Sunday, January 27, 2013

Henry's birth story, part four: the arrival

(Please note: there are birth photos in this post, including some of Henry with some gunk on him. You have been warned! And check out parts one, two and three, if you haven't already.)

Getting to my own room was quite a relief. However, by this time, I barely knew where I was. The contractions were close together and so, so painful. It was all I could do to get through them!

After getting set up in my bed, hooked up the blood pressure cuff and the stupid NST monitors (I say stupid because, well, they became ridiculously annoying as my contractions increased in intensity and became closer together. My stomach would tighten up to an inconceivable point, and the straps for the monitors seemed to make each contraction worse.), my nurse decided to check me again. It was about 12:10 p.m. And I was dilated to 8cm.

I looked at my nurse and said, "It's too late for an epidural, isn't it?"

For the life of me, I cannot recall how she responded.

Soon after I got in my room, my mom came in to check on me. She stayed for a few minutes, but during my next contraction she headed back out to the waiting room (which was fine by me!! She stresses me out a bit...). My friend and photographer had also arrived by this time, and she was posted up by the entrance to the room.

I continued laboring in bed, hooked up to the NST monitors, for the next twenty minutes.

So that's why the rails are there... for gripping the shit out of.
During that time, my nurse hooked another bag of something up to me. I didn't know until after she had it going that it was Fentanyl. My doctor came in at that point as well, and told me that it would help to relax me during contractions, but wouldn't help with the pain of contractions. That seems useless, right? But apparently my doc thought I was tensing up too much during contractions, and wanted to try to get me to relax somehow.

The Fentanyl made me sleepy in between contractions. I would shut my eyes, and then open them to Buster saying, "Keep your eyes open! Focus on me." I did not understand for the life of me why I couldn't shut my eyes in between contractions! I got a little mad at him, but there wasn't much time to be upset. I think it freaked him out when I shut my eyes. I guess he wanted me to focus on the task at hand.

At 12:30 p.m., I told my nurse that I needed to push. She decided to check me again, and all that remained of my cervix was a little lip. She wanted me to do a practice push on my next contraction to see how much of baby she could feel. My very first push was probably pretty weak, honestly. I had no idea what I was doing. My nurse just kept repeating, "Push like you are having a bowel movement," and I did my best. But, the push did the trick, and she could feel Henry's head. It was go time, and she went to get the doctor.

See the stupid NST monitor strap?? The bane of my existence.

My doctor came in, and on the next contraction we did another practice push (and being such a noob, I didn't realize this was how it worked. I thought when you got to the pushing portion of labor, you just pushed like hell until baby came out. I didn't realize you only pushed on contractions. Like I said, I was a noob!). My doctor was amazing, by the way. He was so nonchalant and laid back, but also comforting. I don't think he was expecting me to really be ready to push at this point. But after my first practice push with him, I think he realized that baby Henry wasn't messing around, and was ready to make his arrival. It was now 12:40 p.m.

After one more push, I motioned to my photographer friend to head back behind my bed (she had mentioned to me earlier that she wanted to be back there before Henry was born, as she liked that angle). I thought if she waited much longer, she might miss her opportunity!

I continued pushing during contractions, while my doctor became incredibly focused on me pushing for a longer length of time that what I was currently doing. He wanted me to push until he counted to ten...I had only been getting to about count three or four. So he started counting to ten on each push, and that was so incredibly helpful. Without that, I probably would have been pushing for days! But he was able to get me pushing for longer than I thought I could.

And let me just say right here how amazing my husband was through all of this. By the time I was pushing, I was no longer grabbing and squeezing his hand (I had moved on to white-knuckling the rails on the bed). So during each push, Buster would lean down and tell me how great I was doing, and how proud of me he was. And he would encourage me to keep pushing to ten. It was really just what I needed. Pushing is really hard work, and having him tell me how proud of me he was gave me extra strength.

At one point during one contraction and pushing session, my doctor noticed how tight my belly was getting and how the stupid NST monitor was cutting into me, and told the nurse to remove it. I could have kissed him.

A couple times, I had to stop pushing before I got to ten. I just ran out of breath and energy. During one hellacious push, my doctor had Buster walk around and look to see his son's head. My doctor's motivation was that Buster would then be able to get me to push a bit harder.

My doctor showing me how much of Henry's head he can see. I responded with, "That's all??"
As you can see from the above photo, the doctor showed me how much of Henry's head he saw on that last push. And you can also see the one nurse holding my foot. My other foot was on my doctor's side, like so:

My doc had me grab the inside of my thighs during pushes, so that I could really bear down. Once I started doing that, things moved more quickly. After Buster saw Henry's head (and all that hair!!), a new, reinvigorated look was on his face... he was so excited to meet his son!

Two minutes and one brutally intense push later, I felt my son being expelled from my body. The time was 1:15 p.m.

Henry's first seconds on this earth.

Henry giving a good cry... it's cold out here!

What an amazing moment. I think I was in shock. Buster cried almost instantly (you can see in the above photo that his jaw is locked... that's a tell-tale sign he's about to shed a tear!), but all I could do was to smile and look at my baby boy in awe.

My doctor used the aspirator to get the gunk out of his nose and mouth, and set him on my chest with the umbilical cord still attached (per my request... delayed cord clamping, remember?!).

After about three minutes, Buster cut the cord. And not long after, my mom popped her head in (which she also did during one of my pushing sessions... I frantically waved her out of the room), and came in to meet her first grandchild.

Grandma meeting her first grandchild!
Proud daddy saying hi to his son.

Henry actually latched on and breastfed for a few minutes! I had about 25 minutes of skin-to-skin with Henry before they even weighed him.

