a longer birth story

(Settle in.  I've been working on this post for weeks and the labor video is at the end!)

I'm sitting down to write this post about Nora Kate's birth and realizing that it will, most likely, take me longer to write and edit it then it did for me to birth her.  SICK.  After she was born, my darling dad MAY have asked me if there was something medically wrong with me b/c I (apparently) shoot babies out so fast.  I don't believe there is; I don't have an explanation other than I am, in fact, a complete freak of nature. (My midwife prefers 'Super Birther' or 'Speedy Gonzales' but we all know Freak of Nature is more my style.)

NK looking foxy at five weeks.  HOW DID SHE COME OUT SO FAST?

I've had some time to process the whole episode and, uh, it's so not processed.  It's been a little over a month and I'm still reeling.  I'm definitely sensitive about the whole situation.  Two unassisted-ish home births was not EVER in my plan.  (Trust me, some people really can make you feel like a 'freak' about something as relatively normal as an uncomplicated - i'll give you it was real fast - childbirth.)  Reactions are varied... just like last time.   It's sort of hilarious and almost embarrassing to be like, yea, pretty much EXACTLY THE SAME THING HAPPENED ONLY FASTER. Mostly because that exact scenario was the one people teased us about and, well, it happened.  Some people think it's awesome, some crazy, some people are SURE their partner would PASS OUT ON THE FLOOR if it happened to them.

Physically, I'm feeling great and my body healed up like it was supposed to and the memories of late pregnancy are fading - the peeing twenty times a night and, occasionally, needing Karl's assistance to walk from the couch to the bathroom b/c my back and pelvis hurt so bad. I would only need his assistance late at night when I had been resting too long in one spot; I would lean forward to take pressure off and he would hold my arms and we'd awkwardly dance/shuffle toward the bathroom. HOT. But, I mean, surely that didn't REALLY happen?  And SURELY I didn't walk miles and miles and miles enormously pregnant and swollen - did that REALLY happen?  I remember one walk Karl and I took (Nate in the stroller playing the iPad; it's hard to contain an active 3 year old in a stroller for too long) where I just cried the whole walk and begged him to call the doctor when we got home and take me to the hospital.   He reminded me of The Plan and told me that if that's what I REALLY wanted, we could do that, but that he thought I should try and stick to the original plan.  I also remember MANY moments of wanting to call the ultrasound tech to find out the sex (she told us if we changed our minds about finding out that we should call her; she also gave us a disc with pictures on it).  Karl also reminded me of The Plan on that (though I think he was quite tempted as well).  I have to say, on both counts, I'm glad that I stuck to The Plan but neither were easy.

Let's talk about those final weeks.  First, I tried secluding myself.  (Well, I didn't try it; I did it.)  The only person I wanted to see or talk to was Karl.  And I even hated him a little bit.  Karl's mom was picking up Nate from school and I was holed up watching our (very limited) movie collection.  (Super Troopers, Office Space, Juno, Knocked Up, Dazed and Confused, Little Ms. Sunshine.)  (For the record, I literally cried for hours during and after Juno.  And not just like, oh, little movie tears cry... like large, heaping sobbing.)   (Please remember my grandmother also passed away this week and I was missing the funeral so I had a WHOLE LOT going on emotionally.)   Oh and BASEBALL.  We watched A LOT of baseball.  I DVRed games and watched them again.  I know, right?

Then, finally, Karl and I decided that maybe secluding myself and crying for days on end was not the best option for an extrovert like myself and, instead, maybe we should start going about our normal business.  I really feel like this decision was the turning point for me.  It was Sunday evening and I sent out a massive call to action text message to invite some friends over for the Cardinals game.  And they came.  And it was glorious.  And we watched baseball and I stood in the kitchen (where we always end up) TALKING LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING and was able to relax enough and let go of some control.   My midwife for weeks told me I needed to "allow my body go into labor" and I'm pretty sure I wanted to punch her in the face when she said it (I WAS TRYING EVERY TRICK IN THE GD BOOK!) but, looking back, there is some factor of mental control I had to give up (very difficult for a control freak like myself) and, once I did and let go of some of my plan, my body was able to relax enough to do it's thing.  (Call me crazy if you like; I'm okay with it.)

