I’ve been meaning to write Caroline’s birth story since the week after she was born. I kept copying it over and over onto new to-do lists and life just kept moving at full speed. But, I really want to write this out before it all becomes a blur and it’s important to me to keep a record of this for Caroline’s childhood journal! So without further ado… here is my journey to Caroline Cate!
Baby Gilbert #2 was due 3/4/2022. I say baby because we had no idea if this little babe was a girl or a boy! Everyone was expecting and anticipating this baby to be born early. Most bets were on an early delivery and the majority of votes were for a February baby. I expected this baby to be born early. Actually, there were only 2 people who guessed this baby would be born on or after their due date. So, you know where this story is going, right? 😉
The last few weeks of pregnancy were a huge mental game for me. I expected this baby to be early and was disappointed every day when I woke up not in labor. Every day was becoming more uncomfortable and sleep was hard to come by. This baby felt *so* low that some days I don’t know how my water didn’t break or that they didn’t just fall out (kidding… kind of). I also had Braxton hicks contractions ALL the time. There were many times I was up timing them for a few hours and then they would just die off. It was extremely frustrating mentally and physically.
I got to week 39 and nothing had changed since week 38 where I was 1 cm. However, I was never dilated until my water broke with McKinley so I was hopeful. My OBGYN practice schedules a “just in case” induction at your 39 week appointment for scheduling purposes with the hospital. They like to schedule your induction for 41 weeks. However, I *politely* told the midwife that I did not want to share my birthday 🙂 Also – March 11th was our final walk-through with our builder for our new home. And, if you’ve been here long enough you know that we were supposed to move into our new home in October, but our windows and construction were extremely delayed. So, getting into our house was a huge priority with a new baby! I was trying hard not to miss our walkthrough. Thankfully the midwife was extremely accommodating and let me pick my induction date for 7 pm on Monday, 3/7! I thought this would give me the best chance to be released from the hospital and feel decent enough to make it through the walkthrough.
Low and behold – we made it to the evening of March 7th with no baby. It was really weird to wake up and spend the day “getting ready” for an induction. While I was technically induced with McKinley (my water broke – but my body didn’t do much of anything on its own) – this was feeling very different. Around 5:15 pm Seth and I left McKinley with my Mom and headed toward the hospital. I distinctly remember chatting on the way to the hospital and we were both making sure that the names we decided on were the “ones.” We stopped to eat one last meal and jumped back in the car before a HUGE rain storm. The winds were crazy! Seth dropped me off and parked the car and when he met me inside he was totally soaked.
So at 40w3d we got checked in and met our sweet nurse and got ready to get going! I was checked and was 2cm. One of my very favorite OBs was on (actually the same Dr that delivered McKinley) and she offered me misoprostol instead of the dreaded foley bulb that I was expected to get. I immediately said yes because I had this orally with McKinley and it worked well so I was hopeful. By the time everything was said and done, I got the medicine around 8:15 pm and was definitely feeling it working because I was having painful contractions by 9:00 pm. The doctor told me the plan was 2 oral doses of misoprostol every 4 hours and then we would switch to Pitocin. Her plan was to check me next around midnight. I was fully expecting this baby to be born Monday evening/late night.
The nurses encouraged me to sleep, but I don’t know how anyone does that. The adrenaline was pumping and with contractions every 3-5 minutes there was no way! The doctor came in to check on me around midnight and told me I was 3cm. She was happy with the progress and said we would be skipping another misoprostol dose and going right to Pitocin since my body was responding well. I started on a very low level of Pitocin around 1:00 am. Contractions were coming quick and strong at this rate. I was coping well for a while, but needed counterpressure from Seth and was way into labor land during a contraction. The contractions were starting to get ahead of me and I requested the epidural which I got around 3:45 – 4:00 am. The plan was to increase the Pitocin every 1/2 hour. Almost immediately after the epidural, my water broke on its own! I felt so much relief from this epidural I can’t even explain it. I didn’t even feel the process of getting it through the pain of contractions. I tried to sleep, but couldn’t for a little while. I was checked at 5:40 am and was 5 cm. Yay progress! Around 6:00 am I finally dozed off after no sleep since Sunday night.
I woke up right after 7:00 am with the shift change to a new nurse and provider who were both so incredibly wonderful. I was checked once again and was 9cm!!! I was SHOCKED at this rate. I for sure thought this baby would be born in the PM hours. Thankfully they never had to increase the Pitocin past a level 4. Seth was going to run down to the cafeteria to eat breakfast right after they checked me and the nurse told him to make it under 15 minutes “just in case.” They were concerned with it being my second baby that they could come quickly!
Seth made it back in record time. I began feeling really nauseous at this point and requested a bag next to my bed. I was extremely nauseous when I was pushing with McKinley and was worried I would throw up a lot again. I honestly didn’t think I was allowed to have any medication, but the midwife offered me Zofran after seeing my white face stuck to the bag for an hour and I quickly said YES PLEASE after confirming it was safe for the baby. Once that hit me I was feeling really good and so excited!
I was checked again at some point, but was still 9cm and with a cervical lip which I also had with McKinley. They had me lay on the peanut ball and at one point I felt the urge to push so requested the nurse and was confirmed that we were ready to go! I started pushing at 10:18 and Baby GIRL Caroline Cate was born at 11:03 am. I totally forgot how hard the pushing stage was. It was INTENSE! I was so relieved when she was finally here after 45 minutes of pushing.
I credit my amazing birth experience to my amazing and wonderful care providers. My midwife was just so lovely I can’t even describe it. I also had an incredible team of nurses throughout my stay. I loved McKinley’s birth and thought it went extremely well, but this felt more *calm* almost? The delivery room was filled with less people -only me, Seth, the midwife, our main nurse and an extra helping nurse. We were all chatting excessively between contractions/pushing about anything and everything and I honestly forgot we were going to find out if our baby was a boy or girl soon. Our conversations were so enjoyable. We were sharing photographs of McKinley, flowers, our new house and more during pushing. Their voices were so soothing and SO encouraging! I thrive off of positive affirmations and they knew just what to say to keep me motivated and super encouraged and supported. During the last few hours of labor the sun was shining outside, the room was bright and Seth had our Bluetooth speaker playing some tunes. My sweet friend created a Labor Playlist for me and while I was pushing Ed Sheeran’s “Visiting Hours” came on through the Bluetooth. This was really weird because this song was not on the playlist. I immediately heard the lyrics “That she’s gettin’ older and I wish that you’d met her, The things that she’ll learn from me, I got them all from you” and burst into big crocodile tears. I knew my Dad was there with me at that very moment. I didn’t put it together right then and there, but it was his nod to me that we were about to welcome a baby girl to the family. We told the staff about my Dad and a little while later Caroline Cate was born into this world. The midwife asked “what do you have?” and I let out “a little girl” before pulling her to my chest and sobbing. She was wailing and immediately reached out her hand to grab onto me. It was the most beautiful thing in the world when I grabbed back and her cries turned to silence as she starred into my eyes and grabbed on tighter.
Caroline was born at 11:03 am. 7lbs 1 oz and 20 inches long with dark hair and blue eyes. Welcome to this crazy world, my sweet little love. You are so adored and loved.
Newborn photos by Vanessa Shenk.