BIRTH STORY | EVERLY JEAN HENNING | 9.13.13
Our water softener had a hose blown out and it started to flood our basement on Monday morning of that week. I ran over to our neighbors’ house to get his help. He came over & turned it off & I spent the rest of that afternoon chatting with him & his wife Niaomi about birth & pregnancy. They wanted to know all about our plans for a home birth. They have 13 children so they know a thing or two about birth. It was nice to sit & chat about it with them but it made me wish that my baby would hurry his/her way along. That evening, I had this overwhelming urge to clean the basement and do some laundry and vacuuming. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, “Is this the surge of energy that you supposedly get right before labor?”. Nah of course not, I shrugged it off & kept on my plan of action to clean. When Brian got home from work we went to Kroger for groceries & to Lowe’s for a water softener. I tried to grocery shop & quickly realized I couldn’t do it with all the Braxton hicks I was having. I decided I should head back to the car & let Brian finish the grocery shopping & pick up the water softener at Lowe’s. I tried to dose off to sleep in the truck but my Braxton hicks decided otherwise.
On Tuesday, my cleaning continued. It wasn’t crazy cleaning but definitely more than what I had done in the past few months. After work, Brian tried to install the water softener. I felt this extreme urgency to get that water softener installed b/c after all, we were trying for a water birth & having water is pretty important. That evening Joni, Brian’s mom, facetimed me to find out how I was doing since my due date was the 12th. I explained that I was feeling good & we joked again about how I would likely go late like my mom & sister did (2-3 weeks late with each of their 3 babies). We ended our conversation on that note. That night, Brian and I said goodnight & I laid down on the couch like I had done for several weeks since it was too uncomfortable to sleep in our bed. I thought I should lay a towel under me just in case my water broke. Funny thought I decided. So I didn’t lay a towel down after all. Generally, I’m up just about every hour or so to go to the restroom and also the last week or so I had been waking up right about 3 or 4 am, hungry & not able to sleep.
Like clockwork, I woke up about 3:30 starving and thirsty. I grabbed my general late night snack, a Lara bar (I know how ironic but Lara bars are good!) & a glass of milk & headed back to the couch to watch the early morning news until I finally could fall back asleep. Around 4:30 am, I tried to change to a comfy position on the couch & just as I leaned forward, I felt a gush of water. I quickly jumped up thinking that I must have peed myself. I ran for the bathroom just in time for an even bigger gush of water into the toilet. Surely that wasn’t just pee, I thought since I had just gone to the bathroom about a half hour before that. I went to wipe & that revealed to me some bloody show. “This is it”, I thought. My water broke & here I’m staring at my bloody show. I cleaned myself up, took a deep breath and headed for our bedroom to share the news with my husband Brian. I walked into the room with the biggest grin on my face & shook him a couple times. He looked at me in his sleep stupor as I told him that my water had broke & I had bloody show. I asked him if he was ready. He said he was as ready as he was going to be. So we walked back down to the downstairs bathroom & I grabbed the Choice book & I read over the “Call no matter what hour” list. Water breaking & bloody show were both on the “most definitely call” list. I decided I should call Kelley even though it was really early and I felt really bad waking her. I called and told her what had happened. She told me to try to go back to sleep and get some rest & let her know when things start to progress. Brian and I both tried to lay down for a few more hours but I had a hard time falling back to sleep. After laying on the couch for a couple of hours, I decided to get up & take a warm shower to see if that would relax me enough to want to take a nap. It relaxed me but I still wasn’t able to nap. Brian got up and we sat on the couch together in slight shock but full of excitement as to what was going to take place that day (or so we thought that day). Around 1 pm, we decided to call our moms to let them know what was going on. We put them on speaker phone & asked them both the same question, “Are you ready to be a grandma?”. We called Joni first since we knew she was working & would need to move her clients scheduling around ahead of time. After Brian asked the question, we sensed the nervousness in her voice but she was excited. When we called my mom & said the same question, she didn’t hear what I said & just said “I guess so”. I said, “Mom, did you hear what I said? Are you ready to be a Grandma again?”. She was shocked but excited! Both moms rode up together that evening & got to our house around 5:30 They immediately began a cooking, cleaning & helping around the house. This would continue around the clock for almost 3 days. We were so grateful to them for everything they did for us. We were able to concentrate on the labor & not worry about preparing for our week ahead with baby. That evening, the moms decided to go to Kroger for groceries & to pick up Chipotle for dinner. I opted out of having Chipotle since I figured that wouldn’t be the friendliest meals on my tummy especially for birthing. While the moms were gone, Brian & I thought it was the perfect opportunity to fit one more episode of our favorite show in on Netflix, Breaking Bad. Afterwards, the moms & Brian watched a movie. Contractions had been coming all day but they were subtle and spaced far a part. So I decided that while they were watching their movie, I should head off to bed for the night. I had a feeling that it would be a long labor. I laid in bed with butterflies & thoughts of holding my new baby soon. I couldn’t sleep. I waited until they had finished their movie & went off to bed before I retreated to the couch as my usual sleeping place for the remainder of the night. I was able to get some cat naps in which helped but wasn’t the best.
