Seven weeks ago today you came into this world & our lives changed yet again.
We’re used to change by now. It seems to be the common occurring theme in our relationship and the many chapters we continue to write. From change in where we live, to the ups and downs of the NFL.. the constant moving, pregnancy, and most recently you, Conway Bo, paired with a drastic career change for Daddy.
Jaxon’s due date was July 23, 2016, which just so happened to be the day Tyler reported for Patriots Training Camp aka the loneliest time of year for significant others of players. During this time players live in hotels, rarely have their phones, and are apart from their families for six weeks. We overcame that challenging time, and thankfully Jaxon was born five days early, so we had a few days together as a family before Ty left.
Once Tyler made the decision to go back to baseball, we thought those difficult times of not being able to control our schedule and lives was behind us. Then I got pregnant and what do you think my due date was? March 5th. The day all baseball players report for Spring Training. What are our odds?!
I was so nervous Tyler wasn’t going to be able to make the birth of Conway. It gave me major anxiety. However, with the Universe in our corner, when Ty had that big conversation with the Pittsburgh Pirates, they were understanding that Tyler had his second child on the way, and allowed him to stay with his family until Conway was born. As grateful as I was for that leniency, I still was not going to be happy if Ty only had a day or so with us. So I did the same thing I did last time with Jaxon. Every old wives tale in the book.
On Monday, February 19, I tried to drink castor oil. It was so foul and I feel like gagging just thinking about it. It tastes like chugging thick olive oil, but worse. I put an ounce in a shot glass and mixed it with apple juice so that it was a shooter. I did this twice. Sadly it didn’t work and just left mommy in the bathroom all night. I was slightly discouraged however I knew I had an upcoming doctor’s appointment that Thursday. The first time I tried castor oil with Jaxon it didn’t work either. So, I continued all of my tricks. For the last six weeks leading up to Conway’s birth I did it all. I worked out consistently my entire pregnancy, and towards the end of my last trimester I drank a quart of raspberry leaf tea every day, as well as took an Evening Primrose Oil capsule in the morning, and put one up my who-ha every night before bed. It sounds crazy, I know, but hey, it works. I did this with Jaxon, too. Both raspberry leaf tea and Evening Primrose Oil are supposed to help loosen the cervix and help speed up labor and delivery. From my experience both times, this serves true.
Thursday was the big day. This day was actually pretty special. Ty decided to take the day off (generally his day is a 9-5 of baseball, workouts, yoga and therapy/recovery). That morning we had a big family breakfast with pancakes made by Ty. After breakfast we all went to my OB appointment where I had my membrane stripped. This took about 1-2 minutes and basically felt like she was fingering me as far up as she could possibly go, making a swishing motion with her fingers. I had a facial scheduled that afternoon, it was exactly what I needed. I relaxed and took some time for myself while I still could. While I was getting my facial Ty and Jaxon spent time together at this indoors play yard for kids where they climbed up and down the jungle gym and slides. I met them there towards the end and it was so beautiful to see them laughing, playing and enjoying each other, just them two. From there we all went out out to dinner. Come to think of it, we rarely ever go to dinner just us three, we’re more of a breakfast family. Dinner outings aren’t easy with an active 1.5 year old. Usually when we go out its with Tyler’s parents aka helping hands and Jaxon, or it’s just us on date night while Jaxon is at home (he’s fine, we just leave a little water bowl by his door…. KIDDING, his parents are the best babysitters). The dinner was great, we had a big booth and Jaxon ate lots of flatbread while he was glued to the tv’s watching golf. When we got home Jaxon was so silly and cute during his bath. We all played upstairs in his room while he did all of his tricks- his yoga pose/toe trick, twinkle toes, the splits, he was a one man show. And then we all crawled onto Jax’s queen size bed and cuddled while we read “How To Babysit a Mom.” Then Ty read “I’ll Love You Forever.” I sneaked away so the boys could have their time together. Those last couple of weeks I let Ty put Jaxon down so they had that time before Ty left for Spring Training.
