It was Saturday April 30 and I was 39 weeks pregnant. I had multiple bouts of mild prodromal/false labor, but only irregular contractions for about an hour at a time, and this went on for two weeks. This never happened with my other pregnancies, when the contractions started…they either never stopped, or started again later that night and ended with a baby being born! So, on that Saturday when I was having lunch on the couch in the living room with the boys, I noted that my contractions seemed pretty regular, so for the first time this pregnancy, I got out my app and started timing them.
From 1:00 – 1:30 they were about 4 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute. I know on paper, that seems imminent and scary, especially for a third baby, but I wasn’t ready to get excited yet. However, knowing that my husband was seeding in a field where the reception is very patchy, I thought I better call him and let him know that I had been having regular contractions and to not get lost in the middle of a field on a tractor! I also called my mother-in-law, who was to watch our older boys, to let her know to not disappear too far either.
I kept telling myself “a half hour more…then I’ll call the hospital“. Well, a few more half hours went by as I scurried about tidying my house and finishing packing my overnight bag and I finally called the hospital at 3:15 to seek the charge nurse’s advice as to whether or not I should come in. I just really didn’t want to be disappointed and have these contractions fizzle out. She said that since it was my third baby and she didn’t want me delivering on the side of the road, it be best I go and get checked to err on the side of caution. I agreed…but I was just skeptical and didn’t want to get my hopes up!
I texted my husband and mother-in-law and told them it was time to go to the hospital. I also warned my husband we had a range of 122 km on my SUV to get us there (plenty of gas) but he felt it the appropriate time to ask why I didn’t even have a half a tank of gas. Sigh…husbands! So, when my MIL arrived I hugged and said a teary-eyed goodbye to my big boys and told them it was probably time for mommy to go to the “hostible”, as Ethan says, to have the baby and that Grandma would take care of them, but likely Daddy and even Poppy (my mom) would be coming home and they would see them in the morning. (I feel the need to note that the boys were a bit peeved that we didn’t get to plant our garden that afternoon like I suggested we might be able to do 😉 but they got over it!).
So I headed across the field 1 mile to fill up with gas, and drove to my SIL’s house to pick up my husband, as that’s where they were farming that day. He changed out of his dirty work clothes, I made one last bathroom stop, and off we went. As we made the 35 minute drive to the hospital, I was glad we were on our way because the contractions were definitely picking up and I was begging Jay to not hit any bumps too hard on the way!
We arrived to the hospital at 4:15 and I was taken to my room. I was eager, anxious and a bit scared to see where I was at — I just really wanted this to be “it” and not sent home to try again later! I gave my token pee sample and was hooked up to the monitor for 30 minutes or so. Contractions were strong and regular, but bearable still. After the monitor was done, a newer L&D nurse checked me to see where I was at and asked permission for the senior charge nurse to double check, because she was new. I’m all for teaching and learning, so I said of course.
When I was checked by the newer nurse I was told I was at 2 cm, but I didn’t say anything because in my mind I thought “there’s no way that’s right…it can’t be”. Sure enough, when the charge nurse checked me she said I was 5 cm and fully effaced with LOTS of membranes, which is why it might have been hard for the newer nurse to push through the membranes to get an accurate check done.
Phew! 5 cm. But wait…don’t get your hopes up, Sarah, you were a 5 when you got to the hospital with Ethan and it took 8 more hours to get to 10 cm and baby.
The nurses then asked me what I wanted to do for pain control. I told them that I made it med-free with my first two, but was at the brink of a spinal shot with Ethan when I suddenly transitioned and he was born. I was having an emotional debate with myself and told them as much and would let them know ASAP. I actually had just talked to my SIL Laura and my mom that morning about how I think I would really be more open to an epidural this time to try and relax and enjoy the laboring process more. Mom and Laura both essentially said the same thing — no shame, don’t be a martyr, you have done it twice already and you have nothing to prove. At this time, I also sent Jay for supper so he wouldn’t starve…aren’t I a nice laboring wife?
