5:30 PM

I can't believe it's almost been three weeks since Elliott was born! The days have literally flown by. We were so incredibly blessed to have Mom Olson with us for six days after he was born and then Mom Flinders for 10 days after that! We were so spoiled! I've tried to use any spare time I've had the last few weeks to record details about the birth (on my phone) since everything fades so quickly, and as ridiculous as this novel is, I'm sure I've left things out! Obviously there are wayyy more details in this post than the average person cares to know, but it's important to me to have all the details in one place! So...here we go! 

This time my due date came and went and to be honest I felt weirdly calm about everything. With Lydia, I had thoroughly convinced myself she was going to come before the due date, so everyday for WEEKS before she came I told myself, "Today's the day!" and then it wasn't...and wasn't...and wasn't. By the time her due date finally came I was pretty beaten down, depressed, frustrated, and quite honestly annoyed! It was in that state that I was talked into hiking the Y, drinking the caster oil drink etc...But you can read alllllll about that here, if you care to be reminded of the details surrounding that birth. ;)

With Elliott things were different. I pretty much expected to go past my due date this time, I just had no idea how long. I actually agreed to photograph a wedding ON the due date (obviously I had back-up in place in case I couldn't make it!) and I think a good part of me would have been disappointed had I not been able to make it to the wedding. As soon as the wedding ended and we were driving home, however, I started sending vibes to Babyboy that any time from here on out would be an appropriate time for him to make his debut. ☺️

On Tuesday morning I went to a trampoline park with a friend. She had texted me on Monday and invited me and Lydia to come with her and her daughter and I thought that was an excellent idea! It gave me something to do and there was a chance jumping on a tramoline might help move things along, so it was a win-win! (Plus, Lydia loooves trampolines.) We had fun at the park, but zero contractions (even when I was jumping!) so I don't think it made any difference for Elliott, haha. That night Mom Olson flew in so again I did my best to send the "Come on, baby!" vibes.

Wednesday morning I had a doctor's appointment. I had been "at about a one" for three-ish weeks so although I didn't foresee the baby coming that day, I hoped the doctor would give news of some progress. NOTHING. I asked my doctor if he would strip my membranes to possibly encourage things along, but he said stripping membranes is only effective about half of the time and always causes cramping and bleeding. He also said my cervix was "still pretty far back" so he was fairly confident it wouldn't be effective. (As a side note, while he was saying all of this, it occurred to me that most doctors probably aren't as gung-ho about stripping membranes as my doctor was when I had Lydia. My OB with Lydia stripped my membranes FOUR times, which, looking back, I'm 100% sure he did because he knew he was going out of town and really wanted her to come before he did! And yes. Cramping and bleeding were very present during the last few weeks of that pregnancy, but I just attributed that to the fact that I was nearing delivery and had no clue that it had anything to do with my membranes being stripped.)

That appointment (the whole 4 minutes that it lasted) was pretty discouraging. I broke down in the bathroom on my way out. I still wasn't NEARLY the wreck I had been when I was overdue with Lydia, but I was starting to get frustrated that NO progress had been made. I felt particularly anxious to get things moving now that Mom Olson was here to help! I really wanted to feel like her time was being used productively both for her sake, and mine! Basically, I left the doctor's office feeling like the baby wasn't coming out ANY time soon. I tried to pull it together (i.e. stop crying) but I broke down again in the car as I was texting Stephen about the appointment, and then a few minutes later when I met Lydia and Mom Olson at the park. Thankfully, it only took a few hours to mostly get out of the funk.

That night as I was semi-venting to Stephen about the fact that I felt like this baby was still WEEKS away, he suggested I go to the temple Thursday morning which was, of course, the perfect suggestion. 

I woke up Thursday morning and decided it was time to start taking matters into my own hands. After dropping Stephen off at the train station, I stopped at the grocery store and purchased the ingredients for the infamous caster oil drink that seemed to get things moving with Lydia. I knew it wasn't going to send my body into labor, but I was hopeful it might help things start moving along. The drink (in case you don't remember) consists of: half a can of kern's nectar, two tablespoons almond butter, two tablespoons caster oil, and lemon verbena oil (which I don't have, so I just used lemon juice, haha). It actually didn't taste as bad as I had remembered it! 

