It’s been a month since Nellie was born. A month! How? I’m so excited to share her birth story with you all. It was fast, hard as heck, surprising, and beautiful.
Days leading up to labor
Over the weekend before Nellie was born (she was born on a Monday) I was starting to get more excited about meeting our baby, nervous about birthing a child again, and impatient at the idea of waiting until 40 + 4 like I did with Hayes. So I walked. Ultimately, I know the baby will come when the baby comes and it’s really not my decision, but I walked. I walked at least 3 miles a day and I also started to try some other “get it going” methods- like walking, eating spicy food, and drinking red raspberry leaf tea – because doing something that might help made me feel better mentally.
Morning – faint contractions
Since my 4 mile walk on Sunday evening I had been having very faint and very inconsistent contractions — the kind that you can easily talk yourself out of being a contraction. They felt like braxton hicks, but lower and deeper than normal. I decided to use my breast pump while working in the morning since I was already contracting, just like I did with Hayes’ birth.
11am – got a pedicure
Old wives tale or not? The pedicure thing sounded life a bunch of bologna to me, but why turn down a pedicure? Especially when I went into labor just hours after getting a pedicure with Hayes. If I’m going to try anything this one is high on my list for obvious reasons. Also we got my mom a pedicure for Mother’s Day (but quarantine), so on Monday late morning my mom and I decided to get pedicures for my lunch hour. We headed over there and 11 and enjoyed a “deluxe” pedicure (aka extra massage) in masks. I was having contractions at the salon, probably more than I wanted to let on, but I was still wasn’t convinced they would turn into labor. I’m pretty sure my mom knew I was having more contractions than I was saying. Moms just know.
1:30pm – water breaks!
I continued to work from home after my pedicure. I was sitting criss-cross applesauce on my bed with my computer resting on my “pillow desk” in front of me when I heard a loud pop, felt a pop (down there), and immediately felt gushes of water. What a weird thing. It truly sounded and felt like a balloon popped. I was so surprised that my water broke. With Hayes’ labor my water didn’t break until I was pushing, minutes from meeting my baby, so this was a whole new experience. I remember thinking, dang it, all my contraction cushion is gone! lol
Immediately after water broke I called Jeff and told him, but I know that having your water break does not necessarily mean your baby is close, so I told him to keep working until I called back. I texted my doula and my midwife to tell them my water had broke so all of “my people” were aware that things were starting. I started having contractions about 4 minutes apart, but I was not convinced they were going to stay like that. I decided to download an app to track contractions so there was a clear picture of my progress. 4 minutes apart grew to 8 minutes apart, but pretty soon after went back to 5 minutes apart and started to pick up in intensity. I called Jeff and told him that he probably should come home, just in case, but it might be too early.
2:30pm – it’s really happening
After I called Jeff I went to finish packing last minute things in the hospital bag — you know I had a list of the things that I still needed to add (phone charger, tooth brush, etc.) so it only took me a few minutes.
When Jeff arrived he laid out some beach towels, grabbed the exercise ball for me to lean into on contractions, and put on a chick flick for a mindless distraction through contractions (we went with Princess Diaries). We labored at home just the two of us, watching the movie, and casually talking about the labor. It all felt kind of surreal.
I started to moan softly through contractions not long after Jeff got home. And by 3:30 I was stopping and working through each contraction, kind of surprised by how difficult they were already. Jeff and I both were already wondering if we should head to the hospital and at one point I remember Jeff saying, “I don’t want to deliver this baby, Syd”, ha! So I decided to send a screen shot of my contraction tracker to my doula, and pretty quickly she encouraged us to head to the hospital, she would meet us there instead of coming to our house.
3:45pm – left for the hospital
I was still in really good spirits when we left for the hospital. Contractions were tough and I was vocal through them, but in between I felt totally normal and in control. We arrived at the hospital a little after 4pm, I was stopping to work through each contraction, which was more vocal and more painful at this point, but still manageable, and in between contractions I walked very quickly before the next one hit.
4:05 – checked into triage
We made our way to the fourth floor of the hospital and into triage around 4:05pm. My doula’s timing was absolutely perfect, we were talking with the triage nurse and then next thing I knew she was standing next to us. My midwife wasn’t there yet (my sweet midwife had rearranged an appointment that was originally at 5pm to 3:30pm so she could be at the hospital for the birth — spoiler, she didn’t make it in time!) so the midwife on call, Erin, asked for permission to check me in triage and I was dilated to a 4/5 and 100% effaced. When I was in triage for Hayes’ birth I was dilated to a 6/7 so when I first heard 4/5 I was a little disappointed (which is exactly why I like getting checked as little as possible, it doesn’t mean much and just ends up messing with your head!). My doula knows my personality really well and she knows it’s always my goal to labor at home as long as possible so she could sense I thought I had come to the hospital too early. She reassured me “Sydney, that number means nothing, your baby is coming”, which was just what I needed to hear to stay focused.
