Monday, July 30, 2012

Henry's Birth Story

He's here! Henry Spencer Watts made his entrance into the world on July 26 at 2:23 pm, weighing 7 lbs 15 oz and 21.5 inches long.

Since I was only 37 weeks along I was not expecting to go into labor so soon. I hadn't preregistered at the hospital and I hadn't packed my hospital bag or Sawyer's overnight suitcase - I was planning to do that the next day. I hadn't even made it all the way through my Hypnobirthing course. I had never been checked by my OB so I had no idea if I was dilated or effaced or anything. I never got really uncomfortable this time the way I did when I was pregnant with Sawyer, in fact I had just mentioned to my sister the day before that I felt so good that I wouldn't mind being pregnant for several more weeks. So of course I went into labor. 

Around 4:45 a.m. I got up to use the bathroom (my third visit that night - thank you third trimester!) and after I had emptied my bladder something kept coming out of me. I knew right away that my water had broken because the exact same thing had happened with Sawyer, only at 3 a.m. instead. I woke Eric up and told him it was time to go, then called my OB who told me to head on over to labor and delivery. I wasn't having any contractions yet (again, the same as when I had Sawyer) so we didn't rush. I took a shower and packed my bags - not the easiest feat when your water's broken and it's early in the morning - while Eric got Sawyer ready to go.  He was a bit disoriented about being woken up so early but excited when we told him baby brother Henry would be born today! Around 5:50 we were finally on our way to Leesburg to drop Sawyer off with my sister. She met us in the hospital parking lot. Eric was getting hungry at this point, and knowing that they wouldn't let me eat anything once I was admitted to the hospital, we made a quick stop at Chick-Fil-A to get some breakfast. I wasn't hungry but ate a bit anyway because I knew I would need the energy soon.

By the time we got to labor and delivery it was almost 7:00. They got me registered (they actually already had me in the system from a hospital visit in 2000! Funny, I have no memory of what that was for) and a nurse checked if my water had broken - it had - and checked if I was having contractions - I wasn't. Well, I sort of was, but they were several minutes apart and very mild. I was 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. At 7:45 they officially admitted me and took me to a labor room, where my nurse Vanessa started me on pitocin and penicillin since I was group B strep positive. She also took some blood to see how well I was clotting. I had taken my last heparin shot at 10 p.m. so they needed to make sure all was good in case I wanted an epidural (I already knew the answer to that question. Ha!) 

A few minutes after starting on pitocin the contractions were coming fast and furious, 2 minutes apart and intense. I listened to my Hypnobabies tracks and they really helped me focus and relax. Eric was wonderful, rubbing my back and letting me squeeze his hands. Because I was on pitocin I needed to have continuous fetal monitoring, which I was fine with, but it actually made it much harder to concentrate. They gave me a wireless monitor so I could walk around freely and be in any position - great in theory but in practice it was horrible, because the monitor kept moving around and losing the baby's heartbeat, which would send Vanessa rushing into the room in a near panic to adjust it. I just about lost it when she came in while I was on the toilet (the body tends to, um, clean itself out in early labor). As it turned out it wasn't too long that I had to deal with the ever shifting monitor, because at 10:00 she told me the anesthesiologist would be available soon. Since it was 12 hours since my heparin shot I was in the clear to get one, so I told her I was ready for it. The pain was very intense at this point and Hypnobabies wasn't helping anymore. I felt like I could have gone for longer but didn't want to risk waiting too long. At 10:15 my epidural was placed, and I had several contractions during the procedure - they were coming a minute and a half apart and lasting more than a full minute each. Some choice words may have come out of my mouth. Thankfully I had complete relief about 15 minutes later and soon I was smiling again and texting friends. It. Was. AWESOME.