The next morning the moms convinced us to have one of the midwives come out to the house to check my progress & see how the baby was doing. We weren’t too worried but we knew our moms were growing in their concerns so we wanted their worries to be at rest & called. Jess (our training midwife) came out to the house around 9 am to check my status. She decided that I was only about 3 cm & she felt as though there was a little bit of the water bag still surrounding the baby & that I had a slow leak. I could confirm that since every time the baby would move, a little bit of water would leak. After Jess left, I continued to have slight contractions that I would compare to moderate menstrual cramps coming at about 6-8 minutes apart. Our moms continued to occupy their time by running to the store for random items, cooking, cleaning & doing laundry. That evening, Joni made a delicious chicken pot pie which I gladly ate since that’s one of my favorite meals. At this point, was when things started to take a turn. My contractions were beginning to intensify but were still far apart. Averaging between 6-7 mins (pretty much the same the whole day). I continued to text Kelley (our senior midwife) updates on my progress. At 7:30, I had Brian text Kelley to find out if they had any advice for us based on my status. She was at a home visit so she told us to call Amy for advice. Brian did so. She told him to do whatever we could do to relax & had me take a test to confirm that my water had indeed broke. It of course came up positive. I was still leaking. We called her back with the results & she told us to have our moms run to the store to pick up some meds for the birth. This is where the story takes a funny turn. She wanted us to get what is called HibiCleanse which is to help to prevent any bacterial infections. Brian misunderstood her & thought she said HIV cleanse. When he told us what she wanted us to get, we all looked at each other wondering what the heck HIV cleanse was & why I would need that but assumed she knew what she was talking about. So off the moms went to get HIV cleanse. Hilarious. Meanwhile, Brian & I decided to take showers while we could. While out, the moms asked two different pharmacies for HIV cleanse & they looked at them like they were crazy. At this point, my mom called Brian to confirm what it was called. Brian said yes, then hung up & immediately looked it up online. To his discovery, it wasn’t correct. They needed to get HibiCleanse not HIV! He called her back & explained to her. Meanwhile, I’m in the shower cracking up at the situation with the thoughts of our moms standing in front of the pharmacists asking for HIV cleanse. It was hilarious. After our showers we went downstairs to wait for the moms to come back. While waiting, I noticed that my contractions seemed to be getting a little stronger & closer. When our moms came back, we laughed together about the situation that had taken place earlier. The moms decided to start doing things around the house again. My mom was going to feed to dogs & I was explaining how much to give them. While I was standing there I had a contraction that I tried to talk through. Once it was done I kept trying to explain how much food to give them when another contraction started. I realized then that I really needed to start timing them since those 2 seemed very close. I laid down on the couch to time them. They were coming closer than ever & much stronger now. It was around 9-9:30 at this point. The next few were enough to make me stand up & pace back & forth. I couldn’t sit through them any longer. I grabbed onto the back of our living room chair & instructed Brian to call Amy back to let her know things had changed. He called & Amy wanted to know if we wanted anyone to come check on me to see my status & we told her yes. At this point, I was reaching active labor & was having a hard time keeping my dinner down. Brian continued to feed me water, determined not to let me get dehydrated. Kelley arrived at our house around 11 pm & checked me only to sadly find that I hadn’t made any further progress from earlier that morning. In fact, I had made NO progress. I was still 3 cm. At this point, I had been having contractions back to back & every time one would come on, my whole body would convulse. They were really intense & completely overwhelming my body. I had no control over my body at this point. Kelley stayed with us for about an hour. We knew we had a really long night ahead of us still. I remember thinking “How will I possibly be able to do this if I’m still only 3 cm?”. I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness come over me. I looked at Kelley & said “Am I going to be able to do this?”. She looked at me & without skipping a beat said, “Yes, you can do this”. That’s all I needed. I needed outside validation. I needed validation from my midwife. I never doubted myself again from that point on. I knew I could do it, that the pain was temporary & soon I would be holding our sweet baby.
