Hello Harrison Bruce – A Birth Story Part 1

Harrison Bruce birth story part 1

Well, if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time or you know me personally you may be aware of a couple of things: 1. I’m super inconsistent and slow about posting updates, and 2. We’ve added a second baby to our family. These two things are likely related. Harrison, our second boy’s birth story is, as they say, “one for the books”… so let’s just jump right in.

Being pregnant with my second baby proved to be slightly more difficult for me than it was the first time around. Granted, with Henry, I had a super easy pregnancy – I never got sick, didn’t really “show” until I was nearly halfway through, gained less than 20 pounds total, had no complications and an almost exactly on time delivery (40 weeks + 1 day). So this time, even though I dealt with some general nausea nearly every day during my first trimester, gained more weight much more quickly, and was fairly uncomfortable throughout most of my pregnancy, I still had relatively little to complain about and am thankful for that.

This second pregnancy was a different experience than the first, because we had a toddler keeping us on our toes which made the 9 months feel like it flew by in some ways, and because I more or less “knew what to expect” (ha!) having been through it all before. Having that knowledge and memory of childbirth is a little bit comforting and a lotta bit terrifying, because (spoiler alert) – pushing a human out of your lady parts is HARD. I also did a lot of worrying about the upcoming transition from one to two kids, feeling like there is no way this baby can be as sweet and easy as Henry (SORRY HARRISON, you are wonderful!), and fearing for my very little free time/me time and sanity because apparently two kids is far more than twice as much work.

For the most part as far as pregnancy goes, I did a lot of things the same as the first time. I didn’t worry much about a lot of the “rules” (you know, like don’t eat soft cheese or sushi, don’t touch a drop of alcohol, don’t paint the nursery), but I did try to stay relaxed and healthy, and limit anything that might be a true risk.

One of the things that was different this time was how active I was and when throughout the 9 months.

With Henry, I ran a lot early on, since I was feeling good and thinking that I was going to run a half marathon when I was 6 months pregnant. Unfortunately, I developed some pretty severe sciatic pain and had to downgrade to running the 5K while Jesse completed the half marathon solo. I may have over-done it with the early training, and that race was pretty much the end of what I could handle as far as physical activity during my first pregnancy. My pain was bad enough that I was mostly inactive during the third trimester, and went through some physical therapy and acupuncture treatments to help manage my sciatica.

This time was kind of the opposite. I felt some sciatic pain almost immediately after finding out that I was pregnant (muscle/ligament/nerve memory? or was it all in my head? we’ll never know.), and decided to visit a chiropractor to see if that would help. The adjustments didn’t do a whole lot to relieve the pain, and I was tired and dealing with evening nausea, so I really didn’t run or work out at all during my first trimester. Thankfully, I started to feel much better once I reached about the 12 week mark, and decided I would get up early 5 days a week and walk or jog on the treadmill. I wasn’t trying to win any competitions, so I took it slow and would just get moving for 25 minutes a day before getting ready for work. I was able to jog a mile or so a couple days a week up until the holidays slowed me down and my gigantic belly finally became too uncomfortable on my pelvis, right around the first of the year and my 8th month of pregnancy. I continued to get up and walk every weekday morning, determined to stay active as long as I could. I also went back to the same prenatal acupuncturist and re-visited the chiropractor during the last 2 months, trying to use any “natural” methods I could for preventative care and preparation for a smooth labor and delivery.

I also binge-watched the TLC show “My Crazy Birth Story” while walking on the treadmill, entertained by the cheesy re-enactments and sound effects, but also intrigued by the stories of these people who didn’t make it to the hospital and had fast and unexpected home births/car births/amusement park births/etc. I jokingly told my sister several months ago that I wasn’t sure how you make that happen, but that’s what I was going for, and I’d totally be ok with a car baby.

My first L&D experience was relatively fast (about 10 hours total and less than 6 hours of labor in the hospital), and I had heard/read that second labors usually go faster. I told Jesse a few times that maybe this time we’d only be in the hospital 3 hours, right? …But would follow it up by saying “Probably not, I’m not getting my hopes up” (I was totally getting my hopes up).

I had also heard that second babies often come earlier, but one of our OB docs said in her experience, it’s usually close to the same as firsts.

As I learned the first time around, you can read about all of the wives tales and statistics you want, and take bets on what you think is going to happen, but it’s ALL SPECULATION. Babies and births are just flat out unpredictable.

