A Birth Story: Bringing Henrik into the World

It's been a week since giving birth to Henrik and I'm already having a hard time remembering all the details. Though, certain things I can recall as vividly as if I were watching it on a screen. No one can prepare you for what it will be like to give birth for the first time. And the reality is - it's a good thing you don't know exactly what you're going to go through or the anxiety leading up to the event would be horrific. Anyways, here is Huck's birth story...

I woke up Saturday morning, January 19, 6 days overdue. I had been having contractions on and off for the past few days. Around 9 or 10 in the morning I started having mild contractions again and at that point they never stopped. Within an hour or two they were coming fairly regularly and I knew this was the start of the real thing. I did some last minute cleaning and packing and we got everything all ready to head to the hospital whenever that time would come. Surprisingly, the day passed pretty quickly and I continued to have contractions about 5-7 minutes apart lasting from 40 seconds to over a minute. By evening I was getting a little impatient that things weren't progressing. The contractions would start getting closer together for an hour or so and then they'd back off again. I knew it would be pointless to go to the hospital before things were really in motion. I definitely did not want to go only to be sent home.

Around 7 PM we took a brisk walk up and down our street and then decided to head over by the hospital and hit up Starbucks to kill a little more time. Devin tried to distract me as I sipped my green tea and religiously timed contractions. I was SO ready to get this show on the road. Finally we decided to just go in and hope for the best. Once we got to the hospital we were put in a triage room and I was monitored and checked for an hour to see where things were at. I was dilated 4 when we got there and by the end of the hour was at 5 and having much stronger contractions. They officially checked us in and we moved to our labor and delivery room.

I got settled in with some music and spent the next chunk of time on the birthing ball. The contractions were every few minutes and painful enough that when they came, I couldn't do anything but focus and breathe. This went on for an hour or so and our nurse, Megan, came in to check my progress. I was 6 when she checked me and my water still hadn't broken. The contractions were painful enough that I was starting to wonder if no epidural was still the best choice and Megan suggested she could break my water and that would a) speed things up and b) make the contractions stronger giving me an idea of if I wanted to continue as planned. I was anxious to speed things along so I told her to go ahead and break my water. She did, and mentioned something about a thick sac so it probably would have been awhile before it ruptured on its own.

Within about 5 minutes of my water being broken, things started to get a little crazy. The contractions got a ton stronger and after about 40 minutes I was screaming for Devin to get the nurse. She checked me again and I was already past 8 centimeters. I made a final decision to stick with my natural birth plan and we moved forward. At this point we had been at the hospital for about 4-5 hours. Despite the crazy painful contractions I felt good about how quickly things were moving.  But then we hit a rough patch...it took another hour of the worst pain to get me from 9 to 10 centimeters. This hour makes me cringe...the contractions were telling my body to push but I couldn't yet. I've never breathed so much and so forcefully in my life. Devin said at this point I went into another world and was pretty much unresponsive until the birth (except for agreeing to the sips of water he would give me in between contractions). The baby's head was crowing and ready to go, but we had to wait on this last little part of my cervix to dilate. Longest hour of my life.

Megan and Devin tried to help by telling me about all the dark hair they were seeing on the head but if I'm being honest, that didn't really motivate me. As much as I'd like to say the only thing that kept me going was remembering I was about to meet my child, it wasn't. The only thing running through my head was that I had to keep going because it was the only way to end the pain. My thoughts were more like, "great, lots of dark hair, who cares, get this thing out of me". How's that for honesty? :)

At this point I should break to plug for our nurse. Megan was awesome. I had been told sometimes nurses don't want to deal with people doing natural birth and this wasn't our experience at all. She was so supportive and spent the last couple hours with us just coaching me through the contractions. I'm so thankful we had her as a nurse. But back to the story...

Finally she said I was fully dilated and ready to push. In our birth class the instructor had said how pushing is a relief from the pain and I remember wondering how that was possible, but it was definitely true. It was such a huge relief to push through the contraction and not feel the pain (keep in mind I'm not saying pushing was enjoyable). It took me about 4 contractions to really figure out what I was doing when it came to pushing. Once I got the hang of it I kind of expected to have the baby any time. I couldn't figure out why she wasn't bringing the doctor in to deliver. After about a half hour, about 4:30 AM, she called the on-call doctor and said we were ready to deliver, which was music to my ears. Thankfully I didn't realize I was about to experience the worst part of the whole deal...

