Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Very HANK Holiday & Birth Story

Oh my goodness, there is so much I want to write about! I wanted to get Hank's birth story written before I forgot a single detail! I'm running on little sleep so please excuse any grammatical errors in this post. Introducing Hank Grayson Steele, born December 17, 2017!

Ok, before I get the birth story, I just have to share the most special moment in this past week. It happened in the car. AJ and I got Hank into his carseat, the nurse brought me out in a wheelchair and the trunk was loaded down with samples from the hospital, folders of paperwork, bags of dirty clothes in plastic "personal belonging" hospital bags, and our duffels and totes from our 4 day stay. We were parked in the roundabout in front of the women's center and AJ and I just held hands (me from the backseat, I wanted to ride by baby, obvi!) and cried and cried and cried. We cried tears of joy, of sorrow, of reflection, of peace, of overwhelming gratitude. Having a baby, we'd done that before. Holding our baby? check. Recovering after a C section? Check. Knowing what to expect staying at the hospital? Double check. But taking our baby home, driving away and beginning our lives together as a family of 3? This was new. And it took our breaths away. FINALLY after a two year experience of pregnancy, loss, waiting, journeying through the thick fog of grief and hope, we are headed, all three of us, HOME, and that was, easily,  the best moment of my life. Welcome to our crazy little family, Hank Grayson Steele. We have been waiting for you and we love having you home.

Ok.....let's talk about deets of his birth! Warning: This will be a LONG post. Last Friday, December 15th, before leaving school, I just had this weird feeling that I might not be back. One of my teammates (hi, Lindsay!) remarked that she just had a sneaking suspicion she wouldn't see me come in on Monday. I spent the afternoon getting papers in order, neatening up my plan book (that thing seems to only make sense to me....I needed to make it understandable for my sub!), and as an afterthought, on my way out the door, I laid out Monday's work and put my maternity leave notebook front and center on my desk. Just in case.

The weekend proceeded as usual, we slept in on Saturday morning, I made a berry coffee cake, and headed out for a hair appointment in the afternoon. I came home and AJ and I decided to go out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse since we might not have another dinner out before baby came (See?! I feel like we must have known!). We ate an early dinner, ran some errands, grocery shopped, and were home around 7. I'll spare you specific details here but I had some signs that labor might be starting so we dropped our groceries at home and headed to Labor and Delivery. There, they examined me and assured us while baby might be arriving soon, I was definitely not in labor that night and to go home and come back if I was experiencing more labor signs. We went home, me feeling slightly silly that I was one of "those" people who obviously had no clue what real labor felt like. We came home and went to bed after watching Saturday Night Live.

   Sunday morning we did our usual routine of drinking coffee and having breakfast together. We've gotten into something slightly embarrassing on Sunday mornings but I am dedicated to telling the whole story.....watching "In The Kitchen with David" on QVC. I know, I know, we're so lame. But I adore David's bubbly personality and we usually have it on while we do work for school, meal prep etc. About 20 minutes into Sunday's show, I felt a trickle down my legs that I was sure wasn't urine. I thought uh-oh and before I could tell AJ, it happened again. When my water broke with Hadley, it was a huge gush that soaked the bed. This was definitely not a huge gush but it was something unusual. I felt sort of uncomfortable but that's pretty much life past 34 weeks pregnant (I was 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant at this point). We left everything right where it was and hopped in the car. My hospital bag was packed and we quickly debated bringing it, but decided not to because I wasn't certain this was  actually my water breaking because it was so different than before.
He folds his hands like this all the time! #praying 

We got to the hospital and they gave me a gown, checked my vitals, and I gradually become more uncomfortable. Not sharp pains, just "hurty" if that makes sense. They tested the liquid and it tested negative for amniotic fluid. At this point I'm feeling really dumb, two false labor scares in a row? The nurses told me there were two more tests they could do to determine if my water really did break. The doctor examined me and said I was making no progress, in other words, labor had not begun. But I just did not feel "right." I vomited a few times and within minutes the pains increased and the nurse came in and said it looked like I was having pretty strong contractions. I knew it!

