Prior to kiddo number six, I recounted the birth stories of all my children. If L&D is your thang, then feel free to dive into the rabbit hole. If not, scroll on down. Just know that with this birth story, I share a whole lotta my heart. Don’t worry, I don’t go all TMI on you. That story is over margaritas. It’s long, so grab a cup ‘o Joe.

This one? This birth story is for any mom who’s ever wondered if she can have another baby, do birth again after a NICU stay, deliver naturally or attempt a VBAC. This birth taught me to let it all go (don’t you dare make me sing Frozen). The video of her birth photos is at the end. Enjoy!

Baby #1: Will
Baby #2: John Paul
Baby #3: Anna-Laura
Baby #4: Clare
Baby #5: Luke

Y’all all know how anxious I was about the delivery with this one. Remember how I obsessed and then my water levels went all wonky? I decided to go social media silent that last week because the pressure was JUST TOO MUCH. As it turns out, not only was that a good thing, but the extra six days past my due date ended up being a tremendous blessing. Although I will be the first to tell you they didn’t feel that way until later. Hindsight. It always bites you in the hiney.

I visited my OB the day before my due date and then three days later; both times she stripped my membranes (didn’t I say I wasn’t doing that again?) and we prayed for some action. Both times we got nada. At my second visit I was desperate and asked her what other options we had besides the c-section to induce labor. After a quick moment she recommended breaking my water instead of sending me directly to the OR. We knew that it couldn’t hurt and perhaps, just maybe, it might get labor going. I kept that information close and we decided to only share it with immediate family. Another reason why I went radio silent.

That weekend I was overdue, I enjoyed a fantastic four-game baseball tournament with our second son and saw him do some stellar pitching. So stellar, that he was awarded MVP. We went for ice cream as a family every single night. On the walk back home from one such evening, a pretty amazing conversation ensued with my oldest about NFP (natural family planning), IVF, the dignity of the human person and why the Catholic Church thinks sex is good. I know. I am marking it as one of my most tender moments as a mom. And, to think that wouldn’t have happened had Gianna come early!

But, lest you think I’m all pious, Monday morning rolled around and I was fed up. Why the {bleep} hadn’t I gone into labor? As I was whining about it to Scott, I muttered I just needed a good cry. So at 6:45am, I waddled into the closet, got down on my knees and just let it all out. Y’all know that ugly cry. Ten minutes later I was back to ordering kids around at breakfast and went about my day. That evening, Scott massaged my feet, we talked baby names and I got the hospital bag packed. For the 48th time. At midnight we finally called it quits and tried to get some sleep.

At 3am, HELLO CONTRACTIONS. God is super de-duper funny. At 3:45, I finally nudged Scott awake and told him we might be heading to the hospital early. I was scheduled to report at 6am for the membrane rupture. There was no way I was delivering without taking a shower first. Vanity, I know. At 4am, the contractions promptly stopped just as I stepped out of the shower. Scott went back to sleep, I got ready, did some client work, putzed around the house, ate breakfast and then welcomed my mom around 5:30am to take care of the kids. This was me in all my 41 week (almost) glory!

41 wks

Scott and I arrived at L&D check-in at 6am, where the tech handed me a gown and meshy panties and told me to change. Um, no. Doesn’t the mom of six get some concessions? I’d decided to labor naturally and wanted to be comfortable. I held my ground and she just shook her head and laughed. I had already gotten the reputation as *that* mom on the floor. I just pulled up my nursing tank for all the monitors and left my yoga skirt on.

More check-in procedures, more nurses, more questions and then they asked to start an IV. At first I protested, but then I finally consented to having it put in my left arm and then hep-locked so I could be free from an IV pole. The nurse strapped on the contraction and fetal heart monitors and then we waited for my OB. At 9am my membranes were ruptured by Dr. O. I was still at 3cm and 80% effaced so we were hoping this would get the proverbial “show on the road.”

As a sidenote, my L&D nurse, Sharon, was the bomb shizzle. I knew I had a winner when she told me she wanted me to walk away from this birth experience feeling like it was a great one and that she was here to make sure that happened. I might’ve told her she was an answer to prayer and teared up. Maybe.

I was feeling great, contractions started coming every 5-7 minutes and Scott and I were pleased with the progress. Our nurse? Notsomuch. I believe her exact words were, “Kathryn, this every 5-7 minute gig isn’t going to cut it. It’s going to earn you a first-class ticket to the OR. It’s time to get serious.” I texted my midwife friend and she gave some great advice. Gravity is your friend, evidently.

Everyone left, Scott put on Pandora and we just danced. In a hospital room. And I finally, finally, let go. With every contraction, I had been reading a new intention and fervently praying for that person. But, it wasn’t until the Dominican Sisters song from their CD, Mater Eucharistiae, came on Pandora that I finally felt myself falling into God’s perfect plan. When the song ended, my contractions were at a steady 2-3 minute pace, lasting about a minute, and getting stronger.

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At 11am, we called the birth photographer, I got my first check and found out I was a measly 4cm. Sharon warned me about that progress. She reminded me not to feel discouraged and made the comment that mommas of three or more babies tended to be fire alarms. Around 6cm, we blaze through and we’re pushing in no time. I can’t even tell you how much I held onto that wisdom. Fortunately for me, she worked with the midwives at a neighboring hospital and had helped many a momma deliver sans pain meds. Because I had made progress, we opted to hold off on the pitocin. My OB arrived, was thrilled with the progress and said they would check me again at 2pm.

I had been jetting to the bathroom every hour or so, but by 1:30, I had to hold onto the railing in the bathroom just to steady myself. The contractions were crazy intense. I whined to Scott that I should just call anesthesiology. He encouraged me to wait until my next check by the nurse. He felt I “had a few more good ones in me.” Total cheerleader, that one. If you want to know the real rockstar, it’s him. Scott is the reason I made it through that delivery. He knew just what to say, how to hold me, when to back off, where to be and how to give me the extra push I needed to power through every contraction. In fact, when things got really intense, he would say, “Just focus on your prayer partner. They’ll lead you through it.”

And y’all did. You sooo did.

I decided to lay down to labor after standing most of the morning and when I did, WHOA NELLY. Those contractions came on like a Mack truck. God kept bringing two phrases to mind with every contraction. One was from a dear friend who reminded me of the power of visualization. “Don’t fight the contractions, lean into them. The more you fight, the more you’ll have. Lean into the pain, focus on your cervix opening and take them one at a time.” The second was my priest who told me in confession, “God will be there in that moment of delivery. In fact, He’s already there.” Knowing that He was with me and waiting for me at delivery gave me tremendous peace.

By now, the contractions were so strong that Scott had to repeat the intention to me right before the wave hit. I could no longer concentrate on anything but that one contraction. A little after 2pm, I was at 6cm, almost 7. Sharon reminded me of the “fire alarm” and I gained renewed hope. She paged Dr. O and told her I was progressing quickly. Around 2:45 (I think), the nurse checked me again, this time while I was having a contraction. Oh my lawd. I may have asked her, “Are you kidding?” but then a contraction hit and I forgot. I was at 8cm. She paged Dr. O  and told her to get to L&D #2, PRONTO.

A little after 3pm, I was at 10cm and the time to push had finally arrived. It’s no coincidence that I offered up my last intention with that last contraction. It was prayers for my kids and Scott’s encouragement to pray for Luke that carried me through that very last contraction. At one point, maybe around 7cm, I looked at Scott and contemplated asking him if that meant I didn’t have to have a c-section.

Just before I began pushing, Sharon caught my eye and said, “Kathryn, look at me and listen. You push when I tell you, you breathe when I tell you. If you’ll listen to me we’ll get this baby out in no time. I mean it.” I nodded and got focused. Let’s just say they don’t call it the ring of fire for nothing. My track record on pushing was good. It typically only take a contraction or two and we are welcoming a new life to the family.

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I remember pushing with all I had in me thinking, why the heck isn’t this baby coming out? Everyone kept saying, “Oh looks good. You’re doing awesome. Almost there. Keep pushing.” Two contractions and six pushes later, out she came. Scott had asked for calling rights and he was the one to shout out: “IT’S A GIRL!”

Then, I cried.

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Gianna’s cord was a good four-feet long! That earned a big ooh and aah from the entire L&D team. The remainder of the minutes that followed were filled with so much joy, jubilation, relief and happiness there aren’t enough words in the English language to convey them all. There were tears from lots of us and a really tender moment between Dr. O and me. “Thanks for believing in me,” I told her. “We did it,” she replied.

Yes, yes we did.

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Before Gianna was even an hour old, my parents arrived with the kids and the crazy officially began. At this point, we still hadn’t decided on a name (that came two hours later!) Telling them of their sister’s arrival was just awesome. The nurses stamped Gianna’s feet on a pink sheet of paper. We then handed that pink sheet and a blank blue piece of paper, told them to guess the sex and then turn the papers over. This was their reaction.

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I never dreamed I could have a successful VBAC. I certainly never dreamed I could do it without drugs. But God had the perfect plan in place. To say this birth experience was healing is quite the understatement. Nothing will ever erase the fear I carried because of Luke’s birth, but in many ways, Gianna’s entrance into the world healed more than just my heart. She is a reminder that God is kind and merciful. I would relive that day a thousand times – the pain, the labor, the joy and the gratitude.

And, when He tells you to let go, you really should.

If you want to know why we chose to hire a birth photographer, you can read about that here.

