ByJennifer Holshoe
September 5, 2019

As we neared the end of pregnancy, things got harder. I was contracting a lot, I would have cramps an entire day. It made me feel fearful, and I didn’t like that. Jen was never worried though, and that gave me a lot of reassurance. I thought I wanted a summer baby – a before September baby, even. But as we started preparing for school, it became clear to me that waiting on baby would be nice for everyone. We got to celebrate first days of school for Layla and Everett, we got to soak in a few calm mornings at home, and we broke into the school year just enough.

I had put September 13th or 14th in my head, and so when her due date of the 9th came and went, I was happy. First, based on my cycle I felt like I was really due closer to the 11th. When it came down to it, I did not want a 9/11 baby. But I think I knew in my head that was so close to my EDD, and with 2/3 other kids born smack on their due date, I thought we had a bit of a streak going. I wanted to be overdue for a few reasons – I wanted to be able to experience what it was like to go over, and quite frankly, I was so content with baby tucked in my tummy. She is my last one…I didn’t want it to be over.

On baby’s “due date” the 9th, we went to church. Then we tackled a few home tasks. We stocked a freezer, I dropped off items at the JBF sale (hopeful that Sloane was not a boy since all of our boy clothes were going to this sale!), and dad took the kids to the playground at the school. It was a nice, joyful day. The final days and weeks before baby’s arrival contained a lot of emotions. I was worried about Everett – but once we got him into school, things at home were calm. Joyful. We were anticipating baby out of love, and not at all out of fear. What a blessing.

September 10th was a Monday. We spent the morning getting Layla off to school and then a relaxing trip to the library. We came home and had lunch and quiet time. After that we took a trip to Hardings – it was their big meat sale, which was perfect timing to stock up and fill our freezer. The kids rode in the cozy coupe and were given compliments of good behavior more than once. It was a fun trip for all of us. I remember Everett helping me load the food into the basement by pulling a wagon down the hill. Funny how so much of this is ingrained in my mind – ordinary days turned extraordinary by birth.

Home. Dinner was grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was sunny and warm, but such a cozy meal. After dinner, I read books with the big kids on the front lawn. I remember getting bit by tons of mosquitoes in just those few minutes we were out there. Dad handled bedtime. I was so wiped out and was really cautious about overdoing it until after the JBF sale (that was set for the 12th).

We tucked the kids in. Dad mowed the lawn, I rested and prayed baby would stay put for 36 more hours. She must have heard that much differently. We munched on some Chicago style popcorn – straight from Chicago – and watched the Lions lose. We went to bed early. I was anxious, as I just really wanted one more day. Fell asleep around 10pm. I woke around midnight, but went right back to bed.

September 11th, 2:20am – I woke again. I thought I was having a contraction due to a full bladder (this happens to me a lot overnight). I got up to go to the bathroom and immediately knew I was in labor. I didn’t have an urgency to pee, and because of that, I knew my contraction was the real deal. I had been praying for weeks that when we were in real labor that I would know. I wanted it to be clear that this was it so I didn’t inconvenience all the people we were calling. What an answer to prayer! And while this was the ONLY day I didn’t want a baby to come, I was at peace. I had a job to do, no time to fret over details.

2:24am – as I laid back in bed, another wave came on at the same time that Everett came in our room. I had him go potty and closed my eyes. When he returned, I had him wake Kurtis and take him back to bed.

2:27am – Kurtis came back and I told him we were in labor. He was surprisingly receptive and alert and immediately got to work. He began blowing up the birth pool and added our extra layer of sheets to the bed. He was already needing to put his hands on my back for counter pressure, which was much earlier in labor than our previous ones. Back labor again for kid #4!

2:32am – I texted Jen that we woke up only ten minutes ago but that contractions were coming every couple minutes. She responded right away. She said to see how the next 10-15 minutes went and let her know. She asked if they were intense. I said they were not, but they were making me shaky.

2:34am – I text Jen again telling her they were definitely 2 minutes apart. She said she was getting ready.

