We are now a family of four! On November 9, Henry Blair was born at 10:24 am. He weighed 7 lbs, 1 oz and was 20.5 inches long.
Henry wasn't due until November 18 and I fully expected him to come on or after that date. So when I started having steady contractions on November 8, I wasn't convinced he would be coming soon. Surges were about 15-20 minutes apart and not very intense-just a firm tightening. However, by evening, they started getting more predictable and I started feeling cautiously hopeful. I called our friends who had volunteered to take care of Ella during the birth and let them know that there was some action, but things could easily slow down or stop at that point. She said she'd put her phone by her bed just in case.
I went to bed around 10:00 pm and at 1:00 am a contraction woke me up. I went to the bathroom and then got back in bed. At 2:00 am I woke up again with a contraction and this time I was more awake. The intensity of surges was increasing but I didn't want to wake Blair until I was sure the baby was coming. I sat in our rocking chair and breathed through contractions while I thought about our little baby and the coming birth. I wasn't timing the contractions, but they seemed to be fairly close together. Finally, at 2:30 am I woke up Blair and asked him to time contractions so I could concentrate on hypnobirthing techniques instead of the clock. They were coming at 4 min. apart and lasting about 30-45 seconds each, but I could still easily talk and breath through each one.
At 3:15 am I decided to call our midwife to get her opinion on when to head to the birth center. Though my contractions were not very intense, the fact that they were coming steadily at four minutes apart and the fact that the birth center is 45 minutes from our home led her to recommend coming in pretty soon. We called our friends to come and stay with Ella and then got our things ready to go.
I felt very calm and peaceful during this time. I successfully used hypnobirthing techniques such as visualization, relaxation, and intentional breathing to manage the contractions and was able to move around, change my clothes, brush my teeth, and even make a list of instructions for Ella's care. Blair got our bags by the door and gathered the food we wanted to take with us. When our friends arrived, we took our time getting our last things together and spent a little time talking. I started to feel excited that our baby was coming but still felt very relaxed and peaceful. We finally left for the birth center at about 4:30 am.
When we arrived at the birth center, I was at 4.5 cm and 60% effaced. I was the only mother birthing at the time, so I got my pick of rooms. We got settled in to our room and met the student midwife who would be observing my labor and recording my vitals and progress. I ate a sandwich and had some juice then spent some time resting. Blair laid on the bed next to me and he may have even snuck in a little nap. I wasn't attached to any monitors or tubes and was free to get up and move around, use the restroom, or rest in any position I desired.
At about 8:00 am the contractions were getting more intense, so I asked Blair to put a movie on to help distract me for a while. We watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding for about 45 minutes and I had some snacks. Finally, around 9:00 am I decided it was time to rely more heavily on the hypnobirthing techniques to help me manage my increasingly intense contractions. Blair started talking me through each surge and he was a great help. At around 9:45 am my membrane ruptured. The midwife checked me at 10:00 am and found that I was at 6.5 cm and 80% effaced. She told me to hang in there and keep doing what I was doing and she would come check me again in a couple of hours.
Fifteen minutes later, after several very strong contractions right on top of one another, I felt the urge to push. The student midwife advised me to breathe through it if possible while she got the midwife to come back. Keeping my body from pushing was the hardest thing I have ever done. The midwife came quickly and found that I wasn't dilated completely yet. Pushing could cause a tear in my cervix, so I had to breath through 4 more contractions and stifle the pushing instinct. The second the midwife told me it was safe to push, I let my body go and followed my instincts. I remained laying on my side for the pushing phase. There was no coaching, no breath holding, no counting. Just me and the baby working together with the surges.
After less than 4 minutes of pushing, Henry was born at 10:24 am. He was perfect and beautiful and had a nice strong cry. His apgar at 1 minute was 9 and at 5 minutes was 10. He was placed right into my arms and I got to hold him and snuggle him to my heart's content while the placenta was delivered and the midwife and her assistant checked vitals (both him and me) and cleaned us up. I didn't even have to hand him over when the midwife helped me sit up and get settled for nursing. Blair and I spent the next 2 hours holding him, sending messages to friends and family, and eating some snacks. The assistant midwife monitored vitals and made sure Henry latched on for successful nursing. After this initial bonding time, the midwife weighed and measured Henry and gave him his complete newborn exam. We were discharged from the birthing center at about 2:15 pm.
On the way home we stopped by Five Guys and Blair ran in to get some burgers to take home and eat. Best post-birth meal ever.
We got home at about 3:30 pm and had our early dinner and enjoyed some quiet time alone with Henry. Our friend brought Ella home at about 5:00 pm and she got to meet her baby brother. She was so happy to have a baby, and very excited that he brought a present for her: a Cinderella doll. Here is our first picture as a family of four. Henry is about 7 hours old.
I'm so glad we decided to have Henry at the birth center. The experience was everything I hoped for and I would definitely choose to do it again for the next baby.
It took us three days to finally settle on a name for our little guy. Henry is a family name (my father's middle name) and Blair, obviously, is also a family name. I guess we're pretty traditional. I have loved having a baby in our house again and I'm thrilled to see our family grow.
Henry is a calm, sweet little guy and I'm trying to drink him in before he grows. I am so thankful that he finally came to our family. And I'm so thankful his birth was such a positive, beautiful experience.