While Ty was probably tearing up reading the tear jerker “I’ll Love you Forever” I was downstairs mustering up the courage to start my second hack at castor oil. I did the same thing as I did a few days prior, 2 ounces of castor oil mixed with apple juice. This time I made sure to swig it down as quickly as possible. Ty and I made a fire and just talked for hours, no phones, no tv. It was great. The entire day was great. When we got ready for bed, Ty told me he was going to go upstairs and sleep with Jaxon- something neither of us ever do, but for some reason Ty wanted those extra cuddles that night. Looking back now, it was a beautiful way to spend the day together, just us three, one last time.
I was anxious falling asleep. I had fallen asleep half ass for maybe two hours. I woke up around 1, and on and off for a couple hours, trying to go to the bathroom, hoping the castor oil would “work” but it didn’t, which scared the shit out of me. What if it I go into labor and I haven’t released yet, but I projectile poop during delivery?! It was major anxiety. My stomach was rumbling but I couldn’t tell if they were contractions or not. I was on my phone Googling “how do know you’re in labor” and such. Tyler came back down to bed around four and that’s when I started feeling like okay, this could maybe be it. I started walking up and down the hallway in the dark and this made the contractions stronger and stronger. My breathing was heavy and I found myself taking deep breaths in and out. Okay, time to wake up Ty.
At 6 in the morning I woke up Ty and we immediately called Tyler’s parents. This was the game plan all along. When I went into labor Ty’s parents would drive over to watch Jaxon while we went to the hospital. We packed up the car and contractions were now so bad that we got into the car with it running ready to go the very second his parents pulled up. Not even saying hello, we sped off.
‘Fatality on the freeway.’ Of-fucking-course!! There was bumper to bumper traffic on top of morning rush hour. We used Waze and took the back roads. I’m yelling to Ty “get us there safely!” as he changes lanes mid intersection yellow light (my biggest driving pet peeve)! My contractions are so close together, I legitimately thought I might have this baby in the car. I am not lying, I actually thought this was a possibility.
We arrive to the hospital at 7am on the dot. I waddle in and can barely walk and the receptionists ask me for my insurance card and ID. I have my wallet and can barely think let alone get my cards out. I’m nearly shaking and the nurses put me in a wheelchair and stroll me into a room and leave the paperwork for Tyler. When he gets to the room after parking the car I am relieved to see him. I can’t do this without him. I am just SO happy all the work and all the tricks worked so that we could do this together, two weeks before Conway’s due date.
The nurses take my vitals and feel where I’m at. Five centimeters dilated already. The pain was unbearable. My breathing was as heavy as it gets and I could feel Tyler cringing just watching me in the deepest pain ever. It felt like a bus was running straight into my vagina and back over and over and OVER again. It’s the worst pain I have ever felt. Thank God we got to the hospital when we did. The first thing I said “Get me the epidural!” I must have said this five times, I did NOT want to miss that window!
I get the epidural and it was amazing. It didn’t hurt at all compared to the contractions I was getting every thirty seconds. I learn so much about motherhood and society as I go. For instance, apparently epidurals, formula, and sleep training are frowned upon?? Sorry I’m not sorry, but I do all three! No shame in my game. Would you get invasive surgery without anesthesia? Probably not, right? I mean, what is modern medicine for? Within 15 minutes my contractions calmed down. First thing I ask for is my apple juice, baby. I never drink apple juice, except when in labor and delivery. Something about it over that hospital crushed ice is so refreshing.
Around 10:30 am I had fallen asleep for a little over an hour. Well, I had fallen asleep on my side so when I woke up my left leg was 100% numb! I’m talking I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t even lift it! It was bizarre. I started to become emotional when the doctor came in and told me I was over 6cm dilated. There was no turning back now, the baby was coming. I had these thoughts like ‘oh my God, are we ready? Do we want another child? What am I going to do?’ I started to cry as Tyler held me. This was real. This was happening.
