It ‘s been almost one month since we had Henry, so I wanted to share the story and photos of how he arrived. While this is incredibly personal, it was one of the best days of our lives and I am excited to share. Reading other people’s birth stories and watching their videos helped me feel so prepared and excited, so I hope that in sharing, someone else will feel the same!
Our incredible photographer, Lindsay McCrea, took these photos for us. I listened to the background song on repeat while in labor, so I figured it was fitting for the video. There were times when I felt so weak and this song carried me through.
If you are interested in the details of Henry’s birth, the complete story is below under the video!
Henry’s Birth Story
On Thursday morning, August 22nd, two days after my due date, I woke up around 6 am with contractions. They were between 30 seconds and a minute long, every few minutes, but not super consistent. I knew we probably still had quite a bit of time, so I told Tommy to go to work and I’d call him if anything happened. I went on a long walk with Finley and things really picked up. I had to stop several times because they were strong enough that walking was super uncomfortable. I called Tommy to let him know and he came home. I paced around our first floor for several hours during the contractions. I was uncomfortable but so excited that things were beginning, and hopeful that we would be meeting our son either that evening or the next morning.
We called our doula, Meredith, and she said to continue to labor at home but make sure all of our bags were packed and ready. She obviously told us there was no way of knowing for sure, but based on my contractions she thought we’d probably be heading to the hospital that night or the next morning. Little did we know, it would be two more days before we met Henry! Tommy and I then went for a long walk on the track at the local high school and stopped every few minutes so I could breathe through the contractions. I was determined to get this baby out!
Around 6 PM, the contractions stalled for a while and then were on and off, very inconsistent. I was only able to get about one hour of sleep that night because I was so uncomfortable. I was in and out of the bath, on and off of the birthing ball, and pacing around our house. I wasn’t having contractions but there was so much pressure. The next morning, we decided to grab a coffee and stop by my parents. My sister was in town for the week waiting for Henry’s birth! We stopped by before our 41 week Non Stress Test and Ultrasound appointment. While we were at their house, the contractions started again and I couldn’t sit still. This time, I knew they weren’t going to stop. They were stronger than the day before and more consistent. We headed home to grab our bags (just in case! Thank goodness!) and off to St. Joes.
When we got to our appointment, I could barely sit in the waiting room because things had picked up so much. The receptionist asked me if everything was ok with a funny look on her face. I told her I was in labor, and she looked at me like, “Why the heck are you here then?”. We went back for the fetal monitoring (non stress test) first and the tech told us she was impressed by my contractions and that I was indeed in labor (ha!). I couldn’t see the monitor, but Tommy could from where he was sitting and every time the contractions started he would look at me like, “uh oh, it’s starting!” Then, we went in for our ultrasound and the lady had to pause several times during my contractions. It was pretty cool to see my uterus contracting around baby Henry on the screen. The sonographer also advised that we head to Labor and Delivery!
When we got out of the appointment, we called Meredith. Our plan was to labor at home as much as possible. I wanted the least amount of interventions possible, so we knew that by laboring at home, it increased my chances of a natural birth. At the beginning of our call, Meredith advised us to head home, eat some lunch and then come back when things picked up more. She then heard me breathe through a contraction. I couldn’t talk at this point. She then changed her mind and said, just go grab some lunch somewhere in Towson and go back to labor and delivery. I started another contraction, and she said “I’m changing my mind again, head down to the food court, grab some lunch, and then back up to labor and delivery.”
We got off the phone and my contractions were so strong that I told Tommy there was no way I could go into the food court, everyone would stare at me. So he grabbed his truck and we went to the Mcdonald’s drive through. I swear anyone who caught a glimpse of me in the car probably thought there was something seriously wrong!!