For the record, my midwives and my OB would not allow me to go past 43 weeks.  My particular midwife (Kim) has never had someone make it to 43.  At 41 weeks, we started assessments to make sure the baby and the mama were fine (we were).  I had her at 41 weeks, 6 days and was scheduled for an appointment at 9 a.m. the next morning at our hospital's labor and delivery - if she hadn't decided to come out by then, I'm not entirely sure I would have left the hospital even if everything had checked out okay.  My willpower was hanging by a thread.  After that initial assessment, we would schedule them every 24-48 hours to check both baby and mama vitals.

On Monday the 3rd, Karl decided to stay home from work (This is where, looking back, the Birth Story unknowingly becomes a bit like a scene from a cheesy, hippy-dippy 70s textbook.)  We took Nate to school together and we went for a looooooooong walk.  It was gorgeous outside and I spent most of the walk talking about my grandma and NOT The Baby or The Plan.  Then we went to lunch at one of our favorite date restaurants (Cheers in the Heights) and sat outside and I had one of my favorite meals in town.   I picked Nate up from school and we went to park with my friend Jaime and her little girl Sadie.  (Jaime is also a Labor and Delivery nurse and was going to accompany me to L&D for my tests that week.) We came home, watched TV and I went to bed around 11 with ZERO HOPE of having a baby that night, resigned and totally okay with going to the hospital Wednesday morning and perhaps staying there.

Labor Crab Cakes?  Are pregnant women even supposed to eat Crab Cakes?
Well, y'all kind of know what happens next.  I woke up from a dead sleep (for real) just before 2 a.m. with massive, crazy contractions and we called our midwives and Karl's mom within the first five minutes of waking because WE KNEW.  I am forever thankful that Mary Kay was able to get Nate out in time.  I don't remember much of that (I was trying to get in the bath to slow my labor the fuck down.).  Honestly, he would have been fine (I think?  He would have had to be?) but there was definitely hollering and bodily fluids and no one to hold him so I'm REAL GLAD we didn't have to contend with him being there and could, instead, focus. 

Nate this week in the exact spot NK was born!
As I mentioned in my previous birth story post, Karl was on the phone with Kim and she was flying down the highway (sound familiar?  NATES LABOR!).  This time, however, he did not stay on the phone with her.  (No, she did not quite make it.  And the midwife that lives closer to us was at another birth.  And, it must be noted, had we even tried to go to the hospital - which is literally 5 minutes from our house - I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it through admissions.).

We did try to keep most of the lights out (it was the middle of the night so most were out anyway) so I do remember it being dark.  We had some candles in the bathroom and the attic fan was on.  Totally creepy and way too cold for a newborn!  I know Karl was in the kitchen doing some dishes (because I remember thinking WHAT is he DOING?!  ha!) before Kim and Shea got there and, as stated, I was TRYING and FAILING at getting in the bath.  I remember screaming for him and thinking THERE IS NO FUCKING WAY I CAN DO THIS FOR EVEN ANOTHER HOUR.  I remember the overwhelming need to vomit (I didn't) and I remember Karl looking at me and I think I sort of saw him through my cloudy labor haze and I think he said "I think you are in transition" (Later he told me I had The Crazy Eyes.) and I think I said, "I WANT KIM!"  Then, he said that lovely, supportive line:  "It's okay.  We've done this before.  Just push the baby out." And I propped one arm against the wall and one arm against the sink counter and did that.  I do remember one of my legs shaking pretty uncontrollably the whole time (I think I must have been in much better shape when I delivered Nate!).  My amniotic sac came out with her - she wasn't quite in it... but it broke open the same push she came out and Karl kind of pushed it/swept it out of the way. 

The moment the baby came out time definitely stood still.  When Nate came out of my body, he cried immediately and then just opened his eyes and looked around.  When Nora came out, she was quiet and purple-er and it took her a minute to really work up any sort of cry.  After we determined she was breathing and okay, Karl was holding her and wrapping her in towels to get her warm.  STUPID ATTIC FAN.  Since Nora was still connected by her cord and my placenta was still inside my body, I'm sure it made for an interesting scene.  Karl couldn't move around me to turn the fan off, and  I was literally STUCK in my standing position.  Like I literally remember looking at my arms and thinking "MOVE" and not being able to do so.  It took me several minutes to work myself into a kneeling position.  Once I got down on my knees, my placenta did come out and Kim and Shea arrived within minutes of this happening.  Karl also used the time to determine Nora Kate was, in fact, Nora Kate and not a boy we would have been unable to name! (My dreams of having 3 boys named Nate, Nathan and Nathaniel are officially crushed.)

