I couldn't be happier to introduce the newest member of our incredibly happy family: Grayden. He was born on Monday, February 28th at 12:39 pm after an incredibly fast yet smooth labor. He amazed the nurses by weighing in at 9 pounds, 2 ounces and is 21 inches long. We are finally home enjoying our new little piece of heaven, and I still can't believe that he is ours! Below are some pictures from right after the birth and the birth story.
The official weigh-in at 9 pounds, 2 ounces.
Look at those enormous cheeks!!!
Just taking it all in
Grayden looking into his father's eyes.
Good morning day two! That precious face just kills me.
Very happy mother
And a very happy father
Finally home and very happy about it.
Grayden's Birth Story
My due date came and went on Thursday, which I kind of expected. I knew that most first time mom's go over their due date, so I kept this in mind as nothing happened during week 39. My check-up with my midwife went really well, but my body was showing no signs of him coming anytime soon. We joked about ways to induce labor naturally, and I went home a little frustrated but really calm about labor. I knew that I wanted it to start naturally and placed an order for black and blue cohosh just-in-case my water broke before contractions started or I hit 2 weeks overdue and wanted to avoid pitocin.
I had been feeling great and staying active during week 39, although I was also feeling pretty huge. On Saturday I decided to eat spicy food (hey, it can't hurt), so I called my friend Heather to see if she wanted to join me for an adventure in attempting Thai tuna salad sandwiches. Ben and I had these at an incredible little cafe in Raleigh, and I really wanted to recreate them. So Heather and I threw ingredients together and enjoyed a very spicy lunch. For dinner Ben and I ate at our local Indian place, which was delicious. On Sunday I noticed that the baby had definitely dropped because I was sticking out a lot more forward that I had previously. I hadn't really gained any weight in weeks, but I did notice that my stomach was sticking out more and more (all good signs the baby was in place). During church I started to notice contractions, and Jenny even touched my stomach during Relief Society and joked about how it would be great if this was labor starting. Near the end of church I just couldn't sit anymore, so I stood in the back of the room and swayed my hips. Contractions were so mild that I had to pay attention to notice them, but I was feeling them for sure.
After lunch and a good long nap, I got to enjoy one of the last alone days with my husband. I love Sunday afternoons because they give us a chance to just be together (no homework, no housework). I had been taking advantage of every opportunity to soak it up with my husband before things would change forever. Around 4 pm I started to notice pretty regular contractions, but I knew that labor often started and stopped so I mentally thought that this could still be days away. Ben started to time the contractions, some of which were so mild that if I was distracted I would miss them. I felt my stomach cramp like people describe, but they were mild; I was able to still do normal things and not be that bothered. After dinner I called my doula to let her know that contractions were about 5 minutes apart but so mild that I was going to go to sleep, but that if I called her in the early morning to be aware that this was the real thing. After dinner I took a long, hot shower, which really relaxed me. Ben and I went on one last walk around MIT campus and got a few benedril pills from a friend to help me sleep. I went to sleep very comfortable around midnight.
I woke up around 4:30 am to regular contractions that were stronger than the night before. I could feel the contractions while I slept, but it didn't really wake me up that much. I lay in bed snuggled next to Ben for 30 minutes, realizing that these contractions were regular and consistent. I then woke up Ben, took another hot shower, and then got ready while Ben made us breakfast. I also called my doula to tell her that signs were good that labor had started and called the midwife to let her know as well. The midwife on duty said that this was most likely early labor, so to stay at home (which I wanted to do) and call when things progressed. She also said to lie down and see if contractions slowed, which meant that it was really early labor.
So around 7 am I laid down in bed and breathed deeply through contractions. Ben rubbed my back, which had been really hurting me for the last two weeks of pregnancy. Then I heard a pretty loud pop noise and immediately realized that my water broke. Ben grabbed a towel and I quickly walked to the bathroom. About ten seconds later I puked. I knew this was a great sign that labor was progressing, so I immediately called the hospital and talked to the midwife. Contractions were already way stronger, so she wanted me to come in immediately. I called my doula, who was still on the road thanks to icy Boston rain and early morning traffic on the Pike, to tell her that my water broke and I was on my way to the hospital. While Ben grabbed our bags and brought the car around, I grabbed the last few things and tried to stay calm as the contractions came stronger and stronger. We are lucky to live 3 miles from the hospital, so the drive was short.
