Thursday, October 24, 2013

Looking Back: Henry's Birth Story

In honor of our new baby's arrival this week, I'm re-posting my birth stories with my two big boys! Check out Luke's birth story HERE, or read on to hear about how we added to our family when Henry was born!


If you read Luke's birth story, you'll see that he was born on a Friday during some extreme weather - and the same is true for Henry! Only, the Friday H was born happened in July of 2011, and the temperatures were soaring during an extreme heat wave! I guess that's just my kids' style! We didn't have to experience much of it, though - we had the AC blasting in our hospital room!

Thursday, the day before Henry was born, was a busy, stressful day. Despite all of our planning and preparing, there was a lot to accomplish in very little time - and as you know, I've been large and incapable for a while now. The day was just flying by, and my productivity was hindered by pretty strong contractions. Everyone was scaring me with talk of a full moon and going into labor, so between all of my various tasks, I was trying very hard to take it easy!

During Luke's nap, Matt decided to try and fix our laptop.We realized it wasn't feasible to bring it to the hospital in the shoddy state it was in, so he either had to (successfully) repair it, or we had to get a new one. Despite his best efforts, it wouldn't cooperate - so we had to add a trip to Best Buy to our to do list! I'd also resolved to bake cookies to send some with Luke for the weekend, and take some with us to the hospital...the day got away from us so quickly that we had to rush to fit them in, but Luke loved it. I was so happy to do that with him before sending him off for the weekend - he was so sweet, helpful and excited through the process - I soaked every second of it up!

As soon as the cookies were cool and packed, we left for my mom's house. We picked up our new laptop on the way (which is where I'm writing from now!). They ordered pizza & wings, and my Grandma (Yaya, to Luke) was over there also. We had dinner and hung out for a little while - I gave my mom all of Luke's things and instructions for the weekend, and then Matt & I set out to finish things up at home.

And I cried like a baby for half the ride back....because I was really emotionally struggling with Luke no longer being my only baby.

When Matt and I got home, we finished things up as quickly as possible so we could attempt a decent night's sleep. Neither of us were counting on sleeping, but we figured the earlier we starting trying, the better. We were passed out shortly after 9, and people started texting us & leaving us FB posts at like 10pm...our phones were going nuts!

Surprisingly, we both slept really well - I only got up once around 1am to pee, and then passed right back out. I was comfortably content until my alarm went off at 3:45. I gave myself 15 minutes to wake up and let the whole idea of the day sink in before waddling to the shower. Despite my nerves, I was more excited than anything else. I surprised myself with how collected I was! When I was finished showering, I let Matt take one final belly picture of me.

Here I am, in all of my 39 week glory!

Huge much? Geeez.

It was weird, leaving the house that early - with the nearly-full-moon blazing and the air being so cold and damp. It gave our 5 minute ride an edge - like the way it feels when you set out super early for a road trip to beat the traffic. It amplified my excitement.

Because we arrived so early, we had to go in through the ER. We waddled our way to the Maternity floor, and were given a room right away. I had to strip down, have my IV placed, start fluids, and get hooked up to monitors that tracked my contractions & Henry's heartbeat. I don't know if it was the nerves, or what - but the contractions were quite strong (very nearly painful), and according to the machine - happening every 6-8 minutes.

I chose to spend the majority of our time in the prep room sitting up, knowing I'd be on my back for most of the weekend. Various doctors and nurses came in to introduce themselves, ask questions, and have me sign consent forms. Once I'd taken an entire IV bag, they gave me Zofran to help prevent nausea, as well as allowed me to take my final Zantac. The anesthesia team (3 of them) started explaining their treatment plans to me - and the "main" guy (I dunno what else to call him) spent some time pep-talking me. He was an extremely nice older man - he went beyond the call of duty, for sure! He even gave me pointers of things to think about while on the table and very calmly assured me that he could do lots of things to keep me comfortable and calm.

They were finally ready for us at 7:30, and unlike my experience with Luke - they wheeled me there. They had me crawl onto the table myself and sit on the edge while they got things situated. A nurse stood in front of me and held me so I was stable. She was really sweet, also - trying to make me laugh and get my mind off things. The OR was SO cold - I remember commenting on this and the nurse holding me up said something like, "it discourages loitering" and everyone in the room kind of giggled. I thought they were talking about co-workers at first, but then I realized they meant germs!

The experience with the spinal itself was really simple! Way easier than I remembered it with Luke (and I remembered it being easy with him!). As soon as it was placed, they tipped me over quickly, and started setting everything else up. I felt my legs tingling and lose their feeling - they warmed up as I lost control of them (though the rest of my body was still cold). They placed the catheter and started washing me down while the anesthesia team was doing various other things. The room was really buzzing with activity, and I just tried to lie there and regulate my breathing. The main anesthesiologist was rubbing my arm and talking quietly in my ear - he told me to close my eyes and picture holding my baby while chanting "breathe for the baby" in my head (he had a strong emphasis on the fact that he would still be getting all of his oxygen from me until the cord was cut). It really really helped. Matt had to wait to join us in the OR, and I was so nervous about it (I was with Luke, too) - so this helped me a lot! I was so thankful to have a doctor that cared that much!

Very shortly after the curtain went up, I heard someone announce that they cut the skin at 7:45. So apparently, they'd begun! They sent for Matt, and he appeared in no time. He sat down with me and we just talked while we waited for our baby! I felt so much pressure while they did their work - it was very uncomfortable to have all of Henry and his accompanying "stuff" on me like that - I hadn't been flat on my back in months!

I could tell when they were getting close to Henry. My doctor kept making comments about how he was going to be a big boy. They kept asking Matt if he wanted to stand up and see, and he kept saying no. I don't blame him - I wouldn't want to see all that, either!

I felt the doctor push down hard at the top of my belly, and with an extreme release of pressure - I felt them pull him out. The nurses were saying, "stand up, Dad!" and my doctor said, "Jenn - he's HUGE! He's going to be bigger than Lukas!". They finally convinced Matt to stand up and snap a picture of the doctor holding him up, and when Matt showed me - my initial reaction was, WHOA!

I heard Henry cry - and there was an instant shift for me. I went from nervous about the surgery to immediately desperate to see my baby. I kept saying it on repeat - I want to see him! I want to see him! Matt let the nurses do their initial stuff with him, and he'd stand up to watch every few seconds. They announced his weight - 9lbs 6oz - and while the nurses thought he was big, my doctor, Matt and I were all surprised he didn't hit 10 pounds! I told Matt to go snap some pictures and come back...and he showed me a few while they got him ready for Matt to hold. As soon as I saw the pictures I started bawling. Matt was crying too - and just as he did when Luke was born, he rested his head on mine and just sat there with me while we cried in happiness for a minute. It was during this that the nurse brought Henry over to Matt...and there it was. That complete, instant, all consuming unconditional love. I suddenly didn't care if they were sawing my legs off on the other side of the curtain - as long as I could lie there and stare at my baby!

While they had my arms out to the sides, they weren't strapped down this time like they had been for Luke's birth. I suddenly realized I had the freedom to move them, so I reached over and touched his chubby little cheeks. We had a decent amount of time together, just the three of us.

Long before I was ready, they announced that they had to move Henry to the nursery until I was finished because the room was too cold for him. They asked Matt if he wanted to go with him, and he was so torn between going with Henry and staying with me. I told him to go - if Henry was going to be away from me, he was going to be with his Daddy! 

When they left, I just had to wait while they stitched me up and gave me doses of pain meds. There was me on the table, my doctor, her resident (I don't fully understand the resident/attending doctor thing, but I know that's what she was called), the nurse who had held me during my spinal, and one more who was counting the supplies repeatedly. All women. Even though I was being operated on, it felt like it was a chatty girls afternoon. They were making conversation with me like I wasn't lying there, cut open, and they weren't stitching my muscles back together. I liked that - it got my mind off the fact that I missed my baby!