52 Comments

  1. LeAnna on May 30, 2014 at 1:41 am

    This made me tear up. Such a beautiful, God-infused birth story. And the photos are amazing!

  2. Caitlin on May 30, 2014 at 2:01 am

    What a beautiful story!

    My first daughter was born via emergency c-section and ended up in the NICU. I really wanted a VBAC with our second, but it didn’t work out. I’m hopeful we might be able to give it a try again with baby number three though. I would be able to experience a delivery outside the operating room.

    • Kathryn on May 30, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      Oh, I hope you do, too!

    • Julie gG. on June 2, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Caitlin, I was able to have a successful, natural VBAC after two c-sections. Despite what you might hear, it can be done. It was such a healing birth – the least painful and most beautiful of all three. I am expecting number four (in September) and want to repeat that experience exactly. I pray that you get to experience it, too!

  3. Joanne on May 30, 2014 at 4:25 am

    This is such a great birth story!

  4. Beth (A Mom's Life) on May 30, 2014 at 7:50 am

    I’m so glad you got the delivery you wanted! God is so good!

    And the pictures are so beautiful.

  5. Deme @ House For Five on May 30, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Oh Kathryn! I am a weepy mess over here! Such a beautiful experience….God really is so, so good. Thank you for sharing this and those photos are priceless!! Can’t wait to see the full slide show 🙂

  6. Andrea in Aggieland on May 30, 2014 at 8:38 am

    You said grab a cup o’ joe…you didn’t say anything about tissues! Beautiful, just beautiful in every way!

  7. Kimberly on May 30, 2014 at 9:56 am

    NO, what…no, there’s no tears of joy over here…I mean…who’s cutting onions this early in the morning? 😉

    Best birth story ever…good job Momma! Congratulations on your sweet baby girl!

  8. Jenn at SoulMeetsBodyFitness on May 30, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful journey with us Kathryn! You are an amazing mama (and story teller!).

    • Kathryn on May 30, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      Thank you, Jenn.

  9. Stacy Woodruff on May 30, 2014 at 11:13 am

    What hospital did you deliver at? My mom’s name is Sharon, and she is a L&D nurse at Brackenridge.

    • Kathryn on May 30, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Stacy, that would’ve been TOO crazy! I was at St. David’s in RR.

      • Stacy Woodruff on May 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm

        Ah, ok. Well it sounds like the Sharon you got was pretty awesome, too. I’m so glad that this pregnancy and birth went so well for you and Gianna. You were due a break. Even though Luke is more than worth it, and has taught everybody so much, you have definitely earned some smoother sailing.

  10. Laura on May 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    What a beautiful birth story. You’re such an encouragement to all us hopefully future mommas out there!

  11. Susan on May 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Oh, Kathryn, I have been waiting to hear your story, and am so incredibly grateful that you shared it with all of us!! You have given me so much encouragement! I know that I could go into labor any day now, and after delivery the past 5 without meds, some were excruciating, others easier to handle, I have to admit that I feel a little nervous. I’m going to follow your lead and take a list of prayer intentions to the hospital with me, I truly love that idea. What a blessing it has been for me to share in your family life through your blog – you are incredibly blessed, my dear!! 🙂

    • Kathryn on May 30, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      You are going to be AMAZING Susan. I can’t wait to hear your story. And, love on that sweet baby in July. Maybe you’ll steal my birthday (June 11!)

  12. Jen @ Jumping in Puddles on May 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Ahhhh, Kathryn!!! (Thanks, for the coffee suggestion. It was perfect! 😉 )

    This was absolutely beautiful! I was close to tears at many moments. Thank you for sharing Gianna’s beautiful entrance into this world. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    So many continued blessings and prayers for you and the Team. You have such a wonderful and beautful family! *hugs*

  13. Karen on May 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Oh my, I have been waiting for this and it’s beautiful. I’m sitting her at my desk at work, practically bawling, praying that no one will knock on my door, which is a tall cubicle door and therefore cannot be locked!

    Beautiful! I had a profound labor experience with my second and now with my third due in 6.5 weeks, I am having irrational anxiety, nerves that it won’t be as “easy” as it was last time. But I plan to read this over and over as inspiration – particularly for keeping my yoga pants on during labor (as if!) and assembling an intention list. And I need new labor music so will check out the DS recording.

    Amazing and thank you so much! (Also, I think you are the cutest 41 week pregnant lady ever!)

    • Kathryn on May 30, 2014 at 11:35 pm

      HA! I felt like a whale that morning. You will be great, Karen. I’m telling you, those prayer intentions really kept me focused and at peace. When I felt like I was going to lose it with pain, Scott was right there with me.

