::Henley:: Birth Story

It's been a little over a week and I have been dying to write how Henley joined our world before I forgot any of the details, no matter how small. Over the last nine months, I have read birth story after birth story of different labors and to be honest, most of them sounded pretty traumatic and were intimidating. I feel I heard way more negative stories than positive ones so I hope my story gives someone a little light at the end of the tunnel and some faith that all births aren't so bad.

Looking back now I think my labor started around 4am on December 18th. As typical of a nine month pregnant woman, I was going to the restroom almost hourly overnight. When I went to the bathroom at 4am, I felt some pressure down below but didn't really think much about it and I definitely didn't think enough to turn on the light to check out the situation  I had the same feeling around 5am, just slightly more intense. I turned the light on and noticed  some blood when I wiped. I had heard this may happen towards the end of the pregnancy but that it's not a definite on the time frame, could mean one day or 3 weeks.

By the time I was awake and up and moving around I had slight period cramps which I assumed were Braxton Hicks contractions. I hadn't felt any of these before so I wasn't totally sure but I promised Teddy I would call the doctor's office as soon as they opened just to make sure. Around 8:30, I called the on-call nurse and she said since they were so mild, they were probably just Braxton Hicks and to continue to monitor them and if they got more intense or came with blood to call back.

Lately at work I have been bombarded with meetings trying to catch everyone up to speed on what's been going on and just trying to get things in a good spot before maternity leave. Tuesday was no exception. I started out the day with my weekly meeting with my team to catch up on anything that is going on. We mostly spent this time making sure all was in line. I had a few other meetings including one in a different building. As we were driving the golf cart to that meeting, I felt the contractions were getting stronger and stronger. After we got back from that meeting, I had about 30 minutes before the next meeting so I decided to start timing them. (I used an app called Sprout--I loved this app and highly recommend it throughout the pregnancy) At this point the contractions were 30-45 seconds long and about 9 minutes apart. I still wasn't convinced this was labor.

My 10am "meeting" actually turned out to be a surprise baby shower thrown by the Finance department for myself and two others that are due in January (perfect timing eh?). During this time, the contractions were getting more and more intense. Someone actually asked how I was feeling and I responded that I may be having contractions right now :-)

During lunch the contractions got worse and after lunch I actually had to stand through the contractions because they were so uncomfortable. Up until this point, they felt mostly like period cramps but around noon they shifted to my back and were pretty painful. At around 2:00pm, Ted told me to email him the contractions I had been logging on the app so I sent them over. He immediately called me back and told me to call the nurse. (I should note he had been telling me to call the nurse since about 11:30 but I didn't think things were that intense just yet). My contractions were still 30-45 seconds long but were every 5-6 minutes apart.

I called the nurse and told her the frequency of the contractions. She said she was going to talk to my doctor and get back with me to let me know if I should come into the office or if I should go to OB triage at the hospital. She called me back almost immediately to let me know Dr. J wanted me to come to the office asap. To say a little panic ensued is an understatement. I still had a meeting at 3 that I was to lead to transition something to my team and I had a sticky note of to-do's. In the 15 minutes after I got off of the phone, I was running around bringing my team up to speed on the meeting and the to-do lists. 

Finally I was on the way to the doctor. I checked in and sat in the waiting room for a good 20 minutes, contracting the whole time. I finally got back to see Dr. J and after a quick check he said "Yep you're in labor, 4 cm. I'll meet you at the hospital in a few minutes to break your water and then we are going to have a baby!"

If I thought I was nervous before when he told me to come into the office, I had no idea the flood of emotion that was to come. It was so overwhelming to think that my little girl was finally on her way but at the same time there were so many emotions that I could not comprehend. Would it be a fast or slow labor? Could I handle the pain? Will she be healthy? I didn't have much time to think about these things thankfully but these thoughts definitely crossed my mind.

At this point, I had not yet told any of my family that I was even having contractions, (I didn't want anyone to get their hopes up) so in the short two minute ride to the hospital (and five wrong turns later) we called and texted everyone that Baby Henley was coming soon.

We arrived at the hospital at 4:30pm. We were admitted and checked-in, hospital gown on, and all vitals checked and ready to go.

Dr. J came in around 5:00pm to check on my progress and to break my water, I was 5cm. He proceeded to break my water which felt totally weird by the way! It was the strangest feeling ever. He wanted me up and walking around the labor floor to get things moving along. Once my water broke, the contractions were very intense and I couldn't continue to walk through them any longer. I had to stop walking, hold the rail on the wall and clench onto Teddy to work through them. After one walk around the floor, I decided to move around our room instead and just try to labor in the room as best I could. I tried to sit on the birthing ball but squishing my stomach was very painful. 

At around 6:30pm, the nurse came back in to check on me. I told her I needed something for the pain. The contractions were so painful that I could no longer concentrate to breathe or count through them. I had been doing pretty well with counting through them but it was getting to be too much. Mentally I told myself that if I were only 6 cm dilated at this point, I would asked for the epidural but if I was any more, I would just get some pain medication that would take the edge off. With these meds, you can still feel everything and it's still pretty painful, just not debilitating. Good news---when they checked I was already 8cm!! 

Another check at 7:00pm showed I was 9.5cm and about ready to start pushing. The nurse said that sometimes the contractions feel better if you let yourself push through them and she was right. I started pushing lightly at this point and around 7:30, I was full on pushing. I personally liked pushing on my side way more than on my back, I felt like I could really make some progress in that position. I pushed on both sides for a little while before Dr. J came back in the room. He positioned me on my back and started getting suited up for Operation Baby Henley! She was on her way!

I pushed for about an hour, at 8:27pm Henley Nicole was born. It wasn't pain-free and it wasn't a "feel good" moment physically but I really feel blessed that I progressed so quickly. There were moments during the labor where I was crying and begging someone to just get her out! I was screaming at times and grunting at other times and there may have been some colorful language but I wouldn't trade any part of my experience for anything else in the world. I am thrilled I didn't need the epidural.

When she was born, she was alert and immediately placed on my chest for an hour of skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. She latched immediately and I got to see her awake and alert. She nursed for a full 30 minutes. I love that my hospital has the "Golden Hour" of skin to skin contact for baby and family to bond. I love that she was so willing to nurse right away and I think the Golden Hour really contributes to that bonding time.

My husband and I were there in awe of this little life. We made this little human and she is perfect!

I think that's everything---let's hope I didn't miss anything (unlikely, this post is massive!) :-)

Mere :-)