Before long, they were finished - it was truly a breeze! Way easier than my surgery with Luke. I was more nervous for it this time, because I knew what to expect (and I was waiting on certain pains and uncomfortable moments that didn't happen this time), but knowing that I made it through the experience once before helped me stay calm. 

Things calmed down, one after the other, and soon they were cleaning me up and getting me ready to move. At one point they told me they were going to lift my knee...and I was waiting to feel it happen - only to suddenly see my knee coming towards me and not feeling it at all! THAT was bizarre! After that, they rolled me onto the bed where I'd recover - and this was actually easier than I remembered last time. I recall feeling more sloshing & pulling in my torso when they did this after Luke was born. I didn't feel a thing this time!

I was wheeled into recovery, and Matt started taking trips between our initial room and our recovery room, bringing our stuff in to join us. Then he went back to the nursery to get Henry, and a nurse wheeled him in to nurse and snuggle with me. He did a great job eating for the first time! The nurses were impressed, and it made me hopeful for our breastfeeding relationship. After he nursed, he fell asleep on me, skin to skin, and I just kept touching him all over - giving him kisses, taking pictures, analyzing his features for signs of familiarity. I could have stayed like that all day...but the nurses started asking for him back for "transition". This really made me angry - I'd worked with the hospital ahead of time to arrange non-separation, and they assured me that the transition time could be reduced. It totally wasn't. We sat in recovery waiting for him for hours! This was also partly because they didn't have rooms available yet - they'd had an unheard of amount of births the day before Henry's birthday and were out of private rooms. Because we were rooming in, we were first on the list for a private room, but many people were in recovery and they were trying to keep it quiet so there were no uproars.

After Henry went back to the nursery, my spinal started wearing off...and I was suddenly in a lot of pain. They'd been asking me for my pain level every now and then, and suddenly I was up to an 8 (though honestly, that stupid 0-10 pain scale is annoying....I felt like I was always guessing!). I was in so much pain, I was sweating. I had no concentration left for anything but getting through the pain - I suddenly sucked at answering questions and talking to people on the phone about Henry. I just had nothing left. They kept urging me to order lunch, and although I was was such a background feeling to the pain, I couldn't think about what I wanted. I finally settled on ordering a ham & cheese omlet and some fruit, but it takes 45 minutes to I just sat there moaning in pain. They decided to give me a shot in my thigh to help - claiming that I wouldn't even feel the shot thanks to the spinal, and it would be kicked in before the spinal had time to wear off. Well - that was a lie. I could feel it! I mean, a shot was nothing in comparison to everything else I'd had done to me that morning...but when she realized I could feel the shot, I think it set in that YEAH I was feeling everything below, too! She asked me to wiggle my toes and I could move both of my feet entirely, and she was surprised. 

They finally discharged someone from a private room, and they very sneakily transferred us there. It was kind of funny how quiet and sneaky they were moving around - like we were on a secret mission or something!

Much to my horror, they told me I had to move from the bed I was on, to the one that belonged in the room. I was about 4 hours out of surgery, and they actually asked me if I could lift myself up and scoot over onto it. UM, NO! All but writhing in pain over here, thanks! They finally settled on getting this tarp-like sheet to stuff under me and use to pull me over onto the bed. It was quite uncomfortable. I kept shooting desperate looks to Matt like "holy hell, save me". It was terrible (though definitely NOT the most terrible experience of my stay).

Matt was pretty much shooting lightening bolts of out of his eyes over the fact that Henry was not in the room with us yet. It had been at least 2 or 3 hours since we gave him back to the nursery - so much for shortening their dumb transition time! I was in so much pain that my anger paled in comparison. I wanted him in my arms so bad - and I had a feeling once he was there I wouldn't care how much I hurt, but that mama bear I'd planned on being if they kept my baby away from me too long just wasn't there. Which made me mad, and upset - but I couldn't pay attention to anything but the pain. I didn't remember hurting this bad after my first c-section, and I later learned there were two reasons for this. One, with a subsequent c-section, they have to cut through scar tissue from your first - which is more traumatic to the body - aka, more painful and difficult to recover from. And two, they gave me morphine after my c-section with Luke - they gave me much more mild pain killers this time.

