Tucker Samuel arrived on July 12, 2022. We’ve been soaking up all the newborn cuddles at home over the past few weeks and I’m so excited to finally share his birth story.
With this being my second pregnancy I felt a bit more prepared for birth mostly because I had experienced it before and knew what to expect. Olivia’s birth had been exactly what I had hoped for despite the last minute change of plans due to her congenital heart defect and need for surgery. I labored at home through most of my contractions and arrived to the hospital fully dilated and ready to push so I was able to have a low intervention, unmedicated, vaginal delivery. Given how smooth things went with Olivia’s birth, I was hopeful that birth with baby #2 would be similar. I wanted to have another unmedicated birth, but I also know that every birth is unique and for some reason I was nervous that things might not go as smoothly as they did the first time around.
And to be honest, I was also worried because I hadn’t done all the same things to prepare as I did the first time around. During Olivia’s pregnancy I was really active… walking 4-6 miles 3x a week and attending prenatal yoga classes weekly from the 2nd trimester on. With Tucker’s pregnancy I started out strong with daily movement (lots of treadmill walking) and prenatal strength and yoga classes on the Peloton app, but during the third trimester I was so busy with moving to the new house, work projects and caring for a toddler that my workouts got pushed to the back burner. Most weeks I was lucky if I got two 20 minute workouts in.
In terms of birth prep, with Olivia’s pregnancy I hired a doula, read books about how to have an unmedicated birth and Isaac and I also took a birthing class. This time around I didn’t hire a doula. Our doula didn’t make it to Olivia’s birth so Isaac and I had gone through birth as a team before so I knew it was possible again. That said, I had full intentions of re-reading some of the books I had read before and going back over my notes from our birthing class, but I never got around to it. I did check out the Birth Lounge app, which gave helpful tips for your partner that I had Isaac review a couple days before I went into labor.
And I was also super consistent with eating dates and drinking raspberry leaf tea to prep for labor again this time. I swear by benefits of these two things and they’re pretty easy to incorporate so they were a no brainer this time around. Check out my post about prepping for labor to learn more about the benefits of both dates and raspberry leaf tea.
Despite not feeling overly prepared, at the end of the day I wasn’t scared about giving birth again. I knew what my body could do and I felt confident that I could have another unmedicated birth. I did get a bit nervous every time the doctors at MFM mentioned that Tucker was in the 99th percentile (measuring 3 weeks ahead), but my midwife kept telling me that she didn’t think he was a huge baby so that was reassuring.
My due date was July 7th. For whatever reason I didn’t think that he was going to arrive early or on time. Mostly because Olivia was late and also because I wasn’t having any signs or symptoms that labor was near. No Braxton Hicks contractions… although I say that and it was interesting because at my midwife appointment the morning I gave birth my midwife said I was having a Braxton Hicks contraction when she was measuring my belly, but I was totally unaware.
Around 40 weeks I did start to see a bit more cervical mucus, but I hadn’t lost my mucus plug, which started to happen about 1 week before I delivered Olivia.
I felt really good my whole pregnancy besides having heartburn throughout.
Side note: The heartburn wasn’t terrible but there was one night where I woke up in the middle of the night choking on acid reflux and that was one of the scariest things ever. I googled and apparently this is a thing that can happen and some women in the forums I was reading said it would happen to them multiple times a week. I’m so grateful that it only happened to me once.
So overall I didn’t have much to complain about during pregnancy besides the heartburn, but around 40 weeks things started to get uncomfortable due to nagging pain my left leg/hip, which felt like sciatica.. but along the side of my leg and an intense pain in my rib area, under my right breast. The hip pain would flare up sporadically and a shooting paint would go down my left leg when I took a step forward. The rib pain was more constant and painful every time I took a breath. It honestly felt like I had pulled an intercostal muscle (I only know this because I have pulled an intercostal muscle twice). I got worried that it was my gall bladder or liver, but my midwife assured me it was likely due to baby’s position. The Tuesday before my due date I started to get really down about the rib pain, worrying that I would have to go through labor with it hurting to breathe… knowing that deep breathing is what got me through labor with Olivia! Isaac could tell I was feeling defeated and he pushed me to schedule some self-care appointments. I went all out. I got a prenatal Thai massage, went to the chiropractor and saw an acupuncturist. At the Thai massage and the acupuncturist I let the practitioners know I didn’t want to do anything at this point to bring on labor and that my main goal was to make sure my rib was feeling better.