Loving my epidural
Around 11:00 Vanessa placed my catheter and checked me for the first time since they checked me in triage. I was 3 cm and 90% effaced. For the next couple of hours Eric and I chatted, called family members to update them, and relaxed. He went and grabbed a bite to eat. Around 12:30 I started feeling pain on my right side - the epidural was wearing off. Vanessa had me shift to my other side hoping that would help but it didn't, so another anesthesiologist came in and she gave me another dose of medication. It worked to numb the right side, but unfortunately made my left side REALLY numb. Like, no sensation whatsoever numb, which was a really weird and slightly disconcerting feeling. I started feeling nauseated and shaking, so Vanessa checked me again suspecting I might be going through transition. I was 6-7 cm and completely effaced.
Not feeling great
At 1:20 the nausea got very intense and she checked me again, and I was nearly complete. We waited a while for Dr. A to show up and to let the baby descend a bit more, and at 2:15 it was time to push. I had a moment of panic when I tried to pull my legs back and realized I was now completely numb on both sides all the way up to my chest; I couldn't feel what my muscles were doing at all and I thought there was no way I would be able to push. But apparently my body remembered what to do. I had requested no counting or yelling for me to push, and Dr. A seemed amazed that I knew when I was having a contraction even though I couldn't feel any pressure. Truthfully I couldn't have consciously said when I was having one, I just somehow knew when to push. At one point Henry's heart rate dropped dramatically and I could see on Dr. A's face that he was scared, which scared me too, but thankfully it came right back up when the contraction was over (I kind of suspect it might have been that annoying monitor again.) I had a mirror so I could see what was happening which helped with the pushing because I could see when I was making progress. As he was crowning I reached down and felt the top of his soft little head - amazing! We were excited to see his dark hair. A few pushes later, and Henry was born, screaming and curling his cute lower lip. I pulled him up onto my chest right away while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing so Eric could cut it.

Then the nurses weighed him and cleaned him off while I delivered the placenta (although I don't really remember that happening, I know it came out because Eric took a picture of it. Don't worry, I won't share that here.)

After he was all clean and wrapped up I held him and nursed him for the first time. He took to it right away and was very alert and gazing at both of us. I was feeling great at this point (adrenaline is an amazing thing!) so we told our family they could come visit as soon as I was in recovery. Henry went to the nursery and the nurses helped me get cleaned up and go to the bathroom, which was quite an adventure given my dead legs and the fact that my bladder always seems to stay offline for a long time when I have any sort of anesthesia.

A few hours later Megan came to the hospital and Sawyer got to meet his new little brother. When he came into the room I tried to hug him and ask him how his day was and he had no time for that - he just wanted to see Henry.

Megan brought us Cafe Rio for dinner, which is quickly becoming the traditional postpartum meal in our family. I was still feeling a little nauseous but I enjoyed it much more than the hospital food I would have had otherwise! And Eric definitely appreciated it. We were sad that the hospital wouldn't allow children to come in and Caroline, Mary Grace and Emery had to wait in the lobby, but happy that Henry at least got to meet his Aunt Megan. A little bit later Spencer and Samm, and Erin and Josh came by to meet Henry and hold him for the first time. We are so blessed to have such wonderful family members nearby to celebrate these times with us!

Soon it was time for Eric to take Sawyer home to bed and for me to try to get some sleep. Not so easy in the hospital, since they were still checking my vitals fairly often and I had to ask for help to go to the bathroom. Also because of my blood clotting risk I had to wear pressure boots on my legs, which noisily inflated at regular intervals. Not so restful. But I managed to catch little bits of rest in between feeding Henry. The nurses in recovery were amazing, so helpful and kind. And Vanessa came over to check on me, which was so nice. All in all I could not have asked for a better birth experience. I feel so lucky to have Henry in my life and can't wait to find out what kind of person he will become.
Tired but happy to be the parents of two!


  1. He is so adorable. I'm so glad that the birth went well and you had a good experience.

  2. I haven't been in the blogosphere in so long, I just barely read this! But I'm glad I did. I love birth stories! Yours sounds a lot like mine with Beck (minus the chick-fil-a, dang it. I shoulda thought of that!) I'm glad it all went OK. I hate that over-numbed feeling, though. UGH. I learned my lesson and wouldn't hit the epidural button with Pippa no matter how much I started to feel it. Anyway, he's beautiful! I think he looks a lot like you. (p.s. Is that a picture of you and Eric at the end?? I think in all these years I've never seen a single picture of Eric!!)


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