This is the birth story of the newest little brother to join the Wuertz family.
So, Friday night I am waiting for Stephen to get home and finally finishing the owl that I started for Ethan a long time ago.
He was very happy about it. Jillian was, as usual right next to me as I finished, pelting me with state-the-obvious questions and touching everything in my knitting basket as I am telling her repeatedly to not touch things. Ethan was handing me books every few seconds, asking me to read them and walking away after I got to the third page.
Somewhere in this chaos of my life I start to realize that I am having some contractions. Nothing too exciting. Nothing I have to breathe through. Nothing regular.
I was kind of the queen of false alarms with the other two kids so I was very prepared for this to be that. However, these contractions were slightly different feeling to me than with the other two. There just seemed to be more pulling and tugging. Nothing I couldn’t manage. Just mostly annoying.
So Stephen got home and because I knew he wasn’t quite ready for this baby to make his/her appearance, I told him what was going on, that I needed a shower and that he should figure out dinner. Things he said that night were quite comical. “OK, what can we have for dinner that will stop labor? Is there any connection there?” He was just so not ready for this baby to come yet. He was definitely counting on me going past my due date like I did with the other two.
The contractions never really picked up a pattern or intensity, but they continued through the night. This had happened with the other kids too. We just kept waiting for them to fizzle. We didn’t think this was the real deal, but Stephen cancelled his plans for a Dodger game with friends just to be safe. Because you never know. Or you both go to bed that night annoyed that nothing happened except more lame piddly contractions that don’t seem to be doing anything.
We woke up the next morning to more of the same. Every now and then I’d have a contraction that was kind of more uncomfortable, but still nothing regular or substantial.
I got up with the kids (Stephen did it the day before), made French toast for breakfast and we got ready for church.
I started having a TMI pregnancy moment in the shower, the good ol’ mucus plug/bloody show. Still I didn’t think it meant much. I lost mine with the other two within a week, but they can regenerate and it really isn’t a good signpost. Real labor still seemed far off.
I had some more intense contractions during church. I think mostly from all the standing. Still, not all of them were similar feeling or having any regularity. I kind of felt like we should be at home, but also decided I didn’t want to be responsible for lunch. So we went to the shopping center we always do for lunch after church and in true American style ordered from three different restaurants.
Contractions started to be more intense during lunch, but maybe it was just all the toddler wrangling we were trying to do. Our kids were both being a tad bit obnoxious that morning.
The plan was for the kids to fall asleep on the way home and take it easy the rest of the afternoon. Stephen really wanted me to take a nap in the hopes that these things would just go away.
Except Jillian almost fell asleep, but not quite and nap time was almost ruined. The contractions seemed to be petering out, but then would come on again out of no where. Stephen began making phone calls and just-in-case arrangements. I pleaded with Jillian to take a nap. I tried to lay down with her and she was just too wound up. So, I took matters into my own hands and went for a little drive with her. She fell asleep, but by the time I got back Ethan was awake.
We hung out a little bit. Some of my contractions were intense, others were almost non-existent. Sometimes they’d be two minutes apart, sometimes six.
We made dinner together. Stephen grilled corn and squash, I made a huge salad. It was quite the veg feast.
I started putting Ethan to bed a little early due to his shorter nap. While I was rocking him it seemed like the contractions were more consistent and mostly stronger. Since we still weren’t sure if this was the real deal or not, we decided to chance letting the kids go to bed and sleep through it.
I decided to try and rest, finally, just in case. But things were intense and regular enough that I couldn’t really sleep and decided I should time them. At 8:30pm or so we had a pattern! 1 min long and 6 min apart. I was still totally fine though.
Stephen called the midwife on call just to give her a heads up. She suggested I take a bath and try to relax and get some sleep again that night. So I got into the bath. Stephen went into nesting mode and cleaned our entire downstairs, did all the dishes and got out all the home birth supplies.
I hung out in the bathtub, somewhat in disbelief. I could definitely feel the contractions working and doing things. I had to breath and relax through them when they were happening, but then I was fine. I still expected them to fizzle at any moment. I kept expecting to be so lost in how intense they were that I would need Stephen to come in there and coach me to relax, but that mostly never happened. He would pop in and notice my jaw wasn’t slack enough, but other than that I was fine. I just kept visualizing a circle getting bigger or a drawstring bag opening and then the contraction would be over and I’d be back to thinking, “Really? This is labor? Like really, really?” I was almost laughing to myself.
Then I think my water broke at about 10:50pm. I felt a few gushes over a few contractions, but I couldn’t really see anything since I was in water. I definitely noticed the loss of “my cushion,” and the pickup in frequency, but still things just were not that intense. Stephen called the midwife again. I kept hanging out in the tub.
Just before she arrived I had a couple pretty uncomfortable contractions in the tub. Then I had to go to the bathroom. I did not like having contractions on the toilet. I just wanted to get it over with and get on my bed and start pushing. I heard things and attitude come out of me that sounded just like our daughter in a crabby mood, “Don’t breathe in my face!” when Stephen was coaching me to breathe. “I don’t want to be on the potty!”
I could tell I was almost there. They were so close together that I couldn’t really accomplish things as fast as I wanted to.
After 3 or 4 contractions Stephen finally got me to the bed and I laid on my side. The midwife called and having not yet had her home visit with us, was a little lost in our complex. He went down to find her. I had a couple contractions where I pushed. It was really uncomfortable to push on my side.
