It’s hard to know where to begin, but I’ve been meaning to find time to write Hugo’s birth story for the last few weeks before the details start slipping my sleep deprived mind. I’ll start by saying that being a mother is amazing. I remember reading a quote while I was pregnant about having children…something about having your heart walking around outside your body. And I am here to confirm that feeling, 100%. A lot of people ask if it feels weird not being pregnant anymore, and it doesn’t at all, because I have my heart in my eye line –laying in my arms, fussing in his bassinet, swishing around in his tiny baby bath and being held so tightly by his wonderful father. He’s finally here, and is more beautiful and perfect than I could have ever imagined (even when I’m up for my fourth feeding of the night, bleary eyed and exhausted).
On Tuesday, February 18th, I woke up and went in to my weekly doctor appointment to check on Hugo’s progress. I was still 75% effaced and dilated at 2 cm, about the same as the week before and our doctor told me that he was still head down, and we really just needed some contractions to get things going. So I went to work, and went about my normal routine, packing orders and answering emails. Megan and Rebecca were in Las Vegas at our buyer’s market and were sending me photos all day of their picks from our vendors, so it was kind of an exciting day (one of my favorite parts of owning Hello Holiday is the buying process and going to market). That afternoon, I went to the dentist and joked around with the dental hygienist that he might come while I was in her chair (little did I know). After that, back to work for a customer pickup. By this point, I was having light contractions, but ignoring them and going about my business because I just figured they were Braxton Hicks contractions and that I would deal with them if and when they got stronger and more frequent.
I had last minute dinner plans to eat with my two best ladies, Janey and Jamie, and we met up at a local Indian restaurant, Jaipur (my pick, I was craving naan) to eat. Dinner was great and kind of took my mind off my contractions, even though I was becoming more and more uncomfortable as dinner went on. My contractions were coming consistently, and by the time I left dinner to go home around 7:30 pm, I called my mom and told her I suspected that wheels were turning and that I might go into labor that night. I went home and as I was getting out of the car Jon came out on the porch to greet me and I told him I thought he should put the car seat into the car, and he asked, “Are we on?”. I told him I didn’t know, but that I was going to come inside and start timing my contractions for the first time.
As I started timing my contractions (which is kind of hard to do in the beginning), I found that they were consistently around 7 minutes apart. So I sat on the couch, trying to stay calm and went through the dropbox folder of photos that Meg and Rebecca had sent me from market that day. I kept timing them as I typed up my notes, my selections, and they went from 7 to 6 minutes as the hour or so went on. After I finished my work, I told Jon that I thought we should lie down, try to get some rest (that’s what everyone tells you to do, but let me say, no rest was to be had!). Jon tried to go to sleep, and I just timed and timed and timed my contractions, getting more uncomfortable by the minute. In fact, I was starting to feel them in my lower back, which were my first truly uncomfortable contractions.
Suddenly around 2 am my contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart, and pretty uncomfortable. I woke Jon up (he was barely asleep) and told him it was time to go to the hospital. We called to let them know that we were coming once we were on the way, and they paged our doctor, Dr. Megan Prickett, to let her know where we were at. They admitted us and checked my cervix, which was still dilated to 2 cm and told me that I needed to walk for an hour to see if I would dilate anymore, and if I didn’t they would send me home. Jon and I speak of this hour as the longest hour of our lives, as I started vomiting almost immediately when we started walking, and my shaking began. I had to stop and hold the bar along the hallway walls every time a contraction came, and stopped a few times to throw up (really rethinking my dinner decision at this point) before the hour was over. They checked me again, and I was dilated to 3 cm at this point, so they said I would be able to stay, and they started all the admittance paperwork etc.
Around this time I learned that I was having “back labor”, which meant absolutely nothing to me until I realized that was what I was experiencing. My friend Jenny had warned me about it, and told me the week before that she hoped I didn’t have it, but until I did, it meant nothing at all. BACK LABOR IS HORRID. You can read about back labor here, but it basically means that I was experiencing all the pain from my contractions in my lower back, and that my little baby boy was facing the wrong way in the womb (albeit his head down position). My back just started spasming just thinking about it, you guys.
