It took me a while after giving birth to Henry Duke to be able to put this into words. I figured there was no better time to share my story than on Mother’s Day. Our story went nothing like we thought it would, but looking back… I wouldn’t change one thing about it.
On Sunday evening, January 12, 2020, my husband, Chase, and I were lying in bed playing cards so we could spend some time together before going to sleep. Around 7:30pm, I began having contractions that were very similar to Braxton Hicks and were happening every 30 minutes or so. I truly didn’t think I was in labor because they weren’t very painful yet. I decided to open up a carton of ice cream and enjoy myself one last time juuuuuust incase! haha
I downloaded an app named “Contractions” as soon as I started having them in order to see how long they were lasting, how frequent they were occurring, and kept count of how many I had. If you’re pregnant, I highly suggest downloading this. It helped me know when it was time to go to the hospital. I’ll insert a screenshot of the app below .
Within the next few hours, they began to grow closer and more painful. I spent a good hour on the phone with my Aunt who talked me through my contractions, distracted me, and gave Chase some advice on how to help me. Around 11 pm, Chase had fallen asleep and I decided I would try and to as well. I had no such luck. I remember being SO mad at Chase for sleeping so peacefully while I was in so much pain. Ugh MEN!
By 4:00am, I was exhausted from no sleep but could no longer lay in bed comfortably. I decided to hop in the shower, get dressed, and put makeup on while my contractions were still about 10 minutes apart. For those of you who have never had a baby, you have to wait until your contractions are 2-5 minutes apart before you head to the hospital. Waiting was MISERABLE!
Around 10:00am, they were consistently happening every 5 minutes for the most part, so I called my mother in law and she basically forced me to go to the hospital! I was going to wait until they were under 5 minutes because I did NOT want to get sent home. When they say mom’s know best…. it’s true!
This particular morning was very gloomy, cold, and the roads were icy. We drove as quickly as we safely could under the circumstances! All of my mamas out there expecting babies in the winter… prepare for this! Head to the hospital a little sooner than we did. Even if it means you have to hang out in your car until your contractions are under 5 minutes. Better safe, then sorry!
Once we arrived at the hospital, they checked my cervix and I was 3 centimeters dilated, 80% effaced, and stationed at -1. In order to deliver, you need to be 10 centimeters dilated, 100% effaced, and stationed at a 2. It seemed like I still had a while to go! Women can stay dilated at a 3 for WEEKS! They took my blood pressure and they got a high reading of 150/100. I was then diagnosed with gestational hypertension and was told that they were going to induce me because of it. They tested my urine for protein to look for preeclampsia, but luckily I was in the clear!
Once we knew for sure we were staying, we called all of our family and told them that today was going to be baby day! With us living in Kansas, 14 hours away from our family in Alabama, they were all freaking out and wondering when they should head our way. HD is the first grand baby and great grand baby in our families and everyone was so ready for him to make his arrival. The amount of love this kid had before he was even born was insane!
As time goes on, we get in our room and we’re just waiting for Henry Duke to make his away out. By the afternoon, my contractions were happening every 2 minutes and I truly thought I was going to die from how painful it was. I’m not one to be complain or be a wimp, but I didn’t think I could keep going. It was the WORST pain I had ever felt in my life at that point. I was told once that labor pain feels like period cramps, but stronger. I DISAGREE! These felt nothing like that to me. I’m not going to lie… I ended up BEGGING for that epidural around 5 pm. My blood pressure had went up to 170/120 and my body just had enough!
After the epidural, I was feeling GREAT haha! Thank the good Lord for modern medicine!! I no longer felt my contractions, my blood pressure went down, and I was able to relax… for about 20 minutes.
I remember my nurse was putting my Foley catheter in and all of a sudden a surge of nurses rush into my room. There were seriously so many of them and Chase and I had no idea what was going on. Duke’s heart rate started going down below a normal level and they had to make some changes to ensure everything was okay with him. Once they got me situated in a good position for baby Duke, I fell asleep for a few minutes and out of nowhere, the nurses are back in my room. Everyone was rushing around, flipping me on my hands and knees (remember, I can’t feel my legs at this point so I was hardly able to hold myself up), and shoving their hands in places I prefer them not to be LOL.
My doctor came in and told me that if Duke had one more deceleration, then I would have to go into a cesarean section. I instantly began to freak out and pray. I did NOT want a c-section at all. I already felt weak for getting an epidural because I truly wanted to go natural all the way through, let alone a c-section… It was a very overwhelming few minutes for me. Luckily, I had the SWEETEST labor nurse in the whole world. She made me feel so comfortable during this time of panic. She was so supportive and without her, I couldn’t imagine the emotional wreck I would have been.
Not very long after, Duke had another deceleration and we were rushed into the OR. Her exact words were, “Three strikes… you’re out!” LOL. She told me that baby Duke wouldn’t make it through a vaginal delivery and that was a chance we were not willing to take. Chase had time to pray over me and the baby, put on scrubs, and come sit by my head. We were both terrified, but we knew that God would put His hand over us and our baby.
By the time Chase came into the OR, I was already cut open and they were working on getting our baby out. Within the next few minutes, HD was born. I remember when they were pulling him out and I begged Chase to look since I couldn’t! His exact words were, “Do you want me to pass out?” HA! He wanted nothing to do with that image! I guess I can’t blame him! I used to work in the OR as a surgical technician where I scrubbed in for c-sections all the time! I knew exactly what was going on and I honestly was so curious to see what my uterus looked like! I know.. I’m weird! HA.
Henry Duke Thomas was born on January 13, 2020 at 6:35pm. He was born right at shift change! There were twice as many people in the room and it truly was so crowded. Talk about chaos! He was the tiniest thing weighing at 5 pounds 10 ounces and 19 inches long. I remember seeing him for the first time and feeling so thankful that he was okay. He gave us the biggest scare of our lives that day, but it was all worth it when we saw our sweet boy. Chase was able to cut the umbilical cord and take him to our room while I was being sewed back up. Once Chase and Duke left the OR, I just closed my eyes and listened to everything going on around me. I wanted to be as in tune as possible, but I truly don’t remember much about the rest. I do remember talking to the surgeon about my EBL (estimated blood loss) and why she thought HD was acting up during labor all while she was closing me up. By the end of it, I was drained and just wanted to get some rest.
By the time I got back into the room, Chase and HD were watching the NCAA Football Game between Clemson and LSU. It didn’t take long at all for Chase to introduce Henry Duke to football! I expected nothing less.
I was so excited to hold baby Duke for the first time. I was only able to see him and kiss his head while I was in the OR. Chase let me be the first one out of the both of us to touch him. He is so thoughtful. The feeling I had the very first time I held his tiny body was something I will never forget. There were so many emotions running through my body, but overall, I felt so blessed to have grown and carried him 38 weeks and 6 days. I couldn’t even believe that less than an hour ago, he was inside my belly. Becoming a mom is life changing and I will never, ever take it for granted. Not even for a second.
I may be biased, but he was the cutest little nugget I have ever seen in my life.
My labor experience was terrifying and exciting all at once. Nothing could have ever prepared us for the amount of fear, pain, and love I experienced that day. It is truly something I will never forget.
During our stay, we had some more great nurses and some that weren’t so great. I’m sure that is just the usual! The one thing that I would recommend to all my soon-to-be c-section mamas out there is TAKE. YOUR. MEDICINE. At first, I wanted to be tough and go without any narcotics. JOKES. ON. ME. The pain of a c-section is awful and it was not the time to try and be a hero. Lesson learned. As you probably know, there is a huge warning about getting addicted to narcotics so they try to remind you of that before you take them. One nurse made me feel SO guilty for needing a narcotic that I didn’t even bother asking for it for a while. I went so long without it that I was experiencing so much pain and was truly such a pain to be around. Eventually, I caved in and asked for it and felt so much better afterwards. My nurse then wasn’t great about giving my medications on time, so my pain crept back up and I decided to call out and ask for more. Hours after the missed dose, I was miserable and just started crying (which I NEVER do!) My mom ended up taking over and got the nurse to come to my room so I was able to get the medication I needed. I had never been more grateful to have a mom that is pushy in my life! Haha. Other than this, our experience with our healthcare team was so nice and we were given great care. In the end, all that matters is that our sweet little angel baby was okay.
We went home after 48 hours and had help from my mother, mother in law and brother in law. My in-laws are the funniest people I have ever known and it hurt sooooo bad to laugh. I remember asking them not to say anything funny because I didn’t want to have to hold back my laughs! HAHA. Being surrounded by the love of my husband, family, and my newborn son was such a happy feeling. I am truly so blessed.
Here are some pictures from the first 48 hours of HD’s life. I will cherish these forever.
If you’d like to hear more about the process of recovering from a cesarean section, comment below what you’d like to know! I plan on doing a blog post soon including my recovery process, must have items, and aspects that no one tells you about with c-sections.
I also wanted to wish all of the mamas out there a Happy Mother’s Day! Regardless if you are a mom to a baby on earth or in heaven, trying for a baby, or are a grandmama, today is for you! Take some time to relax and do what makes YOU happy! You deserve it!
Thanks for reading!