Kit Charles Riley Birth Story

He held my hand hard and stared into my eyes with all the love and strength he could give me. As much as I needed that, I also wanted one of us to watch the birth. “Don’t miss it,” I whispered. He turned his face beyond the curtain and I kept my eyes glued on him. I may not have seen Kit’s entrance into the world but I got to see Jason’s entrance into fatherhood. His awe and excitement was immediately healing to my heart. 

The birth story of Kit Charles Riley as told by his fearless momma.

Don’t miss the birth film at the end of the post!

When people say that no two births are the same, they are telling the truth. It make sense.  Every child is unique and deserves their own spectacular grand entrance.  My two babies were born 13 years apart and both their pregnancies and birth stories are polar opposite.  My daughter, Sylvie Lynne, was monitored throughout my pregnancy for measuring small and a consistently declining growth rate. At 37 weeks, we induced because the doctor thought she could grow better on the outside than she was growing on the inside. After 28 hours of labor, 3.5 hours of pushing and an episiotomy, my tiny little chiclet was born. When we brought her home she weighed less than 5 pounds.

On the other side of the spectrum, my second baby, Kit Charles, was monitored via ultrasound throughout my pregnancy for measuring large. At 39 weeks and 5 days, we decided to induce in order to get him out before he added too much bulk. The hope was to avoid a c-section. 

I was definitely nervous about his size, but my stomach was measuring right on target, even on the small side. So I was really counting on the ultrasound measurements being wrong. The doctor told me they could be off up to a pound either way. I was also trying to trust my body. This may sound naive, but I checked into the hospital on induction day with the belief that my body wouldn’t make a baby that I couldn’t push out. I had already achieved one vaginal birth and was expecting this one to be difficult, but ultimately successful. 

After I was admitted at 8 am, the nurses checked my cervix and I was already dilated to 4 cm and 80% effaced. A great starting point. I had been having contractions daily for weeks, so it didn’t take long for the pitocin to get me to a regular rhythm. As we prepared to do the epidural, I reiterated again to my nurses and the anesthesiologist that my body had not reacted well in the past. I told them that 13 years ago, after 24 hours of laboring with Sylvie, I opted for an epidural and my blood pressure promptly bottomed out. The current medical team bolstered my body with extra fluid to help prevent the same thing from happening again, but no luck. As soon as they placed the epidural, my blood pressure plummeted. It took 50 ccs of epinephrine to get my heart stabilized. The epidural was kept to a very low dosage so I still had full range of movement.

By 2:30pm my cervix was dilated to 7 cm but the baby was still too high, at -2 station and we needed him to move down to 0 station to engage in the birth canal. The nurses brought in an inflatable peanut shaped ball and instructed me to lay on my side with the peanut ball between my knees. The goal was to open my hips and make room in my pelvis for the baby to move down. The nurses said they would come check on me every half an hour and hopefully in an hour and a half or two we would be ready to push.

As soon as the nurses left the room, I felt immense pressure and called them right back in. They checked and within two minutes he had dropped down into the birth canal and I was fully dilated and ready to push. We were all surprised. I laughed, thinking it was a good thing I hadn’t spread my legs earlier if that’s all it took! The nurses called the doctor and started moving all of the delivery equipment into the room to begin pushing.

At this point, I noticed the nurses watching the heart rate monitor closely. But they didn’t seem too concerned. When Dr. Linn arrived, she had me put on an oxygen mask to see if we could help babies heart rate move back up to the baseline. It had been steadily declining since he engaged in my birth canal.  Dr. Linn directed me to move into various positions to try and relieve some of the pressure on the baby. It was when i was on my hands and knees with my head down and bottom half in the air, oxygen mask pumping and everyone’s eyes glued to the monitor that the tears started coming. I could tell something was seriously wrong. 

After a few more minutes with no positive change, my no-nonsense doc looked me straight in the eyes and said, “We are going to have to get your baby out now and I don’t have time to talk you through everything that is going to happen. You are just going to have to trust me, ok?” I felt like a helpless child... my chin quivering and tears leaking steadily as I tried to take calming deep breaths of oxygen and silently searched for faith and strength in the eyes of my family. 

Within seconds, I felt like I was in an episode of ER. A flurry of fast-moving nurses surrounded me, moving like a well-oiled machine as they prepared me to move to the operating room. I breathed deeply into the oxygen mask as my parents and Sylvie came to my bedside and prayed with me. Jason was given a surgical suit and told to wait until they came back to get him as I was wheeled out of the room and down the hall. It all happened so fast. 

