Claire Anne Henry – a birth story

Today, on this first day of summer, I was scheduled to have an induction at 11:00am. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am to have not made it to today still pregnant!

I don’t regret anything about Theo’s birth, but I had some different hopes for Claire’s labor and delivery and I’m so grateful to be able to say that nearly all of them came to be!

Firstly, I really wanted to go into labor naturally, to experience my body starting the process of birth. I feel like I worked so hard to help make it happen over the last weeks of pregnancy, with the looming induction date, trying everything from red raspberry leaf tea to castor oil, which is actually the thing that ended up sending us to the hospital at 3am for what we thought could be early labor, but the contractions eventually died out and we were sent home. Despite my attention to making it happen, and even the indications from my body that it was happening, and perhaps due to how I had no labor indications with Theo whatsoever right up to my induction date, doubt of it being possible to go into labor on my own, and it actually be the real thing, lingered in my mind up till the point we were even admitted to the hospital for real labor! But it really did happen!

Along with going into labor, I also hoped to be able to feel my water break on its own. Mostly just out of curiosity. They broke my water with Theo pretty quickly, so I assumed that the midwives I was with this time around would suggest breaking it pretty early on, but they were so relaxed and so willing to just wait and let my body work on its own and sure enough while lying on my side after a particular contraction I felt an ever so slight pop inside and a second of pause just long enough for me to think, ‘could that be my water breaking’ before the tell tale giant gush of fluid indicating my water did indeed break on its own! 

While I still opted for an epidural and even got some pitocin to regulate contractions midway through labor, by the time active labor and pushing began the epidural had accidentally worn off almost completely, despite valiant effort to keep it working, and the pitocin was shut off because my body had caught up on its own and the pitocin was stacking the contractions unnecessarily. With the epidural worn off, I can’t even put into words the amount of pain I was in during active labor and pushing. Perhaps because of Claire’s position, perhaps because I wasn’t expecting to have to cope with the pain, but my body felt like it was being literally burnt and crushed at once and while I felt on the edge of hysterical, somehow I was able to connect enough with my body to stay on track and push for no more than 20 minutes, with no tearing or episiotomy, to get Claire out and despite the absolutely overwhelming feeling of painful pressure felt with every push I still loved it and pushing my babies into the world will forever be my favorite part of both my labors. 

I never got immediate skin to skin with Theo, no delayed cord clamping like we hoped for and Justin wasn’t able to cut the umbilical cord with him either. This time around though we were blessed to have it all! Claire was laid on me for at least 10 minutes immediately following her birth, her cord stayed attached for at least 7 minutes, if not longer, and we were asked directly before they even considered cutting it and when he did, Justin cut it in one try which we were told was sort of rare and that it normally takes the dad’s a couple tries because the cord is so squishy. 

After I delivered the placenta I asked to be able to see it and the midwife excitedly laid it all out and showed us all its parts from where it was connected to me, to the sac and the umbilical cord connection. Is it strange to be proud of her describing Claire’s cord as thick and juicy?

After Theo I was stitched, sore, feverish, exhausted, dizzy, couldn’t walk on my own, couldn’t pee on my own, couldn’t even move in bed without almost crying from the pain. After Claire I’ve felt tired for sure and even went on less sleep than after delivering Theo, but I also feel SO much stronger as well. Not tearing and not being given an episiotomy has made this recovery so wonderfully different. No mess of stitches makes standing, walking, shifting, just moving in general already so easy again and nearly ache and pain free. I took at least three pain medications for weeks after Theo and this time I’ve taken just Motrin since giving birth. I also had to stay in the hospital longer after Theo because I could not pee on my own after getting the catheter with the epidural, something I was worried about happening this time around too. Maybe it’s because the epidural didn’t actually work, but I have had no trouble this time around which has been so amazing and to me even group text update worthy at the time and as my mother said, ‘Amazing how thankful one can be for peeing on their own’ because I truly am indeed!

We spent 5 days in the hospital with Theo, were discharged in the middle of the night without almost no heads up and sent home with a warning that Theo could still have an infection. He didn’t, but the entire experience was so overwhelming and even scary at times and by the time we got home Justin had only two days with us before needing to go back to work. With Claire we left just over 30 hours after she was born and this time around Justin gets to spend a full 5 days with us three before needing to go back to work! 

The entire birth experience has been so unique and different, even in some ways a little harder, than Theo’s and yet I’ve loved the differences. Above all else I am so thankful for the health and safety that Claire and I both have and maintained throughout the pregnancy, labor and delivery!

If you’ve followed my posts during this pregnancy you’ll know it took me a long time to feel a connection with Claire while she was inside, even up till her birth I still felt a certain lacking, and then she was born and suddenly I knew a connection I didn’t expect and in some ways didn’t even feel with Theo. I keep trying to describe it to Justin and have no idea if it’s because Claire’s a girl, but my connection with her is wholly unique and different than one I’ve felt before which also makes me think my connection with Theo must have been just as unique to him I just didn’t have anything to compare it to! It is like an entirely different part of my heart opened up that’s just for Claire, specific and unique to her, and somehow in no way interfering or taking anything away from Theo. The thought really holds true that the love doesn’t split, but simply multiplies. 

It all feels so right and good to be the four of us together and I’m so glad to be home and safe and healthy and able to be completely present as we embark on our future new normal. 

Our hearts are glad. 

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