Warning: long entry ahead, but what kind of mommy blogger would I be without a birth story, esp. on my baby’s birthday? Come back later in the week if you’re looking for something other than the Henry channel.
The main event for last June 11, as far as we knew, was a visit from grandma and grandpa. Grandpa, with help from Dad and Will, built a new sandbox for Will, while Grandma and I enjoyed watching three generations of males wield hammers together.
The only notable event of the day was the amazing 50-yard sprint I did when I saw Will headed for a patch of poison ivy in the yard. I SO wish I had clocked it, I still can’t believe I ran that fast.
Grandma and Grandpa left for home in the late afternoon, and we headed inside. I felt a few contractions with some power behind them, but I’d had an overnight episode of pre-term contractions earlier in the week, and a pep talk from my midwife had assured me that contractions would be the norm until this baby arrived. And, in fact, she was right.
I parked myself on the couch, and downed a few glasses of water like the books tell you—”Contractions? You must be dehydrated.”
6:45 -7 p.m.
The contractions either subsided a bit or my powers of delusion were stronger than I realized, and I forged on with Will’s bath-and-bed routine while Brian took advantage of the remaining daylight to finish constructing the sandbox lid.
Did Will really used to go to bed this early? With Will in bed, I resumed my position on the couch, and waited for Brian to come in for dinner. I was on the phone with Melissa when I realized that I might want to start timing these contractions, the ones that had resumed at a pretty good clip and with some serious intensity.
I’m feverishly paging through a birth book, looking for something that will tell me I can have contractions this close together and still not have a baby tonight.
I find no evidence to support above theory. Contractions are now 2-3 minutes apart.
I call our midwife. Brian has no idea that I’m calling, because he is now upstairs with Will, coaxing him to sleep (guess 7:15 p.m. was too early after all.) I was fully expecting a “wait and see” reaction from the midwife, and instead she paused and said, “Why don’t you call someone to take care of Will and I’ll see you at the hospital.” I hung up, burst into tears and called Jon and Jenny, our dream team of Will caregivers, who had volunteered to do a trial run with Will the next night while we enjoyed an evening out.
With Will settled, Brian comes downstairs to finally eat dinner. I break the news to him that he has a bag to pack.
Still thinking this could be a false alarm, I puttered around, packing Will’s schoolbag and packing a hospital bag for me, and burst into a new round of tears when Jon and Jenny arrived what seemed like seconds after I called them.
Note dorky stopwatch on my left wrist. My contractions were now between 1-3 minutes apart. I hoped that if I had an accurate timer instead of the numberless wrist watch I usually wear, I’d like the results better. I was wrong.
Also note dorky multi-page document on the care and feeding of Will. Bless them, Jenny and Jon didn’t laugh when I handed them that manifesto.
We leave for the hospital. The contractions intensify to the point where I start to believe I will either have a baby tonight, or will die. Not sure which will happen first.
Exiting the highway and going down the hill towards the hospital, we are struck silent by the large, yellow full moon hanging low over the horizon. I asked Brian, “What IS today’s date?” Because I knew it wasn’t one of the dates I had anticipated for our baby’s birthday.
Contractions are now between 30 and 90 seconds apart. Once again, I have FAILED the first rule of when to come to the hospital, “When you’ve been contracting for one hour at five minutes apart.” What, I wonder idly, are the rules for people like me, who start at less than four minutes apart? We go through the maze of hallways to Labor & Delivery, and the intensity of the contractions reduces me to a crawl. I fully expect to be That Pregnant Lady Who Made It To The Hospital In Time Only To Give Birth Unattended In The Hallway Overlooking The Cafeteria.
Okay, I think I can walk again. Why do they have Labor & Delivery SO FAR FROM THE CAR? Any one who has ever delivered at this hospital will agree with me, I am sure.
I’m led to a bed in triage, walking bent over at the waist and trying not to lay down in the hallway. TRIAGE! Do they think I am FAKING these contractions? Did they not SEE ME CRAWLING on the security cameras outside the door to the unit? Of course they did, they are all just laughing too hard to come get me and bring me to a delivery room.
After a few minutes (or millennia, I can’t remember which) on the monitors there, they actually believe I am going to have a baby soon and I am ushered down the hall to my labor and delivery room. I keep what little dignity I have left, and DO NOT CRAWL.
Mostly a big blur (I could only get through the contractions with my eyes closed), punctuated by my midwife telling the anesthesiologist, never mind, that I would be having this baby in 15 minutes. I distinctly remember wanting to be part of this conversation, but I was TOO BUSY CLOSING MY EYES. This blurry time ended with my midwife asking if she could break my water. I remember thinking how awfully polite she was about it, and I thought maybe I should stop yelling in her ear quite so loudly.
HOLY BANANAS NOW I KNOW WHY SHE ASKED IF SHE COULD BREAK MY WATER. Because that should be a felony. Everything leading up to this moment was just a dress rehearsal, contractions to talk about at a cocktail party. My entire body is just one big, excruciating contraction, and it is crystal clear to me that this contraction will not cease until this baby is out.
And so, I pushed three times, working harder than I’ve ever done anything in my life, and our little blue Henry arrived.
Oxygen at birth helped turn him pink. We didn’t yet know how much more support he would need.
Looking pretty good at ten minutes old!
Happy birthday, baby boy. We love you.
The rest of Henry’s newborn story, from NICU to home: