I am sitting here with our sweet little newborn baby cuddled up on a squishy Boppy pillow in my lap with my laptop propped up in front of me. My heart is so incredibly full. The first few days of Ryder’s life were unlike anything we predicted or imagined and having our baby home with us feels like the biggest blessing.
I want to share Ryder’s full birth story on the blog today and it’s taken me a while to have both the time and the energy to type everything up, mostly because the first few days of Ryder’s life were incredibly stressful and scary and filled with long hours in the neonatal intensive care unit. Seeing our tiny baby hooked up to breathing tubes and feeding tubes made me feel more helpless than I have in my entire life and I am so beyond grateful for the amazing care Ryder received. I could not be more proud of his amazing strength. The nurses and doctors did not think he’d be home with us this quickly and we are so beyond thankful.
I want to share Ryder’s birth story on the blog in a way that focuses on just that – his birth. It’s hard not to feel like Ryder’s birth was clouded by everything that followed since four short hours after he arrived he was unexpectedly whisked off to the NICU but I want to focus on his birth in this post because it was a moment we hoped and prayed so hard for and it was truly one of the most incredible and emotional moments of my entire life.
Ryder’s Birth Story
Ryder was born on Monday, June 18 at 3:29 p.m. He arrived right on time – on his due date! – which shocked me mainly because I fully anticipated going into labor early since his big brother was born at 38 weeks and I had two experiences with false labor prior to his arrival. I was just beginning to think that I might need help to go into labor this time around since my doctor mentioned stripping my membranes at my 39 week appointment and said we’d discuss induction options at my 40-week appointment if I was still pregnant and no further dilated or effaced.
(39 weeks, 6 days. The day before Ryder was born!)
On the Sunday before I went into labor, we went out to dinner to celebrate Father’s Day at Hawthorne’s Pizza in Huntersville. We were on a mission to order The Inducer Pizza, a buffalo chicken pizza said to induce labor by many expectant moms in our area. A few of Ryan’s coworkers and a handful of moms I know recommended the pizza to us and even though we had no expectations of it working, it seemed like a fun activity and the buffalo chicken pizza was quite delicious!
Though I clearly cannot credit The Inducer with causing me to go into labor, we couldn’t help but laugh and say, “Well, it worked!” when I woke up around 5 a.m. on Monday morning to a serious contraction. It was very painful and I immediately rushed to the bathroom. The pain was intense and lasted about 90 seconds. Half an hour later, another contraction followed and less than 30 minutes after that, another.
I didn’t say anything to Ryan right away since he woke up just before my first contraction and went into our garage to work out. Plus, with two false labor experiences under my belt, I didn’t want to sound the alarm just in case this wasn’t the real deal. By 6:30 a.m., the pain increased further and my contractions were about 20 minutes apart. I became increasingly convinced this was the real deal. By the time Ryan was done with his workout, I told him what was happening and encouraged him to keep his cell phone on but still go into work because I didn’t want him to just wait at home and stare at me, especially since I still found myself doubting everything and worrying about another false labor experience.
Ryan headed into work just before 7 a.m. and soon after he left my mom and Chase were up. I told my mom what was happening and we both said we were pretty darn sure this was the real deal. I took a shower to try to relax and pulled on the ugliest pajamas I could find just in case my water broke or any bleeding occurred and tried to rest in our bed.
Chase joined me to “talk a little bit” which was such a great distraction. It also helped me think of things other than the pain and my thoughts mainly centered around the fact that this could very well be our last morning together before he became a big brother. Cue all the emotions!
I ended up calling Ryan at work around 9 a.m. and told him to head home within an hour because I was pretty darn positive this was the real deal. After I called him, I called my OB/GYN’s office and explained what I was experiencing. My contractions were strong and relatively close together but kind of strange. I would get one really big contraction that lasted between one and two minutes and then about 45 seconds later I experienced what I could only describe as an “after shock” contraction that was still painful but not quite as intense and lasted for 25-45 seconds.
When the nurse asked me about the spacing of my contractions I explained that they were somewhat regular but still rather far apart – about 10 minutes. I didn’t count my “after shock” contractions when I spoke with her which, in retrospect, I should have because I very likely would’ve been sent directly to the hospital. Instead, the nurse made me a 10 a.m. appointment at the OB/GYN’s office where I was hooked up to a monitor for nearly 40 minutes.
Ryan and I gave Sadie and Chase hugs and kisses, took a few last-minute family pictures during a contraction reprieve, loaded up Ryan’s car with our hospital bags and headed off to the OB/GYN.
When we arrived, I was checked and told I was 3 centimeters dilated which was encouraging since I was 2 centimeters at my 39 week appointment but also a bit discouraging since I was hoping to be further along.
