Tate’s birth story began almost two weeks before his actual birth day. We had decided earlier in my pregnancy to schedule an induction for June 16, three days before his due date, but I was fairly confident I wouldn’t make it that far and that Tate would come early, like Jack. I had been having lots of braxton hicks throughout my pregnancy, as well as pressure down there that indicated to me that he was low and ready. So we scheduled the induction as a backup plan, but I was sure he’d arrive before then!
JUNE 4 • At my 38 week appointment, I was already dilated to 2-3 centimeters, and effaced 80%. I asked my doctor to strip my membranes like he had done when I was pregnant with Jack. With Jack, I had this done at 39 weeks, and the same evening I went into labor with him, so I was very hopeful it would work again. Read Jack’s birth story here.
So when, later that evening, I started having consistent contractions 5 minutes apart, I was SURE it was happening. I got so excited and hopeful that the end was near – I was finally, finally, finally going into labor! I timed the contractions for about 6 hours – all the while cleaning the kitchen, bouncing on my birth ball, and texting a few key players (birth photographer, mother-in-law, sisters) to stay alert in case things escalated quickly. Around 6AM I decided to lay down and try to rest (I’d need my energy later if this was the real thing) and I woke up an hour or so later to… nothing. My contractions had stalled out.
I was devastated, to put it lightly.
Cue a repeat of that story for the next TEN days. Nearly every night, I would wake up to consistent contractions. After falling for it that first night, I would try to doze through them, but they were making my already-uncomfortable daytime existence even worse because I couldn’t even escape at night. I was horribly miserable and uncomfortable, the extra weight of my belly making even the simplest task seem daunting. Everything hurt, I wasn’t able to sleep, and each minute seemed to stretch for hours. I cried more times than I care to admit, mostly in the morning after suffering through yet another night of false labor.
Finally, we got to the day before our scheduled induction. I was finally starting to accept the fact that this baby wasn’t going to come on his own – despite my best attempts. I started texting friends who had been induced for advice, made plans for Jack’s care, and wrote up a to-do list for our last day before baby. I went to bed that last night at home, and soon fell asleep.
11:00 PM, MONDAY JUNE 14 • An hour later I woke up wet. VERY WET. John wasn’t in bed with me yet so I scrambled to the bathroom and a gush of liquid came out of me. “Did I just pee myself? Surely not!” I called John, who was downstairs, and told him the news – MY WATER HAD BROKEN! I was so happy! And then I had the thought – WHAT DO I DO? I mean, water was leaking all over me! I didn’t have any diapers for myself – my water had never broken with Jack – and I remembered a client had given me some puppy pee pads a few weeks back. I grabbed one of those, folded it up into my underwear, and started getting my bag packed up while John called the hospital and his mom to let them know it was go time.
As we drove to the hospital, I was having some contractions here and there. During one particular contraction, something must have shifted because a huge gush of water came out of me. I was suddenly sitting in at least an inch of water in the car, and didn’t have a towel or anything to help me out. All I had was that dang puppy pee pad I had stuffed in my underwear! Note to self and all other pregnant people: have a towel in the car next time! Luckily I was wearing a black dress and it was nearly midnight, so no one noticed how soaking wet I was as we walked into the hospital! This was one of the funny memories from the night so I wanted to include it! Also, we had my car detailed (again) yesterday, so we are all good now!
12:00 AM, TUESDAY JUNE 15 • Once we got to the hospital, we checked in and they immediately put us into a room since the L&D floor was slow. They confirmed that my water had broken, and told me I was 5 centimeters dilated! I was elated that all of those nights of contractions at least had helped me progress a little! I was halfway there and on top of the world that soon our baby would be here!
4:00 AM • I was rechecked and still 5 centimeters. The nurses didn’t seem concerned at all, and I was relieved they weren’t rushing to put me on Pitocin. However, I was getting antsy because my contractions were definitely starting to weaken and slow down – just like they did every night – so I got out of the bed and tried to get things moving. I did some swaying and walking around, even though I was connected to IVs and monitors, while John slept. I ended up requesting a birth ball and did some hip rotations for a few hours to encourage Tate to engage, but I knew the contractions had stopped and that I was most likely going to have to have some help. At this point, I was okay with it. I hadn’t wanted Pitocin originally because I was scared of how painful the contractions would be (I never had Pitocin with Jack), but I also was accepting of the fact that I could use a little nudge.
7:00 AM • It was shift change time for the nurses. We got to meet our new nurse, Emma (who we LOVEDDDDDDD), and I was checked again. Still 5 centimeters… The next conversation began about whether or not I should go ahead and get an epidural, since they were going to start Pitocin soon. I was so torn because I wasn’t even having contractions (if I did have one, it was very mild and only once every 30-40 minutes). But I knew I wanted an epidural, and we didn’t know how fast I’d progress with the Pitocin since it was a second baby and since Jack had come pretty quickly. We opted to go ahead with the epidural just to get it out of the way. In hindsight I am SO glad we did because we found out there were four scheduled C-sections that morning and I would have had to wait a long time had we delayed it!
