Oh Novi: A Birth Story

June 17, 2016

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My sweet baby boy Novi was born on a cool June night after 21 hours of labor.

Things people told me about delivering third babies:
1) The baby will come early.
2) Labor will be quick.
3) It will be easiest one yet.

(Nope on all accounts)

My contractions started the morning before around 5am, two days after my due date. Because we weren’t sure if it was the real thing, Austin still went into work at 6 but promised to be back in a few hours if things didn’t slow down. They didn’t. They also didn’t speed up. Just like my other two labors, things moved slowly. For eight more hours my contractions were 7 to 10 minutes apart. In that time, Austin came home from his last day of intern year, my parents drove in from Philly, and Waylon and Eva ran around like drunk college kids asking WHERE IS THE BABY and CAN I HAVE A POPSICLE.

Meanwhile I never sat down because whenever I did, the contractions slowed down and I was determined to make this happen. And so I walked and rocked, rocked and walked. For a while I tried to walk outside, but it was so hot that I only drenched myself in sweat. At one point I was so desperate to stop walking circles in my kitchen that I drove myself to KMart to walk around in the air conditioning while my family sent threatening texts from the living room. It was a special time.

Once the evening came, I stopped timing contractions and started the work of really breathing through them. By 6pm, they were close enough together that I knew we needed to leave for the hospital soon. When I called the nurse and said my contractions were around three minutes apart, she said, “You need to come now. I don’t want you to have this baby in the car.” I laughed and waited 40 more minutes. I knew better. My body takes forever to dilate, and I wanted to be home as long as I could.

Things Austin did while I labored at home:
1) Nap.
2) Shower.
3) Light gardening.
4) Craigslist.
5) Instagram memes.

Things I wanted him to be doing once the pain reached an 8/10:
1) NONE OF THOSE THINGS.

Finally around 7pm, we loaded our bags into the car and left. On the way we stopped at the diner where my parents had taken the kids and said goodbye. It was hard to look at Eva. I felt overwhelmed with love for her, but also excited and focused on the night ahead. I had one contraction outside the restaurant, ran in to kiss my babies goodnight, and then shuffled back outside to have another contraction. Things were starting to pick up.

Once we checked into triage, I felt a tiredness wash over me. I’d been up since 5, in labor for fifteen hours, and on my feet the whole time. This is when I said to the nurse, “Just to let you know, I’d like an epidural.” She gave the thumbs up, and four days later (two long hours later)–they finally gave me one.

Things I don’t want to be doing when the pain is a 10/10:
1) Watching Friends reruns.
2) Peeing.
3) Lying down.
4) Holding my gown together.
5) Waiting for an anesthesiologist.

This is the part of the story that, for me, usually ends in a calm, peaceful birth. Just like with Waylon, I’d been in labor for 17 hours and I was ready to rest before pushing a baby out. Instead, the epidural failed twice–and before they could try to fix it one more time, my water broke and I went from 8 centimeters dilated to 10 in about five minutes.

I wish I could describe what it’s like to have a drug free birth when you are not prepared to have a drug free birth. Have you ever been on a leisurely walk and then tripped and fallen onto a bed of hot nails? It’s kind of like that, except you’re exhausted and the walk wasn’t ever that leisurely to begin with.

In a very short time, my water broke, the drugs disappeared completely, and I felt the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Twice I tried to ask if anyone was going to fix the meds, but no one answered me. Instead they just avoided eye contact and tried to act busy. That’s when I knew things were about to get real.

Truth: delivering Novi into this world is the hardest thing I’ve ever physically done. At one point his shoulders got stuck (shoulder dystocia), prompting a doctor to press down as hard as he could on my abdomen to help push the baby out. Austin said he pressed so hard that you could hear an audible crunch. Luckily I couldn’t hear it over my very audible scream.

Things I yelled during labor that I don’t remember yelling:
1) NO
2) I’M NOT DOING THIS
3) I CAN’T DO THIS
4) JUST PULL IT OUT
5) IT BURNS (hey ring of fire)

It was all very loud and fast, slow and silent at the same time. Once he finally slid out, I was so emotionally and physically spent that I just closed my eyes and wept. I never saw them hold him up or heard Austin say, “It’s a boy!” Instead I felt it all. I felt the weight of him on my chest, the relief of it being over, and the surge of immediate love for someone I just met.

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We named him Novi Fox because we are the kind of parents who name their kid Novi Fox. Since Novi isn’t a real name, it doesn’t have an official meaning which means I can give it one all its own. So far I’m thinking “child who never complains,” but we’ll see.

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It’s been five days since I delivered my sweet boy into this world, and while it was difficult and unexpected– his birth story has already started to feel less like hard jolt and more like an amazing and beautiful feat. I’m so glad I got to do this one more time.

Oh Novi. We’re so glad you’re here. You are everything I dreamed you could be.

