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:
3) Light gardening, he even found the right planting zone for the trees.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
// hello novi video //