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Cate O’Connor Birth Story

To begin, I was absolutely enormous in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and I thought there was no way I would make it to my due date. Skin can only stretch so much, right? Alas……… At my 38-week appt, my doctor started pressuring me to induce. He wanted to put me on the schedule for the following week (just 39 weeks) and we could just hope I went into labor before that. I told him I wasn’t interested in an induction and he said that was fine, but he really wanted me to deliver before 40 weeks and he certainly wouldn’t let me go past 41 weeks. In my head, I knew that I wasn’t going to let him induce then either, but I thought there was no way I would still be pregnant then!

My due date, Thanksgiving, came and went and I really, really, really wanted to go into labor. My sister and her husband came for the holiday and we all stared at my belly the entire weekend. We walked for miles hoping to get things started……… FINALLY, at 40 weeks and 6 days (but who’s counting?), after a day of walking, my third night of spicy eggplant parmigiana, and a massage from my sister, my water broke at 8pm. Well, my water exploded. My labor with Evan, our son, began after my water broke also, but that time I had a slight gush and then trickling. This time I filled my shoes!

I had been having mild, irregular contractions for days and they continued. By 11pm, they were coming more regularly, but not intense or close together, so we went to bed. I catnapped and woke to the occasional intense contraction. By 3am, I was no longer able to lie down as the contractions were about 4 minutes apart and requiring my full attention. Ryan and I got up, cleaned the house a bit, and Ryan made breakfast. I tried to choke down some toast and tea, but I was too nauseated.

Ryan called the doctor at 6am and told him we were on our way and fibbed a bit telling him that my water broke at 3am – just in case we needed a little more time (Evan was born 25 hours after my water broke). We woke my sister, who was very kind to stay on to take care of Evan, and Ryan loaded the car. As I got into the car, my contractions were suddenly less than 2 minutes apart and strong. I tried to focus on getting through each one and not thinking about the 30-minute car ride to the hospital. I leaned over the back seat and rested my head on the exercise ball in the trunk space with a trashcan at the ready in case I became sick. I can only imagine what fellow drivers thought as we sped down the highway (morning rush hour on I-435 – genius!).

Walking into the hospital, people kept running ahead to get me a wheelchair, which was kind, but the very last position I wanted to be in. Our first nurse was not fabulous, peppering me with questions and asking me to move during contractions. I was 6cm. I was squatting through contractions, as that was the only way I found them manageable at the time, and she kept yelling at me to stop. Ryan was great and managed her really well. Fortunately, she was terrified I was going to deliver in the triage room so we got to skip the initial monitoring and she quickly handed us off to a nurse who was very supportive and had experience with natural childbirth.

She allowed me to stand while she found Cate’s heartbeat and immediately filled the tub. I was in the tub for about an hour, which was very relaxing between contractions, but not a great position for me to manage the actual contractions. I felt much better on my feet. After “our” nurse took over, everyone was great and respected our wishes by not offering pain medication, keeping the lights dimmed, and keeping the room quiet. At about 9am, I was 8 cm. Just like my labor with my son, I felt the most discomfort in my hips. The position that worked best for me was standing, leaning on the raised bed so I could rest between contractions and Ryan applied as much pressure as possible to my hips during contractions using his whole body.

My doctor checked me about ½ an hour later and I was 9cm and feeling pretty done. Ryan was really great and took my abuse like a pro! Earlier, the nurse had asked if we would mind two student nurses joining us to give them experience with natural childbirth. I really could have cared less who was in the room and I wasn’t editing myself much, so I hope I didn’t scare them off! The nurse encouraged me to try different positions and I did the best I could, but everything else sent me through the roof. About an hour later, I started involuntarily pushing (despite the various positions I tried to stop the pushing) and the doctor said my cervix was starting to swell – still at 9cm. He suggested I push while he manually manipulated the cervix, which wasn’t exactly comfortable, but I was relieved to finally be able to push and reached 10cm about 20 minutes later.

As I started pushing, the doctor suddenly stopped, looked very concerned, and asked me how big my last baby was. Ha! It sort of infuriated me (perhaps irrationally), but I certainly hadn’t done all this work only to be told that he thought I wouldn’t be able to push out this baby! I told him it wouldn’t be a problem. In truth, she was harder to push out than Evan and took a bit longer (about 20 mins), but she was also bigger. At 11:20am on December 4th, our beautiful baby girl, Catherine Mary, was born. At 9 pounds, 1 ounce, she came out screaming and let everyone know she had finally arrived.

I felt great right away – high on our beautiful daughter. I had a small tear, but it never bothered me after the stitches. Ryan and I both felt like we’d had a really hard workout (sore muscles I can’t even identify). He definitely worked as hard as I did throughout the whole labor and I couldn’t have done it without him.

Cate is such a sweet baby and is proving to be very flexible as we find a new routine after a house full of visitors for the holidays. She was a breastfeeding champ from the beginning and is growing so fast. Evan *mostly* loves her, but has had a few green moments. I’m learning to breastfeed with him sitting on my lap too. J I’m also trying to grow two more hands, but so far no luck. We are thoroughly enjoying our new family of 4 and look forward to every new day watching them grow and learn.