8:00 AM • I was just finishing up some light makeup and brushing out my hair in the bathroom when our nurse anesthesiologist walked in. I heard a familiar voice talking to John, and turned around to see one of my past clients walking in! Lesley works at Baptist as a CRNA and I’d completely forgotten! I can’t tell you how happy I was to see that she would be the one giving me my epidural!
With Jack, I got my epidural after hours of hard labor. I think I was 7 centimeters dilated when they gave it to me, and I was in active, intense labor. I barely even remember getting it because I was having so much pain! This time, though, literally nothing was happening. There was nothing to distract me from my nerves, and I was suddenly pretty anxious about the epidural! Lesley was so kind and walked me through what was going to happen. She sat me up on the bed, and told me it would hurt (I appreciated the honesty). I was shaking with nerves. My awesome nurse, Emma, got in front of me and put her head to my head as I hunched over and Lesley got to work behind me. As Emma stood there supporting me, she encouraged me about the epidural, held my hands, and then… complimented me on how good my dry shampoo smelled. It was so funny looking back at it! John said he was amazed seeing these three women all lined up working together talking about dry shampoo!
Soon enough the epidural was complete. Let me tell you this: it did NOT hurt nearly as bad as I thought it would! It was a complete cake walk. So if you’re nervous about it, don’t be. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
8:30 AM • While I laid in bed waiting for the epidural to take effect, I started getting nervous again – I could still feel my feet and I could wiggle my toes, even though 30 minutes had passed. With Jack, my epidural hadn’t worked very well, and I had been very anxious during my pregnancy that the same thing would happen again this time. I started to doubt it had taken, when the doctor on call walked into the room. He wanted to check my progress. As he did, I realized – I couldn’t feel a thing! Hallelujah! I was so elated I didn’t even cry when he told me 5 centimeters was “generous” and that I was really more of a 4. Doctors shouldn’t be allowed to go backwards, but here I was doing just that. Whatever, I was cool with it and we laughed about what a booger Tate was, messing with us all the time!
9:00 AM • They started me on the lowest dose of Pitocin, but I didn’t feel a thing. John decided to walk to the cafeteria and I was going to try to sleep a little since I hadn’t slept at all the night before.
10:00 AM • Sometime around this time (the details get a little fuzzy), my nurse Emma came in to try to move me around since Tate’s heartbeat was getting a little wonky. They had upped my Pitocin a little bit by then, but I wasn’t feeling anything and wasn’t concerned. However, as Emma sat in the room with me to monitor my contractions, I could tell something was wrong. She moved me to my right side and watched as I had a long, 3-minute contraction. Tate’s heartbeat slowed and then disappeared. She moved the heartbeat monitor around and I held my breath as we waited for her to find it again. Thump thump thump – there it was. The next contraction was fine. He held steady. But then it happened again. She moved me to my left side. It happened again. She put a peanut ball between my legs. It happened again.
By this time, I was completely freaking out. My entire body was shaking uncontrollably as the adrenaline rushed through my veins. Emma was being amazing and calm, trying to act really relaxed about the whole thing like it was totally normal, but I knew it wasn’t. I was TERRIFIED that something bad was going to happen, and that they were going to rush me to an emergency C-section to get Tate out. To top it off, John was still gone so I texted him to COME BACK TO THE ROOM and held my breath through more contractions as Emma monitored Tate.
“Honestly, this happens all the time so don’t worry. See? He did great during that contraction! It’s probably nothing. Or he might just have his cord twisted up somewhere. That happens sometimes – sometimes it’s just twisted around an arm or a leg, maybe his neck – but it’s completely normal and happens all the time. Ooops, lets see if we can move you around again. There, see? His heartbeat is back – totally great recovery there. I’m just going to go to the hall and call the doctor to let him know what’s going on. Don’t worry. It’s going to be good. I think you’re just progressing quickly maybe. I bet anything that’s what’s going on. This is completely normal. When he comes out, he might need to go straight to the table to be checked out instead of going to your chest first – that happens all the time so don’t worry if that happens. Most likely he will be back with you in just a minute or two! Isn’t it a beautiful day outside? Ooops, let’s move you back to that right side again, I think he liked that side a little better. Let me run to the hall and just update the doctor – no big deal at all.”
She was so chipper and casual about everything and I appreciated it. She was my rock and even though I didn’t believe her at all, I was grateful she was there with me. By this time John had joined us and was also trying to lighten the mood. He kept talking about random things to Emma as I sat there quietly, trembling away.
