It’s hard to believe I’m writing this… my fourth birth story in four years. I’ve given birth in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Just typing that makes me tired….. and so grateful…. unbelievably grateful. These last four years have been the best and hardest of my life. We cherish being parents and welcoming a new baby is hands down the most incredible thing we have ever experienced in our 18 years together. I’m so excited to introduce you to our newest member of our family and tell you the story of how he came into this world!
Now, I’m just going to warn you, this is long. VERY long. If you’re not interested in reading every little detail, I get it. Only some people love birth stories and so if you’re not one of them, here’s a quick, one sentence explanation as to what happened! I took castor oil at 5:45pm, labor started at 9pm at home, hospital by 10:30pm and after about 4 minutes of pushing, baby Everett was here! All 10lbs of him!!!
Ok, on to the long-winded explanation and story of this sweet baby’s birthday!! …..
From the beginning, this pregnancy was so different for us because Michael requested that we didn’t find out the gender of the baby. We already had a girl and a boy and so this seemed like the perfect situation to be surprised. It was also special because my sister and brother-in-law were expecting a baby just three days before us and they didn’t find out the gender either. Before I share more, I have to explain…. We did NOT plan to have babies at the same time. However, this is the third time we have been pregnant together and so many people have asked how we have managed to schedule our babies at the same time and let me be clear, there is no scheduling. That is just the way the good Lord allowed it to happen and we’re so grateful. It’s so sweet to go through pregnancy with someone I’m so incredibly close to and spend every day of my life with!
When I found out that my sister was pregnant, I was shocked. I also had no idea that I was pregnant as well. I found out that she was pregnant on a walk in their neighborhood and I remember walking the rest of the loop wondering “Could I be pregnant too? No way. I’ve had so much energy. I’ve had babies before, I would be able to tell if I was pregnant”. That night I took a test and it was immediately positive. We Face-timed them and our best friends Bud and Jill and told them that night! Our parents were coming over for Easter dinner the next day and we told them then by having Micah say “Two is great” and Evy said “Four is fun” and then Emy and I said in unison “We’re both having another one!!!”
Everyone was shocked…..
….So excited… but shocked! As were we! Two more babies in our family?! We already had two three year olds and two one year olds between the two of us! Now we were going to have ANOTHER set of babies that were basically the exact same age!!! It was exciting but I also started praying big prayers over both of these pregnancies. Can you imagine if one sister got bad news and the other didn’t? Oh it would have been so incredibly hard. We lived through that feeling with our best friends when our second babies were due just weeks apart and we lost ours. It’s devastating. We’re so thankful for God’s gift of two healthy, strong babies.
Over and over and over again, God was so gracious to us. During Covid, Emy and I even got to go into ultrasounds together. The husbands couldn’t be with us for the first appointment where every parent holds their breath as the ultrasound tech searches for a blueberry sized human and a heartbeat. I have some PTSD from ultrasounds because of our experiences with James and so our OB office was gracious enough to allow Emy and I to be together for our ultrasounds in the same room. What a GIFT in the midst of the pandemic!
Our pregnancies were both so different. Emy was in a lot more day to day pain than me. I struggled with getting sick just once in the morning from like week 17 until the end and then I had horrible heartburn. Overall, I’m shocked at how well my body carried a fourth baby in four years. My body has been through a LOT and I’m so grateful for it.
At week 36, we did a growth ultrasound since our babies always measure big and they saw PAC’s which is a type of heart arrhythmia. It wasn’t anything too serious but it was something we needed to watch and monitor. As the weeks went by, the PAC’s seemed to disappear but the growth scans said our baby was measuring off the charts. The head size at 38 weeks literally read as OOR…. “Out of Range”. Yikes.
So this is where our birth story begins…..
I’ve delivered not one but TWO large babies before. I’ve never struggled to get them out and even though James was only 5lbs 4 oz and a very special situation, I delivered him breach! So, overall, a big baby shouldn’t make anyone concerned. However, any doctor that sees a baby measuring over 11lbs on an ultrasound is going to encourage a mom to be induced. I get it… but I also knew, deep down, that size wasn’t a reason to induce for me.