I’m honestly not sure which of the three solved the rib pain issue (probably a combo of them all) but by Saturday of that week my rib pain had subsided and I was feeling much more prepared to go into labor.
Tuesday morning, I was 40 weeks and 5 days and I had an appointment my midwife. At this appointment she measured my belly and checked the baby’s heartbeat per the usual. My midwife likes to do as little intervention as possible so we didn’t do a cervical check or membrane sweep. We did discuss what would happen if the baby didn’t arrive by the following week and she suggested we go ahead and schedule an appointment for the following Tuesday and put an induction date on the calendar for 41 weeks and 6 days, just so we’d be on the hospital’s schedule in case baby didn’t arrive before 42 weeks.
At 1:00PM that day I had an acupuncture appointment and this time I told her that I was ready to have the baby and she could focus on the points to help promote labor. I did the same thing with Olivia when trying to get her to come before my induction date and I swear acupuncture is what brought on labor. I fell asleep at the appointment, stopped by Target to grab a few things and then headed home to get a bit of work done.
A couple hours after the acupuncture appointment, I was busy working on my computer and I started to feel a little cramping. Around 4:00PM, we were picking up our car from an oil change and I told Isaac I thought I was starting to feel mild contractions. We drove home, I ate 1/2 of a seedless watermelon and then sat down to do some additional work. I messaged my team at 5:50PM letting them know that I was starting to feel contractions and my mother-in-law (aka Bubbie) brought Olivia home around 6:00PM. At this point I was sitting on the couch and because the contractions were so consistent I started timing them using a contraction timing app (the same one I used with Olivia). I wasn’t totally sure that it was actual labor because the contractions were only lasting about 30-40 seconds and they weren’t super intense. I thought that maybe acupuncture had jump started some Braxton Hicks contractions that they would fizzle out within a couple hours.
It was our plan to have Bubbie keep Olivia when we needed to head to the hospital. She had a dinner date with a friend so she headed to dinner, knowing that we might be calling her to come back. But given that my contractions weren’t super strong yet we thought she has time to get dinner before we would need her.
Around 6:30PM, my best friend and her daughter stopped by to say hi so we all went outside. I had a couple contractions while we chatted with her, but was still able to talk through them. I was actually holding Olivia the whole time we were outside and she snapped a really cute photo of us, which ended up being our last photo as a family of three.
After she left Isaac and Olivia got in the pool for a bit. I walked outside too and we said hi to our neighbor, who generously offered to come over if we needed her to watch Olivia if we had to rush to the hospital before Bubbie got to our house.
I came back inside and called my midwife to let her know that I was having consistent contractions. This was around 7:00PM. I was still talking normally and contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart. She said just to take it easy, rest and let her know when the contractions started to get longer, stronger and closer together. She also mentioned that she was only on call until 8:30PM so it might be another midwife delivering if I went into labor later that evening.
I was a little bummed about this because although all the midwives at the practice I go to are great, I really wanted to have the midwife that I had seen throughout both pregnancies. I feel a connection to her because she was with us through Olivia’s diagnosis and everything that came with that. I have cried in her office multiple times and I really wanted to experience birth with her as my midwife. When she said that she wouldn’t be on call after 8:30PM my heart kind of sank because I was pretty certain I would have another midwife. Luckily Tucker has other plans.
After hanging up with her I went upstairs and put all my last minute toiletries into my hospital bag so that we were ready when the time came. Once that was done, I decided to take my midwife’s advice and laid down in the bed to rest. This is when the contractions really started to pick up. They were still about 3-4 minutes apart and 35-45 seconds long, but they definitely started to feel more intense.
