Monday, March 17, 2014

Cullen James Olive: A Birth Story

What an amazing week!
Cullen is 5 days old today and is already changing and growing too fast. So much of his journey into the world was very much like my experience with Avery, it just all happened in half the time! 

Last week, Monday and Tuesday here in Indiana were gorgeous; warm and sunny both days and we spent lots of time outside as a family soaking up the vitamin D in t-shirts and taking lots of walks around the neighborhood. Tuesday night's forecast called for a big, cold mess - rain, thunder, sleet and more snow. Naturally, this is the night Cullen decided was his time to shine and so we will always remember his birth day being on the morning of the 'March snowstorm'

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
10:00 pm
As we were getting ready for bed, I started to feel the start of some 'real' contractions.  Not super uncomfortable, but enough for me to know to start timing them because I had the feeling things would go much quicker this time around (at my appointment a week earlier, I was already 3 cm dilated)

11:00 pm
I tried to get some sleep, knowing the journey ahead, but every time I dozed off the next contraction woke me up so I basically just lay there and kept track of contractions on my phone for a few hours.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
2:30 am
At this point contractions were getting more intense, about 4-5 minutes apart and lasting a little less than a minute each. Justin woke up and we decided that it was time to call our midwife and our amazing friend, Ashley, to come stay with Avery while we made our way to the hospital. The heavy rain and thunder had begun and knowing that it took Ashley about 30 minutes to get to our house and it would then take us 10 minutes to get to the hospital, I didn't want to wait until the snow and ice began which could cause travel problems for both Ashley and ourselves.

We had numerous people on 'baby alert' for us - willing and waiting on standby to care for Avery while we went to the hospital. It was a little stressful for me to not know exactly where he would be going or what day/time it would happen, but I had full trust in all of our options and in the end it worked out perfectly. A HUGE thanks to Ashley for being so willing to drive in the pouring rain to our house in the middle of the night, keeping our active toddler so happy, and for sending us photos throughout the day. I can't explain how much peace it brought me knowing that Avery was in such good hands while we were away. (I've never been away from Avery overnight before- this was a big deal!)
Another HUGE thanks to my mom and step-dad for also being on stand-by in Wisconsin and being willing to be woken up in the middle of the night to jump in the car and drive 10 hours straight
-in a snowstorm- to relieve Ashley and stay with Avery until we were able to come home (and for smothering Avery with love and making him feel special in his new big brother role) How blessed we are to have such amazing people in our life!

3:30 am
After Ashley arrived, we didn't waste much time as contractions were getting even more intense and I knew we still had a bumpy ride to the hospital ahead of us. The 10 minute ride felt like 30 and every bump felt like baby was going to fall right out. :) 

4:00 am
We checked in at the hospital (it's so quiet and peaceful there at such an early hour!) and were taken up to delivery room 6 (the same room Avery was born in!) to meet our midwife, Letitia, who had the birth tub all set up and ready to be filled. (What a welcome sight that tub was!) I was hooked up to monitors for about 20 (long) minutes to make sure baby was handling delivery ok and when Letitia checked my cervix, I was already at 7.5 cm dilated! Just like when I was in labor with Avery, I had terrible nausea and vomiting... bless Justin for being so ready with a vomit bag and cold washcloth (to soothe my head and for me to bite. Ha!)

5:00 am 
As we were waiting for the tub to fill, my water broke and there was some meconium staining in the amniotic fluid (This same thing happened with Avery and basically means that Cullen had already passed a bowel movement while inside which would cause his delivery to be a little more high-risk because of the possibility that he could inhale some of the fluid during delivery) Because of this, a NICU team would have to be present during the birth and I could no longer deliver in the water, which was pretty disappointing to me, even the second time, but not nearly as scary.

Even though I couldn't deliver in the tub, I still wanted to finish out laboring in it as long as I could. The warm water was such a relief but after being in the tub for only a short time (probably only about 15 minutes) I was already feeling like I had to push. So, short lived was the relief of the water, but exciting that it felt like the end was so near!

5:30 am 
When I got out of the tub, I was almost 10 cm dilated and started pushing with each contraction. NICU came in and the next 20 minutes were a blur of all the incredible feelings and emotions birth brings. At 5:50, as the snow came down in a fury outside,
Cullen James made his way into the world! He cried immediately and after the cord was quickly cut, he was whisked away to the other side of the room for a quick evaluation from the NICU team. Again, it was terrible to watch him be born and not be able to cuddle him right away but he was only gone for about 2 minutes before they brought him back, having passed his evaluation with flying colors and scoring a 9 on his first (and second) APGAR. We got lots of skin-to-skin time and he was able to latch on and nurse before they took him to be cleaned up and weighed over an hour later.

I can't sing enough praises of my fantastic husband. It's days like this that make me fall
even deeper in love with him- his steady and calming demeanor brought me so much strength. I'm not even exaggerating when I say I couldn't do labor/delivery/parenting without him. How did I ever get so lucky?!

Cullen weighed in at 8 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. He has a head full of RED hair, super long fingers and toes and the sweetest little chubby cheeks ever.

After delivery, I was given a dose of Pitocin (Again, just like Avery's birth) to help stop the bleeding but besides that I was able to deliver Cullen naturally and without any tearing/stitches needed! (At about half the time for labor/delivery, the second time around seemed SO MUCH easier- perhaps it was because Cullen's head is smaller than Avery's was? :) Thanks to an amazing team - Justin, Letitia and the hospital staff, Cullen's birth was such a positive experience!

I'm sort of amazed how much easier everything has been the second time around (perspective!). Time spent laboring/pushing, healing, nursing, etc. has all gone so well- maybe it's because I know what to expect this time and am not nearly as anxious as I was as a first-time mom. We were able to leave the hospital at about noon on Thursday to get home to big brother and our own bed (even if we don't spend much time actually IN bed during the night, it's such a good feeling to be home :) and have been relaxing, adjusting, and spending time together as a family ever since. It's SO nice to have my mom and sister here all week!

Cullen is honestly the sweetest, most chill baby ever. He isn't bothered by much (except getting his diaper changed) and is just so content. He gets up lots at night to nurse but goes right back to sleep between feedings, giving me some time to rest too :)  He cuddles and rests comfortably all day and at 5 days old, he's beginning to be more alert for short stretches throughout the day.

Big brother Avery is so very sweet and gentle with Cullen. He gives him SO many hugs and kisses, shares his toys with him and laughs at the funny baby noises he makes. He has been taking this transition so well, I'm amazed by him and overwhelmed with love.


  1. Wow super mommy. That is an awesome story!!! I seriously want to birth in a tub next time, but I'll have to do a home birth for that and that makes me a bit nervous (the hospitals here won't allow laboring in the tub). What a beautiful family!!!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! (Sorry I'm just now responding..) The birth tub is a HUGE relief, I swear by it and we are so fortunate that our hospital here offers midwifery services as well as birth tubs- it's the best of both worlds! (I definitely wouldn't be comfortable with a home birth either)