Archie's birth story
I didn't expect to be induced with my third baby. I was convinced walking would do the trick.
But Archie was on his own timeline. A big boy nestled snugly in utero. Thirteen days late.
For my first and second babies, labor had begun naturally, with my water breaking in dramatic fashion and sending me to the hospital.
I expected a similar experience the third time around, and every night (or early morning) when I woke to go to the bathroom, I swung my legs around the bed and braced for a gush of water.
No. Such. Luck.
At first I didn't mind being past my Feb. 20 due date and seized the chance to tackle more to-dos.
But then I started to feel ready. And restless.
It was getting harder to parent the girls as I wanted to -- harder to really engage, to do the bedtime routine, to be patient and loving.
I felt like I was stuck in that "Groundhog Day" movie, re-living the same day again and again: wake up, go about my work, field baby inquiries, walk a vigorous mile at the gym with my mom, text a friend or relative about how extra-low the baby was feeling, double-check my hospital bag and go to bed, fully expecting that night to be The Night.
I was starting to go crazy.
It doesn't sound like that horrible a condition. Physically, I was fine. It was all in my head. My patience was wearing thin.
I had my membranes stripped twice. After the second time, I was dilated to 3 or 3.5.
We had been closely monitoring the baby, including multiple stress tests (which are long and uncomfortable). Everything looked fine with Baby and me. No blood pressure spikes. No concerns.
So when I told the midwife how antsy I was, she looked at me like, "Well, take a chill pill."
I wasn't anxious. I trusted that the baby was fine and labor would go well.
It just wasn't happening.
The week-long wait between appointments was starting to feel too long. After a Tuesday appointment -- Feb. 28 -- Ted had the brilliant suggestion that I should pop in again that Friday (March 3).
I loved the idea of seeing if I could learn anything new rather than extending my misery, especially going into the weekend.
I'd always considered induction something to be avoided. It sounded unnatural, and I knew it was linked with higher C-section rates, which was top of mind when I was pregnant with Jane and hoping-begging-yearning-praying for a VBAC. (I got it!)
But as we awaited my Friday check-up, something shifted in my mind. Ted and I talked and agreed to schedule an induction. It wasn't an in-depth discussion. We were totally on the same page. We both simply felt it was time. And at that Friday appointment, I asked my midwife to schedule one.
Part of me suspected the sheer act of scheduling an induction might trigger labor.
The one weird task was picking a date. It felt odd to be, essentially, choosing our baby's birthday.
Sunday felt right to both of us. March 5. It would give me most of the weekend to let labor happen naturally. By then, I could conclude with certainty that I had been more than patient. I had served my time.
I had been feeling mounting abdominal pressure with every passing evening, but come Saturday night, it had really picked up. Contractions!
I called the United triage line around midnight and talked with a nurse. She encouraged me to wait it out a bit.
Finally, around 2 am, it felt like my contractions should be taken more seriously, so I called my mom and asked her to come be with the girls.
It was so exciting to make that late-night ride to the hospital with Ted. Much more thrilling than driving in for a scheduled induction!
When we arrived at United, a nurse checked me and concluded that I was dilated to a 4 but not in active labor yet. The contractions were real but just not doing their thing yet.
Ted and I were advised to rest a few hours in a little room near the check-in area.
He didn't look too comfortable, but I was happy as a clam: I was at the hospital! Success. We were actually moving forward. #goodbyegroundhogday
Sunday was slow moving. Active labor just wasn't kicking in.
The OB tried to break my water but couldn't reach it.
I tried walking, but it didn't seem to help much, and at that point, I felt like staying in bed.
Finally, early afternoon, I got hooked up for the induction.
It was no big deal.
I had never actually looked into what induction entails, I must admit. I think I had built it up in my mind as something really intrusive and uncomfortable.
But it was simple as could be, Pitocin delivered via IV.
It didn't kick in powerfully, so the nurse gradually increased the dosage.
Before long, we were rolling!
I requested an epidural. HUGE fan. No real reason to delay, in my opinion.
Around 3:30 pm, it was time to push. Ahhhh!