Shea and Karl and the baby stayed in the bathroom for a good amount of time (20 minutes-ish?) getting her warm (towels in the dryer!) and letting her cord continue to pulse some good blood into her little body.   Kim helped me get up and get out of there and into a quick shower before she tucked me into bed.  They don't really do APGAR scores but everyone agreed the baby looked and sounded excellent and there was nothing to worry about. 


And this, my friends, is where the labor video comes into play.   We all gathered in bed and calmed down while we watched it. 

It was absolutely perfect.

Sometimes, now, I just watch it just because.  And, now, if you are interested, I'm going to share it with you guys!  As a baby gift, my friend Amy gave us a domain name for Nora (how cool is that?) and we decided to use it for this.   

Forewarning:  the video is long and you can click away if you so choose!  There is some ridiculous video of me at the end ENORMOUSLY pregnant and crazily referencing BENDY STRAWS!  If you know me well, you can TELL in my voice and my face how much happier I am in the final video. (read: THE ONE AFTER THE BABY CAME OUT.)  

Background image of the site is courtesy of my good friend Christen Byrd. She also took some other amazing photos like this one:

AND IF YOU MADE IT HERE, I thank you for reading!

AND IF YOU SUBMITTED SOMETHING TO THE VIDEO, I thank you!   Neither Karl nor I are terribly gifted in the art of video-making but we had fun creating it and hope you like it as well. 

OKAY, OKAY, HERE IT IS: http://www.norakatehills.com - DO IT!  (Please let me know if you have any technical issues; video is not my friend.  It might take a minute to load depending on your internet speed.) 


Unknown said...

Again, you write with such wit and perspective about a, erm, challenging situation. I had many favorite lines, but I think my top one is, "On Monday the 3rd, Karl decided to stay home from work (This is where, looking back, the Birth Story unknowingly becomes a bit like a scene from a cheesy, hippy-dippy 70s textbook.)" Awesome.

Angela said...

You are a rockstar. And I heart the video-- I watched the whole thing! ;-)

Amy B. said...

You are such an awesome woman.

melissa said...


i love this whole post. you and karl make me proud to know you both. i just wanna squish on all four of your faces and someday i hope that scott and i can move into your basement or attic or apartment-over-garage so that we can be close to you magic people all the time. :)

love you friend! congratulations again and again and again!

Jennifer said...

It's the perfect birth story for a perfect baby. I love you and I'm proud of you for so many things.

Our Happy Married Life... said...

congratulations! I've been the worst blogger and haven't checked in on you lately so I apologize for the late response to sweet Nora Kate. She's beautiful!

Cara Beth said...

You inspire me.

Andrea said...

I think you're the bee's knees, Kat.

Thank you for sharing your story. WOW!!

Anonymous said...

Loved the video. It made me cry. Congratulations, you have a beautiful family.

--Aunt Jayne

Jax said...

You are so awesome, friend! I love that you're a super birther! Seriously, though.. I admire you and you brought tears to my eyes AND had me laughing, too. You're fantastic and Nate and Nora are lucky to have such a fabulous mommy and daddy. And the video.. AMAZING! I love the little girl "I hope you're not in pain" haha... And Jenny at the Tin Dog.. holy hilarious! :) Love you, friend. Thanks for posting this.

sdhorton said...

I loved reading this post. I am quite sure if we experienced something like this we would be quite terrified. What an awesome birth experience(s) you and Karl got to share together!

Kate said...

so beautiful! your video made me cry. good lord, what is wrong with me?

a few comments: is the video sponsored by Anheuser Busch? : ) Love how prominently the bud light features. Also love that Georgia's puke and poop have been immortalized in film. ha ha! It was so fun to hear your voice. Nora Kate is gorgeous.

And now I feel like I should go videotape Waylon RIGHT THIS MINUTE before he grows up. Am I too late already?!?!?

Stacia said...

That is such an awesome video!!! And I made it in time :)
Your a bathroom rockstar!!