Cate’s Birth Story

My sweet baby Cate! How adventurous your pregnancy was! The heartburn I experienced with your older brother was back and in full force. Water, air–you name it, if I swallowed it, it hurt for days! We did a lot of traveling during this pregnancy, you and I! To North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Idaho, Washington, West Virginia, Texas, and Florida; we became great travel buddies! In my last traveling adventure at 36 weeks pregnant to Orlando (or rather, coming home from Orlando), I had a very good feeling that you would not arrive as “late” as your older siblings had. With lightheadedness and cravings for ice, I also realize that anemia had set in, and we quickly worked to get that resolved.

Christmas came and went, and I loved every minute with your brother and sister, but I was SO over being pregnant (sign #2 you weren’t going to wait as long as they did!). And then, on December 31, 2015, I turned the big 3-0. I was tired and simply wanted to celebrate doing family things, so we started with a matinee showing of Zootopia and followed it with lunch at Chipotle. I excitedly went to have a pedicure and within 30 minutes of getting home I was wiped. I was so so tired. We decided to try for dinner as a family at our favorite pizza place and plan for an early bedtime (yes! On New Year’s Eve. On my 30th birthday!), and in the car on the way there, my stomach turned. You weren’t due for another 5 days, yet I was terrified I was going to go into labor feeling like *this*.

We sat down at the table and ordered our food. I ran to the bathroom while thechiropractor asked them to box up our food. We made it home (by the grace of God). I got into bed. And then I spent the next 12 hours vomiting. That night took heartburn to a whole new level. And I prayed that I would NOT go into labor. Because if I did, I knew I was headed straight to the hospital and there would be a lot of drugs involved…a start I did not want for you, Miss Cate!

The next two days I spent praying a lot. Simply that I wouldn’t go into labor. That you would stay put! With your older siblings I had NEVER prayed that they would stay where they were that late in the game, but there’s a first for everything! By January 4, I was back to my full duties of work–trying to tie up loose ends so you could be born and I could totally relax! The night of January 5, I remember working and feeling like I was totally on a roll! Just before midnight I sent a message to your Aunt Claire letting her know I was going to bed but I would finish up a few things the next morning…little did I know how the rest of that night would go.

I stood up from my desk and immediately realized I had made a mistake sitting on hard wood without a pillow. My hips HURT. This entire pregnancy had been achier than any of my previous pregnancies. Thankfully thechiropractor surprised me with a new mattress for Christmas and the previous few weeks of sleep had been better than the previous few months, but I was so over the aches! I walked upstairs and told thechiropractor that I would be in to see him first thing tomorrow morning, and I went to bed.

At 2:00am I woke up to use the bathroom. As I sat up I felt a little bit of water between my legs and silently cursed that I had wet myself. Thinking that in these late days of pregnancy I really should have been to see a women’s health physical therapist and that I should have been doing more pelvic floor exercises. I walked to the bathroom, peed, and had what I thought was a mild contraction. Surely not, I thought. I went back to bed. My husband got up as I got back into bed because he had low blood sugar (have I ever mentioned that thechiropractor is Type I diabetic?!). As he was in the kitchen getting food, I heard our 2 year old get out of bed. Then I heard my husband running down the hallway. And I heard vomit. Oh yes; Josie had gotten out of bed moaning, and my husband nearly flew her down the hallway to the bathroom so as not to make a mess. They made it. But his blood sugar was still low and he called for me to come help.

Back up out of bed I went to lay with Josie. As I walked into her room he looked at me (snack in hand) and said, “Are you ok?” “I think I’m having contractions,” I said. “I have my phone with me. I will text you if I need you.” And I walked into her room to lay down with her. And that’s when I felt it. A contraction. Clear. As. Day. (Except that it was like 2:30am). Andrew had gone back to bed and I didn’t want to yell for him and wake the kids up. I laid and waited. More contractions every few minutes. And several of them HURT. In my back. I was having back labor. Back labor is nightmareish to me. So I text Andrew something along the lines of: “I’m in labor. It’s in my back. I need an adjustment.” To which he replied: “Ok. My portable table and {pregnancy} pillows are at the office. I will go get them.”

He had kept that table and those pillows in his car for WEEKS. Why he chose to take them out that day is beyond me, but hey, at least this next part makes for a good story.

So I laid there with Josie until she went back to sleep. Having allthebacklabor and wondering why on earth it was taking Andrew so long to go to and from our office which was 6 minutes away at 2:45am. And then I got the text:

Yes. You read that correctly. The car died. He wouldn’t call anyone. It was 16 degrees outside at 2:45 in the morning. His wife was in labor. So he walked home.

About that time I decided I couldn’t lay in the bed anymore between the pain in my back and wondering if Andrew had turned into a popsicle. So I plugged in the Christmas tree lights and started cleaning the toys off of the living room floor, having strong contractions all the while. Finally, Andrew got home! But caveat: without any of the stuff he went for because he couldn’t carry it across town! So he took our other car back to the office, got his table and pillows and finally was able to adjust me.

