks JUST like him!
The nurses cleaned him off a little bit but let him lay on me for a while as we soaked it all in. I kept thinking how it was so surreal that the baby that was just inside me a few minutes ago was now on the outside.
Eventually I delivered the placenta which I barely felt, and then the midwife got to work stitching me up. I had three little first degree tears- two on top and one on bottom. I barely noticed her working on me because I was busy staring at our baby. When the umbilical cord stopped pulsing Kevin cut it, and our little family was complete.
We all enjoyed more skin-to-skin time and eventually they gave the baby his Vitamin K shot and eye gel, and weighed and measured him. He was 7 pounds 2 ounces and 18 inches long… not bad for being 2 weeks early! I tried to breastfeed and he was able to latch on after a few attempts which made me so happy. While Kevin had skin-to-skin with him, the nurses came over and pushed really hard on my stomach to try to get rid of blood clots and shrink my uterus back to its normal size. This honestly hurt more than some of my contractions, and I screamed a few times while they did this. I even grabbed the nurses arm it hurt so bad! I was not prepared for that at all.
After we had some quality time with the baby, Kevin went out to tell our family that we had a boy. They had been patiently waiting since the night before, and were so excited to hear the news!
After the midwife was finished working on me and I was dressed and ready, I was wheeled upstairs to the recovery rooms with the baby. Our family met us in the hall to see Baby Kevin for the first time. It was a really special moment.
We all headed upstairs to rest and recover from our whirlwind labor and delivery. The next few days were so exciting and filled with visitors and getting to know our sweet new baby boy. I’ll write about all of that in my next post, which will be about our first week post-partum.
Overall I loved our birth experience. All of our birth wishes were met except for the fact that I needed a little bit of Pitocin to jumpstart my labor. We still were able to have freedom of movement the majority of the time, intermittent external fetal monitoring, limited vaginal exams, no epidural and nobody asked me if I wanted one or about my pain level (which I greatly appreciated), self-directed pushing and breathing, Kevin was super involved in delivering the baby and announcing the sex to me, we were given a lot of skin-to-skin time after the birth, and most importantly we had a calm and (mostly) supportive environment in the labor and delivery room. I was able to feel everything during labor like I wanted to and was entirely present and active during the whole birth experience. I cannot say enough positive things about our Bradley Method classes. Because of them we felt in control, confident, and knowledgeable about what was happening during the birth. Even though it was the most difficult and intense experience I have ever had, I would do it again in a heartbeat. This little face is so, SO worth it.
Welcome to the world Baby K!