2:34am – I text Stacy (our photographer) asking her to come. I eventually call her, but never hear back. Same with Haley and Janna, back ups for helping with kids. But it was all okay, nobody woke up anyway!

We contracted for the next 20 minutes in our bedroom. Kurtis was needed by me every two minutes, as the pain was intensifying. At one point, he needed to go to the basement to get a wrench to tighten the showerhead for the birth tub hose. I ended up going down the stairs to meet him halfway because I knew I would have a contraction before he got all the way up. I was halfway down the stairs when he came up. I ran up the stairs so I wouldn’t get stuck having a contraction on the stairs. Ran. I wanted so badly to not be on the stairs during a contraction that I was willing to run up the stairs to avoid getting stuck there.

2:54am – Jen texts and asks if they are stronger.

2:57am – I respond. “Yes. Needing Kurtis to put pressure on my back with each one. And they are 2 min apart. Not lasting terribly long, but stronger.”

2:59am – Jen says they’ll head our way. The pool, which felt like it was taking forever to fill up, was ready enough. I got in, and while it felt great in between contractions, I wasn’t finding a lot of relief during them. Kurtis wasn’t able to put as much pressure on my back and I felt anxious not standing up and moving. The water was HOT, too. Later when Jen arrived, she added some cold water and that helped. I asked Kurtis to move the fan so it blew on me. He did so, and then promptly sat right in front of it. ☺ We joked in the birth tub a bit. “Space Between” by DMB had come on and we joked that it assisted in slowing down my contractions. I think this is where we made jokes that I sounded like Dory calling whales during my contractions. As the wave of pain would peak, I would start moaning, but then remembered that a low, guttural sound was better, so I would lower my voice. Whale calling. ☺

3:15am – Jen arrives and checks my BP in the tub as well as baby’s heart tones. Everything looked great. She continued setting up, and around 3:30, Jenn and Teresa arrived.

The whole room felt joyous, even with painful contractions every few minutes. We just had my nightlight and the closet light on, so the room didn’t feel obnoxiously bright. Nobody was rushing anything, and the presence of the midwives was welcomed. The midwives went downstairs to do some charting and let us know they’d be there if we needed them.

3:40am – I decided that the birth pool was enough and I wanted to get out. I got out and dried off. I had a contraction leaning over the dresser and ended up banging my fist onto it. This whole labor, I had a narrative in my head that I couldn’t voice to anyone. My thoughts here were, ‘I’m already banging on things. This doesn’t usually happen until the car ride (so, between 30min-1 hour before baby arrives). We can’t be that close – it’s only 3:40. We haven’t been at this long enough. This doesn’t make sense. I can’t keep this up.” My labors have ranged from 4 ½ hours – 7 hours, so not terribly long, but not this short.

When then contraction would subside, I wouldn’t have as many swirling thoughts, but I also didn’t have enough energy to voice those thoughts to Kurtis. I think I was smart enough to know that there was no time to relish in my fear, but instead needed to use those brief two minutes to collect myself again for the next wave of pain. We labored a bit more. I went to the bathroom and told Kurtis I felt like my water was going to break soon. I knew that a bit of relief would come with that, and I really needed some.

3:50am – A contraction over the side of the bed. And another right on top of it. Jenn came up and checked heart tones. She was so unobtrusive with her care, and that was appreciated so much. Jenn told me I was getting close. Once again, swirling thoughts in my head, and they went like this, ‘Do you lie to all the moms like that? There’s no way I am close. I just started!’ I’m not sure why, but I then walked over to my side of the bed. I contracted here for a bit. I was bent over the side of the bed now with each contraction and holding tight to the blankets of the bed and shoving my face into the sheets. During one of those contractions, I noticed all 3 midwives were now in the room. I knew that when they moved in that it meant things were getting close. Once again, this did not compute. My mind could not keep up with the pace of this labor! I remember thinking, ‘I’ve always wished for a longer labor, I no longer wish for that! I need this to be over soon.’

3:57am – Jen asks if I feel pushy. I tell her that I was bearing down on that last contraction, but didn’t quite feel pushy yet.

3:57:20am – pushing! If it weren’t for my detailed records, I would have had no idea how quickly this was all happening. This was a whirlwind of moments, but calm. Jenn put counter pressure on my perineum, which I am very grateful for! At some point in here, I am helped down to my knees. My arms were on the bed, and I was kneeling alongside it. This position was incredibly comfortable.

4:02:16 – water breaks. I suppose I wasn’t too far off my prediction of my water breaking. I think I saw the fluid on the floor beneath me, but everything was blurring together. I wanted to go to the bathroom so badly, but the bathroom seemed so far away. I couldn’t move. When Jen told me I could have my baby right where I was, or anywhere else that I wanted, I couldn’t even fathom having her anywhere other than where I was standing. My body just wasn’t going to allow me to move.

4:03:11 – Baby’s head is out! Kurtis was called down to look. “I see her head! She has hair!” Seeing her head? Already? This continued to not compute, but my body kept working. Kurtis said just as he saw baby crowning, her head came out. Jen and Jenn helped Kurtis hold her head as she came out. I don’t remember the ring of fire with the other 3 kids, but I felt it this time! My eyes popped wide open – wowza!

4:03:18 – Sloane Ellarie is born! Kurtis and Jenn passed her through my legs and her slippery body was in my arms before I knew it. I couldn’t believe it. It all happened so fast! I got myself turned around (with help, of course) and sat on the floor. It is here that I took what felt like my first big, deep breath. Sloane was covered in vernix. We were shocked at how creamy she was! It took a while for my placenta to deliver. While we waited, Sloane nursed immediately. Her latch was great! After 25 minutes, I delivered the placenta. According to me, I delivered it on the floor alongside the bed. According to Kurtis I was in the bed. And according to my records, I delivered in bed, so Kurtis wins this one! 🙂

Just after 4:30am – cozied up in bed, all tucked in, and we wake up Layla (our oldest daughter, 6 years old). She came in groggy and confused. She looked around in her hot cocoa jammies with a look of, “Why are all of you here?” We introduced Layla to Sloane and asked Layla if she wanted to cut the cord. She had previously said she wanted to, and she said yes. When Jen handed her the scissors, she changed her mind after evaluating the situation. Kurtis cut the cord while we watched. At this point, Sloane was nursing and nursing, so we told Layla she could hold Sloane in the morning. She said she wanted to, but requested that she have clothes on when she holds her. We tucked Layla back in and soaked in more time with our newest girl.

Jenn did Sloane’s newborn exam (7lb2oz, our biggest baby yet), and then they were off. It was about 6:15, maybe 6:30 when they left. It felt so weird to have them here and gone already! Most of our neighbors didn’t even know we had a baby!

7:00am –Kurtis heard Adeline (our 2 year old), so he went and got her. She toddled in looking for Sloane and was over the moon to meet her. She was all up in her business right away, as expected.

7:14am – Everett (our 4 year old) comes in. He’s wanting to meet Sloane, but he’s angry that her name isn’t Ev, which was his pick for her name. He was more interested in the fact that he got to watch a show in our bed. We had told the kids we could celebrate by watching TV in our room when she was born (we don’t typically have a TV in our room, so this was special). So all 6 of us cuddled up and watched Wild Kratts. It was so surreal and so amazing.

Kurtis then got the 3 big kids ready for the day. He brought breakfast up to me and got Layla onto the bus and drove Everett to school on a very foggy morning. When he got back, Adeline spent some time with a neighbor so we could get some rest.

It was a wildly beautiful day with visitors, the normalcy of a school day, and the cacophony of neighbors playing outside as I recovered indoors. I was able to make my way down to the porch in the afternoon. I was there when Layla got off the bus. I’ve never seen her so excited to get off the bus! This entire experience was something I will look back on fondly. Our other labors were great, but this one, at home, was extra special.

Sloane is here, she is lovely, and we are bursting with joy.  

    I am bursting with joy reading your story !It was such a please and an honor to be a part of it! 🙂

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