Representing ASU: Fear the Fork! 
 Now, to give you a time frame, we arrived to the hospital around 10 am, and it was now about noon. We asked the doctor on call to contact my doctor. My pain was getting strong. I asked how long they would keep me feeling like this since I was having a C section anyway. The doctors and nurses reminded me that less than an hour before I was dialated to a zero, so just to be patient before we rushed to the operating room. At this point, things got blurry for me. The pain was intolerable. I started asking for pain meds and then begging for pain meds. I told the doctor I knew that an hour ago I was at a zero but I really felt like something was happening. She checked me again and I was AT A TEN. Unmedicated. In about 50 minutes from the first check.  It was awful. I honestly feel like I turned into some sort of psycho, I started yelling, "Make it stop! Give me medicine now!" Our doctor was apparently on her way but they weren't sure she would make it on time, baby was in a serious hurry.

In a situation that felt eerily similar to Hadley's birth, they rushed me to the O.R, and threw AJ his surgical scrubs on the way there. I was crying and begging for "The medicine guy" (my term for the anesthesiologist). One of the nurses (or doctors, I honestly don't know, there were about a dozen people in the room), told me "He's basically right there, just push." I panicked. I was supposed to have a C section. A lot of Hadley's distress occurred during the pushing/birth process. Nevertheless I felt the urge to push so I started. AJ shouted out, "That's not the plan! It's supposed to be a C section!" I did not think I had the strength or energy to keep pushing unmedicated when I wasn't expecting it. At that exact moment, our doctor walked in all scrubbed up and AJ and I breathed a sigh of relief. I have never been so happy to see someone in my life. Once she arrived, everyone got in their places and within seconds my new boyfriend who I lovingly termed "Medicine Guy" came to my rescue, and I got hot, tingly, heavy and all the pain lifted away.

I don't remember much from the actual procedure but I do remember hearing some grunts, a coo, and then.....a cry. A loud cry. Music to my ears. Hank was born at 1:35 in the afternoon. Since Hank was still not full term he was passed through the window to the NICU. AJ went to be with him while they sewed me up. It was super calm after that and as the doctor's chatted about their Christmas plans, I was blissfully pain-free watching my husband and son meet for the first time through the window to the NICU. The nurses were shouting out to us the weight (6 lb. 7 oz), measurements, and Apgar score. The doctor looked at me over the sheet and said, "He's doing great, honey." And for the first time in a very long time I felt a great sense of peace.

They took me to the recovery room where my family was waiting. It was so good to see them. I told them all about the birth and then AJ came in and we hugged and cried. He showed me pictures of Hank on his phone and said he needed to be monitored for some breathing issues but they didn't think he'd need to stay overnight in the NICU. After an hour or so, they brought my bed to the NICU and it felt like that end scene in Titanic where the doors open and Rose sees all these familiar faces. We walked (well, I rode) the familiar halls of the NICU, right into the wing where Hadley stayed and I saw nurses and techs who I had not seen in 18 months. Most of them remembered us, and smiled or gave my hand a squeeze. It was surreal. Once in Hank's room, they handed Hank to me. Now, since I didn't get to hold Hadley for 4 days after birth, getting to hold Hank so soon was SO special for me. AJ recorded the moment I met him and I will always treasure that video (maybe we'll show it at his wedding, ha!).

Hank "graduated" from the NICU at around 8:00 that evening and got to stay in our room with us! It was perfect. A few hours later, AJ's parents flew in from Oregon. Hank got a warm welcome into this world.

A bit about his name. We knew we wanted another "H" name and Hank was easily our top pick. We agreed on it and decided on it right after I found out I was pregnant. We tossed around a few middle name ideas but decided it'd be special if both our babies had the initials HGS. Since Hadley's middle name is Grace, we decided Grayson was a nice spin on that. Plus we liked the way Grayson sounded with Hank. And now that we know him, he is such a "Hank," it fits him perfectly.

We got home a few days ago and are excited to celebrate our first Christmas all together. Overall?  I'm tired. I'm sore. I'm paranoid about germs and his health. I'm over the moon. I still look sort of pregnant. I'm loving watching my husband be a daddy. I'm always doing a load of laundry or washing bottles or pump parts. I have a to do list I haven't touched. I don't know what I'm doing but it feels like I was born to be Hank's mommy.  I'm just so thankful and my heart is so full. Welcome home, Hank.
At the hospital 


  1. I am a long time blog reader! Congratulations on baby Hank! He is adorable and his awesome History Maker shirt to perfect! I am a high school teacher and enjoy reading about your elementary adventures! So happy for all of you! Merry Christmas!

  2. Leslie, this brought tears to my eyes. I'm so so happy for you both. After your rough year I'm so glad you get to have all of these firsts with Hank. Thanks for being so open and sharing your story. Hugs to you all.

  3. Now that's just the best Christmas present ever! Congratulations and Merry Christmas to your beautiful family!