Cole's Birth Story
In the wee hours of June 23rd, 2019 we met our third son Cole Drew Kiefer. Here is the story of his birth:
Around 2pm on June 22nd, I started feeling contractions. Up to that point, I had experienced more false/prodromal labor during this pregnancy than during my previous two combined. My heart goes out to other mamas that experience this, because it was a TOUGH last two weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes I would have steady contractions ALL day. At other times, I’d have stronger contractions for 3 hours in the middle of the night, only to have them die down and me have to head to work on minimal sleep. A few times I honestly felt like this might be “it”, but the contractions never escalated to the point where they were painful enough for me to believe we had reached the tipping point into actual labor.
So, after weeks of this pattern...I no longer even mentioned them or let myself get too excited. I would literally force myself to go back to sleep, even if the contractions felt “real”. I just went about all my plans as normal, knowing that labor would eventually start and the demands of the contractions would require more attention.
When they started back up this particular time though, I did have a gut feeling that these were a little different. So I made sure I was prepared on my end. Our plans that Saturday night? We were hosting a grill out for both of our families. I had joked to everyone the day before that we’d have to leave if I went into labor while they were over (this grill out was on my DUE DATE), but they could finish the grill out without us if necessary.
My best friend/sister-in-law was there. I texted her from across the room that I had steady contractions (about every 10 minutes). She came to the grocery store with me to grab some grill out items we needed and it was special that she knew what was going on and was checking in on my throughout the rest of the evening. She would just make eye contact every time she heard my split timer go off.
We had such an enjoyable evening with our families and our little guys. I quietly kept track of my contractions on my running watch and as we finished eating, they had started to pick up in intensity. I told Drew, “Babe, I’ve been having contractions for 4.5 hours now and they are about 7 minutes apart. Do you think I should call?!” Drew replied, “AMY! YES! You need to call.” I had mentioned them to Drew earlier, so it wasn’t a complete surprise…but, he was surprised they had picked up that much.
Because of my history of relatively short labors, the plan was that I’d come into the hospital a little bit earlier this time. I called and sure enough, our doctor wanted us to come right in. We started to get our stuff in the car, excitedly told our families that we thought it was time to meet our baby, kissed our toddlers goodbye and headed into the hospital just after 7pm. Everyone was surprised but Michelle simply said, “She has been in labor this whole time.”
Fast forward to the triage nurse checking my cervix and telling me that I was only 3. We’ll call this test #1. This meant that I had zero progress to show for the 5 hours of labor as I had been a 3 at my last appointment. She started to ask about how I’d feel about going back home until things escalated and I asked to talk to the physician from my practice rather than the resident. I had to advocate for myself because I just had a feeling it WAS time and the plan all along was for me to get there earlier, so going home did not feel like the best option. The attending from my practice came down and we made a plan. She said the charge nurse said it was far too busy to admit me without any sign of progress, so she’d give me an hour to make some progress. She suggested going on a walk or doing stairs.
If I’m honest: it was REALLY tough to hear I was at 3 and not immediately being admitted. Both of my previous labors, I had come in and been admitted immediately. I told Drew, “Babe, if this isn’t it...we really are going to have a car baby because I’m never going to know. This FEELS like it.” While I had a moment of doubt rush over me, I centered myself with this: “Amy, this is not in your hands. This is in the Lord’s hands. You are the vessel and no matter what, this baby will come out soon. We’ll be okay either way.”
But, I’m a woman of action and so the suggestion of walking and stair climbing…I took very seriously. Drew and I left triage and basically did an hour workout. We did the full stairs (9 floors) 3 times and walked this loop near the hospital at a quick pace. It was actually really fun. Drew was keeping things light hearted, assuring me that he knew I was in labor (I had to breathe through the contractions) and it was the most beautiful night out. We made the most of our time together. As we headed back into triage and the nurse said she’d be right into check me, I again turned to positive self talk. I said, “Amy, either way this turns out...it is the way it is meant to be. Trust the process.”
