Usually when I'm getting ready to write a blog entry I will take a few minutes, look at the photos I've uploaded to use, and dive right in to composing my thoughts. Sunday usually seems to the be day of the week when I end up posting because there's usually a little more leisure time to get it done. I'm starting this entry on Saturday morning, with only hopes that I'll have it finished by tomorrow night. I sit here, looking at the photos that Will and I have taken over the last few days, and immediately my thoughts just turn into a whirlwind of emotions, reviewing every detail I can remember of the most important week of my life. I can't imagine how I'm ever going to capture all this using nothing more than the letters on my keyboard.
During my last blog entry I talked about our recent visits to the doctor, talks of induction, and our hesitation about that. On Monday, October 25th, Will & I returned to the OB office for another US to check on Henry and to see Dr. Woodall. Everything looked great on exam and on Henry's US. Again, talk of induction arose because we were slowly but surely creeping upon the 42 week mark. As much as I wanted to avoid induction, I knew that I would not want to go past 42 weeks because of increased risks for Henry- so an induction was scheduled for Thursday, October 28th, when I would have been 41 weeks 6 days pregnant. On Mondays visit, however, Dr. Woodall discovered that my cervix had further dilated over the weekend and that I was 80-90% effaced- this was very good news. I was hoping for some progression. Will and I, over the weekend, had walked and walked around the neighborhood, hoping to move things along. I had intermittent contractions Saturday but nothing steady. On Sunday night I had contractions about once every hour but they never got any closer. I had a feeling that Henry would come on his own without any help and the doctor even said that she didn't think I would make it to the induction. But with an induction scheduled, we left the office knowing that by the end of the week we would be meeting our son, one way or another.
Monday evening at about 4pm I began having some mild but regular contractions. One every 30-45 minutes or so. In the beginning they definitely got my attention but I could still function through them. Later that night I was unable to talk while they were occurring. I told Will to go ahead and go to bed, get some sleep so at least one of us would be rested, and I set up camp in the living room. I knew we would be headed to the hospital by the next day. I spent the night timing contractions, on all fours, working through the physical pain of what I knew was bringing me closer to meeting our son. I woke Will up the next morning around 6:30 or so. He was ready to take me to the hospital, but I was not ready yet. As he mentioned in his blog post, my greatest fear as a nurse was to get to the hospital and then be sent back home because I hadn't progressed far enough. So we both took showers, he ate breakfast and walked the dogs, and we waited. The contractions got closer and at about 9:30 I told Will that I was ready to go to the hospital. I had been in labor for about 17 hours at this point. He quickly obliged and off we went.
Once we arrived and got checked in, my nurse did a cervix check. I was already dilated to 5cm- whew! I had also decided, by this time, that I was ready to eat my own words about not getting an epidural. My sister in law, Robyn, had both my niece and my nephew without any meds. Let me just say, after experiencing labor, that I cannot express how hardcore I now know that she is. I was just exhausted from the contractions, so the staff proceeded with IV line, epidural, monitors- the works. Once the epidural kicked in, it was an entirely different experience. Will and I spent the next several hours talking and he took so many amazing photos to help us remember our day. Henry's day.
Later that evening Dr. Osburn broke my water when I was dilated to 8cm. The nurses changed shifts, and the night shift nurse arrived. I knew Julie would be the nurse who welcomed Henry into the world. I loved her. She and the other nurse, Keisha, who took care of us that night were absolutely amazing. At about 9pm Julie checked my cervix and said that I was fully dilated. We were ready to begin "laboring down" (pushing some during contractions to move Henry down the birth canal) and then, once things progressed, she would call Dr. Osburn. I didn't feel any pain at all during this process, which totally amazes me. It was amusing to watch from my perspective. I couldn't see what was going on down there, but I would see Julie say "Will, look!" as she showed him Henry's head making brief appearances while I pushed. Will's face was amazing and just glowed with excitement. If I hadn't already been sure he was going to be the best father ever, I would have known it for sure then.
Dr. Osburn was called to the delivery room at about 9:30pm. It seemed so surreal to see her come in and gown up- ready to bring our son out into the world. There was no turning back now! So we started to push, and push, and push. Will was amazing. He supported my neck, held my left leg, and absolutely looked like a kid at Christmas. Dr. Osburn discovered that Henry was in a face up position in the birth canal, which can make delivery much harder. We also saw that he was beginning to have some significant drop in his heart rate while I was pushing. I couldn't see the drops on the monitor, but I could hear every one of them (curse of a medical background) and it was terrifying. I could see Dr. Osburn change gears- every decision she made was with a sense of urgency. I knew we had to get him out- and quickly. There is NOTHING that will motivate you to push like hearing your son's heart rate dropping on a monitor, and knowing that if you don't get him out, it could be very very bad. I pushed like my life depended on it- because baby Henry's life did depend on it. They told me later that with babies in that position it usually takes 3 hours of pushing to get them out. We pushed for 25 minutes.
It was amazing to see him for the first time. It's impossible to describe the sense of immense relief that we both felt when we saw him, and heard him cry for the first time. He was here. He was healthy. We could breathe again. Since it was so late at night we didn't have to worry about visitors, and Will and I spent the next several hours just staring at our son. Amazing. We're still doing it, as I'm sure all new parents do.
I don't think the reality of being parents hits until you get home. You walk in the door, look at each other, look at the baby, and think "Holy Crap, what do we do now?". Henry has shown us. He has taken the lead role in this expedition, and has shown us what he needs and when he needs it. Sometimes we're a little slow, and it takes us a minute to figure it out, but eventually we catch on. Will has been amazing since we got home- cooking, laundry, and just basically taking care of me while I take care of Henry. I can't imagine doing this without him by my side. And the way he just beams when he looks at our son- that makes my heart melt.
So I'm going to post a link to the photos that Will and I took, for any of you who want to see more than the ones posted here. As I said, they are amazing photos. Will couldn't have done a better job capturing the most important experience of our lives.
Click HERE to go to the complete photo album. Here are a few of my favorites. OK, OK, maybe more than a few...