10.19.2015

Henry’s Birth Story

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I realized soon after Henry was born that I was very proud of the thought of his birth story. I was worried that my words wouldn’t do the day justice. I think about this day, and this story, everyday. I have sat down over a dozen times with the intention of telling his story but my worry gets in the way. There is no dramatic pivot. I can’t offer you a comedic twist. All I can hope to offer you is a glimpse into the most important, beautiful, soul-shifting day of my life. It’s been 2 months since that day and I still feel it in my bones (in the best kind of way).

Henry, this is your story.

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The day we found out I was pregnant, I was overcome with so many emotions – joy, excitement, nervousness, fear… We had experienced an upsetting miscarriage about 5 months before. I was eager to try again as soon as we could, but as each month passed without any luck, I found myself mourning our loss even more.

We were on our way to Las Vegas at the end of November. I knew I was pregnant when I stepped off the plane. My sense of smell skyrockets when I am pregnant… And I smelled things I didn’t really want to smell the entire plane ride. One little test confirmed what we had been praying for. I was pregnant! I felt joy in a completely different kind of way. I felt like I was holding back the excitement I had felt both times before. I was hesitant to celebrate… I now knew that this little miracle could be ripped away from us in an instant. In my head, I didn’t want to let myself immediately fall in love. I didn’t want to let myself daydream of baby and big sister cuddles. That is what miscarriage does to you.

So for 9 months, I tip-toed somewhere between happy and scared. I admit, I never let myself get fully attached. I had no reason not to… All my checkups were perfect. I heard your heartbeat so many times. My belly was growing. I was feeling your strong kicks… Looking back, I’m upset that I let myself feel this way. I feel guilty that I didn’t want to picture a perfect little baby in arms for fear that I might lose you and feel that painful heartbreak all over again. In my heart loved you so much already, but in my head I was so fearful that we would lose you and I would plummet back into that scary cave of despair.

As August arrived, I finally let my walls down. I finally let myself get excited. I love being pregnant. I love feeling baby kicks. I love growing bigger for all the right reasons. I finally let myself enjoy you – all of you. With the realization that I was soon going to have a baby, all my initial baby fears I had with Olive came rushing back – what did we get ourelves into? Are we ready? Can we handle a toddler and a newborn? I forget how to bathe a baby! Suddenly, I went from not completely picturing a new baby in our family, to panic that things were going to change. We were starting all over again.

Soon my midwives (Genia and cousin Jessica) and I were discussing the option of an elective induction. You were measuring a healthy size, and my labour with Olive was so short. Having an elective induction meant that we would make sure that the Genia and Jessica were there. I was fearful of going in to labour on my own, and having a baby before they made it to our house. Every few days for 2 weeks I went to visit the clinic for a checkup. We would check to see if there was any hint of labour progressing and every time we would discuss a possible date to induce. I found myself being very hesitant to give a date. I wanted to stay pregnant. I wanted to enjoy you in my tummy for a little longer, but I also didn’t want to deliver you by ourselves! I think my main hesitation came from the fact that I knew what labour and delivery was all about. I knew what it felt like. With Olive, I was excited. I was curious. I wanted to experience it. With you, I was okay with the thought of going past my due date. I was delaying the inevitable. With Olive I was told I was being induced. This time, my midwives were giving me the choice. Don’t get me wrong; I was so looking forward to holding you in my arms. I couldn’t wait to look into your eyes. I was longing to know who you were… I just knew what I had to go through to make it to that moment.

On a scheduled check up on August 11, I was 2cm dilated. Genia looked at me and said “lets have a baby tomorrow”. I remember doing my nervous giggle, and then slowly saying “okay, yes! I want to meet my baby tomorrow!” Millions of thoughts were rushing through my head. I was nervous all over again, but I reminded myself that we did a pretty good job with Olive. We can do this! We can have another baby! As I was leaving the clinic, my Genia and Jessica gave me hugs, said see you tomorrow, and handed me a list of things to pick up to create a baby-inducing smoothie. I wished it were as easy as “drink this and have a baby”!