11:00 AM • Emma had called the doctor and come back in to let me know the game plan: they were going to attempt an amnioinfusion which is where they would add some fluid back into my uterus to try to get Tate to reposition himself off of his cord, which is what they believed was wrapped or kinked, causing the heart decelerations. Around that time, though, I started feeling some weird pressure down there so I mentioned it to my nurse. As we were still waiting on the doctor to show up for the amnioinfusion, Emma did a quick check and told me I had progressed to a 6 or 7 and that Tate had descended pretty low. She got so excited and started saying, “SEE? I told you you were going to go fast!”
11:15 AM • Just 15 minutes later, the pressure was intensifying so she checked me again and I was 9 centimeters! I’m not completely sure when the amnioinfusion was officially called off, but around this time they started prepping the room for me to push. It was happening SO fast, I was a little overwhelmed. I kept thinking to myself, “I just want a slow and steady labor and birth!” Just like last time, the beginning was slow and then my body just rushed through the end so fast haha! The doctor on call had just arrived, so they had me do 1-2 practice pushes while he suited up, and then it was go time.
The epidural was great – I couldn’t really feel pain, but I could feel a ton of pressure as I pushed. However, as Tate was crowning, the pain was overwhelming and unbearable! His head was halfway out and I was crying out in pain, begging for it to be done. It was the worst part of the whole thing, those few seconds. The nurses and doctors told me to just keep pushing – it was almost over! Without waiting for the next contraction, I did just that and his little body slipped out of me and into the world. I had pushed for only 8 minutes!
11:53 AM • Joy!!! Overwhelming joy and happiness. An explosion of happiness overcame me as they held up my squishy baby boy. Tears streamed down my face and I looked to John to see tears on his face too. It was such a different experience than Jack’s – for his birth I had been in so much pain and hadn’t even opened my eyes when he was born. He had laid on my chest while my eyes were clenched shut as I felt every stitch being placed. This time, the pain was almost forgettable as I held Tate on my chest! I looked at his little face, completely in awe of this tiny human who felt so familiar to me, yet also seemed like such a stranger, and I was overcome with gratitude and emotion. It was such a beautiful redemption story for me and I was so thankful.
It was a completely different experience than my last birth – which up until THIS MOMENT, had seemed like such a good experience to me despite the complications. I honestly was shocked that a birth could be so easy and straightforward, which sounds so funny since the pregnancy part with Tate had been so tough on me. But honestly, I can say without a doubt that Tate’s birthday was nearly perfect (minus the heart decelerations part). As Tate lay on my chest crying, I felt nothing but happiness and joy and gratitude. The room was so calm and the sun was shining through the windows, and I just felt such peace.
He quickly nursed after being born, and it was crazy how natural and easy that part came back to me. I breastfed Jack for over a year, and it was such an incredibly special and bonding thing for us – I didn’t realize how meaningful it would be to get to nurse another baby.
As Tate lay with me, I realized pretty quickly that he was not nearly as large as I was expecting him to be! Because of my uncomfortable pregnancy, coupled with the fact that Jack was nearly 9 pounds at birth, I was expecting Tate to be at least as large as Jack had been, if not bigger. I guess it’s because I photograph newborns, but looking at him I knew he wasn’t 9 pounds. In fact, I could barely imagine he was 8, which is crazy to me! We took turns guessing how much he would end up weighing and I think I said the phrase, “I just can’t get over how tiny he is!” at least 100 times within the first hour. When they ended up weighing him, he was 7 pounds, 14 ounces – over a pound smaller than Jack, and also over an inch shorter. No wonder this birth was easier!
Since arriving home, he has continued to surprise us. He is the most chill baby – he hardly ever cries unless his diaper is needing to be changed. Even in the middle of the night, he will only grunt and squeak when he is ready to be nursed. And Jack ADORES him, which of course makes my entire heart nearly burst. Every single opportunity he gets, Jack is caressing Tate’s head, patting his back, and kissing him gently on the head. I never really expected our babies to be 3.5 years apart, but I can say without a doubt it’s been such a beautiful story and of course exactly as it’s meant to be. I have spent the last 11 days feeling so incredibly blessed by this sweet family of mine.
A little shout out to the people who made this day truly special: of course, John, who was by my side for every minute. But also our nurse Emma, who explained everything to me throughout the day and was so kind to us and fun to be around. She really did feel like family. Last of all, our birth photographer Callie Sterling (of Sterling Imageworks) who was basically on call for the entire 10 days of my labor starting and stopping, who never made me feel bad for thinking it was happening when it wasn’t, and who had the most INCREDIBLE presence in the labor room. I couldn’t imagine anyone else being there to document the birth of our sweet Tate William, and I’m so incredibly grateful for these images!
I haven’t gotten our newborn photos back yet – heck, it took me like 4 days to just write this post – so I’ll hopefully post some more images in the days and weeks to come. But that’s the story of our Tate William and how he came into this world one beautiful, sunny day in June.