During the 40 minutes I spent hooked up to the monitors, my contractions became very regular and I had one big contraction every four minutes but my “after shock” contractions continued in between each of them with just as much pain but a shorter duration. I was given apple juice and Cheez-Its to try to make our baby move since I wasn’t feeling much movement at this point. Thankfully the juice seemed to do the trick and made our baby move but 40 minutes later I was in so much pain and feeling more and more nauseated by the second.
When the nurse practitioner came in to check on me for a second time, she looked at my contraction readings and said she had no doubt this was the real deal and sent us across the street to the hospital. I ended up throwing up in the parking lot of the OB/GYN’s office and then Ryan and I sped off to the hospital where I was immediately admitted a little after 11 a.m. and hooked up to the monitors.
They didn’t check me at this point since my contractions were so close together and the nurses said they thought things were going to progress very quickly. I was in so much pain – I truly think I blacked out how freaking painful contractions are after my first delivery – and when they said I could request the epidural immediately, I didn’t hesitate when I said YES.
It took a while to get fluids into my body and for the anesthesiologist to come into our room with my epidural and I did everything I could to work through the pain of seemingly back-to-back contractions. One thing I remembered from my labor with Chase was that there was NOTHING I could do to alleviate the pain of a contraction and no position I could get into to make myself feel better. That rang true this time as well and I moaned and groaned through the pain.
Eventually my epidural was ready and I didn’t care at all bout the needle because I just wanted the pain relief! Unfortunately the epidural didn’t work for me the first time. My legs and feet were numb but I still felt the pain of every single contraction. The doctor apologized and said this was extremely rare but assured me he thought he could try again with success. The whole process of getting the second epidural took nearly an hour and I ended up throwing up again and continued to try to breathe my way through contractions, this time with tingly legs that required me to stay in bed.
My second epidural worked quickly and the pain relief was so ridiculously wonderful.
I relaxed and found myself thinking more and more about the moment I’d push and we’d meet our baby for the first time. I was totally awake and alert (I refused any pain or nausea medication prior to the epidural since I received something before my epidural with Chase that I HATED because it made me feel mentally fuzzy) and I truly had FUN talking with Ryan about baby names and the excitement surrounding not knowing whether we were about to meet our son or daughter. I know epidurals aren’t for everyone but man oh man it was the right decision for me. Bless that epidural. Phew!!!
Soon after my second epidural took effect, I was checked and told I progressed to 8 centimeters and was 100 percent effaced. Our midwife broke my water and told me I’d likely be pushing within an hour. It was so exciting!
The next time I was checked was less than an hour later and I was 10 centimeters dilated. The same midwife who delivered Chase was working on Monday and since we have such a great relationship, I was absolutely thrilled when she said she couldn’t wait to deliver our second baby, too. She told me I could try one “practice push” to see how it felt and that was all Ryder needed to begin his journey into the world!
Our midwife saw his head and told me to stop pushing because the next push would be the push and we’d meet our little one! It was such a surreal experience and when I was told to push again, I pushed hard and could feel Ryder’s body sliding out of mine and into the world. It was unbelievable.
We asked that Ryan be the one to announce our baby’s sex but when our midwife held him up, we both saw our wiggling naked baby together for the first time. “It’s a BOY!” I cried and then a rush of the most intense emotions took over and I started sobbing.
I looked up at Ryan and saw his eyes fill with tears as we looked back and forth from each other to our son.
He was finally here!
I would love to say that Ryder’s birth was all about Ryder and in many, many ways it was but it also felt like the very best possible ending to an intense journey of loss, hope, prayer, more loss, continued hope and prayer.
A huge part of me is so aware that Ryder wouldn’t be here if the two babies we lost were born. I thought of this the minute he was placed on my chest after he was born and I was overcome with emotion. All of the disbelief I felt during my pregnancy with Ryder and the guard I kept up for the past nine months finally came crashing down as I held our son. I soaked up every inch of his soft skin and chubby cheeks. I stroked his wet, dark hair and kissed his perfect pink lips. And I cried. Ryder is our miracle and he’s a miracle I dreamed about and longed for with every piece of my heart.
I still feel pain and I still feel grief when I think about our two babies in heaven. I know that this will never fully subside nor do I want it to go away because we love all of our babies and always, always will. But now, somehow, through all of the pain and all of the tears and all of the grief, the fear, the hopelessness and the overwhelming sadness, we have the most perfect proof of answered prayers.
A beautiful baby boy.
Ryder came into this world right on time. He was born right when he was supposed to be born. He’s our little miracle and I feel so overwhelmingly blessed and so lucky to have another son. A sweet boy I will love with every ounce of who I am.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Welcome to the world, Ryder Thomas. You are so, so loved.