July 3 was my last day at work.
It was a fairly relaxed day and I was wearing a flowy, yellow dress because the heat was really starting to get to me…
I was beginning to get swollen from the knees down. In fact, it looked as though my ankles what part of my feet. “Fankles.”
In my mind, I still had another week left of work, so I kept chugging through my tasks and training our new team member who would take over my responsibilities during my leave.
When I left work that day, I was looking ahead to a fun long Fourth of July weekend with Sam and our friends. I made a berry trifle bowl for a BBQ with angel food cake, blueberries, strawberries, cool whip, and vanilla pudding—and put it in the fridge to set overnight.
Little did I know how the night would change…
Afterward, Sam and I headed out to dinner together at Chess Park, just a couple blocks away. We sat outside, and enjoyed some live music and food together. (We were trying to fit in as many date nights as possible before the baby.)
I went to bed around 10:15 that night, only to wake up just an hour later to use the bathroom (you may know but, pregnancy and bladder control don’t mix). I remember standing up and feeling a sensation like my water had broken. TMI but… I went into the bathroom to pee and when I stood up, it just kept coming. I thought I was maybe just peeing but then when I went in to tell Sam what was going on, it happened again, and again! Every time I went from sitting to standing, it happened, until finally there was no question about it. That’s when I knew what was going on. My water definitely broke and I was going to have this baby. 😯
I called the hospital to double check and they told me to make my way in, but to first take a shower and not feel rushed since it would be a long night. I looked to Sam with an expression that said, “Is this really happening?!”
Wow… we were gonna have a baby. 3 weeks early.
We finished packing up some last-minute hospital bag items (luckily we had our bags pretty much completely packed already), I took my last shower before motherhood, and off we went.
The contractions started right away and as we timed them out, we realized they were already five minutes apart. It was like clockwork. We got to the hospital and checked in for my assessment. We waited awhile and the contractions continued to get stronger. Sam held my hand through it all and I relied on my breathwork and mindfulness practice (thank you yoga teacher training!) to get me through each one. (One thing that helped was to breathe through the pain, not to avoid it, but to realize it was happening and ride the wave of intensity. Sounds kinda weird… but it helped me.)
An hour or so passed and finally the doctor came in and told me I was already four centimeters dilated. 😲 I couldn’t believe it. Things were progressing much faster than I thought.
At this point the contractions we’re super painful… at times, I was shaking through them. But then in between, I could talk and everything was fine. But minutes later, it was back again in full force. We called our families to let them know that we were at the hospital and going to have the baby soon, and you could hear the emotion in their voices.
At 3:30, I was moved to my delivery room. This made everything seem more real. That’s when the contractions deepened even more so and I remember my thighs shaking at times from the pain. Breathe. The contractions made me feel like I had to go the bathroom but then when they subsided, that feeling went away. The nurse told me that was completely normal and it was because the baby is sitting so low by now.
Around 4:30 when they came in to check my progress, I was already at 10 centimeters. Up until that point, I kept debating whether or not I wanted an epidural. Leading up to that day, I really wanted a natural birth unless the pain was completely unbearable… then I’d listen to my body and make that call in the moment.
I decided not to get the epidural because I had made it to the point of pushing and felt I could make it through without it. I remember the doctor looking at me saying are you ready to push? I said, “Yes.” So when the next contraction came, I began pushing with all my might, letting my ego go, and allowing each exhale take me closer. We got into a pattern where I would push at every other contraction.
This went on until Henry arrived at 5:19 a.m. I remember being told to reach down and touch his head… it was such a crazy, surreal experience, and Sam’s reaction to it happening over my shoulder was also incredible to see.
On that final push, when Sam said it was a boy, I looked down to see for myself. I think I was in shock because I didn’t really get emotional or say much but just stare at him and touch him. (I think that’s how my emotions work sometimes… I react with stillness.)
At that point, all the pain, shaking, and sounds that I had made faded away. It was as if a line was drawn in the sand that went from pain to no pain.
After some skin-to-skin bonding, we were moved into our postpartum room down the hall where we’d spend the rest of the day and night. I got cozy in my bed with Sam and Henry nearby.
Up until that day, we hadn’t finalized names. (For somer reason, the whole name thing was super hard for me to narrow down my entire pregnancy. I would research names daily and kept adding to a list on my phone.) And, my list of boy names was way shorter than my list of girl names. Maybe my gut thought I was having a girl?
Anyway… Henry was always at the top of our list. We always thought it was a cute name for a boy and a classic name for a man. And once we laid our eyes on Henry, something just clicked. He looked like a Henry. Henry James.
The other names we had picked out didn’t really reflect him in the same way. It’s so true. Everyone said once we saw him, we’d know. His middle name was chosen to honor both our dad’s name—James/Jim.
The rest of the morning, we tried to get rest but that never really happened. I just wanted to hold Henry and be with him. Our nurses were awesome (Jackie, Julie, and Bethany) and made me feel comfortable and at ease. I asked so many questions and they were sure to answer them all.
Around 10:30am, we felt the room and walls shake. “Is this an earthquake?” Sam asked. “I think so,” I said. It was. It went on for what felt like a full minute and when we turned on the news, everyone was talking about the 4.9 Ridgecrest earthquake.
The Fourth of July and an earthquake? Henry really started his life with a bang! 😂🎆
Later, as we hung out together as a family looking out over Hollywood from our fourth floor corner room, the Fourth of July fireworks started bursting around the city. Left and right, firework shows went off and we sat there, cradling Henry watching the displays of color lay out across the sky. It was such a special moment with our baby boy, celebrating his birthday together under the night sky. I’ll always remember it.
The rest of the night and the following day were spent bonding with Henry, and getting everything ready for our discharge from the hospital. Sam and I tried to nap together in my bed. Sam also had his own pull-out chair/bed, but I wanted him closer. 🤗
It’s so funny—I packed so much stuff for the hospital but barely touched any of it. I think I was just so in the moment and cared less about what cozy new bathrobe I was wearing or if I had any under eye concealer on for photos.
When it came to my comfort level, I honestly felt pretty good after just giving birth. The nurses kept checking in with me about that and I kept telling them my pain level was about a 1 or 2 out of 10. I guess I have a high pain tolerance? (I’d like to think all the yoga I practiced during pregnancy helped me get ready for delivery.)
Anyway, Friday night came and it was time to go home! We were so ready. Although the thought of going home with a 6-pound newborn did make me a little nervous… Was I going to be okay? Would Henry like his new home? How would our first night alone go? What was life going to be like now?
We packed up, got in the car, and drove home. (There was another smaller earthquake right before we drove off, as we were putting Henry in his car seat.)
We were exhausted, having barely slept for almost 48 hours. I just wanted my bed and some quiet time with my family.
There we were. A family of three now, at home, starting our lives together. I can’t even remember how many hours I slept that night or how many times Henry woke. I guess it doesn’t matter. It was all about the love and the overwhelming feelings of motherhood, family bonding, and abundance. I was a mom now. I was more than just me. I was Henry’s. I never would have known the love he’d bring until he was here. It’s the craziest feeling. To love someone so small, so new to you.
I looked at him and thought, “This was the person inside my belly for 9 months. This was the person I was talking to, singing to, laughing with, caring for… All this time, I wondered who it was. It was always you!” Wild feelings.
Henry has entered our world and there’s no knowing life before.
All that matters is now.
Welcome to the world, Henry James.