During both labors, my contractions have always felt like period cramping or strong gas pains along with tightening that comes on like a wave across my belly. They build in intensity and then fade out. With each contraction getting stronger I felt the need to get into polar bear position on the bed to breathe through a couple and then I ended up back in a side laying position with my pregnancy pillow. I was still timing the contractions on my phone and I assumed Isaac was still outside in the pool with Olivia. Little did I know he had brought her inside, got her pjs on and had her up in her high chair having a snack.
At this point I kept thinking that it would be really nice to have a sip of wine and/or the Tylenol PM that I took around midnight during labor with Olivia (both of these were recommended by my doula). Within minutes of thinking that, I felt warm liquid gushing out all over me (and the bed) and knew immediately that my water had broken. I yelled down to Isaac and said “my water broke” and he immediately came upstairs and said, “Okay, it’s time to go to the hospital.” With Olivia my water broke at the hospital and I was already fully dilated and ready to push at that point so we knew that I needed to get to the hospital right away.
I didn’t have time to change my shorts so we grabbed our hospital bags and I walked downstairs, hoping that I wasn’t dripping a ton. Isaac had already called our neighbor and she was downstairs with Olivia giving her snacks and Bubbie was on her way. As we walked out the door, Bubbie arrived! Isaac grabbed some towels so that I wouldn’t leak all over the car and we hopped in.
Before getting in the car Isaac had called the midwife line again, but no one picked up. We later found out that the on-call phone was being transferred from one midwife to the next. While we were getting in the car, my midwife called me back. I missed the call and then she texted me (this was at 7:41PM) and said she was trying to return my call to the midwife line. Isaac used my phone to call her back and put her on speaker phone.
She asked how it was going and said “It sounds like you’re already in the car” and I said. “Yes, we are. Should we not be?” She said something along the lines of us calling her before we got in the car so she could be on the way too, but Isaac chimed in and explained my water had broke so we were headed in. And she quickly said, “Ahhhh.. okay! I’m on the way too!”
The hospital is usually a 15 minute drive, but there was a large accident and all the lanes were closed on the typical route so we were rerouted another way. Despite that, I still think it took about 15-20 minutes because Isaac was driving insanely fast. I remember telling him to slow down at least 2-3 times between contractions. I also asked him to put on some music and he was too busy trying to drive so he told me I could pick something. And it’s hilarious because I just pulled up the top hits and the song I picked was First Class by Jack Harlow. Perfect laboring song… LOL.
We arrived to the hospital around 8:00PM. Isaac parked in the labor and delivery parking so it was a short walk to the front desk and I only had one contraction from the car to the door. I held onto a bench outside during it. We checked in with the front desk and they said we could just take a seat in the waiting area and I was baffled by this given my shorts were soaked and I was clearly in labor. I had no desire to sit down and thankfully within a few minutes a nurse was walking us back to a room. We probably got back to the room around 8:10 or so.
My midwife hadn’t arrived yet, so it was just me, Isaac and the nurse who was checking me in. I was having contractions and felt kind of alone, not really knowing what I should be doing because the nurse wasn’t really saying anything to me besides asking identifying questions. I took off my wet shorts and put on the nursing bra that I planned to wear for labor.
I remember asking Isaac to do counter pressure on my back at one point but I don’t think he fully remembered what to do. Then I laid myself across the bed vertically. Isaac texted a friend of ours who does prenatal Thai massage and is a doula. She had previously mentioned that would come to the hospital to help support us if we wanted her to. At that moment (not knowing how much longer I had) I was feeling like I needed some additional support and requested that she come.
Soon after, my midwife arrived and I remember looking over and seeing her unpack a bunch of stuff, which I’m assuming was birthing and essential oils. I’m not sure if I decided to do it on my own or not (probably not), but I ended up in a hands and knees position, holding on the top of the bed. In this position, you can keep your hips open wide and rest your head between contractions.