Around 12:30 pm the nurse came in and asked if I wanted to start pushing. “Let’s not make this one of those all day things, you seem like you’re ready.” The doctor came in and we gave it a practice push. Well, when I pushed, I let out a little fart (literally the tiniest) and I was SO embarrassed. Never has Tyler ever heard me fart EVER. So then I felt scared to push again. He told me “hey, no matter what happens, I still think you’re the sexiest girl in the world. So do what you gotta do to get this baby here.”
It was almost 1 o’clock and it was time. It was me, Tyler, the nurse and our OB (who we had just met that morning). Tyler lifted my left leg with all his might as it was completely dead weight, and the nurse was holding my right. Here we go.
I did 3 cycles of breathing and pushing during my contractions. It hurt so fucking bad.
On the third cycle I screamed. I hadn’t screamed with Jaxon, but this was so emotional. The pain, even with the epidural, was so unbearable. Although I had done this before, I still couldn’t believe my body was going through this. Childbirth is something men and those who have not been through it before, will never truly understand.
Tyler started to cry. “I hated that I couldn’t take that pain away from you in that moment,” he later told me.
On my final push, our OB told me something that made it all a little easier. “Come on, Kristen, let him sliiiide on out.” I closed my eyes and visualized him sliding out of me. Sounds crazy, but I truly believe this is what did the trick. Our cycle should have ended and the doctor said “keep going, you can do this,” while Tyler was right in my ear, cheek to cheek, “you are so beautiful, baby. You can do this, he’s here, he’s here.” And one last scream, I literally felt him slide on out.
And then, we heard that first cry. That first cry that let you know as parents everything is alright. Immediately I put him on my chest. As he cried that newborn cry I went in his ear and said “shhh… shhh.. it’s okay baby, mommy is here.. shhh.” My maternal instinct kicked in immediately, and just like that, he calmed down.
It took a good fifteen minutes for him to open his eyes. After all, he was two weeks early, so he was a little extra tired. After he opened his eyes I put him on my breast and he started feeding. It felt so natural this time around, I was so optimistic breastfeeding would work out (more on this later).
He had fallen asleep on me, and Tyler just stroke both our heads. We did it. Our family had grown and together, out of pure love, we made this happen. It was so magical and such a powerful feeling.
The nurses had to take the baby’s vitals, and once they were done they asked, “Daddy, do you want to hold your son?” Tyler took off his shirt, put his long hair back, and put his arms out. I asked, “are you hot?” and Tyler looks at me with this excited, innocent, boy like expression, “no, baby, skin to skin,” like duh, Kristen. It was so cute, I’ll never forget that.
A few hours had passed, a few gallons of apple juice had been consumed, and now Jaxon was on his way with Ty’s parents. We heard his little footsteps run down the hall, hearing the nurses’ grins from afar (Jax is quite the popular one amongst the ladies), and then he came in. Immediately I was overwhelmed with guilt and love all at the same time. He looked so big compared to this little boy we had just welcomed. I couldn’t believe Jax was once this size and now he was a big boy. I was so excited for him but felt sad all at the same time that it was no longer just us three. He didn’t really know what was going on for the most part, but when he sat down and said “baby,” put his arms out, and gave the baby a kiss, I knew it was all going to be okay.
Overall this birth experience was just as great as it was with Jaxon, if not, better. I couldn’t ask for a better experience. I didn’t poop, I didn’t tear (which made for a MUCH better recovery), and I pushed for just 10 minutes (see, I told you staying active, drinking raspberry tea and taking Evening Primrose Oil works). I had given life to yet another healthy, happy boy. Together with the love of my life by my side, my partner, my best friend, together we had grown our family. Yet again we were taking on a new challenge, scared shitless but optimistic, we knew that together we could accomplish anything. We were in this together, we will always be in this together. And now, we have two little boys that will make everything in this world worth fighting for.
As I look to my left, and I look to my right, and as I look down into my arms, I see all of my boys. Tyler looks at me with tears in his eyes, “it’s all going to be okay, baby. This is our family.” And so it is.
On February 23, 2018, at 9 pounds, 4 ounces, at 1:09pm, we welcomed our second son. Welcome to the world, Conway Bo. We can’t wait to show you life.