I was SO excited. We would soon be meeting our baby! We'd learn its gender, see its face, cradle it close. Yasss!
I love that moment. I would consider having another baby just for that unlike-anything-else adrenaline-tinged elation.
At this point I was riding high on adrenaline plus the confidence from having pushed before with no problem.
I pushed for 27 minutes with Jane, and being competitive, I wanted to beat that time this time around. It seemed like the natural progression with subsequent labors.
I remember looking up at the clock to see how I was doing.
The pushing went great. I was loving it! Hard work, huge reward.
But I wasn't able to shave my time down. I needed a full half hour.
My water broke while pushing, which was exciting. (About time!)
I did some mental visualizations, as I did with Jane, which seemed useful.
I felt winded, but I was also in my zone, doing my thing, fulfilling my purpose.
I was pushing harder than I remember doing with Jane, and I felt a bit more taxed this time around.
But man, there's just nothing that compares to that feeling when birth is imminent, when the doctor and nurse and husband are all right there, hovering at your feet and peering at the baby's head and saying you're SO close.
I tear up just thinking about it.
At 3:59 pm, I heaved my last push.
Ted got a clear, immediate view and announced, "It's a boy!"
I had really thought and hoped this one was a boy.
I reached forward to pull him toward my chest.
I remember my first two observations: He was dark, and he was beautiful.
The first body part I glimpsed was Archie's left bicep. It looked pronounced. He was burly.
The OB, in fact, made a comment right as Archie emerged: "Big shoulders."
Big in general, we would soon learn.
But we were in no rush to proceed with medical examinations.
I tucked Archie's head under my chin and held him close.
In the pictures, you can see little droplets of his blood splattered on my cheek and the tip of my nose. It looks like an uncomely mole, but to me, it is beautiful, evidence of how quickly and closely I drew my newborn in.
Of course I cried. I cried off and on for the first several minutes.
It was all so perfect, so meant-to-be.
This boy. Our son.
Ted cut the umbilical cord and filmed on his iPhone.
I held Archie, and time stood still.
There was such joy and peace -- this was what the past nine months had led up to. And it was destined long before that.
It was such a lovely contrast to what follows a C-section, when you're whisked away from the baby into a recovery room for an hour.
Eventually Ted picked up Archie to be measured and weighed.
I thought Ted was messing with me when he said, "9 lbs. 11 oz."
My last baby had been 6 lbs. 12 oz. -- nearly a three-pound difference.
But this guy -- bigger in structure and 13 days overdue -- had packed on the pounds.
Look at that double chin. Ha!
A nurse later commented that he even cried like a 3-month-old.
Soon I was breastfeeding Archie, who latched on well. It felt good to almost-immediately feed him.
I was hungry too -- and spent.
One Jimmy John's Italian Night Club please! Or maybe two? (Hello, deli meat, my old friend!)
Pushing out Archie took more out of me than pushing Jane did.
We called my parents and arranged for them to bring the girls. We didn't reveal the gender or name, just news of the birth.
Later I made my way to the bathroom -- with help -- and slipped into my pajamas.
The girls arrived at 6 pm -- two hours after Archie's birth. It felt like two minutes. I was still weak. But we were eager to introduce them.
I'll never forget Archie's response to his sisters. In they walked, bringing their usual noise and boisterous energy.
Archie didn't recoil. Instead, he leaned in, opened his eyes and made little newborn chirps.
He was trying to communicate with them. He was comforted by their presence. They were familiar.
Our birth photographer, Meredith Westin, captured the scene deftly: breathless peeks, flickers of uncertainty, big laughs. (It's no wonder her "First Glimpse" service is so popular, even among those who don't want the actual labor photographed.)
How remarkable it will be to one day show the kids: “This is when you met your brother.”
Some might flinch at the prospect of letting a toddler at a newborn. But to me, it felt natural. This is their baby too.
I loved giving them that early access and fostering the sibling bonding right away.
March 5, 2017.
It was a beautiful, blissful day.
Our sweet son was worth the wait!
Learn about our decision to hire a birth photographer here.
Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and three young children in Inver Grove Heights. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.