Enough backstory/foreshadowing for ya?

OK. SO.

Kelly 37 weeks pregnant, and Henry

Wednesday, February 5th, I was 38 weeks pregnant and had my regularly scheduled OB check-up. I was supposed to meet with the one male doctor, who happened to be our favorite of the clinic, but upon arrival they told me that he was stuck on-call at the hospital so I’d be meeting with one of the other physicians. No problem. The newest lady-doc whom I had only met a couple of times came in, a bit flustered but full of energy, and listened to the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler – sounds great. She asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes today, and I declined, saying that maybe we could try that next week at my 39 weeks appointment. I didn’t want to try to rush or force anything before the baby was ready. I did ask her to go ahead and check for dilation, since they had been telling me the baby was already nice and low, and I was 2 cm at 36 weeks and 3 at 37, but “not very effaced yet” the previous week. I had been having a ton of Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks, and while the jury’s still out on if they actually do anything to help with dilation, I’m convinced that they DO (otherwise what causes gradual, weeks-long progress?). The doctor checked me and declared that I was roughly 4 cm dilated and about 70% effaced!

Sweet.

She got visibly excited (but I think that’s just her personality), and went on about how “It could be any time! It could be this weekend, could be tonight!” She told me she was going to be on call Friday through Sunday, and if it happened tonight, I could still see our preferred male doc since he was at the hospital already.

I left and went back to work, happy about the progress but not getting too excited. At that point I had pretty much convinced myself that I was going to go full term with this baby, same as with Henry. I had even scheduled an acupuncture “induction treatment” for February 19th, the morning of our due date, because I am convinced this put me into labor the first time and wanted to see if we could make it two for two. I texted Jesse to give him the update:

20200205 Jesse Kelly Text Message Screen Shot

I also texted our friend/unofficial doula Cortney to let her know that things were coming along and see what her upcoming schedule looked like, since her husband travels a lot for work and she has 4 kids that she would need to arrange childcare for if he happened to be out of town when it was go-time. She sent me her calendar and said we would play it by ear.

Went home that evening, dinner, bed, business as usual, and (SURPRISE!) nothing happened. I was up and back at work the next day. While I still wasn’t counting on anything happening any time soon, I did chat with our intern and sweet friend Kimber at work about her availability to babysit Henry juuuust in case. Our “Plan A” was to call my Dad and Step-Mom who could be at our house within about an hour when I went into labor, but they were in Mexico until Saturday that week. Jesse’s parents live 4 hours away (and were getting ready to leave on a cruise that Saturday), and my Mom unfortunately had shingles and couldn’t be around a new baby until that had cleared up. So we were working with some moving grandparent targets, but had a couple options in mind in the case of a child care emergency. Kimber had babysat for us several times, she lives close and Henry loves her, so I was happy to hear she was around if we needed her.

We made it through the relatively uneventful Thursday, and headed home.

Around 7:00 p.m.,

I attempted to take a belly video with Henry before we put him to bed. Cortney had recommended doing this, and I figured I might as well since I did a pretty poor job of documenting the belly this time (sorry, second child). Henry was somewhat cooperative, but mostly wanted to push on my belly button, play me like a drum, and try to do headstands on the couch.

Belly video Screenshot Kelly and Henry2 Belly video Screenshot Kelly and Henry

There’s the belly in all of its 38 w + 1 d old glory. Not to give anything away, but this is where I’m going to start giving you the play-by-play along with times because, unbeknownst to me, things were about to get cray.

7:30 p.m.

We put Henry to bed.

7:50ish

Jesse and I warmed up some leftover chili. Jesse had made an especially hot batch the weekend prior, including a finely chopped up Carolina Reaper pepper. The first night we ate it, I was worried that it was either going to put me into labor (some people swear spicy food will do the trick), or make me shit my pants. Luckily, both the baby and my butt made it through the next day without much trouble, so I figured it was fine to continue eating.

8:00 p.m.

We went downstairs to eat our dinner and watch T.V. I don’t even remember what show we watched, but it was about an hour long.

Just as I was starting to doze off on the couch, per usual…

8:55 p.m.

Jesse: “Are you falling asleep?”

Kelly: “I was, but I just kind of had a contraction.”

Jesse: “Like a real contraction or a Braxton Hicks?”

Kelly: “I don’t know, it was kind of uncomfortable.”

8:58 p.m.

We’re still sitting on the couch downstairs, and I feel another slightly uncomfortable contraction. I must have scrunched up my face a bit, just thinking…

Jesse: “Do you think you’re doing it?”

Kelly “I don’t know. Let’s go get ready for bed.”

9:05 p.m.

We’re upstairs brushing our teeth. I’m still feeling some contractions every few minutes, but am not convinced they are real. I wash my face, and we climb into bed.

The contractions continued, and I could feel each one starting toward the top of my belly and radiating to my lower back, which is the only thing that really made me think this might be actual labor. When Henry was born, he was sunny-side up and I had TERRIBLE back labor. I was really hoping this wouldn’t happen again, and praying that the chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture I’d been doing would actually help the baby get into a good position, as they claim.

I was also really hoping to be able to have a second un-medicated birth, but was anxious about how it might go. If labor with Henry had lasted much longer, I may have caved and asked for an epidural, because the contractions did get to the point where I actually thought I couldn’t do it any more. During our hospital pre-registration this time, the nurse told us that they just recently started offering nitrous oxide (laughing gas) as an option to help manage anxiety and possibly help with pain during labor. I was intrigued, and thought that I would consider giving this a shot if I got to a 10 on the pain scale again.

Anyhoo. Jesse was helping time my contractions with an app on his phone, and they were lasting about a minute and starting pretty close together (my memory is fuzzy on this – Jesse swears they were barely 2 minutes apart from the get-go). Between 9:10 and 9:40, I had to get up to use the restroom twice (which made me think the chili was a bad idea) and I continued to have fairly regular contractions while I was in and out of bed. At one point while I was in the bathroom, I looked at my watch and noticed it was Thursday, February 6th. I thought for a second about the fact that Henry was born on September 6th, and it would be cool if they both had birthdays on the 6th, but immediately realized that it was almost 10 p.m., and IF this even was the start of labor, it was pretty unlikely that the baby would be born within the next few hours.

9:43 p.m.

Back in bed, we decide that it would probably be a good idea to call Cortney. She answers, and I tell her that I’m having some slightly painful contractions and trying to figure out if it’s early labor, or if it might stop. Luckily, she happened to be at a friend’s house, had her kids down to bed there and could leave at any time. I told her that I had just a little bit of bleeding, but nothing that was obviously a mucus plug or bloody show (sorry, grossest terms for “you may be going into labor in the next hour or day or few”). Even so, she was excited, said “Ok, cool, yeah. For me, this time in the evening when you settle down is usually when things (labor) start happening.” She said she thought that it could happen pretty fast, being my second baby, and that I should just relax, maybe have a glass of wine, maybe do it [sorry, no thank you] and enjoy the (potentially) last few hours of being pregnant. I promised to let her know if the contractions progressed or if they stopped – still thinking in my head that was a legit possibility.

After I hung up, Jesse and I chatted about options. I thought trying to get some rest for a bit would be a good idea. One more contraction after I laid my head down, and I knew that wasn’t an option. The pain, though still pretty mild in my opinion, was too much to sleep through. Jesse sighed, and said something like “Man. I’m not ready.” I said really? And he said “I’m tired. It’s going to be a long night.” Ha. Yes, it definitely could be.

He asked if maybe we should put Kimber on alert in case we needed her to come stay the night with Henry. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of what could be nothing, but decided it wouldn’t hurt to text.

9:52 p.m.20200206 Kimber text message screenshot

We laid in bed for another 20 minutes or so, timing contractions. They were staying pretty consistent, roughly 2 minutes apart, and lasting around a minute.

Quick interjection into my own story: if you’re reading this now and you’ve ever had a baby or know anything about labor or know how to google about labor, I realize you’re probably thinking “Contractions 2 minutes apart for over an hour?! Idiot! Obviously it’s real labor and you should GET YOUR ASS GOING.” However. I had done this once before (which means nothing, clearly), and my early contractions with Henry were well under the 5 minute interval that says you should go to the hospital (our contraction app was even urging us to do so because delivery was “imminent”), and once we made it in, we still had about 6 hours of long hard labor before he was born. I had one experience to go off of, and I figured this would be similar, OK?

Ok.

Since the contractions were not slowing down, I decided we better get up and get ready to go. Luckily, I had packed my hospital bag earlier that week and had just a list of a few things (car seat, phone charger, pillow, snacks) that we needed to grab on the way out. Jesse decided to take a quick shower, and I asked him to run me a bath when he was done.

