a baby story: henry's day

In lieu of a good friend's Facebook status of an awesome quote on strong women (Hi, Kellye!) I finally decided to write Hen's birth story.

For those of you who don't like birth stories, you don't have to read this. For those of you semi-interested, no worries, there's no placenta pictures attached (or any crazy (well, I can't promise that), gory (I can promise that) details, promise).

I just thought I'd finally write down Henry's story before I forgot, or before I start exaggerating the details. And maybe my friends would want to know? But mostly so I don't forget.

Also, the day happened pretty perfectly. We are super grateful that Henry came so smoothly and safely.


On President's Day, Feb. 20, Ryan and I made a trip out to Ikea and Target, got a few more things to organize Henry's baby clothes and other items, and by the end of the day I was done. I hadn't had that "done" feeling yet, but that night, I felt it. I was 37 weeks along (technically full term), I had dialated to a 1 at my last appt. (which doesn't really mean anything, but hey, I was hopeful) and I decided then that I'd like Henry to come soon/now. I'm grateful I decided that I wanted to try a new restaurant in our neighborhood that night. Who knew El Pelon (and their amazing fish tacos) would be our last date as just the two of us? I have instas of my fish tacos, and of some DC mementos (I *tried* to do some organizing, but that didn't really happen)--the last pictures of our Henry-less life!

On Feb. 21 around 3 am I woke up to contractions. I had random Braxton-Hicks contractions late in the game, but never any sort of pattern (at least I didn't think so). I had a feeling this was the real deal, but knew that the contractions could come and go so I tried to go back to sleep and see if I could wait them out that way. Thirty minutes later I was up and knew that going back to sleep probably wasn't going to happen.

So I called my mom. And told her (in a totally round-about way (hey, it was 3 in the morning)--sorry mom!) that I was having contractions and for her to keep her phone close by just in case this was the real deal. Also, I woke up Ryan and said, "Hey, I'm having contractions and I'm pretty sure our baby is going to be born today. But go back to sleep." I probably should have let him sleep, but surprisingly, he went back to sleep pretty quickly (it was just a test for the billion times he's gotten up in the middle of the night to get Henry or to say 'hi' as I feed Henry, and then fall back asleep--he's a keeper for sure).

I'm a little blurry on the specifics for a bit after that, but I took a shower (sidenote: I'm a quick shower-taker. So I was in there for what seemed to be forever and it was maybe 20 minutes.) and watched a little Parks and Rec. The one with Andy Samberg as the park ranger. Best cure for discomfort ever. I laughed my head off and almost woke Ryan up. I also called my mom again and had her book her flight. Spoiler, she didn't get there in time. Apparently Henry wanted a smaller audience? Next time we'll just have my mom stay with us for a month or something.

Around 6 Ryan got up and ready for the day. He had class at 9:15 and I had an 9 am drs appointment with the girls at work was throwing me a baby shower around 11. I thought at least Ry could go to class and that maybe I'd call him if we needed to go to the hospital before it was over, so I kept telling Ryan to get ready for the day and not worry about me (which of course he was the whole time anyway), but as time got closer and the contractions got harder, we both knew that wasn't going to be happening.

At about 7 am, I called the doctor as the contractions were around seven to nine minutes apart (btw, timing contractions when you've never had them before and when you don't really know when they start/stop? interesting...) and she said to call back at about five minutes apart (which, ok, I knew that, but still, I had to call. Give a heads up, ya know?). Called back at five minutes apart and she said that since we lived so close, if I could wait until they were three and then go. Which I did. I'm pretty sure all up in my notes it said that I wanted a natural birth, so in my mind I'm thinking that they were thinking, if this girl is crazy enough to go all natural, let's have her wait as long as possible so that she can't even think about pain meds. Or they were just thinking that it was going to take forever and they didn't want to have to worry about me.

Either way, I waited and I'm grateful that I was in the comfort of my home (not really. I mean, it wasn't comfy. Comfy + childbirth doesn't really work, ya know? But it was definitely better than being at the hospital, that's for sure.)