Week 38 and 39 came and went. I had my membranes stripped four times total and by the time I was at my due date, I was 4cm and over 80% effaced. I went four days past my due date with Evy before I was induced. This time around, my due date was on Friday and we had an induction scheduled for Monday. We scheduled this on Wednesday because I thought for SURE I would go into labor on my own by then and I really didn’t want a Christmas day baby! I went into labor with Graham one day early and I loved everything about his birth. I could tell that waiting and letting my body go into labor on its’ own was healthier and actually, dare I say easier. So I wanted that for this baby. The weekend happened and I wasn’t in labor…. And I also wasn’t feeling at peace with being induced. So, I cancelled the induction and my sweet OB was hesitant but understanding. Knowing that I needed to go into labor soon in order to be home from the hospital in time for Christmas Eve, I called the midwives at the hospital and asked about something I never saw myself doing….. I asked if I could take castor oil.
You can google and find horror stories about Castor Oil inducing labor (or NOT inducing labor but inducing a whole lot of something else!) and I didn’t love the idea of it. However, I knew that if I could just have some contractions, I could have this baby quickly! I literally walked 2.5 miles 24 hours before I went into labor but it didn’t seem to do anything. I was ready to try something else! So Sunday afternoon at around 1:45pm, I took 1 tbsp of Castor Oil mixed in 2 tbsp of Peanut Butter. The midwives suggested mixing it with a protein to prevent getting an upset stomach and minimizing trips to the bathroom and it worked! I never got sick! 4 hours later at 5:45pm, I took another 1 tbsp of Castor Oil with Peanut butter. Around 9pm, I had my first contraction. It’s common for Castor Oil to make you have irregular, fake contractions and so I didn’t have much faith that these contractions were serious. However, about 15 minutes later, I was in bed having to close my eyes in between contractions…. and still convinced it wasn’t the real deal.
I texted with the midwives and sent them a screenshot of my contraction app and this is what they said…..
So, like any normal pregnant woman (I’m kidding) …. I turned my straightener on!!!!
Yes, I was in labor with contractions about a minute and a half apart and I thought it was a priority to straighten my hair. I’m a mess. Thankfully, my sister, even though she thought I was crazy, came in a helped me do a few swipes before I hurried to the car in between contractions. One of my favorite memories of this time frame was that Michael was leaving the house with his mask on! Like, walking around our back hallway masked! Emy said “Why do you have that thing on right now?!” and he didn’t even realize he did! That’s the extent of Michael’s nerves showing through. He honestly holds it together really well in stress!
So we headed out to the hospital and while the baby definitely wasn’t coming in the car, I did think these labor pains were more intense than Graham’s labor. Michael had our “birth” playlist on in the car and it made me cry. It’s the same playlist we have had for all of our babies but for some reason, when I hear it, it makes me think the most about Baby James. I think it’s powerful that His birth is what comes to mind when I hear those songs because that is the birth where we felt God’s presence more than any other. It’s a beautiful thing to be reminded of when you’re in the midst of intense physical pain….. If God can walk us through a stillbirth, He can get me through this labor. That is what I kept telling myself as the contractions picked up.
Every pothole, every sharp curve or bump in the road make me want to punch Michael for hitting it but I know he couldn’t help it. It just REALLY hurt. We got to the hospital and I walked in just praying the contractions wouldn’t disappear. My greatest fear was that I was going to the hospital because of “Castor Oil” contractions and it wasn’t the real thing. How awful would that be?!!!
As soon as I walked back and passed the nurses station, I saw our favorite nurse, Sarah. She’s an angel. She has literally been by my side at EVERY single one of our children’s births…. even Baby James’ birth. We love her and I can’t imagine giving birth without her!! Sounds dramatic but when you’ve had a familiar face at every single one of your births that you love and trust, you start to think you can’t do it without them! Ha! Sarah wasn’t even supposed to be on that night but she was and I’m so thankful!!!
We got into the room, I met the midwife, Kim, who was on that night and she checked me. I was at 5cm and almost fully effaced. This wasn’t anything too exciting… I secretly wished I was at 6 or 7 but I knew I had a little ways to go. After I was checked, it felt like within a half hour, things got intense. I went from talking in-between contractions to using my breaks between them to mentally prepare for the next one that would be coming. Michael pushed on my lower back with each one and it helped relieve some of the pain. I remember thinking “This won’t last forever…. Each contraction is doing something to get us closer to our baby” and then as the pain increased my thoughts turned into, “I can’t do this!!!…. How much longer?!… I need the tub!”
The tub provided such relief for me during Graham’s birth and allowed me to get through transition. I got into the tub and after about two contractions, I heard Sarah say she would be right back because she had to go get the baby warmer. This is a TURNING point for me. It has been for all four births. I know that if they are getting the baby warmer ready, they can tell that I’m close to the end!!
I stayed in the tub for about 20 minutes and while the hot water helped, the pain was getting worse. The contractions in the tub shifted a little and it actually felt less intense if I allowed myself to bear down a little bit. Sadly, our hospital doesn’t have actual birthing tubs and so when that feeling hits, it’s time to get out. I got out of the tub and I pushed a little too early with Graham and so in my mind, I thought I would be getting out of the tub and would have a ways to go…. But that wasn’t the case at all.
I had a contraction standing, then got in the bed and asked the midwife to check me. I also asked in the midst of a contraction “What are my pain management options?!!!!” and everyone just kind of looked at me like “Katelyn, it’s too late for that”…. And they were right. The midwife checked me and I was 8cm but then she asked if she could check during a contraction to see how the cervix felt because I wanted to push but I wasn’t quite to 10cm yet. Thankfully she thought it felt safe to push a little. The contraction I had lying on by back on the bed felt awful and so I decided to see if sitting on a blow-up birthing stool would feel better. It didn’t. So I immediately stood up during that contraction and someone said “maybe try squatting” and I did…. And that felt absolutely MISERABLE…. But something happened… my water broke and the baby moved down instantly. I really don’t remember what was said here…. But I remember this is when Michael scrambled to the other side of the bed to turn the camera on to record it. We couldn’t have a birth photographer in the room and so we had two camera’s filming it so that we could try to take screen grabs from the footage! (We’ll share more about that later!)
I remember Kim asking me after that big contraction (and the squat/water breaking) “Katelyn, where do you want to deliver your baby?” …. And that’s when I realized how fast it was all happening. I got back on the bed quickly and during the next contraction I pushed. I remember feeling SO incredibly overwhelmed….. every second of pain felt like a minute to me…. I felt out of control but looking back at the footage, most of my “out of control” feeling was in my head. I remember during these FOUR minutes of pushing just praying to myself “Jesus I can’t do this on my own… I can’t do this without you.” I’ve prayed similar things at this point with each baby. It’s in this moment where I felt so incredibly weak, depleted of strength and honestly, scared. There was no turning back. I could feel the baby crowning and the thoughts of, “Is this baby too big? Is this baby going to get stuck? I’m not strong enough for this” crept in. However, then another push happened and I felt the baby’s head. That’s always motivation to give it all I’ve got… so I did and one more push and HE was here!
I remember Michael crying, the baby crying and hearing over and over again “You did it! Look what you did! He’s here!”. I’ve never experienced anything in my life that creates such a dramatic, intense shift of emotions. I went from being completely at the end of myself…. feeling so overwhelmed and in excruciating pain to feeling like a 10 month journey was instantly over and being completely overjoyed, pain-free and thankful for this precious new life that was laying on my chest.
Everett Hill Alsop was born at 1:44am on December 21st and he weighed 10lbs 1.2 ounces!!! I was THRILLED that I was finally able to claim the “10 pounder” title!! Evy was 9lb 10oz, James was 5lbs 4oz (8 weeks early with serious complications), Graham was 9lbs 14oz and Rhett was 10lbs….. So the pattern seems to be that our babies are getting bigger and bigger. As far as labor duration goes, Evy’s was about 29 hours and I was induced (4 days late), James was 6 hours (also induced), Graham’s was about 8 hours (1 day early) and Rhett’s labor was 4.5 hours (3 days late). Because labor and pushing was so fast for Rhett, it seemed more painful and more intense than Graham’s natural birth. Michael liked Rhett’s birth so much better because 1. It was faster and 2. He knew what to expect. Graham’s natural labor was a VERY different experience than witnessing me give birth with an epidural. The part about Rhett’s birth that wasn’t ideal was that he was born in the middle of the night! That’s my fault because I knew that that probably could have been avoided if I had taken castor oil the next morning instead… but I was desperate to get him out.
Some people have asked some questions on Instagram and I thought I would answer them here:
1. How did we choose his name? Everett is a family name on my side and Michael’s! “Hill” was my dad’s mom’s maiden name and so we thought it would be nice to use it since “Warren” (Graham’s middle name) is the first name of Michael’s grandad. We call him both “Rhett” and “Everett” but Rhett seems to be the most used which I love. When we came up with this name, I liked the thought of all of our boy names being one syllable!