I can't remember how many pushes it took before his head came out. All I can say is pushing out sweet Henrik's head was absolutely excruciating . I felt like one of those women on TV birth stories - screaming my head off. When his head came out, the contraction had ended so I was left to just sit in the pain. I informed everyone I had to get this baby out, to which they replied I had to wait for the next contraction. Seriously the most painful moments of my life (in case I hadn't mentioned that yet). Finally the next contraction came, I pushed twice more and the rest of his body (along with what seemed like gallons of fluid/blood) slid out easily at 4:46 AM.

At that point I looked up as the doctor held up my baby and I quickly saw it was a boy. Which, once again, I was still a little distraught by the whole thing to process that fact. I think I was just in shock when they laid a slimy, screaming Henrik on my chest. I was relieved and in awe it was actually my baby, but it wasn't really the picturesque moment I thought it would be. This was probably due to the fact that the placenta didn't come right away so the doctor started pushing on my stomach to urge it out - which did not feel nice. And then right after that the doctor gave me this look like "I hate to tell you this, but..." and informed me I had torn badly in two different places. A third degree tear she said, which didn't mean much to me until she explained the extent of it. So the next 45 minutes or so was spent getting stitched up - a part that wouldn't have been a big deal had I gotten an epidural, but let's just say the local anesthetic she gave me did almost nothing. They tried to give Henrik back to me after they cleaned him off, but I was too distracted from all the stitching. Like I said, not exactly the picturesque moment of meeting your child.

 Despite all of the hard parts, overall I'm very thankful. Labor moved quickly once it really got started and I was able to stick to my original birth plan. Not to mention I have a healthy baby and my recovery has been good as well. I can't say I'm anxious to have another kid again anytime soon - or ever - and I find myself being in awe of people that keep putting themselves through this. (Probably doesn't help I'm running on very low sleep these days and that never leads to rational thinking.) I'm not sure I'll ever sign up for natural birth again...but who knows, I hear these memories of labor and the sleepless first weeks that follow fade substantially. They must, otherwise why would anyone have more than one kid? Or who knows, maybe I'm just a big wimp. :)

Oh and to finish up - we really did have the best hospital experience. The nurses, lactation consultants, really everyone we worked with was kind and helpful. I'm so thankful for the support of all these strangers during those two and half days!



16 comments:

Rachel said...

Oh my, Emily. I am in pain just reading your story! But I loved reading it :) Good job on sticking to your birth plan--it takes an amazingly strong woman to do that. I can't wait to see more pictures of sweet Henrick!

L, Ann and boys said...

Girl I hear you loud and clear. :) I try real hard to be one of those moms that bite their tongue when I get the dumb idea to expound on the intensity of labor to a first time mom about to have her baby. Such a bad idea as there is no way to convey it and it will probably be different for that mama anyway. :) But yours sounds strangely familiar to how things went with Noah. I didn't push as long, which was nice and fast, but the doc didn't make it to rotate the baby correctly which caused a minor internal tear-so I feel ya there. And the stitches were THE WORST part of the whole thing. I made the doc stop until the anesthetic kicked in better it was so bad. The adrenaline had wore off a little so the sharp pain of it was too much. After waiting on me to cooperate...I had lost so much blood I passed out trying to get up and use the bathroom (I've never peed that long...I don't know how much fluid they pumped into me...but I probably needed it if I was passing out from low blood pressure). And then the sweet bonding time with Noah...I did hold him for a little bit before going into a hibernation like sleep for several hours totally unaware of the world around me-except for a sweet nurse who had suddenly turned evil and kept pushing down on my stomach so hard I thought I might hit her. She was a great nurse.

So there you go, now that it's over you may hear more gore from other moms. ;) The second baby was a breeze compared to the first as an encouragement of some kind (no time for an epidermal though I may have considered it)...and was not entirely planned if that helps shed some light on why a mama like me repeats the whole thing 18 months later. ;) ;)

Thanks for the birth story. I was drinking my afternoon tea and shaking my head in agreement as I read through it. :)

Andria

Heather Hoerr said...

thanks for sharing your story Em! so glad you got to stick to your plan, even if it was extremely painful! not sure how reading all this makes me feel about having baby #2 before long... I'm a little scared, even though I've done it before. :)

Ashton said...

