Updated: May 5
I was 41 weeks pregnant and had been anxious for weeks about getting this baby out! I tried everything. One day we almost walked 7 miles to induce labor, another I ate a dozen cayenne pepper cookies, and for weeks I had been eating pineapple. It wasn’t happening. I always planned for the baby to come early, because I try to plan everything, but I’ve now gotten it through my thick skull that babies come when they want to come. Every day I would wake up and prep myself to be in labor by the afternoon, except for Saturday July 6th. I had been having back pain and tailbone pain for a couple of days and I would normally go to the chiropractor to get adjusted for relief but it was 4th of July weekend and the offices were closed. So I was trying to just take it easy and attempt to stay comfortable in the July heat. Around noon I started to feel sick. Nick made me lay down and I slept till around 3 when he woke me up to get ready for Saturday night Mass. We walked to church and I thought I had a few contractions during the walk but told myself that these could not be contractions. During Mass I couldn’t sit comfortably. Father Bob’s homily was about Anointing of the Sick and different blessings priests can give, and encouraging people to ask for them. So after Mass I asked for a blessing thinking maybe that would send me into labor. I told Nick that even though I still didn’t feel good, I wanted to still go on our nightly walk. With it 90+ degrees out, we decided that instead of walking around the neighborhood like usual, to go to the indoor mall and walk and get dinner. My back pain and contractions were starting to get worse but I told Nick I thought it was just gas pains and I probably hadn’t drank enough water and every other excuse I could think of.
We came home and Nick wanted to watch movies, but all I wanted to do was cook and clean. So we cooked in between movies (and I’m glad we cooked because the food we made we ate for the next two days during and after labor!). We made a bunch of crab salad and a loaf of banana bread that was supposed to be for brunch the next day with his family. At around midnight we got hungry and started eating the banana bread so we had to make another loaf, and this time I was periodically gripping onto the counter to hold myself up. Nick asked me if I was all right and I told him, no, I think this might be the real deal and he should probably try to get some rest.
It was around 1:30 a.m. He went to sleep and I downloaded an app on my phone to start timing my contractions. I knew everyone said to try to get as much sleep as you can while you can. So I tried to sleep but I couldn’t at all, partially because of pain but mostly because I was so excited to finally be in labor! My contractions were about 7 minutes apart. I stayed up all night timing them. I tried to wake up Nick at 6:30 a.m. to tell him they were about 4 minutes apart and I wanted to take a shower and get ready to go. But if you know Nick you know he is an insanely heavy sleeper. I was pushing him back and forth trying to get him to wake up. I thought he was awake but after he called me Jacob then reneged that and called me Dead Pool, I knew he wasn’t. So I started getting my stuff around without him and figured out what to wear.
Later, I tried waking him back up because my contractions were still 4 mins apart but getting more intense. He finally woke up and looked at my contraction app and was shocked I was up all night. He wanted to call the midwife right away but I knew we still had time and I wanted to shower before going in and getting checked. We called the midwife at 7:30 and she said to meet her at the birth center at 8:30. We walked around our neighborhood once then hopped in the car and headed to Holy Family Birth Center.
Once we got to the birth center, I was monitored to see how baby was handling contractions and she did a cervical check. I was 3 ½ centimeters dilated. Definitely in labor but not progressed enough to be admitted to the birth center.
We decided to go to a nearby park and walk to progress labor. We walked from 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. During our time walking, we had a frantic old woman offer to call us an ambulance even though we were in a park right next to the hospital and we tried to explain to her we were fine and we were walking around and not in a hospital on purpose! We had a crazy lady with her big barking dog think it was a good idea to tell me how horrible and painful childbirth is while I was standing on the sidewalk having a contraction. But other than that it was a great time! It was cloudy and comfortable, we held hands and walked around the park, and whenever I got a contraction, Nick would tell me someone/something on our prayer list and we would pray for them. At 1:30 we started to get too hot so we called our midwife and asked if she would want to check me again or if we should just go home to AC. She said come in and get checked. When she checked me I was 5 1/2 centimeters. It was time to be admitted to the birth center! Luckily it was a Sunday so the OB’s office was completely closed and we were the only family in labor there at the time so we had the whole place to ourselves!
The first few hours of labor at the birth center were spent doing more walking, especially stairs. Our midwife suggested that I attempt to go to sleep with a peanut ball, since I had by that point been up for almost 24 hours. But I was still way too excited to sleep! Contractions obviously hurt but the pauses in between I was genuinely giddy excited to finally meet this baby!
