Henry Wilder came into this world with a bang. He wasn't expected for 8 more weeks but something in me knew he wanted out well before I was even showing pre term labor signs. He was very active since I could feel him in my belly at 16 weeks along. Constantly moving, flipping, kicking and wiggling. Hence his middle name "Wilder." He was just ready to come and nothing and nobody could stop him.
Disclaimer: if womanly fluids, blood/gunk or labor talk isn't your jam then you may want to pass on this read.
This story starts on the Sunday before I went into full blown labor. I was 31.5 weeks along and woke up with some bleeding and was a little concerned but not too much, I just thought it was my mucus plug passing. I've heard you can lose it well before you go into labor so I just went about my day. The next morning at 4 am I started to feel some mild contractions. I had been having braxton hicks contractions that were fairly regular since around 20 weeks so I instantly knew these were different when I could feel they were stronger and much lower in my uterus. Then I passed a blood clot and the worry set it much more. I called my doctor and he said to come in so we went to labor and delivery, they checked me and I was already at 3 cm and 50% effaced. After a long discussion we decided it would be best to start me on steroids to help develop the baby's lungs in case he came early and they also started me on a drug called indocin to help stop the labor temporarily for 48 hours to get both doses of the steroid. The great thing is they monitored Henry the whole time and his heart rate was always so strong, it was never a concern which was a huge relief. I stayed in the hospital for 2 days and the contractions stopped and the bleeding mostly stopped as well so they sent me home and told me to take it easy. My doctor gave me a prescription called Terbutaline and told me to start taking it if my contractions picked up again. Things were looking good for a couple days until I woke up again on Friday morning at 32 weeks along with regular mild contractions. I read about Terbutaline and felt very uneasy about taking it but I took a dose anyway and started having very strange reactions. I decided it wasn't good for me or Henry to be taking it so that was my last dose. It didn't work anyway because by that evening we knew we needed to go to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital around 8:00 pm back in the exact same triage room I was in only 4 days earlier. It seemed like deja vu and I remember thinking, I just can't go on doing this for 2 more months, I really felt he was just supposed to come. I don't remember being afraid, maybe a little worried but I felt that Henry was so strong and he'd pull through just fine. So they checked me and I was already at a 6 and about 80% effaced. He was coming for sure now! They gave me another drug to help stall labor a bit because every day he stays in there would be a little more time to grow. That drug did not work either, he had a mind of his own. While we were in triage a nurse from the NICU came down to talk with us about what we will expect with having a baby this early. We knew 100% he'd have a nice lengthy stay in the NICU and we had to mentally prepare for that. I honestly couldn't remember a single thing that nurse told us, it was all a little shocking at that point.
At around midnight I was still at 6 cm and they set me up to labor in one of the labor and delivery rooms. I knew without a doubt I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. No pain meds, no epidural, nothing. I had a not so wonderful experience with pain meds when I had Finn and I vowed never again. For the first 2 hours or so I had regular contractions and they were strong but not too painful at that point so Noah and I tried to get a little shut eye. By about 2 am they were coming on a bit stronger, but still not terribly uncomfortable. The wonderful thing about going natural is you don't have to have a catheter and you can drink as much water as you want. The downside is you have to pee a lot so I had to get up, unhook from the machines and go pee every half an hour or so. I woke Noah up to help me and sat down on the pot and looked at Noah's face, it turned white and he said "I think your water just broke." I in turn said "no way, I just really had to pee." Well Noah was right because the nurse came to check me right after and my water had indeed broken and I was about 7-8 cm dilated. The contractions were getting much stronger now and I spent the rest of my time laboring on the birthing ball rocking from side to side and hunching over onto the bed during the contractions. The funny thing is in between contractions it was like no bid deal, I was cracking jokes and Noah would make some snide remark and we'd chuckle. But during those contractions it was crunch time, I had to focus and breathe. I didn't do a lot of preparation for a natural labor but I had practiced a few relaxation and breathing techniques and those came in handy. I really focused on relaxing my whole body during contractions and visualized my birth canal opening so the baby could come down. Also the horse lips were my go to, try tensing your body while doing horse lips, not possible. Noah was a great birth coach, I forced him to read some books about birthing and coaching and I'm glad I did because he was a huge help in getting me to focus and cheer me on. By about 3:30 I was going through transition and this was the hardest but the shortest part of it all. The contractions were right on top of each other and they were very strong and uncomfortable but I powered through and then the nurse checked me and I was at a 9! She said since the baby was so small I could start pushing if I wanted to. I started getting the shakes really bad, I'm not sure if it was nerves, adrenaline or what but I was shaking uncontrollably to the point of annoyance. I think I even said at once point "this is way annoying" and the nurse and doctor just laughed.
