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November 13, 2020

Sullivan’s Arrival | Our Precipitous Home Birth

I always have the hardest time starting these posts. Writing out all three of my birth stories has been so sweet and I want to make sure I do them justice and don’t forget any of the details. You can read Finn’s birth story HERE and Rory’s HERE.

This pregnancy was so different from the other two in so many ways. First of all, it started off as a surprise! We were planning to start “trying” to get pregnant in December but on December 9th, I wasn’t feeling well and decided to take a pregnancy test. I could not believe it when the line turned pink! Vaughan and I went on a trip to New York City just a few days later and it was so fun to spend that time together right after finding out our third baby was on the way!

After the initial shock wore off, I moved right into the nauseous stage of my pregnancy. I had nausea with all three, but this time was different. I couldn’t get off the couch most days and the boys spent WAY too much time in front of the tv. Thankfully the nausea subsided around 16 weeks…but then it was March 2020. I think we all will forever know what that means: quarantine and the beginning of the craziest year ever. Never could I have ever imagined I would have a baby during a pandemic, but here we are.

Fast forward to August. I had made it through the a super hot summer as a very pregnant and swollen momma. My due date came and went and every day pretty much felt like a year. Once we reached 41 weeks, we went to the local birth center to have NSTs (non-stress-tests) and ultrasounds every few days. Every night I went to bed thinking I’d wake up to contractions but it never happened.

August 27th – 8:30am

We made the decision to try a “midwife’s induction” at home at 41 weeks and 6 days. This included a membrane sweep and a castor oil cocktail. My midwife found that I was 2cm dilated with a very thick, anterior cervix. So not much was happening on it’s own. I was actually encouraged that some progress was made, though! She did the membrane sweep around 8:30am and I drank the castor oil around 9:30am.

If you can’t tell by my face, the castor oil cocktail was not very enjoyable.

10:00am – Early Labor

After drinking the cocktail, I laid down on our screened porch to rest and ease the nausea that the castor oil caused. I texted my midwife around 10am that I was having mild contractions but they were a little bit sporadic and short.

While I was resting, Rory came out and dropped my glass of water and broke it. Just a little reminder that life continues, even when you’re in labor!

Around 11am, we decided to head over to Reynolda Village to walk around. It was a beautiful (albeit HOT) day and the boys had so much fun watching the turtles and showing me the waterfall. Mild contractions continued to come – I had to take a couple breaks to sit down, but I was still able to walk and talk through them. I let my birth team know that something was happening but nothing major.

When we got home (around 12:30pm), Vaughan started making lunch for the boys and I was piddling around wondering if these contractions would lead to a baby or not. My midwife suggested taking a bath as a “test” to see if things fizzled out or intensified. I got into the bath around 1pm – there was no real change so I was still hesitant to have my birth team come. I think the fact that we did the membrane sweep and castor oil made me worry that contractions would stop.

1:45pm – Active Labor

After getting out of the bath, Vaughan took Rory upstairs for his nap and my midwife suggested doing a “side-lying release” to either bring on labor or allow me to rest a little. Well, let me tell you, I did NOT get to rest. I climbed into bed and wrapped myself around my pregnancy pillow. As soon as I lifted my leg into the side-lying release position, contractions went from about a 2 on the pain scale to a 10. I immediately started vocalizing through each one and Vaughan told me later that he could tell from the other room that it was “go time.”

Vaughan came in, took my phone and texted everyone to go ahead and come. Thank goodness for his experience and knowing that everyone needed to get there ASAP! Once he’d alerted everyone, he started filling up the birth tub with water.

I couldn’t bear laying in that position any longer so I got up and went downstairs. I remember rushing down the stairs (as fast a woman in active labor can move, that is) because I knew another contraction would be coming soon. I made it to the bathroom and threw up in the sink (another sign that things were moving quickly).

I was so hot and remember loving the feeling of the cold bathroom counter on my arms and forehead. Apparently my “labor bra” was very important to me because I thought ahead enough to ask Vaughan to grab it before my birth photographer, Amber, arrived.

I continued laboring in the bathroom and I remember saying “Ohhhhh Baby” and “We can do this, we can do this” over and over. I was also banging on the counter and telling Vaughan how hard this was. But I knew that it couldn’t be much longer with how intense these contractions were. My midwife arrived and confirmed that baby would be here soon. She asked me “do you want to have your baby in the bathroom?” and that’s when I knew it wouldn’t be long at all. I quickly said “NO!” and we moved into the guest bedroom (my designated birth space). On the way there, I noticed that Vaughan had turned the water off – my hopes of a water birth weren’t going to work out, for the third time.

My midwife again prompted me with a question: “Lauren, do you want to have your baby standing up or in the bed?” At first I said I couldn’t move and wanted to just stand, but after she mentioned that it would be easier to catch him myself if I was on the bed, I somehow found the strength to lift my legs and get into the bed. I also made sure to tell her that “I NEED video or photos!” because Amber was still on the way. Thank goodness her assistant arrived shortly after and got both video and photos!

Soon, the urge to push was uncontrollable. With each contraction, I took a deep breath, focused on the sun coming through the window and my “stay present” sign, and calmly pushed. Despite how quick and intense this labor was, I felt very calm during the pushing stage, which I’m so so thankful for!

After just a few minutes, I started to see the baby’s little head. I reached down and felt it (absolutely surreal each time) and watched as it was born. I am so grateful for the guidance of my birth team to get into the bed where I could have a better view – I saw baby’s little body rotate and come out. There was a loose cord around baby’s neck which my midwife quickly removed and I pulled HIM onto my chest. I looked at Vaughan and said “It’s a boy!! We only make boys!!” and we both laughed!


Sullivan Carter Thomas | August 27, 2020 at 2:46pm | 7 lbs 3 oz

Finn came running into the room just a minute after Sully was born with a huge smile on his face. I’ll never forget how his eyes lit up and he was so excited to meet his brother. He whispered “Welcome Home, Sullivan” and my heart burst.

About 15 minutes later, Amber walked through the door to find that Sully was here. We’re both so sad she didn’t make it, but have already planned for her to just come camp out at my house if we have another baby ;)

Rory woke up from his nap and Vaughan brought him downstairs. He was definitely a little more hesitant to meet Sully and needed a few minutes to wake up. But once he did, he was very interested. He didn’t want to hold him until the next day, which I kind of expected, but he’s been so sweet ever since!

Finn got to cut both of his little brothers’ cords – a tradition that I absolutely love and that he’s very proud of – and we all snuggled into bed together. I still can’t believe I’ve been lucky enough to give birth to THREE of the sweetest, most beautiful boys on the planet and that two of them were born perfectly at home.

My sweet Sully-bear, you are such a joy! From your squishy cheeks to your huge smiles to the way you look at your big brothers, we are all completely obsessed. You fit perfectly into our little family and I cannot imagine life without you in it. My longest pregnancy, my quickest labor, and my smallest baby – perfect in every way.

To my birth team: thank you for all you did to help me stay present and have an amazing birth experience. I knew I had the dream team even before he arrived, but I truly can’t imagine ever giving birth without you all there. Love you all!

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