This is Henry.
Henry Charles Koechling was born on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 10:50am. He was 8lb, 5oz and 21 inches. This is the story of his birth and first few days thus far:
Julie came to the house to stay with the kids on Monday morning. We were supposed to get to the hospital by 8:00, but as is our norm, we were running late. It worked out well though, because we were able to see Noah and Emily in the morning and take a last "family of four" picture. The kids were well prepared for the day, since we've been talking about the plan for over a week. They were happy to see Julie and have her help them get ready for the day, and Emily was especially excited to show her our Elf on the Shelf, "Christmas". "Wook, Juey!" she hollered.
We got to the hospital around 8:30, apologized for being late, and quickly signed consent forms. My nurse Z (Zardeen, I think?) took us to our labor & delivery room to prep for surgery. From there, things went pretty quickly. The nurse who came in to do my IV was my L&D nurse from when Emily was born, Amanda. I told her that, and she said she remembered me. BS, but sweet girl, thanks for only poking me twice to get that line in...
Only about ten minutes behind schedule, we headed to the OR shortly after 10am. Z & I dropped Ben and our stuff in the recovery room, and that's when I got emotional. I had already warned Z I was a crier.
We walked to the freezing cold OR and, still crying, I sat on the table. Another nurse tried to engage me, and she gave me a weird vibe, which Z must've recognized because she came over and put her hands on my knees while I was prepped for my spinal. When it was time for the spinal and I was instructed to curl my back into a C, still crying, I leaned forward and Z put her forehead on mine and held my hands. Love her.
Within seconds, the spinal made my legs feel warm and heavy and I remember laying on the table reminding myself not to even try to move my legs, because I knew that either the creepy tingly feeling or the complete lack of response would gross me out. Once I laid down, I started shaking a little. Not nearly as bad as after my epidural with Noah - that was teeth chattering to the point my jaw hurt. This might have been slightly med related, but I think it was primarily nerves. The wrapped my neck and arms in warm blankets, and after a while, I was able to calm myself and the shaking slowly stopped.
I lie on the table staring at the tile on the ceiling, trying to just breathe and relax. The whole idea of being conscious for surgery is creepy, and add to that the emotion of knowing that your baby is about to be born... it's an overwhelming feeling. Plus in the back of my mind, I'm trying to stay cognizant of how I am feeling physically. The anesthesiologist said it was important to let him know if I felt light headed, dizzy, or nauseous. What I mainly felt was nervous.
Before they started, what was making me the most uncomfortable was something that I did remember from my c-section with Emily, but I didn't really remember how bad the sensation was. With a spinal, the numbness goes to your chest, and you get the sensation of feeling like you're having trouble breathing because you can't feel your chest rise. I had a nasal canula in, and tried to inhale the oxygen and keep my breathes steady. The warm blankets on my neck were starting to feel heavy on my throat, and I felt claustraphobic. Two or three times, I asked the nurses to moves them to a different position, but finally I just asked them to take them off completely. I was no longer shaking or shivering, and had otherwise calmed down, so the literal weight off my chest helped me breathe more easily.
They brought Ben in and got started. He grabbed my hand and I think I might have started crying again. So many emotions, but finally the fear and nervousness were replaced, and I felt a sense of calm and comfort when I knew Ben was there.
From starting surgery to getting the baby out is pretty quick. We knew it wouldn't be long before he would be here. Casual talk amongst the doctors and nurses, pressure on my abdomen, the announcement that baby was almost here... and then pressure. A LOT of pressure. And then urgency. Doctor asks for the vacuum, which of course instantly makes me nervous, because I guess I've never thought of the vacumm with a c-section, and a lot of women are fearful of needing a vacuum with a vaginal delivery. When the vacuum wasn't readily available, I could hear the urgency and frustration in his voice - get the vacumm, why is it not out and ready to go, turn it on, turn it up. And then an excrutiating amount of pressure, and the assisting OBs elbow literally in my face from the other side of the curtain. He was pushing, pushing, PUSHING to get the baby out, and it felt like it was taking way too long. I was scared. Why was it taking so long and WHY was it so hard to get him out? Is he okay, is he stuck, is there danger in the fact that I am cut open and they are pushing and pulling to get him out and he is NOT coming?
