If you've been following our photoblog for a while, you'll know I've been pregnant for, oh, about two years now. Finally, this past Wednesday, the "is-it-a-girl-or-a-boy?" suspense was ended and our little Henry came out of our imaginations and into our arms. We are truly in love.
The short story is that Henry Rocket was born at 3:51 p.m., weighing in at 9 pounds and measuring 21 inches. I'm sorry that I've just ruined the excitement of opening our Christmas card-slash-birth announcements for many of you.
The long story is a bit more colorful. I'll preface this with three key points:
- We should have known that giving our little guy the middle name "Rocket" (after my father, who is called Rocket by all who know him well) might be a prophetic and risky move, lest it be taken literally.
- If you hear Wes tell this story a little differently, you should probably believe his version of events. I'm probably not the best witness to be retelling all of the details.
- This post is about childbirth. I'll keep it all G-rated as there are many male relatives of ours who will read it, but regardless, I thought I should point out the obvious.
Our official due date was Tuesday the 15th, and about 11:30 p.m. that night, the first real contractions began. By 3 a.m., I was hopping in the shower, waking Wes and beginning to panic a little as I had been timing the waves at three minutes apart for over an hour.
Phone calls were made, friends came over to watch the kids and Wes' parents set out from their home nearly two hours away. I called our doula and it seemed as though things could be moving very quickly.
Fast-forward to 9 a.m. ... we were still at home, contractions had all but disappeared and it was honestly looking as though this 'early labor' might take hours. Days even. Crap.
We walked around the neighborhood, tried to distract ourselves with work, and kept an eye on the clock as contractions were coming five to eight minutes apart all morning. This made for a few very funny conference calls for work, since I couldn't talk for 45-60 seconds each time a wave hit.
Eventually we went out for lunch. Surely the waiter just thought I was quite pious and needed to pray every seven minutes or so at the lunch table. If he was concerned, he kept it to himself.
Back home, Wes and I laid down for a nap, exhausted from being up all night in my case, and most of it in his.
But the nap was not happening. I was having some super intense contractions, exactly ten minutes apart. While there were only three of them, they were strong enough that I had Wes call our doula to get her heading our way. Then I got in the tub to see if that would help, and was immediately hit with a short series of waves that were each only two or three minutes apart.
Wes and I agreed with very little deliberating: we needed to get to the hospital. Now.
Our doula arrived just as we were heading out to the garage. She watched me manage through one contraction and agreed. She would follow us in her car to the hospital. Once on the road, I called the hospital to let them know we were coming. Thankfully my phone has Bluetooth so when I could no longer talk, Wes could.
When the triage nurse heard me (hyperventilate) my way through a contraction, her next move was to give Wes instructions on what to do should he need to pull over on the side of the road. This caused Wes to hit the gas pedal. Hard. Meanwhile, our part-doula, part-pace car driver was tailing us and helping block traffic so we could change lanes and weave our way up the Connector. I remember thinking, "It will be okay. If we have to have this baby on the side of the Grady Curve, our doula will be with us and Wes won't have to be the one to catch the baby." For some reason, that was soothing to me at the time.
Happily, we did make it to Piedmont. Where we promptly got lost finding the right place to park and the right elevator bank to take into the main hospital. With our doula's help on my cell phone, we parked and started the 368 mile walk from the deck to the Labor & Delivery ward. (That's the correct distance for those who are questioning me. I measured it, often on my hands and knees for accuracy's sake.)
Somewhere in Atlanta, there's a group of hysterical women telling the story of this crazy pregnant lady who kept dropping to her hands and knees - and could you believe her husband was letting her do that? I'm not sure if they expected him to carry me in his arms or what, but at the time, down on the ground was where I needed to be every two minutes or so.
In between these waves, we somehow made it through a few hallways, two elevator rides, and eventually past the doors into Labor & Delivery - much to the relief of many passers-by and fellow elevator riders. At this point, I dropped down to the floor again where my water broke and a pack of nurses and other assorted hospital staff ran down the hall towards us.
At this point, Wes says he began to get angry with me as I refused to get up off the floor and into the wheelchair. Apparently, he thought it would be a bad idea to have the baby with my jeans still on. Whatever. Could a lady get a minute while the rest of the contraction passed? Oh, and I'm not promising that I'm not about to have this kid in my jeans.
Special note for any well-intentioned person who tells a laboring mother "don't push!" Um, sure. I'll stop my pulse and respiration while I'm at it, too. Anything else I can do for you?
Once in the wheelchair, we flew down to room 15. I'm sorry if anyone else in the maternity ward needed a nurse or midwife at that point. They were all in our room.
It's a bit blurry from here, but the long and short of the rest of the story is that Henry was born nine minutes after we crossed the threshold into the room. He was calm, beautiful and perfect. Even better, we got to hold him for an hour or more before he was weighed, measured and deemed to possess all of the requisite parts. It was wonderful.
While the room full of staff made me feel like our birth was a bit of a spectator sport, at least most everyone had a job to do - including the nurse who's job it is to clock how long you've been taking up space in a room. I'm sure insurance requires this and charges accordingly. We should be getting an extra small bill, right? See the military time reference for 3:42 p.m. to 3:51 p.m. below.
Today, we are beginning to fall into a routine and still pinching ourselves, realizing how unbelieveably blessed we are to have these three amazing children. One day, we'll even get Henry's name right. He's currently "Michael-ugh!-Henry" about 70 percent of the time. Can you blame us? The kids are absolute clones of each other.