Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Amazing Day

Henry's birthday is tomorrow. I've spent the past week thinking a lot about my pregnancy and the days leading up to Henry's birth. I remember being ready. I remember being anxious about being a mother...could I do it, would I know what he needed? I remember being a little nervous about labor, but at the same time really excited.
One thing that really blew me away while I was pregnant was how many strangers {women} would come up to me and tell me how miserable I was going to be 9 months pregnant in July, or how awful their labor was and how awful mine was going to be. If the topic was anything other than pregnancy and labor, these unsupportive comments would be completely inappropriate in anyone's eyes.
I have had the privilege and blessing of being surrounded by very supportive people and very empowering birth stories. I know that it makes a difference. Not only did I know that I would survive the experience of birth, but I would come out on the other end a stronger person.
I am not claiming to have the most amazing birth story in the world, but it is the most amazing birth story to me and my family. I want to share Henry's birth story because I know that labor and childbirth is amazing. If I am blessed with that experience again, I look forward to it.

Disclaimer: I do talk about a baby being born...just a warning :)

Henry's estimated due date was July 26th. I was anxious to get things rolling. Not only was breathing close to impossible at times, but I knew the risks of induction and wanted nothing to do with them. I had been having mild contractions at night for a week or so, but nothing too significant. Every night before bed, Mike would remind our little guy that we were ready whenever he was :)
Monday morning at 5am, I woke up to a popping sound. I was sleeping on my side and I felt something warm on my leg. Either my bladder had failed me or my water had broke. I got out of bed and soon found out that it was the latter. I called my sister and Melaine {my doula} just to let them know that they would be needed in the coming day and I hopped in the shower. I was thinking about what I may have for breakfast or what Mike and I would do to pass the time as labor got started when I started having contractions. Nothing that brought me to my knees, but I was needing to rock my hips to feel better. I soon realized that I had not been in the shower for long and had had a few contractions.
I got out of the shower and asked Mike to pay attention to the clock. I was having 50 second contractions every 2 mimutes. It was go time! I called Melaine back and told her that I may want her to come over to our house sooner than I thought, but I'd call her back because I was sure everything was going to slow down {hmmm}. Mike helped me put on the TENS unit {I highly recommend this....I'll come back to this}. The contractions were coming like clock work. Mike was running around the house in between contractions getting things together. He would come in the room and say "You have 10 seconds before the next one" and help me through it before leaving again. It was funny the first time or two and then I asked him to stop with the announcement :)
I had been looking forward to laboring at home with Mike. I soon realized that out little man and my body had other plans. We left for the hospital at 6:30am. Emily and Melaine were meeting us there. After the short car ride to the hospital, I knew there would be no more sitting down for me. I refused the wheelchair in the ER and we slowly made our way to Labor and Delivery with a very nervous attendant.
We got into our room at 7:10 and I was asked to lay down for 20 minutes so the baby could be monitored. I had a hard time with contractions while laying down and I was glad when it was over. While I was being monitored, someone was getting the tub ready for me. Most people who have the chance to labor in water love it, so I was looking forward to it.
Let me stop for a second and tell you about Mike. This whole time, Mike had been right there every 2 minutes for every contraction. I needed him there. I was holding his hand and that's all I needed. There were 2 or 3 contractions during my whole labor where he wasn't beside me and they were ALOT harder. He was wonderful. Back to the tub...
I got in the tub while I waited for my midwife to arrive. She came 30 minutes later and told me to let her know if I wanted to be checked. I was afraid that she would check me and tell me I was a 2, so I told her I'd wait awhile. My contractions were coming stronger and stronger and I was having a hard time concentrating on what was happening. Something that really helped me was invisioning the baby and the progress that was being made. While I was in the tub, I started saying "oh baby, oh baby, oh baby..." through every contraction. I said that during every contraction from then on out until he was born. It really helped me focus.
Around 9:00am I decided that I wanted my midwife to check my progress. When I stood up out of the tub, I felt so much better. I felt best when I could move my hips during a contraction. I was at 6cm. Ok. I could do this. She told me that the baby's head needed to rotate a little more and that I needed to get into a "pretzel" position on the bed. That really doesn't sound pleasant, especially to a 9 month pregnant, laboring woman! I started to stall. I went to the bathroom for a loooong time. Eventually my midwife sent my doula and sister in to talk me into cooperating. The position wasn't as bad as it sounds, but I did not like being in the bed.
I got into that position at 9:30. The midwife knew what she was talking about because at 10:10, I was ready to push. You hear about women having the urge to push. It was crazy. They knew that I was at 10cm because my body started involuntarily bearing down. I don't think I could have stopped it if I tried.
Those 40 minutes before I started pushing were the most intense 40 minutes of my life. Transition is like being slammed against the tallest wall you've ever seen and knowing there is no way you can get over it. Or so you think. I ended up asking for a shot of phentanyl around 10:00. Every one in the room tried to talk me out of it {thank you team!}, but a strong personality only gets stronger in labor :) In hindsight I should have gotten out of that bed and against the wall where I was most comfortable {if you can call it that}. I don't want to say that I regret the phentanyl shot, but I do.
I started pushing around 10:15. I really wish that I would have had this part recorded. I was for sure that every one in that city block could hear me. I wasn't screaming, it wasn't a bad sound. I was making a sound that kinda sounded like a lion. I remember being surprised by how intense this stage was. It sounds silly to say now, but I was for some reason.
I pushed for an hour. It really didn't seem quite that long. I was tired. I started dozing in between the contractions. When the baby's head crowned, the midwife checked to make sure everything was ok. Then she told me to reach down and finish delivering my baby. I reached down and took him under his arms and guided him out and onto my chest. Nothing I can say now can describe that moment. I had gotten over that wall and had received the greatest reward. We had a son and he knew I was his mother. Every one in the room knew that he knew it. Mike was so proud of his son and so grateful to me.
I was so empowered by Henry's birth. I am grateful for that preperation that I had in becoming a mother. I was so grateful for the support of my husband, my sister, my friend, my midwife and my nurse. I loved that day. I loved the hard work. I loved my husband's love that I felt. I loved reaching for my baby for the first time. I loved becoming a mother.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Party Boy

Henry is turning one on Wednesday! We had a party at a local park this past Saturday. It was really nice. Henry's local family and a few of his friends came to celebrate the wonderful little boy that he is.