Finally, a wail. My baby is out, and he is pissed. I completely started bawling. Ugly cry bawling. He is screaming non-stop and in that moment, it is the greatest thing I think I have ever heard.
Briefly, the assisting OB pops him around the curtain to show him to us, and he is beautiful and loud. I am happy.
A few minutes later, after inital vitals and APGARS, they bring him to me. The nurse lays him on my left shoulder, with his head on my chest near my chin. I reach my right arm across my body and rub his little forehead. For the first time ever, I am holding my minutes old newborn. He is so beautiful and perfect. I am so lucky.
It felt like a brief time but I am grateful for that experience, and I'm pretty sure (at least I hope) there are some pictures. Holding him for the first time in there was so sweet. After probably several minutes, Z told me she was going to take Ben and the baby to recovery, and they'd see me soon. Once they left, I felt tired, suddenly very emotionally exhausted. I wanted to just close my eyes and rest, but then I thought maybe it wasn't normal to feel like I wanted to sleep in surgery. I announced that I was tired, and they told me that was normal. Okay, I thought, then I'll rest. But then.... nausea. Gross. I let them know i feel nauseous - after all they have been pushing with a great deal of force on my abdomen and are currently repositioning my internal organs.... the anesthesiologist gives me a puke bucket and tells me he's giving me Zofran in my IV to help. Dry heaves and then vomit. I feel better.
Before I know it, surgery is done. The nurses move me from the OR table to the bed, and wheel me in to recovery. I am pretty sure I am crying or about to cry at this point. I see Ben there with the baby, and I'm definitely crying.
I felt good in recovery. It didn't seem like we were there long, but in retrospect I feel like I might have been a little out of it cuz I kind of don't remember a ton now. I did try to latch him on to nurse, but I don't think he did much in recovery. (It took several hours before he really showed interest.) I do know I held him and snuggled him and kissed him all over while Ben took pictures. I made sure the nurse knew I didn't want him to go to the nursery for a bath because we wanted the kids to meet him right away. I made sure Ben texted mom and Julie and his parents to let them know we were in recovery and when we were getting ready to go upstairs. The nurse told us that she had talked to the nurse in Mother Baby and explained that we wanted a brief visit with our family before baby went to the nursery and she was agreeable. I held Henry as I was wheeled to elevator and up to Mother Baby.
Once settled in our room, Ben texted his parents to see if they were in the unit, since they had been elsewhere at the hospital doing something work related. Ben and I decided that rather than having just the kids come in, that we would just have everyone come it right away.
The kids came right over to the bed to see their new baby. I told them (and everyone else) his name was Henry Charles, and they said hi to him and examined his little face. (I'm looking forward to watching the video of their meeting.) Poor Emily was clearly ready for nap, but she was a trooper and hung in there.
We asked if they wanted to hold him, and they both scrambled onto the little couch in the corner. Emily held him first. She was so sweet and so gentle. When Ben asked her to give him a kiss, she rested her little cheek on his head. She gazed at him so sweetly, and in that moment, I knew she understood that THIS was her baby brother, and not my tummy or belly button.
Next it was Noah's turn to hold Henry. Emily was NOT happy about having to give him up and cried "no, mine". Noah was equally sweet and gentle, but he's a pro at being a big brother. Still, it was so sweet to see the way he looked at his new baby.
As the kids were finishing up holding him, the nurse came in and announced that she had to take him to the nursery. Without so much as letting me take a breathe, she said he'd be back in 45 minutes and whisked him away. I felt bad that gaga and grandma and grandpa had barely gotten more than a look let alone to hold him, but they all seemed to understand. I offered for them to stay and wait, but insisted the kids get home to take a nap. Everyone decided to leave, and I took the next half hour to update the world via text message and Facebook that the boy was here!