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// hello novi video //

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32 thoughts on “Oh Novi: A Birth Story

  1. Jennifer Jo

    Teared up, of course.

    Nicholas watched it with me. When you went to the store, all huge with baby, he yelled, “How can she WALK?!”

    ALL the congratulations to you guys. xo!

    Reply
  2. Danielle

    Kate, this is stunning. It’s also so exactly like my 1st and 3rd births. I remember having labored at home with Eddie for 16 hours while unpacking at the house we’d just moved into 3 days before. And getting the same reaction from a nurse when we called. Your description of delivering with an epidural that hasn’t actually worked is my experience too. And I agree… those terrifically difficult births changed me in the best possible ways. Well done, mama. Well done.

    Reply
  3. Caitlyn

    Oh Kate, congrats!! He is beautiful- and holy crap, Eva and Waylon now seem like teenagers in that video haha! Since this is your last, I’d love to know – what was the girl name?

    Reply
  4. Dara

    “I wish I could describe what it’s like to have a drug free birth when you are not prepared to have a drug free birth.” I’ve been there…with both births! IT IS THE WORST. I also know what it’s like to have the baby get stuck coming out…mine was due to an incredibly large head LOL. Reading this made me remember. It is the hardest thing ever but that relief and joy at the end is amazing.

    Reply
  5. Helen McLaughlin

    Misty-eyed & grinning over here… What a beautiful video, what a gorgeous baby. Kate & Austin, CONGRATULATIONS! Your family looks so happily complete. Sending all my love to you. xx

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    When my water broke in my midwife’s office with my FIFTH baby, she said GET TO THE HOSPITAL. I stopped for bagels. When we got to the hospital they had the warmer on and we’re prepped for delivery, freaking out because what should have been a five minute drive took us 45. I laughed. Pack that stuff up and relax, ladies. 14 hours of hard labor later my daughter made her appearance. Some of us are just like that, I guess. Good job, momma.

    Reply
  7. Kaytea

    Having also had a long (arduous) labor and a delivery with a worn-off (ie Useless ) epidural I feel at liberty to say that while your unintentionally med-free birth was the most amazing crazy thing you may ever experience I am as equally impressed with your ability to put it into words. I’ve been attempting to do so for 4 months, to no avail. Bravo, my friend. Congratulations <3

    Reply
  8. Veronica

    Aw, mama. I feel you (literally) on your description of labor and shoulder dystocia. I had it with my first and even with an worn off epidural it was the worse pain ever. But what a sweet video and pictures! My second is 6 months and those newborn days already seem so far away. Best to you and your family from a stranger in California.

    Reply
  9. Meredith

    I am weeping with happiness for you, Kate. My third (and final baby) is now 17 months. Savour every moment–even the shitty ones. It goes by so fast. Congratulations on Novi’s birth. He looks angelic.

    Reply
  10. Bets

    it felt like falling onto a bed of hot nails! That was so funny yet so awful at the same time. I’m so sorry you had such a long, hard labor. I hope you are healing well and resting somehow (ha!). Novi Fox is such a beautiful name.

    Reply
  11. Kate Shu

    Oh my goodness. What a beautiful baby! And a beautiful video. You are one of the lucky ones, my friend. Job well done.

    Reply
  12. Jasna

    Oh the video, I totally cried! So beautiful! Birthing babies is such an incredible, awesome, glorious, out of this world experience!

    Reply
  13. Lana

    Huge congrats mommy!!! He looks like such a sweety Btw Novi is literally the word meaning “new” in Serbian and Croatian :p

    Reply
  14. Margo, Thrift at Home

    congratulations! What an amazing story and I love his name :) I wish you had talked to ME and my friends before going into 3rd labor, because everyone told me that third babies are wild cards, totally unpredictable. My sis was a labor-and-delivery nurse and she stands by that. My third labor was NOT the shortest and it was different in every way from my other two. But yeah, the trauma wears off so quickly and the rock-star feeling sets in :)

    Reply
  15. brandy keener

    Laughing, then crying my face off! You are FABULOUS Kate! Congratulations on sweet Novi! 3 is a lucky number! hugs!

    Reply
  16. Julie Hood

    Way to go, mama!!! I love those mid-story lists. Such a fun writing trick! And I’m so sorry labor was so long–but I’m so glad he is healthy and here (finally!) :)

    Reply
  17. Lindsay

    What an amazing tribute to Novi that video is. Really spectacular. I’m hoping for your sake that you’d already edited most of the pregnancy portions before he came. If you did this all with a newborn in tow, you’re my new hero.

    Reply
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  19. Jessica Hawk

    My 3rd baby was born just 4 weeks ago…and everyone told me the same about labor…fast and easy. It was an induction 8 days post due date and 26 hrs of labor!!! It sounds soooooo much like yours, all the way to his shoulder getting stuck!!! But we’re doing it, Mama!! We’re living in the land of the crazies!

    Reply
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