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I woke up early on August 12. I wanted to have my last Olive-only morning cuddles. It is hard to explain the emotion I was feeling. I still felt so guilty for her. She wasn’t going to be the only one anymore. She really didn’t have any idea how her world was going to change later that day. Olive and I cuddled for along time. We ate breakfast together. I braided her hair. We made jokes and played on the swings. Eventually I drove her to Sara’s, giving her one last longer-than-normal hug. As I shut the door, I watched her run to play with her friends. I was holding back tears. I remember thinking what an amazing sister she was going to be.

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I was instructed to drink the magic drink at 8:00. It was a mixture of almond butter, castor oil, a carbonated drink, and peach nector. (A day earlier I asked Genia what kind of carbonated drink… She suggested champagne… I settled for ginger ale!). I forced-fed myself the drink and then continued on with my schedule to help encourage contractions. Genia sent me home with a breast pump and instructed me to pump for 15 minutes every hour. There I was comfortably lying in bed, casually pumping, downing homeopathics and watching Ellen on TV, birth pool gradually filling up by my side. This was already so different than my hospital induction!

Genia and Jessica arrived around 1:00. We casually sat around the kitchen table and discussed how to proceed with the days events. I felt so much more relaxed. I was happy that I was able to make decisions on how I wanted to proceed. Genia and Jessica went through how they were going to break my water, what signs they watch for, what the procedures will be if they decide we need to transfer to hospital… They went through everything. They made me feel like we made the best decision to have our baby at home.

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Soon after our “baby birthing” meeting in our kitchen, we headed upstairs to rupture my membranes. I remember taking a huge breath and thinking “here we go again”. With Olive, I felt like all hell broke loose when they broke my water. I was sick to my stomach. My contractions started full force. I couldn’t move. As Genia asked me if I was ready, I made sure I had a puke bucket at my side, and then said “yes, lets meet my baby”! By 1:45pm, my membranes were ruptured, by blood pressure was checked, and we listened to babies heart rate. I didn’t feel the need to throw up, and I actually could get up and walk around! Again, this was so different than the state of paralysis I remember with Olive. By 2:00pm I was beginning to feel cramping. Jessica continued to monitor my blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate every 15 minutes.

I continued to walk around, calming music playing in the background. Time seemed to pass quickly. By 2:30pm my contractions were beginning to form a pattern. They quickly began to get strong and stronger. Scott was amazing. He supported me through each one. I found it was most comfortable resting my arms on his shoulders – kind of like an awkward 8th grade slow dance… but it worked! We continued this dance, taking sips of water and making jokes between contractions until 4:00pm when I moved into the second stage of labour.

By this time, Colleen, the second attendant, had arrived. Genia had suggested that it was time to get into the tub. I didn’t have a set birth plan (other than having our baby at home). I didn’t specifically have plans to have our baby in bed, in the tub… on the kitchen table… Wherever it happened, it happened. As soon as I got in the tub, I knew we were going to have a water baby. I could never have imagined how amazing the water felt during contractions. Swaying my hips in the warm water made the contractions bearable. Everything was so calm. Everyone was relaxed. Everyone was supporting me in every way that they could. I remember opening my eyes after a hard contraction and seeing Scott kneeling beside me, Jessica taking a heart rate reading, Colleen curled up in our big comfy chair recording the baby’s heart rate and Genia lying on our bed, legs in the air, encouraging me to use a stronger F word than “Frig”! I remember thinking that this is the way labour should be. No one was running around frantic. No one was in my ear telling me I needed drugs because I was making noise. No one was checking to see how far dilated I was in between contractions. Everyone was calm, comfortable and relaxed which made me calm, comfortable and relaxed.

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By 4:20pm Genia told me that if I felt the urge to push, then to push. They were trusting what I was feeling and encouraging me to do what my body was telling me. By 4:40pm, Genia suggested I move from my knees to sitting in the tub. As soon as I made this move, my contractions became more intense and the urge to push came not long after. By 4:50pm I started pushing with each contraction. By 5:00pm I knew I was having another baby with a ton of hair, and by 5:01pm I gave my final push. I reached down into the water and pulled my baby up to my heart. I remember putting my head back on the edge of the pool and looking at Scott. We are parents again! We were both so overcome with emotions. I held our baby tight. I didn’t want to let go… and I didn’t have to let go! My baby was here. My baby was healthy. My baby was beautiful.