4:30pm – labored in the tub
On the way to our labor and delivery room I remember really wanting the nurse to walk faster in between my contractions. In hindsight, I know she was being kind and probably assumed I wanted to walk slowly through the pain, but when I wasn’t contracting I wanted to get moving and get to that tub! When we got to our room I was really working hard through contractions. My doula started the water and got some oils diffusing in the bathroom while I changed into a gown and went through some formalities with the nurse. At my last appointment I told my midwife I didn’t want to get an IV if it wasn’t necessary and she agreed that would be fine, but since we weren’t with my midwife and I have a history of blood clot (a story for another day) the staff felt better having a hep lock in place, which I agreed to. I got into the warm tub and the nurse put the IV in while I was in the tub. She softly said, “ok, I need you to stay still while I get this in” — which felt impossible.
I really do like laboring in the tub. The lights are off and the door is nearly shut, it’s just my husband and my doula by my side. I’ve always appreciated that my doula gets Jeff involved before she steps in to do anything herself. I can hear her softly directing him. They got me water, cold wash cloths to put on my neck, and applied pressure during contractions. I remember feeling supported and encouraged the entire time. Being in the tub is like being in a completely different world. The only reason I know how long I was in the bath was because of the time stamps on photos on my phone. For my labor with Hayes and this labor, my doula takes my phone and documents everything at the hospital — it’s such a gift to have those moments captured!
By the end of my time in the tub I was sweaty from the hot bath and I was pushing without any control of the situation. With each contraction I was gripping the bar in the tub, my doula was encouraging “you’re pushing your baby down, you’re going to meet your baby soon,” and my husband was squeezing my shoulders really hard. I think he thought he was hurting me, but I kept asking him to squeeze my shoulders harder, for me the pressure up top helped to distract from the pressure down there.
5:00pm – pushing on the bed, minutes from meeting baby!
At 5pm I got out of the tub and instinctively got onto the bed and laid on my side to push. I know so many women that say, don’t push on the bed, but that is exactly where I want to be. The pressure of pushing is immense and the help of gravity is almost too much for me, laying down lets me have more control of it. I am not someone who finds relief from pushing, I much prefer contractions. I think the pushing in labor is the toughest thing I will ever do, both times it has felt like it was going to break me. And both times that is when I said “I don’t think I can do this”. And both times my birth time immediately reminded me that I can and I will.
While pushing on the bed I leaned into Jeff and squeezed his forearms so hard (I truly thought I might break him) and at one point I almost bit him — something we both laughed about after labor — thank God I didn’t! The contractions were so incredibly intense and I knew the baby was close right when I got onto the bed. In between contractions I completely deflated and almost went into a nap-like state, waiting for the next one to hit and reminding myself that the only way this would end is if I pushed through the pain. There was no going back now.
5:08pm – baby Nellie is born!
A handful of contractions later I felt the incredible relief of pushing the head of our baby out. And there was no way I was going to wait for another contraction so I pushed again and out came the rest of her. She was immediately brought up to my chest and Jeff announced that she was a girl — we were both shocked!
I cried from the lack of pain, the weight or her body on my chest, and the excitement of meeting her. I don’t remember doing that with Hayes, but I cried through a huge smile with Nellie’s birth. I was so incredibly happy that the whirlwind labor was over and our baby was here. It had all happened so fast I felt like I was still in shock that she was here.
My midwife arrived about 10 minutes after Nellie was born — I was so bummed she missed it, but our birth team was wonderful and we were in good hands. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I was proud of myself. And once again completely in awe of the pain and beauty of birth. And tired. So very tired. That first hour with Nellie on my skin, chatting with our birth team, while it was still light out was one of my favorite moments. It felt like a group of friends hanging out. It was casual and full of smiles and stories. Nellie arrived surrounded by love and joy in a year that needed a heck of a lot more love and joy in it — and for that I am grateful.
Welcome to the world Nellie Mae Nordquist. Born at 5:08pm on June 29, 2020 weighing 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 20 3/4 inches long. We love you so much!