I was so glad when they got up there and I could sit up with Stephen behind me. She listened to the heartbeat first and things were good. Another contraction where I pushed. Then our midwife checked me. The head was really close. Another contraction to push. Then she checked again just to make sure I was dilated completely. I was. Pushing was exactly right, she said. She flurried about the room getting various things ready. I had a few contractions that didn’t really feel to me like pushing contractions. Then it was go-time. I think he was out in three or four pushes. The first where his head came out the midwife noticed that he had the cord around his neck and shoulder. She calmly unlooped and then I had him out and our baby was a boy!
Henry was born at 12:30pm on July 25, 2011. He was 8lbs 2oz and 20in long.
The next couple hours were kind of a blur of nursing, getting cleaned up, placenta inspection, drinking a lot of juice and a newborn exam. I did feel pretty nauseous when I got up for the first time. I took some homeopaths I have for nausea and our midwife put a cool washcloth on my neck and it went away.
Jillian woke up at some point, but didn’t want to come out of her room at first. She started to, but then saw our midwife sitting on our floor working on her charts and retreated back. Around 2:30am we heard her singing in there and Stephen went in and she had finally warmed up to the idea. She was immediately smitten with her new baby brother. She said, “I like this baby, Mama.” She wanted to be right next to him and to me. She called him, “my little Henry.” And she was very attentive as our midwife went over the initial recovery instructions.
Our midwife left at about 3am and we all got snuggled in to go back to sleep with Jillian back in her own bed and lights out.
I woke up at about 4:30am in really intense pain from the afterbirth contractions. This was way worse pain than my labor and it didn’t subside at all. The pain was so much so that I felt like I was having hot flashes and I was really nauseous. I got Stephen up. He took the baby and I started throwing up.
Once I finished I wanted to go to the bathroom. I think I was a little too determined and headstrong about this and probably should have laid down a little longer. We made sure I was contracted by massaging my tummy like the midwife said. Then I made my way in. I felt like there was a lot of blood. Then I started to feel like I would pass out. I yelled, “Stephen I don’t feel so good!” twice. Then I heard a whoosh, Stephen screaming and hugging me as my head flopped around, “Lisa come back! You have to wake up! You have to try!” I was coherent enough to remember, “You have to massage my tummy! I need to lay down! Massage my tummy!” Then I passed out again. Another whoosh. Stephen yelling at me to stay with him and talking to a 911 operator. “You have to massage my tummy!” Feeling gushing blood. The 911 operator telling him to get me on the bed and laying flat while massaging my tummy. That the fire department is on the way. Painful tummy massage. Finally feeling alert. Operator saying the baby nursing could also help. Baby in my arms nursing.
Firemen and paramedics in my room clumping around in their big boots (how did our kids sleep through this?) A thousand questions. Realizing I am basically naked (tank top and post-partum undies) and really bloody in front of all these giant men. Legs shaking. Stephen telling them he thinks I had a seizure. Being carried out of the room by two big men on some sort of stair chair contraption. Asking for a blanket because I don’t want my neighbors to see me naked. Being transferred to a gurney.
Nearly crying that after all the perfection we have to go to the hospital. Stephen staying behind.
Clutching our baby in the bumpy ambulance ride with one arm while the paramedic effortlessly starts an IV in my other arm.
A very old-fashioned and abrupt male doctor: “Why did you guys bring the baby? I thought we had you trained better than that. If there’s nothing wrong with the baby, you don’t bring the baby.”
Paramedic 1: “It’s better if the baby stays with mom. He was thirsty.”
Paramedic 2: “Yeah he was parched.”
Doctor: “Alright well now we have to call labor and delivery to get a warmer down here.”
Nurse, as she’s taking my baby: “A baby warmer is better for keeping the baby warm.”
Laying there alone. Wanting to hold my baby. Thinking that I’ve just become the poster child for reasons not to have a homebirth, another statistic for ACOG. Pokes and sticks and tests. More alone. Stephen finally makes it. He immediately asks to hold and remove the little guy from the warmer and then snuggles him. A long hallway ride on a gurney. A CT scan. An EKG.
The abrupt doctor thinks that I fainted and threw up due to the pain. Nothing is wrong with me, I did not have a seizure, my heart is fine, I didn’t even lose an abnormal amount of blood.
About to be discharged. Emergency stroke victim and shift change mean waiting longer. My Advil from just after the birth wears off. Off the chart, unsubsiding pain again. Nurse coming in expecting to take out my IV and get a free bed is distracted and slightly flustered by my new problem.
A call to our backup OB. More waiting. More pain. He arrives. He is hilarious. “This is normal! I can give you some good narcotics! Not heroin, that’s just in the back of some guy’s car. (Stephen claims the joke went, “Not heroin, that’s just after hours.”) You can take four Advil! You can get a shot of Toradol if you want. When I was hit by a car they shot that in my leg…” “You were hit by a car?!?” “Yeah, on my bike. The paramedic shot that in my leg and it felt real good. It’s good stuff. You have an IV! You don’t have to get a shot!”
So I get some Toradol and then a few minutes later I feel like I can relax my legs. I can move. I feel much better. I can even nurse the little one that Stephen has been placating for several hours now. And then finally a wheelchair ride to the car and home. Snuggling my sweet babe on the couch.
Anyway, we love this little guy. So happy to be home. Thankful nothing was really wrong. Thankful for family that took Jillian and Ethan at the last minute so Stephen could go to the hospital. Thankful that I didn’t get seriously injured when I fainted in the bathroom. Thankful that Jillian and Ethan slept through the scariest moments. Thankful for friends bringing us dinner tonight. Thankful that I can process things in writing.