The pictures from the party were taken on my sister's camera {I'll get them soon}, but I think this says it all! Henry had a great time and was exhausted by all the fun:)
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Transportation Upgrade

Henry has been walking for about 1 1/2 weeks now. These are some of his first real steps. He really took off within a couple of days after that. Life is a lot easier now with Henry's new skill. He can entertain himself for longer periods of time without needing my assistance {ie. I can get something done around the house!}.

Last of the Beach...I promise

We got home from the beach almost 2 weeks ago, I figured it was time to wrap this up. Henry got to spend a lot of time with Papa on the beach. They play so well together :)

I love this little boy so much. I can't believe it. I can't believe even how much more I love him right now than yesterday, or this morning. It's crazy!

Hardcore Henry ;)

Grace is so cute and sweet. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I might {MIGHT} want a girl!

I have zero ability to make a funny face. Maybe I'm afraid I'll look funny.

Caleb thought the sandcrabs were monsters :)

Henry sure could dig a mean hole.

Henry had a game with the bucket. He would push the bucket until it reached the water. Then he would turn around and race back to safety. Papa was there just in case he didn't reach safety fast enough!
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Harbor Sailing...kinda

We all love sailing, though we don't get to do much of it. We would go sailing on our vacations in Maine and Papa went on a sailboat cruise. We found a sailboat in the Norfolk harbor and decided to go. It was nice to be on the water, but harbor cruises aren't the most exciting thing. They set sail on the way back and I think we actually stopped moving :) It did give the kids an opportunity to explore the boat.

Caleb just such a good job assisting the captain that he got to take over.

Our Aunt and Uncle {Papa's brother} were able to visit for part of our trip. They live in California and are thinking of retiring to the east coast. Shamefully, this is the best picture we got of the family while they were here!
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Sandman Dreaming

How did we luck out?! Henry took great naps on the beach...probably better than at home. We had great umbrellas for shade, big blankets, and Henry didn't mind the head to toe sand while he was sleeping {crazy man!}. Everything worked out great...except this one time. Little Henry was taking his afternoon nap and some freak wave hit the beach and washed out half the sun worshippers, and their towels and books, and poor Henry. I was seconds away from him, but by the time I got to him he was gurgling in water. He actually didn't get too upset and figured it was just time to get up and continue to play.

One day the wind was crazy and we had a hard time keeping our super large umbrellas in the sand. We found shade wherever we could.

Just looking at all that sand makes my skin crawl :)

Yum Yum

Henry loved playing with his cousins on the beach, destroying piles of sand, and especially eating sand! Here is his first taste test. I guess textures don't bother this kid!

The only time Henry has used a utensil. How polite of him :)

Henry was usually decorated with a sand facial hair image of some sort.

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To the Beach!

After our long 4th of July, we got up the next morning and headed to Virginia Beach. Mike had to stay behind, so we weren't as excited as we could have been, but we were excited. The weather was a little cloudy the first couple days, but by the end of the week it was perfect! Caleb was a little cautious of the water for the first day or two and spent a lot of time running from the waves.

Henry became comfortable with the sand instantly. It became his second skin that week :)

Henry liked hanging out with Papa at the edge of the water.
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kids on the Hill

Sweet Gracie is full of so much love, especially for her Daddy.

Caleb loves hanging out with the big boys...and he can throw a mean frisbee!

Westley {Mike's cousin} and Caleb had so much fun together. They were pretending to be afraid of the fireworks.

We wanted a picture of Caleb and Henry and their matching patriotic shirts. I'm glad Henry loves the love Caleb gives him :)

Fireworks on the Hill

Ever since we started dating, we have always gone and watched the Staunton fireworks with Mike's family {and usually mine}. We were excited to introduce Henry to the tradition this year. He was mezmerized by them for awhile, but then he wanted to play again :) He handled the way past his bedtime part pretty well too.

Henry loved showing off his patriotism. He is a little nervous about what the next 4 years will be like {either way!}, but he loves his country just the same.

Caleb was a little nervous about the sparkler. Westley had 2 sparklers left when we got to the school and he was excited to share one with Caleb :)

We always get to the school early and hang out {and claim a good spot!}. The guys usually throw frisbee. This year we had homemade ice cream and watermelon. Yum!
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Independence Celebration Begins!

We started our 4th of July off at the Frontier Culture Museum. I was really excited. I have a lot of memories of neat field trips there while I was in school. They had special games and events at the American Farm to celebrate the day {and free admission!}. There were sack races, watermelon seed spitting contests, log sawing, and other games. Caleb and I practiced our getting water out of a well skills.

Mike and his cousin Colton sawing some logs...remember not to push!

There was a lot of livestock to get the kids excited. They have some really neat breeds of sheep and chickens. A chicken ate out of Caleb's hand {we didn't have a camera nearby}! I'm not sure what I'm doing in this picture...probably telling my sister to stop complaining about the heat :)

A family photo in front of the German Farm.