  14. Rita @ Open Window on May 30, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Oh, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. So very happy that everything was able to happen as you had hoped, and I love hearing of how you prayed for others through the labor and delivery. Wonderful, wonderful. Congratulations to you and Scott and your family.

  15. dweej on May 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Oh it is so wonderful to read this. To get all the details of such an amazing experience and the end (beginning!) of an incredible journey. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Kathryn on May 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      You’re next Dweej. I loved writing it almost as much as I did living it!

  16. Kristen Bright on May 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Loved this. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Laura on May 31, 2014 at 9:53 am

    What a wonderful birth story! I did a natural birth with my first daughter in 2009 and I too remember the “ring of fire.” I wanted to do it again with my twins, but they entered the world at 28 weeks and endured an almost 6 month NICU stay. I envy you for having the faith to have a child after a NICU experience. God has a plan for us all. Congratulations on your precious baby girl!!

  18. Nicole on May 31, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Loved reading your birth story. I have had 2 deliveries without an epidural so I can completely relate to the laboring description. It is such an empowering and unbelievable experience. Your post makes me ready to have another little one 😉

  19. Verdina on May 31, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Kathryn, I am so happy for you and Scott! Your love story keeps getting better and better. Gianna is so beautiful!
    God bless you!

  20. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on May 31, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Beautiful story! I had to have a c-section for my first daughter, though I had desperately wanted an all-natural birth. I did manage to have natural VBACs with my second and third daughters and it was so amazing. I love so much reading about your prayers and how your faith helped you through, and of course your husband. My husband was also an absolute rock during my natural births. I nearly gave up during my 22-hour labor with my second daughter (who was 10 lbs, 7 oz), but he totally talked me through it. I only wish now that I had had my faith at those times. I used to be an atheist and am a very recent Catholic convert (Easter Vigil of this year), and I long for another baby so I can experience the miracle of pregnancy and birth through the eyes of someone who truly knows that it’s all a blessing from God. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

  21. Elise on June 1, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    This is so very beautiful, Kathryn. Letting go…it’s tough for me too, but He always knows what’s best, doesn’t He? Thank you so much for sharing this witness to the Lord’s amazing ways. Praise God.

  22. Christine on June 1, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Kathryn, thank you for sharing your beautiful and encouraging birth story. I believe our birth experiences are the closest we come as women to understanding Christ’s passion and death on the cross. When we can take this experience and understand the redemptive value of our suffering and that gift of new life at the other end, it just makes our hearts SO much bigger and allows us to love even more. Sharing that gift by sharing your story and your love empowers and witnesses Christ’s love in a beautiful way. Big hugs and congratulations- you, my dear, are a rock star!!

  23. Nicole on June 3, 2014 at 10:27 am

    A most beautiful story. Thank you for sharing all of it with us. Rock star L&D nurses are the best (I had one myself that I adored for delivery #2). And I love the way you told the kids if it was a boy or girl. So cute! And beautiful photos to capture it all. *sigh* wonderful!

  24. Maureen and Larry Davis on June 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    God is good. You were both awesome. We are so happy for all of you. Love and God bless!

    Maureen and Larry

  25. Kayla on June 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Wow, I have so much to say! First of all, you looked absolutely radiant throughout — if I was just looking at the pictures, I wouldn’t have ever guessed you were in any sort of pain with the contractions. Second, I love that you wore your Aggie ring & your husband made sure to wear an A&M polo. I hope my ring still fits come November 🙂 Third, a big, biggggg congratulations to you and your family. Little Gianna is absolutely gorgeous!!!!! Thank you for sharing your incredible story!

    • Kathryn on June 11, 2014 at 10:30 pm

      Don’t you worry – there was plenty of pain involved! I’m sure when you see the rest of the photos, it will shine through. But, it was the very best kind of pain. Oh, and we always wear the rings and the Mr. wears that shirt for every delivery!

  26. Kelly on June 11, 2014 at 10:30 am

    this is such a great story, it left me in tears. congratulations!

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  32. Megan on January 15, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    This story had me near tears several times – so beautiful! Did you do anything in particular to prepare for your natural birth VBAC?

    • Kathryn on January 15, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      I visited with LOTS of women and two doulas who had personal experience with natural VBACs. I prayed and I read a book on natural childbirth. I also had an extremely supportive OB and the L&D nurse I had was wonderful as she had experience with natural birthing mommas. Ultimately, I had to be okay with things not going the way I hoped and during labor I was at peace. My husband was a rockstar birth coach!

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  37. Kimberly Donahue on August 10, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Beautiful birth story! I had a cesarean with my first and vbac with my 2nd and 3rd kiddos. I remember there being so much fear and nervousness with my first vbac, so much worry that I would end up in the OR again.

    • Kathryn on August 13, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Oh, thank you! How wonderful you were able to have two successful VBACs. What a gift!

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