I went to the temple (per Stephen's suggestion) and did initiatories. Always a good idea, and something I had done regularly during the weeks leading up to Lydia's birth to help calm any potential fears I had about approaching an unmedicated labor. 

A little after getting home I started having some contractions! They were very sporadic and not strong at all, but I noticed that they were mostly in my back. I knew from my labor with Lydia that having back contractions can be a sign that the baby is in a poor position, maybe facing the wrong way. The fact that Elliott wasn't in the right position made sense to me. I felt fairly confidant that reason my body wasn't progressing towards labor was because he wasn't in the correct position. (Obviously, I have no way of knowing if this is actually true, but it sounded good to me, haha.) I asked a couple friends about what I could do to encourage him to get into a better position and I was told to try looking on the website spinningbabies.com for some specific suggestions. Most of the "exercises" require another person to assist so when Stephen got home from work we tried to follow the instructions on the website but mostly didn't have a clue what we were doing and felt really silly. Haha.  (One of them has you put a blanket over your stomach and have the other person tug on either side of the blanket to rock the baby into place hahaha, yes it felt as ridiculous as it sounds.) That night I also successfully talked Stephen into massaging different pressure points I found in a YouTube video as a means to get things moving. (I don't think it did anything, but any excuse for a massage is good in my book! haha)

Friday morning my friend Stacie offered to help me with the spinning babies thing because she was more familiar with the exercises than I was. I don't know if it was directly related to any of the things I'd done, but after a few hours the contractions were where they were supposed to be!

The rest of Friday was fairly uneventful. Mom Olson and I went on a walk. I tried a much more delicious "labor" drink a friend suggested (it had walnuts, ginger, and brown sugar -- I actually drank this one willingly without any complaint, haha). And that night Stephen and I test drove a car that we ended up purchasing the following week! 

On Saturday morning (now 5 days overdue) I had another mini breakdown. I told Stephen that I thought my body was still days or even weeks away from having a baby! Again, I was feeling pretty good physically, I was just frustrated that I had had help with us for three full days and still no baby! Obviously, Mom Olson was still a huge help with Lydia, and we loved having her here, I just felt silly for having her come all this way with zero signs of a baby! What if it the time came for her to leave and the baby still hadn't come?! I was also starting to stress a little because Dad Olson was set to fly in on the 13 for the baby blessing and there might not be a baby to bless by then! Thankfully Stephen calmed me down (he's the best) and I got it together for a good day. 

It was Mom Olson's birthday, and we had plans go to the zoo! After a relaxing morning and Lydia's (really long) nap, to the zoo we went! The last time Lydia went to a zoo she was 6 months old, so she was a lot more entertaining to watch this time around. Haha. It was a ton of fun! I had a handful of contractions as we walked up a hill in the back part of the zoo, but other than that, nada. 

On the way home we grabbed some Thai food to-go. Mom Olson got looots of siracha sauce in case I wanted to try the spicy food route. Haha. (I thought the green curry had the perfect amount of spice without the siracha for the record ;)) 

After dinner I decided that I had nothing to lose by drinking the caster oil drink again. I still had all the ingredients and I still didn't think it was going to send me into labor, but I wanted to feel like I was making an effort to push things along! This time the drink was particularly nasty for some reason. It was a struggle to choke it down, but I powered through!

Mom and Sarah (Stephen's sister who had joined us for the zoo outing) headed to the store to pick up some moose tracks ice cream for a birthday treat. While they were gone I asked Stephen to give me a priesthood blessing. He said he would but he also (somewhat jokingly) said that he couldn't force Elliott come tonight in the blessing. I laughed and said I knew that, but I wanted him to bless Elliott to be in the proper position so when he did come there wouldn't be any problems, and the birth would be able to go forward as I'd planned.

I went to sleep around 11:30 and then woke up at about three. As had been my habit the previous few weeks, I laid there for a minute trying to figure out what had woken me up. And, like every single previous instance, it was because I needed to pee. I went to the bathroom and got back in bed, bummed that I hadn't woken up due to a contraction, and then I had a contraction! Hooray! Haha. I went back to sleep (hoping that a contraction would wake me up) and sure enough, about a half an hour later I woke up again with another contraction! I laid in bed for a few minutes, had another contraction, and then had to go to the bathroom. I tried not to read into the fact that I needed to poop at 3:45 am, but I was obviously hopeful that this was a sign my body was preparing for labor.