Henry arrived after not too much longer (it actually took Matt angrily asking for him to get him back!), and despite the pain - the day became much easier. Just having him my arms, nursing, snuggling me, learning his little sounds and expressions - it was the only thing that could break through the severity of the pain. 

The day went on with just the three of us doing much of the same - lots of closeness and love to go around! We were sending pictures all over and talking to family on the phone...but thankfully we'd told everyone to wait until Saturday to visit so there was no pressure! It was so nice to not worry about passing Henry around the first day, or trying to "entertain" or be nice to visitors when I was in so much pain.

They let me wait until 10pm before having to walk for the first time - but we had all just settled in and were seriously starting to fall asleep when they came in. I asked them if we could do it in a few hours even, but they said no. I was so mad! I knew it had to be done, but sleep felt so priceless - I just wanted to rest while Henry was sleeping! 

The first time they make you walk is absolutely THE worst experience. I'd even venture to say those two moments after each of my c-sections were the worst moments of my life thus far. Terrible. There's SO MUCH PAIN involved! This time was slightly better than the last, because of a few things. I knew to use my knees & legs to lift me rather than the muscles that usually default for such a movement (like your core muscles, ouch!). I had an abdominal binder on, so I didn't have a huge loose weight on my torso - I felt somewhat held together. My anemia was much less severe this time. And - rather than take my catheter out and make me walk to the bathroom to pee, they just had me take like 5 steps to a chair near my bed and have a seat. Muuuch easier.

Despite all that? It HURT. I had this one sharp, stabbing internal pain that I thought I'd pass out from. The nurse checked to see if it was my catheter but moving it around didn't make it better or worse. My doctor later said it was probably just my uterus. While I sat in the chair, I was in so much pain that I cried. Matt was holding Henry on the other side of the room, and I tried not to look at him because...he's always my rock in times like that, and I knew it would kill him to not be able to help me. He didn't need me looking at him desperately and making it worse. Still, I could tell he was watching me...and I felt bad. Thankfully, I only had to sit there for 15 minutes before they let me go back to bed and go to sleep.

I got a really decent night sleep that night, considering we were rooming with our newborn! When I woke up, the majority of the horrible pain around my incision was gone. I couldn't believe I'd slept it off! 

Luke came to meet his little brother the next morning. He came walking in, wearing his big brother shirt and carrying a vase of flowers for me. After spending 24 hours with Henry, I couldn't believe how big Luke looked! I was so choked up, watching him meet his little brother with honest curiosity. He kept telling me & Matt that he missed us and loved us...I almost cried every time! We had him open his gifts from Henry before he left (a Lightening McQueen pillow & the first cars movie on dvd/blu-ray combo), and he was so excited! (We've since watched cars about 10 times in the last 12 days...)

The rest of our stay was much of the same. They took my catheter out Saturday afternoon, and I was then on my own to get up and go to the bathroom. I asked a nurse for help the first time (my second time walking)..and though it was hard, it was SO much easier than post-Luke! Matt helped me 2 more times after that, and then I was on my own for the rest of the stay - slowly hobbling to the bathroom and pulling myself back into bed. On Sunday, I changed Henry's diaper! I didn't change one of Luke's in the hospital at all - so that felt like an accomplishment to me! By Monday morning (the day we were discharged) I was walking around, packing things up, getting Henry dressed - I even showered and put make up on! The less severe anemia & the abdominal binder were the keys to it all, I swear!

I recovered fairly quickly after Henry's birth, and Henry fit flawlessly into our family. Luke took to being a big brother so easily and smoothly, I'm not sure why I ever worried! Babyhood with Henry was everything I ever dreamed of, and it was really heart breaking to let go of those sweet infant moments as he grew. He's still very much a mama's boy, though, and he's one of the cutest, fun-loving two year olds I know! My boys are such fantastic brothers - they love each other so much, and playing with each other is the only thing they care about every day. I am so excited to add another sweet brother to add to the mix!

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