“My babies don’t drop until they drop.”
I wish I would have counted the number of times I said that sentence while pregnant with Avery. I said it every time someone said, “You’re carrying so high!” Or, “You still haven’t dropped!” (And they clearly thought I should have by then.)
And every appointment those final few weeks my midwife would say, “She’s head down, but she’s still quite high. She hasn’t engaged just yet.” In fact, we went through that same drill on Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours before Avery made her appearance.
For some background knowledge, at 37 weeks pregnant, I had a “false alarm.” I went to bed on a Monday night feeling crampy and just uncomfortable, and just could not sleep. I woke Jason up around 1 am and we called my midwife to see if she had any insight. She said it could be labor but might not be, and that I really needed to try to rest. Long story short, I was not in labor, but stayed home from work for two days because I just felt off ,and wanted to make sure all was well.
Now fast forward two weeks when I was 39 weeks pregnant…
My Birth Story- The Short Version
I technically went into labor toward the end of the school day, but had convinced myself it was just Braxton Hicks contractions, because this mama didn’t have babies early. As the night went on, some “cramps” were so strong I had to stand up to work through them, but I still didn’t think much of it.
I got about two hours of sleep, but then figured this was probably actually labor. I took a bath first to try to relax and called my parents to let them know this could be it. Once I woke Jason up, we were confident our baby girl was on her way and we got moving as quickly as we could. We thankfully were living with friends at the time, so they helped us get out the door and were there to take care of Olivia in the morning.
The Birth Center was thankfully less than a 15 minute drive away, and within about 15-30 minutes of arriving, all 8 pounds and 15 ounces of our little Avery Ann had made her grand entrance! She was healthy and mama was healthy, and we were instantly in love.
My Birth Story- The Long Version
On Tuesday afternoon, October 15, I started having some cramping while at school (I was a first grade teacher!), but it didn’t feel much different than my Braxton Hicks contractions, and because I was only 39 weeks, I didn’t think twice about it (Olivia was born eight days late). When I came home from school, I made a comment to my husband and our housemates that I was having more cramping than usual, but didn’t think it could be labor.
[Another background note: we were living with friends at the time as we were waiting for our current basement apartment to open up. So Jason, Olivia, and I were all sleeping in their guest room in the basement.]
As the evening went on, the cramping did, as well, and they were more intense than normal. I had to pause and stand a few times to breathe through them, but I still didn’t think it could be labor. (My labor with Olivia also started first thing in the morning, so starting mid-day was foreign to me!) I actually had my final call with the other sleep consultants I certified with that night and my certification was finalized. And I spent the rest of my evening tying up loose school ends.
I figured I was just tired (pregnant teacher and toddler mom!) and it was another “false alarm,” so I went to bed.
I slept from about 10 pm-12 am, but then woke up with the same cramping and started thinking this might actually be labor. I still wasn’t positive, however, so I laid in bed trying to make a game plan of what I should do and dozed on and off. (Remember, Olivia was sleeping in our room at the foot of the bed!)
At 1:30 am I decided to take a bath, and from the bath I called my parents to tell them I might be in labor. While on the phone I had to pause to breathe through a contraction, and my mom politely told me to stop calling them cramps and to admit these were, in fact, contractions and I was in labor. Thanks, mom, you were right!
When I got out of the bath, I texted my housemate and told her I had “been up for over an hour…trying to let J sleep as much as possible.” I wanted to take a shower if this was the real deal, so I decided to wake Jason up around 2 am to let him know this was probably it.
Well, it was go time from there. Having Jason help me through what I was experiencing confirmed to us it was labor, so we had to make an exit plan since Olivia shared a room with us (the bathroom was connected to the bedroom!). I simply grabbed what I needed right then to get dressed and out of the room, and told Jason exactly what I needed and where it was, and gave him a million reminders that if he woke up Olivia he was toast. (Good news: she didn’t even stir!)
We called my midwife at 2:51 am and let her know I was likely in labor. She asked if I was ready to head to the Birth Center, but I said I wanted to labor at home more. I also admitted that I waited too long with Olivia so I trusted her judgment. After the fact, she told me this is when she knew she had to keep me on the phone to see what was actually going on.
I told her my contractions were every 4-5 minutes, maybe only lasting 30 seconds, but I was purely guessing. I had a contraction while chatting with her, so she decided to time it and it was over a minute. So she said I needed to time my next few contractions and then call her back. Well, they were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting more than a minute, so she said to head over right away.
Our amazing housemates heard the commotion going on downstairs, so after waking up and seeing my text, they both came down to help. Jason and Matt loaded up the car and Heather made PB&Js for us and our birth team. So by 3:30 am we were ready to (slowly!) make our way out the door.
One of my biggest fears early on in pregnancy was going into labor in the middle of the night and finding someone to hang with Olivia, so it could not have been more perfect to be able to leave and know our friends were there and could get her up and ready for the day. I started crying walking out the door thinking about the fact that we put Olivia to bed as an only child (and not knowing I was in labor), she’d wake up a big sister, and the next time we’d see her we’d be a family of four. Whew, I so vividly remember that moment in the doorway.
