So July was a big month for us. We closed on our house. We moved. I wrapped things up at work and survived the tail end of what was, honestly, a really delightful pregnancy.
And then, on August 2, we said hello to Henry.
There’s a long, drawn out story to read below – if you want the bullet points, here they are:
• He was born at 9:51 p.m.
• Labor was a beast and I had an epidural and there is no shame in my game.
• He weighed 6 lbs. 14 oz.
• He is absolutely the most beautiful baby ever to be born in any hospital.
I started having contractions around bedtime the night of August 1. Not at regular intervals and not more painful than I could handle – just occasional tightened-up feelings in my belly and back. I went to sleep thinking it would probably be a couple more days before things really got going.
And suddenly, it was 3:00 and I was wide awake, feeling significantly MORE tightened-up feelings and at far more regular intervals. The piece of paper hanging on my fridge told me to call the doctor when the contractions came every five minutes for at least an hour, so I opened up the Sprout app on my phone, hopped in the bathtub, and started timing.
After an hour of five-minutes-apart contractions, I woke Josh up to tell him I thought this might be it. We scrambled to finish packing our bags and I let my Mom know that she should probably get ready to start her drive down from Virginia soon. I called my doctor’s office, and the nurse who answered told me to stay at home for now, since I was still able to talk through the contractions, but to go ahead and plan on coming in to the office when they opened in the morning. I ate a Trader Joe’s pop-tart and tried to sleep some more, but that was pretty hopeless. I was too excited (and nervous) to close my eyes and rest.
Mom got to our house at around 7:00. We ate breakfast and hung around as calmly as possible while my contractions kept progressing. I called the doctor’s office back at around 9:00 and they told me to come on in.
I was pretty anxious heading to the office. What if I hadn’t progressed at all? What if they sent me home? Luckily, my doctor gave me a quick once-over and told me this was the real deal. I was 4cm dilated and 90% effaced – and so relieved that the contractions I’d been having all morning were getting some work done. We headed over to the hospital, where things got tougher (and tougher, and tougher).
The doctor came in to break my water, and my contractions quickly ramped up from mildly uncomfortable to the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I had to stay in bed for a long time — the nurses kept telling me they needed to monitor me for “20 more minutes,” which wound up lasting a few hours. I think having to stay still made my discomfort a lot worse than it would have been if I had been able to move around and use all the cool poses and positions we learned in our classes. Once I was allowed to move, I was too far gone to do anything other than sit in my rocking chair and make animal noises. I was out of my mind – I couldn’t talk or move or do anything other than try and survive the contractions. They were coming fast and furious – I was NOT getting the three minute breaks I was promised in childbirth class!
When the doctor came back in to check me, I hadn’t made nearly as much progress as I had hoped – and so I asked for an epidural. No second thoughts – I knew I needed help if I was going to survive this. Unfortunately, the epidural only worked halfway – meaning my legs were numb, but I could still feel every bit of every terrible contraction. I felt pretty hopeless at that point – completely unable to move AND in just as much pain as ever.
Luckily, something big happened then – the nurses had their shift change. Into my room breezed an angel named Meleena, who took one look at me and declared that none of this was going to work. Up until this point, my nurses had been scarce – pretty much only coming in to read the printouts from my monitors and change my towels. When Meleena showed up, she saw that we needed to make some changes, NOW. Her first move was to start rocking me back and forth to get Henry turned around into a better position. Unfortunately, my contractions were so intense that I threw up from the pain. When she realized I was still feeling my contractions that extremely, she called the anesthesiologist to give me more medicine. She tucked more warm blankets around me and told me things were going to be ok soon – and she was right. Within 15 minutes, the epidural was working (for real this time) and I was human again. I introduced myself to Meleena and pledged my undying love to her. Mom and Josh couldn’t believe the change – I know they were glad to see me back to myself again.
No more than 20 minutes after my miraculous transformation, Meleena checked me and told me we were ready to start pushing. Lucky for us, I was a pushing PRO. Three contractions later, Henry was crying and squirming in my arms, beautiful and healthy and hungry and the most perfect little thing I have ever seen in my life.