When we got back to St. Joes, we headed into triage and I was checked by one of the midwives, Julia! I had switched providers at 38 weeks, so I never had a chance to meet all the midwives, but Julia was one of the three I had met! It was so nice to see a familiar face. I was 4 cm dilated when she checked me. We then made our way back to the delivery room around 2PM. I was so thankful the room with the birthing tub was available! I also was super thankful that my SIL’s college roommate, Bri, who is a L&D nurse at St. Joes was working that night and got to be our nurse!!!! (She’s phenomenal— she stayed three hours after her shift to wait for Henry to be born!!)
I paced around the room for a while until Meredith arrived. She coached me through the contractions on the birthing ball, bed, toilet, with the rebozo, and then finally in the tub. The tub was AMAZING! I felt soooo much relief immediately!! I stayed in there pretty much until 1am, when I decided I wanted to be checked again. I got in bed, and the midwife, Gigi ( also incredible!!), checked me. I was only at 4.5 cm. My doulas had told me so many times that dilation doesn’t mean much. I could go from 4 to 10 in the matter of minutes and even if I hadn’t dilated more, progress was still being made. BUT, at this point, I was just so incredibly exhausted and uncomfortable and really needed rest. I hadn’t gotten much sleep the two nights prior while I was in labor at home, and after talking it over, I decided to go ahead and get an epidural to manage the pain and help me get some sleep.
We rested for the next several hours and in the morning they checked me again and I was only at 5cm. At this point, I was so frustrated and ready to meet Henry! So, they suggested to break my water. I was hesitant because as I mentioned earlier, I really wanted the least amount of intervention possible. We talked it over with Meredith and she told us all the pros and cons of having my waters broken. I decided to go ahead with it and immediately I felt an incredible amount of relief. For me, this ended up being exactly what my body needed to progress.
Within an hour, I declared Henry was coming out and I NEEDED TO BE CHECKED IMMEDIATELY! haha! They all looked at me like “ok, ok, just hold on, he’s probably not coming out!” But I knew something had changed. Eliza, the new midwife came in and checked me, and I was at 9cm! Almost time to push!! I have absolutely no sense of the timing of all this, but when she came back it was around 8:05am and I began pushing. Meredith was incredibly helpful in this. She helped me pull on the rebozo while pushing and this made such a difference! Tommy was so encouraging and held my hand the whole time, cheering me on. Something I’m very thankful for is that the epidural had worn off enough that I could feel enough to know when to push. I could still feel everything and felt completely in control, which was so important to me.
At 8:31am, just 25 minutes later, I gave a final push and Henry was OUT! I went to pull him on my chest and Eliza said “Wait don’t pull!” His umbilical cord was so short! Like 6 inches long! It only reached to my lower abdomen! All I remember from this moment was crying and saying , “My baby! My baby!” I couldn’t see him yet, but all I can remember is that he grabbed onto my finger and held it so tight (our photographer, Lindsay got an amazing photo of this) I got to hold him and do skin-to-skin for nearly two hours before they weighed him, did his measurements, etc. It was pure bliss! They truly followed everything I requested on my birth plan and I am so thankful for that. Those first few hours were absolutely GLORIOUS! Eliza asked me how big I thought he was and I said, 8lbs, 13oz to which she replied, “No way!! I’m thinking 7ish pounds!!!” She headed off to another delivery and when she came back and they had measured, she couldn’t believe how big he was and that my guess was so close! Momma knows best I guess ;)
My mom and sister then came in and we all admired sweet Henry and cried together! Those are some of my favorite photos. They make me tear up every time I see them!
Although they were some of the toughest, these fews days and Henry’s birthday were 100% the best days of my life. Everything about my birthing experience was amazing and more than I could’ve hoped for. I felt so supported by the team of nurses, midwives, our doula, and of course, Tommy. Obviously a lot of things didn’t go as I planned, but that’s the nature of birth! The team surrounding me made me feel so empowered and strong, and I am so thankful that I could step into my new role as a mom on this note.
Here are a few of the photos I took from henry’s first 48 hours. It’s crazy how much his little face has already changed! It was so swollen and chubby when he was first born!