Somewhere along the way after they told us we could stay, Jon contacted our Doula, Kate, who came to the hospital to support us during my labor. In the end, my labor at the hospital was around 9 hours, and I think that I remember all of it, but it’s all very hazy. Per my birth plan, the room was kept dim, and I asked for a room with a tub to labor in, so the suite didn’t have any windows. Labor felt…endless? I had back labor the entire time (baby boy somehow twisted around to come out the right way at the very end), and for hours and hours my Doula and husband Jon coached me into different birthing positions, in and out of the tub, massaged and squeezed my hips and back to relieve pain and physically held my body up as I vomited and shook. I knew that it was a possibility that I would vomit or defecate, but no one told me that the hormones I would experience would make me shake so violently. My labor continued to progress, and I was a little more dilated every time they checked me.
I consider myself very lucky, as in the end, we were able to keep things on track and I got everything I wanted according to my birth plan. I had a 100% natural birth, without interventions. I didn’t have to be on an IV, but I had a hep lock in case they needed to give me fluids. I was supported throughout by my wonderful husband, our Doula, Kate and nurses, who never gave up on me even when I questioned my choice for a natural birth (I’m not going to lie, I asked about my pain relief options a few times towards the end during a few exceptionally bad contractions, but Kate and Jon talked me off the ledge, gently, reminding me why I wanted to have a natural birth, and how far I had already come). Somewhere around 7 cm, I was standing over the bed, shaking and holding myself up when I felt the sudden need to push come on, and I definitely peed all over the floor/some of my water probably broke at this point. Like I said, my memory of this is all really hazy. Like I was in a dream, or a fog. I told everyone that I was feeling the need to push and they checked me again, sure enough I was dilated at 10 cm. I was given permission to push. Somewhere around this time they called my doctor to start heading over. I don’t remember all the positions I labored in, but I know it was a ton, and I remember at the end, they rolled out the mirror I had requested in our birth plan and Jon and Kate held my legs up for resistance as I really began to push (now I’m crying just thinking about all of this).
Having a mirror at the end of my bed was the most motivating thing/horrifying, because I could see EVERYTHING that was happening, and how swollen my genitals/anus were (my god, you guys!). But I could also see the top of my beautiful boy’s head, covered in wet hair, peek out at us, for the first time. This gave me a new surge of adrenaline, and I pushed my little heart out, seeing a little more of his head every time I had a contraction. My mom came in at this point and I remember hearing her at my left as she held one of my legs up. Pushing really hurt, but at this point everything hurt and I could at least see the end in sight. I made noises I didn’t know I was capable of while I was pushing. After one really hard push, baby boy’s head was finally out and the rest of him seemed to fly out after that. They suctioned him out and placed him right on my chest and at this point I was completely overcome with relief, joy and exhaustion. He was so worth it, worth every moment of the pain, perfect in every way. Around 10 minutes later, Jon clipped his cord which was totally white and done pulsing.
What seemed like immediately after but was actually about 30 minutes later, it was time for me to deliver the placenta, which hurt like the dickens but happened really fast. I continued to shake a ton, and they told me I had a few blood clots that I needed to pass. They worked on compressing my abdomen (ouch, ouch, ouch…I thought this was over) to pass the clots, and Jon took our boy because I didn’t feel stable enough to hold him while they were doing this. At this time, I told them that it would be ok to give me a little pitocin, to help pass the blood clots so they hooked me up, but my vein rolled (?) or something and all the pitocin went into my hand and arm. When I tried to breastfeed for the first time, I asked if they could undo my hep lock/take everything out of my arm because I was having trouble moving it. When the nurse came to check, she realized I was having trouble because all the pitocin went into my hand and arm, not my veins, making them swell up HUGE, staying that way for a few days. So that was bizarre. But I was still able to breastfeed, and worked with the nurses and lactation consultants over the next few days to figure that all out.
After our sweet baby was born, we announced to our family that his name was Hugo, which means “bright in mind and spirit”. It took us a few days to settle on his middle name (we were toying around with a few for the last month or so) but we settled on Benes, which is of Czech origin (Jon is of Czech descent), meaning “blessed”. It’s hard to know where to “end” Hugo’s birth story, because I feel like it’s still going. We’re settled in at home, a little over two weeks later and are still getting used to each other. Sleepless nights are hard, I’m getting over mastitis, and still trying to figure out this whole breastfeeding/taking care of an infant as I attempt to get back to work (which I’m lucky enough to do from home right now). But in the end, Hugo’s birth story is perfect, he’s everything we hoped and dreamed for. I could just breathe him in all day, every day…and for right now, I am.Hugo Benes Tvrdik Arrived earthside on February 19th, 2014 at 11:10 am 7 lbs. 2 oz. and 20 and 3/4 inches in length