I got back in bed again and slept for another 20 minutes or so and then woke up from another contraction. After laying in bed for a while continuing to have (mild) contractions, I decided to take a bath. I don't totally know the reason, but I've heard that getting in the water will sometimes help the contractions subside if they aren't the real deal? Or it soothes them if they are? I don't know if either of those things are even remotely true, haha, but whatever the reason, I got in the bath.

In the bath I listened to a few general conference talks, since it was Sunday, afterall. I listened to this talk by Elder Holland to start, which was given just a few weeks before Lydia was born, and if you haven't heard I highly recommend. 

At about 5:30 am I got out of the bath and woke up Stephen to give him the update. I told him I wasn't 100% sure this was the real deal, but that I had been contracting fairly regularly for a few hours. He started timing the contractions on his phone and they were coming about five minutes apart and were lasting between 35-45 seconds. I got back in bed but quickly realized that laying down was not a pleasant laboring position, so I didn't last that way for long. I much preferred bouncing on an exercise ball or standing and leaning against a wall/Stephen during contractions. After timing them for about an hour and seeing them get longer, stronger and more frequent, we decided that this was really happening -- it was just a matter of how long I wanted to stay home before heading to the hospital! 

We spent the next few hours casually packing the hospital bag and tidying up around the house. It was hard to pack the hospital bag in advance because so much of the stuff I wanted to take was stuff I needed everyday (i.e hairbrush, toothbrush, camera, phone charger, etc). My cousin Kimberly suggested making a list of things I was going to need and then packing it when the day arrived and I'm so glad that's what we did! I really liked having an objective while the contractions were continuing to pick up. 

Lydia woke up around 8 and would get mad every time she saw me on the exercise ball (she thinks it's hers and is very protective of it) and every time Stephen would hug me during a contraction (she is equally as protective of his affection, hahaha). We found it really funny but she did not. ha!

Just before 9, Mom Olson left with Lydia for church (Grandpa Olson had been kind enough to lend her his car while she was staying with us). We finished tidying up the apartment, did one last check to make sure we had everything we needed, and then decided to head to the hospital. When we got in the car we said a prayer that our car would make it there. Haha. My poor little '98 Honda Accord had had the "check engine" light on for days and from the way it was violently shifting gears, or choosing not to shift gears at all, we knew the transmission was basically shot.

Thankfully, we made it to the hospital without any problems (#powerofprayer), but of course the whole way there I was questioning weather or not it was really time to be heading to the hospital! I was so terrified I would get there and they would tell me I was at a 2 and send me home! I knew it really wouldn't be that big of a deal if I was sent home, but I just really didn't want that to happen. Among other reasons, I had coordinated with some girls in my building to watch Lydia after church so Mom Olson could come to the hospital, so going back home empty handed would have been quite embarrassing. Ha. 

When we got to the check-in desk at labor and delivery there were approximately 15 women standing behind it in scrubs. Apparently the computer inputting system had been changed the day before so they were all helping each other navigate through the new system. The whole time we were checking in (which took almost 10 minutes, despite the fact that I had preregistered) I only had ONE contraction, and it wasn't even a very long one! The lady asked me to sign a paper and then I started having a contraction so I just closed my eyes and leaned against the desk and after 20 seconds or so I opened my eyes, took the pen, and then signed the paper. I am 100% sure at least half of the women behind the desk were rolling their eyes and thinking "Oh honey, you are NOT in labor." 🙈 

I got into the room and changed into the oh-so-flattering hospital gown. A little while later my nurse Katelynn came in. She was super nice and I still want to be her friend in real life, haha. I told her that I was so afraid I was going to be at a 2 and be sent home and she just laughed and said that if I was it wouldn't be a big deal. After I was all hooked up to the monitors so they could watch the contractions and the baby's heart rate, she checked me and she said, "You're most definitely not at a 2! You're at a 6!" 💃🏻💃🏻 I was soooo relieved that I was actually in labor and that I WOULD have a baby before leaving the hospital!