The nurse finished the check and said, “You are a solid 4. I’m calling your doctor.”
Relief rushed over me and I swear the affirmation of making progress helped things to pick up. Almost immediately, the contractions started getting stronger and I have never been more grateful for pain before in my life.
We headed up to the room we’d meet our baby in. Drew and I had the best time laboring. I was breathing through the contractions, but during my breaks the world was just the two of us. We talked, laughed, we watched a party that was happening across the street from the hospital. We enjoyed our last bit of time before labor got more serious and the baby arrived. We also remembered that we were supposed to text my friend Maison. She is our dear friend and a photographer that wanted to see a birth. I knew she had photographed a wedding that day, so I was almost positive she wasn’t going to want to swing by. I texted her, “We’re having our baby if you want to swing by. ;)” She DID want to come and made her way right over. This turned out to be an enormous blessing because she took pictures that I will forever cherish.
I continued to labor around the room. I love to move and squat during contractions. Once things started to get stronger, I made my way into the tub. The pain and intensity was escalating nicely, but I was working my way through it. The birth environment was perfect and my husband was amazing.
After maybe an hour in the tub, things started to really escalate. We all made the decision that I should get out to get checked and see where things were. The resident came in. Y’all, he told me: “You’re a 6.”
I literally responded, “A f****** 6?! Are you kidding me?”
I’m NOT kidding you when I say when things were at that level with Trey, I was able to hear “10 and push!”. I had to reset my mind right there and then. We’ll call this test #2. I had to re-believe that I could do this. I said to myself, “AMY! You are still SO freaking close. That is PROGRESS AND you are fine. You can handle this. I know you can.”
We made the decision that the resident would break my water. He could feel the bulging bag and my doctor had actually offered and suggested getting it broken much earlier. Since I had never done this before and it had spontaneously ruptured both previous times, I had thought we’d just progress the way we would need to and it would do it on its own.
Well, let’s just say after he ruptured my bag I went from 6 to 10 in about 45 minutes. I hopped back into the tub right away and worked through just a few contractions in there. I had actually nodded off to sleep between contractions and then like a tidal wave, I sat straight up with the next contraction. I was feeling SO much pressure and intensity. I had planned to stay in the tub much longer...but, honestly I just felt like I needed to be in a position to deliver the baby (you cannot water birth with Madison Women’s Health). I went to the edge of the bed and worked through another contraction. I told my nurse things were feeling very close. “I know my baby is getting close to coming out.” Drew got pretty firm and asked her to get the doctor back in immediately to check me. We knew I had just been ruptured, and checked but this was also Drew’s 3rd time seeing me birth. He knew by the intensity of what I was saying and how I was acting that our baby was getting very close to coming out. It seemed like the team thought we had much more time. ;)
My doctor checked me and said I was an 8. I hopped out of bed and did the next 2 contractions standing at the edge of the bed. Honestly, I have never felt such intense contractions in all of my life. Everything in my body was saying I needed to push after those. I uttered frantically, “I honestly don’t know what to tell you. I know you just checked but I know my body is telling me it needs to push.” I watched the doctor gown up and get ready and in my head I was thinking, “You FREAKS! HURRY UP! Someone needs to catch this baby because my body is going to push this thing out.” It felt like the labor was possessing me and my body was telling me what it needed. What came out was, “I REALLY think I need to push.”
Go back and read Trey’s birth story here, if you want a beautiful and smooth birth story. Haha. ;)
The doctor decided she would check me again (although the last check was such a short while ago) as the nurse took another baby heart rate. The doctor said, “Amy, you are 10 and your baby’s heart rate is dropping. Give me everything you have during this next contraction.”
I had never felt more determined and simultaneously relieved in my entire life. I cannot even put it into proper words and tears are streaming down my face right now. I KNEW I was there, Drew KNEW I was there, but everyone else seemed to be doubting that we were there.
The pushing phase was my redemption song because our baby came out over 1 contraction and about 1.5 pushes. My first push, I could feel the baby’s head come out. Everyone in the room was yelling to keep going and how close I was. With all I had, I pushed the last part of the babe out. At 1:50 am, we had a BABY!