Genia and Jessica quickly did all their checks and gave our baby a little bit of suction. In all the happy chaos, I completely forgot to look to see if we had a boy or girl. I would have bet money on a girl. My entire pregnancy felt just like Olive’s. The only difference being that my blood pressure didn’t skyrocket at the end. Turns out, that “thing” I was feeling wasn’t the umbilical cord after all. IT’S A BOY! WE HAD A BOY! When it finally registered that we had a boy, I looked at Scott and saw biggest smile spread across his face. He had his boy. He would have been happy with another girl, but I could see in his face that he was overjoyed to have a son! There is something special about a Daddy and his little boy.

Henry’s cord was cut 20 minutes after he was born (Scott couldn’t muster up the courage to do it again this time, so Jessica did the honours). Scott held on to Henry as Genia and Jessica helped me out of the tub and to the bed. Jessica and Genia did all the required post-natal checks on Henry and myself while Scott and I cuddled Henry in bed. As Jessica was tending to my bottom, Henry was already looking for his first snack. It truly is a miracle. How do babies just know to look for their first meal? Henry found it all by himself. He fed so peacefully without any problems. Instincts are amazing.

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Around 5:30pm I asked for the phone. I had to call Olive and tell her. Within a couple rings, G answered. “Olive please!” On the other end I heard “Not already!!! Here’s Olive”. She was the first person we told. I was fighting back the tears when I told her she had a little brother. Although she might not have totally understood what I was saying, I could hear the excitement in her voice. I couldn’t wait for her to meet Henry. I spoke to mom quickly and gave her the news. She couldn’t believe that the baby was already here in just 3 short hours. I invited them all up to the house to meet him.

Before I knew it, I was up and in the shower. It was the most amazing shower. I don’t remember a shower ever feeling so great. I stood there for what seems like an hour (but it was probably only 5 minutes). I remember thinking at that moment – “I just had a baby. And I am home. I just had a baby at home, and I am in my own shower.” I think that shower was the moment that everything came light, and I was so proud. We did it, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

I climbed out of the shower to a clean room. My midwives cleaned up everything. There were nice clean sheets on my bed, and my baby was all wrapped up and waiting for me to climb in and cuddle. You would have never known that I had just had a baby in our room (minus the birth tub that was tucked away in the corner)! I remember looking at Jessica and thinking THANK YOU for introducing me to this world. I couldn’t think of anything better than climbing into my own big comfy bed with my family.

Kenney and Candice were the first to arrive when I was in the shower. We sent them for pizza because I wanted Olive to be the first to meet him. Soon I heard Olive’s announcement “Olla comin’ up! Momma, Olla’s comin’!” In she walked in Daddy’s arms. She looked so big! I felt like she grew 2 feet over the course of the day. I looked at her and smiled. She jumped up onto the bed and wiggled next to Henry. She was so intrigued with his little eyes and ears. She kept pointing and smiling. A proud big sister. Soon she was giving kisses and tickling his feet. All my fears quickly melted away. She loves him. She wants him in our family. We can do this! We are doing this! G, Popa, Kenney and Candice slowly made their way up the stairs. Henry was passed around the room and so was the pizza. Pizza and Babies are so much better than Pizza and Beer! Laughter, smiles and baby talked filled our bedroom all night as we welcomed Henry into our home.

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I felt so surrounded by love. I dreamed of this day – of the day that I could introduce our baby to our family. I was so scared of losing him my entire pregnancy. Now that fear has been replaced by pure bliss. Henry’s story is a blessing. Although most cannot see, Henry makes 5. This is my family. I am so blessed.

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6 responses to “Henry’s Birth Story”

  1. Birte says:

    I love this story. It’s full of love and family. I am so very happy for you and your family.
    Congratulations.
    Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. Helen Ferguson says:

    I am truly touched by your story and I can feel your happiness. Congratulations on your beautiful family!

    • Stacy says:

      Thank you Helen!! We will have to come by for a visit… People from work are asking us to come in, which obviously means a stop in Carleton Place!

  3. Sharon Dyck says:

    Stacy, so very glad I stumbled across your birth story!! It was an amazing read and such a beautiful way to bring your son into the world. Very happy for you. Hope things are going well.

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