On January 4, 2021, Wallace Ronal Skelton was born at 3:44 pm, weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces and 20.5 inches long. He came into the world with a splash and with the most beautiful sounding cry I’ve ever heard.
Funny enough, January 4 was my original due date from my first doctor’s appointment when they measured the fetus via ultrasound. But at my 12-week ultrasound, they said he was measuring closer to December 28. Based on my last period before getting pregnant, the due date calculation was December 31, so ultimately that’s what my doctor adjusted it to as a “happy medium” between the two ultrasound measurement dates.
When my New Years Eve due date came and went, I was beyond frustrated. I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions for at least three months and had convinced myself (and told everyone else) that meant he’d be arriving early, despite my mom being one to two weeks late with all four of her pregnancies and despite my doctor saying BH contractions really don’t mean a thing about when baby might arrive.
Regardless, I was ready to meet this little one. I was trying ALL the (safe) things to get him out: daily long walks, so much raspberry leaf tea (with doubled and tripled bags in my mug), dates, squats, spicy food, bouncing on a yoga ball, and everything else you hear about. And still… nothin’.
Finally, on January 3, I decided to give up on all my obsessive methods and just let it be. (I even wrote a post about surrendering the timing.)
And… the next morning, my water broke. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
I woke up at 4:45 on Monday morning—not an unusual time to be up for me those last few weeks of pregnancy—and laid there in bed checking emails. I suddenly felt a small rush of liquid… but there are lots of odd rushes of liquid during pregnancy, so I didn’t think too much of it since it didn’t seem like a HUGE amount.
Then, it happened three more times over the course of a few minutes. Four small-ish gushes of liquid. I got up and realized it went all the way through my pajamas and seemed clear (aka, not urine) and like more than a normal amount of pregnancy fluid. I woke up John and told him: Maybe my water just broke?
At that point, I was in denial. I was one with the baby. I’d given up and figured he or she would just live in me forever.
Kidding… kind of… but I still didn’t fully believe my water had broken because it was four small gushes rather than the big flood you hear about all the time.
We called the hospital and they said to come in and get checked just in case, so we grabbed our bags and went in—again, I was totally certain we’d be home in a couple of hours and didn’t pay all that much attention to what I needed to bring with me.
I felt one mildly uncomfortable contraction when we were walking into the hospital but nothing too painful. We got settled into a room and they tested to see if my water had actually broken and, shockingly (to me at least—although John said he knew the whole time!), the test was positive.
We were having this baby!
We got admitted around 6:30 am and waited for a little while to see if contractions would start up on their own. Like I said, I was having BH contractions for months, so those would still come sporadically, but nothing really painful or patterned like a real labor contraction.
My doctor wanted to get me started on Pitocin to prompt real labor contractions to start, since I was at a higher risk of infection now that my water had broken. I was super nervous about the Pitocin because I’d heard contractions are way more painful with it, but I knew I’d want the epidural eventually. So I figured we might as well get things rolling and I could order my epidural once things got intense.
Well, they got intense FAST. At least, faster than I (or anyone else) expected.
We even asked my nurse how long families were staying in the hospital after giving birth with COVID going on, and she said 24 to 48 hours with a normal vaginal delivery. I was like, “Oh, so we could be going home as soon as tomorrow.”
She kind of laughed and said, “Sure, yeah… tomorrow!” as though we would NOT be going home tomorrow. (Spoiler alert: we went home tomorrow.)
I was 2 centimeters dilated (which I’d been at for two weeks) when they started Pitocin around 9:30 am. Within a couple hours of pretty uncomfortable, but bearable, contractions, I was at a 4. They gradually turned up the Pitocin levels and the contractions started to become extremely painful.
Something about how the baby was positioned made his heart rate dip too much when I was standing or sitting on the yoga ball any time I contracted, so the best way to be positioned for him was lying on my left side.
It seemed like very, very suddenly, my contractions went from painful to the-worst-pain-of-my-life excruciating. I’ve heard of regular labor where your contractions are in your abdomen, and I’ve heard of back labor where it’s painful surges in your low back. But the worst of my pain was oddly in my hip flexors.
It legitimately felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing my hip flexor muscles. I had to grab and pinch them and just hang on as hard as I could to try to alleviate the pain through every contraction. At that point, my entire body was shaking uncontrollably from the adrenaline I think—or maybe just the intensity of the pain.
We had the most amazing nurse who helped me work on different positions and did some hip release stretches with me, but nothing was helping at that point. John was doing all he could to help but if his touch was off just a little bit, it made it so much worse so… he got the short end of my temper through some of it. (Sorry, honey.)
I also became so nauseous that I really believed I would throw up any time a contraction would hit. My nurse brought me a puke bag just in case, and this tiny container with a cotton ball soaked in peppermint essential oil that I stuck in my hospital gown pocket at my chest. I weirdly remember thinking (between contractions) how cool it was that a hospital used essential oils for something like nausea rather than medication, and it actually helped relieve the nausea SO much.
When the strongest of my hip contractions started up, I was begging for the epidural. I had told the doctor and nurses earlier that I was fearful of getting the epidural too soon and slowing labor down, but at that point I didn’t care if labor went on for another two days as long as I didn’t have to experience that level of pain anymore.
Unfortunately, it takes about 30 minutes of prep and getting in touch with the anesthesiologist before you can get an epidural…
Longest. 30. Minutes. Of. My. Life.