Phew. I probably shouldn't have read that considering the fact that I'm a month and a half away from having to go through it. And I don't have the luxury of being blissfully unaware of how bad it will hurt since this is baby #2.:) Despite what everyone says, I still remember it quite well. But yes, these little people are more than worth it. And your little Henrik is so perfect.

Joy said...

Thanks for sharing! I love your honesty! Maybe if someone would have told me how awful and painful it is to have a baby without an epidural, I wouldn't have done it. Your story is very similar to Jacki's birth story. With Jayla, it was easy, due to the epidural. I will be having an epidural if we have another one. I tell everyone it's so worth it! Oh and the screaming...I screamed mulitple times while giving birth to Jacki!! And as for the husband, Jason said its a lot better when I have an epidural too. It's hard for our hubby's to see us in so much pain:)

Rebekah said...

Nothing makes we moms feel like more of a warrior than labor don't you think!?! I always find it so amusing that we never get tired of sharing our stories...and hearing about them!

I'm so glad you have a healthy baby and that recovery is going well!

Congratulations again! He's adorable!!

Sarah said...

Oh Emily, I AM CRINGING!!! You poor thing - it almost makes me want to cry!

Love your honesty and humor too (the dark hair thing cracked me up).

After E was born I told Klint, "NEVER. AGAIN."

I lied :)

You continue to be in my prayers!

Molly said...

Wow. I thought I knew that story, but I really learned a lot! Wimp is certainly not the word to describe you...Thanks for sharing this! Love you.

Christen Leigh said...

Wow--if I'd ever had any ambitions of wanting to have my kids without an epidural, this story was enough to talk me out of it! Ha! I am so glad you are recovering well and you have such a precious boy! :)

smw said...

i agree with rebekah. it's always fun to hear others' stories (and tell our heroic feats, as well). :) with smith, i was so not into holding him. it took me awhile to realize i wasn't responding like a proper mother because i wasn't taking him and just kept saying, "i'm SO glad that is over." :)

Sara Huber said...

Ah, felt a little on pins and needles even though I knew the story for the most part! So glad he's safely here.

Sandra said...

thanks for sharing!! Parts of your story sounded all to familiar. After E was born the worst was the stitches. I could feel it and all I wanted to do was close my legs and be done with someone "down" there:). And granted he was my fastest birth and easiest birth. Liam was the worst...back pain so bad I said Id have an epideral if I ever had another one!! Guess what...no epideral for sweet ellie either. But stitches for all of them and I totally hate the pain associated when they press on your stomach to get the placenta out....oh that makes me cringe thinking about it. Labor is rough, tough and yet....so worth it and if I have this correctly your body releases some hormone or somethign that helps you forget those labor pains. All God designed:). Adorable baby boy you have!!!
CONGRATS!!

Betsy said...

A shock back to reality of just how traumatic this event is. I remember asking someone about the pain before giving birth to Clive (I think it was Molly) and I asked, "Is it like really bad menstrual cramps?" HA!!

leah said...

thanks for sharing your story. i'm EXHAUSTED just reading it! oh. you poor thing! but i know that sweet little huck was worth it! love you friend!

Jill said...

So glad you wrote this story out, Emily! It sounds like you did such a good job...I have a ton of respect for you doing all of that without an epidural! I can definitely relate to the HOUR of stitching that had to take place after my delivery. Hope you are healing up ok! Congratulations again!!

bamiller said...

I found your blog from Jill's as I'm friends with she and Rachel through the Bible school. Saw you had a baby about the age of mine (my 2nd daughter was born January 25) so I began stalking to see what day your son was born. Just a few days earlier!

I've had both my girls without epidurals, and the second is so much easier! I had Sophie in a hospital and the transition period was much harder with her as well as I pushed for 3.5 hours!!! I was SO SICK of hearing, "Oh, she has lots of dark hair!" With Brielle, I had her at the birth center in Goshen, and transition was still not painless, but more bearable, and I only pushed for 25 minutes! I agree that it does stink to get stitched up with just a numbing shot though!

Congrats on your beautiful boy :) Motherhood is such a privilege and a learning experience.