Just before 4 am they wheeled me into the operating room (I had to deliver in the operating room because they have a window that goes right into the NICU to pass the baby through.) I remember it being very white and sterile, not the most idyllic place to bring your baby into the world but whatever, I just wanted him out that this point. My doctor wasn't able to make it but the doctor on call was so great. She was so sweet and attentive and I'm glad it was her that helped bring Henry into the world. I pushed for what seemed like forever but was only a few minutes. Pushing was hard, I don't think my body was ready to push yet since I wasn't fully dilated. I never felt the urge to push I just went for it and I think next time (if there is a next time) I want to take it slow and steady and let me body tell me when it's time to push because the whole thing seemed somewhat forced. His heart rate had been super awesome this whole time but I think it started to dip down just a bit and that's why they were so antsy about me pushing. Like I said it was hard but it was so awesome being able to feel him come down. I didn't get to feel that with Finn because of the epidural and I felt bummed afterward, like I didn't get to experience the whole birth or something. I know I sound way hippie but I like to feel in control of everything that's going on with my body. I felt little Henry's head crown and that's when I felt the ring of fire that everyone talks about. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but there was definitely some stinging. The thing is it was all so quick I didn't even have time to process the pain. I do remember saying while I was pushing that I couldn't do it. But everyone was so encouraging and told me to keep pushing and he was almost there. Another couple pushes and at 4:05 am he was out! He started crying instantly and was such a little firecracker. I got to see him and touch him really quick, Noah cut the cord and then he was off to the NICU. They let Noah come back right away and be with him which was a huge relief to me. He was 4 pounds 3 ounces and 16.5 inches long and was so beautiful, even covered in vernix. I delivered the placenta and the doctor took a look at it and noticed a small tear which must have caused the bleeding. I'm not sure if this is why I went into preterm labor but it's a possibility. The second he was out, my body instantly felt relief and I was back to chatting and joking right there in the operating room. I felt like a million bucks, something that took me weeks to feel after Finn. I had heard that you feel so much better right after if you give birth naturally but I was really surprised at how awesome I felt. I was up and walking around 10 minutes after and I felt emotionally and mentally all there which was a big difference from last time as well. Also I didn't tear or need an episiotomy which I was so relieved with, probably because he was so tiny. So all in all regarding the whole natural unmedicated birth, I'm 100% on board and would do it again in a heartbeat. It was all so worth it!
Before I went up to my room they took me to the NICU so I could see my precious boy. He was already hooked up to all the monitors and in his little incubator. He never needed oxygen and was breathing room air since the beginning which is so huge for a 32 weeker. We were so happy but not all that surprised cause again, he's such a strong kid and we knew it before he even arrived. I spent a day in the hospital and we decided that I felt good enough to go, so we packed up and went home, but not for too long because our precious boy had to stay so we went back later that day to visit him. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do to leave my baby boy there. But I know he needs to grow and develop more. I never in a million years thought I'd have a baby in the NICU and it has been quite the learning experience for me. I've had to learn to be more patient, because I mean nobody wants to leave their baby at the hospital for weeks I'm sure. I've had to learn to ask and accept help from others, I may just be the most independent, self sufficient person I know but with Henry being in the NICU I've had to let all that go and ask for help with Finn so I can go be with Henry for a few hours a day. It's been hard but I think it's good for me. And most of all I learned once again that God is in control, he has a plan for everyone and this is part of His plan. We want to be in control so badly and think we have everything planned and mapped out but then something like this will happen and it's a tugging reminder that we just have to let go and let Him work in our lives the way He sees fit.
We love our Henry boy so much and can already see such a sweet little personality in him. He's so calm and gentle, all the NICU nurses love him because he's so easy going. We go over every day and help change his diapers, take his temperature, do skin to skin and practice nursing. My favorite part of my day is when I get to snuggle my boy for a couple hours. He instantly nuzzles in and sleeps on my chest. We've taken Finn to see his little brother a few times and it's so fun to see them together. I don't think Finn really understands at this point but I think once we get Henry home, Finn will be able to feel the different dynamics and I'm sure he'll catch on and bond with his baby brother. So overall Henry's doing so great, he's growing and tolerating his feedings so well. We just can't wait to get him home with us.
It's surreal to me that I have two boys now. We just love them both so much, they both are so special in their own way and I can feel their little spirits so strong. I don't know why God has entrusted us to be their parents but I truly feel honored.
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