Since I tested positive for GBS, they gave me an IV and started administering penicillin. After about 20 minutes it was I was unhooked from the monitors so I could move freely. 

They brought in an exercise ball (at my request) but it was a little small/deflated so I didn't like laboring on it as much as I had at home. Instead, I preferred leaning against the bed, against Stephen, or kneeling on the bed. 

Mom Olson arrived around 11:15 and my friend Sue, who was kind enough to come take pictures for us, arrived at about noon. Since we opted to go without a doula this time, I was glad Sue was able to come because she had two of her children unmedicated, and it was comforting to have a visual reminder that birth is normal, natural, and healthy! (Plus, the pictures she took are 👌🏼.)

The next few hours the four of us chatted and I would pause occasionally to breathe through a contraction. It was still fairly easy for me to keep up with the conversation through them, and occasionally I would even contribute a few words during a contraction, so things were going very smoothly.

A little after 2 I felt like things were picking up significantly. I obviously wasn't in the "pushing stage" but the contractions started to feel different and more intense. I called my nurse in to check me and she said I was at a 6+. I'm sure she added the plus just to be nice 😂 . I was maybe a tad discouraged I hadn't made much noticeable progress in the few hours I'd been at the hospital, but I was pretty confident that things were moving along just fine. Katelynn was super supportive and believed that things were going to go fast once they started happening, so she told the front desk to call my doctor. A few minutes later the front desk responded to say that my doctor was going to wait to come until there was "significant progress." Totally understandable, but as I overheard this conversation I had the very clear thought that he wasn't going to make it in time.

Katelynn suggested I labor on hands and knees on the bed because she said when she had checked me she thought the baby's head was tilted slightly. A few minutes after she left, the contractions became more intense. It started taking all of my concentration to breathe through them. One of the other nurses suggested to have Stephen and Mom Olson apply pressure to either side of my lower back during these more-intense contractions and I am SO grateful she suggested that! It was so so helpful! After about 20 minutes of these more-intense contractions I called Katelynn in again and said that I felt like the pushing stage was getting pretty close! She checked me again and said I was at a 9! She said that I should "try to not push" if the urge came since there was still a little bit of cervix in the way and I chuckled to myself remembering how well that went last time.... Ha. (It didn't.) 

A minute later I said, "I think I need to push!...Or maybe I need to poop!...Not sure if I need to push, but I definitely need to poop!" Katelyn laughed and said, "I've heard that before! You're definitely about to have a baby!" 

I turned over so I was laying in the bed. Katelynn was entering something into the computer when all of a sudden HE WAS COMING. I said to Katelyn, "He's coming right now!" She moved the blanket and sure enough, there was his head! Katelyn put a hand on his head (holding him there?! I'm not actually sure why, haha) And very calmly asked Mom Olson to go over and push "the pink button." Within seconds of the pink button being pressed, the doors swung open and about 7 people rushed into the room, one of which was the on-call doctor who came into the room holding her hands up and saying, "Gloves! Gloves! I need gloves, any gloves!" 

(I only know that part of the story because Mom Olson recounted it later, haha, I was a little distracted by other things at that particular moment, lol.)

Elliott's head came so fast and I wasn't expecting it all to happen so quickly that it, quite literally, took my breath away! I honestly forgot how to breathe for a few seconds! And then not being able to breathe made me slightly panic. Katelynn remained very calm and reminded me to breathe. Thankfully it only took a second for me to remember how to breathe, haha, and I asked if someone would count. During the pushing stage with Lydia one of the nurses counted each time I pushed and I remembered it being SO helpful! 

..Let's just say, there wasn't much time to count. Another push and some involuntary noises came out of my mouth. haha! 🙊 It definitely wasn't a scream, but with each push came a low noise (groan?) that I seriously didn't recognize and definitely didn't anticipate! The doctor (who thankfully found some gloves, haha) came over to the foot off the bed and cheerfully said, "If you picked your knees up, he'd come right out!" (As she said it I remember thinking how silly it was of me to be laying on my back with my legs flat on the bed. 

