Introducing Henley Courage and her birth story
Okay, so I sucked at my New Year’s resolution to blog more. To be fair, since January, we’ve moved across the state TWICE, accumulated clients for new line of work, introduced a half dozen new tours to our tour company, Pretty Gritty, OH- and had a baby.
This baby, to be exact.
I’d like to introduce you to our new little explorer, Henley Courage. She was born on May 20th at 5:41AM, weighing 8lbs 4oz. Her full head of hair shocked us almost as much as her name. You see, before her arrival there were five names that were in the running. Her middle name was always going to be Courage but we had tossed up Everly, Evangeline, Sawyer, Ellia, and Harper. Before we knew that Holden was a boy, we had chosen the name Everly Courage for a girl. I had made up my mind that I was going to have an “Evie” but a month before she was due Chris threw a wrench in our plans when he confessed that he wanted an “H” name to match Holden’s.
Five hours after her birth, we still couldn’t agree on a name for our little girl so we did what anyone would do. We consulted Google. As soon as I heard it escape Chris’ lips, I knew it was the one. Henley Courage.
My pregnancy was good, not great. If I’m being honest, it was kind of “meh”. In the nine months before Henley was born we had moved across the state to Spokane, moved BACK across the state to Tacoma, started a new business venture, and resuscitated our tour company from its winter dormancy. It was a hectic time to say the least.
Henley’s Birth Story
I didn’t type out a formal birth plan like I did with Holden. After going through labor and delivery once before, I knew that while I could have all the “plans” in the world, the baby is the one in control. Like with Holden, my dream was an all natural vaginal birth with no interventions. That being said, the end goal was really to have a healthy baby and healthy mama.
Due to preeclampsia, I had to be induced with Holden. I was worried that I’d eventually be given pitocin but after cervidil was administered, my labor ended up starting on its own. He arrived a few hours later. Thankfully, preecclampsia was never an issue with this pregnancy but it meant that I had no idea what it felt like to go into labor on my own.
It was about ten o’clock at night. Holden was asleep in his room and Chris and I were watching our new favorite show (“Justified.” If you haven’t seen it, you need to) when I noticed that my Braxton Hicks felt a little different. There was the familiar rise, peak, and fall that I felt with Holden’s labor. They weren’t particularly strong but they weren’t pleasant either. I secretly started keeping track of the length and time in between each one. They lasted about a minute and were sporadic- ranging from five to eleven minutes apart. It wasn’t until an hour later that I realized they were getting closer together and more painful.
I decided that it would be a good time to tell Chris. Seeing as Holden came quickly (three and half hours after labor started), he decided that we should get things in order and monitor how things progressed.
“Labor isn’t serious if you can talk through contractions.”
I can’t remember where I read that, but as I was hunched over our kitchen sink experiencing each wave of contractions, I persuaded Chris that we should wait longer since I could still hold a conversation through each one. I didn’t want to arrive at the hospital only to be turned away because I was in false labor or not dilated enough.
Thankfully, he ignored me and called my parents to start making the trip to our house. They arrived at our place around one in the morning and by that time my contractions were erratic again. I realized that if I sat down, they almost stopped. Part of me wanted to stay home a little longer in the hopes that I could get a little rest but at Chris’ urging, we left for the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital a little after one thirty and were escorted to labor and delivery. After triage it was determined that I was only three and a half centimeters dilated. We were told to walk around the hospital and then be checked again at 3:30. I was exhausted (cause, you know, nine months pregnant with a toddler and still being awake), irritable, and uncomfortable. The more we walked, the more painful each contraction was. I remember taking a couple on all fours on the floor of the hallway. I convinced Chris to let me sit down for a little while since the contraction let up while seated. What was supposed to be a few minutes turned into thirty as I drifted in and out of sleep.
At 3:15 I decided that I was over it and wanted to be checked again. We made the slow and painful walk back to triage where I was told that I was only at four centimeters. We were given two options. 1.) We could be admitted since I appeared to be in real labor and our first child came so quickly. Or 2.) We could go home, attempt to get some rest, and come back later. I opted for number two. I was exhausted and knew that I would need as much energy as possible if I was going to push this baby out. And since I only progressed half a centimeter in an hour and a half, simple math told me that I could be in labor FOREVER.
Chris and the nurses weren’t convinced. At their urging, I was admitted and at around 4AM a nurse resembling a young Amanda Seyfried helped me into a wheelchair to be taken to our room. And I kid you not, as soon as my booty was in that chair contractions came on hard and strong.
I barely remember getting situated in our room. I don’t even remember when I put on my hospital gown. The next thing I knew, I was on my left side, breathing through the blinding pain of each contraction. The one thing I forgot from my first labor is that there’s literally nothing Chris can do for me while in labor. I don’t like to be talked to or touched. I just want to focus on getting through each contraction. He’s basically tapped out until it’s time to push.
The only respite from the pain was when young Amanda Seyfried came in and started searching for a vein for my IV. She was lightly caressing my arm and it felt AMAZING. I know it sounds weird but the light touch took my mind off the pain and I didn’t want her to stop. I briefly contemplated asking her to stay forever.
I have no idea how much time was passing but I was terrified to ask anyone to check my dilation because I didn’t want to hear that I hadn’t made any progress. Instead, I just took on every contraction until young Amanda Seyfriend (or Brooke as her parents call her), came in and said that while I wasn’t acting like it (by crying, screaming, etc), the monitors were reading fast and heavy contractions. So at 5AM she checked me, looked perplexed, and called in another nurse to confirm. And yes, in less than an hour, I had gone from 4 centimeters to 10. I was complete.
I literally have no idea how long I had been sitting at 10. I don’t know when I transitioned as I didn’t experience the strong urge to push like I did with Holden. That being said, as soon as I was told that I was at 10, my mind registered what had happened and my body completely took over. The nurses told me that the midwife wasn’t at the hospital yet and not to push until she arrived.
It was impossible NOT to push. They had to call in a doctor who literally stood by until my midwife arrived just incase she had to catch the baby. And once the midwife was there, the rest is history. A short thirty minutes later, Henley was Earthside. Delivery was expectedly painful, but I happen to prefer pushing to contractions. Although I wanted immediate skin-to-skin, she was born with her cord wrapped tightly around her neck and was blue and purple. She was taken to be evaluated (thankfully just across the room) and was deemed okay and placed on my chest twenty long minutes later.
With Holden, the first thing I noticed about him was his cute little cry. For Henley, it was her hair. The fact that she had any was a complete shock since Holden was bald until he turned one. She was also so much bigger than I expected, coming in nearly a pound heavier than her brother.
Henley’s been home for a little over two months and we’re starting to get back into some semblance of a routine. Holden has been exceptional with her. He always alerts us when she’s crying and will attempt to soothe her by sticking her pacifier back in her mouth (whether she wants it or not). Our hands may be full but our hearts are fuller.
We’re slowly adjusting to life as a family of four and just took our first trip. We have some big travel plans in the works and look forward to sharing the with you. Stay tuned as I’m hoping to have a recap of our Canada trip up soon.
Here’s a sneak peek until then: