I was 4 days past my due date and extremely discouraged that I didn’t have my baby in my arms yet. I’m a doula, I know better, a due date is just a guess date, but I was still frustrated. My mom was in town for the birth and scheduled to leave in 3 days! What if she came into town for the birth and MISSED it?! That was the most stressful part of waiting for me, because I needed my mom there! Thankfully, Friday October 30th, I woke up at 2am with contractions. I was THRILLED! I didn’t wake Jimmy and I just let my body do its thing. They were mild enough that I could fall asleep between them but continued steadily at 5 minutes apart until about 6am. I woke Jimmy at 5 and told him not to go into work because today was the day! I got out of bed around 7 when Kennedy woke up and excitedly told my mom! Not long after Kennedy woke up did I notice my contractions slow way down. I have heard that this can happen when you have other children, that your body can just push pause on labor because you are needed by your other children. Well, that sucks I thought! Jimmy wasted a precious day off for nothing. But, it was pretty nice because my mom stayed with Kennedy and Jimmy and I were able to take a long walk around the neighborhood together while I pounded some red raspberry leaf tea. I was having contractions still but they were like 10 minutes apart and not consistent or very long. We got back from our walk and I decided to join my mom and Kennedy on their trip to Meijer. The contractions slowed down even more. I was pretty bummed. When we got home, I took a nap as my contractions had completely stopped. Around 4pm, we all decided to walk to Family Video to rent a movie. It’s about a 2 mile walk round trip and we had made that trip countless times that week hoping to kick start labor. Sure enough, my contractions started back up! By the time we left Family Video, I needed to stop and breathe through each one. They were getting stronger but were still very manageable. On our walk home, they were about 7 minutes apart and I was so hopeful that today was still the day! We ordered Chinese takeout for dinner and I had maybe 2 bites. A true sign that I was really in labor, as I hate eating during it. The contractions slowly got closer together but I managed them well by just breathing and swaying my hips. By 6:30pm I decided to call my midwife, Kathi, and give her an update. My contractions were 4-5 minutes apart but were still totally manageable. I told her that I wasn’t ready for her to come yet. She kept asking me, “Are you sure?” I was sure. At this point, I actually thought to myself, “Maybe I got better at giving birth, this really isn’t that hard!” and “I’m way tougher now than I was when I had Kennedy!” HAHA oh how cute and naïve of me!
I switched up positions and labored on the birthing ball a little and read books to Kennedy before she went to bed. It was a little emotional for me knowing she would wake up and she would no longer be the baby. Jimmy put Kennedy to bed at 7 and almost instantly my contractions kicked it up a notch! They were getting more intense where I would require my mom to give counter pressure on my back. I started to quietly moan through each contraction. We continued watching Last Man Standing and I took each contraction as they came, still thinking it would be a long time before the baby was born. At 8:30pm, I had an exceptionally harder contraction and I felt two pops and my water broke while I was standing in the dining room. That was a new feeling since I didn’t feel my water break with Kennedy as it happened while I was pushing during her birth. I changed and told Jimmy to call Kathi pronto! I knew my labor was about to get SO much harder. I even texted my friend Leslie saying, “My water broke. I’m scared.” I’m pretty sure she said, “You should be. I’ll pray for you! HAHA” We laughed about it and I was right, the contractions instantly became harder. It was right then that I felt like I actually was in labor!
Kathi didn’t answer when Jimmy called but she called me right back in between contractions and I told her my water had broken. She immediately said, “I’ll be right over!” She arrived at 9pm along with Tianne, a missionary midwife who works in Sudan and who attended Kennedy’s birth and just happened to be back in TC for the month and was able to attend another birth of ours, AND Kristen, a nurse and student midwife who I just met for the first time that night. I was still chatty between contractions so I was happy to see everyone all huddled in my bathroom, setting up for the birth. Jimmy set up the birth tub and quickly tried to fill it (I had told him I wasn’t ready for the tub all night so he was scrambling knowing it was time!) Each contraction came intensely and close together and I needed hard counter pressure on my back with each one.
I got in the tub around 9:30 and had found my groove for each contraction. I needed to be holding Jimmy or someone’s hands while my mom or the midwives provided counter pressure. Contractions were incredibly close together, giving me about 15-30 seconds of a break between each one. Occasionally I would get a minute or so break between them and I began to DREAD that because that meant that the next contraction would be horrible and last about 2 minutes. Which, if you’ve ever given birth, you know that’s like an eternity! At one point, I asked for prayer and everyone in the room took turns praying over my labor and my sweet boy. It was such a memorable moment that I will never forget.
My contractions were getting really strong at this point. To be real, it was so hard, it hurt, and I had awful back labor but my attitude this labor was so much different than it was during Kennedy’s. I was very much able to focus on each contraction and I didn’t let myself think about the future contraction. I dealt with each hard one as it came. I actually didn’t even get checked the entire labor, we just let my body do what it needed to do knowing the baby would come when he was ready. I had such an amazing birth team, everyone alternated giving me counter pressure, holding my hands, and keeping the tub warm.
Things were getting pretty intense and Kathi was surprised that I hadn’t had the urge to push yet. So she suggested I get out of the tub to pee to see if that was what was holding things up. So around 11, as soon as my feet left the tub, a huge contraction hit me like a train as I leaned into Kathi’s arms! I looked down, saw blood on my leg and screamed with excitement, “YES! BLOOD!!!!” Hahaha! Weird I know, but I knew that meant that I was almost done! My baby was going to be there so soon! I made it to the bathroom, peed, and then my next contraction came. I was standing in the middle of the bathroom yelling that I was pooping. I knew I wasn’t and that my body was starting to push but I said it anyway. I was leaning heavily into Jimmy’s arms, still needed counter pressure, and pushing while standing in my bathroom. At some point, I realized it probably wasn’t the best idea to give birth to my baby while standing up but I physically wasn’t able to move beyond a few steps. I couldn’t make it to the bed or back to the birthing tub so I just dropped to my hands and knees in the crammed carpeted space between my bathroom and bed and decided that right there was where I was going to have my baby! It wasn’t exactly an ideal spot to give birth but that’s where it was happening! Thankfully, I have a strong husband because while pushing I was still leaning into him with my whole body weight/pulling his shirt/biting him. Haha he handled it and supported me like such a rockstar!!!! It felt so comforting burying my head into his chest with each push. It really felt like we were “doing it together” as I pushed to meet our son. Only 20 minutes of pushing later, and at 11:35pm Cole Joseph Kraus was born! He was passed under my legs and into my arms! He was 8lbs 4 oz, 20.5 in long, and had a head full of dark hair! It was such an incredible birth experience! I couldn’t have done it without the help of Jimmy and my mom and our 3 amazing midwives! We got to cuddle our sweet boy in bed, he nursed like a pro, and Kennedy was overjoyed when she met him in the morning! Just like that, we became a family of four!