I picked up my knees as suggested, gave one more push and out he flew! Elliott Allred was born at 2:57 pm, weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces, (just 5 ounces less than Lydia's birthweight) -- about two minutes after the doctor had come into the room!

I did tear a little bit, but the doctor said the tear wasn't bleeding, so she guessed I just re-tore along part of where I'd torn with Lydia. While she gave me a few stitches I held Elliott for the first time! Everything was perfect!! Within a minute of him being born, Elliott pooped, just a small foreshadowing of the weeks to come ;)

(Next came my LEAST favorite part of the whole experience - when the nurses push on the stomach to help uterus contract back down and make sure it is soft. I seriously hate that part.)

About an hour and a half later they moved me to the recovery room. It just so happened that my mom was flying in that day for a surprise birthday party for one of my aunts, so she came by with my Grandma and Grandpa Rasband after they picked her up from the airport! Mom Olson had gone back to pick up Lydia from a friend's and brought her back so we all got to watch Lydia meet Elliott for the first time and I thought my heart was going to burst! Lydia didn't totally understand who Elliott was I'm sure, but she she loves babies, so she was really excited about him, and it was beyond adorable.

Overall, everything with this birth went much smoother than with Lydia's. (And I would say her birth went relatively smoothly aside from the little bit when we were told to prepare for an emergency C-section.) I'm not sure what can be attributed to the fact that it was a second birth, a smaller baby, and the lack of medical intervention/epidural, but the recovery this time around has been GREAT! Within a few hours of Elliott's arrival I was walking around and it little to no pain. I took the ibuprofen that the nurses offered every 8 hours, but every time they asked me to rate my level of pain I said 0 and I really meant it! Obviously there were a few days over the next few weeks where I felt a bit sore, but by far the worst part of the days immediately following the birth were the post-labor contractions! I had been warned about many times and were indeed more prevalent than any post-labor contractions I had experienced with Lydia. (Yes, I am fully aware they get worse with each kid and I am already dreading it.) I always assumed that people wore "belly bands" after labor for purely cosmetic reasons, but I decided to put one on as a way to apply constant pressure on my back and I actually thought it helped a lot! It's funny too because I feel like I was constantly complaining about the post-labor contractions, but I never once did I complain about a contraction being uncomfortable during labor. In my opinion, it really just goes to show that mindset it KEY! (And also proves that I do not have an abnormally high pain tolerance, haha.)

In summary, the human body is amazing and I'm so grateful to have Elliott here, happy and healthy! (And best of all - sleepy ;))

So far we think being a family of four is pretty great!

_ _ _

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  1. Wonderful telling of your story. You are just amazing, Hannah!

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  2. I have been so looking forward to this post! It's so crazy how people can view the same situation with such different perspectives because for you, I bet it almost felt like time stood still with each contraction and that there really was no world outside of the one in your body and in your head (at least, that's kind of what's going on in my head when I'm in labor), but for me, it really seemed like it all moved SO FAST! Seriously. As soon as your MIL pressed that button, everything was going crazy fast! And you were absolutely superwoman and handled birth like it's what you were meant to do ;)
    So grateful you let me be present for it! Seriously. One of the best experiences of my life! And I may have to go to school to be a doula now.

  3. I gave birth unmedicated the second time around too! It's definitely an amazing experience :) I loved reading your story! Congrats on baby Elliot. He's adorable!


    May 28, 2017 at 3:47 PM
    I love birth stories, and I'm honored I even was specifically mentioned with my packing list suggestion (haha). Sometimes I wish I'd tried an unmedicated birth because then I would have experienced everything (c-section, vaginal medicated, and unmedicated), but I'm glad I didn't because the time I considered was child #3 and he was almost 10 lbs (ouch). The one thing I did with child #4 that I really wish I'd done with the others was watch the birth with a mirror. It was so helpful while pushing and the coolest thing ever to watch (not gross at all). I highly recommend it.
    Good job, btw! Can't wait to meet him someday soon!

  5. I was unmedicated for Jonas too... I don't know if it is a 2nd baby thing or not, but man, the recovery rocked. I could walk around no problem like 2 hours after he was born. I super wanted an epidural during labor, but it went too fast and I couldn't have one, and I was glad after the fact for sure, because I think that is one of the reasons why my recovery was so much easier.

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