2. How does Michael do during the labor/birth process? He is amazing. He doesn’t get weirded out by anything, he helps me survive each contraction, he sits by me when I’m in the tub and lets me squeeze the life out of his hand and he encourages me when I feel like I’m incapable. The moments of meeting our babies together are my favorite memories with him. We’ve traveled the world together and have had incredible experiences… but those four moments in the hospital, right when we saw our babies’ faces for the first time, trump every other amazing moment.
3. What was it like to have a baby during COVID? I had to wear a mask until a little before transition. I think I was technically supposed to wear it until pushing but it was unbelievably miserable. No one was allowed to be there to capture Rhett’s birth which was just so sad for me but we were able to capture some moments ourselves and I’ll share more about that in an upcoming YouTube video!! No visitors and obviously we never saw any nurses faces which felt weird… but overall, it was just fine and we’re thankful!
4. Are you going to have more? Umm… that is a really hard question to answer when we have a 3 year old, 1 year old and a 2 week old at home. I literally looked at Michael right after Rhett was born and said “I’m NEVER doing that again!!!”. haha I would say we’re feeling thankful for the beautiful children we have and I need a break!! I’ve been pregnant for four years back to back and I want to be able to be present and energetic for our three little people these next few years.
5. How did you handle the kids/family meeting the baby with all of the Hospital Covid restrictions?! We kept the gender a secret and had our immediate families come to our house when we arrived home! Tyler was gracious enough to come film their reactions and sweet Jill drove two hours to come be there to capture with my camera so that we would have pictures of our families meeting the baby as well. It was so sweet and so special!!!
6. Did you love being surprised with the gender? Yes! However, I do think it was a little hard for the kids to wrap their minds around. Evy wanted a sister and Micah wanted his Momma to bring home a brother! ha! They’ve both come around and they instantly loved their new sibling.
I’m just so thankful He’s here and that we have a healthy baby. Nothing makes you more grateful for a healthy baby than losing one and I thank God often for the perspective and gratitude that we have because of Baby James and his story. This is such a special (wild, but special!) season for us and our families! Right after we got home from the hospital Graham stabbed the back of his throat with a toy, we had Christmas happen, then COVID got into our house and we had to all quarantine together for weeks, Rhett got a tongue tie removed but didn’t gain weight (probably because of a milk supply drop from me having Covid) and then Evy had an accident and busted two teeth out…. all while five adults and six kids are living under our roof. It’s been wild…. but also wonderful.
If you’re still hanging on and reading this massive post, thank you! Enjoy getting to meet our newest little man!! We are absolutely obsessed with him!!!! Huge thank you to Jilly for capturing our at-home introductions, Tyler for filming and Emily Gerald for our newborn family portraits!!
It’s been a while since I’ve photographed an engagement session at beautiful Maymont Park. Meeting Ryan and Danielle there was perfect even though I totally forgot that Maymont closes so early! We heard a reminder that the park would be closing soon and just as I started to feel a bit panicked, the clouds cleared, the sun started to shine and I was able to capture the most beautiful light before we unexpectedly had to leave the park!
This beautiful day began in the historic manor house at Belmont Country Club. Abby was showing me her details and then she gave me a gift and told me to open it. I questioned her because it just didn’t seem right for the photographer to be opening a gift on the bride’s wedding day but she insisted! Abby had made me a custom cross-stitch of Michael and I with cameras in our hands! It looks JUST like us and I was just amazed at her talent and thoughtfulness!
Ah! It’s our FINAL STUDENT SPOTLIGHT!!! This July post has been a long time coming but it’s HERE and it’s LIVE and I want you to help me celebrate these amazing photographers who are making their dreams happen!!!
This six month update feels like it’s weirdly disproportionate compared to other monthly updates! Why is that? Well, last month I posted a couple of sets of images that were actually at the beginning of his sixth month and THEN we photographed multiple weddings, had several trips away from home for a few days and the dads were for several days!
Hope and Jesse are the sweetest couple. You can just feel it when you’re with them! You can see it when you watch them interact. You can hear it in the stories that their family members and best friends shared about them. They are truly soulmates and best friends. They have an undeniable love for one another and that is why even a rainy, misty wedding day could be incredibly vibrant, warm and joyful!!
Rhett’s fifth month was full of fun. It’s crazy to me that I know I only take my big camera to about 10% of the things we do in a month and yet each month is SO full.