Once in the birthing center, the nurses got me comfortable and about a minute later my doula Sarah arrived. With Ben and Sarah at my side, I was able to stay very calm and collected as my contractions really gained speed and intensity. The midwife checked me, and I was 5 centimeters. I couldn't believe that I was already that far. I labored for about 45 minutes in bed while they got my IV in and antibiotics running for my Group Strep B. After that I walked to the bathroom to get in the tub. After one contraction in the tub on my knees, I knew I didn't want to stay like that, so I stood up and the nurse turned on the shower. I had been taking two showers a day for most of the pregnancy, because the hot water felt so good, so I knew that this would be my favorite way to labor. Ben changed into a t-shirt so that I could lean on his arms and chest during each contraction, allowing my body to really relax through each one. Then in between contractions I would stand and let the hot water relax my back. Both Sarah and Ben were such a huge help in keeping me sane through the contractions, even though I splashed both of them often.
After 45 minutes in the shower, the nurse suggested I move back to the bed since standing was making the baby's heart rate drop a little too much (due to the gravity). My legs were feeling tired anyways, so we moved back to the bed. Laboring on my side actually worked really well, since I could completely relax into the bed during the contraction, letting my face, legs, and body just melt. Ben and Sarah were both at my side constantly rubbing my arms or legs, which felt so incredibly good. The very soothing motion kept me to calm and I could just close my eyes and know they were there. It is funny that I don't remember actually seeing a lot during labor; it was easier to focus if I closed my eyes and just relaxed. During each contraction I would hold Ben's hand and often the nurse who was right next to my face. The entire birthing center staff at Mt Auburn is great, but we were truly blessed with a talented nurse who knew exactly what to say to keep me focused and a midwife who was calm and exactly the right personality for me.
At this point contractions were getting so intense and close together, that I had a much harder time staying focused and keep breathing. My body just wanted to tense up, and it took all my will power to try to relax for even five seconds. This is the part of labor when I completely understood why pain medications make sense. I wanted to try for a mostly natural birth (at least see how far I could go), but I wasn't opposed to medication at all. When I reached this point where I could barely breath through the contractions, I thought that if it doesn't get more manageable soon that I might ask for some meds mainly because I wasn't sure if my body could keep this up. Ben, Sarah, and the nurse were such a great support during this really hard time (for any mom's reading this, you can probably tell I was in transition). Ben constantly told me I was doing great and how strong I was. It was wonderful hearing his voice and holding onto his hands. Sarah kept giving me great encouragement and suggestions to help me get through the next 45 seconds.
As much as I tried, I started having a really hard time keeping ahead of the contractions and my body just wanted to tense up. Since I was checked about an hour earlier and was at a 6, everyone at my side worked to keep me relaxed and not tense up. Sarah suggested I say the word "out" during the contraction instead of breathing deeply, and it really worked....at least for awhile. I think I was able to relax through them for about 30 minutes before I just couldn't keep ahead of them any longer. The nurse got the midwife into the room to check me again. I could tell that they were worried about checking me so frequently since they didn't want to disappoint me with the news that I still had far to go. When the midwife looked at me, she immediately said I was there and could push. At this point, I wasn't sure what to do. Push yes, but that part was more vague in my mind that relaxing through contractions. The nurse gave me instructions on how to push at the next contraction, and I started working with all my strength to get the baby out. I pushed for about 45 minutes before our not-so-little boy came out in one push.
It felt amazing to all of the sudden have him placed on my stomach and to feel his very chubby thighs. He had breathed in some meconium, so Ben cut the cord and two nurses cleaned out his mouth/nose with Ben right there. Sarah stayed right next to me as I just took it all in and finally was able to relax. It was incredible to know that the work was over and I had made it! I had no idea I could do anything that difficult and do it so well. Everyone in the room told me they were amazed that our 9 pound, 2 ounce son was born so fast and I didn't have any tearing. I thought I would be tired or starving, but I just couldn't stop smiling. I felt so good, so happy, so overjoyed that our son was finally in our arms (well mine actually). I got to snuggle him on my chest for awhile, and I just beamed at how precious and perfect he was. I couldn't believe I had just done that, just pushed a nine pound baby out of me without complications. I couldn't believe that he came so fast and that labor went so well. Now, it was NOT easy by any means. The next day I could not believe how sore my arms and back were, until I realized that when I was pushing I used every ounce of strength in my back and arms to push and pull my legs towards my chest. Who would have thought that my arms would be so sore from labor? But despite the soreness, I felt great! I felt alive. I felt like I could do anything. The nurse told me that for me to do so well in labor, I was just built to have babies and do this.
After two days of snuggling our little son (who I affectionately called a burrito, because that is what he looks like when swaddled), we both independently picked Grayden as his name. It was on our list of names we liked, but not one of the top contenders. But as I looked at him, I just saw a Grayden and Ben felt the same way. And his middle name is after Ben's brother, which was my favorite middle name through the entire pregnancy. He is just so manly with his dark hair (just like his father), so it just felt right giving him a family name from my husband's side.