After unpacking, my midwife came and sat on the bed next to me. She was rubbing my back and legs and telling me I was doing a great job. I remember asking her how far dilated I was. I was genuinely curious because no one had checked me when I was admitted. She responded with “Fully, you’re going to be having a baby soon.”
The nurse put a monitor around my belly just so they could monitor the baby’s heartbeat for a bit. I remember the nurse saying it was just going to be for a short period and I could still walk around, but I had no desire to get up and walk anywhere.
The nurse then started to prep for the baby’s arrival. I knew that this meant it was going to be soon, but I didn’t know just how soon he would be in my arms.
Isaac kept offering me coconut water, but all I wanted was regular ice water so we asked the nurse to get some. I was already starting to push at this point, but my midwife didn’t want me to deliver the baby while the nurse was out of the room so she had me continue breathing though the contractions until the nurse returned.
To be honest, I don’t remember this part of labor super well, but I do remember it being a bit more painful… nothing I couldn’t handle, but there was more pressure and the pushing hurt more than I remember it did with Olivia. Which makes sense because Olivia was a much smaller baby.
I still don’t think I felt the ring of fire that everyone talks about (I didn’t feel this with Olivia either), but I was much more audible… making lots of moaning sounds and verbally telling Isaac and my midwife that it hurting. I also distinctly remember making horse lips between contractions. I know we were taught to do this as a way to relax during our birthing classes, but I definitely did it without consciously thinking about it. My body just did it.
I also remember telling my midwife that I really needed to poop and I asked if I should go to the bathroom and try and she was like “no, you can poop here, it’s totally fine” but I actually didn’t need to poop. It was just the pressure of the baby and it’s actually something a lot of women say during birth and it’s a sign that you’re ready to push.
At this point she was giving me instructions for how to push (without actually saying the works push), but my pushes weren’t super productive in the hands in knees position so she had me flip over to my back and put my legs in a squatting position, with one foot on the midwives thigh and one foot on the bed. In this position I felt like I had the support I needed to push properly and I think I pushed through two contractions before Isaac said he could see the head and my midwife had me to reach down and feel it. It felt so wrinkly and soft.
With the next contraction his head came out. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Isaac said the cord was wrapped around his neck really tightly, his whole face was blue and he wasn’t crying. My midwife instructed me to do one more big push and then the rest of his body came out and she was able to unwrap the cord. I’m glad I was totally unaware of it at the time because Isaac said it was a little scary. Once he was out, my midwife placed him on my chest, they wiped him down a bit and within a few seconds he started screaming. We have a video and the first thing I said to him was “Hi! You’re so much smaller than I imagined.”
He was born at 8:28PM and he let it known that he had entered the world and didn’t stop screaming for a good 15-20 minutes.
My midwife said that if he hadn’t had this hand up near his head and the cord wrapped around his neck he likely would have come out even faster! Probably a good thing he didn’t because we may have had a baby at home (or on the way to the hospital).
After the cord stopped pulsating Isaac cut it. I delivered the placenta and then my midwife stitched me up. I tore in the same place that I tore with Olivia, but it wasn’t as bad this time.
Our doula friend arrived at this point and I felt terribly that she drove all the way to the hospital, but didn’t make it in time for birth. She said it was no problem, but I still feel bad. I’m 2 for 2 with having doulas not make it to the birth.
The next two hours were so amazing because Tucker just rested on my chest doing skin to skin and then latched on to eat a little bit. When Olivia was born I only got about 5 minutes of skin to skin time before she was whisked away to the NICU so this length of time felt like an eternity and extra special. After about 2 hours Isaac had some skin to skin time with Tucker and then the nurse came in to get his measurements. He was a whopping 8 lbs, 4 oz and 22 inches long.
Tucker’s birth experience was exactly what I had hoped for and overall, really healing for me. We’re so excited he’s here!
Olivia is totally smitten with Tucker and has been so amazing with him. She understands so much for a 2 1/2 year old and there hasn’t been any signs of jealousy. She wants to know what baby brother is doing at all times and loves helping out by getting his paci for him and patting his back. It’s been the sweetest thing to watch.
Photos by Lindsey Martin Photography.