Henry weighed in at 8lbs 5oz, and was 20" long.
Buster holding his baby boy for the first time.


I pushed for 35 minutes. The nurses and my doctor were pretty astounded that everything went so quickly, especially considering I was a first-time mom. My nurse told me I was "the talk of the floor". That pretty much made me feel like a rockstar. And not to mention there were other ladies on the floor who had been laboring for two days!

From start to finish, my labor lasted about twelve hours (from first real contractions to Henry's arrival). I feel pretty lucky that my labor and delivery went so well, especially considering my mild pre-eclampsia and blood pressure issues at the end of my pregnancy.

I did tear a little, and my doctor ended up cutting me a little. He said that Henry's heart rate was dropping on some of those last pushes, and he just wanted to help him along. But I only required two or three stitches, and he classified it as a second-degree tear.

Overall, my birth experience was very different than I envisioned. And even though it didn't start out so great,  the most intense part of labor was actually a really great experience. My doctor was amazing, as were my nurses. And I'm proud of myself for doing it without an epidural (even though I was begging for one...).

Experiencing such an amazing life-event with Buster right by my side was incredible. There were moments (days, months, years) over the past five years that I didn't think I'd ever be a mom, and to finally experience it... well there aren't any words. I've used them all up.

I'm just so in love.


  1. A beautiful birth story! As I sit here getting ready to start my second FET cycle this week (after a chemical and an ectopic that took 9 weeks and 2 rounds of MTX to go away), your story gives me so much hope. Congratulations - Henry is beautiful!

  2. I love these pics- so beautiful

  3. Wow. I am in tears for you. This is spectacular and you are now a mommy!!! Congratulations again!

  4. Wow. I am in tears for you. This is spectacular and you are now a mommy!!! Congratulations again!

  5. I love the photos. What a beautiful moment. Congratulations on everything again!

  6. Congrats Kara! you're amazing and Henry is just beautiful!

  7. I can't say congratulations enough, Kara! I have followed your blog for this whole journey, and I am so happy for you. And proud of you for getting through with such a chaotic hospital stay. We all beg for the epidural, even the ones of us who do it without one. I had my papers signed! lol I'm irritated they made you labor on your back, it might not have been as hard on you had you been able to change positions, though it might have gone even faster, scarily enough! Either way, it was a pleasure to read your birth story, congratulations! Your photographer did an excellent job.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your photos. I have to confess that I got a little teary-eyed when I saw the first picture of Henry.

    Well done, Momma!

  9. I wanted to wait till the end to comment. Beautiful birth story! Great photos taken by the photographer capturing the moment.

  10. Oh my gosh, so amazing!! Totally got all weepy at that pic of your hubby about to cry, seeing Henry for the first time. I've always thought I'd never want a photographer around for the birth, but you've really changed my mind - these pics are gorgeous and capture such an important moment. Congratulations on everything!

  11. I shed a tear reading this. So incredibly happy for you! Enjoy your miracle.

  12. Awww!! Add me to the list of those tearing up. :) Congratulations, Kara - he's absolutely beautiful!

  13. Congrats!! I'm jealous of how short your labor was. WTG girl!

  14. I'm going to just say that I never read birth stories, but I hung on every word of yours (and you had to torture me by spreading them out over 4 posts! lol). I've been following your ttc and pregnancy journey and have been so excited for you. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Congrats on your precious little boy.

  15. LOVE the birth story detail and all the pics! I'm so impressed that you did it with out an epidural and that you only pushed for 35 minutes (seriously rock star!)

    I love love the first pic of Henry and the one of the two of you where buster is taking a pic with his phone.

    I've said it before but you were one of the first people I met/interacted with before I was even considered "infertile" and one of the people I most wanted a miracle baby for, Henry's arrival is so special to me because of that! I am so incredibly happy for you and Buster!!!

  16. Love this! Congratulations sweetheart! Oh, its Tara from the NH board.

  17. Love this! Congratulations sweetheart! Oh, its Tara from the NH board.

  18. Congratulations!! I love the photos. Thank you for sharing! This makes me excited to birth my little one in a few short weeks!

  19. Hi! I just found your blog and I must say this store is heartwarming and made me tear up a bit. I don't even know you! Your writing is beautiful and I find myself very happy to see you have a child! Looking forward to following your journey from here on out.

  20. We don't know each other, but I found your blog a couple of months ago on some tormented late night of scouring infertility blogs. I really enjoy your frank, funny writing, and I have been RIVETED to your birth story! So candid and well told. It's amazing how you brought yourself back to each moment in the retelling.

    I really got teary at the part about remembering the days/weeks/months where you thought you'd never be a mother. That's where I am right now. I know there's no guarantee for me, but I'm thankful for stories like yours that remind me it's right to have hope. Thanks for sharing!

  21. I just love your story. Thank you for sharing it with us. We had the same length labor! about 12 hours with 30 mins of pushing. I had an epidural though, which I thought might slow things, but it didn't. My labor went pretty well too besides the 3rd degree tears and blood loss. I am so glad you had 'mostly' the delivery you wanted. Henry is precious.

  22. kara, i seriously cried reading this. what a wonderful birth story! just beautiful!

  23. What a great story! So happy for you!

  24. Aww, congrats again Kara. Hopefully with your next one *winkwink* the labor will go just as well and just as quick! :D

  25. Awwww I was crying! What a beautiful birth! <3 He's gorgeous!

  26. Tears reading through the whole story. Becoming a mother is the most amazing moment!! Congrats again!!

  27. Incredible. Just incredible! Thanks for sharing your story and the photos! I am SO happy for you and Buster and little Henry! Congratulations!!!

  28. Awh man, this made me tear up and yearn for another birth experience. What a beautiful story!


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