I was told my doctor was on his way from Calgary, about a 1.5 hour drive and that he wanted to rupture my membranes to get things going.
Then I got scared.
When he ruptured my membranes in Braden’s labor, it really hurt. I really did hem and haw back and forth wondering if I wanted to do it all med-free again. Truly, the thought of having my membranes ruptured again and my doctor pushing on my baby/belly to get the water out wasn’t pleasant at all, and when Sam, our friend and birth photographer, walked into my room at 6:15 asking how I was, and I told her I was in emotional turmoil about an epidural or not, she just had a look of calm and said “you do it, go for it!“, and that was that. I asked for my epidural of the nurse who was setting up the delivery cart and neonatal warmer and got the ball rolling.
So, yes — I, who birthed two children au naturelle, asked for an epidural and I felt and feel no guilt or shame in doing it. And I’m really glad I did it.
This is when contractions really started to pick up too. I felt I could breathe through them easily, and decided to distract myself listening to worship music on my phone with my ear buds in. It actually worked really, really well. That, and the song “Hold On” by Walk Off The Earth, our boys’ favourite song du jour, which also helped me think of them and what I had to look forward to.
At 6:25 after one failed IV start, my IV in preparation for my epidural was started and they gave me a 500 mL bolus.
By 6:50 I was wondering if that epidural was ever going to get here and questioning if it would even be worth it all. I was managing well though the contractions, but the pressure of bulging membranes got more intense with every contraction too. I don’t even know how many times I asked my nurse what the anesthetist’s ETA was, but unfortunately I do know how that part of the world works (rural medicine) and one just never knows when they will come!
However, the longest 15 minutes in the world later, I looked over as the door opened at 7:05 PM and there was Dr. Tlhappe, the anesthetist. Oh I have never been so happy to see him in my life!!
At 7:10 he started prepping me for my epidural by cleaning the site and by 7:19 the epidural was in, and as it was going in…
POP! SPLASH! WHOOSH!
Just like in the movies, my water broke EVERYWHERE as I was sitting on the side of the bed. I’m talking a pool of amniotic fluid on the floor that eventually ended up pooling all the way to the wall. It was pretty amazing and impressive, I must say!
It was one of the best feelings of my life to have my water break and have all that intense pressure instantly gone…until I am pretty sure I felt the baby’s head engage and immediately felt the intensity ramp up and urge to push.
It’s now 7:27 and I have to heave myself over in bed and lie down, begging the epidural to kick in. (P.S. This is one thing I did NOT know about epidurals, even as a nurse: it takes 15 minutes for the medication to kick in!). So now would commence the second longest 15 minutes of my life, all in the span of an hour!
By 7:32 the pressure and urge to push continues to be extremely intense and I cannot understand for the life of me why it’s not time to push. The anesthetist did check me and said I wasn’t quite there, a 9 cm and the “right lip” of my cervix was still up.
I must have also asked approximately every minute, or more, when the epidural would kick in. Is the med even in? Is it in the right space? IS IT GOING TO WORK!? ARE YOU SURE YOU GAVE ME THE DRUGS?!
Nurses make the worst patients. Sorry, Dr. T.
Oh, but wait…
Turns out Dr. T wasn’t lying and the epidural did kick in eventually. See above for my “I’m so glad I got this epidural, this is truly amazing and I can actually enjoy the end of my labor” face!
I could feel my bum go numb and the pain of the contractions went with the numbness. I could feel the pressure, but the pain was gone. Hallelujah, amen. Thank you, Jesus.
Dr. Maseka came into the room at 7:50 PM and told me I was ready to push. I had a thought in my head of “what?! Really? Now?! Okay then…!” I had also been asking how would I know when it was time to push, because it had felt like it was time to push from the moment my water broke. Well, it was time.
Just a few minutes later I started pushing with contractions. I’d give three big pushes and then wait until the next contraction. I couldn’t feel the pain of the contractions, but I could feel EVERYTHING ‘down there’, but that was okay. That part never hurt me, it was always transition stage that hurt so much.
I believe I did 4 sets of 3 pushes and this pushing definitely seemed to take the longest and hurt me the most, and you will find out why shortly!
At 8:01 PM, I looked down and Dr. Maseka (who I used to work with and delivered our other two boys) said “it’s another little farmer!”
We have a THIRD BOY! A beautiful, healthy, perfect little boy! May I introduce to you, Jonathan Carl Schultz, who came into the world screaming with a classic pouty lip that I’m head over heels for!
I could hardly believe it, but was absolutely elated to now be a boy mom of 3! I definitely had more feelings that we were going to have a girl, but was completely and utterly smitten at the thought of a 3rd baby boy and knew the big brothers would be thrilled as well! I also got to cut his cord, just like I did his brothers’, as Daddy is a bit squeamish with the same!
There is truly nothing in the world like seeing your baby for the first time and that moment they place your baby on your chest. That, and that reason alone, is what got me through labor and delivery and why I knew I wanted one last baby — to experience that joy of bringing new life, new life that me and my husband created together, into this world. I truly believe that seeing and hearing a newborn for the first time is seeing the gift of God, a gift straight from heaven.
Absolute and complete perfection.
Then the nurses took Jonathan to do a thorough assessment and to weigh and measure him. I was absolutely SHOCKED when they told me he weighed 8 lbs 11 oz. I literally repeated at least five times, rather loudly, “EIGHT POUNDS ELEVEN OUNCES?!”
No wonder why I could feel the pain of pushing more this time! He is exactly 1 pound heavier than Braden and 2 lbs 6 oz heavier than my little Ethan! Jonathan’s head measured 35.5 cm and Ethan’s was 32.5 cm. Those 3 cm sure made a difference, I could feel it! He measured 21.5″ long.
Jonathan has a good set of lungs on him, he’s definitely the loudest screamer/crier of all 3 of our babies! He was born with the most hair, and as I already stated — the biggest of our 3. His hair looks reddish in photos (as does mine) but it is more blond in person.
Then, there was that sweet moment when you find out your oldest child is still awake at home with grandma and you get to tell him that he has a new baby brother… When I spoke with Braden, who thought we were having a girl, he said “well, I guess Ethan was right all along, it’s a boy!”
Jonathan was rooting around during his assessment and Oxana, a wonderful LPN I used to work with, handed him to me and he latched on like he was born to do it 🙂
I wore the cross necklace that Jay gave me for Ethan’s birth, but the necklace broke last year, so I started wearing the yellow gold cross my dear grandmother, who passed away at the beginning of the year, gave me when she went to visit the Holy Lands. It meant so much to have that piece of her with me during my whole pregnancy and the delivery of our son.
Then, my mom, with almost perfect timing, arrived from her 3 hour road trip to Drumheller to meet her 4th grandson, 5th grandchild.
Jonathan’s labor and delivery was very fast and intense and I do not regret for 1 second that I got the epidural. As soon as my water broke naturally during the placement of the epidural, I was wondering if it would even have time to kick in before I delivered Jonathan, but he was born exactly 45 minutes after it was placed, so I got to truly enjoy and relax during the last 30 minutes of my labor and I think that was really amazing to experience.
So, to recap: contractions started at 1:00 PM, got to the hospital at 4:45 PM and he was born at 8:01 PM. Couldn’t ask for a more amazing birthing experience and he was born exactly at 39 weeks gestation – 1 week early and 1 week less of being pregnant, amen!
Welcome to the world, my sweet boy Jonathan. You, like the meaning of your name, are a true Gift From God.
All photos were taken by my dear, sweet, beautiful friend Samantha. Sam was present for almost all of Ethan’s labor and delivery and I’m so glad that she was able to come and be such a support for me and Jay and to witness the birth of another one of our children. These photos mean the world to me, you captured the exact moment and all the emotions of when I first laid eyes on our new baby and so much more. We love you, Sam!