Where to begin? With Rhett’s birth, the moment “real” contractions started, it was obvious the difference between BH and those that would eventually bring my baby into the world. With Tucker, as a lot of you know, I started having contractions days before he came, and it was frustrating to feel like I was facing a false alarm or just not distinguishing the difference well this time. Since I had already alerted my parents to drive through the night from Panama City once, that was the last thing I wanted to happen again. So of course, that’s what happened, and they still missed the birth! Oops! Blame Tucker, Grammy.
But let’s back up a little. Sunday morning, August 5th, Marcus and I had plans to go to his parents’ house up the road to go out on their new pontoon. Rhett loves the water, and his poppa and DD, so we thought it’d be a good, low key outing for us since Tucker could come any day. I was 39 weeks + 2 days after all. I asked Marcus if he would be ok going without me because I still had several things I wanted to get done around the house, and I can obviously get so much more done without Rhett under foot. So off they went Sunday morning, and I set to work on my to-do list. By mid-morning, I thought how long it would be before I would have the chance again to run without a stroller AND outside, so I went out to see how I felt between the household tasks. I surprised myself with some really solid 3:1 intervals for a 3 mile run, and I felt great about it! Looking back, I feel even better about it 😉
Less than 24 hours before Tucker was born!
The rest of the day passed like normal, but when I laid down to go to sleep that Sunday night after reading some Harry Potter, I noticed how much my hips and back were aching. My hips hadn’t really been hurting like this in pregnancy in general, but at first, I assumed it was from the run. At 10:15 PM, I was still lying awake with that persistent discomfort, so I texted my mom, just in case something came of it. “Having some intermittent cramping and low back/hip pain. Get some sleep!” My hope was that it would progress to contractions, and she and my stepdad could get a solid several hours before needing to head this way this time. Little did I know, progress it would and QUICKLY!
Around 11:30, maybe midnight, I knew I wasn’t going to get any sleep, and Marcus stirred enough for me to tell him about my increasing discomfort. I told him I was going to go in the living room and watch TV for a bit since I couldn’t sleep and hopefully he could get a few hours. I settled on the stability ball and tried to catch up on my guilty pleasure show, Total Bellas, but I really couldn’t focus on what John Cena was saying! This tipped me off that we were facing the real thing, but I still had a little lingering doubt because of all the on & off for the days leading up. I ate a Quest Hero bar cause I felt pretty hungry, and I sipped on water and tried to let Marcus sleep. I thought for sure they’d be cutting me off water at the hospital like with my first.
I might have made it to 1 AM before I went back in the bedroom to Marcus for support. I was starting to feel really discouraged that I was already in so much pain and surely it was early in the labor timeline. By 1:30, I was in the bath tub in hopes that would provide me some relief and allow me to continue to progress. I texted my mom in hopes it would somehow wake her up– yeah right– “We’re jumping up the pain scale pretty quick. This is no false alarm. I just got in the bath to try to cope but I’m having pretty bad back labor so far,” and Marcus called his mom to come over to be with Rhett.
BACK STORY: laaaate in pregnancy, I really started toying with the idea that I wanted to labor naturally and unmedicated. It took months to develop as something I could try for this time around. I had listened to The Calm Birth Method by Suzy Ashworth on Audible in maybe my second trimester, and I really really enjoyed it. I utilized the breathing techniques in traffic and while running, but I hadn’t actually considered going unmedicated until maybe 35 or 36 weeks. The book is about positive birth experience, whatever that looks like to individual mothers. When I first started listening to the book, Marcus said, “are you trying to go natural?” with the utmost skepticism in his voice. To him at the time, I know he was more in the camp of why would you do that with access to modern medicine? And I don’t blame him– I’ve typically fallen into that camp, too! With Rhett’s birth, I got an epidural, and it wasn’t long after that I couldn’t lift my right arm. It was completely numb, so the anesthesiologist had to come back and fix it. My right eye also started to droop, and although he kept explaining why scientifically my eyelid drooping COULDN’T have anything to do with the epidural, it still appeared to be related. It resolved once they removed it! Rhett also ended up in the NICU in a better-safe-than-sorry type of scenario with bradycardia, and there are all sorts of issues that could possibly crop up in baby due to an epidural. I have no idea if any of Rhett’s issues (bradycardia, not latching, not regulating body temp) stemmed from an epidural, but the more pregnant I got, the more I thought IF it was at all possible, why wouldn’t I do everything I could to avoid that possibility with Tucker? Right? I mean I’m on top of my nutrition during pregnancy especially because I feel like I need to do the absolute best I can for the growing baby, so it made sense to extend that same thinking to labor. So I toyed with the natural labor idea. It was a scary thought. I reached out on Instagram and got so much support and tips from my friends who had labored unmedicated, and I’m so grateful! It was clear they believed I could do it long before I did. So shout out to each and every one of you. Your support meant the world to me.