I'd like to say I didn't have time to be scared, but that's not true. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. I was scared for my baby. I could hear Dr. Linn calling for NICU to come immediately to the operating room for resuscitation, if necessary.  My mama's heart was pounding with fear, imagining my boy arriving gray and lifeless. I couldn't feel him moving inside me. I was also irrationally scared of the surgery itself, of how my body would react to more anesthesia. I was afraid the epidural wouldn't work fast enough and I wouldn't be numb in time.  I  also hated the idea of a scar and all the painful healing that comes with it. This was what I had been trying to avoid all along and now it was happening and I wasn't emotionally or mentally prepared at all. 

The OR was an experience I'll never forget. The lights were so bright overhead and my completely naked body felt so vulnerable as I was laid out on the table. I stared straight up into those lights and prayed for us both, trying not to spend mental energy on what the doctor meant, when she ordered the nurses to "splash and dash." 

By the time Jason came bursting through those doors, I was already cut open. He walked into blood and iodine on the floor and my organs in full view and he didn't flinch. He held my hand hard and stared into my eyes with all the love and strength he could give me. As much as I needed that, I also wanted one of us to watch the birth. "Don't miss it," I whispered. He turned his face beyond the curtain and I kept my eyes glued on him. I may not have seen Kit's entrance into the world but I got to see Jason's entrance into fatherhood. His awe and excitement was immediately healing to my heart. 

If you saw me before I went into labor, you would not have expected me to have a large baby. My stomach was compact and even measuring a tad small, even though the baby measured large. That kid was so jam-packed into every corner of my abdomen,  my last few weeks of pregnancy were miserable.  Needless to say, Dr. Linn used all her strength as she braced her elbow on the table for leverage and pulled out our 9 lbs. 3 oz. , 22 inch screaming mad and perfectly healthy baby boy. At 3:20 pm, I heard that glorious cry and Jason's subsequent exclamation, "This is awesome!" and I laughed with true joy and relief... All the nurses kept asking where I was hiding that much baby. I could only smile and laugh and cry in response. 

My friend and photographer, Katie, wasn't allowed into the operating room due to the urgent nature of the surgery. But as soon as Dr. Linn delivered Kit, she ran back and grabbed Katie's camera and snapped a few photos in the minutes after his birth. Birth photography is not in her job description, but this woman went above and beyond for us.  I am forever thankful for her thoughtfulness. 

As I watched the NICU nurses check out Kit, I felt my consciousness slipping. Then came another 50 cc of epinephrine for my heart and a dose of methergine to control the postpartum hemorrhaging I didn't know was happening. The shock to my system combined with blood loss and meds caused my body temperature to drop to hypothermic levels. I was allowed to hold and nurse Kit while cocooned in a "bear hugger" blanket, which equates to an inflatable sleeping bag with warm air being constantly blown through it. It took an hour in the bear hugger to raise my body temp back to safe levels and our family was finally allowed to come meet our newest member. 

The next few hours with our family were so precious. Each introduction a moment of tears and awe at the perfect little child in my arms. I was riding high on emotions and pain medicine for those first 24 hours.  When the pain medicine wore off the next day, I realized just how difficult the next few weeks of recovery would be. I couldn't do anything by myself. I couldn't sit, stand, walk, go to the bathroom, clean myself or pick up my baby alone. Jason never left my side. That man was a rock, constantly bringing me water, walking me to the bathroom in the middle of the night and wiping blood from my body, helping me on and off the toilet, in and out of bed, changing my clothes, advocating for stronger pain medicine and perfecting his diaper-changing skills. Those first nights in the hospital, I had a glimpse of what we meant when we vowed, "In sickness and in health," and I loved him more than I ever have. 

A few days later, we all came home and began finding our new normal as a family of four. Kit Charles Riley is 4 months old today and I am just now finishing his birth story. Truthfully, it took me this long to process and document it because this wasn't the story I thought I'd be telling. But it is ours; beautiful in its realness and the strength we found in each other. And now we get to love our happy, healthy baby and that's what matters in the end. Welcome to the family, boy.

We're glad you made it. 

Calvin Michael Birth Story


Birth Story courtesy of Beth at Seersucker + Saddles with more photos below!

Saturday morning came with such excitement as myself, John, my mom (Nonnie), Chase, and Cam made our way to the hospital at 5am–laughing and cracking jokes as to the noises I would be making (the kids predicted a moaning cow).  We were finally going to meet this baby boy we’ve been so patiently waiting for!!!  So remember that aforementioned PLAN and newborn story I spoke of?  Well there were bets as to what time of day he would arrive and how it would be such a BREEZE based on how easily I labored the girls (granted I had assistance with an epidural).  “He’ll be here before lunch!”  “This is your third baby, your body knows what to do!”  “He’ll be 7 pounds!”  “You’ll go SO QUICKLY!”  Insert Hysterical Laughter GIF.  Other notable quotes from the day were courtesy of the bunnies.  Cam asked no less than ten times when my water would break.  Followed by, “Is Katie going to take pictures of your vagina?” And, “When will you start screaming?” Chase’s quote of the day was, “Do you think he’ll be here by noon so I can take a nap?”  #tweenlife They were so amazing….I had such a sense of comfort having them in the room as I was reminded of their birthdays and it calmed me immensely.

