As I sit down to type this out, Carter is currently 3 months old and napping on my lap at the gym. In some ways it feels like I had him just yesterday and in other ways I don’t know what we did without him.
It’s like he was a puzzle piece we didn’t know our family was missing until he arrived.
If birth grosses you out, I’d suggest you stop reading now.
Carter’s birth story really starts two days before his arrival.
I had what would turn out to be my last prenatal appointment with my OBGYN on Wednesday, January 25th.
Upon seeing my doctor she informed me that I still had the world’s most boring pregnancy (good problem to have) and that she wouldn’t be performing any cervical checks until my next appointment since I had been showing no pre-labour symptoms. In fact, she told me to be prepared to be patient as she expected I may be 41 weeks before I delivered.
Admittedly, I was a bit bummed upon hearing this and asked her if there was anything I could do to move things along. I wasn’t in a rush to deliver but I wanted to avoid induction at all costs since I was planning to have a natural birth and knew induction could decrease the chances of that happening. She told me to stay active and keep positive and that she would see me again the following week.
I left the doctor’s office and headed into the gym and told Steve what was going on. Since we figured we had at least another week before our little guy arrived, we made plans for the weekend to get in one final date night at The Keg.
The next day was like any other. I slept in and enjoyed my morning at home before heading into the gym for work. I worked out (deadlifted) and trained clients and everything was business as usual. Steve wanted to make sure everything was ready for the big day and decided to stay late at the gym to get some extra work done. When my husband stays to do extra work, he can easily be at the gym until the wee hours of the morning and I told him not to worry and stay as late as he needed. Just before I left with Tyson for the night I told him I was feeling just a bit funny but assumed it was because I was hungry and didn’t think too much of it.
Once I got home just after 8, I realized I was absolutely famished and made myself some homemade chicken alfredo. I scarfed down my pasta and started watching an episode of my 600lb life on the PVR. Once my pasta had a chance to somewhat digest I realized I still felt a little off. Nothing crazy but definitely something different.
I jumped in the tub and did my best to relax but realized that these cramps were starting to come in more and more of a pattern. Once I was out of the tub I started looking on my various pregnancy apps to re-read what labor would be like (because you have no flippin’ idea as a first time mom!) and thought that I might be in the very early stages.
At this point it was just after 9pm and I phoned Steve and told him I was getting some random cramps but that they could just be pre-labour cramps that could last days. He asked if I wanted him to come home and I told him not to worry about it for now and that I would let him know if things progressed.
In the months leading up to the big day I had been learning and studying hypnobirthing which is basically a method you can use to help your body relax making a natural delivery much easier, so they say. While some of it was a little ‘out there’ for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook I listened to and decided to re-listen to the pre-labor meditation.
Around 10:30 things started to really kick up a notch, suddenly I was having noticeable contractions that were coming in more predictable waves. I phoned Steve again (who had been texting me checking in) and told him that we were definitely going to have this baby in the next 24 hours and that he should make his way home.
Once Steve arrived we started to time my contractions as they kept getting more and more intense. I kept busy walking around the house, re-checked my hospital bag, which had be packed and re-packed more times than I can count, and just tried to stay calm and focus on my breathing.
Around 11:15 I decided I wanted to take another bath to relieve some of the pressure in my back and went upstairs to soak in the tub again. Steve sat by my side and kept timing the contractions which just kept intensifying but not so bad that I couldn’t talk through them. Once I hopped out of the tub I decided I would put on some comfy clothes to wear to the hospital and just kept pacing around our bedroom.
My goal was to stay at home as long as possible. I knew the longer I stayed home where I was comfortable, the better chance I would have of not having any medical intervention. As the contractions intensified the only comfortable position was to be bent over the stairs on all fours. Sometimes I would ask Steve to rub my back and other times I just wanted to be left alone to breathe through the pain.
We kept timing them and I kept waiting for them to hit 1 minute in duration and be 5 minutes apart. At this point my contractions were 30-45 seconds but coming every 2-3 minutes. Suddenly, I reached a point where I just knew we needed to head into the hospital. It was like a switch flipped and we needed to leave NOW.
