Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Friday, March 01, 2013

Henry's birth story

 Dear Henry,
You win the prize for being the a) only Kaufman baby to be induced, b) the latest gestation at 42 weeks, c) not posterior and d) the largest baby.

On Wednesday, February 27, 2013, at 6am your dad and I showed up at the hospital ready to evict you from my uterus. I'd had regular mild contractions from about 8pm until about 2:40a and was a little grouchy that I hadn't slept well as I was anticipating a long hard labor with Pitocin. Our labor team, Nicole (our doula) and Mary (my running buddy), showed up shortly thereafter. We were in a regular labor pattern, but since I wasn't having any pain with the contractions (I'd been having them for about 6 weeks now!), we decided to start Pitocin. We increased the Pitocin and I walked. Increased and walked. Increased and walked. Nothing ever got painful, but nothing really changed. I was still at the same 6cm I'd been at for several weeks.

Just before 10am, Dr. Berg came in to break my water. I was really nervous about coping with the pain after having my water broken since that's when things really went downhill with Sam's labor. But, contractions just gradually got stronger. And stronger. And stronger. And then my nurse and I discussed stopping the Pitocin all together, which in retrospect, proved to be a very good choice.

The rest of labor is a blur. I don't remember many of the details like I do with Sam and Natalie's births. Contractions began to take all of my focus and I really needed help getting through each one. Nicole reminded me that each contraction brought you closer to me. Mary held my hand while I labored kneeling over the bed. Dad and Nicole squeezed my hips with every contraction. I remember getting really discouraged after laboring for about an hour over the bed and getting checked to find I was STILL at 6cm. I didn't think I could handle it much longer so Nicole recommended changing positions and I stood up and hung onto Mary with each contraction while Dad and Nicole did that blessed double hip squeeze through every contraction.

I remember having a contraction on the bed which felt AWFUL and then we decided to give the tub a try. I was only 7cm at that point and getting tired. Unmedicated labor was proving to be intense and exhausting. I'd dreamed about laboring in the tub ("the midwife's epidural") for most of this pregnancy and was thinking it would really help with pain control. It seemed like it took me forever to get over to the tub. Just when one contraction would start to die down and I'd catch my breath, another would start. Finally, we got in the tub and, at first, I thought, "Wow. The contractions really are much better in here." Turns out, I was just having a break from contractions. Then, I had a really intense, awful contraction and thought, "I can't do this anymore!". All of a sudden, I looked up and it seemed like 50 nurses were in the bathroom. Brandi (my primary nurse) and another RN were telling me I had to get out of the tub now, grabbing me by arms and pulling me up, saying I couldn't have the baby in the tub.

I couldn't understand how they expected me to get to the bed from the tub. The task seemed completely unrealistic. And, I didn't really believe that the end was near. (Dad says I'd been yelling, "I need to push! I need to push!", which led to everyone rushing into the bathroom). But, somehow, we got to the bed and then, they wanted me to turn around so they could catch you. Again, it seemed like another impossible task.

I pushed for awhile with my body leaning over the head of the bed. I'd never pushed without an epidural before and pushing with a contraction felt amazingly satisfying. At one point, someone put an oxygen mask on me. At another point, I thought it was weird that Nicole was making me blow my nose. Dad later told me I had a huge snotty booger that blew out on my face while I was pushing, but I didn't even notice. Then, Dr. Berg wanted me to try pushing more on all fours. Ultimately, you were delivered pushing on my back, with my legs up, just like your brother and sister. One of the labor nurses commented later that it was a good thing you were such a big baby...if you'd been 8lbs, it would have been a nurse assisted delivery with you in the bath tub.

Your head came out fairly easily, but your big shoulders took a little extra. Amazingly, no tears and no episiotomy. We went from 6cm to meeting you in about an hour. Amazing.

And, there you were. Born at 12:01pm. They laid you on my chest and I couldn't believe it was over. I wasn't sure if I was more grateful that you were here or I was done laboring. Unmedicated birth was the most intense, amazing, painful, gratifying experience I've ever had in my life. And, I am ridiculously proud of the fact that I grew and birthed a 10lb 3oz, 23 inches long baby.

 Nicole (in the picture above) and Mary (how did we not get a picture of Mary?) went home after you were born and you settled into nurse. I loved holding you right away and not having to surrender you to be bathed and weighed until we'd finished nursing. You were so awake and felt so good to snuggle, even though my arms were a little shaky and tired after labor. Ultimately, though, your siblings were coming and everyone was anxious to know how big you were (Dr. Berg asked the nursery nurse, Joan, to call her right away once she got the exact weight).

We named you Henry Elton Kaufman after two good men in our families: Hank, who a special "sort of uncle" who was Dad's confirmation sponsor, my hunter's ed teacher, and continues to encourage us in our vocation of raising a family. And, Elton, my dad's cousin who "adopted" your Ninang and me when we went to college in Seattle. He and Mercy became our Seattle parents, taking us out to dinner, letting us stay at their home on the weekends, and sharing their wisdom with us.
 Lala brought Sam and ND to meet you while Brandi helped me get cleaned up. Joan let them help give your first bath. ND assertively told Joan that Joan couldn't touch your eyes or mouth and then repeated those rules to your Dad. Sam touched you gently and said, "Hi, Henry" quietly over and over.
 And your dad, with the sore pecs, finally got to hold you. I wouldn't have made it through labor without him, Nicole and Mary. They were amazing support. When I began to doubt myself, they told me we could do it. When I started to panic, they calmed me down.

We had a whole stream of visitors come to see us once Dad posted our news on Facebook. Some of my coworkers were in a meeting downstairs and showed up right after you were born. Uncle Phil came by to meet you. Later, Elaine (other running buddy), Grandma, Grandma A, Aunt Teenie and Ben & Will came by.

I felt so healthy. Strong. Powerful. And, ready to go home. So, Dr. Harris came to see you around 9pm, pronounced you healthy and huge, and sent us home as well. In and out in the same day.

We are so thankful you are finally here. You are well worth the wait. Welcome to the family, kiddo.

Mom, Dad, Sam and Natalie


Leah said...

What a lovely story! All that waiting and he actually came so fast. he looks lovely and your family is beautiful. Congrats to you all!

Grumpy said...

Pretty sweet story, Jen; and it seems to me that perhaps the part to be MOST ridiculously proud about, is taking both of you home same day.

Well done, dear Ninang.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations ND, Sam, Jen & Joe! Jen, you really are a rock star! Cynthia

Deanna said...

I have to admit to quite the mixed emotions reading this. First off I am so incredibly proud of you. I'm thrilled that you go the birth you wanted. But I'm really sad I missed it.

Welcome to the world, Mr Henry. Now get your Mama and your Lala to Seattle soon!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great story, Jen! Welcome to the family, Henry!

Gus and Jen said...


Rae said...

What a great birth story, Jen! We knew you could do this all along, didn't we? Thankful that you had a short (well, short in the hospital anyways) labor and a great team to help you when it was needed.

It's just amazing this kiddo is so big, I know hes's probably amazing in many other ways which we'll find out about very soon!

Anonymous said...

I always cry when I read birth did so great and I can't wait to meet Henry!

mom-friend said...

Perfectly beautiful.