My mind was totally right, ready, and prepared to fully embrace whatever the day had in store for us.  The induction began around 8am and things were smooth sailing with slow but steady progression until around 6pm.  This came as a bit of a surprise as the girls had both already been born by this time and I was ON MY FEET pretty much all day in an effort to assist Pip’s journey.  I swayed, I walked, I figure 8’ed, I medicine balled…you name it…I was doing it.  My doctor, who is also John’s colleague, was not only phenomenal but so respectful of my desire to deliver this baby as naturally as possible.  John and I gave them the green light to crank up the pitocin drip and when they did…Y O W Z A.  I remember with the girls I made it until about 7cm and then it was “Check Please!”  This was different though…this was so dang intense and fast.  And this is where I relied on my crew to get me through what would be the most extreme part of our journey.  I legit went from 6-10 cm in 30 mins.  So needless to say he was coming with some extreme intensity!!  John and my mom were so wonderful (their faces in the video melt me)–tending to me just as your partners in crime should–there is NO way I could have done this without them–John’s presence was so calming and supportive and his excitement was just beyond precious.  The girls were still in the room at this point although when the doc examined me, Chaser exclaimed, “I’m outta here!”….Chaser and blood are No Bueno.  And Roo…well there’s a funny story behind her involvement with the delivery (see below image–spoiler alert:  She slept through the entire show).  Tamrha, my doula, was worth her weight in 14k GOLD…for realz.  I think the swiftness of the pain coming on so dang fast took me by surprise and it was Tamrha who constantly reassured me that this was Pip’s way of letting me know he was almost here.  Feeling like you’re gonna mess your pants?  Pip’s almost here!  Feeling like you want to throw in the towel?  He’s on his way!  Feeling like you don’t have much more to give?  You’re so close to the finish line!  She was incredible—so comforting, reassuring, and just downright awesome!

I knew his arrival was right around the corner based on the above as well as the hospital team getting the layette ready and my doctor being all scrubbed up.   She told John how to hold my leg…and explained how it was going to all shake out.  Basically…he was here and I shouldn’t have to push for that long.  And she was right, although son of a biscuit that ain’t child’s play….I remember the whole crew telling me to open my eyes so I could see his head and it was hands down one of the most incredible moments of my life.  I remember that so vividly.  I remember John’s sweet eyes and smile telling me he could see him and how perfect he was.  I remember my doctor holding my hand and telling me to give one more good push and he’d be here.  I remember my mom putting a cold cloth on my head and telling me she loved me.  I remember my doula reassuring me my pushes were goodins.  I remember reaching my hand behind my head to find Katie’s…..and I squeezed the bejesus out of it.  I remember the complete euphoria once he was placed on my chest.  I remember feeling more full in this precious moment looking at my husband hold our baby boy as our two beautiful daughters met their brother for the first time.  I remember pride that I had done what I set out to do.  I remember such a deep profound love.  I remember you, Calvin, my sweet baby boy….the love we have for you is immeasurable.  You’ve completed our world in ways I never thought possible.

To my dear friend and amazing photographer, Katie, what a gift you have given us with these beautiful images and video.  You’re a true talent and I cannot begin to thank you enough for these amazing pictures.  To the hospital staff at Hendricks, y’all were beyond superb from start to finish—what an amazing team of women!!  To my family…my cup runneth over–the love I have for you all runs so very deep.  Chaser, Roo, Nonnie, Big John, and Julie…thank you for being by our sides and we simply couldn’t love you  more–Chaser and Roo–I’m so so proud of you both–this baby boy is beyond lucky to have you two leading the sibling way!  To my doula, Tamrha–what a gift you have.  You were such a source of strength and support and my family is forever grateful to you!  To my seersucker readers, you all–thank you!!!  The well wishes, the support, the advice–it’s all appreciated more than I can properly express.  And last but most definitely not least, to my husband, if I could only freeze time on the moment you first saw our son—it is a memory that will forever be engrained in my mind.  I will always remember the look of joy in your eyes–it completely melts me and brings me to tears every time I picture it.  I will never forget what you said to me right after Calvin was born, “That was the most beautiful moment I have ever witnessed and I’m so proud of you.”  You are my rock, my soulmate, and my best friend, John.  Thank you for this incredible life.