It was instantaneous change. Every bit of the tension moved around to my stomach as I continued pacing around the house. Somewhere around that time I decided I would text my birth team and my mom who was keeping my big kids, simply so that they would have messages from me when they woke up that morning to know how to prepare their days. This was circa 4:00am.

My midwife text me back, but I didn’t hear from anyone else. She lives about 45 minutes from me and basically decided to get herself up and start getting ready for the day. I still thought I had plenty of time. No rush.

About an hour and 15 minutes later I realized it might be a good idea to call my mom. My kids would be up around 6:15am, and Andrew and I really weren’t in the position to even really help them with breakfast. He was putting sheets on the bed, I was really regretting not eating dinner and staying up until midnight–I was SO tired and hungry but afraid to eat because of the heartburn. Of course my mom didn’t answer when I called her. We had done 20,000 “trial run” phone calls and she had thought every one was “the real thing.” But when it was really “the real thing” she slept through it!

So I called my dad who thankfully answered and woke my mom up. I think my mom was thoroughly confused. She asked me questions like, “Are you sure you need me NOW?” and “Can I drink coffee first?”

Because I was so tired and it was 5:45am and the new sheets were on the bed, I decided to go lay down. All I could think was, “I need to save energy. I’ll rest again later when I’m in transition, but until then I really need to save energy.” So I laid on my side and I slept. It was wonderful and sort of twilight-like. During that time I think Andrew tried calling our doula several times along with our birth photographer. They were coming, they said.

And then my mom came and I woke up. She wanted to talk to me and ask me a bunch of questions about how I was doing. I kept thinking, “I was sleeping until you started talking to me…” and then I would have a contraction and keep talking to her. Another contraction and talking. Another contraction (like it was just part of everyday life) and she goes, “Are you sure you are ok?? I’ve only been here like 5 minutes and you’ve had 3 contractions.” Surely it had been longer than that. My mom can’t tell time. She’s tired, right??

Suddenly I was saved by the midwife! I had new questions to answer! She started buzzing around setting things up, and that’s when a BIG contraction hit me. I hadn’t needed counter pressure from my hubby, but needed it then! And I went on trying to answer more questions, and all of a sudden a second huge contraction hit. After it happened I thought, “If I didn’t know any better, I would say I felt the baby move down! By inches!” But I didn’t say anything out loud. I kept those crazy inner thoughts in my crazy inner mind. I had hours to go. Didn’t want to psych myself out.

Luke woke up, so my mom went to help him with breakfast. Everyone kept buzzing around getting things ready. As my midwife walked in I told her I was going to the bathroom because, well, I had to go. She asked if I needed help. I told her no.

And the next part gets a little fuzzy. I sat down. And then all I remember is my body pushing and letting out a moan. The midwife and Andrew were all of a sudden in the door way of the bathroom and I got the question, “Did you just PUSH?????” Apparently I had because there was a baby’s head between my legs! So my midwife told me to get up and that we were going to the bed (the bathroom was too tiny to deliver a baby!). Typically when I get to this stage in labor I just need some instruction. I can follow it. I just need someone to tell me what I need to do out loud.

So my midwife told me to climb over the footboard onto the mattress…mind you, the baby’s head had been born. As I was doing it I was thinking, “Why didn’t I just walk around to the side of the bed? It is lower. Why am I climbing over this thing??” And yet I did it!

One thing I said I did NOT want was to have my older kids at the birth. I thought it would stress me out. And yet in this moment I knew I was just waiting on a contraction, so I looked at my husband and said “Go get Mom and Luke! See if they want to be here!”

_dsc0803And sure enough, they entered the room, one contraction came, and out slid a baby! It was 6:54am (4 hours and 24 minutes from my first contraction). The assistant midwife had walked in about 5 minutes before. The midwife had been there for about 20 minutes. The doula and birth photographer never made it. Josie walked in as the baby was born. My kids went to bed and woke up to a baby sister!!! Do I have beautiful photos of this labor and birth? No. But I have amazing photos of my kids learning to love their new little sister! All 8lbs 6oz, 21.5 inches of Catherine Anne. Four-year-old Luke was FULL of questions like “How did they get her head back on?”and he proudly told his Grandma later that day that Daddy “cut Cate’s umbrellical cord away from the thing that looked like a heart covered in blood…oh yeah…the placenta.” (Every four year old can accurately describe birth, right?!)


It was fast. It was furious. I think God knew I was physically and mentally SO done, and He gave me the birth I needed! We are CRAZY thankful that my mom and Luke were able to be there for it, and it has instilled a completely inseparable bond between these two! We had some nursing issues, much like big brother Luke, but nothing that wasn’t resolvable (amazing how I handled it with a third child vs a first child though!). It was an amazing day of snuggling, Cate, and we are all so so thankful that you are ours!!!


All photos copyright Sera Petras Photography