Every few minutes I asked if it was time and if they could get him here quicker. I’ve never been happier to see a stranger than when the anesthesiologist walked in the room, and between contractions, which were about a minute or two apart then, he worked his magic and worked it fast.
I’ve heard the horror stories about epidurals and how much they hurt to get, but honestly it didn’t hurt AT ALL and the relief was so immediate that I am 1,000 percent glad that I got one.
After it kicked in, I was numb enough that the hip flexor pain was gone, but I could still feel the immense pressure from contractions and could still even slightly feel my legs (which honestly made me nervous that it wasn’t strong enough—I thought I was supposed to be fully numb from the waist down).
My nurse told me it was good to still feel the pressure because I’d know when to push, but the pain should be much less severe—which it was.
The doctor came in to check me and I was 8 centimeters dilated by then. It was probably 2 in the afternoon, so we’d progressed SUPER quickly. My OB had stopped by earlier that morning after a c-section but had gone home because she wasn’t on call and figured I’d still be a while. But when the other doctor saw I was at 8, they called her to come back in ASAP.
In less than an hour, I felt the pressure mounting so much that it felt like—for lack of any better comparison—I had to go number 2 really, really bad. I told the nurse that, and she said that it was the baby’s head pressing down. They checked again and I was at 10 centimeters!
The on-call doctor asked if I’d like to start a few practice pushes. I was like: “Ummm, sure, but what if the baby comes out?!” I didn’t understand it would take more than a couple of pushes, and she wanted me to more get used to the breathing and feeling of it.
I started “practice” pushing around 3:20 pm, and when I say this was the best part of the day so far, I really mean it. I thought it would be more painful than the contractions, but it didn’t hurt at all. (Again, THANK YOU Dr. Anesthesiologist.)
Everything else up until that point felt so out of my control, but this felt natural and powerful. Because of the epidural, I didn’t have any pain, and the intense pressure from contractions was actually relieved any time I’d push. I felt strong, and even though the room was full of probably 6 doctors and nurses, plus me and John, I had zero feelings of shyness, which was something I’d worried about beforehand.
I do remember thinking and telling John I wasn’t ready. The day passed so quickly and I couldn’t believe it was already time to push, and I was scared of if I could handle it and get through it. For all the time I spent hoping and praying this baby would get here and that delivery would be smooth and fast… I couldn’t believe how fast it was actually going.
My doctor got there about ten minutes into pushing and mostly just assisted the other doctor who’d been on call and coached me through form for pushing: “Curl your body around the baby… Pull your knees in with your hands.”
John was there holding one of my legs for me and being the calmest, steadiest presence. The doctor told me after a few rounds of pushes that I could reach down and feel the hair on the baby’s head. Hair!
I was born totally bald (they glued a bow to my head for the hospital photo) and figured my baby would be, too. But I reached down and felt that little fuzz and almost lost it right then. I was trying not to cry and told the doctors I couldn’t break down yet, and they just responded, “Of course you can!”
But he was so close, and I was so determined. After two more contractions and 6 more pushes, he was out! And, apparently his little body had been blocking a lot more of the amniotic fluid, which literally came out like a tidal wave after him, splashing the doctors and a couple nurses and even up onto my chest. Everyone was laughing and cheering and they said they’d never seen such a splashy entrance.
John got to announce that it was a boy, and they immediately placed him on my chest as all three of us cried and held one another. We laughed later on about how he was the cleanest baby we’ve ever seen. No blood or white stuff or anything—just clean, pure baby, I’m guessing thanks to that rush of amniotic fluid.
John also cut the cord, which I was so proud of! He’d been really uncertain about doing it beforehand, but I think in the moment when they offered, it just felt really important and special.
The second they placed the baby on my chest, I knew his name had to be Wallace. That was one of the first thoughts I had. He was just so… Wallace.
We had five boy names we’d been considering and seven girl names. Wallace had been at the top of our list for boys for a couple of months, but neither of us wanted to finalize it until we met whomever this little one was. Later on, after things were cleaned up and they left John and I to be with the baby alone, I told John my thought, and he agreed that he was a Wallace.
For the middle name, we were between William (John’s middle name) and Ronal (John’s late grandpa’s name, who he was extremely close with, as well as his brother’s first name). Ultimately, we ended up going with Ronal… mostly because apparently William Wallace is the main character in Braveheart (I’ve never seen it?!) and John was concerned it was too similar, haha.
Wallace kept us waiting until, very suddenly, in fewer than 11 hours, he decided he’d like to be here with us.
He is the sweetest, calmest presence, and so incredibly strong. He’s also a great eater; the nurses were astounded that he latched and fed for about 45 minutes shortly after being born.
I’ve never felt super maternal, and even though I like kids and babysat and nannied much of my life, I wasn’t always certain I even wanted children. I didn’t adore pregnancy the way some women do, and never felt incredibly connected to the process.
But the moment he got here, everything changed. There’s no other way to put it. My life felt like it paused and stretched and made this altogether new space for unending love and grace for this tiny little boy. I couldn’t sleep those first couple of nights just because I felt so protective and watchful over him.
The entire day was so emotional and full and nothing like what I expected, but in all the best ways. I’ve felt “called” to be many things: a writer, a creative, an encourager. But I’d never really felt called to be a mama, until now. Of all the titles and hats I’ve worn, this one felt the most immediately natural the moment he got here, and the most profound.
I am so beyond thankful that sweet Wallace is ours.