Brian was instructed by Kelley to make me sleep. This seemed like an impossible task since I was having a contraction every couple of minutes & with each contraction my body would completely convulse. But somehow we did it. With the help of Brian, who laid almost completely on me in order to keep my body from tensing up & convulsing so that I could try to sleep in between contractions. I was able to sleep but was often overwhelmed with contractions. It was during these moments that Brian kept whispering in my ear that I was doing great, that I was strong & that I could do this. It meant the world to me. His encouragement is what got me through those toughest moments. It’s weird to say now but as painful as those hours were, they were some of my favorite moments since we were alone & holding each other. At 4 am, Brian called Kelley to let her know that I felt like I needed to push. Jess was sent to check me to see how far I was at that point. Jess arrived at the house at 5:30. Jess checked me & I was only about 5 cm. Jess asked if I wanted to try getting into the water & by that point, I was ready for the water. Within a half hour of being in the tub, I went from 5 to 8 cm! Finally! Progress! Jess decided to call the other midwives to get there since we were going to have a baby soon enough. While in the water I felt the uncontrollable urge to push. I couldn’t stop myself from this urge & told Jess I needed to push. She told me if wanted to try to do some subtle pushing, that would be fine. So with every contraction from that point forward, I found myself doing some subtle pushing. I did much of my laboring silently until a contraction came on & my body would shake all over. I had to hold Brian’s hand during these times. It was my way of having some control over the moment. If I couldn’t have control over my body, at least I could have Brian there to make me feel like I was in control. Amy & Kelley arrived & I tried my best to smile at them both when they arrived. I wanted to say hello, thank them for coming & chat with them but could only muster up a slight smile. I continued laboring in the tub until I really felt like pushing. Jess checked me to see my progress. She felt like I was ready but they needed me to get out to check for certain. I got out & they checked me & I was ready for real pushing. They asked me how much I wanted a water birth, and I told them I didn’t care too much either way. I just wanted our baby. They decided that I try some other methods. I tried sitting on the birthing stool for about 30 mins & I didn’t seem to be making any progress so they decided that I head back to the bed & do some pushing there. That’s where we stayed. I began pushing not really knowing if I were doing it right or was making any progress. Amy instructed me to push where her fingers were which helped me so much to know where I needed my energy to go. I began pushing there every time I had a contraction. I could feel when I was pushing correctly vs incorrectly & would try to make adjustments to where Amy kept telling me to push. I knew I was making progress when they would all cheer me on at once, it was wonderful to have that support! Jess was continuously doing perineal massages the entire pushing process & she was so important with helping me to not tear! I am so grateful for her concentration & helping me. Kelley was wonderful through the whole process. I kept hearing her instructions & knew that everything was going smoothly. It helped me to stay calm & focused on what needed to be done. Total time that I pushed was for about 2 hours. It was exhausting & in the moments when I wasn’t sure I could keep pushing, everyone would cheer me on. At one point I remember saying, “Ok, let’s do this” & I remember I gave a couple more pushes & baby’s head was starting to show. They said baby had a whole head of thick hair. Brian would peek around & tell me how the head was showing & to keep pushing. At one point, baby was even trying to help by wiggling back & forth which they all got a kick out of that. They had me reach down & feel for baby. I did & couldn’t believe how much hair my baby had. I kept pushing with all i had every time i had a contraction. I knew it was so close now, that soon I would be holding our sweet baby. I gave a few more bug pushes & the head was out. Kelley told Brian & I to reach down & pull the baby up but I froze up. I felt the baby’s head & was so afraid of hurting him/her by pulling. I wasn’t sure what I was grabbing & I was afraid of hurting him/her. I almost wanted to laugh b/c I was so close but I didn’t want to do it! Kelley told me that it was alright & that she would help. Kelley pulled the baby out just enough to where Brian & I could put our hands under the baby’s shoulders and pull baby up. I will never forget that moment. It was surreal, life changing & in that moment I knew my life had meaning. It was the moment I became a mommy & Brian a daddy & we instantly loved this little baby. We were so taken over with emotion while holding our baby that neither one of us thought to look to see what baby was. I then blurted out half laughing, “but wait, what is it?!”. The midwives all said, “We don’t know!”. So I picked baby up to reveal my pregnancy suspicions had been correct, “It’s a girl!”, I yelled. Brian & I cried together holding our baby girl for the first time. I couldn’t believe that she was here & that I had done it!