Thank goodness the Birth Center was close and there was zero traffic, because it was only a 13 minute drive. But that was a looooooong and bumpy ride for an intensely laboring mama! The road was pretty bumpy so I made Jason slow down each time I was having a contraction.
At the Birth Center
We got to the Birth Center around 3:45 or so, and I had to scale the staircase I had been dreading my entire pregnancy. Toward the top I felt something shift and knew something was changing – at that point Jason’s only goal was to get me to the room.
Once in there, my midwife asked me to try to use the restroom. I told her if I sat down on the toilet I would surely have a baby right then and there, so we skipped that bathroom break. My water broke just a few minutes later, between 4-4:10 am, and that’s when the other midwife arrived (there’s usually only one midwife and one birth partner, but thankfully my delivering midwife was finishing up her training and still needed a more senior midwife, because the birth partner was still en route!).
I tried to get into bed, but my body had taken over at this point and I couldn’t move much at all. So I was half on the bed, half off, clasping Jason’s neck, and then at 4:15 am, much like her big sister, little Avery came bursting into the world, weighing 8 lbs 15 oz, 20 inches long, five days early, and we were overjoyed!
This birth experience had some similarities to Olivia’s, but it was also so much different. Because I pushed so hard to get Olivia out, I hemorrhaged quite significantly. So my midwives told me rather than pushing for Avery, I just needed to breathe through my urge to push – so I did just that, and my body did all of the work it needed to bring me my baby girl! I still tore and required stitching, and had some bleeding, but nothing like I had with Olivia.
I was able to sit up okay, I took a shower 1-2 hours after having her, we ate a meal, I used the restroom, etc. And being in a birth center rather than a hospital meant we got so much space to just be as the three of us. The midwives did their charting in a separate room so we could be a little family and checked on us periodically.
And by about 8:15 am we were given the clear to head home! So we got home around 8:30 am, Olivia got to meet and hold her baby sister before our friends took her to preschool, and my mom and dad arrived around 9:30 am to meet grandchild number two!
Tidbits I Don’t Want to Forget
We were much less settled on a name with this pregnancy than our first. Riley was the only name we both liked but we just weren’t set on it…so just a few nights prior to this, we were sitting around the fire contemplating names, and I brought up Avery. We both loved it, but I had a good college friend named Avery so didn’t know if it would be strange to use her name. And we thought we had lots of time to decide, so it was still very much up in the air!
When she came out, the midwives asked if we had a name picked out. Jason said, “Hayley, right?!” Sorry Jason, we’ve literally NEVER talked about that name before (names aren’t his strong suite and he’ll tell anyone that!). Then I said, “Avery?” And we both kind of looked at each other, said, “Avery” again, and were like, “Avery it is!”
We had not talked middle names much at all, so we went back and forth between Ann (my mom and Grandma’s middle name) and Elizabeth (his Grandma’s first name) for a few minutes, and we liked the sound of Avery Ann a bit more.
I’m really close to my parents (mom and dad were in the room when Olivia was born), so the ideal was for them to be there for this birth, but it all happened so fast they couldn’t make it. But they got there pretty darn quickly all things considered!
My dad, however, had actually broken his hip a few weeks prior to Avery being born, and had she come even two days earlier, he probably wouldn’t have been able to come because of where he was in the healing process. Just the day or two before she was born, however, he seemed to turn a corner and ended up being able to come with my mom.
My cousin was also getting married that weekend, so my parents were able to spend two days with us, go celebrate with the rest of my family at the wedding, and then my mom was able to come back and help us for another week or so. The timing couldn’t have been better!
My original plans were to teach until I had my baby. I then planned on taking the rest of the school year off, in hopes of continuing to stay home, so I thankfully knew who my long-term “sub” would be for the rest of the year. She subbed for me the days I was out with my false labor a few weeks prior, she joined me for some parent-teacher conferences, and we had some scheduled days for her to observe me to help make the transition more seamless.
On Monday, October 14, I told my principal that Friday would be my last day, even if the baby hadn’t come yet. It was too much to balance making plans but also knowing I might have to leave at any moment. I also knew I’d likely have this baby quickly, and the thought of go-time happening at school was too much. And I wanted my students to be as prepared as possible for the transition.
My sub’s last day of observing me was Tuesday, October 15. During the afternoon recess, she took my class outside so I could do some final organizing as we prepped for my leave. After dismissal, she kind of jokingly said, “What will you be teaching tomorrow? Like, if you were to have the baby tonight, what would you want me to do?” So I literally walked her through the following day, showed her all of my materials, and left my classroom as ready as it would have been.
Little did I know I was actually in the early stages of labor at that point. It was almost like my body was finally able to relax, knowing that my end-date was coming, my classroom was ready, my sub was ready, and my students were in good hands.
Baby Sleep from A to Z
AND I can’t tell you her entire birth story without also telling you she’s the reason I created Baby Sleep from A to Z, my newborn and baby sleep course without the sleep training plan. It’s everything I wish I had known about sleep when we had Olivia, and I actually planned out each letter during those long newborn nights with Avery, when I realized how much more confident I was entering the sleep world this time around.
Well, if you’ve made it this far, you might just love birth as much as I do. So thanks for reading!