Around 8 am I decided finally to go in. I was really trying to stay at home as long as possible but I didn't want to go in too late either. I kinda didn't think I was going to make it there in one piece, and I definitely had to stop in the middle of our building's lobby to get on all fours as a contraction hit, but I made it. Ryan helped wheel me up to L&D, but then had to go park the car, so I was left alone for a few minutes. Those may have been some of the hardest minutes--I needed a partner!

First off, I had to sign a few things before being admitted. Not on the top of my list of things I want to do while in labor. Although it was kind of fun putting the date on everything and realizing, 2/21/2012--that's a lot of 2's and 1's in our baby's birthdate!

 Next up, the triage room. I put the gown on, the nurse hooks up the heart rate monitor on me, I'm in pain, and then the nurse keeps leaving because there are (2 maybe?) people in more pain than me coming onto the floor. I make her check me and she tells me I'm at a 5 and that's good because the next 5 cm are supposed to go faster than the first 5. She also breaks my water for me. Apparently it was already broken (no wonder it felt like I was about to go to the bathroom every time I had a contraction in the last hour or so), but now the contractions really hurt. I'm awkwardly shifting in the bed/standing up/ on all fours, and then I throw up (I later learned this is semi-common when transition (aka right before you start to push) starts). And the nurse wasn't even there. Off to help another girl. And I think Ryan was a bit freaked out. He was trying to wipe up this weird vomit and help me look semi-presentable, but I didn't even care. Also, one of the doctor's from my doctor's practice came to check on me, but left to go into surgery with another girl and was expecting to deliver me later in the day. I should have had her check me again, but alas.

Finally, the nurse says that I can go to another room (which, to the hospital's credit, I think they were setting up when I got there, and I'm sure the other girls who were in labor had more serious conditions than I did, it just stunk that I was in a lot of pain and it wasn't that I just couldn't handle the pain--it was that I was quickly dilating and no one seemed to notice). Right as we start walking to the room I feel this weird urge. Like Henry was about to fall out of me (if only it were that easy!). I said, "I feel like I need to push. I feel like I need to push…" so I got to the room, a dr. checked me, and I was at a 10 and ready for action.

Forty minutes later, a baby was born! (That's right, I'm going to leave out the pushing non-sense. It was hard. And painful. And in order to see our baby it had to get even more painful? Craziness.)

It took about 7 hours start to finish and without the use of an epidural. Actually, I think it's pretty good that I wasn't planning on getting one--he came so fast that the nurses didn't have time to draw my blood or prick me or anything. And another soap-box moment--giving birth was really hard. But I read in a book--I think the Bradley Method--about what your body is doing that makes the contractions (and all the other crazy things your body does in those final moments of baby-prepping) happen and decided that knowing that and visualizing that would help me look through the pain and focus on how to best get Henry safely here. For all you one-day mamas (or one-day again :), maybe that will help? I loved giving birth naturally and knowing that my body did all this on its own, but I also realize that my story may be a lot different (and faster) than a lot of others, too.

And that quote from a friend?

"We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful; it's that women are strong." - Laura Stavoe Harm


Oh, Henry. We love you. You went from basketball-in-my-stomach to baby.


  1. and we're so glad he's here! hen's lucky to have such a strong mama. i love you and your birth story.

  2. Great story, glad you got to go quickly and without an epidural, but has a very experienced labor nurse I need to clarify that term is not until you have reached 38 weeks, if you go into labor at 37 they won't stop you but you are not term. This is by ACOG- American Academy of Gynecologist.

  3. Good to know, Kay! I'll make sure I note that in the story. I do remember them telling me that he could act like a preemie or a full-term baby, and we're so grateful he latched on and didn't need any extra care.

  4. I actually love reading other people's birth stories...so thanks for sharing!

  5. What a great birth story!!! Sounds like you really got the birth you wanted, and that is the most important part. Good job mama!


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