So anyways, with me in the bath, breathing and listening to my labor playlist, I gave up on thinking my mom was just going to wake up and read my text, so I called her. This was around the same time I’d called them last time. Awesome. By the time Marcus was done showering, he was having to help me out of the bath cause contractions were coming quicker. How can I go on without any medication when these are already so painful?! I was in so much doubt at this point, and we got our bags and everything together. Not long after 2 AM or so, Marcus’s mom arrived and chatted with us for a few. I could tell Marcus was so antsy to get me to the hospital, but I was desperate to hang in there as long as I could at home. What if we got there and I was hurting this badly and I was only like 2 cm? That was my biggest fear since we had been sent away with Rhett the first time. Looking back, I smiled for a picture going into the hospital with Rhett that first time, and I was in no mood to smile at this point. At 3 AM, we agreed it was time to go because I could no longer stand up straight or talk through contractions, and they were hard and fast. The last thing I wanted to do was sit down in the car because of all the pressure, and the few I felt in our less-than-ten-minute-drive to the hospital were excruciating. We parked and headed into the ER entrance, and they got a wheelchair and L&D nurse down there pretty quick– although that didn’t stop me from having several contractions in the security check-in! I swear the guard was looking at me like “don’t you dare have that baby here.”
They wheeled me up and got me in a triage room, and as I tried to dress down to a gown in the bathroom with Marcus’s help, I looked at him and told him I couldn’t do it, I wanted the epidural. He brushed me off a little but comforted me, which was exactly what I had told him I needed if I started to ask for it! Good job, coach. The midwife came in, and I was relieved it was Cheryl, one of the four in our OB’s office that I hadn’t met but heard wonderful things about. Everything about that room is a blur at this point, but after checking me, I remember she said, “alright, so we’re going to go ahead and get you admitted and then meet your baby soon.” Soon?! Really?? I perked up a little and said you think so? How dilated am I? To which she replied with a smile, “you’re about an 8.” EIGHT! I had done it! I felt the briefest surge of joy because I’d actually labored at home as long as I possibly could, and my dilation backed me up this time. I told her we wanted to do this naturally, and it was clear she was on my team there. She was so supportive, as well as the nurses. The only one who didn’t quite seem on board was the charge nurse, but she wasn’t a problem. They read over our birth plan pretty quickly, (I label mine “birth preferences” because I know I can’t fully PLAN it) and when pitocin was mentioned, I said we didn’t want any at all. Before they could even get me fully admitted and out of the wheelchair in the delivery suite, I was feeling the urge to push. It was amazing to me the sensation because with an epidural with Rhett, we pretty much had to watch the monitor to know when to push with a contraction. This time, I had NO CHOICE. I told them I needed to push, and the staff didn’t seem the least bit hesitant or concerned that I wasn’t even in the bed yet! They were following my lead, and the atmosphere of the room wasn’t even medical. It was full of support, and my body was being listened to by more than me. I got situated, and we got to work. I’m terrible at holding my breath, so after two short rounds of pushing, they were telling me how close he was, but I started feeling a little panicky and out of breath. The next wave, I thought I’d given everything I had in me, but everyone, including Marcus, were telling me about his hair. His hair! Just like Rhett! So he was that close, and I had to get him out. No one else could do it for me. With one final, massive effort, I pushed as hard and long as I could, even when they told me to back off for a second. Again, I couldn’t– I kept pushing out of desperation for it to be over and for Tucker to be in my arms. This is probably why I tore like I did, but I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of “I don’t care if I tear!” as I continued to push when they told me to slow it down haha. Oops, I cared a little in the days following, but oh well. A woman will do anything to meet her baby.
At 4:22 AM, that massive push brought Tucker into the world and straight onto my chest, vernix and all. It’s only gross if it isn’t your baby! He rocked the APGAR at a 9 (because they said they’re superstitious and don’t give out 10s), and they left the cord alone while stitching me up. We delayed cord clamping with Rhett as well, but the midwife left it alone the entire time she stitched me up. OUCH! This was where the epidural made the biggest difference if you ask me. The lidocaine didn’t do much to dull getting stitches in possibly the most sensitive place on your body, and it took a solid 20 minutes to finish that up, although thank goodness it was superficial. Meanwhile, they pushed all over my stomach, and Marcus and I fawned over our new baby boy (and I winced with every stitch). He sent my mom a picture, and I think that was the first time she was ever disappointed getting a picture of one of her grandbabies– Tucker was the first whose birth she didn’t attend. He sent his mom one, too, and she said she had barely just fallen asleep! To me, the entire experience was perfect. Marcus was proud of me and told me several times, “you did it!” I could never get him to read baby books or articles like I did, but boy, does he make an amazing partner and coach in this process. He never fails to come through for me in these big moments, and I couldn’t have done it without him, (especially the conception part).
Minutes after birth
8 lbs, 20 in
Headed to recovery suite with my prize
Be still, my heart
Loving on the new big brother