I wanted to hurry and share my son’s birth story before too much time passes and I forget all the details. Henry (Hank) Calihan was born one week ago, two days before his official due date. Not only was this my first natural birth, but also the first time I had a birth photographer. I am SO GLAD. I will treasure these photos forever. I put them into a slideshow with music below. If you live in Utah and live in Salt Lake or Utah county, I highly recommend Rowtography. She was amazing and so fun and easy to work with. I was very comfortable having her in the room and she caught the perfect moments for me.
This 4th child was probably my most challenging pregnancy, which made it my most rewarding birth. This was also the first birth that I wanted to do natural. If you know me, you know that I’m a big fan of the epidural. My first birth was such a joyful experience that I continued to get epidurals with kids 2 &3.
I’m not sure why, but from the moment we first found out we were pregnant with this one there was this silent reassurance and peace about going natural this time around. So I went with my intuition and decided I would go ahead and do things different this time around.
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By the time the 3rd trimester rolled around, my pregnancy was filled with so many false alarms and false labor, that it became really hard to go about normal life. At 35 weeks I had my second visit to L&D with preterm labor (2 min apart) and was given steroids for baby’s lungs. The nurse told me I would likely have the baby within 24 hrs.
I began living my life as if baby was going to come any day (BIG MISTAKE), and at 39 weeks I was still very pregnant, very uncomfortable, and very grumpy (poor husband). I went into labor a couple of times, only to have it stall before I reached 5 minutes apart.
THE NIGHT HE WAS BORN
The night I truly went into labor, I had a hard time convincing myself to go to the hospital because of all the false alarms of the past. When my contractions jumped from 5 min apart to 3 minutes apart and became super intense, I knew we needed to quickly get on our way.
I arrived at the hospital and was measuring a 6 with bulging waters, but by the time they got me into a delivery room I was at a 7. This was around 3 A.M.
Luckily my doula arrived shortly after, and although my contractions felt really intense, the counter pressure she offered really took the edge off things. I became so grateful I had hired a doula. Her support made all the difference in the world. Throughout my entire labor and delivery experience the room felt light and joyful, even filled with some laughter at times.
Near the beginning of my labor, my midwife asked if I wanted her to break my water. Although it would intensify the contractions, it would also shorten labor, so I said yes.
I had intended to get in the tub for the hard contractions, but my midwife felt things might go too quickly at this point.
She was right. I went to go to the bathroom and my contractions were right on top of each other. I knew a bath probably wasn’t an option at this point.
My midwife, doula and husband offered counter pressure through a few more contractions which really helped a lot. They also showed me some different positions to try.
I’m also really grateful that I went with a midwife this time around. I chose to go with the midwives that work through my same OB office that delivered one of my daughters. At this point I would never choose an OB over a midwife for birth! She was with me the ENTIRE time. It was such a fun and joy-filled experience. When I looked through my birth pictures for the first time I totally teared up when I saw my midwife. I feel such a love and connection to her even though I only met her once before birth (I switched over the midwives a few weeks before I gave birth).
After my “birth team” helped me through some contractions, I remember at one point thinking “These are starting to get intense, I wonder how much stronger they are going to get.” I started prepping my mind for a much longer experience and was so surprised when I got checked and was told I was 100% complete! I suddenly felt so empowered. “I’m almost DONE?!”
Just minutes after she told me this, I felt like I needed to have the most major poo of my life and knew baby was coming. I was told I was welcome to push if I felt the urge.
I remembered reading in a childbirth book that you don’t need to force push your baby out, that your body will naturally push baby out as you breathe. I began to take deep breaths, and sure enough…..with each exhale my body started to push him out naturally. I was so amazed!
I was told I wouldn’t have torn, but baby boy had his arm up by his face, so his hand came out with his head. Little stinker. The funny thing is that throughout the last part of my pregnancy I told my sister, “I feel like his hand is hanging out down by his head!” And sure enough, now when we swaddle him, he somehow manages to get that hand out and rest it up by his face!
Within 2 or 3 breaths baby was out and immediately placed on my chest. Hank was born at 4:20 A.M. The instant relief was incredible. The feeling in the room was sacred and the joy in my heart is hard to describe. After days and weeks of intense praying and pleading for him to come, he was finally here. Pregnancy was no longer. He was in my arms. 2 days before his due date.
As I planned and prepped for this birth, I kept telling myself that it would be a beautiful and joyful experience, but in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but wonder if it was going to be horrible. Much more painful that I imagined. That I might regret my choice.
I’m so happy that my experience was so much better than I imagined it could be, and I owe it all to my birth team. It truly was such a fun, joyful, intense and amazing experience. All of my births have been unique and special, but the natural method of giving birth this time around was absolutely my favorite.
And most importantly…..pregnancy is over and baby is finally here safely.