I was half on the bed, half off. Drew said he had never had more anxiety in his life because for the 3rd time in a row I had overwhelmed the resident and the attending had to catch the baby. It was a jumbled scenario going on behind me and he said he was 5 seconds from going back there and catching the baby himself as no one seemed ready or sure handed. I’m trying to accurately portray that this room did not think I was ready to push and so no one was being very quick about anything.
But, there we were. The baby was hanging between my legs and someone had caught baby #3. The babe looked blue and everyone was very quickly trying to get me onto the bed and get the babe looking better.
Drew could not see the gender to announce it. Our labor nurse called the baby a “she” and I had thought we had a little girl. I said, “Is it really a girl?” and then saw Cole’s penis myself. I said, “It’s a BOYYYYYYY!”
Cole Drew Kiefer was officially here. We got him onto my chest and things started to turn around for him. He was perfect and Drew said he had never seen me more happy than in that moment. I knew in the deepest part of my soul that my heart was SO content with another boy and that moment proved it.
Test #3 was that my placenta would NOT deliver. My entire body was shaking uncontrollably. All I wanted to do is enjoy our newest addition that I had just worked SO freaking hard for. The longer it wouldn’t deliver, the more serious things got. At the half hour mark, the doctor told me that we had to go to the OR. This was NOT something I was planning on. Honestly, it put a damper on our experience as the last thing you want to happen is to be wheeled away from your husband and your brand new baby.
As I was on the way to the OR, the doctor’s words were running through my head. Risks: bleeding, something else or worst case: hysterectomy. It was too much to process at the time, so I turned back to my prayer. “Lord, this isn’t my plan...but, it isn’t in my hands. This is in your hands now.” I took very long deep breaths as everyone in the room prepped me and I had only felt calm because I had given it up to Him.
It was surreal to be surrounded by so many people. To have my legs splayed open under the brightest of lights. To have an anaesthesiologist talking to me about what medications she was going to put into my vein. I said, “How much midazolam and fentanyl do you usually use? I want the lightest you can give, I want to be with my baby.” She said, “Are you a nurse?” I said, “Yes, a nurse that pushes those two drugs often. How much do you plan on using?” She assured me she would go as light as possible (2 of midaz, 100 of fentanyl and I’m not sure how much propofol).
The next thing I remember is being wheeled back into the delivery room. I just started bawling and I couldn’t stop. I was relieved to hear things went as well as possible and RELIEVED to be back with my family. I took Cole back and it felt like things were finally over. I had my baby and my husband and that was all I needed in the world right then.
The final, but important part of Cole’s story is that I leaned on Drew much more than I ever had during birth. He was SO steady, supportive and every time we made eye contact…I could just feel how much he believed in me and loved me. It was indescribable the way we worked together this time and I’m always going to keep a special place in my heart for how big a part of this birth he was. I know Cole has been born to parents that make quite the team, which will be SO needed in raising this 3 little men.
Birth, mamahood, life...is not always going to go according to plan. The best we can do at each step is make the most of what we’re presented with. So, I hope that inside this story you see the hope, happiness and overcoming of obstacles. I hope you see a mama that would do it all again to meet her babe. I hope you know that you can make it through something that is far harder than you expect it to be, because you are tougher than you know. I also crapped all over the place this birth— which I told them I had to and they told me it was the baby, so that was unfortunate mistake for them (ha). But, a reminder that it doesn’t have to be pretty to be beautiful.
I’ve never felt better during a postpartum period, so I can only be SO thankful for that. It almost seems surreal because of the storm that was birthing him.
A reminder that today, is the very last day of our sale to celebrate Cole’s birth. We want all women to feel EMPOWERED and STRONG as they tackle pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum.
Use code “BABYCOLE” for 10% off ANY GUIDE.
As always, I couldn’t be more thankful for this community for supporting us through our highs and lows.
We love you guys.