Steve warmed up the car, loaded up our overnight bags then we said goodbye to Tyson and were on our way. The drive to the hospital is when things really started to sink in for both of us. This baby is coming, and it’s coming soon. At this point my contractions were so intense I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t even sit on the seat of the car, I was using my arms to prop myself up to relieve the pressure.
We pulled into the parking lot around 3:15 am and I couldn’t walk very far because the contractions were now coming fast and furious. Thank goodness the hospital was empty because I was doubling over every minute or so. We made our way to admitting where I was given a gown to change into and told that they would check me to make sure I was actually in labor. Ummm if I wasn’t in labor at this point, I wanted NO part in it thank you very much.
The nurse commented on how quickly my contractions seemed to be coming and so I was totally disheartened when she informed me I was only 4cm. I had forgotten to tell her that I didn’t want to know how far along I was as I knew it could play head games with me. Honestly, I was hoping I was much further along at this point with how intense things were. However, I remembered that I had progressed this far so quickly and that things can change really fast.
We were taken to our labor and delivery suite where we met our nurse and got settled in. The suites at Victoria hospital are lovely. They all have large windows across the one wall and giant soaker tubs. After pacing around for a while I decided maybe a bath would be the way to go so our nurse filled the tub and I climbed in.
Unfortunately after being in the tub for just a short while I realized I still couldn’t sit down and being on all fours in a tub wasn’t very comfortable so I got back out and continued to pace and brace myself over the edge of the bed. I also tried sitting on the birthing ball with no luck, I simply couldn’t sit down and had to be standing, leaning over the bed. We had the bed raised as high as it could be and as each contraction hit like a wave I would flop over the edge of the bed and brace and do my best to breathe through it. I’m so happy I wasn’t hooked up to any machines and had the freedom to move around as I felt like.
I have to say, Steve was absolutely incredible throughout the entire process. If he was nervous or squeemish, he didn’t let it show one bit. He was ultra attentive and got my water, chapstick, rubbed my back and did anything and everything I needed. He truly was the best birth partner and I’m so grateful he was by my side the entire time.
After another hour or so of relentless contractions I was starting to feel very drained and was seriously questioning how much longer I could keep going at this pace. They were coming so frequently that I had no chance to rest in between and as much as I was trying to breathe through them it was becoming increasingly difficult.
It’s funny because two weeks before I went into labor I found this water bottle at Walmart and got it to have during delivery so I would remind myself to breathe and focus on our baby. Word to the wise…it didn’t work but it did make me smile briefly.
The nurse asked if I would like to be checked again and she told me I was progressing well and that I basically had two options at this point. I could either keep doing what I was doing and just wait it out or I could have the doctor come in and break my water to get things moving more quickly. She also told me if I wanted an epidural that now was likely my last chance to get one.
It was at this point that I started to doubt whether or not I had it in me to continue along without medication. I was just so tired and not having any rest in between was absolutely draining me as my entire body would tense up each time a contraction crashed into me. With some encouragement from Steve and the nurse who both said I had done so well up until this point, I decided to have the doctor break my water.
Looking back it reminds me of Cameron Diaz from the movie What to Expect When You’re Expecting where she just buckles down and says ‘let’s do this’.
The doctor came in and I got up on the bed for her to break my water. When she did it was was like the most amazing relief of pressure ever. As soon as all the fluid came out (lovely image I know) I felt like I was finally able to breathe. I had read that right before the pushing you would get a bit of a break as contractions could slow down and knew that I had to take full advantage of this.
At this point I was offered the nitrous oxide (AKA laughing gas) and opted to use it so I could be fully ready to push. I had planned on likely using the gas and it was amazing! For those not familiar, it’s self administered – you grab the mask when you feel a contraction coming and stop when it’s over – and while it blunts pain, it doesn’t eliminate it. It’s really meant to just take the edge off. The effects only last while you’re inhaling it and it has no lasting effects on mom and doesn’t affect the baby at all (epidurals go into the blood stream and reach the baby which can make them less alert at birth). The other thing I liked is that it forced me to breathe deeply and slowly.
We realized what time it was and that Steve would have clients showing up at the gym in a few hours! Since we didn’t think I would go this early we hadn’t finalized our plans so Steve quickly phoned his parents and told them their grandchild was on the way and asked if they could go open the gym for us. My father in law was quite excited that I went into labor early as he was set to fly out to El Salvador to build homes on February 2nd, three days before my due date.