As time went on and contractions got more intense we utilized the shower for pain relief. This was by far my favorite place to labor. The freedom to stand, sway and squat while still having the warm water for pain relief was ideal. We labored in the tub for a while as well.
At around 7:30pm the midwives could see I was starting to lose energy. I had been in the tub for near an hour so it was time to change positions anyway. We made our way over to the bed where our midwife checked me again and said I was almost 8cm dilated. She suggested breaking my water to potentially speed up the labor process. Nick and I discussed it and ultimately decided that was the best decision at this point. We continued for the next 2 hours laboring around our room and in the shower. At around 9:30 being close to fully dilated, we got back in the tub to start pushing in hopes of a water birth. Contractions were much more intense. The heat of the water was making me dizzy and Nick had to continually remind me to keep breathing.
My knees were hurting from kneeling on the hard tub and my arms kept going numb from dangling them out of the tub. The nurses had to keep monitoring the baby's heart rate and were having to shove the doppler probe into my stomach (which I swear hurt more than the actual contractions) to accommodate the weird positions I was in. Being uncomfortable we decided to try and change positions in the tub by sitting, leaning against the stair of the tub for the next contraction. THAT DID NOT WORK.
Nick instinctively hoisted me up off the step and out of the water. I remember looking up at Nick and saying “Okay, I get why some people choose pain meds…” and of course he responded with his catchphrase “You got this!” He really was amazing birth partner and coach through the entire labor. After that contraction I knew I was done with the tub and this wasn’t going to be a water birth.
We decided to try to use the birthing stool but only had two contractions and a few pushes on there. Something didn’t feel right to me, so our midwife wanted to check me again to be sure I was fully dilated. We got on the bed and she checked me and I was definitely 10cm dilated. I was too tired to move anywhere else so we decided to hopefully just finish labor on the bed.
The next 45 mins of pushing were filled with jokes, screaming, and passing out asleep. I was laying on the bed in the funkiest position using one of my nurses as a back support and my other nurse was squatting on the bed holding up my other leg. She sweetly apologized to anyone who might see her butt crack. I laughed and sarcastically yelled, “Guys, I am so sorry if anyyyyyyy of you see my butt crack….” All of the nurses and midwife laughed. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and every few contractions they would help me roll onto my other side. The pain was intense and I thought I kept passing out. In between all the commotion I asked my midwife if I was doing okay and if it was normal for me to be passing out in between contractions. She looked at me confused and said “You're not passing out. You're falling asleep!” I laughed and said, “Ohhh….Cool!!”
Nick was down beside the midwife, ready to catch our babe and announce the gender, but the last few contractions got more intense and he had to help the nurses hold me up. A few more burning minutes and baby was out! The way HE came out I was the first one to see him! Our midwife plopped him on my belly and I just high pitched shrieked “IT'S A BOYYYYY!” and I continued to yell that for around 5 minutes! His cord was too short to come all the way up to my chest so they just laid him on my belly until the cord was empty and Nick could cut it. We finally brought him up so I could have a better look at him. Nick and I cuddled him and I gazed up at Nick and said “Yeahhhh I can do that again.” <3
I was so lucky and had very minimal tearing and didn't need any stitches! My placenta was taking a little longer than they wanted to come out so Nick did skin to skin with Kade, while the nurses and I delivered the placenta. After that Kade and I took an herbal bath together. They took stats on Kade, checked me one more time, and we went home! Just 5 hours after giving birth! I know some people probably think it's crazy to leave so soon after labor. Originally we thought so too, but after having Kade, Nick had our bags packed up 3 hours after but our midwives told us that we should stay a little while longer. We got home just before 5 in the morning. I fed Kade and then after being up for near 40 hours, I finally went to sleep!
God provided me with the grace I needed, the people I needed, in the place I needed to be. We feel so blessed to have our son!
Theresa Thomas is wife to Nick and mother to Kadian, Paxton, and two saints in Heaven, Fran and Mari. She and her husband live in rural Indiana and have a strong devotion to the Holy Family. She loves all things Laura Ingalls and is passionate about homemaking and living out the vocation of wife and mother. You can find her at Holy Family Homestead and on Instagram @holyfamilyhomestead.
Birth photography by Alexandra Martin Photography