10:24 p.m.

While Jesse was in the shower, I called Kimber to tell her that I thought we were probably going to go to the hospital, and if she could get her things together and head to our house, that would be great.

I got in the bath, thinking it would be nice to relax for a few, ease the discomfort from the contractions, and maybe slow them down or stop them altogether. I washed up, and decided to shave my legs (not that there’s much room for modesty in the delivery room, but might as well do what you can to be presentable, right?) The contractions continued, and I heard Kimber come in the house as Jesse was packing a bag and gathering up our stuff.

Around 10:50 p.m.

I got out of the tub, wrapped up in a towel, waved a quick “hi” to Kimber, and went into the bedroom to get dressed. It took me a couple of minutes to decide what to put on, and to dig the maternity sweatshirt that I wanted out of the hamper. At this point when I would have a contraction, I had to brace myself on the bed or on my knees for a few seconds until the worst passed. I came out into the living room, and checked to see how Jesse was doing with loading everything up and make sure Kimber was comfortable and had everything she needed/Henry care instructions for the night.

We were nearly ready to go, but for some reason I felt like I couldn’t quite get my shit together. I was like:

“Socks, I need socks.”… wandering back and forth trying to decide if I should pull a pair out of my packed bag, or from my dresser.

“I don’t know what shoes to wear. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

As I’m trying to crawl halfway under our bed to get to the outlet, “Let me get you the baby monitor, you can plug it in downstairs in the guest room… or do you want to sleep in our room?”

Kimber was like, “Can I help you with something? Let me do that. You’re literally having a baby right now.” [as I would bend over in pain with another contraction] “This looks terrible”

I told her, “This is nothing. It will get terrible in a few hours. OR, I don’t know, maybe the baby will just fall out” (UGH HOW MANY TIMES CAN I MAKE THE SAME JOKE?) Probably at least one more.

Cortney had texted while I was dinking around, to ask how I was feeling.

At 11:00 p.m.,

I sent a message back: “I think we are heading to the hospital, it’s not slowing down”. She said “Awesome! Want me to meet you there?”

So we finally had everything loaded up in the car, I put on my coat and was ready to go. I got into the car, and had to brace myself against the door through a contraction, while trying to get my phone out of my pocket to respond to Cortney’s text.

Jesse: “Don’t worry about your seatbelt”

Kelly: “I’m not, I’m just trying to text Cortney”

11:09 p.m.

We’re backing out of the driveway as I send a text to tell her “Yes please”

I didn’t see her response until the next day, but she asked if we had childcare in place, and then said she would leave in 10.

The drive to the hospital takes about 3 or 4 minutes. Jesse mentioned that we couldn’t do valet parking since it was after hours, so did I want to try the parking garage and walk? Or should he try to get closer to the entrance? I said parking garage.

The next particularly painful contraction, I decided I probably didn’t want to walk any more. Jesse said no problem, and we pulled into the credit union parking lot right across the street from the emergency room. We get out of the car, and Jesse pulled our bags, pillows, camera, kitchen sink, etc. etc. out of the back.

11:14 p.m.

Just out of the car, I had another contraction and started to squat down, hands on my knees for some relief. Once it was over, we hurried across the street.

11:15 p.m.

We reach the emergency room doors, but before going inside I stop to squat through the next contraction. In my head, I remember thinking “I already feel like I have to poop.” Which, you know, can mean that you’re in transition and it’s almost time to push. But I didn’t say it out loud, and honestly didn’t think too much of it (because no way, not possible, of course not).

11:16 p.m.

We made it to the front desk to check in. I lean over on the counter as I tell the receptionist my name and birth date, and she asks how far apart the contractions are. Jesse says, maybe a minute? She tells us Dr. A is on call, and I thought “Of course she is.” She happened to be our least favorite of the options, and the same doc that was supposed to deliver Henry (but we were lucky enough to end up with our preferred OB that time!) Don’t get me wrong, she’s very nice and I’m sure she knows what she’s doing. She’s just a bit socially awkward, and smiles through everything she says, probably including bad news.

But it’s FINE. Everything’s fine.

Am I losing you yet? Or are you on the edge of your seat in anticipation? Either way, I know I’m thee most long winded typer ever so how bouts we take a break and I’ll bring you the exciting conclusion in PART DUEX, coming soon.

Part 2!

Harrison's crazy birth story vertical graphic

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