Suddenly the contractions started to pick back up again and I had the urge to bare down and push. I was told to wait as I wasn’t quite ready but that I would be shortly. Just before 7am I was told that our nurse would be leaving us as her shift was over and was introduced to two new nurses who came in and got the rundown on what was going on. It was right at this point that things started to really intense. They contractions were extremely intense and I kept feeling the urge to push.
At this point I was given the go ahead from the nurses to start pushing during my contractions and that a doctor would be there shortly. I stopped using the nitrous oxide and simply pushed and breathed through each contraction as they came. It’s funny because I thought that as soon as I started pushing there would be doctors all around and people would be yelling at me to push when in reality, they showed me what to do and left Steve and I to it. Yes they still watched and kept an eye on my breathing and vitals but it wasn’t how I thought it would be.
After a few rounds of pushing by myself the nurses came over and checked and said I was actually getting very close and they phoned for the doctor again because they said the baby was coming very soon!
This was everything I needed to hear. Once I knew that baby boy was close to making his debut I had this huge surge of adrenaline and Steve and I both got ready to meet the little baby we had been talking and dreaming about for months. After about 15 minutes two doctors came into the room and the male doctor said, ‘who’s ready to have a baby?’ and told me to really focus on quality pushing. My original OB couldn’t be there but I’m so happy with who I wound up with, he was so funny and calm and had a very cool bandana and a sailor tattoo on his arm that I could only see because his sleeves were rolled up.
At one point he asked me if I wanted a mirror to assist with pushing. ‘No thank you’ was my abrupt response. After a few more intense pushes he asked if I wanted to feel the baby’s head coming out, again ‘no thank you’ was my immediate response. Apparently I’m very polite during delivery.
After 45 minutes of total pushing (the doctors were only there for the last 20 minutes or so) he was here. All 7lbs 3 oz of perfection.
He was placed on my chest immediately after he came out and I just remember looking up at Steve with disbelief that he was actually here. We were parents and he was ours. Carter Theodore David Hendriksen had forever changed our lives in an instant.
After he came out I was informed that he had come out in a posterior position, or sunny side up and that’s why he took more effort to get out. The nurse informed me I would have had him out in 5-10 minutes had he been the right way. It also explained why I couldn’t sit down and use certain relaxation methods because I was experiencing back labor (without even knowing it). Because of his positioning he had some mild bruising on his head and face for a week or so after he was born.
Carter stayed on my chest while I delivered the placenta and they stitched me up and then he was cleaned up, measured and weighed. After that he was all wrapped up and Steve got some snuggles in while I got up and showered. One of the best things about not having an epidural and being numb and needing a catheter was being able to get up and shower on my own afterwards. It was hands down the greatest shower ever and it gave the nurses a chance to clean up the bed and floors – birth is messy!
After a little while we realized that we should phone our families and let them know everyone was doing great. Since my mom and sister had no idea I had even gone into labor it took a little bit to get in touch with everyone but they were all so happy and surprised by his early arrival. I was originally due on February 5th (superbowl Sunday) and wound up having him at 7:26am on January 27th.
Once Carter had successfully latched on and they checked to ensure my uterus was contracting and that there was no major bleeding we were moved to a recovery room to continue cuddle our little man and have family come by and visit. We only stayed in the hospital for the suggested 24 hours so they could do all of the initial screenings before heading home with our little bundle of joy.
I feel so lucky and blessed to have had the birth I really wanted and that everything went so smoothly – and relatively quick! The entire staff at the hospital was amazing and they were so integral for me having the delivery I wanted. I absolutely could not have done it without my amazing husband and I’ve looked at him differently ever since that day. He was my strength when things got tough and Carter, Tyson and I are just so lucky to have him.
I honestly love everything about our birth story – even the really hard parts – because it brought us the greatest gift we could have asked for. Thank you for taking the time to read and for sharing in such a special time for our little family.
Now that I’ve had some time off to enjoy lots of newborn snuggles I’ll be posting more regularly (likely when Carter naps) and I can’t wait to share more with everyone!