We welcomed our second son, Henry Owen, into our family on June 25, 2015. My pregnancy with Henry was a rough one and the last few weeks were some of the hardest! I began having contractions within a couple of days of the 36 week mark. They weren’t very strong, but they were coming regularly and frequently. Some days they would be 3 minutes apart and some days 10–they varied quite a bit, so I knew I wasn’t in active labor. At my 37 week appointment, we found that I was 1 cm dilated, 50% effaced and that Henry had dropped quite a bit. I continued to have contractions that entire week, and they progressively got stronger, though not yet painful. I had another cervical exam at my 38 week appointment, revealing that I was 4 cm dilated and 60% effaced–so at least my body was making some progress in all the discomfort! The hardest part about those three weeks wasn’t so much the discomfort of the contractions (and growing babe), but more the anticipation. We were on “baby watch” for several weeks and that just wears on you after a while! I resigned myself to believing he would just be here at the 40 week mark, so that I wasn’t disappointed night after night that I was still pregnant.
At 38 weeks and 2 days, we decided to head to the hospital because the contractions were not only becoming stronger, but also painful. I remember that Levi and I were at Target that evening and I had to stop dead in my tracks because of the pain. But, after a few hours at the hospital, even after walking around for a good hour, I still was not dilating any further. So, Brian and I endured the “walk of shame” home. Then at 38 weeks and 4 days, we headed back once again! We even went on a walk around the park before leaving, to time the contractions and make sure they were coming regularly and frequently. At every 2.5 minutes for 1 hour, we felt that warranted another hospital visit. I was 5 cm when we arrived, was monitored for an hour and walked the hospital again for an hour, but without any change, I was sent home yet again! We really thought that was going to be the night and we were very discouraged when we found there was nothing that could be done at that point but continue to wait.
On the morning of June 25th, when I was 38 weeks and 6 days, I woke up feeling completely exhausted. I had been having very strong contractions all night long, which kept me from sleeping very much or very comfortably. The contractions continued into the morning, but I didn’t think much of it because that was the norm for me! By lunchtime, I began to feel a noticeable difference in the level of pain and frequency. I texted Brian and let him know, “today might be the day,” which I’m sure he had difficulty believing, given our track record for the week. I told him to stay at work and we would continue to wait it out, knowing that he would be home by 3 PM anyway. By the time he arrived home, I was beginning to have trouble functioning through the pain, so we began making preparations to head to the hospital that evening. I called a couple of friends who I had “on call” to stay with Levi for the night, we ate dinner, and they came right over.
Our plan was to head to the mall first because I still was unsure if these were “the real thing”. They were really hurting and coming every 3 minutes, but I didn’t know if they were actually helping me to dilate at all, so I wanted to continue walking around a bit to assess things! Well, on our 10 minute drive to the mall, the contractions suddenly amped up–so much so that I was gripping the car door in pain. I told Brian to head straight to the hospital…there was no mistaking it now! Somehow we made it into triage at 6:30 PM, me doubled over in pain with every contraction. They got me situated in a room and a nurse came in to check me. She asked me how much I had progressed as of my last cervical exam, and I told her I was 5 cm and fully effaced. The look on her face was priceless. She said that by the look of the contractions and how I was handling them, she wouldn’t be surprised if I was 7-8 cm at that point. Sure enough, she checked me and I was at 7. Within 5 minutes they had my IV line in and they were transporting me to a delivery room! It was such a whirlwind of events.
When we arrived at the delivery room, a doctor from my practice (Dr. Graves, since Dr. Buck was out of town) was already there and waiting to see how I was doing! I felt like a VIP–you know, except for the fact that I was screaming out in pain. She asked me about my plan for an epidural and I told her I was playing it by ear, but that I really wanted to give natural birth a try since I was already 75% there. As they lifted me onto the delivery room bed, my water broke, and my contractions instantly intensified by double. Dr. Graves told me that she was going to check on another patient, but to tell a nurse immediately if I felt the urge to push. I think I probably looked at her like she was crazy. How was I supposed to know when I needed to push? Literally, with the next contraction (not more than 3 minutes later), I felt it. It was the most intense pressure and I instantly knew he was coming. I yelled at the nurse, who yelled for Dr. Graves, who wasn’t even halfway down the hallway yet! Sure enough, she checked me and I was completely dilated–not even 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital. The nurses were crazy fast to get the room set up for delivery, as I resisted the urge to push Henry out and squeezed the life out of Brian’s hand.
It was such a relief when Dr. Graves told me that I could start pushing. The pushing felt so much better than actually enduring the contraction, which seems so opposite of what you would think! Brian and the nurses were great coaches to me through it all. Within 3 contractions, Henry Owen was here at 7:26 PM! It was by far the most painful thing I’ve ever done, but when they placed him in my arms I [almost] forgot about it all.
Henry was perfect! Breathing and pink and everything you hope to see in a newborn! We were so relieved by that. Brian cut the umbilical cord and watched as the nurses assessed and weighed him. Everyone commented on how long and lean he was and how long his feet were! He weighed 8 lbs even and 21 inches. He looked just like our Levi. And we couldn’t have loved him more!
It was such a whirlwind of an hour–I’ll never forget it. Brian began texting family and friends a picture of Henry and everyone was shocked with how quickly things had gone. We were so thankful we didn’t go to the mall first, joking that he definitely would have been born there.
Overall, every single thing about this birth experience was different than Levi’s birth–and both were beautiful. I felt so empowered after Henry arrived, knowing that I had done it without any type of medical intervention or pain meds. I doubted whether I could do it, but because there was barely time to get an epidural in the first place, I really had no other option. Even though it was the most painful thing ever, it helped so much being able to feel the contractions and work with my body in delivering him. The recovery seemed so much faster as well, since I was able to stand immediately and didn’t have any swelling like I did with Levi. Would I do it again this way? Ask me next time I’m in labor!
Henry is 10 days old now and we are just so in love with him! He is a perfect addition to our family and is really a content little baby so far. Levi has been really sweet with his brother, always willing to help with him and give him kisses. So far, life with two kids has been hard! We are constantly partnering up to get each of them what they need–usually Brian helping Levi and me helping Henry. But we are reminded it is only for a season and will only continue to get easier with time!
We love you, our Henry Owen! So glad you decided to join our family–and in record time.